ILLOVO NEGOTIATIONS – SOLICITOR-GENERAL'S OFFICE
(No. B/1) Mr D. Hurnam (Third Member for Pamplemousses and Triolet) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in view of the fact that there has recently been some confusion in regard to legal advice tendered by the Solicitor-General's Office in the course of the ILLOVO purchase negotiations, he will consider the advisability of providing on an ad hoc basis legal consultancy services to the said Office.
The Prime Minister: I do not think that there is any need to provide consultancy services as suggested by the hon. Member.
However, the advisability of having recourse on an ad hoc basis to legal consultancy services may be considered as and when the need is felt in any matter of particular complexity or in any area requiring special legal expertise. Any such course of action would be resorted to in consultation with the Attorney-General's Office.
In regard to the ILLOVO case, the press communiqué dated 8 March 2001, issued by my Office, clearly states the circumstances in which we sought advice from a former Chief Justice.
Mr Hurnam: Mr Speaker, would the Rt. hon. Prime Minister inform the House whether the Solicitor-General's Office was advised by the ex-Chief Justice prior to he being removed from that position?
The Prime Minister: I do not follow the hon. Member.
Mr Hurnam: The hon. Prime Minister would know that Sir Victor Glover was on contract with the Solicitor-General's Office providing advice and drafting, but he has been removed from Office.
The Prime Minister: I am not aware, Sir, but we will look into that.
(No. B/2) Mr D. Hurnam (Third Member for Pamplemousses and Triolet) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, regarding the payment of rewards in the Gorah Issac triple murder case, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to -
- whether same has been effected and, if so, when and whether all procedures have been followed;
- the personal involvement of the Commissioner of Police and that of DCP Sungeelee through cell to cell (2555770) and 7280710) and MT (2108821) phone calls to and from one suspect in the aforesaid case on 21 December 2000 as from 1718 hours to 22 December 2000 at 1506 hours and which resulted in locating the hiding place of Bahim Coco.
The Prime Minister: Sir, the Gorah Issac case has not yet been finalised and it would not be appropriate to give the information sought by the hon. Member.
(No. B/3) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the incident which occurred on 02 and 03 January 2001 at the SSR International Airport concerning the supply and shortage of aviation fuel, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to
- the number of flights that were delayed and re-routed;
- whether a task force has been instituted to look into the matter and to report thereon;
- whether the construction of a fuel farm in the region is envisaged, and
- the action initiated with a view to avoiding any incident of that nature in the future.
The Prime Minister: Sir, the information is as follows -
- I am informed that problems in the supply of aviation fuel at SSR International Airport started shortly after 2200 hrs on Tuesday 2 January 2001. As a result thereof 2 arrival flights out of a total of 40, and 5 departing flights out of a total of 36 were delayed on Wednesday 3 January. Operation returned to normal on the same day at 2000 hours.
- A task Force under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and International Trade has been set up to look into the specific causes of the problem.
A Technical sub-committee comprising representatives of –
o Airports of Mauritius Ltd;
o Air Mauritius Ltd; and
o all the four fuel companies
was entrusted with the responsibility of preparing a contingency plan to meet such a situation in the future. It is expected that the plan will be ready by the end of this month.
- Discussions are ongoing between AML and the oil companies in consultation with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce & International Trade for a new aviation fuel depot providing a 21-day strategic storage capacity to be constructed at a new location towards the South East end of the airport along the road to Shandrani Hotel.
- The task Force and the technical committee will propose a short-term and a medium-term plan to take care of any similar problem in the future. Moreover, the oil companies currently operating at the SSR International Airport have been requested by AML to review their maintenance philosophies and procedures.
Mr Sakaram: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have got two supplementary questions. The first one, with regard to the technical problem, relates to fuel filter which was clogged with sand and mud. Can the Rt. hon. Prime Minister state whether there has been any technical committee which has tried to look into the cause of that contaminant within the filter?
The Prime Minister: Obviously, we will have to look and find out in order to remedy. I understand that the filter was clogged, but I can't say with what exactly.
Mr Sakaram: The second supplementary question relates to whether there has been any study which has been carried out to evaluate the adverse impact on air traffic movement since the incident occurred in January?
The Prime Minister: I do not know whether there has been a special study on that. We all know about the adverse effect, there had been delays and inconveniences caused to people.
Mr Dulloo: May we know from the Rt. hon. Prime Minister what is the present storage capacity right now and what is the desirable storage capacity for normal supply and the companies that are now supplying and whether there has been application from other companies to supply that fuel and that there is a cartel which prevents the other companies from moving in?
The Prime Minister: Presently, the SSR International Airport has only a 3-day storage capacity, 1,900 tons. AML is envisaging the construction of a new aviation fuel depot to provide a 21-day storage capacity. Consensus has been reached by AML, Shell, Caltex, Total and Esso to set up a consortium for the provision of joint aviation fuel facilities to be provided at SSR International Airport. Indian Oil Corporation and Engen Petronas proposed to join the consortium.
Mr Dulloo: There has been an agreement with the existing oil and fuel suppliers that the two new enterprises should join the consortium without problem.
The Prime Minister: As far as I understand, in fact, they have been invited to join.
Mr Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to ask the hon. Prime Minister whether aviation fuel is still sent overseas for analysis or whether the analysis is done here in Mauritius?
The Prime Minister: There is a proposition to set up a lab here in Mauritius.
Mr Duval: The proposal to have the analysis done in Mauritius I understand is from Indian Oil Corporation. Can I ask the Prime Minister why it is taking so long?
The Prime Minister: I do not think it is taking long, the procedure is being followed. They have been given the necessary permission. I don't know why they are delaying.
Mr Duval: Perhaps the Prime Minister can look into it. What they are proposing is to set up a machine to have the fuel tested here. It is not a long procedure. There may be some reasons why – perhaps some blockage somewhere – in fact, Indian Oil has not gone ahead with this proposal.
The Prime Minister: The people concerned with Indian oil will be coming soon here in Mauritius and I will find out exactly what is the position and if there is anything that is being done to prevent this happening as quickly as possible, certainly we will see to it that all the obstacles are removed and that the machinery is set afoot to start the work as soon as possible.
Mr Duval: I understand that Indian Oil is willing to have this machine here which will save three days of delay and avoid having to send samples overseas. The storage capacity at the airport is three days, the machine itself will stay another three days, but Indian Oil , I understand, needs the agreement and business of the other oil companies for this investment to be worthwhile. Can the Prime Minister look into this and perhaps use his good offices to get all the oil companies to agree to use this one facility and thereby save this country three days of storage time?
The Prime Minister: I am not aware of this, but I will certainly look into it, Mr Speaker, Sir.
MBC – LOSS OF EQUIPMENT
(No. B/4) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the loss of equipment recently discovered at the MBC, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain –
- a list of such lost equipment and their total value;
- information as to –
(i) the action initiated to investigate into the loss of such equipment, and
i. the system of security and control obtaining at the MBC in regard to equipment.
The Prime Minister: Sir, in regard to part (a) of the question, I am informed by the Director General of the MBC that one lens used for cameras, kept in the outside broadcast car, like other outside broadcast equipment and valued at Rs400,000 was reported lost on 1 March 2001. Following the discovery of that loss of equipment of the MBC TV, the Director General has instructed that an inventory of all equipment be carried out with a view to ensuring that no equipment is unaccounted for.
