CABINET DECISIONS – 17 SEPTEMBER 2010
1. Cabinet paid tribute to Mr Angidi Veeriah Chettiar, GOSK, CBE, Vice-President of the Republic, who passed away on 15 September 2010 and extended its heartfelt condolences to his family and parents. Cabinet took note that a funeral with military honours would be held on 20 September 2010.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the official mission of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister, to France from 30 August to 4 September 2010. The Prime Minister was invited by HE Mr Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic of France, to perform the lighting of the flame ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in commemoration of the victory of the Naval Battle of Grand Port in 1810, and also to have bilateral meetings with himself and Prime Minister, Mr François Fillon.
On 31 August, the Prime Minister rekindled the flame and along with other personalities laid wreath at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe. The function, which lasted for one hour, was attended by about 500 persons, comprising distinguished personalities from several fields, such as diplomacy, military, politics, economy, social and non-governmental organizations, as well as Mauritians who formed a retinue, proudly holding the national flag. The Prime Minister also signed the Eminent Visitors’ Book, a highly prestigious book, where dignitaries put on record important aspects of history. The ceremony for the Lighting of the Flame at the Arc de Triomphe at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier is of great historical significance as our national flag floated there and the Mauritian National Anthem was played three times together with the French National Anthem.
The Prime Minister and President Sarkozy had a lengthy meeting during which they discussed, amongst others, the following issues-
(a) Economic Reform – The Prime Minister spoke of economic reform undertaken by Mauritius and of how it registered a growth rate of 3% despite the economic challenges due to the world economic crisis. He made a case for additional assistance from our development partners, in particular the European Union, to enable us to attain our objective of global competitiveness.
(b) Agence Française de Développement – The Prime Minister expressed the appreciation of the Government of Mauritius for the work undertaken by AFD since the re-opening of its office in Mauritius following his personal intervention in 2006 and pointed out that the signature of a Financial Convention of Euro 125 million for the MID project is a concrete expression of the support by AFD.
(c) Tromelin - The Prime Minister stressed that the sovereignty issue should be settled once and for all. The President agreed that the co-management of the islet is but a first step and certainly not un aboutissement of the issue of sovereignty and he was confident that the issue will be settled.
(d) Piracy in the Indian Ocean Region - The Prime Minister stated that Mauritius has taken several measures to protect its exclusive economic zone from piracy and it was proposed to house a Tribunal for the trial of pirates. The French President reiterated the intention of his country to put at the disposal of Mauritius a vessel equipped with the latest technology with a view to helping fight piracy in the Indian Ocean region.
(e) Madagascar - The Prime Minister spoke of the active involvement of Mauritius at the level of the regional groupings to assist Madagascar to come back to constitutional order. He added that he has offered facilities to members of the National Co-ordination Team of the Civil Society to hold their discussions at a neutral venue and also proposed the setting up of a SADC Permanent Mediation Bureau in the Mauritius Embassy in Madagascar.
(f) Projects – The Prime Minister expressed his appreciation of the participation of the French authorities in the implementation of various projects in the airport, port, water and waste water sectors and of the Sankoré Project which comprises the digitization of education systems and is being implemented in all schools. He also requested the assistance of France to consolidate the Disaster Management Unit, enhance the management of our Prisons Services and combat the drug scourge, to which the French President responded positively.
The French President invited the Prime Minister to effect an official visit to Reunion Island so as to reinforce the relations between the two sister islands and also to create a common platform of economic cooperation while building an enhanced collaboration in fields of common interests.
At his meeting with the French Prime Minister, Mr François Fillon, the Prime Minister -
(a) revisited, in detail, several issues raised with President Sarkozy, viz., the issue of Tromelin, the Sankoré Project, optimizing complementarities with Reunion Island in fields such as energy, education, tertiary education sector, health services, and the new niche markets in the tourism sector being tapped by Mauritius, for example China and India. With a view to promoting Mauritius and Reunion Island as upmarket destinations, he proposed that the French authorities consider the possibility of facilitating the grant of visas to tourists coming from China and India and visiting Mauritius, as this could lead to the development of a common platform for the promotion of tourism in the region; and
(b) added that, following the invitation of President Sarkozy and in his capacity as the Chair of the IOC, he would lead a strong delegation comprising the public and the private sector representatives to Reunion Island, not only to redynamiser les relations but also to open up new avenues of cooperation and collaboration between the two Island States. The opening of a Consulate General of Mauritius in Reunion Island would also be considered.
The French Prime Minister agreed to the request of the Mauritius Prime Minister for assistance in the setting up of a centre de gestion des catastrophes on the same lines as in Reunion Island, in the consolidation of our Disaster Management Unit and in the stepping up of cultural relations between our two countries through cultural and technical exchanges. He suggested that the Minister of Culture, Mr Fréderic Mitterand, could undertake a visit to Mauritius with a view to giving a new dimension to cultural cooperation between our two countries. In this context, a preliminary working session was held with Mr Florent Stora, Adviser on Diplomatic Matters of the French Minister of Culture.
