CABINET DECISIONS – 29 FEBRUARY 2008
1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the official mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to India, namely, Bihar, Jaipur and New Delhi, from 17 to 24 February 2008.
On an invitation of Shri Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, the Prime Minister effected a 3-day visit to Bihar and visited several places, viz., Patna, Siwan, Nalanda, Bodh Gaya and Harigaon.
In Patna, the Prime Minister, among others –
(a) unveiled the statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and inaugurated a street in the latter’s name;
(b) visited the Khudabaksh Library, a treasure of unique manuscripts in Persian, Urdu and Arabic on very old paper, palm-leaf, deer-skin, cloth and sundry materials dating as far back as the eighth century;
(c) received courtesy calls by representatives of –
- the Bihar Chamber of Commerce, who are interested in promoting investment in Mauritius; and
- the Antar-Rashtriya Saha Yog Parishad, Bharat, with whom questions relating to the Indian Diaspora were discussed.
In Harigaon, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stones for three projects, viz., a Lake, a High School and a Hospital which would be named after his grandfather, the Father of the Nation and himself respectively. On behalf of the Government, he made a pledge to donate US $250,000 for the development of Harigaon, the ancestral village of his forebears, and reiterated the offer of two scholarships to students from Bihar.
The Chief Minister of Bihar had announced that a Foundation which would include the Mauritius Bihar Cultural Centre, would be set up to assist Mauritians to trace their roots in Bihar and promote bilateral ties.
The Prime Minister also visited Jaipur and had a meeting with the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Smt Vasundhara Raje, with whom he discussed issues of mutual interest and bilateral exchanges between Rajasthan and Mauritius. At the invitation of the Chief Minister of Rajasthan and Shri Ram Narayan Bishnoi, Deputy Speaker of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly, he addressed a Special Session of the Local Assembly.
In Delhi, the Prime Minister met Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, in the presence of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Minister of India, with whom he discussed issues of mutual and bilateral interest, inter alia, the Double Tax Avoidance Agreement and the implementation of development projects in Agalega.
2. Cabinet has taken note that HE Mr Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, would be the Chief Guest on the occasion of the celebrations of the National Day of Mauritius.
Cabinet has taken note of special arrangements made for the conveyance of the public on the occasion of National Day Celebrations. Persons travelling to and from Port Louis by bus would be entitled to half fare, two hours before and two hours after the celebrations, whereas disabled persons, old-aged pensioners and children aged less than 13 years would travel free of charge.
Cabinet has also taken note that national flags would be distributed to households through pre-primary and primary schools.
3. In line with Government policy of empowering people and democratizing access to land, Cabinet has agreed to the grant of leases for residential purposes to 59 Agaleans currently occupying houses owned by the Outer Islands Development Corporation. The building site leases would, in the first instance, be for a period of 20 years with a nominal annual rental of Rs1,000.
4. Cabinet has agreed to the establishment of a Service to Mauritius Programme for skilled professionals, researchers and outstanding university students.
The main objectives of the programme are to –
(i) attract the best and the brightest young minds to spend some time in the public service;
(ii) attract resources for a well defined task to deal with the shortage of skills, where no established post is being filled; and
(iii) provide an opportunity for them to get some work experience.
The programme would be open to graduate students, researchers, skilled young professionals who would be expected to provide support to various programs of Government and assist in achieving specified outputs and/or meet agreed performance indicators.
5. Taking into consideration that traffic congestion could effectively be contained if the public transport system becomes more attractive to encourage a shift from private cars to public transport, Cabinet has agreed to the conduct of a study and the preparation of design work for the construction of a Bus Way between Curepipe and Port Louis within a broader Bus Modernisation project with a view to maximizing capacity and ensuring high speed operation without congestion. There is consensus among all stakeholders that the public transport system should be developed to cater for a wider and more diverse travelling public, particularly with the substantial growth in tourist arrivals, the development of a knowledge centre, the increased attendance at educational and training institutions.
6. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the waste to energy project by Gamma. Taking into consideration that landfilling, current solid waste disposal method, is not sustainable in the long term, the increase in the cost of fossil fuel and the emphasis laid by international organizations on alternative sources of energy, Cabinet has further taken note that the conversion of waste to energy is more beneficial to the environment as well as to the economy.
Cabinet has also taken note of developments in the implementation of the waste to compost project.
7. Cabinet has taken note that a cricket stadium would be put up by the Federation of Cricket Clubs at Belle Vue with a view to promoting the new discipline as a major game, and in this connection a plot of land would be leased to the Federation.
8. Cabinet has taken note that the Human Resource Development Council would mount a National Sensitisation Campaign to convert Mauritius into a 24/7 economy, as the transition from an agro-based and manufacturing economy to a service and knowledge-oriented economy, requires a flexible and an adaptable workforce which could participate round the clock in economic activities. The moreso, as emerging sectors, like the Business Processing Outsourcing, Tourism, ICT and Trade, are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit workers to work for night shift.
