1. Cabinet has taken note that, on an invitation of the Rt Hon David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister, attended an International Conference on Somalia held at Lancaster House, London. Some 50 countries, including 16 Heads of State and Government, as well as, Mr Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, Mrs Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Baroness Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Mr Alain Juppé, Foreign Minister of France, participated in the Conference.
The objectives of the Conference were to tackle the many issues facing Somalia, the region and the international community, and discuss a road map for the reconstruction and development of Somalia, as well as how to address the issue of piracy in a coordinated way.
In his address to the Conference, the Prime Minister stated that it was vital for the Somali authorities to demonstrate their determination and take bold and decisive measures for the early implementation of the road map adopted in September 2011. On the issue of piracy, he reiterated that Mauritius had demonstrated its commitment in the fight against piracy, signed an Agreement with the European Union for the transfer of suspected pirates for investigation, prosecution, trial and detention in Mauritius, and provided a proper and adequate legal framework for that purpose. He added that measures to combat the scourge, which has cost nine billion US dollars last year in disrupted trade besides human tragedy, should be adopted, the moreso as maritime security holds the key to economic development in the region. The issues of plundering of fishing stocks by illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic wastes should also be addressed.
The Prime Minister had a meeting with the Rt Hon D. Cameron, UK Prime Minister. The latter expressed his deep appreciation to the increasing engagement of Mauritius in international efforts to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and for the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Mauritius and the European Union in that connection. The British Prime Minister also expressed the wish that Mauritius signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK on the conditions of transfer of suspected pirates and seized property. The Prime Minister explained that Mauritius cannot sign the Memorandum of Understanding, at this stage, as there were policy and security implications to be addressed. A Statement was then proposed by Mauritius stating that once these issues were fully addressed at the level of our Government, Mauritius would revert to the UK with a view to pursuing formal bilateral discussions. The Mauritian side informed the UK side that such issues would be fully considered within one month at which point both sides should work with a view to concluding negotiations by 1 June 2012. The Statement was signed by the Rt Hon William Hague, MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Dr the Hon A. Boolell, GOSK, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade.
In London, the Prime Minister attended two meetings on 21 and 24 February 2012 with our external lawyers, viz., Mr Philippe Sands, Q.C., Mr Paul Reichler and Mr James Crawford, Q.C., on the Chagos issue and reviewed progress in the proceedings before the Arbitral Tribunal and discussed various options.
The Prime Minister also attended a meeting with a team of International Consultants and discussed with them the current proposals for the reform of our present electoral system to ensure that such reforms would bring about fairness and equity.
The Prime Minister had a bilateral meeting with Mr Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General and evoked the problem of piracy in the Indian Ocean and the escalating terrorism in the Middle East. The Prime Minister took this opportunity to invite the UN Secretary General to attend the Global Forum on Migration and Development scheduled to be held in Mauritius in November 2012.
In the margins of the Conference, the International Maritime Organisation organized a meeting on the theme Moving Forward on our Shared Agenda to Tackle Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Another Meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Mr Henry Bellingham, MP, UK Minister for Africa, to discuss mainly the draft statement of principles on Regional Burden Sharing which the UK had circulated to four countries of the region namely, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Kenya and Tanzania. A meeting on Humanitarian Issues was also held to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and efforts undertaken to improve the effectiveness of international response.
2. Cabinet has taken note that HE Mr James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of the Seychelles, would be the Chief Guest on the occasion of the National Day Celebrations 2012. During his stay, he would, inter alia, pay a courtesy call on the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister with whom he would also have a working session. He would also lay a wreath at the Samadhi of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and sign two Treaties, namely, the Treaty concerning the Joint Exercise of Sovereign Rights over the Continental Shelf in the Mascarene Plateau Region and the Treaty concerning the Joint Management of the Continental Shelf in the Mascarene Plateau Region.
