1. In view of the escalation of the crisis in the Middle East, Cabinet has taken note that all Mauritian nationals working in Lebanon are safe and secure and there has not been any request for evacuation or repatriation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation has, however, contacted the French and British authorities which have agreed to help in the evacuation of our nationals, as and when the need arises.
2. In line with Government’s decision to provide Universal ICT Education to every student, every employee and non-employee in four years and as announced by the Prime Minister in his message to the nation on Independence Day, Cabinet has taken note of progress made in the implementation of Universal ICT Education Programme. Trainees from various sectors, including the Education sector, the Public Service, Parastatal Bodies, the Small and Medium Enterprises, Local Authorities, and the Private Sector and unemployed persons have already been identified. Courses are scheduled to start on 4 September 2006 and 100,000 trainees are targeted yearly for a period of four years.
3. Cabinet has agreed to the setting up of a Committee comprising the Hon J.B. David, Minister of Local Government, the Hon J. Valayden, Attorney General, Minister of Justice & Human Rights and the Hon M.J.N-E. G. Sinatambou, Minister of Information Technology & Telecommunications to look into the reform of the Council of Legal Education.
4. Cabinet has taken note that 27,962 candidates have been registered for the 2006 CPE Exams. Examinations would be held on 26, 27, 30 and 31 October, and results would be released on 16 December 2006.
5. With a view to ensuring that interests of students studying abroad are safeguarded, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of The Licensing of Recruiting Agents for Overseas Educational and Training Institutions Bill which provides for the licensing of persons or bodies recruiting students for admission to overseas educational and training institutions.
6. Cabinet has taken note of the constitution of the Board, set up to manage, promote and maintain The Citadel as a tourist, leisure and cultural site, under the chairmanship of Mr Robert Valentino Pallamy.
7. Cabinet has taken note of the holding of a National Workshop on Early Childhood Development organised by Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development, Family Welfare & Consumer Protection, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education & Human Resources, on 27 and 28 July 2006. The main object of the workshop is to impart the appropriate knowledge, skills and competency to caregivers of Day Care Centres, as an alternative to home, for transmitting right values to children. The workshop which will group all stakeholders in the sector of early childhood, would reflect on weaknesses of existing programs and focus on programming tools, best practices and effective monitoring mechanisms. It would also provide an opportunity to stakeholders to reinforce partnerships, build networks and focus on community-based actions.
8. In line with the measures announced in the Budget Speech 2006-2007 to create a more conducive business environment for doing business in Mauritius, improving the investment climate to world standards and boosting up investment which is critical to create jobs, promote employment and return to high growth, Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Finance Bill, the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and the Financial Services Promotion Agency (Transfer of Undertaking) Bill.
The Finance Bill provides for, inter alia, the streamlining of certain provisions relating mainly to revenue, public finance and banking and financial services.
The Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill provides for a new legal framework that would allow businesses to start operations on the basis of self-adherence to comprehensive and clear guidelines and for the authorities to exercise ex-post control to check for compliance and facilitate doing of business, acquisition of properties by foreigners and for small enterprises to start their business activities within three working days. It also aims at facilitating entry of foreign investors, as well as, attracting foreign talents, know-how, ideas and technology.
The Financial Services Promotion Agency (Transfer of Undertaking) Bill provides for the integration of the Financial Services Promotion Agency into the Board of Investment to better coordinate national investment promotion efforts.
9. Cabinet has taken note that, at its 11th Ordinary Meeting, the Council of Ministers of the Community of Portugese Speaking Countries (CPLP) has adopted a resolution to grant the status of Associate Observer to Mauritius. The status would contribute towards strengthening of our bilateral ties with lusophone countries, as well as in forums, including Small Islands Developing States, the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group and the Southern African Development Community.
10. Cabinet has taken note of the forthcoming visit of Professor Andrew Spielman of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases of Harvard School of Public Health and of Professor Paul Reiter "du Department Insectes et Maladies Infectieuses, Institut Pasteur" from 6 to 13 August 2006 at the invitation of Ministry of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life.
The objective of the visit of the two eminent Professors is to assess the Chikungunya situation and to advise Government on measures to be taken to fight the disease. Both Professors have extensive international experience in fighting vector borne diseases.
11. Government has taken note of the outcome of the official visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to China from 9 to 15 July 2006.
During his visit, the Minister called upon a number of dignitaries, including:
(a) the Vice President HE Mr Zeng Qing Hong; (b) HE Mr Li Zhaoxing, Minister of Foreign Affairs; (c) Honourable Wei Jianguo, Vice-Minister of Commerce; (d) Mr Li Ruogu, President of the China Exim Bank; (e) Mr Xia Geng, Mayor of Qingdao; (f) Mr Dengjie, Vice-Mayor of Shangai.
