1. Cabinet has taken note that, on an invitation of Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister, effected a State Visit to the Republic of India from 6 to 9 February 2012. He led a delegation comprising, amongst others, Dr the Hon A. Boolell, GOSK, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, the Hon S.C. Sayed-Hossen, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection, HE Dr A.K. Jagessur, our High Commissioner in India and the private sector.
The Prime Minister had two meetings with the Prime Minister of India, that is, a restricted meeting followed by a delegation-level talks. During the meetings, the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, announced an offer of an economic package comprising a line of credit of US$250m and a grant of US$20m. The two Prime Ministers discussed, amongst others, the latest developments on the Chagos issue, the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, terrorism and piracy, cooperation to enhance security in the Indian Ocean Region, the development of an effective legal framework against piracy, and the need to intensify cooperation to tackle the challenges faced by the Indian Ocean Rim Countries. The Prime Minister also requested the Prime Minister of India to consider the grant of the same visa facilities for entry of Mauritian nationals to India as those granted by Mauritius to Indian nationals.
In regard to the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty, the Prime Minister made a set of proposals to the Prime Minister of India with the objective of –
(a) ensuring that there is no misuse of the Convention;
(b) finding ways of addressing the concerns raised by India whilst ensuring that business under the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention remains meaningful; and
(c) evolving a mutually acceptable win-win package for both India and Mauritius and which provides certainty to the operation of the Double Taxation Avoidance Convention.
The Prime Minister also requested an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement. The Prime Minister of India agreed and suggested that the Joint Commission should meet at an early date to look into the matter.
The Prime Minister called on –
(a) Smt. Prathiba Devisingh Patil, President of the Republic of India.
(b) HE Mr Mohammad Abdul Aziz Ansari, Vice-President; and
(c) Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance.
He also had meetings on bilateral issues with –
(a) Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance;
(b) Shri Jaipal Reddy, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas; and
(c) Smt. Preeneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs.
The Prime Minister was invited by Dr Ramprakash, MP in the Rajya Sabha and the Vice-Chancellor and Members of the Executive Council of the Kurukshetra University to be their special Guest of Honour on the occasion of the 29th Convocation. Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, was the Chief Guest. In the course of the Convocation, the Prime Minister was conferred the Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) of the Kurukshetra University in recognition for his contribution to the socio-economic development and modernization of Mauritius and in regard to the consolidation of relations between India and Mauritius.
The private sector delegation, which accompanied the Prime Minister, held two high-profile business meetings with major captains of the Indian industry in New Delhi and Mumbai. More than 250 prominent members of the Indian Business Community attended the meetings.
The following documents were signed –
(a) a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Science and Technology;
(b) a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Youth and Sports;
(c) a Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation between the Ministry of Textiles of the Government of India and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Consumer Protection of the Government of Mauritius;
(d) the Education Exchange Programme for 2012-2016; and
(e) a Memorandum of Understanding between the Rajiv Gandhi Science Centre Trust Fund and the National Council of Science Museums of India.
2. Cabinet has taken note of the economic situation in Europe and its possible impact on the Mauritian economy.
In the light of the adverse developments in the Euro-zone, Cabinet has further taken note of measures taken at the level of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and other Ministries to mitigate the impact of the Euro crisis on the Mauritian economy.
3. Cabinet has agreed to the Official Ceremony of the National Day Celebrations on 12 March 2012 being held at Champ de Mars. The programme would comprise,
inter alia, the flag raising ceremony, march-past by disciplined forces and uniformed organizations, helicopter fly-past, special dance choreography depicting national unity and fireworks. A popular show would be held immediately after the Official Ceremony.
Cabinet has also taken note of other activities that would be organized in the context of the National Day Celebrations, viz. -
(a) a Festival Mauricien during the month of March 2012 to create a national fervour towards unity and patriotism;
(b) an artistic fair at Port Louis Waterfront;
(c) distribution of bookmarks to students; and
(d) a tree planting campaign by students.
Cabinet has further taken note that the National Transport Authority has made arrangements for reduced bus fares for those travelling by bus to Port Louis two hours before and from Port Louis two hours after the official celebrations as follows -
(a) all fare-paying passengers to pay half the normal rate; and
(b) all beneficiaries of the Free Travel Scheme, i.e., old-aged persons, disabled persons, and children aged less than 13 years, to travel free of charge.
4. Cabinet has taken note of the proposals of the High Powered Committee, chaired by the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, for the implementation of the recommendations of the Truth and Justice Commission and has agreed to, amongst others, the setting up of the museum of slavery at La Citadel; the creation of a national inventory of all heritage collections and sites; Ministries arranging for the better memorialization of the economic contribution of slaves of Mauritius; the setting up of the Notarial Acts Database Project under the LAVIMS Project; and full environmental and medical survey of Cité la Mivoie and other housing estates.
5. Cabinet has agreed to an increase of the loan component, from Rs40,000 to Rs57,000 per pregnant heifer, granted to cooperative societies and companies under the Improved Breeding Stock Scheme currently being implemented by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security under the Food Security Fund. The Scheme, launched in 2010, aims at giving a boost to the dairy sector and promoting the genetic improvement of dairy cattle through the importation of improved breeds of cows that have high milk production.
