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Prime Minister's Office>Cabinet Decisions taken on 19 March

Cabinet Decisions taken on 19 March

1. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill which empowers –
(a) the Court to impose a minimum term of 3 years penal servitude on a person convicted of assaulting a ministerial officer, an agent of the civil or military authorities or any person entrusted with a public duty, where there has been wounding or premeditation. In case of assault resulting effusion of blood, the mandatory penal servitude would apply. The fine is also being increased from Rs25,000 to Rs100,000; and
(b) the police to arrest, without warrant, a person on reasonable suspicion of his having committed such an offence.

2. Cabinet has taken note that the Prime Minister has nominated Mr Alain Noël, GOSK, CBE, Chairperson and Mr Jairaj Ramkissoon, member of a Committee on Ex-Planters of Riche Terre Land Settlement. The Terms of Reference of the Committee are –
(a) to verify whether all procedures for termination of lease agreement in respect of the State agricultural land at Riche Terre Land Settlement have been adhered to;
(b) to review the reports of the Land Use Division of the Agricultural Services and the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit in relation to land occupancy and crop status of the fields occupied by the ex-planters and the report of the Government Valuation Office in relation to the amount of compensation payable to the ex-planters and to ascertain whether all relevant factors have been duly considered in determining the nature/quantum of compensation granted to the ex-planters; and
(c) to examine whether the claim for higher compensation by a group of 22 ex-planters is justified.

3. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Arabic-Speaking Union Bill, the Bhojpuri-Speaking Union Bill, the Creole-Speaking Union Bill, and the Mandarin-Speaking Union Bill which, respectively, provide for -
(a) the promotion of the Arabic, Bhojpuri, Creole, and Mandarin languages in their spoken and written forms;
(b) the fostering of friendship and understanding with Arabic, Bhojpuri, Creole and Mandarin-Speaking peoples of the world and engagement in educational, academic, cultural and artistic works to further that objective;
(c) the promotion and encouragement of the publication, exhibition and sale of books, magazines, newspapers and other literary works in the respective languages; and
(d) the promotion of inter-cultural and inter-linguistic understanding and harmony through the exchange and participation in joint projects.

4. Cabinet has agreed to the Ministry of Agro Industry, Food Production and Security and the Mauritius Sugar Producers' Association (MSPA) signing an Agreement with a view to improving the conditions of metayers cultivating sugar cane in accordance with the deal concluded between Government and the MSPA in December 2007 and to enable metayers to benefit from the Reform of the Sugar Sector. The Agreement covers, inter alia, rental charges, land swapping, buying back of metayers' rights and sale of land to metayers.

5. Cabinet has taken note of the conclusion of a short-stay Visa Waiver Agreement between Mauritius and Switzerland. On 28 May 2009, Mauritius and the European Community signed a short-stay Visa Waiver Agreement which allows citizens of Mauritius to enter and stay, without prior visa, in the territory of EU Member States within the Schengen Area for a maximum period of three months during a six-month period. Under the combined effect of the Waiver Agreement with Switzerland and with that of the European Community, Mauritian nationals would now be able to travel without a visa to the 25 European Union Member States and Switzerland, and stay for a maximum period of three months with multiple-entry facilities within a six-month period.

6. Cabinet has agreed to the draft Divorce and Judicial Separation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill being circulated for public consultation. The Bill, which incorporates most of the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission following a review of the legislation on divorce, provides for divorce or judicial separation by acceptance, in principle, of the breakdown of a marriage or by mutual consent. It also reduces the period of separation required for a divorce or judicial separation on the ground of “rupture de la vie commune” from 5 to 2 years and simplifies the process following the lodging of a petition.

7. Cabinet has taken note that, according to the last statistical bulletin, 72,366 tourists visited Mauritius in the month on February 2010, as compared to 67,892 for the corresponding period of 2009, i.e., an increase of 6.6%. Positive growth rates have been registered in our main tourist markets as follows:
· France - 17.6%
· Italy - 10.4%
· Reunion Island - 17.6%
· China - 59.7%
· India - 42.2%
· South Africa - 7.5%

8. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Housing and Lands would undertake a mid-term review of the National Land Development Strategy of Mauritius which provides for a comprehensive strategy for land use planning and the protection of the natural environment. The mid-term review would allow the alignment of land use strategy with new legislations, such as the Business Facilitation Act, the Sugar Industry Efficiency Act, the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and the Additional Stimulus Package (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

9. Cabinet has taken note of development in the implementation of the Bagatelle Dam project, which would have a storage capacity of 13.2 million cubic metres and would meet additional water requirements for the Highlands project, the new developments at La Tour Koenig Industrial Zone and the port area. The project also entails the construction of a treatment plant of capacity 60,000 m3/day and associated pipelines to convey treated water from the Dam to lower Plaines Wilhems and Port Louis South. It is expected that the construction of the Dam would be completed by end of 2013. The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs 2.6 billion.