With regard to part (b) of the question, I am advised as follows –
(i) The loss was reported a first time to the CID on the same day (i.e on 1 March). Subsequently, a formal statement was made to the Police on 15 March. Police enquiry is under way.
- There is an Equipment Resource Unit under the responsibility of the Chief Engineer, which deals with the issue and receipt of equipment for daily outdoor news and field production shooting. This system is working satisfactorily and any discrepancy would be noted immediately.
However, for equipment in the outside broadcast car, these are kept locked within the car when the latter is at the MBC in a garage under lock. There is always one Senior Technical Officer who is in charge of the outside broadcast car. However, there is no inventory as such, nor is there any handing over from one team to another. Thus, any discrepancy can only be discovered when any particular equipment is looked for.
Sir, I am advised that the new management has now taken remedial action. As from 16 March, a system of formal handing over has been introduced for the outside broadcast car and it would now be easy to situate responsibilities in case of loss or damage to equipment.
I am also advised that the management is carrying out an overall review of the security control system on all its premises, and a computerised access control for staff and visitors is at an advanced stage of implementation. The personnel access cards have already been devised, but have yet to undergo final test before distribution. Furthermore, all MBC vehicles carrying MBC equipment will also be controlled using a gate pass system.
STE CROIX, CITE LA CURE, ROCHE BOIS ETC – PROSTITUTION, DRUG TRAFFICKING & LARCENY
(No. B/5) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the deteriorating situation in prostitution, drug trafficking and larceny in the regions of Ste Croix, Cité La Cure, Roche Bois and others, he will make a statement on the measures taken to maintain it under control and seriously consider a complete crack down on all persons and organisations involved in such social evils in regions prone therefore.
The Prime Minister: Sir, as Parliamentary Questions B/5, B/7 and B/16 are related to underground activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution and larceny in Port Louis, particularly in the regions of Ste Croix, Cité La Cure, Roche Bois, Cité Richelieu, Cassis, Cité Vallijee and Plaine Verte, with your permission, I propose to reply to all of them together.
Sir, my Government has made the question of law and order a priority and any honest citizen will admit that there has been a return of confidence in the forces of law and order, be it in Port Louis or in other parts of the Republic.
However, it would be naïve to assume that all those persons who indulge in, and profit by, such shameful and illegal activities in drug trafficking, prostitution, larceny and theft will willingly stop their activities. Strong measures will therefore have to be taken. Hence, the passing of a new Dangerous Drugs Act last year and which will be proclaimed shortly.
I am advised by the Commissioner of Police that measures taken to control such social evils in those high risk areas are as follows:-
- Extensive foot and mobile patrols by ADSU Officers, CID & Flying Squad personnel and members of the Regular Force on a 24-hour basis over residential and commercial areas, in all points known or suspected to harbour miscreants;
- Close monitoring of activities of suspicious characters through sustained surveillance;
- Frequent road block operations and stop and search of suspicious characters and vehicles;
- Coordination between Police Officers for better interaction;
- Interaction between the Police and members of socio-cultural
groups of the locality with a view to sensitizing all components of the population against the ill-effects of drugs and its repercussion on the family unit and the society at large;
- Mounting of joint operations against drug traffickers with the
SMF, SSU and the Regular Police; and
(g) Enlisting the collaboration of other field units to reinforce Police operations whenever reliable information regarding drug dealings in those localities becomes available.
As from 25 February 2001, a special patrol unit comprising some forty Police personnel (elements of SSU, ADSU, Alpha Squad, Flying Squad and CID) has been tasked to effect road blocks, and stop and search operations, in Plaine Verte, Cité Vallijee, Abercrombie, Cité La Cure, Vallée des Prêtres and the outskirts.
In so far as prostitution is concerned, it is a fact that although some persons of loose character are known to be persistent offenders, yet it is difficult to establish a case against them for want of adequate evidence. As a deterrent, Police not only maintain a close surveillance on them, but also administer warnings should they be found loitering in the affected areas. The Police is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Women's Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare and several coordinating meetings have taken place between its representatives, NGOs of the affected areas as well as Police Officers.
As regards larceny, during period January 2001 to date, ninety five suspects have been arrested in Metropolitan Division and their interrogation has led to the detection of seventy one cases.
In line with the concept of customer-care policing, I am informed that the Police are enlisting the support of the public in the maintenance of law and order and public decorum within the framework of the Police Act, thus ensuring that the rule of law prevails at all times. It is worth mentioning that although the drug scourge is considered to be the concern of not only the Police and other organisations but also that of the whole community, certain groups of persons, specially in high risk regions, are not cooperating with law enforcement agencies and even obstruct the Police on duty. On 12 March, 2001, such an incident occurred at Cité La Cure whereby two suspects who were being escorted to the Police van were snatched from the hands of the Police by a hostile crowd of about two hundred persons who were armed with batons and stones.
On the other hand, the National Agency for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers (NATReSA), which is responsible for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of substance abuses, is organizing a series of sensitization campaigns in high risk areas in the regions of Ste Croix, Cité La Cure, Roche Bois and other neighbouring areas. In the same breath, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking will be celebrated on 25 June 2001. Furthermore, ten preventive projects have been identified and will be implemented by NATReSA in the regions mentioned above.
It is to be noted, that very often, the Police have to operate in very difficult conditions and have to develop new strategies to outwit miscreants and drug addicts involved in underground activities. Even in the face of all the difficulties, the Police Force is not resting on its laurels and is persevering very resolutely in the suppression of drug dealings and other unlawful acts with an unwavering sense of commitment.
Mr Speaker Sir, the House will appreciate that the onus of control does not lie solely on the Police Force, but also on the cooperation and support of civil society in openly condemning the perpetration of such activities, instead of obstructing the enforcement of law and order.
Mr Chumroo: I thank the hon. Prime Minister for his answer, and it is a known fact that, under the previous Government, things have worsened in Constituency No. 4, especially in regions like Roche Bois, Cité La Cure …
But it is a known fact that things have worsened under the previous Government. That is what I am trying to say. Now, after four months, things have improved but still things have to be maintained.
It is no problem even if I do not become Minister. The hon. Member won't teach me that!
Mr Speaker: Order!
Mr Chumroo: I was just trying to raise the question that I am not obsessed by the ILLOVO deal like the Opposition. I am concerned with what is going on in Constituency No. 4 where people are really facing a very terrible situation, being given that daily they are faced with prostitution, drug addicts. Therefore, my question is to highlight the problems of ti-dimounes and not the big deal that the Opposition is obsessed with.
My question is that, today, after the problems have been highlighted, the forces vives of the areas are trying to collaborate with the Police, but still those who are dealing in drugs are also organising and hence there is a kind of clash.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member should put his question.
Mr Chumroo: There is a danger that a clash may occur between the forces vives and the drug dealers. Therefore, I would ask the Prime Minister to see that the situation does not deteriorate and to make sure that these clashes do not occur again.
The Prime Minister: I had a meeting with the Commissioner of Police in presence of the hon. Member. We discussed this matter. He has even given an appointment to the Members of that constituency. The matter is being looked into. The sort of clashes I have just referred to does happen, but we will take every necessary step to prevent such things from happening again.
