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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 28 March 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 28 March 2008

1. Cabinet has taken note that, following the flooding that occurred across the island on Wednesday 26 March 2008, resulting in the death of four persons, the Prime Minister has decided to set up a Fact Finding Committee to inquire, report and make appropriate recommendations on, inter alia,–
(a) the weather conditions and forecast made by the Mauritius Meteorological Services, for the day preceding, and including, the day namely 26 March 2008, on which widespread flooding occurred across Mauritius and on which four persons died;
(b) the warning and other public sensitization systems in place in Mauritius in relation to extreme weather conditions and their adequacy or appropriateness;
(c) the existing preventive or relief measures relating to such weather conditions, and those taken by the Meteorological Services, the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, the Police Department, Local Authorities, the Fire Services, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and other relevant services including the Cyclone and Other Natural Disasters Committee, during the period referred to in (a) above; and
(d) any matters ancilliary to (a), (b) and (c) above.
The Fact Finding Committee will be presided by His Lordship Hon Satyabhoosun Domah, Puisne Judge, and will have as assessors –
(i) Mr Jacques Rosalie, former Secretary for Home Affairs; and
(ii) Mr Ranjitlall Vaghjee, former Director of the Meteorological Services.

2. Cabinet has taken note that following severe flooding registered across the island during the week, a request has been made to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) to –
(a) study the processes, systems and methods of weather forecasts of the Mauritius Meteorological Services;
(b) assess the adequacy of meteorological equipment; and
(c) advise on existing human resource capabilities.

3. Cabinet has taken note of the Report of the Central Cyclone and Other Natural Disasters Committee following the heavy rainfall associated with Ex-Lola. The main features of the Report are –
(i) four casualties had been recorded.
(ii) As at 27 March, 2008, 280 heads of household had been paid a total amount of about Rs 305,500 as flood allowance.
(iii) Except for 23 schools, classes have resumed normally in all schools on Friday 28 March. The Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit, the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and the Fire Services have arranged for schools to be cleaned and disinfected.
(iv) No damage has been reported to Chitrakoot Government School, although a displacement of 2mm was recorded due to heavy rainfall. The situation is being monitored closely.
(v) All the main roads are open to traffic, except some minor roads which have been affected by accumulation of mud. Repairs are already underway to restore damaged roads and bridges in different regions of the island.
(vi) The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is carrying out a sensitization campaign on the need to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. The public is also being advised to take the usual basic sanitary precautions and to boil tap water for drinking purposes.
(vii) The electricity infrastructure has not suffered any damage and electricity supply is normal.
(viii) Water supply throughout the Island is normal. Four reservoirs have attained maximum storage level and Mare aux Vacoas is at 75.5% of its capacity while La Ferme is at 72.7%.
(ix) The Government Fire Services recorded more than 2000 requests for assistance and intervened in about 50 areas. The Government Fire Services, with the assistance of the SMF and the Police, intervened to rescue people trapped in vehicles carried away by water.
(x) The heavy rainfall has had an adverse effect on the sugar cane growth. As regards vegetable plantation, the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries would convene a meeting with planters early next week to consider any assistance to be extended to those planters whose crops have been damaged. In the light of surveys to be carried out by AREU, consideration would be given for the issue of permits for the importation of vegetables. The Agricultural Marketing Board is ensuring that there is no shortage of potatoes and other high demand commodities.
(xi) There is no significant mortality recorded in the Livestock Sector, including poultry.
(xii) There have been no major damages to the Government Buildings’ infrastructure.
(xiii) The Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit has reviewed its infrastructural development programme and drawn up an emergency programme for drain clearance, drain schemes, improvement of infrastructure, dredging and improvement works.

4. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Notaries Bill which aims at better regulating the profession of a notary, taking into account recent developments in the exercise of the said profession. The Bill presents the following salient features:
(a) the establishment of an Association of Notaries;
(b) the powers of the Chamber of Notaries to investigate into alleged breaches of rules of professional conduct by a notary, to reprimand or, through the Association, suspend a notary, and to refer the matter to the Supreme Court for such disciplinary action as it considers appropriate where there is a prima facie case of serious professional misconduct;
(c) the laying down of a Code of Ethics, with which every notary shall comply; and
(d) opening of the profession/no more close shop.

5. Cabinet has agreed to a request from the Republic of Madagascar for the signing of an agreement on the transfer of prisoners between the two countries. Currently, there are 16 Malagasy detainees in Mauritius, four of them have been convicted and 12 are on remand.

6. Cabinet has taken note that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime proposes to hold in Mauritius from 28 to 30 April 2008 the ‘Second Sub-regional Workshop for Member States of the Indian Ocean Commission to strengthen their cooperation in criminal matters related to Terrorism’. The main objectives of the Workshop are to enhance and intensify cooperation between Member States of the Indian Ocean Commission in criminal matters, and to prevent and combat terrorism.

