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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 9 May 2008

Cabinet Decisions taken on 9 May 2008

1. Taking into consideration the soaring prices of rice on the world market and the imposition of export ban by traditional exporting countries, Cabinet has agreed to liberalise the importation of ration rice. Such a measure would not only allow other players to join the market but also ensure sourcing of rice from other exporting countries.

2. Cabinet has taken note of the implementation of the first phase of Port Louis Ring Road project which consists of the construction of 5 km of dual carriageway from Montebello to Guibies. The project will help not only decongest Motorway M1 by providing an alternative entrance into Port Louis from the South but also absorb any additional traffic generated through forthcoming integrated development projects in Les Pailles and Guibies regions. The whole project is estimated to cost about Rs 4.05 billion.

3. Cabinet has taken note that the anti-influenza vaccination campaign for winter season 2008 will start as from 12 May 2008. The campaign targets inmates of Charitable Institutions, children attending specialised schools and elderly persons aged 65 and above.

4. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Fashion and Design Institute Bill which provides for the establishment of the Fashion and Design Institute through the integration of the Department of Textile Technology of the University of Mauritius, the School of Design of the Industrial and Vocational Training Board and the Textile and Apparel Development Centre of Enterprise Mauritius.
The main responsibilities of the Fashion and Design Institute would be, inter alia, to -
(a) promote excellence in the field of fashion and design technology;
(b) organise academic, professional, vocational and training programmes and courses;
(c) provide research and consultancy services; and
(d) promote the development of entrepreneurship.

5. Cabinet has taken note of a twinning proposal between Moka/Flacq District Council and Anse Royale District, Seychelles. The project would facilitate exchanges in the fields of sports and education and promote social, cultural and welfare activities between the two Councils.

6. Cabinet has taken note that the National Pay Council, under the Chairmanship of
Mr Krishnasamy Ponnusamy, CSK, would be constituted as follows –
Workers’ Representatives
(i) Mr Bhye Cassam Kurreeman
(ii) Mr Toolsyraj Benydin
(iii) Mr Radhakrishna Sadien
(iv) Mr Lall Dewnath
(v) Mr Reaz Chuttoo
Employers’ Representatives
(i) Mr Mookeshwarsing Gopal
(ii) Dr Azad Jeetun
(iii) Mr Anwar Joonas
(iv) Mr François de Grivel
(v) Mr Patrice Legris
Government Representatives
(i) The Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service
(ii) The Financial Secretary
(iii) The Supervising Officer, Ministry of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms
(iv) The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment
(v) The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives (Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises Division).
The NPC, a tripartite body, was set up last year to make appropriate recommendations to Government, inter alia, with regard to a yearly minimum wage increase, taking into consideration, amongst other things,–
(i) rise in consumer price index;
(ii) national ability to pay;
(iii) national productivity and competitiveness; and
(iv) employment and unemployment rate.

7. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the setting up of the Urban and Knowledge Industry Development Project, an entirely new and totally planned city, at Highlands. The project would comprise construction of Government offices and tertiary education institutes, housing-related projects and development of the knowledge industry and allied infrastructure. Construction works are expected to start early next year.

Cabinet has further taken note that Port Louis, which has a long and cultural history, would be developed to respond to the rapid changes in the Mauritius economy. It is proposed to incorporate the following activities in the planning development of the City -
(a) greening and landscaping of the heart of Port Louis;
(b) inland tourism and culture, leisure and shopping;
(c) waterfront activities; and
(d) international banking and financial services.

8. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Third Trade Policy Review of Mauritius held at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) from 23 to 25 April, 2008. The Trade Policy Review is an exercise, mandated in the WTO agreements, in which member countries’ trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals with a view to ensuring that member countries are transparent and non-discriminatory in the formulation and implementation of trade policies and compliant with their WTO obligations. The last exercise for Mauritius was carried out in October 2001. In its report, the Review Panel praises the bold reforms undertaken by Government to liberalize its trade regime, boost competitiveness in order to cope with the several changes facing the reform.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Second Meeting of the Mauritius-United States Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council held in Washington, D.C. from 28 to 29 April 2008.
The TIFA provides for a formal mechanism to address bilateral trade issues and helps enhance trade and investment relations between Mauritius and the US. The Second TIFA Council Meeting reviewed progress, identified challenges and charted the way forward for future work under the Agreement. The Council took stock of the implementation of priority areas of the Joint TIFA Work Plan over the past 12 months. These actions were targeted towards encouraging the private sector of both countries to forge linkages, identifying specific sectors for trade promotion and investment cooperation, enhancing coordination and consultations on AGOA issues, exploring the potential for more comprehensive trade and investment agreements, and strengthening agricultural trade and agri-business linkages.

10. Cabinet has taken note that, in line with the principles of the ILO, the Work in Fishing Convention 2007 (Convention No. 188) and the Work in Fishing Recommendation 2007 (Recommendation No. 199) which were adopted at the International Labour Conference in June 2007, would be laid on the table of the National Assembly.
The Work in Fishing Convention, which applies to all fishers and fishing vessels engaged in commercial fishing operations, ensures that fishers have decent conditions of work on board fishing vessels. The Convention stresses on the responsibility of owners of fishing vessels, who should, inter alia, ensure that skippers are provided with the necessary resources and facilities laid down in the Convention, as well as that of skippers for the safety of the fishers on board and the safe operation of the vessel. The Convention is supplemented by an accompanying Recommendation No. 199 which dwells in detail on conditions of work on board fishing vessels.
In view of the fact that the seafood sector is already being promoted as a new engine of economic growth, and Government is giving due recognition to the fishing community, the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations & Employment would ensure that the provisions of the Convention and those of the Recommendation are incorporated in appropriate legislations to ensure good workplace practices, equity and protection of the health of workers and safety at workplace.