The Prime Minister had a meeting on the Sankoré Project with Professor Albert Claude Benhamou, French Inter-ministerial Delegate for Numeric Education in Africa, who had visited Mauritius last month and Mr Alain Madelin.
3. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Second Mauritius/Seychelles Joint Management Committee of the Extended Continental Shelf held in the Seychelles in July 2010. The Committee reviewed the Agreement signed in 2008 between Mauritius and the Seychelles and finalized a framework for the management of the Joint Zone, namely the establishment of a Ministerial Council comprising Ministers of both States to provide general oversight of the Agreement, and of an Authority to carry out the day-to-day regulation and management of the resource activities in the Joint Zone.
Cabinet has also taken note of the presentation made to the UN by a Joint Delegation from Mauritius and the Seychelles for an extension of their Continental Shelf. The presentation made relates to an additional area of about 400,000 km2.
4. Cabinet has taken note that, following discussions that Dr the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister, had with the Prime Minister of Singapore during his official visit to Singapore in October 2008, bilateral air services talks were held in August last to review the Air Services Agreement with a view to further developing air links between the two countries. Agreement has been reached, inter alia, on the following -
(a) a multiple airlines designation regime replacing the single designation regime;
(b) the number of weekly passenger frequencies being increased to 14;
(c) there being no limitation to the number of cargo frequencies; and
(d) the designated airline(s) of each Party being entitled to enjoy own stop-over rights to all intermediate points and to all beyond points.
5. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the construction of a Recreation Centre for Senior Citizens at Pointe aux Piments. The Centre would be the third, after Pointe aux Sables and Belle Mare, put up for the benefit of the elderly.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Tourism and Leisure to Reunion Island where he had meetings with tour operators and tourist-related organisations with a view to developing a concerted approach to tap potential tourists there, and maximise from a twin-destination approach between Mauritius and Reunion Island to develop an Indian Ocean product.
The Minister of Tourism and Leisure also had meetings with Mr Didier Robert, Président, Conseil Régional; Mr M. Lalande, Préfet; Mr Pascal Viroleau, Directeur, l’île de la Réunion Tourisme (IRT); Ms Jaqueline Farreyrol, Présidente, IRT; Mrs Nassima Dindar, Présidente, Conseil Général; Mr Gilbert Annette, Maire de St Denis; Mr Gérard Ethève, CEO, Air Australe; and Professor Guy Fontaine and Professor M. Rochdi, l’Université de la Réunion with whom he discussed, inter alia, the development of a twin-destination tourist market, the possibility of twinning with the Université de la Réunion to conduct courses on hospitality services and how to tap the Asian market.
Cabinet has also taken note that a workshop for the tour operators of the region has been organized in Mauritius to work out packages of twin/multi-destination products between Mauritius and Reunion Island and the channels to commercialise the products.
7. Cabinet has agreed to the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2011-2013 Document, prepared in consultation with all stakeholders, i.e., Government bodies, the private sector, the civil society and NGO’s, being submitted to the EU. The Document sets out the framework for the programming of resources to which Mauritius is entitled under the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol for the period 2011-2013. The priority areas for intervention under the Document are –
(b) social and economic empowerment;
(c) Maurice Ile Durable (environment, energy); and
The overriding objective is to encourage higher level results from the economic reform programme while mitigating the negative impacts on the environment and protecting the vulnerable groups through access to education and training.
8. In line with Government's commitment to introduce the Mauritian kreole and Bhojpuri as optional subjects in schools, Cabinet has taken note that, on 30 August 2010, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources organised a National Forum comprising all stakeholders to reflect on the introduction of the Mauritian Kreole in schools. As concluded in the Forum, a Technical Committee, known as the Academie du kreol Maurisien and comprising persons who have linguistic and research background, has been set up to advise on the standardization, including pronunciation, syntax and grammar of the kreol Maurisien language; to validate the writing system; and provide necessary technical guidelines for the development of curriculum materials and training to teachers.
9. Cabinet has taken note that, according to the last statistical bulletin, 581,252 tourists visited Mauritius during the period January to August 2010 as compared to 548,741 for the corresponding period in 2009, i.e., an increase of 5.9%. During the month of August 2010, some 65,093 tourists visited Mauritius as compared to 63,365 in August 2009, i.e., an increase of 2.7%. Growth was registered in the main tourist markets as follows - France (+3.2%), UK (+4.1%), Germany (+3.8%), Spain (+2.2%), Reunion Island (+2.6%) and India (+28.1%).
10. Cabinet has agreed to the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment making legislation to extend the benefits and facilities, currently being offered under the various schemes set up by the Export Processing Zone Labour Welfare Fund, to employees of manufacturing companies employing 10 or more workers and holding a licence issued by a local authority.