He discussed cooperation in several fields, namely, Port Development, Fisheries, Sports, Health, Housing, Agriculture, Education and other Infrastructural Development.
The Minister, also, signed an agreement for the grant of five million Yuan, equivalent to Rs 20 million Mauritian rupees, by the Chinese authorities. A framework agreement in the field of Economic and Trade Cooperation will be worked out jointly between the two countries.
12. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the Students’ Relief Fund (Amendment) Bill which aims at providing a loan to needy students of the tertiary sector who have completed the first half of their programs of the study. With a view to facilitating the processing of applications for loans, the responsibility of the Fund, currently devolving upon the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure & External Communications, would be transferred to the Minister of Education & Human Resources.
13. Cabinet has agreed to the introduction into the National Assembly of the National Computer Board (Amendment) Bill to provide inter alia for the appointment of a representative of the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunications, as ex-officio member, on the National Computer Board (NCB).
14. Cabinet has agreed to the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act, promulgated in 1998, being reviewed and to the formulation of a new Bill to be in line with international laws and resolutions emanating from regional fisheries management organizations, e.g., Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), and to foster the development of a seafood hub. The new Bill would include provisions with a view to reinforcing monitoring, controlling surveillance and enforcement, such as -
(a) the prevention of licensing of boats/vessels particularly with the growing problem of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing;
(b) marking of fishing vessels as per the FAO standard specifications and guidelines;
(c) initiating action against vessels which fail to abide by international conservation and management measures;
(d) requirements for prior notice and documentations before giving access to the Mauritian port to foreign vessels;
(e) regulating activities likely to disturb the marine ecosystems and habitats; and
(f) regulating imports, exports, trade, distribution and marketing of fish and fish products.
15. Cabinet has agreed to the proposals from two French promoters for the importation of used tyres from France for retreading and, exclusively, for export under the EPZ Scheme. Retreading would be done according to European norms and the tyres re-exported to Europe, Africa and America. Investment would be around Rs 30m and some 30 jobs would be created.
16. With a view to attracting tourists from the Far East, Cabinet has taken note of the holding of bilateral air services talks between Mauritius and Thailand in September 2006.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the lobbying mission of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance & Economic Development to Brussels, Luxembourg and London where he had meetings on financing of accompanying measures in the sugar sector, aid for trade, 10th EDF and support to reform the economy. He had meetings with Messrs L. Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Mr P. Mandelson, Trade Commissioner; Mr T. Gersfelt, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg; Mrs Paula Lehtomäki, Minister of Trade and Development of Finland; Members of the European Parliament; the Hon Gareth Thomas, Parliamentary–Under-Secretary of the State Department of International Development and Mr David Frost, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce. The Deputy Prime Minister gave a comprehensive account of the proposed programme for the reform of the economy, as announced in the 2006-2007 Budget and explained that the reform was a bold attempt to break with the past and a launching pad to create a foundation for a long-term sustainable development of Mauritius based on global competitiveness and move away from preference dependence.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the High-Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations which was held in Geneva, Switzerland from 3 to 5 July 2006. The theme of the meeting was "Creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable development". The meeting focused on practical steps needed to address the daunting challenges of poverty, especially in developing countries. The common view expressed was that, in order to cope with the dynamism of globalization, countries should embark on broad-based reforms to adjust to the new economic paradigm while emphasizing the importance of a competitive and innovative welfare state which would ensure equal opportunities for all. In order to promote an employment-generating strategy, the Council agreed to the implementation of, inter alia –
(a) policies to promote local and community development by expanding local market and capacities as well as promoting SME’s; (b) a conducive policy environment that would adapt to the changing global market; (c) tripartism cooperation between employers’ organization, trade unions and Government; and (d) a greater cooperation among international organizations of the multilateral system.
19. Cabinet took note of the outcome of the Seventh Round of Negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between Mauritius and India. The issues discussed were Trade in Services, new areas of economic cooperation, Preferential Trade Agreement.
20. Cabinet has taken note of the mission of the Minister of Information Technology & Telecommunications to Cape Town, South Africa on 10 and 11 July 2006 where he participated in the Microsoft Government Leaders’ Forum. The theme of the Forum this year was “Accelerating Africa’s Global Competitiveness”.
In the margin of the Forum, the Minister had meetings with the former US President, Mr W.J. Clinton, Microsoft Chairman, Mr Bill Gates and the Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft, Ms Geri Elliott who has agreed to assist Mauritius in, inter alia, bridging the digital divide and transforming the country into an internationally recognised information society with a flourishing ICT sector.