Mr Armance: M. le président, je voudrais attirer l'attention du Premier ministre sur la raison pourquoi les gens ne dénoncent pas les trafiquants de drogues. Ils ne les dénoncent pas, premièrement, parce qu'ils ont des doutes sur la confidentialité au sein de la police. Deuxièmement, les photos des officiers de l'ADSU qui sont formés pour ce travail sont circulés parmi les trafiquants de drogues et de ce fait ils sont déjà connus du grand public avant même qu'ils arrivent sur le terrain. Troisièment, les trafiquants connaissent exactement les heures de patrouille de la police. Il existe donc un mal au sein de la police et j'aimerais bien que le Premier ministre essaye de faire une enquête dans ce sens.
The Prime Minister: Quel est ce mal? I have not understood.
Dr. David: Mr Speaker, Sir, in PQ B/5, the Member refers to a deteriorating situation and in PQ B/7 we read that the drug problems are on the increase. May we know why the situation is deteriorating? It's a question of public security, nothing political.
The Prime Minister: It's a matter of opinion. There are ups and downs. I have not pretended at any time that we have eliminated drug trafficking in this country.
Dr. Chady: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Prime Minister gave a lengthy reply. According to information that we get from the public and the press and by the fact that there are three questions on the same issue today, we can say that this is a matter of concern and that things are getting worse. The extent of drug trafficking and whether things are getting better or worse can be disputed. I would ask the hon. Prime Minister whether we should not be provided with the proper statistics in order to have an idea of how much drug is getting into the country, how many people are consuming and who are the consumers. I think this is the basic information we should have in order to know whether the situation is improving or not. Can the Prime Minister tell us whether the information given in his reply is based on statistics?
The Prime Minister: We are certainly all concerned by this problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking. I have not asked the Police to give me the statistics as such, but we know that the Police are very active. The number of persons arrested and the amount of drug seized show that the Police are doing their job. Of course, we have not reached any situation of perfection. There is a lot to be done and we are going to continue our efforts.
Dr. Chady: The Prime Minister mentioned all the measures that are being taken in the country and did specify each and every branch of the Police that is taking action. The most important information that we should have - and I don't know whether this has been given to the Prime Minister - concerns the points of entry. As you know, we don't manufacture all those hard drugs. They are coming in from abroad. I have not heard much about measures taken at the level of the Customs Department, the port and so on.
The Prime Minister: Ways and means are being used to stop drug from coming into the country. From time to time, people bringing in drug are being arrested.
Dr. Chady: We all know that this is happening. Only recently, we have heard that certain measures are being taken concerning Customs. I believe that if we don't control the points of entry, we won't be able to do anything to combat the drug problem. Isn't the Prime Minister taking this crucial aspect of the question lightly?
The Prime Minister: We are taking nothing lightly, Mr Speaker, Sir. We are looking into this matter with all seriousness.
Mr Dulloo: Sir, it is a fact that the situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past few months especially in the Port Louis area. I congratulate the Members for having raised this issue. May I ask the Prime Minister whether he should not pay particular attention to those regions of Port Louis? Is he aware that drug traffickers and pedlars are operating in the open and with impunity in those regions just like in the heyday of the Amsterdam boys when drug tycoons could walk up the corridors of power right to the office of the Prime Minister with tente of money? May I ask him to see to it that special attention be paid to those areas of Port Louis? Hon. Armance is right in saying that the problem has been on the increase since the past few months.
The Prime Minister: Everything has been said in the reply I have just given.
AIRWAVES - LIBERALISATION
(No. B/6) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the liberalisation of airwaves, as mentioned in paragraph 45 of the Address of the President on 03 October last, he will make a statement on the progress achieved so far and indicate if Government proposes to introduce a Bill towards that end.
The Prime Minister: Sir, the Independent Broadcasting Authority Act has already come into force since 01 January this year. Measures for the effective application of the provisions of the Act are being finalised.
CITÉ RICHELIEU, CASSIS & CITÉ VALLIJEE -DRUG PROBLEMS
(No. B/7) Mr J. C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in view of the fact that drug problems at Cité Richelieu, Cassis and Cité Vallijee are on the increase, he will make a statement on the immediate steps he proposes to take to redress the situation.
(Vide reply to PQ No. B/5)
POLICE OFFICERS - PROMOTION
(No. B/8) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police information as to:
- the criteria followed in the year 2000-01 when recommending for promotion Police Officers of all ranks in the Force and
- whether the same criteria are maintained each year and, if not, indicate the factors considered.
The Prime Minister: Sir, with regard to part (a) of the question, I am advised by the Commissioner of Police that as promotions are meant to enhance departmental efficiency aimed at rendering the Force more functional, the criteria such as professional and/or technical qualifications, experience, merit as well as suitability for the vacant posts to be filled, are observed. Seniority is also taken into account, but does not prevail over the other criteria.
As regards part (b), the criteria followed when recommending Police Officers of all ranks in the Force for promotion in the year 2000-01 were the same as in the past. However, observance of those criteria are now made with the collaboration of officials of the Personnel Cadre who have recently been posted in the Police Department.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, there is a sort of disparity going on in the Police Force. Exams are being conducted only for the rank of PC to Sergeant and Sergeant to Inspector. Can't there be a uniform system for all? Secondly, we know that promotion in the Police Force has always been a source of frustration. Won't it be right if the Prime Minister could see to it, for the sake of transparency, that marks and results obtained be published in order to help eliminate the factor of frustration?
The Prime Minister: I'll pass on the suggestion to the Commissioner of Police. Insofar as exams are concerned, this has always been the practice.
AIR MAURITIUS LTD. - AWARD OF CONTRACTS -MR BISSOON MUNGROO
(No. B/9) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence & Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from Air Mauritius Ltd., the number of contracts awarded to Mr Bissoon Mungroo directly or through his companies for the transportation of employees, indicating the respective amounts of the contracts and the duration of same.
The Prime Minister: Sir, I would like to inform the House that Air Mauritius is a public company, registered and operating under the Companies Act and is quoted on the Port Louis Stock Exchange. As such, it is answerable to its shareholders at the Annual General Meeting.
Moreover, contractual arrangements between the company and its service providers are of a confidential nature and the release of such information would jeopardise the ability of Air Mauritius to efficiently manage its affairs and could furthermore lead to legal actions against the company.
Dr. Boolell: May I ask the Prime Minister whether Mr Mungroo is one and the same person who was the staunchest agent of MSM/MMM alliance during the last general election?
The Prime Minister: I have always been told that he is a staunch "boolellist"!
FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE – EMBARGO ON LIVE CATTLE FROM SOUTH AFRICA & ZIMBABWE
(No. B/20) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port & Rose Belle) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology & Natural Resources whether he will state if there is an embargo on the importation of live cattle from Zimbabwe and South Africa and, if so, whether he will make a statement thereon.
Mr P. Jugnauth: Sir, a total embargo has been imposed on live cattle from South Africa since 16 November 2000 and from Zimbabwe since 9 March 2001.
In September 2000, an outbreak of foot & mouth disease occurred in South Africa in the State of Kwazulu Natal and a ban was imposed on the importation of livestock immediately. The disease was later reported to be under control and, subsequently, in October 2000, the ban was partially lifted and importation was authorised from certain specific regions in the State of Kwazulu Natal, outside the surveillance zone. However, following further outbreaks of the disease in other regions, namely in the state of Mpumalanga, a total ban was imposed on 16 December 2000.
As regards Zimbabwe, there was a major outbreak of the disease in 1999, following which a series of corrective measures were taken by the authorities in Zimbabwe. The country was divided into several zones and Mauritius has been importing from zones where the disease did not exist. Moreover, imported animals were all vaccinated against all the strains of foot & mouth disease existing in Zimbabwe using inactivated vaccines.