7. Cabinet has taken note that all redundant teaching and non-teaching staff of former Rose Belle High School, Newton College Rivière des Anguilles and Presidency College Rivière des Anguilles who hold a substantive appointment, have been absorbed in MEDCO and redeployed either in State or MEDCO schools.
Cabinet has further taken note that, following the phasing out of prevocational classes at Aleemiah College, and St Helena College, the staff who became redundant, have also been redeployed.

8. Cabinet has taken note of the performance of the ‘Export Oriented Enterprises Sector for the year 2007. The highlights are, inter alia, -
(i) total exports of the Sector increased from Rs33.7 bn in year 2006 as compared to Rs 37.8 bn in year 2007, i.e., by 12 %;
(ii) the value of exports of the Clothing Sector comprising Pullovers and Cardigans, T-Shirts, Shirts and Trousers amounted to Rs21.7 billion in year 2007 as compared to Rs19.7 billion in year 2006, i.e., an increase of more than 10%;
(iii) the volume of exports in Textile Yarns and Fabrics increased from 8,222 tons to 8,712 tons, representing a positive growth of 6% over the year 2006, coupled with an increase of 20% in value terms;
(iv) the total export of Fish and Fish preparations has increased from
Rs 4,950 Million for the year 2006 to Rs 6,004 Million for the year 2007, thereby representing an increase of 21%;
(v) the value of exports of ‘Watches and Clocks’ ‘Precious & Semi Precious stones’, ‘Toys, Games & Sporting goods’ and ‘Jewellery’ sub-sectors has registered an increase of 36%, 1%, 14% and 12% respectively during the year 2007 compared to the year 2006; and
(vi) the United Kingdom, France and USA still remain our main export markets.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the last Report of the Monitoring Committee set up to determine whether the quality of water in the region of Port Louis, i.e., from Baie du Tombeau to Pointe Aux Sables, was suitable for swimming and its seafood proper for consumption. The Report reveals that the water quality of the region, except at Rivulet Terre Rouge, Nassau Bay and the Pointe aux Sables Fish Landing Station, is compliant to the Coastal Water Quality Guidelines. Based on the recommendations of the Committee, it has been decided that -
(i) no swimming should be allowed as from 700 metres north of the public beach of La Pointe at Pointe aux Sables up to 100m northward of Nassau Bay until further notice;
(ii) no effluents should be allowed to be discharged in the storm water drains; and
(iii) continuous monitoring should be undertaken in the study area to sustain long term trends in the quality of the sea water.

10. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the setting up of proposed Coal Fired Power Plant at Pointe of Caves by (Mauritius) CT Power Ltd.
Cabinet has further taken note that, in view of comments made by the Forces Vives of the region, the Ministry of Environment & National Development Unit would enlist the services of an independent Consultant to review the EIA Report.

11. Cabinet has taken note that, in view of the increasing interest in traditional medicines, and making the services more accessible, a new Ayurvedic and Panchkarma Clinic would be operational at SSRN Hospital by mid-April 2008. Ayurvedic and Panchkarma (ayurvedic massage) are used in the treatment of diseases, like Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteo-arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, bronchial Asthma, Parkinson’s disease, certain neurological disorders, stress, insomnia and obesity. The Ayurvedic Clinic at SSRN Hospital will be open from Mondays to Fridays from 0900 hours to 1600 hours and on Saturdays from 0900 hours to noon.

12. Cabinet has taken note that, in order not to penalise the holder of export licence for scrap metal, the Consumer Protection (Scrap Metal) Regulations 2007 would be amended to allow holders of permits issued by Local Authorities under the Local Government Act or regulations made under it, to continue to operate his business of scrap metal under the same terms and conditions until the expiry of that licence, i.e., 30 June 2008.

13. With a view to giving more impetus to the effort of Government to become one of the major financial services centre, Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius adhering to the Hague Securities Convention, also referred to as the “Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Certain Rights in Respect of Securities held with an Intermediary”. The Convention reflects a pragmatic approach, based on real world needs, aimed at achieving certainty and predictability as to the law governing issues that are of crucial practical importance for holding and the transfer of securities held with an intermediary.
The Convention provides for –
(i) certainty as to the law applicable to clearance, settlement and secured credit transactions that cross national borders;
(ii) a marked improvement in transactional efficiencies in the global securities markets;
(iii) the reduction of systemic risk in cross-border transactions and intermediary holdings; and
(iv) the facilitation of cross-border capital flows.

14. Cabinet has taken note that Mon Désert Alma Sugar Factory would, with effect from end of crop 2007, close down under Section 24 of the Cane Planters and Millers Arbitration and Control Board Act. Arrangements have been made for all canes from the factory area of Mon Désert Alma to be directed to Deep River Beau Champ, FUEL Sugar Milling Co. and Médine Sugar Milling Co. Ltd. The provision of the Blue Print in regard to Training, Monitoring, Information flow and reporting would apply. Moreover, employees would be entitled to land at a site to be mutually agreed between all parties concerned.