The main objectives of the Campaign are to –
(i) arouse a wave of consciousness among the Mauritian workforce to face challenges of a changing economy;
(ii) expose the Mauritian population to best practices applied in other countries;
(iii) arouse interest among the authorities to provide the necessary support and security measures which can build up confidence among workers so that they can work safely at any time of the day and night;
(iv) enlist the support of stakeholders, including the relevant authorities, the media, employers, NGO’s and Trade Unions, for the promotion of the national cause;
(v) provide a sound and solid base of career guidance to the student population, parents and retrenched workers so as to reduce the mismatch facing the labour market; and
(vi) influence employers to empower workers and create a conducive environment to allow workers to give their best.
9. Taking into account that lately several companies have started importing powdered milk and with a view to creating a more competitive environment for the interest of consumers, Cabinet has agreed to powdered milk being removed from the list of goods under maximum mark-up price control.
Cabinet has further taken note that a Code of Practice determining the maximum recommended retail price would be promulgated to provide for the method to be adopted for the determination of the retail price of powdered milk.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the Road Traffic Regulations to fix the visual light transmission level in motor vehicles as follows:
Front-side windows - 75%
Front windscreen - 75%
Rear windscreen and windows - No restriction
11. Cabinet has taken note of the implementation of the project “Development of an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Framework for the Republic of Mauritius”, which aims at -
(i) preparing an ICZM strategy for Mauritius in line with government policies and strategies;
(ii) reviewing and developing an appropriate policy and a regulatory framework that promote ICZM; and
(iii) developing ICZM (area and action plans) for pressure zones.
12. Cabinet has taken note of a project by a foreign investor for the development of waterfront facilities with a view to capturing the growth in container traffic and providing port facilities. The project which is in line with the recommendations contained in the Port Master Plan 2002-2025 as well as the Master Plan Study for Les Salines Waterfront prepared in 2004, is expected to yield significant benefits for the economy, both in terms of investment and employment creation. The Company would invest a sum of over US$150m (about Rs 4.5bn) in the project.
13. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Land Administration, Valuation and Information Management System (LAVIMS) which aims at setting up a modern, secure, transparent, affordable and efficient land administration and management system that underpins economic growth, social stability and sustainable resource development in Mauritius. A Steering Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Bhinod Bacha, Kt.,CMG, FMIM, has been set up to monitor the project.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of the following regulations to enforce the provisions of the Jewellery Act enacted in 2007: -
(i) The Jewellery (Use of the State Mark by Dealers) Regulations to allow manufacturers to apply for the use of State Marks;
(ii) The Jewellery (Registration of Dealers) Regulations to provide for the registration of persons dealing in Jewellery or precious and semi-precious stones;
(iii) The Jewellery (Registration of Sponsor’s mark, Importer's mark, Identification mark) Regulations to provide for the compulsory marking of jewellery displayed or offered for sale with a view to ensuring traceability; and
(iv) The Jewellery (Fees and Charges) Regulations for the levying of fees for the assaying of gold, silver, platinum jewellery and their alloys.
15. Cabinet has taken note that the Association for the Development of Education in Africa Working Group on Distance Education and Open Learning would hold an Advocacy Workshop on Distance Education and Open Learning (DEOL) from 10 to 11 April 2008 in Mauritius. The objectives of the workshop are to –
(a) discuss and propose policy directions on how to embed Distance Education and Open Learning (DEOL) in the education systems, with a view to attaining the objectives set for the Education for All (2000) and the Millennium Development Goals;
(b) provide an opportunity for participants to build up the required network; and
(c) develop a need-based draft framework for promotion of DEOL in their respective countries as well as share their country experiences in the implementation of DEOL.
16. Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius ratifying the Protocol Amending the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. The amendment would allow any WTO member to export pharmaceutical products made under compulsory licence for the purpose of supplying developing countries with no or insufficient manufacturing capacities in the pharmaceutical sector. It would also allow the production of drugs under compulsory licensing in Mauritius for export to the other members of regional trade arrangements to which it belongs, for example the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
17. Cabinet has taken note that the Board of Directors of the “Fonds de Solidarité Africain” proposes to adopt a new Constitution for the Fund which provides guarantee for loan and debentures issued in connection with investment projects.
The proposed Constitution provides, inter alia, for -
(i) the opening up of the Fund to all African States, non-African States, international, regional or sub-regional financial institutions, as well as private financial institutions; and
(ii) an increase of the authorized share capital of the Fund from FCFA 10 billion to FCFA 30 billion, i.e., about Euros 45.8 million.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the situation of school population in private secondary schools. Cabinet has further taken note that three colleges, viz., Rose Belle High School, Newton College, Rivière des Anguilles and Presidency College, Rivière des Anguilles would be closed as they do not satisfy the criterion for a minimum school population of 150 students in the mainstream and 25 in the pre-vocational stream. Appropriate arrangements would be made to redirect students of these schools to neighbouring schools and to redeploy or retire redundant employees.
19. Cabinet has taken note of the promulgation of Regulations under the International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) Act to provide to the staff of the Office of the International Organisation for Migration with the same privileges as those to Executive Heads and Staff of specialised organisations of the United Nations.
20. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the –
(i) Management Committee of the Trust Fund for Excellence in Sports with Mr Desiré Tsang Kwai Kew as Chairperson;
(ii) Agalega Island Council with Mr Louis Hervé Aimée as Chairperson; and
(iii) Board of the Mauritius Sports Council with Mr Dhiraj Singh Khamajeet as Chairperson.