However, in view of –
- the highly contagious nature of the disease which is capable of travelling long distances by air or via inanimate objects, as evidenced by the rapid spread of the disease in Europe and elsewhere;
- reports of the breakdown of certain control measures in Zimbabwe viz the destruction of fence barriers separating different zones by acts of vandalism; and
- certain discrepancies in veterinary certificates issued by that country, especially as regards dates of vaccination
it has been decided as a matter of precaution and until further notice, to impose a total ban on live animals from that country.
It must be stressed that foot & mouth disease has assumed almost pandemic proportions in the world. Currently, active outbreaks have been recorded in Europe, South America, Africa and in Asia. It is feared that the virus may be following certain geographical routes as it did some 10 years back when the disease originated in India and later invaded the whole of Asia. The Food and Agricultural Organisation has also warned that foot & mouth disease is a global threat and has urged countries to adopt tougher measures. As a precautionary measure and in the national interest, I have thought it wise to impose the ban.
Moreover, my Ministry has tightened security measures at the airport and seaport and all meat and meat products, fresh or cooked being carried by passengers are being detained and destroyed.
In addition, my Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life and the airport authorities, is enforcing the following additional measures:-
- arriving air passengers will be asked to fill a declaration form as to whether they have visited an animal farm during the seven days preceding their arrival. Those who have visited farms will be screened for possession of animal products and equipment;
- passengers will be asked to walk through a foot mat containing disinfectants; and
- all left-over food from the planes will be disinfected and destroyed on the premises of the airport.
Dr. Boolell: The hon. Minister is right when he says that the epidemic is becoming devastating. Can I ask the hon. Minister when the ban in respect of importation of live cattle from Zimbabwe became effective?
Mr P. Jugnauth: A total embargo on live cattle from Zimbabwe has been imposed since 9 March 2001.
Dr. Boolell: Is the Minister aware that shortly after the ban became effective, there was a consignment of live cattle from Zimbabwe which came on the 10th?
Mr P. Jugnauth: Yes. In fact, there was a consignment that was already shipped from Zimbabwe. The consignment has been checked by the Veterinary Services, but I'll have to inquire to find out what was the outcome.
Dr. Boolell: I sincerely hope that the Minister has not been misled, because from information obtained, it seems that the consignment was offloaded on the 10th, 33 of these cattle were slaughtered and sold to the public. Can he cross-check with the MMA whether this is so?
Mr P. Jugnauth: I will definitely look into the mater.
Dr. Boolell: Can I ask the hon. Minister whether the Ministry got in touch with Dr. Hargreaves who is the Chief Veterinary Officer of Zimbabwe and also the Chairman of the International Epizootic Organisation in respect of the ban to be imposed?
Mr P. Jugnauth: I don't have the information today, but, of course, if there is a substantive question, I will reply to that.
Dr. Boolell: Mauritius being a member of SADC, and this veterinary being the Chairman of the International Epizootic Organisation, it should have been proper for the Ministry to liaise with him. Can I impress upon the Minister to ensure that all necessary measures are taken and at the same time to consider whether we should not even establish a vaccination programme? Can I ask the Minister to look into this?
Mr P. Jugnauth: The question of vaccination programme as such does not arise in Mauritius, because the foot and mouth disease has got seven strains. So far, there is no foot and mouth disease in Mauritius. Unfortunately, we cannot vaccinate all the animals against all the seven strains of the virus. This is not possible. Of course, as is done in other countries, particularly Zimbabwe, once the strain is known, then the proper vaccination is done to the animals.
Dr. Boolell: Can I advise my friend to download information from the internet?
Mr Speaker: Dr. Boolell, put your question.
Dr. Boolell: Can I request the Minister to ask the Principal Veterinary Officer to liaise with Dr. Hargreaves and with Professor Wimpenny from Cardiff, so that there is a concerted action? Mauritius being an island, it is in itself a quarantine. Since the price…
Mr Speaker: I will stop the hon. Member here. The question is very specific and from what the Minister said, I understand that that he cannot get all the information. So, we will go round and round, wasting time.
Dr. Boolell: A meeting was held at the Ministry of Agriculture. Can I ask the Minister why the MMA was not present? Under the present circumstances, the price of meat is soaring and the MMA can act as an importer of last resort, to ensure that the prices do not go up constantly.
Mr P. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, we have to look at the inter-est of the country; we cannot just look at whether the price of meat will go up and then do nothing. The reason why we have imposed the ban is precisely to try to minimise all risks of foot and mouth disease to enter Mauritius and affect the cattle, deer etc.
The hon. Member has spoken about the price of meat. It is inevitable that, with the ban, the price of meat, which will probably have to be imported from safe countries like Australia and New Zealand where it is more expensive, will go up.
Dr. Boolell: I am saying that the MMA can act as an importer of last resort to ensure that there is no cartel. This is what I am saying. I am impressing upon the Minister to take heed of what I am saying.
Mr P. Jugnauth: If I can remind…
Mr Speaker: Order, please!
…Hon. Dr. Boolell, you are losing your temper.
Mr P. Jugnauth: If I can remind the hon. Member, who has been Minister of Agriculture, at one time there were representations from importers that this should be liberalised, and I think he must have taken the decision to liberalise, to allow importers to import meat, so that the MMA does not import any more. If there is a proposal now for the MMA to import again, we will, of course, look into that.
HOSPITALS – SURGERY – WAITING LIST
(No. B/21) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port & Rose Belle) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will give the number of patients who are at present waiting to undergo surgery in Government hospitals.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am advised that at present, there is no patient on the waiting lists as such, except for lithotripsy and cardiac surgery cases. All patients requiring surgical procedures are given firm dates to undergo operation. These patients are normally operated within six to eight weeks of consultation date. Patients admitted as emergencies and eventually needing surgery are, as far as practicable, operated on the same day.
As far as cardiac surgery is concerned, the patients have to be medically screened and investigated beforehand. Not all cardiac cases can be operated locally due to lack of technical backup. These cases are put on a waiting list to be sent either abroad or to be operated upon by visiting cardiac teams from abroad. These cases comprise mainly small children with congenital deformities or adult cases with various degrees of cardiac complications which cannot be tackled locally. As at 15 March 2001 there were 88 cases at the Cardiac Centre waiting for surgery, including those who will proceed abroad.
All the necessary information in respect of lithotripsy cases will be provided in my reply to PQ No. B/38.
Dr. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, it seems that the information provided to the Minister is not right – I am not saying that he is misleading the House. Elective and non-elective surgeries are being postponed. At Dr. Jeetoo Hospital surgeries are being postponed because the roof in the surgical room is leaking when it rains. Equipment is defective, moral amongst doctors has sagged to its lowest ebb, there is total chaos….
It is amazing what is going on in the health sector! It's not the one-off visit of the Minister and his attitude of springing like jack-in-the-box which will cure the ills in the hospitals!
Mr Speaker: Put the question!
Dr. Boolell: Can I ask the Minister to take all the remedial action to ensure that the surgical list is not postponed, Mr Speaker, Sir?
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I maintain that, from the information I have received, there is no waiting list. Un point c'est tout.
