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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 09 January

Cabinet Decisions taken on 09 January

1. Cabinet has viewed with serious concern the continued escalation of Israëli military activities in Gaza, which has led to over 750 deaths, the majority being innocent victims including women and children. Cabinet condemns the disproportionate use of force in complete disregard of humanitarian law and human rights by Israël and support an immediate ceasefire. In this regard, Cabinet has agreed to consider reviewing the continued operation of the Honorary Consulate General of the State of Israël in Mauritius.

2. Cabinet has taken note that a Steering Committee, under the joint chairmanship of the Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service representing the Public Sector and Mr Raj Makoond representing the Private Sector, has been set up to oversee the implementation of the measures contained in the Additional Stimulus Package to shore up the economy. The Committee held its first meeting on 8 January 2009.

3. Cabinet has taken note of developments regarding the setting up of the Open University of Mauritius, which aims at widening access to post-secondary education through open and distance learning by print, mixed mode or on-line strategies, in line with Government's policy to democratize tertiary education and to set up a knowledge hub. The University would also provide opportunities for non-traditional training, while promoting lifelong learning and adult and continued education.

4. In line with Government’s policy to move Mauritius to a service hub and a knowledge hub in the region, Cabinet has agreed to the incorporation of the Regional Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence, a not-for-profit company, to facilitate the regional economic integration and to -
(a) undertake capacity building programmes with the regional integration agenda being the core theme; and
(b) provide technical assistance to the region and small island states to formulate and implement policy reforms to accelerate growth and facilitate integration into the global economy.
Under the aegis of the Centre of Excellence, two training activities, namely, Training on Performance Budgeting and a Workshop on Macroeconomic Framework and Budget Support for Regional Integration, had been held during the course of 2008.

5. Cabinet has taken note that, as recommended in the PRB Report 2008, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources would set up a Quality Assurance and Inspection Division, which would, inter alia, -
(a) establish plans for quality assurance at all levels of the education system, ensure the monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects related to teaching and learning and advise in curriculum development and evaluation;
(b) carry out quality audit of human resources, curriculum, infrastructure and equipment;
(c) improve performance of teachers in classes and qualitative learning ability of students at all levels; and
(d) provide tools for schools to use as benchmarks of excellence.
The overall aim of the project is to develop an effective assessment tool to encourage continuous improvements by schools and to ensure their accountability to stakeholders.

6. Cabinet has taken note that, according to the African Report on Child Well-Being 2008, the Government of Mauritius emerged out as the most child-friendly Government in Africa, for three main reasons –
(a) appropriate legal provisions have been put in place to protect children against abuse and exploitation;
(b) the high commitment of Government in allocating a relatively higher share of the national budget to provide for the basic needs of children; and
(c) the result of the effort and success in achieving favourable well-being outcomes as reflected on children themselves.
The African Report on Child Well-Being has been developed by the African Child Policy Forum as a response to the growing need to monitor and report the extent to which Governments in Africa live up to their obligations to respect, fulfil and protect children’s rights and ensure their well-being. It aims at providing a platform for dialogue; contributing to improved knowledge about problems facing children in Africa; identifying policy options; and strengthening the capacity of Non-Governmental and Government Organisations to develop and implement effective pro-child policies and programmes.

7. Cabinet has taken note that Mrs Kamla Devi Varmah, Chairperson of the National Children's Council, has been elected member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child for an initial period of four years. The Committee is a body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its State parties, as well as the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

8. Cabinet has agreed to the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict signed in November 2001. The Optional Protocol reaffirms the principle that children require special protection and calls for the continuous improvement of the situation of children without distinction, as well as for their development and education in conditions of peace and security. It condemns the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict and direct attacks as objects protected under international laws, including places that generally have a significant presence of children.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the programme of activities organised for the celebration of Spring Festival at national level on 26 January 2009 -
(a) cultural shows by local artists and the Xinjiang Artistic Troupe from the People’s Republic of China at the Auditorium of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute, Moka, at Port Louis Waterfront and at the Municipality of Curepipe;
(b) a défilé comprising Chinese Dragon and Lion Dance Groups, Police Band, Martial Arts Demonstrators and other artistic groups would leave China Town, Port Louis to proceed to Port Louis Waterfront;
(c) a “Honoring Ancestors Ceremony” at the Kwan Tee Pagoda; and
(d) a cultural show at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute to mark the Lantern Festival.

10. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Job and Training Fair for Persons with Disabilities organised on 4 December 2008 by the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions, in collaboration with Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, the Training and Employment of Disabled Persons Board, the Small Enterprises & Handicraft Development Authority, the Human Resource Development Council, and the Industrial Vocational Training Board.
The objective of the Fair was to create an interface among persons with disabilities, the corporate sector and training providers with a view to promoting training and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Some 500 persons with disabilities and their parents visited the Fair and took cognizance of the various training and employment opportunities available on the market. They also established first-hand contacts with employers and service providers.

11. Cabinet has taken note that the Information and Communication Technologies Authority would implement the first phase of the Eight-Digit Numbering Plan for the Republic of Mauritius. The eight-digit numbering system for mobile services would come into operation as from 1 November 2009. In the second phase, fixed line numbers, including toll free and special numbers, would be addressed.

12. Cabinet has taken note that, in the context of the Regional Food Security Project, a four-member team, comprising Agronomists, Agricultural Engineer from the Ministry of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security, AREU and MSIRI, would carry out a techno-economic appraisal of the 5000 hectares of land in the Manica Province, Mozambique, with a view to determining the required investment in terms of infrastructure, logistics and others, and gathering data on the topography, climatology, soil type and other useful information for project appraisal.

13. Cabinet has agreed to the recommendations of the Traffic Management and Road Safety Unit to increase the speed limit along Motorways M1 and M2 to 110 km/h, except that -
(a) the speed limits between Pamplemousses roundabout and Grand Baie Road; Grewals Interchange and Riche Terre roundabout and vice versa; and Port Fer roundabout and Dowlut roundabout; and along the transitional curve of the carriageway leading towards Port Louis, at the level of Shoprite Commercial Centre, shall be maintained; and
(b) existing speed zones along the Motorways M1 and M2 shall remain unchanged.
Appropriate information signs would be posted along the motorways.

14. Cabinet has taken note that the candidature of Judge Vinod Boolell, currently Acting Chief International Judge of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, has been retained for the posts of Judge of the United Nations Dispute Tribunal and Judge of the United Nations Appeals Tribunal. The appointment of a Mauritian national to an international body, such as the UN Dispute Tribunal or the UN Appeals Tribunal, will contribute to enhance the visibility of Mauritius on the international scene. It will also testify to our support for the first serious overhaul of the UN system of administration of justice in 60 years and to our commitment to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the National Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy and Plan of Action 2009-2015 prepared by the Ministry of Heath and Quality of Life, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Plan of Action represents a key milestone in efforts made to strengthen the reproductive health programme and paves the way for the next seven years for actions with clearly defined outputs, objectives and targets in twelve key areas of intervention, as enunciated in “The 2007 National and Sexual Reproductive Health Policy”, namely, Family Planning; Infertility; Safe Motherhood including Breastfeeding; Abortion; Infant and Child Health; Adolescent and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health; Sexually Transmitted Infections, HIV and AIDS; Malignancies of the Reproductive Tract, Cancer of Breast and Concerns; Gender and Sexual and Reproductive Health; Male Involvement and participation in Sexual and Reproductive Health; Male Sexual Dysfunction; and Geriatrics.

16. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life would release the “Family Planning and Demographic Yearbook 2007, a yearly publication, providing data and vital statistics on population, family planning and health service points for Mauritius as well as for Rodrigues. The salient features of the Yearbook are –

Island of Mauritius
(a) As at 31 December 2007, the population was 1,227,075, constituting of 606,307 males and 620,768 females.
(b) During the period 2005 – 2007, the average life span for a Mauritian was 72.5 years.
(c) As at 1 July, 2007, the number of women in the reproductive age group 15-49 was 337,984 as compared to 336,720 as at 1 July 2006.
(d) The estimated number of married women aged 15 - 49 was 206,846.
(e) The crude birth rate was 13.2 per 1000 population as compared to 13.8 in 2006.
(f) The total fertility rate, that is the average number of children per woman, was 1.63 as compared with 1.67 in 2006.
(g) The infant mortality rate, that is the number of deaths of infants under one year per 1000 live births, was 15.3 as compared to 13.5 in 2006.
(h) There were 87,441 current users of the different family planning methods in 2007 as compared to 87,412 in 2006.

