1. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the official visit of Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, to Rodrigues from 18 to 20 March 2007 in the context of our National Day Celebrations.
During his visit, the Prime Minister had working sessions with –
(a) Mr Johnson Roussety, Chief Commissioner, who raised a number of issues relating, inter alia, to amendment to the Rodrigues Regional Assembly Act 2002 and the State Land Act, and the development of the Plaine Corail Airport in collaboration with "Aeroport de Paris"; and
(b) the Members of the Executive Council who raised major issues of concern in their respective fields of responsibility.
The Prime Minister assured the Chief Commissioner and the Members of the Executive Council that Government would provide the necessary support to ensure that Rodrigues proceeds on the path of sustained economic development while integrating the Mauritian and the world economy but in the context of the prevailing economic situation.
During the meeting with the Executive Council, the Chief Commissioner conferred upon Dr the Hon Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, the distinguished title of Honorary Freeman of Rodrigues.
The Executive Council, also, agreed to put up a Memorial of Emmanuel Anquetil at Port Mathurin and to name streets and public places after eminent personalities.
The Prime Minister, also, had meetings with –
(a) the Minority Leader, Mr Serge Clair, who raised several issues; and
(b) representatives of the Private Sector, NGOs, and the Force Vives when he emphasized the necessity to govern in proximity with the people so as to respond to their needs and aspirations and with the collaboration of one and all for the success of Rodrigues.
The Prime Minister addressed a Special Session of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly, when he highlighted the optimism, energy and entrepreneurial qualities of the Rodriguan people, particularly at the helm of affairs, to chart a new course for the island towards economic development.
The Prime Minister, also, inaugurated the Rodrigues Office Building of the Development Bank of Mauritius at Port Mathurin and a Fish Processing Plant at Pointe Monier and laid the Foundation stone of SAKOA Hotel at Pointe Longue.
The Prime Minister visited the site of the Port Mathurin Sea Front Development Project and the Rivière Pistaches Water Catchment Area where it was proposed to put up a dam.
In the course of his various addresses, the Prime Minister emphasized the need for sustained economic development of Rodrigues and its integration in the Mauritian and World economy. He acknowledged the energy, dynamism and positive attitude displayed by both the Rodriguan leaders and its people.
2. During the official visit which the Prime Minister effected to France last year, he had raised with the French President the possibility of enlarging the visa regime to facilitate entry of Mauritian nationals to Reunion Island. Cabinet has taken note that the French President has responded formally to the proposal made by the Prime Minister, and that an agreement would be signed next week, during the visit of the French “Ministre déleguée à la Coopération, aux Développements et à la Francophonie”. This agreement, inter alia, provides that – (a) no visa would be required for a stay, including business tour, of up to 15 days in Reunion Island;
(b) the maximum length of stay in any calendar year has been increased from 90 days to 120 days;
(c) the interval between two visits has been reduced from 30 days to 7 days; and
(d) visa, including that for business visits, would be delivered on arrival in Reunion Island. Mauritian businessmen would no longer be required to obtain a visa before travel.
3. In relation to cases of Sale by Levy, Cabinet has agreed to a desk being opened at the Ministry of Justice & Human Rights to receive complaints from aggrieved persons with a view to referring their cases to the Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of Borrowers and to a sentization campaign on the rights and obligations of borrowers and lenders being launched.
4. Cabinet has taken note that the Labour Act would be reviewed in consultation with all stakeholders with a view to keeping pace with changes that have taken place in the world of work, and to adapting to several International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions relating to conditions of work, which have been ratified by Mauritius since the Act was passed in 1975.
5. In line with Government's programme 2005-2010, Cabinet has taken note of actions initiated by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to fight Diabetes and of the proposals contained in the National Service Framework of Diabetes in Mauritius.
Recognising diabetes as a chronic debilitating and costing disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world, the United Nations has designated 14 November as United Nations Day for Diabetes to be observed every year starting in 2007 and has invited all Member States to develop national policies for the prevention, treatment and care of diabetes.
In Mauritius, the prevalence of diabetes is among the highest in the world. Nearly one in five adults above the age of 30 years is affected by the disease. The results of the last Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) survey have shown that one in two of those who have diabetes, does not know that he is suffering from the disease.
Conscious of the seriousness of the problem, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life has taken various measures in the fight against NCDs, particularly diabetes, including -
(i) Glycosylated Haemoglobin testing, which is the gold standard in the monitoring of glucose levels in diabetics, is now being done in all hospitals.
(ii) Screening for NCDs has been extended to the tertiary education institutions last year. A secondary school health programmme and a school health card project were launched in February last.
(iii) The sale of aerated soft drinks has been banned in our educational institutions as from the beginning of this year.
(iv) Targeted screening at the Area Health Centres for people who have not been screened over the past three years, has been introduced.
