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PRIME MINISTER REPLIES TO PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS
OF 29 JULY 2008


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/953

The Honourable Second Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue (Mr Lesjongard)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether, in regard to Police Officer V.H., who was posted at the Very Important Person Security Unit and who passed away at the age of 34 years, on Friday 27 June 2008, following a training session, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to (a) the cause of his death (b) when he was posted at the Unit and (c) if he underwent a physical and medical examination before his posting at the said Unit?

REPLY

Mr Speaker, Sir,

I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that on 27 June 2008, following a routine physical training around the Special Mobile Force Barracks and Gymkhana compound, late Police Constable V.E. complained of chest pain and fainted after returning to the VIPSU Barracks.

The Police Constable was attended by the doctor attached to the Special Mobile Force Regimental Medical Unit and thereafter he was immediately conveyed to the ENT Hospital on the advice of the attending doctor. However, on reaching the ENT Hospital he was found to have already passed away.

An autopsy report revealed the cause of death to be “Acute Coronary Occlusion - Natural Cause”. He was also found to have undetected coronary artery disease.

As regards part (b) of the question, I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that late Police Constable V.E. was posted at the VIPSU since 26 November 2005.

In so far as part (c) is concerned, I am further informed that all Police Officers are mandatorily required to undergo a thorough medical test on joining the Police Force. Late Police Constable V.E had joined the Police Force in 1993 and had then undergone a full medical test. I should add when he was first posted at VIPSU, late Police Constable V.E. attended a one-week induction course at the VIPSU Training Establishment. In addition, he had also successfully completed a two-week training in July 2006. Both courses comprised modules relating to physical fitness, including endurance training and strength training.

Mr Speaker, Sir,

I have however, requested the Commissioner of Police to review the existing policy regarding medical tests for Police Officers who are transferred to Units requiring more strenuous physical exercises.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/954

The Honourable Third Member for Beau Bassin and Petite Rivière (Mr Naidu)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether, in regard to the police uniforms and boots, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to the frequency at which same are renewed, indicating the date on which they were last renewed?

REPLY
Mr Speaker, Sir,

I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that boots are distributed to the Special Supporting Unit, the Special Mobile Force and the National Coast Guard.

I presume that the Honourable Member is referring to the distribution of uniforms and shoes to the regular Police Force. The frequency of distribution thereof is as follows:-

(i) two sets of shirts and trousers per year;
(ii) caps on an “as and when required” basis;
(iii) a raincoat every three years; and
(iv) two pairs of shoes per year.

As regards the second part of the question, the last issue of shirts and trousers was effected in February 2008 and another exercise is ongoing which will last until August 2008; and the last issue of raincoats was effected in December 2007.

I am also informed that there has been a delay in the distribution of shoes because tender specifications were not met by the bidders, and Police had to launch a new tender exercise.

However, the distribution exercise is now ongoing and will continue until all Police Officers are issued with at least a pair of shoes by September 2008.

Mr Speaker, Sir,

I have also impressed on the Commissioner of Police to see to it that tender procedures for supply of all items of uniforms and equipment are completed in a timely manner.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/955

The Honourable Third Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue (Mr Jhugroo)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether he will state if public officers are allowed to make public statements to the press and if not, why not?

REPLY
Mr Speaker, Sir,
There is no prohibition as such for public officers to make statements to the press, provided that the making of such statements does not constitute a breach of the Official Secrets Act and that the rules laid down in the Personnel Management Manual are complied with. These rules require a public officer to seek prior authorization of his Supervising Officer before making any statement to the press.

In so far as supervising officers themselves are concerned, they may make public statements to the press in order to explain Government policies, in line with the principles governing disclosure of information by public officers as laid down in the Personnel Management Manual and the Code of Ethics of public officers.

However, public officers are not allowed to write letters to the press, publish articles or circulate leaflets and pamphlets on political matters.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/956

The Honourable Fifth Member for La Caverne and Phoenix (Mr Soodhun)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether, in regard to the Workmen’s group of the public service, he will state if Government will consider raising the existing age limit for entry thereto, following the raising of the retirement age to 65 in the public service?

REPLY
Mr Speaker, Sir,

At present the age limit for entry to the Workmen’s group in the public service is 45 years.

The PRB, in its last Report, has maintained this age limit which has been accepted by employees in the Workmen’s group.

