CABINET DECISIONS – 27 FEBRUARY 2009
1. Cabinet has taken note of representations made by residential consumers regarding their electricity bill for the month of February 2009, covering period December 2008 to January 2009, and requested the Central Electricity Board to look into and address the matter.
2. Cabinet has taken note that the Cultural Centres, viz., the Tamil Cultural Centre, the Telegu Cultural Centre, and the Marathi Cultural Centre, will take a more integrated approach towards nation building and national unity and in this context, the management committee of these Centres is being reconstituted in consultation with the respective socio-cultural organizations.
3. Cabinet has taken note of the deteriorating world economic situation and of the significant challenges that pose for Mauritius. Cabinet has also taken note of the IMF Staff Statement issued on Friday 20 February 2009 which states that Mauritius has shown remarkable resilience to the global financial crisis. Similar to many countries, Mauritius has also responded to the threats by providing an Additional Stimulus Package to shore up economic performance to the tune of Rs 10.4 billion, equivalent to about 3.8% of GDP over a period of two years with an expected extra 1% to 1.5% growth annually. The IMF has further stated that, as a result of sustained economic reforms over the last few years, the macroeconomic fundamentals of Mauritius are solid : the fiscal position improved, the public debt-to-GDP ratio declined, and economic growth reached its highest level in a decade in 2008. Moreover, while banks in many countries have come under severe stress, the Mauritian banking system has remained well capitalized and liquid. As a result, in 2008, the GDP grew by 5.2% with all sectors showing positive growth. Unemployment rate fell to 7.8% as some 10,800 jobs were created as compared to 3,000 in 2005. Inflation was held below the double digit mark at 9.7%. Investment as a ratio of GDP was 25%, while private investment as a ratio of GDP rose to 20.4%, due, in part, to Foreign Direct Investment which has shown very good resilience, with an inflow of Rs 11.4 billion in 2008. The Foreign Direct Investment for the years 2006 and 2007 were Rs 7.2 billion and Rs 11.5 billion, respectively, as compared to Rs 2.8 billion in 2005. Net international reserves reached Rs 90 billion in 2008 from Rs 85 billion in 2007.
Cabinet has further taken note that additional measures are being explored to respond to forthcoming challenges, as according to experts the global economic recession will persist.
4. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of a two-person delegation led by Mrs Ann Puntis, Chief Executive of the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) in the context of the marking and security of the HSC examinations 2008 and of the measures taken by the CIE to prevent leakages. In order to forestall the recurrence of leakages through the use of internet, the CIE has proposed measures for the short term, i.e., the 2009 SC/HSC Examinations, to safeguard the Mauritius examinations by setting appropriate time tables for the time zones in such a manner that the same papers are not taken early by candidates in any country. In the long term, it is proposed to establish six examination zones of four hours each with three different versions of each examination component taken so that each component will be exposed in only two adjacent examination zones. Hence, candidates taking the same paper in two different time zones, will do so at the same instant in real time. The web and unregulated forums, like “Blackpaper.info”, would be scrutinized. The instructions to candidates would be reviewed and an upgraded Student Support Site, with the possibility of a moderated “Ask the Examiner” session, would be set up in the period preceding key subject examinations.
5. Cabinet has taken note of the List of Indicative Priority Fields of Study for the period 2009-2010 prepared by the Tertiary Education Commission. The List, which enumerates the areas/sectors where the country would need high-level qualified manpower in the future, acts as a guide to all those embarking on higher studies.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the official programme of the National Day Celebrations on 12 March 2009 which would start at 1830 hours at Champs de Mars and comprise a parade by the Police Force, helicopter flypast, défilé by uniformed organisations and sports federations, flag raising, and cultural items by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute/Conservatoire de Musique François Mitterrand and local artists. The celebrations would culminate with musically synchronized fireworks.
As in the past, all persons travelling to and from Port Louis would pay half fare two hours before and two hours after the celebrations, whereas disabled persons and children would travel free of charge.