11. Cabinet has taken note of the ongoing programme for the cleaning and maintenance of drains to mitigate the risks of flooding during the forthcoming rainy season.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Local Government and Outer Islands would launch a pamphlet to sensitize the public on good practices in the collection and disposal of solid waste, and the adverse effect of dumping in drains and water courses.
12. Cabinet has taken note that Mauritius would participate in the XIX Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, India from 3 to 14 October 2010 in the following sports disciplines:- archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, swimming, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling, as well as activities for athletes with disability.
13. Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius becoming an Associate Member of the Metre Convention, which led to the creation of the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, to provide for a single and coherent system of measurement standards with more accuracy and reliability. As an Associate Member of the Convention, Mauritius would position itself as an internationally recognized institution in matters of metrology measurement standards.
14. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security and the Quarantine and Inspection Department of the Government of Australia and that of the Government of New Zealand would sign an Operating Agreement for the implementation of the Giant African Snail (GAS) Protocol aiming at promoting and ensuring a port hygiene system for the effective management of the bio-security risk of sea containers destined to Australia and New Zealand, as well as at fostering bilateral trade in plants and planting materials through increased cooperation in phyto-sanitary measures. The implementation of the Protocol would remove Mauritius from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service GAS Country Action list.
15. Cabinet has taken note that the United Nations Environment Programme, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, would hold a Regional Workshop in Mauritius from 4 to 6 October 2010 to disseminate the results and approaches developed under the Initiative on Integrated Assessment of Trade-related Policies and Biodiversity and increase capacity at both national and regional levels with respect to the use of the Integrated Assessment for a better understanding of linkages between trade, agriculture and biodiversity. Participants from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Uganda and Mauritius would attend the Workshop.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the programme of activities that would be organised by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security from 13 to 17 October 2010 at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden on the occasion of the World Food Day which will be commemorated on 16 October on the theme “United Against Hunger”, viz.,-
(a) demonstration and dissemination of information on production techniques;
(b) Conference on the theme of the Day;
(c) exhibition and sale of agricultural products and agro-industrial equipment;
(d) culinary shows;
(e) awards of recognition to farmers; and
(f) launching of a “Guide Agricole”.
17. Cabinet has taken note that the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives in recognition of cooperatives being one of the business models to boost economic and social development. In that context, activities would be organised to promote cooperative ideals, values and principles, as well as to motivate the local cooperative movement.
18. Cabinet has agreed to the implementation of a framework for mobilizing technical expertise from development partners, international and capacity building organisations and through Government-to-Government arrangements in line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
19. Cabinet has taken note that, during her recent visit to the UK, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare met Mr Bruce Clark, Director of Policy of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), and discussed avenues of cooperation to further strengthen the Child Development Unit and the Family Welfare and Protection Unit of her Ministry and to set up a similar structure in her Ministry to facilitate court procedures for families and children.
20. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Tourism and Leisure to the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong from 30 August to 6 September 2010 in the context of the Shanghai Expo 2010. He was a member of the delegation led by the President of the Republic. The Minister launched an aggressive tourist promotional campaign with stakeholders, i.e., tour operators, media, airline companies and investors, in three main cities of China, namely Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and in Hong Kong. He exposed tourist attractions in Mauritius, as well as the business facilitation framework and incentives that exist to attract foreign investment. In Beijing, the Minister of Tourism and Leisure met senior officials of Hainan Airlines and discussed the possibility of operating flights to Mauritius on the occasion of the Spring Festival, August vacation and October national celebrations. He also had meetings with Chinese investors. In Hong Kong, the Minister was present at a Tourist Promotion Workshop, which was attended by tour operators and travel agents.
21. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions to New York, where she participated in the Third Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Presentations and discussions centred on the need for special attention to persons in situation of risks, living independently, as well as education for children with disability.
In the margins of the Conference, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institutions discussed possibilities of collaboration with Mr Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary General of the UN Office of High Representative for the Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, Mr Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico and Chairperson of the Conference and Members of the Indian delegation attending the Conference.
22. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Health and Quality of Life to Equatorial Guinea where she participated in the 60th Session of the World Health Organisation Regional Committee for Africa. The Committee adopted five resolutions aiming at improving the health situation in the African Region, viz., -
(a) the creation of the African Public Health Emergency Fund to support Governments in addressing the impact caused by continued occurrence of epidemics and other public health emergencies;
(b) the establishment of sustainable national leadership, policies and structures to coordinate inter-sectoral actions to address the determinants of health;
(c) the development and implementation of evidence-based national policies and interventions regarding the reduction of harmful use of alcohol;
(d) the promotion of national commitment to e-Health; and
(e) the integration of immunization into national health development policy and plans.
In the margins of the Meeting, the Minister of Health and Quality of Life had meetings with Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director General, Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO Regional Director for Africa, and Mr Samuel Adeniyi-Jones, Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services of the Africa Region.