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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 13 February

Cabinet Decisions taken on 13 February

1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, Prime Minister, from 2 to 6 February 2009 to Washington, USA, where he participated in the 57th National Prayer Breakfast Meeting and had meetings with senior members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as high officials of the new US administration.
The National Prayer Breakfast, which was attended by Heads of State and Government and eminent personalities, including the President of Phillipines, the Vice-President of Indonesia, the President of Haïti, the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister, Senior Members of the US Congress, was an exceptional opportunity for the Prime Minister to meet the new US administration and to renew contacts with some influential members of the US Congress.
The Prime Minister seized the opportunity to: -
(i) canvass support for legislation to make the trade and other provisions of AGOA more predictable and responsive to the development needs of Sub-Saharan Africa, with particular emphasis on the importance of extending Third Country Fabric Derogation beyond 2012;
(ii) make a case for an effective operationalisation of “Aid for Trade” with a view to mobilizing technical and financial assistance to help Mauritius restructure its economy in response to the erosion of trade preferences, increased competition and the global economic crisis; and
(iii) inform the US authorities of Government’s stand on the Chagos Archipelago and, in particular, the island of Diego Garcia, and enlist their support for an amicable settlement of the long-standing and legitimate claim of Mauritius on the sovereignty over the Archipelago.
During his visit, the Prime Minister met, amongst others, the following personalities –
(a) Congressman Jim McDermott to whom he reiterated the appreciation of Government for his pioneering role in the enactment of AGOA and his relentless support for Third Country Fabric Derogation for Mauritius. He also expressed his support for the New Partnership for Development Act (NPDA), which seeks to give permanent duty-free and quota-free access to the US for all products from LDC’s and other AGOA beneficiary countries, including Mauritius. The Prime Minister made a new plea for the LDC derogation under AGOA for Mauritius to be extended beyond 2012 as a transitionary measure towards global competitiveness.
(b) Mr Philip Carter, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs with whom he discussed the current status of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), the situation in Zimbabwe and Madagascar, the negative effects piracy was having on increasing the freight costs of goods to and from Mauritius, and the issue of Sovereignty on the Chagos Archipelago. The Prime Minister proposed that, in line with the provision of AGOA, a Summit of Heads of State/Government be held next year, to discuss the post-AGOA scenario, since countries like China, India, the EU, Japan, Turkey and Brazil, have given a new dimension to their relations with Africa.
(c) Mr Peter Allgeier, Acting United States Trade Representative, with whom he spoke of the Doha Development Agenda and the forthcoming TIFA meeting to be held in Mauritius.
The Prime Minister visited the Medical School of the University of Maryland which was established in 1807. The School has developed the most innovative teaching school curricula among US medical schools and technology modules that can incorporate telemedicine and distance learning with a hybrid of onsite technology and site-based coordination. The Prime Minister discussed possible areas of collaboration with high officials of the School, namely -
(a) the creation of an institute of Postgraduate Medical Education in Mauritius;
(b) the development of telemedicine approaches to collaborative patient care between the University and clinical sites in Mauritius; and
(c) the feasibility of the University setting up a Medical School in Mauritius in collaboration with the University of Mauritius.
The Prime Minister invited a team from the University of Maryland to visit Mauritius and carry out an assessment of our health services and the training facilities, and make recommendations on how best to ameliorate our health services.

2. In view of the closure to vehicular traffic of certain main roads during the visit of the President of the People's Republic of China on 16 and 17 February 2009, Cabinet has decided that –
(a) on Monday 16 February, all educational institutions and officers of the Public Service and para-statal bodies would be released at 1400 hours; and
(b) on Tuesday 17 February, all educational institutions would be on holiday and officers of the Public Service and para-statal bodies would be released at noon.
The Private Sector has been invited to consider releasing its employees who would be affected by the road closure on both days.

3. Cabinet has taken note that, during the official visit of the President of the People’s Republic of China, a Preferential Buyer’s Credit Loan Agreement would be signed between the Airports of Mauritius Co. Ltd and the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM Bank). The agreement provides for part-financing of the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport Terminal Expansion Project comprising the construction of the new Passenger Terminal. The Project is expected to start in July 2009 and be completed in two years.