10. Cabinet has taken note that, following a study carried out on the re-use of cooking oil, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life has initiated a series of measures to address the problem relating to high levels of Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs) and peroxide in oils used for frying purposes and has launched a media campaign to sensitize the population on the effects of TFAs and peroxides on health. A food-based dietary guidelines would soon be formulated with the support of the WHO and Regulations under the Food Act would be promulgated to define permissible levels of TFAs and make the labelling of the level of TFA on food products compulsory.

11. Cabinet has agreed to Mauritius signing the Small Islands Developing States Dock Ltd. initiative, a project developed for the benefit of Small Islands Developing States, aiming at, inter alia, –
(a) developing a sustainable energy sector by increasing energy efficiency and tapping renewable energy resources;
(b) providing the Small Islands Developing States with a mechanism to connect with the global carbon market and to take advantage of the resource transfer possibilities; and
(c) setting up a mechanism that would help SIDS generate the financial resources to invest in climate change adaptation projects.

12. Cabinet has taken note that, in accordance with the Industrial and SME Strategic Plan 2010-2013, an Industrial Advisory Council, under the chairmanship of the Minister of Industry, Science and Research, has been set up to –
(a) advise on broad policies and strategies to facilitate the overall development of the industrial sector relating to human resource development, export promotion, investment, industrial modernisation and diversification, competitiveness and fashion and design;
(b) recommend an annual implementation plan of the different strategies and programmes contained in the Strategic Plan and to ensure their timely implementation;
(c) promote a business environment that would foster sustainable and innovative industries; and
(d) facilitate all such activities that contribute towards the promotion of a vibrant industrial sector.

13. Cabinet has taken note of the status of the projects relating to the restructure of manufacturing enterprises, export promotion, SME development and women entrepreneurship projects implemented by the defunct Manufacturing Adjustment and SME Development Fund. The Support to Manufacturing and Services Sector Fund, which has taken over the functions of the Manufacturing Adjustment and SME Development Fund, would, henceforth, follow up on the projects and be responsible to devise new schemes for the further development of the industrial sector.

14. Cabinet has taken note of activities that would be organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources on the occasion of the "Journée Internationale de la Francophonie" celebrated on 20 March 2010, viz., -
(a) conferences, forums and video conferences on entrepreneurship and creativity;
(b) quiz and painting competitions and poetry recitals; and
(c) a cultural programme.

15. Cabinet has taken note of precautionary measures taken by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to avoid contamination from infectious diseases following heavy rainfalls and flash floodings. The public is advised to use protective clothing, such as gloves and boots, when exposed to contaminated water or soil, drain flood waters soon after a heavy rainfall and take measures to control rodents.

16. Cabinet has taken note of the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Industry, Science and Research to establish its carbon footprint with a view to contributing to the national effort to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions in Mauritius for sustainable development. The carbon footprint, a measure of the impact of our activities on the environment, is commonly used to describe the total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions, i.e., carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride, for which an individual or organisation is responsible.

17. Cabinet has taken note of the launching of a website of the National Women Entrepreneur Council, its logo "Think Big, Act Global" and the directory/product catalogue of women entrepreneurs registered with the Council.

18. Cabinet has taken note that, for the academic year 2010, a total of 15,115 pupils have been admitted in pre-primary schools, 15,930 in Standard I, 13,836 in Form I, 2,678 in Pre-vocational stream and 1,725 have been enrolled for the National Trade Certificate Foundation Course. The Mauritius Examinations Syndicate considered favourably 1,199 applications for transfer in Form I. In Rodrigues, 450 children have been admitted in pre-primary schools, whilst in Agalega, the total enrollment in the Lower Secondary School mainstream and Pre-vocational Secondary School was 26. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources has made arrangements for the transfer to colleges in the North of about 90 girl students who reside in the North of the country and were attending schools in the upper Plaine Wilhems.
Cabinet has also taken note that –
(a) the Enhancement Programme, launched on 17 February 2010, is running smoothly;
(b) co-curricular and extra-curricular activities have been introduced in Secondary Schools; and
(c) Health and Physical Education is being introduced in primary schools as from this year and pupils will be initiated to simple breathing and stretching exercises for about 10 minutes in the morning.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources is making use of the web-casting-mode with the Eduweb platform to enhance teaching and learning in schools and for training purposes.

19. Cabinet has taken note that the 25th Annual Conference of the Asia-Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organisation would be held in Mauritius from 19 to 22 April 2010. The theme of the Conference would be "Emerging safety, health and environmental issues in a changing world". The objectives of the Asia-Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organisation are to promote mutual understanding and cooperation among the communities in the region and to contribute to the enhancement of occupational safety and health through the exchange of information and views among member organisations. Delegates, mainly top executives and experts in the field of safety and health from more than 23 countries of the Asian and Pacific region, are expected to attend the Conference. Eminent safety and health professionals would address the Conference.

20. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation, would, from 22 to 26 March 2010, organize a tripartite workshop on Risk Assessment with regard to Occupational Safety and Health. The Workshop would enable participants to better understand the concept of risk assessment and equip them with the necessary skills, techniques and methods of hazard identification, risk evaluation and control. Participants from the public sector and workers' and employers' organizations would attend the Workshop.

21. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of the Agalega Island Council with
Mr Paul Gino Alfred as Chairperson.