11. Cabinet has taken note that, taking into consideration that ICT is vital in the process of regional integration and economic development of the region, the Indian Ocean Commission has decided to implement an Inter-Island connectivity network project, currently being undertaken under the Regional ICT Support Programme of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The project, named as SEGANET by the IOC, aims at connecting member states via a submarine fibre-optic cable with a view to providing high telecommunications bandwidth for the socio-economic development of the region.

12. Cabinet has taken note of the final recommendations of a Tracer Study on Retrenched Workers in the Textile Sector covering the period from January 2000 to December 2005 with a view to examining the effects of unemployment in the textile sector and identifying problems faced by retrenched workers. The Study highlights that -
(a) existing laws should be amended in order to place employees as first creditors in line for compensation when an enterprise closes down;
(b) the important determinants affecting the ability of those retrenched to be reinserted in the labour market, were, generally, their relative old age and low educational profiles;
(c) about 82% of the respondents who had received compensation, did not consider the compensation to be adequate for the length of service they reckoned;
(d) almost a quarter of the female respondents who were not in employment, were not interested in finding a new job;
(e) very few of the respondents had attended training programmes offered to them following the loss of their job. However, many of those who had attended the training programmes, found the training helpful; and
(f) less than 1%, of the respondents, whether male or female, had benefitted from any micro-credit scheme but over 36% indicated that they were not aware of such schemes.
The Report would be released for appropriate action by relevant stakeholders.

13. Cabinet has taken note of activities which would be organised in the context of the International Day of Families to be observed on 15 May, as proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, viz: -
(i) a workshop for the validation of the Draft National Action Plan on the Family;
(ii) launching of a clip and pamphlets on the role and responsibilities of fathers; and
(iii) holding of a Family Recreational Day at the SSR Botanic Garden, Pamplemousses.
The Day provides an opportunity to increase knowledge of the economic, cultural, social and demographic processes affecting families. The theme retained for this year is "Fathers and Families – Responsibilities and Challenges".

14. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Housing & Lands proposes to review the Outline Planning Schemes for the five Municipal Council areas with a view to updating land use framework for development, besides providing parameters for the preparation of new Planning Policy Guidance, as appropriate for different land use activities.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to Washington D.C. from 24 to 25 April 2008. The objectives of the mission were to:
(i) obtain, in his capacity as Chairman of COMESA, technical and financial support for the regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa by making Aid for Trade operational; and
(ii) secure increased technical support for the implementation of our reform programme.
During his mission, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development met, inter alia, -
(i) Mr Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank with whom financial support to the COMESA Fund and for policy advisory services to Governments in the region was evoked.
(ii) Mr M. Portugal, Deputy Managing Director of IMF and Mr T. Catsambas from the Fiscal Affairs Department to whom a request for technical assistance on Programme-Based Budgeting and Tax Policy, macro-modelling and resource allocation was made.
(iii) Mr Jim McDermott, Congressman with whom he discussed matters relating to the eradication of poverty, food crisis, the need to broaden the scope of Aid for Trade and sought his support for the Mauritius LDC derogation under AGOA.

16. Cabinet has taken note that the Films Act 2002 which provides for the control of the importation and the classification of films meant for public, would be proclaimed in December 2008. Cabinet has further taken note that Regulations under the Act would be promulgated to provide for procedures relating to the classification of films and posters and the levying of fees and charges. The classification system, i.e. visa U, PG, 15, 18 or 18R, would be extended to video films to enable parents to have a better control over the type of film being viewed by their children.
Cabinet has also taken note that, with a view to further consolidating the mechanism of control of films for public exhibition, especially video films, the Films Act and the Regulations would also provide, inter alia, for the following:-
(i) mandatory registration of film importers with the Film Classification Board;
(ii) maintenance of a register with the name of films, the visas and the serial number appearing on the certificate of exhibition;
(iii) the classification symbol allocated to a video film appearing on the cassette, disc, disc sleeve or cassette jacket, as the case may be; and
(iv) tougher punishment for infringement of the law.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Meeting of SADC Ministers Responsible for Gender/Women’s Affairs held in Windhoek, Namibia, on 30 April 2008. The meeting, inter alia
(i) finalised the Draft Protocol on Gender and Development;
(ii) discussed the organisation of the Fourth Women in Business Trade Fair; and
(iii) took note of the Progress Reports on the Implementation of the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Seventh Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 27 to 30 April 2008. The Meeting, the theme of which was “Youth and Peace-Building”, inter alia, -
(a) endorsed the region-specific programme interventions on conflict management and peace-building in the African, Asian, Caribbean and Pacific regions of the Commonwealth;
(b) took note of the report of the Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus for the period 2006-2008 and the achievement of the Regional Youth Caucus (RYC) members working in youth advocacy, leadership, capacity building and youth engagement; and
(c) endorsed the importance of mainstreaming for the systematic integration of youth development into the work of relevant stakeholders and recognized the need for allocation of appropriate resources for youth development programmes.

19. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden Trust with Mr Ashvin Mooneeram as Chairperson.