Cabinet has further taken note that an International Advisory Committee, comprising leading international diabetologists, has been set to guide and give momentum to the implementation of the NSFD, help towards the development of Mauritius as a WHO Collaborating Centre for diabetes care for the region and advise Government on the setting up of a Mauritius Diabetes and Cardiovascular Institute.
6. Cabinet has taken note of measures being taken by the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life to protect the health of consumers from any possible adverse use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and other chemicals by vegetable and fruit growers. These comprise, inter alia, –
(i) extensive awareness and sensitization campaigns by the Ministry of Agro Industry & Fisheries and the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life;
(ii) more emphasis by AREU on Integrated Pest Management instead of mere chemical controls;
(iii) launching by Small Planters Welfare Fund of medical programmes for planters who are more exposed to pesticides and medical check up programmes for small farmers, their family and also for agricultural workers;
(iv) survey to determine the incidence of cancer on the population due to the use of pesticides; and
(v) restriction by the Dangerous Chemicals Control Board on the range of highly toxic chemical pesticide and the promotion of safer bio-pesticide.
7. Cabinet has agreed to the proposed management plan for the collection and processing of sea cucumbers in the maritime zones of Mauritius for the export market, whilst adopting a precautionary approach to ensure the sustainable exploitation of sea cucumbers, and the conservation of the marine ecosystem.
8. Taking into consideration the oncoming challenges in the sugar sector, more specifically with the 36% cut in the price of sugar as from 2009, and the need to take comprehensive, effective, and early response to better safeguard the interest of all the stakeholders in the industry and of the country at large, Cabinet has agreed to the proposed closure of Riche-en-Eau, Mon Trésor Mon Désert and Mon Loisir sugar factories as from the end of the 2006 crop, but subject to the conditions imposed by the Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries under the provisions of the Cane Planters and Millers’ Arbitration and Control Board Act.
9. Cabinet has taken note of measures taken for the implementation of the training programme for workers opting for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) II provided for in the Multi-Annual Adaptation Strategy (MAAS) 2006 -2015 for the sugar industry.
The objective of the programme is to ensure that a maximum number of workers are empowered and remain employable through an appropriate training package and have a sustainable source of income to cater for their family needs. The provision of training to VRS workers is also one of the preconditions for the disbursement of funds by European Union (EU) under the Accompanying Measures. The training to be offered to workers should conform to the norms of the Mauritius Qualification Authority and the training programme would act as a stepping stone for further training and empowerment of workers.
A survey carried out by the Regional Training Centre among concerned workers, has revealed interest for training in 27 fields of activities, the most popular being, inter alia, gardening; plumbing; cooking; vegetable and flower production; masonry, carpentry, steel fixing; and electrician, etc.
10. Cabinet has agreed to the signature of a “Document Cadre de Partenariat France Maurice”, in the context of the current transformation of the Mauritian economy into an increasingly globalised world economic environment and, in particular, in the wake of the end of the Multi-fibre Agreement, and the reform of the EU sugar regime. The document focuses on three priority areas of cooperation namely -
(i) support for Mauritius in its policy of economic liberalisation and integration in the global economy and in its pursuit of higher productivity and competitiveness;
(ii) assisting Mauritius in the education sector, the promotion of its cultural diversity and of its “francophonie”, and facilitating regional cooperation through IOC; and
(iii) contributing to the social policies in support of the programme of economic transition and measures in favour of the most vulnerable groups, particularly in Rodrigues.
11. Cabinet has taken note that, in the context of the 85th ICA International Cooperative Day and the 13th UN International Day of Cooperatives, an International Cooperative Fair would be held from 7 to 11 July 2007 at the Swami Vivekananda International Convention Centre, Pailles.
The objectives of the International Cooperative Fair are, inter alia, to -
(i) provide a platform to explore and market products and services produced by local and foreign cooperatives and organisations of cooperatives;
(ii) develop inter-cooperative linkages;
(iii) cross-fertilize experiences and ideas and share know-how for mutual benefits;
(iv) inspire existing cooperatives as well as potential cooperators to adopt cooperative way of doing business; and
(v) enable people to have a just appreciation of the significance and contribution of cooperatives and their underlying principles in today’s world.
Cabinet has further taken note of the outcome of the sensitization programme launched to promote the Cooperative Credit Union (CCU) sector in Mauritius. Cooperative Credit Unions foster a saving culture and make credit more accessible to their members.
The main objectives of the sensitization programme are to –
(i) promulgate the CCU concept and encourage the formation of CCUs; and
(ii) foster a saving culture.
The sensitization campaign which started in April 2006, has been conducted in 150 organizations, viz. private companies, hotels, para-statals NGOs, private clinics, private and public colleges, universities, textile factories. Some 1,600 persons have been provided information on CCU and so far 10 CCU have been registered.
Cabinet has also taken note of the status of audit of accounts of cooperative societies and impressed upon all societies for a sound financial management practices for their own development.
12. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Forum organized by Enterprise Mauritius on the state of the Publishing and Printing Sector.