6. Cabinet has taken note of developments in the negotiations with the European Commission for the conclusion of a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The new Agreement would establish the principles, rules and procedures governing, amongst others, the economic, financial, technical and scientific cooperation in the Fisheries Sector, the conditions governing access by EU fishing vessels to the fishing zone of Mauritius, and partnership between operators aimed at developing economic activities in the Sector.
7. Cabinet has taken note that, as announced in Budget Speech 2012, the Film Rebate Scheme would be launched on a pilot basis. The object of the Scheme is to stimulate the interest of film makers and encourage the setting up of a film industry in Mauritius. According to the Board of Investment, some five large production companies from the UK, India and the region are awaiting the implementation of the Scheme to shoot in Mauritius.
8. Cabinet has taken note of activities that would be organized on the occasion of the Law Day 2012, commemorated for the first time in Mauritius, on 4 March 2012, namely –
(a) an essay competition on the subject Law at the service of the people;
(b) a workshop on Legal System – Retrospective and Challenges ahead;
(c) a television program on L’Etat de droit au service de la nation;
(d) provision of free legal services on 3 March 2012 by qualified law practitioners and law students at the Citizens Advice Bureaux of Bambous, Bel Air, Plaine Magnien, Port Louis, Triolet and Vacoas; and
(e) the issue of stamps on the judiciary.
The theme chosen for this year is Commitment to the Rule of Law.
9. Cabinet has taken note that the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life would conduct a seasonal influenza vaccination campaign for patients of high risk groups, namely, health care workers, children aged between 6 and 24 months, and persons with immune suppression, such as cancer, renal failure, HIV/AIDS and lung diseases. Some 25,000 persons would be covered by the programme.
10. Cabinet has taken note that the Fifth Meeting of the Steering Committee of the African HIV in Prisons Partnership Network (AHPPN) would be held in Mauritius on 5 and 6 March 2012. Mauritius has been selected to host the Meeting in view of its achievement in the field of harm reduction and its vast experience in addressing the issue of HIV and AIDS among injecting drug users and in prison settings. The Steering Committee would, amongst others, discuss the work plan for the year 2012 and activities to be carried out for the prevention of HIV, and treatment and care services to be provided to people who use drugs in prison settings. The foreign delegates would also undertake a study tour in the Prisons to take cognizance of the community-drug treatment programmes and facilities. Participants from Uganda, Zambia, Ghana, Lesotho, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Egypt, Mozambique and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime would attend the Meeting.
11. Cabinet has taken note that the Sub-regional Office for South Africa of the Economic Commission for Africa would organize the 18th Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts of Southern Africa in Mauritius on 1 and 2 March 2012. The Meeting would be preceded by the Ad-Hoc Expert Group Meeting. The Meetings would discuss recommendations for the Fifth Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economy and the Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of the Meetings will be Harnessing Natural Resources for Sustainable Development in Southern Africa: Opportunities and Challenges in the Tourism Sector. Participants from the SADC Member States, collaborating partners and other intergovernmental organizations would attend the Meetings.
12. Cabinet has taken note that the Indian Ocean Tuna Tagging Symposium would be held in Mauritius from 30 October to 2 November 2012. The main objectives of the Symposium are to assess the Indian Ocean Tuna Tagging Programme implemented from 2002 to 2009 and to discuss new techniques to be adopted for the success of the Programme. Some 150 participants from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission Member States and other Regional Fisheries Monitoring Organizations would attend the Symposium.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the Fisheries and Marine Resources (Fishing of Sea Cucumbers) Regulations would be amended to extend, as from 1 March 2012, the prohibition for fishing sea cucumbers for another period of four years. The fishing of sea cucumbers was suspended to allow the stocks of sea cucumbers to recover. However, as the recovery has been slow and sporadic, the prohibition period is being extended.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Aquaculture Division of the Ministry of Fisheries is implementing a sea ranching programme for sea cucumbers to enhance their stocks in the lagoon.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the recent mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he participated in the Eighteenth Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The theme of the Summit was Boosting Intra-African Trade. The key issues discussed included peace and security situation in Africa, the African ‘Consensus Statement on Sustainable Development’ for the forthcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Conference), and the International Criminal Court.
Cabinet has further taken note that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade also attended the 16th Summit of the Forum of Heads of State and Government of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) during which Sierra Leone was peer reviewed.
In the margins of the Summit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade had meetings, inter alia, with HE Mr H. Bellingham, Minister for Africa in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on the Chagos issue; the President of Guinea on economic partnership; and the representative of Madagascar on the positive developments there. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda also signed an Agreement providing a Framework of Cooperation on the Transfer of Prisoners.
15. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the visit of a delegation from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi to carry out a feasibility study for the setting up of an IIT-like institution in Mauritius. According to the preliminary report, the project would be implemented in a phased manner, starting as a Research Centre offering postgraduate programmes and PhD, to help create the critical mass of academic staff and researchers required to subsequently run undergraduate courses. The final report is expected in March 2012.
16. Cabinet has taken note of –
(a) the appointment of Mr Alain Wong Yen Cheong as Chairperson of the Tourism Authority; and
(b) the reconstitution of the Tourism Employees’ Welfare Fund Board with Mrs Marie Ghislaine Henrison as Chairperson.