It is not considered advisable to change the age limit for entry in the Workmen’s group as this age limit is already higher than the age limit for other categories of officers which is 40 years.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/957

The Honourable Fifth Member for La Caverne and Phoenix (Mr Soodhun)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether he will state if consideration will be given for the setting up of a National High Powered Committee with a view to building partnerships with all the stakeholders to develop a national Action Plan to combat crime?

REPLY
Mr. Speaker, Sir,

I am convinced that by harnessing the goodwill and trust of the whole community, we shall have greater success in combating crime and creating the climate of security which our people are entitled to expect. During my first mandate as Prime Minister, I had, in 1998 made a speech and, already enunciated measures for the establishment of a new relationship between the Police and all the citizens of Mauritius through the creation of participative institutions in which our citizens could have some voice over the objectives and priorities of the Police. The ultimate objective was to change from a Police Force to a Police Service responding to the anxieties and concerns of ordinary Mauritians. I repeated this during my last speech to the new recruits. We need to have a change from a Police Force to a Police Service.

This idea was reaffirmed in the Government Programme for 2005-2010 wherein it was announced that in its endeavour to consolidate law and order, Government would, inter alia, amend the Police Act and adopt a Policing Charter which would lay the foundation for customer-based policing. Furthermore, Government would set up Regional Police Advisory Councils under the aegis of a Mauritius Police Authority which would provide a permanent platform for exchange of views between the Police, the Forces Vives, economic players, opinion leaders and other persons from the region on policing issues in the region concerned.

We have covered a lot of groundwork on these new concepts and I am discussing with the new Commissioner of Police so that I can have his views. In the meantime, conscious of the need for concerted and collaborative efforts, the Police have adopted a targeted and multi-pronged strategy, involving all stakeholders. They are already working in partnership with 57 Government and Non-Governmental Organizations on the elaboration and implementation of programmes aimed at preventing and tackling crime. From July 2005 to date, a total of 1137 sensitization sessions have been organized by the Crime Prevention Unit for targeted groups such as students, senior citizens, workers/employees, and especially youngsters.

Specialized units of the Force such as the Police du Tourisme, the Police Family Protection Unit, the Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit, are taking on board all stakeholders concerned with their respective fields of intervention. For instance, since its creation, the Police du Tourisme has organized 11 networking sessions jointly with the Association des Hôteliers et Restaurateurs de l'Ile Maurice, 12 working sessions on illegal trading on public beaches in collaboration with the Beach Authority and 11 working sessions with beach hawkers. Furthermore, 92 hotel security staff have been trained in self-defence by personnel of the Police Training School.

Another key element of the strategy adopted by the Police is the involvement of the public at large through the Police Public Partnership Policing scheme. This is in a large measure similar to the Police Community Consultative Group I proposed in 1998. The desired outcome under that scheme is to engage and consult people in local communities on their priorities, and build their confidence in the system put in place so that we can prevent and combat crime. At the same time, they are sensitized on their shared responsibility to build safer communities and are encouraged to set up Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. Under this scheme, people of specific regions work in partnership with their neighbours, the Police, as well as local authorities on measures to reduce levels of crime. To-date 54 such schemes have been set up across the island and are operating in close collaboration with the Police.

Mr. Speaker, Sir,

I have always said that law and order is not a partisan issue. With the support of Government, the Police have already adopted a strategy whereby they are taking on board various stakeholders in their daunting task to combat crime. At this stage, the setting up of a National High Powered Committee is therefore not warranted. However, I wish to appeal to all stakeholders, including the public at large, so that partnerships with the Police are intensified with a view to implementing effective programmes geared towards the prevention and the suppression of crime.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/958

The Honourable Third Member for Montagne Blanche and Grand River South East (Mr Gunness)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether, in regard to the official car put at the disposal of the Director General of the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Corporation, information as to the (a) make (b) purchasing price (c) date of purchase (d) annual insurance premium paid (e) insurance value (f) mileage run as at todate and (g) number of times it met with an accident, indicating the total cost of repairs?

REPLY

Mr Speaker, Sir,

As regards parts (a), (b) and (c) of the Question, I am informed by the Director-General of the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation that his official car make “MERCEDES” was purchased for a duty price of Rs 1,089,000. on 10 April 2006.

As regards parts (d) and (e) of the Question, the Director-General has informed that the Corporation is currently paying an annual insurance premium of Rs 57,860. in respect of his official car which is insured for an amount of Rs 2,893,000.

In so far as part (f) of the Question is concerned, the Director-General has informed that as at 24 July 2008, the odometer reading was 180,373 kms.