Dr. Chady: Sir, with regard to cardiac patients, there are many patients who are on the waiting list for angiogram. Being myself a doctor I have a patient who has two or three months to live and is in a very serious situation. His appointment for an angiogram has been postponed for nearly six months and this has been going on and on. I am asking the Minister to look into it. This is a matter of urgency as he requires by-passes.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would invite the hon. Member to look at the question before he puts his supplementary.
HURDOWAR, MR R. – MANAGER, MSTC - RESIGNATION
(No. B/22) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port & Rose Belle) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology & Natural Resources whether he will, for the benefit of the House ascertain the reasons as to why Mr R. Hurdowar, Manager of the Mauritius Sugar Terminal Corporation, has resigned the functions of his office.
Mr P. Jugnauth: Sir, Mr R. Hurdowar reached the age of 60 on 18 August 2000, and therefore had to retire. However, the Mauritius Sugar Terminal Board approved on 14 February 2000 that he be granted a one year contract as from 19 August 2000. The contract was on the following conditions:
Salary: Rs34,745 p.m.
Entertainment Allowance: Rs750 p.m.
Petrol Allowances: Rs3,000 p.m.
Passage Benefits : 5% of his annual salary
Vacation Leave : 35 days/p.a.
Casual Leave : 11 days/p.a.
Sick Leave : 21 days/p.a.
Telephone Allowance : Rs110 p.m.
End of Year Bonus1 : month salary
"Productivity Bonus" : 9.5% of total earnings
25% gratuity at the end of the contract,
and a chauffeur-driven car.
Furthermore, the Board has also agreed that Mr Hurdowar be granted one month vacation leave as from 18 February 2000, and be authorised to work during the next five months of his vacation leave and be compensated as appropriate.
Mr Hurdowar was due to go on leave with effect from 16 June 2001. On 7 March 2001, he submitted his resignation, of his own accord, to the Chairman of the Corporation.
I wish to draw the attention of the House to the fact that the MSTC Board, having observed certain irregularities in the performance of two contracts, namely refurbishment of luminaries and purchase of switches, and the proposed issue of two tenders, namely automatic fire fighting system and purchase of conveyor belt, had appointed a Committee of Inquiry chaired by Mr Prem Bissessur, Barrister-at-Law to look into the issues.
The MSTC Board had also observed that the case of Mr Ajitsing Hurdowar, a Site Supervisor at the Corporation, before the Industrial Relations Commission had been mishandled by Management, with the consequence that the Staff Committee of the Corporation, which is an emanation of the Board, had decided on 14 March, not to apply the decision of the IRC. That decision was taken on the basis of wrong information provided to it by management.
Dr. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, we all know that Mr Radha Hurdowar is a man of unblemished character. He has served successive Governments. This is what happens when you, as a Government, you appointed a thug as
Chairman of the Sugar Bulk Terminal in the person of Mr Paladhee constantly, day in day out, harassing people working at the Sugar Bulk Terminal dagging them as supporters of the Labour Party and he brought a letter to Mr Hurdowar asking him to sign that letter to provoke the resignation….
Mr Speaker: Order! Hon. Boolell! Please!
Dr. Boolell: This is what really happens, Mr Speaker, Sir…..
Mr Speaker: Please! Hon. Boolell!
Dr. Boolell: This is a kind of bashing that is going on….
Mr Speaker: Hon. Boolell!
Dr. Boolell: ..against a specific community of the Hindus…
We are not going to tolerate this any more, Mr Speaker, Sir…
Mr Speaker: Hon. Boolell! Please! Order!
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, he is challenging the Chair…
Mr Speaker: Definitely. This is being done deliberately. The hon. Member is challenging the Chair. This is what he is doing. Next time when I am on my feet and he does not take his seat, he will go out!
(At this stage Dr. Boolell left the Chamber)
RODRIGUES - CAMP DU ROI STADIUM - RENOVATION - INQUIRY
(No. B/24) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Youth and sports whether in view of the fact that the DTN Mr Jacques Dudal has submitted an adverse report on the Camp du Roi stadium, he will consider the advisability of arranging for a proper inquiry to be carried out with a view to clarifying the situation and to ascertaining the reason/s as to why it has not been constructed according to norms, despite the prior recommendations of the said DTN, and whether he will make a statement thereon.
Mr Yerrigadoo: Sir, I presume that the hon. Member is making reference to the contract for the renovation of the Camp du Roi stadium which was awarded to Messrs A. J. Maurel Construction Ltd on 18 March 1998 on a turnkey basis (Design and Build) for the sum of Rs21,147,240.00 excluding the laying of the synthetic surface to the tune of Rs12,875,270.
As the House is aware, the construction and management of sports infrastructure in Rodrigues do not fall under the responsibility of my Ministry. The renovation of the stadium including the laying of a synthetic surface was a project of the then Ministry for Rodrigues. Works started on 09 April 1998, for a contract period of nine months.
In the course of a visit which the National Technical Director, Mr Jacques Dudal effected to Rodrigues in November 1997, he gave preliminary indications as to the requirements of the synthetic surface while pointing out that neither the Ministry of Public Infrastructure nor the Ministry of Youth & Sports or the Mauritius Amateur Athletics Association had been consulted.
On 02 April 1998, the Ministry of Youth & Sports forwarded the comments and recommendations of Mr Dudal on the layout of the sports facilities to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. These recommendations provided clear indications for the layout of the facilities for the various athletics events as well as dimensions and distances for the facilities.
In the course of a visit between 13 to 18 December 1999, Mr Dudal inspected the Camp du Roi stadium where construction works had already
been completed and submitted a report on his findings which highlighted interalia, the absence of drains around the synthetic track, the non-availability of as made plans to facilitate homologation, and proper certification of the surface itself. Moreover, the tracks for high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault did not comply with international norms and were either out of proportion or were wrongly positioned. The facilities for javelin, shot put and hammer/discus were not according to specifications and were wrongly positioned as well.
In his conclusion, Mr Dudal drew attention to the fact that the work had been carried out in a very unprofessional manner, thereby giving rise to wastage and overspending.
Further, he drew attention that the absence of certification of the facilities would prevent the homologation of any national or international record performance achieved on that stadium.
Despite the adverse report submitted by the National Technical Director, no concrete remedial action was taken by my predecessors. In addition, repeated requests from Mr Dudal, for the as made plans of the facilities were for unknown reasons left unattended and unanswered to by my predecessors.
r Dudal paid another visit to Rodrigues from 12 to 16 January this year and in his report dated 14 February this year he has pointed out the following -
- none of his recommendations made in December 1999 had been implemented;
- some of the facilities as built, represent a potential source of danger for both the football players as well as the athletes because Mr Speaker, Sir, the Camp du Roi stadium is a football pitch/athletics stadium.
- there was an urgent need to complete outstanding items of work and to bring adjustments to existing ones; and
- the need to obtain the appropriate certificates and documents from the contractor to facilitate homologation of these facilities.
For the benefit of the House, I am tabling both copies of reports submitted by Mr Dudal.
As I mentioned earlier, the contract for the renovation of the Camp du Roi stadium was awarded to Messrs A. J. Maurel Construction Ltd on a turnkey basis which implies that the contractor had full responsibility for the preparation for the architectural and structural drawings following the issue of a letter of intent informing of Government's intention to award the contract to him. The onus was therefore on the contractor to ensure compliance with the norms as laid down in the tender documents. Moreover, the plans submitted by the contractor (through his Architect, one Mr Foo Kune) had to obtain the approval of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure prior to the issue of the letter of award and the start of works. My Ministry is liaising both with the Ministry for Rodrigues and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to ascertain whether the proper procedure had been followed.