The Forum examined cross-cutting issues that need to be addressed to enhance the competitiveness of the Mauritian Printing and Publishing Sector, and made the following recommendations:
(i) Formulation of a well-defined marketing strategy for penetration in the regional market;
(ii) Facilitating SMEs access to finance;
(iii) Enhancing the image of the Printing Service Sector;
(iv) Branding Mauritius as a printing destination; and
(v) Enhancing capacity in the Printing Sector through customized training programmes in prepress, printing and finishing in printing service.
A high level Task Force under the chairmanship of the Minister of Industry, Small & Medium Enterprises, Commerce & Cooperatives has been set up to follow up on the recommendations and look into the non-factory factors impinging upon the competitiveness of the sector.
13. Cabinet has taken note that the Caravane de L’Entrepreneuriat organized at Mahébourg on 21 March 2007 was also acclaimed as those previously organized at Panchavati, St Hilaire, Camp Levieux, Vallée Pitot, Bel Air, Plaine Verte, Rivière des Anguilles, Vacoas and Chemin Grenier.
The event was organized with the collaboration of the community-based organizations of the following regions:
Mahébourg Plaine Magnien Beau Vallon Mare D’Albert Petit Bel Air La Grotte Grand Bel Air Trois Boutiques Cité La Chaux Balance Ville Noire Mont Desert Rivière des Créoles Mare Tabac
Cabinet has further taken note that 53 persons applied for registration of their businesses with SEHDA. 50 certificates of registration were issued by SEHDA and 3 beneficiaries of financial support from the DBM received their loan cheques.
The next Caravanes are scheduled for 4 April 2007 at Flacq and 28 April 2007 in Rodrigues.
Cabinet has also taken note that the Mauritius Standards Bureau has conducted four awareness sessions on quality for SMEs and would shortly organize training courses to help them set up of Quality Management System complying with ISO 9001:2000.
14. Cabinet has taken note of the management problems affecting the day-to-day running of the “Federation Mauricienne de Boxe Française Savate et Disciplines Assimilées” and that the Minister of Youth & Sports, in consultation with the “Federation International Savate”, has, under section 8 of the Sports Act, set up a five-member Caretaker Committee to run the affairs of the Fédération pending the election of a new Managing Committee.
15. Cabinet has taken note that the 8th COMESA Ministers of Finance Meeting would be held in Mauritius on 26 April 2007. The Meeting would be preceded by the First Meeting of the COMESA Fiscal Affairs Committee from 23 to 25 April 2007.
The main issues to be considered at the meeting are related to the COMESA Customs Union, including the Common External Tariff, free circulation of goods and revenue sharing, treatment of export promotion schemes under the Customs Union, the administrative and legal structure of the Customs Union, a regional community levy, Aid for Trade and mobilization of the necessary resources to support making the COMESA Free Trade Area fully effective.
16. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the meeting of the Council of Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Maseru, Lesotho on 22 and 23 March 2007, which discussed the following issues -
(i) Budgetary and Administrative Matters; (ii) Status of Regional Economic Integration in SADC region; (iii) Developmental Issues, including the Regional Multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence, and Science and Technology; (iv) Programmes/Projects; and (v) Review of the Integrated Committee of Ministers (ICM).
The Council of Ministers also took note of developments in the organization of SADC Conference on Poverty and Development, proposed by Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister, at the SADC Summit 2006.
17. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the mission of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade & Cooperation to Spain where he attended the Special Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on Development Cooperation with Middle Income Countries (MICs).
The IGC, organized by the Government of Spain in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), is an integral part of the follow-up process as called for in the Monterrey Consensus which was adopted by the International Conference on Financing for Development held in March 2002. The aim of the IGC was to examine the role of the various stakeholders in special development cooperation policies and programmes in relation to MICs, to identify the most significant needs of MICs and make recommendation and/or draw policy guidelines on areas where additional international support would be most effective for MICs, in an overall context of preventing MICs from descending the ladder of development or from being marginalised.
18. Cabinet has taken note of the demarche vis-à-vis the French authorities for the renewal of the Protocole de Collaboration between the University of Limoges and the Technical School Management Trust Fund regarding, inter alia, the running of a two-year programme at the “Institut Superieur de Technologie” leading to a “Diplome Universitaire Superieur de Technologie”.
19. Cabinet has taken note of the outcome of the Special Ministerial Consultations on Sugar held in Brussels on 14 and 15 March 2007 to decide on the issue of the permanent reallocation of the St. Kitts & Nevis shortfall, and to discuss a number of important issues including the guaranteed price negotiations for 2006/2007,Accompanying Measures and the 10th Special Conference to be held in Fiji. The Minister of Agro Industry & Fisheries, who attended the meeting met, inter alia, Mr Joe Borg, EU Commissioner for Fisheries & Maritime Affairs with whom he discussed cooperation in the fisheries sector.