3. Cabinet has taken note that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council would hold its sittings in Mauritius from 26 to 30 March 2012. The Law Lords of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council will be Lord James Hope, Lord Simon Brown, Lord Jonathan Mance, Lord John Dyson and Lord Jonathan Sumption.
4. Cabinet has taken note that the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers would be held in Mauritius from 29 to 31 August 2012. The main theme will be Education in the Commonwealth: Bridging the Gap as we accelerate towards achieving Internationally Agreed Goals. Dr the Hon Kenny Davis Anthony, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, has agreed to deliver the Key Note Address.
5. Cabinet has taken note that the Project Plan Committee has recommended 16 projects worth Rs3.2 billion for inclusion in the Public Sector Investment Programme. The projects comprise, inter alia, improvement of water supply, upgrading of roads, construction of Traffic Centres, extension of Government Schools, a coastal walkway at Grand Baie and a desalination plant in Rodrigues.
6. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Local Government and Outer Islands proposes to repeal and replace the Fire Services Act with a new legislation which would cater for the new requirements due to the rapid development in the construction sector, the growing concerns for occupational health and safety and response to natural calamities. The new Bill would also introduce new concepts, such as Volunteer Fire Brigade, and registration of traders in fire equipment and trainers in fire safety and prevention.
7. Taking into consideration the increasing price of liquefied petroleum gas on the international market, Cabinet has agreed to the retail price of liquefied petroleum gas in
12 kg cylinder being increased from Rs300 to Rs330 with immediate effect. The retail price of a 12 kg cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas was last revised in 2008 when the c.i.f. price was US$450 a ton. The c.i.f. price of liquefied petroleum gas in February 2012 was US$1,187 a ton.
Cabinet has also taken note that Regulations provide for severe penalties if the 5, 6 and 12 kg cylinders are used for other than domestic purposes.
8. Cabinet has taken note that a Ministerial Committee, under the chairmanship of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping has been set up to look into arrangements to be made so that the Rambhajanam Ceremony is performed in the best conditions. The Committee would comprise, amongst others, the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development and the Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands.
9. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the implementation of the e-Governance Project for local authorities in line with Government Programme 2010-2015. The main objectives of the Project are to offer a unique Local Government portal to the public, facilitate networking amongst local authorities and enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery through the use of Information and Communication Technology. The Project also comprises a portal through which a member of the public can interact with any local authority.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the twinning project between the Singapore Land Transport Authority and the Land Transport Division of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, National Development Unit, Land Transport and Shipping. The project would help strengthen the land transport sector in Mauritius by drawing on the experience and knowledge acquired by the Singapore Land Transport Authority on transport regulatory functions.
Cabinet has further taken note that Mr Gopinath Menon, Transportation Engineer, and Mr Loh Chow Kuang, Deputy Director, from the Singapore Land Transport Authority, would visit Mauritius in March 2012 to assess the institutional set up and human resources requirements relating to the setting up of the Mauritius Land Transport Authority.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the Employment Service of the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment proposes to update its register of unemployed jobseekers, spruce up the data of those already in paid full-time employment and remove from the Labour Market Information System the names of those who have, twice, been offered a job with a reasonable salary and conditions of work but for unknown reasons have declined the offer. It is also proposed to hold pre-training orientation fairs across the country to sensitize unemployed youth between 16 to 25 years, for eventual placement in jobs.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the status in the preparation of the first State Report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which would be submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
13. Cabinet has taken note of the position regarding admission in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools for the academic year 2012. The gross enrolment was as
(a) Pre-primary Schools - 29,907;
(b) Primary Schools - 14,422;
(c) Secondary Schools (Form I mainstream) - 13,760;
(d) Prevocational Schools - 2,672;
(e) Special Education Needs Schools - 46;
(f) Mauritius Institute of Training and Development Centres - 1,650; and
(g) Lower Secondary School in Agalega - 25.