I must point out that since assuming office, I have paid a visit to Rodrigues and to the Camp du Roi stadium. As a follow up to that visit and to the reports of Mr Dudal a technical committee has already been set up to study the various issues raised in the reports and remedial action, where appropriate will be taken. Depending on the findings and recommendations of this technical committee a decision would be taken as to whether an inquiry is warranted to situate responsibilities. As the project was on a turnkey (Design and Build) basis, failure by the contractor to comply with the conditions of contract would be dealt with in the appropriate manner.
Mr Von-Mally: Mr Speaker, Sir, I think it is quite clear from the answer given by the hon. Minister that we need proper inquiry because we are talking of public funds. More than Rs21 m. have been spent. And we have not obtained value for money. Being given that Mr Jacques Dudal himself, on several occasions, has given recommendations and these have not been followed, I think a proper inquiry should be carried out to prevent recurrence of same because this is public money.
Mr Yerrigadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, as I just informed the House, a technical committee has already been set up. I am waiting for the recommendations of the technical committee and my colleague can rest assured that remedial action, where necessary, will be taken.
Mr Dowarkasing: I have got a supplementary on this issue. Can the hon. Minister inform the House whether he is in possession of the original plans of construction that had to be done in Camp du Roi stadium?
Mr Yerrigadoo: The original plans are under study with the technical committee to ensure whether proper procedure has been followed or not in the execution of the works.
At 1.00 p.m. the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 2.37 p.m. with Mr Speaker in the Chair.
RODRIGUES – DROUGHT -
COMPENSATION TO FARMERS & PLANTERS
(No. B/25) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in view of the fact that the farmers and planters in Rodrigues are enduring a hardship due to the severe drought affecting the island, he will –
- arrange for appropriate compensation to be paid to them and use his good offices for the repayment of their loans to the DBM rescheduled, and
- make a statement on other facilities he intends to make available to them with a view to boosting up agricultural production.
The Minister of Co-operatives and Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo): Sir, I am informed by the Ministry of Agriculture that –
- the Meteorological Service is currently compiling rainfall statistics for Rodrigues and in the light of the outcome of the examination of the statistics, action as appropriate will be taken, including the possibility of approaching the Development Bank of Mauritius for the possible rescheduling of the repayments of loans by the farmers and planters affected by the agricultural drought. As regards the issue of compensation, I propose to refer the matter to my colleague, the substantive Minister for consideration, and
- various measures are being envisaged to boost up agricultural production. These include –
the possible formulation of a Planters' Welfare Fund to enable farmers and planters to benefit from new schemes and incentives;
a. the strengthening of the co-operation and collaboration between the Agricultural Services in Rodrigues and the Agricultural and Research Extension Unit (AREU) of the Ministry of Agriculture with greater emphasis on technical exchanges and training;
b. the introduction of new varieties suitable to Rodriguan conditions;
c. the possible funding from the Mauritius Research Council for new food processing and new production systems, and
d. the sustained control of erosion in order to decrease soil degradation.
Mr Speaker, Sir, it is expected that these measures will go a long way in alleviating the present situation of planters and farmers in Rodrigues.
Mr Von-Mally: I understand that a study will be made first and they are awaiting the report. Can I know whether there is a time frame for the submission of this report?
Mr Koonjoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am afraid I can't give a time frame for the submission of this report.
Mr Von-Mally: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am putting this question because in the past such studies have been made with no outcome afterward.
RODRIGUES, RIVIERE BANANE AND ANSE GOELAND – PRE-PRIMARY SCHOOLS
(No. B/26) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in regard to the pre-primary schools of Rivière Banane and Anse Goeland, he will state –
- when the buildings were completed, and
- when they will be operational, indicating why they have not yet been opened.
The Minister of Co-operatives and Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo): Sir, the answer is as follows –
- the buildings were completed in March 2000.
- the pre-primary schools of Rivière Banane and Anse Goeland will be operational at the beginning of the second school term which is scheduled for 30 April 2001. They have not yet been opened as the modalities for their operation had yet to be finalised.
However, classes are being run for the 13 children registered at Rivière Banane pre-primary school in the nearby community centre, while the 17 children registered at Anse Goeland pre-primary school have been enrolled temporarily at the pre-primary schools of La Ferme and Mangues.
RODRIGUES, ORANGE TO BALADIROU – ROADS PROJECT
(No. B/27) Mr C. Leopold (Fourth Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in regard to the road leading from Orange to Baladirou Camp, he will –
- state if the project has been partially or wholly financed by the USA, and
- give the reasons why the project has not yet been completed, indicating when same will be operational.
The Minister of Co-operatives and Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo): Sir, the road leading from Orange to Baladirou Camp which is 4.5 km. long was partially financed by the US Embassy. The first kilometre, financed by the U.S Embassy, was completed in September 1999. The tarring of the second kilometre which was financed from the Ministry's vote was completed in April 2000.
The remaining 2.5 km will be constructed during the next financial year.
RODRIGUES – HOUSING REHABILITATION
(No. B/28) Mr C. Leopold (Fourth Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in regard to the housing rehabilitation project of Rodrigues, also known as rehabilitation des cités, he will –
- state the sum initially earmarked for same, indicating the amount that has been spent so far;
- state if all the houses have been fully rehabilitated, giving reasons for any that has not been repaired;
- state if it is proposed to extend the project to the construction of proper roads and drains in all the cités, and if not, why not and
- make a statement thereon.
The Minister of Co-operatives and Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo): Sir, the reply is as follows –
- the housing rehabilitation project was spread over three financial years as follows –
Financial Year Voted Provision Amount Spent
1993/1994 6 m. 243,155
1994/1995 8 m. 5,503,908
1995/1996 8 m. 7,232,340
- 300 housing units were constructed for the victims of cyclone Celine II in 1979.They were made of concrete blocks and roofs of corrugated iron sheets. In 1993, it was decided to rehabilitate these houses by replacing the corrugated iron sheet roofs with concrete slabs and providing an extension of 14.5 ft x 7.5 ft.
At the end of the rehabilitation programme, 286 houses were thus rehabilitated, 2 have been converted into community centres (cité Papate and Ile Michel) while 12 were found to be beyond repairs because of severe cracks in their walls, and
- & (d ) priority is being given to the construction of main roads
with drains after which consideration will be given to the construction of access roads and drains to these housing estates.
Mr Leopold: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to know from the hon. Minister whether the repairs have been done completely or partially because, according to my information, most of the cités like at Ile Michel, also known as Cité Gaëtan, are still in a very undesirable condition and here we are talking about poor people. I would like the Minister to make the necessary arrangements in order to alleviate the situation of these poor people and if possible, to make a proper inquiry because many questions on this matter have been raised by my colleague, hon. Von-Mally, during the past years and still things are the same.
Mr Koonjoo: I'll talk to my colleague, the substantive Minister.
RODRIGUES - LA FERME & MONT LUBIN AREA HEALTH CENTRES - DEFIBRILLATOR FACILITIES & HOTLINE SERVICES
(No. B/29) Mr C. Léopold (Fourth Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of health and Quality of Life whether, in regard to La Ferme and Mont Lubin hospitals, he will state -
- when defibrillator facilities will be provided in same, and
- when a hotline will be installed therein.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I wish to point out that there are area health centres at La Ferme and Mont Lubin and not hospitals.