Island of Rodrigues
(a) As at 31 December 2007, the population of Rodrigues was 37,499 as compared to 37,230 in 2006.
(b) As at 1 July, 2007, the estimated female population in the age group 15-49 years was 9,741.
(c) The crude birth rate was 22.60.
(d) The total fertility rate was 2.86.
(e) The infant mortality rate was 15.4.
(f) There were 6,821 current users of all family planning methods as compared to 6,524 in 2006.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade to Paris where he participated in the Second Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development held on 25 November 2008. The aim of the Conference was to pursue the spirit of dialogue between Europe and Africa initiated during the First Euro-African Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development held in July 2006. The Conference unanimously adopted the three-Year Programme, which aims at -
(a) facilitating the emergence of legal migration opportunities to European countries and supporting intra-African legal migration opportunities through strengthened institutional cooperation between countries of origin and destination;
(b) fighting irregular migration through the establishment of a comprehensive approach including the strengthening of border control and curbing the practice of migrant smuggling and the trafficking of human beings; and
(c) strengthening synergies between migration and development through the support of employment and socio-economic development policies for the countries of origin through the promotion of economic growth and the development of countries of origin.
In his statement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade spoke of Government’s policy on circular migration and highlighted the benefits of establishing a bilateral agreement with France and brought to the fore the drive of Government to initiate and conclude similar migration agreements with other countries.
In the margins of the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade met HE Mr Brice Hortefeux, Minister for Immigration, National Identity & Mutually Supportive Development and Mr Patrick Stefanini, Secretary General of the Ministry of Immigration with whom he discussed the possibility of involving the International Organisation for Migration in the implementation of the agreement signed between Mauritius and France.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, and the Minister of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security from 15 to 18 December 2008 to Brussels where they participated in the 88th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers.
The Council of Ministers deliberated on the report of the Committee of Ambassadors, which comprised, inter alia, legal and institutional issues, political issues, sustainable economic development and trade, development finance and intra-ACP programming, the ACP budget for the financial year 2009, Non-Tariffs Barriers in the Fisheries sector and Food Facility proposal.
Mauritius made a number of suggestions at the Council Meeting to be incorporated in the ACP proposal, namely, the concept of circular migration to enable the movement of workers to the EU for a specific period, the delinking of climate change from trade to ensure that the EU do not use climate change as a barrier to trade, an amendment to Article 54 of the Cotonou Agreement to take into account the impact of soaring food prices on the ACP, in particular the Net Food Developing ACP countries, and the need to create an Agriculture, food production and security facility. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade also raised the issue of the exclusion of Mauritius for the list of countries that have been earmarked to benefit from reserves made available to the ACP under the MDG contracts.
In the margins of the meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade and the Minister of the Agro Industry, Food Production and Security met Commissioner Louis Michel with whom they discussed, inter alia, -
(a) EPA negotiations and the signature of the ESA-EC interim EPA;
(b) COMESA Fund;
(c) Project submitted by Mauritius under the Food Facility;
(d) Aid for Trade; and
(e) Second Five-year Review of the Cotonou Agreement.
They also met Commissioner F. Boël with whom they discussed accompanying measures, food security and WTO negotiations.

19. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Information and Communication Technology to Madagascar on 16 December 2008, where he participated in a Ministerial meeting on the Inter-Island Connectivity (SEGANET) project and signed, the “Protocole d’Accord” relating to the Project.
The salient features of the “Protocole d’Accord” are:
(a) It defines the exchange and consultation mechanism, as well as the working methodology, between IOC Member States to realise the SEGANET sub-marine cable project which aims at addressing IOC Member States need for regional cooperation, development and fight against inequalities and isolation.
(b) It guarantees the population of the IOC Member States transparent and non-discriminatory access to bandwidth which shall be capable of providing high transmission rate and a wide range of services at fair and competitive price.

20. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Board of Trustees of La Clinique Mauricienne for the year 2009.

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