15. Cabinet has taken note that the Mauritius Institute of Education, in collaboration with the University of Brighton, would organise an International Conference on Education and Knowledge-Based Economies from 10 to 12 April 2008 in Mauritius. The main theme of the Conference is Education and Knowledge-Based Economies – Learner Empowerment in Small Island States. The Conference aims at opportunities and challenges that globalisation brings to the world of education and strategies to ensure that education systems contribute to empowering learners and teachers to become global citizens.
The Conference would also provide a platform for interaction on issues related to :
(i) Teacher Education;
(ii) Curriculum Development;
(iii) Assessment and Evaluation;
(iv) Higher Education; and
(v) Equity and Inclusion in Education.

16. Cabinet has taken note that the World Health Day, which serves to raise awareness of key global health issues, would be celebrated on 7 April 2008. World Health Day 2008 would mark the 60th Anniversary of the World Health Organisation and the theme chosen is “Protecting Health from Climate Change”. The Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in collaboration with all stakeholders, would organise, inter alia, a Conference at the Indira Gandhi Cultural Centre, an exhibition, and sensitization campaigns on the theme of the Day.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to Cannes where he attended the “2008 Marchés International des Professionnels de L’Immobilier” (MIPIM) with a view to promoting Mauritius as a top end of the market real estate destination and creating interest in the Highlands Project being promoted by State Land Development Company.
The MIPIM is a World Property Market which provides an international forum for a large number of professionals engaged in the property market - developers, service providers, architects/designers, and sellers, buyers, financing institutions, brokers and key Governmental Institutions. It provides a unique interactive platform for participants, inter alia, to compare notes, to be apprised of latest developments, and to conduct transactions as appropriate.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Public Utilities to Washington, USA, from 4 to 6 March 2008, where he participated in the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference which discussed ways to develop renewable energy, promote sustainable development, reduce green house emissions in order to mitigate the adverse effects of global warming and ensure energy security. Cabinet has further taken note that research and development of new renewables, such as geothermal, tidal, oceanic and hydrogen fuels, are currently being conducted to improve the renewables with a view to making them more affordable to developing countries.

19. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries to Seychelles from 14 to 15 March 2008 where he attended the Fifth Meeting of COMESA Ministers of Agriculture. The theme of the meeting was "Consolidating Regional Economic Integration through Value Addition, Trade and Food Security".
The Ministerial Committee adopted the following:
(i) Member States to allocate more resources to the implementation of the key areas of the 11 comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme with special reference to crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry development.
(ii) Member States to pay particular attention to the escalating costs of farm inputs, such as seeds, fertilisers and energy, as well as the effect of climate change with a view to finding sustainable solutions.
(iii) Member States to harmonise, within two years, seed trade regulations in the region and to finalise a regional protocol for the protection of new varieties of plants.
(iv) Member States to integrate policies and measures that address issues of climate change into their development planning.

20. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions to Reunion Island on 17 and 18 March, 2008. The main objective of the mission was to explore and discuss possibilities of collaboration with the “Fondation Père Favron” and the relevant authorities in Reunion Island in view of the forthcoming opening of the Centre for Severely Disabled Persons at Pointe aux Sables. The Centre, the first of its kind in Mauritius, is meant to be run on the “socio-medical” concept which is different from the traditional charitable institution approach. The "Fondation Père Favron" has agreed to provide training in the management of social medical centres and care for the elderly and disabled and technical support for the operation of the Centre.
The Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions also had bilateral discussions with the following personalities -
(a) Mr Pierre-Henry Maccioni, Préfet;
(b) “Directrice Régionale des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales”;
(c) the Director of “Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques; and
(d) the Director of Proxim’ Services.

21. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Women’s Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection to New York where she participated in the 52nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the consultative meeting of Commonwealth National Women’s Machineries held from 24 to 29 February 2008.
The 52nd Session of the UN Commission focused on “Financing for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women” and adopted the following draft resolutions on -
(a) the release of women and children taken hostage, including those subsequently imprisoned, in armed conflict;
(b) strengthening the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women;
(c) ending female genital mutilation;
(d) the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women; and
(e) women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS.

22. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Health and Quality of Life to Victoria, Seychelles, where he attended the 46th Conference of the Eastern, Central and South African (ECSA) Health Community Health Ministers.
The objectives of the Conference were to :
(i) provide a forum for Member States to review the performance of health systems and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals;
(ii) share experiences on effective health care delivery systems in East, Central and Southern African countries;
(iii) review progress in the implementation of Resolutions of the Health Ministers’ Conference; and
(iv) consider, approve and adopt the new ECSA Health Community Strategic Plan 2008-2012 and Business Plan 2008-2010.

23. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Minister of Arts and Culture to Reunion Island from 21 to 23 March 2008, in the context of the 40th Anniversary of the Independence of Mauritius, where he attended a flag raising ceremony organised by the Mauritian Consulate in the presence of some 500 Mauritians.

24. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of –
(a) the Board of the Mauritius College of the Air with Dr Kaviraj Sharma Sukon as Chairperson;
(b) the Food and Agricultural Research Council Board with Mr Alain Noël as Chairperson;
(c) the NGO Trust Fund with Mr R.C. Gopee, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions as Chairperson.
Cabinet has further taken note that Mrs Sabera Bibi Abassmamode has been nominated member of the Senior Citizens Council.