At present, only regional hospitals in Mauritius and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Rodrigues are provided with defibrillators facilities to cater for cardiac patients. These are not provided in area health centres.
However, given the specificity of Rodrigues and taking into account that the two area health centres in Rodrigues operate on a 24-hour basis, a need assessment exercise is being carried out to determine as to whether such facilities should be extended to those centres.
Regarding part (b) of the question, no hotline service is provided in area health centres in Mauritius, including those in Rodrigues.
However, I wish to apprise the House that a hotline service was functional at the level of my Ministry's headquarters to deal with complaints received from the members of the public. With a view to further decentralising the health services and in order to ensure prompt remedial action, a hotline service has now been provided in all regional hospitals in Mauritius. This facility is being extended to Rodrigues as well and in this connection, the Director, Health Services, Rodrigues has recently been requested to make the necessary arrangements for the provision of a hotline service at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
JUDICIARY - DISTRICT MAGISTRATES
(No. B/30) Mr R. Daureeawoo (Third Member for Montagne Blanche and GRSE) asked the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Human Rights whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to the number of District Magistrates who have resigned from the Judiciary in the course of the last 2 years.
Mr Leung Shing: Mr Speaker, I have been informed that during the last two years, 2 Senior District Magistrates and 2 District Magistrates have resigned from the Judiciary.
Mr Daureeawoo: Some Magistrates have resigned from the Judiciary and some have left to serve the country perhaps, but irrespective of the reason behind the Magistrate leaving, does the Minister intend to encourage lawyers to join the Judiciary?
Mr Leung Shing: Definitely, we will encourage lawyers to join the service, but we don't have any information of lawyers having applied to join the service at this stage.
Mr Daureeawoo: According to a statement made at the last occasion by the Attorney-General, to the effect that Magistrates are required to work during week-ends, that is, on Saturdays and Sundays, but they have not been paid any allowance since October up to now.
Mr Leung Shing: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am not aware that they have not been paid. The Magistrates fall within the ambit of the Judiciary, I shall inquire into it.
Mr Dulloo: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he is aware that following resignations from the Magistracy and from the State Law Office, there is a shortage of Magistrates right now and this is hampering the good functioning of the Judiciary and whether there has been any recent advertisement to invite people to join the Magistracy?
Mr Leung Shing: Mr Speaker, Sir, on the question which has been raised, I shall take up the matter with the hon. Chief Justice.
SIR SEEWOOSAGUR RAMGOOLAM PROP - STORAGE
(No. B/31) Mr R. Daureeawoo (Third Member for Montagne Blanche and GRSE) asked the Arts and Culture whether, in regard to the dismantled giant statue of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam during the Mega Show at Caudan Waterfront to mark the 30th Independence Anniversary of Mauritius, he will state –
- if a shed or shelter has been built at Cap Malheureux for stacking the dismantled pieces and, if so, indicate the cost thereof;
- the number of pieces constituting the statue, indicating if it can be of any use in the absence of a piece, and
- how long he proposes to keep the statue in its present dormant state.
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, with your permission, I propose to reply to parts (a) and (b) together.
I am informed that because of no adequate storage capacity being available in Government stores, the dismantled parts of the giant stage decor used for the 30th Independence Anniversary in 1998 had to be kept, after the show, under a shed at Cap Malheureux Training Centre of the DWC.
I am informed that the previous Government had been fully apprised of those storage arrangements on two occasions. They had also been apprised of the fact that the so-called statue had been dismantled in three parts and that those parts could not be re-used as such.
I am further informed that the Audit Department had expressed concern in the past as to the conditions of security in which the parts of the prop needed to be kept. In consultation with the DWC, the Ministry had then replied that those parts were being kept under adequate security conditions on DWC premises at Cap Malheureux.
I am further informed that it was only in April last year that the DWC informed my Ministry that parts of the dismantled prop were getting spoilt.
The Ministry initiated action within its stores so as to move the parts of the prop from Cap Malheureux to its own stores, but it could not find one with an appropriate storage capacity.
In a letter dated 01 December last, the DWC drew my Ministry's attention to the fact that the prop was fast deteriorating and that the Ministry should take appropriate action.
On 14 December last, the Ministry wrote back to the DWC urging it to continue its custody pending ongoing efforts to make alternative arrangements, and also pointing out to the necessity for the DWC to ensure that the statue is kept under adequate security conditions.
The DWC immediately replied, that is, on 15 December 2000, assuring the Ministry that the prop was in its custody, under adequate security conditions, but that the risk of damage and deterioration was still very present.
Officials of my Ministry then had consultations with the Central Stores of the Ministry of Finance for possible availability of storage capacities, but none was found within Government Sector. This was the initial reason for which the prop which needed storage as far back as in 1998, did not find any storage capacity in Government stores and had had to be directed to the stores on DWC training centre premises at Cap Malheureux.
The Government Central Stores Division also suggested that contact be made with the Ministry of Fisheries for a possible re-use of the materials, failing which my Ministry should submit an application for the setting up of a Board of Survey to examine the materials and make recommendations for their disposal.
Knowing that concerns are expressed at intervals by officials of the Audit Department regarding appropriate storage of materials belonging to Government, the Ministry asked the DWC to upgrade its shelter, especially also, in view of the prevailing cyclonic conditions.
Thus, the matter was given urgent attention by the DWC.
In the circumstances, therefore, by February this year, the DWC offered to consolidate the storage facilities on its premises by the construction of a temporary new shed on condition that the Ministry contributes financially towards that effort with an amount of Rs15,000. My Ministry agreed to that request.
As to whether the materials could not be re-used with one piece missing or not, I am informed that those structures cannot be re-used for the purpose they were originally used.
Mr Speaker, Sir, as regards part (c) of the question, I should like to inform the House that the officials of the Ministry of Fisheries, including Scientific Officers were contacted and a definite answer came from that Ministry confirming that the fibre glass could not be used by it.
At this stage, it is felt that all possible avenues of re-utilising the materials having been explored, the obvious next step was, for my Ministry to initiate procedures provided for in the Financial Management Manual for the disposal of those materials.
Thus, a Board of Survey has been set up. This Board of Survey will meet on Thursday 22 March 2001 and make its recommendations for the manner in which the final disposal of the materials, amongst others, could be done.
Until then, Mr Speaker, Sir, the gigantic pieces of materials will have to remain in the safe and secure custody of the DWC new shed at its training centre at Cap Malheureux.
Mr Daureeawoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, is there any possibility to get that statue erected?
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, all decisions will be taken by the Board of Survey.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is a well-known fact that huge sums of money have been spent on this occasion and during the by-election campaigns in constituencies Nos. 9 and 20. So, I would be grateful if the Minister can carry out an inquiry so as to shed full light on how public funds have been spent during these occasions.
Mr Speaker: Does the hon. Member mean in the elections? I don't think he has the power.
PLATFORM, PETITE RIVIERE – BAITKA – CONSTRUCTION
(No. B/32) Mr J.C Armance (Third Member for GRNW and Port-Louis West) asked the Minister of Housing and Lands whether he will say if he has received a fresh request for the allocation of a small portion of land to be used for the construction of a baitka at Platform, Petite Rivière, by the Swastika Samelan Sabha and, if so, will he make a statement thereon.
Mr Choonee: Yes, Sir, the Swastika Samelan Sabha holds a lease over 262m2 of former Railway Land at Petite Rivière since 06 October 1993 for a period of 20 years for the construction of a baitka. The Sabha has not so far been able to develop the land as it is occupied by one Mr Teelokee. The Sabha has made an application on 13.07.2000 for another plot of land at Petite Rivière.