4. Cabinet has agreed to a decrease in the retail price of a bag of cement of 50 kg from Rs 187.90 to Rs 182.90 (ex-Fort George), i.e., a decrease of 2.66%, as from the next consignment to be received by the State Trading Corporation.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions from 25 to 31 January 2009 to Mumbai, India where, on behalf of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, who was on mission in Washington, USA, she received the award of the Honorary Doctorate of Science conferred upon the Prime Minister by the Padmashree Dr D.Y. Patil University.
Following a request made, Dr D.Y. Patil, Chancellor of the University, has agreed to put up a branch of the University for the Indian Ocean in Mauritius and has offered the following seats, free of charge, to economically vulnerable Mauritian students –
(i) 2 seats in Allopathic Medicine;
(ii) 2 seats in Ayurvedic Medicine;
(iii) 2 seats in Dentistry;
(iv) 5 seats in Engineering; and
(v) 5 seats in Technology (Bio).
The Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizens Welfare & Reform Institutions also visited Pune, where she, inter alia, -
(a) attended the MANASI Shree Shakti Award Event 2009;
(b) visited Self-Help Groups and the MANASI Training Centre which provides Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Programmes to Self-Help Groups; and
(c) had working sessions with Kamayani School for the mentally handicapped.

6. Cabinet has taken note that the High Level Committee, set up to provide financial assistance to deserving families who have lost their only residence through sale by levy, has approved financial assistance in 37 cases and funds to the tune of Rs 5.5m have already been released in respect of 15 cases.

7. Cabinet has agreed to the moratorium, allowing bank fishing operators to carry mogas on board their fishing vessels, being extended for a further period of one year as from 1 March 2009 to enable the operators to acquire diesel propelled outboard motors.

8. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Gamma Waste to Energy project.

9. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of Dr Mervyn Druian, B.D.S.,D.G.D.P., RCS, a well-known dentist in the United Kingdom, to Mauritius from 12 to 17 January 2009 during which he gave a lecture on cosmetic dentistry pertaining to Practice Management, Porcelain Veneer and Tooth Whitening. Dr Druian is a leader, lecturer and innovator in modern dentistry with special interest in the field of periodontal disease (gum disease), cosmetic dentistry and treating halitosis (bad breath). Dr Druian also visited the dental facilities at Victoria Hospital, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam National Hospital and Souillac Hospital. He has proposed the inclusion of dental hygienists in the dental practice set-up in hospitals.

10. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) Radio Telescope project as a multi-country African collaborative network system initiated in the 1990’s. The main objectives of the project are to:-
(a) map the time evolution of the cosmic web of primordial gas as it condenses to form the first objects in the universe;
(b) chart the development of adolescent stars and galaxies;
(c) provide data for a whole range of astronomical investigations;
(d) complement other planned instruments in the optical, infrared and millimetre wavebands;
(e) provide sharp radio images of all categories of astronomical objects; and
(f) investigate the nature of the enigmatic gamma-ray burst sources.
The SKA Radio telescope, the largest in the world, would be built in the Southern hemisphere where the view of our galaxy is the best and radio interference is the least. Mauritius has been identified as one of the collecting stations that would host about 40 dishes.

11. Following the coming into operation of the Employment Relations Act on 2 February 2009, Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of the following mechanisms for the Civil Service to safeguard and maintain good employment relations between Ministries/Departments and
the Unions –
(a) the Central Conciliation and Mediation Council, under the chairmanship of the Secretary to Cabinet and Head of the Civil Service, to replace the Central Whitley Council, and to be the central negotiating body on employment matters which cuts across the Civil Service; and
(b) the Departmental Conciliation and Mediation Council, an administrative body set up at the level of each Ministry/Department under the chairmanship of the Supervising Officer of the Ministry/Department or an officer designated by him, to replace the Departmental Whitley Council, and having the power to negotiate and take decisions on specific issues relating to working conditions and terms of employment for departmental grades, but excluding remuneration or allowances of any kind.