Cabinet has further taken note that, in the context of the National Day Celebrations -
(a) a bookmark on “Maurice – Ile Durable” would be distributed to school children;
(b) a national flag campaign would be mounted to encourage Mauritians to float a National flag on the occasion; and
(c) the petrol companies would distribute stickers with national colours in all filling stations.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the programme of activities to be organized in the context of the "Maurice Ile Durable" week from 14 to 20 March 2009, viz. -
(a) a national display of exhibits from "La Cité des Sciences" of Paris from its "Exposition Pôle Nord Pôle Sud – Les Scientifiques en Alerte" at the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre;
(b) a colloquium at the University of Mauritius, with the participation of representatives of the "Université de Compiègne" of France;
(c) an interactive website on “Maurice Ile Durable” designed as a citizen's forum coupled with a video conferencing with Professor Joël de Rosnay;
(d) visit of the Mr Richard Reynolds, author of the bestseller “Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening without Boundaries” and passionate environmentalist, who would participate in an interactive forum with students, youth, NGOs, women organizations;
(e) the British Council would organize a workshop for private sector operators of the tourism sector, industrial sector and business executives on climate change and corporate social responsibility; and
(f) the Board of Investment would organize a Workshop on Energy Efficient and Green Buildings with the participation of Professor Dr Steffen Lehmann, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Urban Development for Asia and Pacific.
8. Cabinet has taken note that the following activities would be organised by the Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare in the context of the International Women’s Day celebrated on 8 March –
(a) launching of an Action Plan and the Web Site of the Participatory Advisory Committees;
(b) handing over of awards to five women organisations for their significant contribution to women’s empowerment;
(c) production of a short film on “Opportunities for Women’s Empowerment” which depicts progress made by women since 1975 and existing opportunities to face the challenges for their sustainable development;
(d) inauguration of the Women Empowerment Centre at Triolet;
(e) open day on “Opportunities for Women’s Empowerment” at the National Women Development Centre, Phoenix; and
(f) organisation of an “Atelier de Savoir”.
The theme chosen by the United Nations this year is “Men and Women united to end violence against Women”. The Ministry of Women’s Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare has retained the theme “Opportunties for Women’s Empowerment” to encourage women to tap the various opportunities available for their empowerment.
9. Cabinet has taken note that following a request made by the Prime Minister during his recent visit to Singapore, the management team of Tan Tock Seng Hospital of Singapore would visit Mauritius in March 2009 to advise on the management of our hospitals. The team would visit all our health care units and the four specialised hospitals and make recommendations on how to improve the health services.
10. Cabinet has taken note that the anti-influenza vaccination campaign for the winter season would start on 10 March 2009 at the Municipality of Vacoas-Phoenix and Triolet Social Welfare Centre. The following persons would be vaccinated against influenza:-
(a) inmates of charitable institutions;
(b) children attending specialized schools; and
(c) elderly persons aged 65 and above as recommended by the World Health
The vaccination schedules indicating the places, time and dates would be communicated to the public through the media.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the following projects have been implemented under the Human Resource, Knowledge and Arts Development Fund operating under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources -
(a) the Scholarship Scheme for needy students. Seventy-two students have been awarded scholarships to the tune of Rs 4.1m during the financial year 2008-2009. One hundred new applications are currently being processed;
(b) the Government Guaranteed Loan Scheme was launched in December 2008 to enable students who cannot provide security to avail themselves of loans from commercial banks for pursuing studies in local post-secondary institutions recognised by the Tertiary Education Commission;
(c) the Second Chance Programme aiming at re-skilling young people between the age of 16 and 21, who are neither in full-time education nor in full-time employment, would be launched in March 2009; and
(d) four projects for the promotion of arts, namely the Young Promising Artist National Award 2009, Creation of a Visual Arts Website, publication of an Annual Arts magazine and support for the promotion of theatre, would be launched shortly.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the current status of water rights in Mauritius and that a Master Plan for the water sector, including the rationalisation of the existing water rights, would be prepared taking into consideration land use and environmental and economic aspects.
13. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the housing project at Military Road and Penang Street, Port Louis, which would comprise the construction of 116 apartments of three bedrooms for middle income group. The Mauritius Housing Company Ltd would be responsible to market the project.
14. Cabinet has taken note that the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping proposes to modernize traffic management and road safety measures. Cabinet has further taken note that about 3,500 road humps have been constructed across roads in the country with the aim of decreasing road accidents which occur through the casual effects of speeding. Humps have, however, proved to have many drawbacks, inter alia, hinder emergency vehicles particularly when time is crucial for saving lives; cause much discomfort to old-aged and sick persons; create shock waves, especially from heavy vehicles, that crack buildings; and make vehicles emit more pollution. It is, therefore, proposed to replace the humps by new effective speed calming devices comprising reflectorized thermoplastic yellow lines protruding 20 mm above the road and road studs.
15. Cabinet has taken note that the Mauritius Accreditation Service (MAURITAS), in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community Cooperation in Accreditation (SADCA), would organise a Workshop on the need for an Inter-African Accreditation Cooperation from 1 to 2 April 2009 in Mauritius. The objective of the Workshop is to discuss the setting up of an integrated Inter-African Accreditation Cooperation platform, based on the model of cooperation of the European Cooperation for Accreditation, the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, or the Inter-America Accreditation Cooperation to strengthen the regional infrastructure. About 20 participants from African countries would participate in the Workshop.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources from 11 to 13 February 2009 to Lyon, France, where he participated in a Conference aimed at defining a common francophone position on the theme "Enabling Sustainable Literacy: poverty and fighting illiteracy" to be presented at the forthcoming International Conference on Adult Education in May 2009.
In the margins of the Conference, the Minister of Education, Culture and Human Resources had a bilateral meeting with the Hon Kamaliddine Afraitane, Minister of Education, Research, Arts and Culture of the Comoros, with whom he discussed possible avenues of cooperation in the field of education, culture and science.
17. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources, in collaboration with Microsoft Indian Ocean Ltd, would organize the Second Pan African Innovative Teachers Forum in September 2009 in Mauritius. The Forum, part of the Microsoft partners in Learning Programme, is an annual event worldwide to recognize and celebrate the meritorious efforts of educators and to -
(a) bring together a community of innovative teachers as learners;
(b) promote teacher confidence in integrating technology throughout the learning process;
(c) foster dialogue on best practices, innovation and pedagogy;
(d) engage teachers intellectually and offer opportunities for them to be active stakeholders in their profession; and
(e) promote the sharing of exceptional innovative practices of technology integration.
At the First Microsoft Pan African Innovative Forum held in May 2008, Mauritius was runner up in a competition on innovations in teaching and learning and the use of technology in classroom in the category "Innovation in Content" and was commended in the category "Innovative in Collaboration".
18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Information and Communication Technology from 11 to 13 February 2009 to Mumbai, India where he participated in the National Association for Software and Service Companies Leadership Forum. The Forum provided a platform in the global ITES/BPO industry to discuss about the future of outsourcing business and network and strategic alliances.
In the margins of the meeting, the Minister of Information and Communication Technology met –
(a) Mr P. Garg, President of Reliance Globalcom, who proposes to operate an island-wide broadband Wi-Max facility in Mauritius. He would invest about Rs 630m; and
(b) Mr Atul Hemani, Managing Director of Omnitech Ltd, who would set up a Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Centre in Mauritius to serve both the local and global markets.
19. Cabinet has taken note that Mr Serge Petit has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Airports of Mauritius Ltd.
20. Cabinet has taken note of the appointments of the Chairpersons of the following organisations –
(a) Mr Rangasamy Pazhany - Airports of Mauritius Limited; and
(b) Mr Jairaj Ramkissoon - Agricultural Marketing Board.
21. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Board of the Mauritius Meat Authority with Mr V. Chummun as Chairperson.