1. Cabinet has taken note that, following an invitation of President Sarkozy in August last, and in his capacity as President of the Indian Ocean Commission, Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister, would lead a strong delegation comprising representatives of the public and the private sectors to Reunion Island on 24 and 25 January 2011. The main objective of the official visit is to reinforce relations and open up new avenues of economic cooperation and collaboration between Mauritius and Reunion Island.
During his visit, the Prime Minister would have meetings with, amongst others, Mrs Marie-Luce Penchard, ‘Ministre auprès du ministre de l’Intérieur, de l'Outre-Mer, des Collectivités territoriales et de l’Immigration, chargée de l’Outre-Mer’, who would travel from Paris on the occasion, and Mr Didier Robert, President of the Regional Council for Reunion Island. The Prime Minister would also visit the centre for the management of disasters; a solar farm in Bérive, Commune du Tampon; the BioAlgOstral, a firm which is developing a process to extract biofuel from micro-algae; and the Cyclotron Réunion Océan Indien. The public-private sector platform of economic cooperation between the two countries would be officially launched. The objective of the platform is to facilitate dialogue and exchange information at strategic level so as to offer development opportunities to operators in Mauritius and Reunion Island and to enable the mobilization of production, financial, technological and service capacities for entering into new markets.
The following Agreements would also be signed during the visit:
(a) Framework Agreement on Regional Cooperation between Mauritius and Reunion Island setting out the orientation and general principles for regional cooperation in major sectors of the economy. The opening of a fully-fledged General Consulate of Mauritius in Reunion Island and of a non-diplomatic representation of Reunion Island in Mauritius is also envisaged under the Agreement;
(b) Agreement on cooperation with respect to sustainable development and energy management providing for collaboration between the ‘Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie’ (ADEME) (Réunion) and the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities for the implementation of projects in the context of the ‘Maurice Ile Durable’ initiative;
(c) ‘Relevé de conclusions’ on security matters providing for the setting up of a Contact Group on Security Matters to deal with public security, civil safety, health security, maritime security, and movement of persons between Mauritius and Reunion Island;
(d) Bilateral Protocol on Technical Measures to Prevent the Movement of Chafer Beetles (White Grubs) between the Republic of Mauritius and the French Republic providing for the implementation of measures by the competent authorities in Mauritius and Reunion Island to prevent the entry into Mauritius of white grubs from Reunion Island; and
(e) Partnership Agreement between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the University of Reunion providing for the sharing of knowledge and experience between the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Law and Economics Faculty of the University of Reunion.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the wide media coverage given by the U.K. and Irish Press to the murder of Mrs Michaella Harte at Legends Hotel and of all possible assistance extended to the family of the victim.
Cabinet has also taken note of the continued commitment of our tourism stakeholders to maintain Mauritius as a safe tourist destination.
3. Cabinet has taken note that, according to the last statistical bulletin, tourist arrivals for the month of December 2010 and for the year 2010 were an all time record with 114,849 tourists in December and 934,827 in the year 2010. In December, growth was registered in the following tourist markets: France (+12.8%), Germany (+11.4%), Italy (+4.1%), Russian Federation (+45.5%), China (+13.8%), India (+2.8%), Reunion Island (+12.4%) and South Africa (+2.9%). However, a significant decline was again noted in tourist arrivals from the United Kingdom, i.e., 7,644 (-6.1%).
4. Cabinet has taken note of the status of housing projects around the country on land obtained under the Agreement signed between Government and the Mauritius Sugar Producers’ Association following the conclusion of the deal by the Prime Minister on the Sugar Reform in 2007. In the first phase, some 60 serviced sites at Solitude would be provided to lower middle income families for the construction of housing units and 57 housing units for low income families would be built at Pointe aux Piments. It is also proposed to put up housing units in Pamplemousses, Rivière du Rempart/Piton, Trou d’Eau Douce, Rose Belle/Grand Port, Mahebourg, Rivière des Anguilles/Souillac, Bambous, Surinam, Palma, Vacoas, Curepipe and Quatre Bornes.
5. Cabinet has agreed to the 210 employees of six sugar companies which are not members of the Mauritius Sugar Producers’ Association, being paid a cash compensation, computed on their last salary drawn, for the early termination of their contracts.