As regards the last part of the Question, the Director-General has informed me that his official car was involved in road accidents on two occasions. The car suffered damages on three other occasions but not as a result of accidents involving other vehicles. The total cost of repairs paid by the insurer amounted to Rs 671,958.50. For each accident, the MBC had to pay an amount of Rs 10,000 representing the “Policy Excess”.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/959

The Honourable Third Member for Montagne Blanche and Grand River South East (Mr Gunness)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, information as to if certain items are reported to have been lost at the University of Mauritius, when a team attended thereat for the ENG knowledge channel, on 16 July 2008, and if so, indicate (a) the items which were lost and the surrounding circumstances thereof and (b) the measures taken, if any, to prevent the recurrence of any such incident?

REPLY
Mr Speaker, Sir,

As regards part (a) of the Question, I am informed by the Director-General of the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation that, on 16 July 2008, an MBC crew lost a hard disk video disc unit and camera adaptor during a video recording on the premises of the University of Mauritius.

In so far as part (b) of the Question is concerned, the Director-General has informed that the case has been reported to the Moka Police Station and I am advised by the Commissioner of Police that an enquiry is in progress. For its part, the Corporation has sought the explanations of the employees concerned and a departmental enquiry has been instituted. In the light of the findings, disciplinary action will be taken against the employees concerned for non-compliance with the MBC Rules and Regulations. As a matter of fact, the Director-General has informed that the attention of all employees of the Corporation were drawn on 20 December 2006 and
16 May 2007 to the effect that they should at all times ensure the proper care of the Corporation’s property entrusted to them for the performance of their duties.

I am further informed by the Director-General that the Corporation has tightened its internal control mechanism and all employees are required to personally sign the issue and receipt vouchers for items of mobile equipment needed for outdoor activities.

I am also informed that deductions will be effected from the salaries of employees who fail to return the equipment issued to them in order to enable the Corporation to recover the cost of the missing equipment.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/960

The Honourable Third Member for Montagne Blanche and Grand River South East (Mr Gunness)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation, information as to if the Corporation has made arrangements with any hotel for the accommodation of the participants who will be attending the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) Conference, from 17 to 20 August 2008, and if so, the name of the hotel and the costs thereof?

REPLY

Mr Speaker, Sir,

I am informed by the Director-General of the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation that the Corporation had approached four hotels having the conference facilities to submit their best quotations for the provision of accommodation to participants who will be attending the Southern African Broadcasting Association Conference in Mauritius from 17 to 20 August 2008.

In the light of the response obtained, the Corporation has made arrangements for the participants to stay at La Plantation Resort and Spa Hotel.

I am further informed by the Director-General of the MBC that the cost of accommodation will be borne by the participants themselves except for a few guests whose accommodation expenses will be borne by the MBC.

I think it would not be proper to disclose the rates that would be charged by the hotel as the information is of a commercial nature.


PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION B/961

The Honourable Third Member for Montagne Blanche and Grand River South East (Mr Gunness)

To ask Dr the Honourable Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs, Minister of Civil Service & Administrative Reforms and Minister of Rodrigues & Outer Islands:-

Whether he is aware of the content of a fax dated 10 October 2006 from the firm Boskalis International, addressed to the Chairperson of the Mauritius Port Authority, informing the latter that an amount of 25,000 USD has been transferred into his account, and if so, if an inquiry has been initiated in relation thereto and the outcome thereof?

REPLY

Mr Speaker, Sir,

Following the publication of an article in the press on 19 July 2008 regarding allegations of transfer of funds by a foreign company into the account of the Chairperson of the Mauritius Ports Authority, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications addressed a letter to the Chairperson, Mauritius Ports Authority on 21 July 2008 requesting his comments on the allegations.

On the same day, a letter was addressed to the Director General, Mauritius Ports Authority by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications (External Communications Section) requesting him to seek explanations from the foreign company.

All the files and documents connected with the dealings of the Mauritius Ports Authority and the foreign company have been impounded on the very day by the parent Ministry.

In addition, the Independent Commission Against Corruption has started an investigation into the allegations.

The Director of Investigation is expected to file a Preliminary Investigation Report within 21 days as provided by Section 46 (1) (b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Mr Speaker, Sir,

I wish to assure the House that the Investigation will be conducted without hindrance and necessary action will be taken in the light of the findings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and in the light of the enquiry carried out by the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications.

Last Updated: 11 February 2013