12. As announced in the 2008-2009 Budget Speech, Cabinet has taken note of measures taken for the implementation of the Public Sector Investment Programme and of key policy and institutional reforms to address bottlenecks, and to improve the quality and efficiency of our infrastructure, namely water, waste water, transport, energy, land drainage and airport services.
The Public Sector Investment Programme is an important planning tool that ensures broad consistency between the national development priorities, the sectoral programmes and resource availability. It also allows a transparent platform for the efficient and effective allocation of available and planned resources through proper planning, preparation and prioritization of projects.

13. Cabinet has agreed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, in collaboration with COMESA, organising a workshop on Trade in Services in the context of the Economic Partnership Agreement. The objective of the Workshop is to make an assessment of the services sector in Mauritius, develop a schedule for the EPA negotiations, and assist in identifying the barriers existing on the EC services market. The Workshop is scheduled from 24 to 26 February 2009.

14. Cabinet has taken note of activities which would be organised by the Ministry for Consumer Protection and Citizens Charter to mark the World Consumer Rights Day, observed on 15 March. The theme chosen for this year by the Consumer International is "Junk Food Generation – the need for action". A series of sensitization campaigns on the dangers of junk food and unhealthy eating habits would be carried out during the period from 20 February to 13 March 2009, and the IVTB would carry out culinary demonstrations.

15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Renewable Energy and Public Utilities from 2 to 3 February 2009 to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he participated in the Twelfth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
The Summit discussed, inter alia, the following issues –
(a) Peace and Security in African States;
(b) Abuse of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction;
(c) Infrastructure Development in Africa with Emphasis on Transport, Energy and Investment; and
(d) The Global Financial Crisis.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Renewable Energy and Public Utilities had meetings with Lord Malloch-Brown, UK Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mr Ban-Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, and Mr Vidar Helgesen, Secretary General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

16. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade on 20 January 2009 to Lusaka where he participated in the Ministerial Sub-Committee on the Economic Partnership Agreement, which discussed, inter alia, the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) Clause, export taxes and quantitative restrictions, the definition of substantially all trade and the standstill clause. The Ministerial Sub-Committee also considered other issues, such as rules of origin and development.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade on 27 January 2009 to London where he participated in the Commonwealth Secretariat Ministerial Meeting on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The Meeting addressed the following issues:
(a) Development and Trade;
(b) Market Access, including Rules of Origin and Agriculture;
(c) Trade-related issues and Trade in Services;
(d) Regional Integration; and
(e) Contentious Clauses in the Interim EPA, including the Most Favoured Nation Clause.

18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade from 4 to 7 February 2009 to Cape Town, South Africa, where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding on economic cooperation to promote investments, industry and trade cooperation between the two countries.
In the margins of the visit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade had a bilateral meeting with the Hon Mpahlwa, South African Minister of Trade and Industry and they agreed to -
(a) adopt a common approach regarding the on-going negotiations of the EPA and under the AGOA; and
(b) explore new avenues of cooperation.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade also met the Hon D. Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Africa, with whom he discussed the political situation prevailing in the region, namely in Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Comoros.

19. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Health and Quality of Life in January 2009 to the United Arab Emirates where he attended the Arab Health Exhibition and Congress and the “Leaders in Healthcare Conference" and met high profile investors in the health care and life sciences sector, inter alia -
(a) Mr Sobhi Batterjee, Chairman of the Saudi German Hospital Group, who proposes to set up a 200-bed multi-speciality private hospital; and
(b) Mr Thumbay Moideen, Chairman of Thumbay Group and promoter of the Gulf Medical University and G.M.C Hospital & Research Center, with whom he discussed the setting up of a branch of the Gulf Medical University in Mauritius.

20. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of –
(a) the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund Board with Dr Mrs Vijayalakshmi Teelock as Chairperson;
(b) the Advisory Council for Occupational Safety and Health with the Director, Occupational, Safety and Health, Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment as Chairperson; and
(c) the Council of Registered Professional Engineers.