6. Cabinet has taken note that, in addition to the official programme at Le Morne and the laying of wreath at Pointe Canon, Mahebourg, the following activities would also be organized by the Ministry of Arts and Culture on the occasion of the 176th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery on 1 February 2011, viz., -
(a) the inauguration of the new building at la Tour Koenig, which would house the Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture;
(b) a cultural programme at La Tour Koenig; and
(c) a Conference on the theme ‘Empreinte de la Servitude’.
7. Cabinet has taken note that, following reports on poor living conditions of certain expatriate workers, the Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment would promulgate the Occupational Safety and Health (Employees’ Lodging Accommodation) Regulations which would cater for a wide range of issues relating, among others, to conditions of building, employee accommodation area, furniture for clothing and personal belongings, cleanliness, ventilation and lighting, sanitary facilities, kitchen and dining area, supply of water, and fire and electrical safety. Moreover, a Lodging Accommodation Committee would be set up at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment to consider applications for lodging accommodation permits.
8. Cabinet has taken note of the findings of a study, undertaken jointly by the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute and the South African Sugar Cane Research Institute, on factors and conditions limiting the adoption of improved technologies by small planters in Mauritius and in South Africa. The main findings of the study are:
(a) low productivity of small farmers is a major concern for the SADC region;
(b) 87% of the small scale planters prepare their land mechanically;
(c) rats, white grubs and eldana borers are pests affecting sugar cane;
(d) low productivity has increasing importance in the context of world trade liberalization and reduced sugar price;
(e) yield differences are as high as 20 tonnes per hectare between small scale and large commercial planters;
(f) 60% of the planters never analyse soil before planting and 76% practise split fertilizer application; and
(g) major constraints to production are costs of inputs, labour and transport.
9. Cabinet has taken note that, from January to October 2010, some 5,283 cases of violence perpetrated against children were reported to the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare. With a view to promoting a conducive environment for such children to grow, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare would carry out a national sensitization campaign to encourage members of the public to register themselves as foster parents. The Ministry would ensure training of the foster parents and follow up on the children. At present, there are 40 children placed with 38 foster families.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the status in the elaboration of a Fisheries Master Plan by the Ministry of Fisheries and Rodrigues. In this connection, a team from PESCARES Italia, led by Mr Gary Morgan, would visit Mauritius from 16 to 29 January 2011 to have consultations with all stakeholders in Mauritius and Rodrigues.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the Attorney General’s Office would distribute copies of the Constitution of Mauritius to secondary school students, members of youth clubs and non-governmental organisations with a view to sensitising them to the provisions of the Constitution, in general, as well as to democracy, sovereignty, fundamental rights and freedoms, citizenship, Parliament, the National Assembly, the Executive and the Judicature, in particular.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the Eighth International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Entomology Workshop would be held in Mauritius from 27 March to 1 April 2011. The theme of the Workshop is Recent Advances and New Challenges for Sugar Cane Pest Management. The objectives of the Workshop are to promote technical discussion and present the state-of-the-art information on the sugar cane industry. Scientists from Argentina, Australia, China, Cuba, Ecuador, France, India, Indonesia, Iran, Reunion Island, South Africa, Thailand, USA and the United Kingdom would attend the Workshop.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the Association of Regulators of Information and Communications for Eastern and Southern Africa, in collaboration with the Information and Communication Technologies Authority, would hold its Seventh Annual General Meeting in Mauritius from 14 to 18 March 2011. The purpose of the Meeting is to bring together regulators and associated actors in the Information and Communications Technology Services Sector of the Eastern and Southern African region to make strategic decisions on Information and Communications Technology matters for the region for the period 2011-2012. About 40 participants are expected to attend the Meeting.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology to India, where he participated in the Ninth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention held in New Delhi from 7 to 9 January 2011. The theme of the Convention was Engaging the Global Indian.
In the margins of the Convention, the Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology met the Hon Valayar Ravi, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs; Mrs Indranee Rajah, Deputy Speaker of Singapore; Prof Kshitij Gupta, Dean, Postgraduate Studies and Research, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi and Prof Gurinder Singh, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Amity University.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the reconstitution of –
(a) the Board of the Nelson Mandela Centre for African Culture Trust Fund with Father Philippe Fanchette as Chairperson;
(b) the Board of Statutory Bodies Family Protection Fund with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Outer Islands, as Chairperson; and
(c) the Labour Advisory Council with the Director, Labour and Industrial Relations, Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, as Chairperson.