Cabinet has further taken note that 3,113 pupils have opted for the Kreol Morisien, an optional subject taught in schools for the first time this year. Moreover, Bhojpuri has been integrated in the existing Hindi Curriculum at Standard I level. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources has sustained its campaign to persuade and encourage parents to register their wards, with handicaps, for admission in specialized schools.
Cabinet has also taken note that all pupils attending Government Primary, Roman Catholic Education Authority and Hindu Aided institutions are provided with the textbooks. Following a review of the Book Loan Scheme, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources is also providing books, free of charge, to needy students of the Secondary Education Sector; the books would not have to be returned unlike previous years.
14. Cabinet has taken note that the SADC e-Commerce Readiness Validation Workshop and the SADC ICT Sub-Committee Meeting would be held in Mauritius in April 2012. The SADC e-Commerce Readiness Validation Workshop, which is being held in the context of the e-Commerce Readiness Study for the SADC sub-region, would provide an opportunity for Mauritius to showcase its accomplishments.
15. Cabinet has taken note that the Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association would be held in Mauritius in March 2012. The Meeting would provide a platform to local scientists and other stakeholders to interact with Board Members, share the findings of their research in marine science and enlist the support of the Association for financing of marine science research projects and capacity building programmes. Participants from France, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania and the United States of America would attend the Meeting.
Cabinet has also taken note that the International Conference on Ridges and Hotspots would be held in Mauritius in August 2012. The Conference would be an opportunity for local scientists to enhance their understanding on the geological and seismic activities in the region, particularly on the mid-Indian Ridge off the coast of Rodrigues where relatively frequent occurrences of seismic tremors are being registered. Participants from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Madagascar, Russia, the Seychelles, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America would attend the Conference.
16. Cabinet has taken note that the First Coordinating and Consultative Meeting of Technical Cooperation Project of the International Atomic Energy Agency would be held in Mauritius from 9 to 13 April 2012. The objectives of the Meeting are to plan project activities, present respective experiences with mosquito rearing, surveillance and disease control and draft a Memorandum of Understanding between the South-West Indian Ocean Island States, i.e., Mauritius, the Seychelles, Madagascar, the Comoros and Reunion Island/France.
17. Cabinet has taken note that, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day commemorated on 8 March, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare would, amongst others, hold a cultural programme comprising, amongst others, reading of the message from the UN Secretary General, address by the Prime Minister, award of prizes to winners of the Award Competition and the Essay Competition, a song by Bruno Raya entitled Faire Confiance Fam and a show entitled Elle était une fois. The theme chosen to mark the event this year is Make Gender Equality a Reality.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the activities that would be organized by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment to mark the International Labour Day 2012, viz., -
(a) a half-day forum for students on the theme The Origin of the Labour Day;
(b) an exhibition on the world of work and the different services offered by the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment;
(c) organization of recreational and cultural programmes for the benefit of workers; and
(d) sensitization campaigns with the participation of historians, well versed in the struggles of the working class.
19. Cabinet has agreed to the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Bhutan, a parliamentary democracy since 2007. Bhutan is member of the UN and other international and regional organizations and favours the development of Least Developing Countries and small developing states.
20. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent visit of the Minister of Arts and Culture to India where he participated in the Global Summit on Changing Bihar held in Patna, Bihar. The Summit addressed issues relating to the development of Bihar and mainstreaming less developed regions in inclusive growth process.
In the margins of the Summit, the Minister of Arts and Culture met, amongst others, the Chief Minister and the Minister of Culture of Bihar.
21. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare to Doha, Qatar where she participated in the Third Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on the Advancement of Women. The objective of the Meeting was to adopt the Doha Declaration and Programme of Action, and the composition of the Bureau. The theme of the Meeting was The Advancement of Women in a Challenging World.
In the margins of the Meeting, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare paid a courtesy call on HE Sheik Ahmed bin Mohamed bin Jabar Al Thani, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Cooperation, with whom she discussed cooperation for the implementation of the National Action Plan to end Gender-Based Violence.