Mr Armance: Mr Speaker, Sir, as it is a fresh request, will the hon. Minister consider the advisability of allotting a fresh portion of land to the society?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, the possibility of allotting a fresh plot of land will depend on something which is very important and which will happen on Thursday. I understand that the lessee Sabha has entered a case before the Supreme Court against Mr Teelokee who was illegally preventing the Sabha from occupying the leased land. The case which is pending before the Supreme Court has been called for on 22 of this month at 9.45 a.m. Following this exercise, we can think about allotting the plot.
CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO – MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS/BRITISH OFFICIALS - DISCUSSIONS
(No. B/33) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional cooperation whether he will make a statement on the outcome of his meetings with the British Officials regarding the recovery of Diego Garcia and indicate what major actions are being entertained by Government towards same.
Mr Gayan: Mr Speaker, Sir, Members of the House will no doubt be aware that I have recently had a series of meetings with representatives of the Government of the United Kingdom.
On 28 November 2000 at Gaborone, Botswana I met a special envoy of the UK Government and Mr John White, head of the Overseas Territories Department.
On 29 November 2000, I met again, at the same place, Mr Peter Hain the then UK Minister of State for African Affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
On 25 January this year, I met Mr Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, in London and had an extremely useful exchange with him on the question of the Chagos Archipelago and, at that meeting it was agreed that officials from the two sides would meet to pursue discussions on the question.
Yesterday I met Mrs. Janet Douglas from the UK Africa Department and I raised the issue of the Committee of Officials again. I was proposing to write to Mr R. Cook, the Foreign Secretary, on this matter in order to maintain the momentum.
I have just, before coming to the House, received a letter from His Excellency, the High Commissioner of the UK in Mauritius, informing me that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are proposing to have these discussions on Tuesday 10 April, in London.
At each of these meetings I have, in the light of the statement I made in the House on 14 November 2000 on the Chagos Archipelago problem, forcefully reiterated the stand of Mauritius on the issue of the Chagos Archipelago, with particular emphasis on the following points -
- the Sovereignty of Mauritius over the Chagos Archipelago is indisputable and non-negotiable;
- following the recent judgement of the English High Court in the Bancoult Case, the UK Government should forthwith return to Mauritius the islands of the Archipelago to Mauritian Sovereignty with the exception of Diego Garcia which is currently being used as a military facility by the USA, and
- the urgent need to start substantive negotiations on the finalisation of modalities for the complete transfer of the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, to Mauritius.
With regard to the options that we are considering, they may be grouped into 3 parts:
- political and diplomatic
On the political and diplomatic front, we intend to raise at all regional and multilareral meetings and fora our claim of sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago.
We will keep reminding the international community of the disturbing circumstances that led to the dismemberment by the colonial power of our territory prior to independence.
We are also exploring all avenues within the UN System for the follow-up of our initiatives.
Additionally, we shall seek bilateral support of friendly countries on this matter.
The House is aware that the then US Secretary of State, Ms. M. Albright was, during her visit in December 2000 to Mauritius, fully briefed on the claim for sovereignty and, with the change in Administration in Washington, we need to carry out the same exercise with President Bush and his officials.
We intend to keep this a live issue and no opportunity will be missed to promote our national interests and to maintain the pressure for the return of the Chagos Archipelago to the sovereignty of Mauritius.
With regard to the legal aspects, in parallel with the diplomatic and political initiatives, we are studying the juridical aspects of dismemberment of our territory. The State Law Office has already embarked on the preparation of a legal brief and we have also sought and obtained from the Government of India the services of an International Law Expert who will help in this exercise.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea imposes upon member States that have a continental shelf to delimit the outer limits of the continental shelf based on geological and other data spelt out in the provisions of the Convention. Mauritius will soon proceed to carry out this exercise and we propose to delineate the outer edge of the Continental margin around the Chagos Archipelago.
With regard to other options, we do not rule out any other option.
Mr Dowakarsingh: Sir, the hon. Minister has spoken about friendly countries, may I know from what are the countries that have already been contacted on this issue?
Mr Gayan: We have contacted countries on the African continent, Asia and some European countries.
Mr Dulloo: Sir, the hon. Minister referred to the recent judgement of the High Court of UK. We are given to understand over the week-end that as a natural consequence of that judgement the British Government will be proceeding to grant UK citizenship to the people who have been transferred from those islands. So, may I ask the hon. Minister whether he does not view this as undermining our claim for sovereignty and, if so, what action he proposes to take in the light of the recent information that he received in Mauritius?
Mr Gayan: Mr Speaker, Sir, my information is that the UK Government is considering the possibility of granting UK citizenship to all the members of the Ilois community. But we have always maintained that there has a distinction to be made between the interest of the Ilois as individuals and the interest of Mauritius as a sovereign State.
With regard to the territory of the Chagos Archipelago it has always been the stand of the UK that when it is no longer needed for defence purposes, it will be returned to the sovereignty of Mauritius. And they have also maintained that if there is any State in the world that has a claim to this, it is Mauritius.
So, with regard to this matter, I think we need to bear in mind that there are two aspects to this problem. One is the problem of the individual Ilois who are claiming damages and U.K. citizenship, but this does not impeach or affect adversely our claim of sovereignty. I think these two issues should be dissociated. I do not consider that there is any impediment in our continuing our claim of sovereignty and I do not think that there is any legal difficulty should the UK Government decide to give citizenship to the Ilois. In fact, they had given the BIOT passport to the Ilois. That does not affect our claim of sovereignty.
Mr Duval: May I ask the hon. Minister whether Mauritius Government is giving any physical asistance to the Ilois to return to Diego Garcia?
Mr Gayan: The stand of Mauritius has always been that the Chagos Archipelago is a land which belongs to the State of Mauritius and all Mauritians irrespective of their origins are entitled to go to the Chagos Archipelago.
But we have in the House stated that with regard to Diego Garcia where there is a U.S. military facility, we are not opposed to it continuing as such, but any claim of sovereignty will have to be over the totality of the Archipelago.
MUNGROO, MR BISSOON & LE VAL NATURE PARK – STATE LAND – LEASE
(No. B/34) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Housing and Lands whether he will state -
a. The area of State land or Pas Géométriques leased to Mr Bissoon Mungroo and to the Le Val Nature Park;
b. The amounts due by the respective lessees; and
c. Whether Government proposes to retrieve part of the land leased and, if so, indicate the reasons therefor.
Mr Choonee: Sir, as regards part (a), according to the State land lease book, an extent of 844m2 of Pas Géométriques at Flic en Flac has been leased to Mr Bissoon Mungroo for the period 06.11.86 to 30.06.96 for commercial purposes.
As regards Le Val Nature Park, no State land has been leased to that company.
Regarding part (b), rent is due in respect of the lease for the period 01 July 1997 to this date. However, as the lessee, Mr Bissoon Mungroo, has carried out development which is not in conformity with the purpose for which the lease was granted, the lease has not been renewed and hence no rental has been claimed.
Regarding part (c), no, because the land is not required by Government for the time being for any project.
Mr Gungah: I would like to ask the hon. Minister whether Mr Mungroo has recently applied for any State land?
Mr Choonee: I am not aware of this, Sir.
CITES – WASTEWATER AUTHORITY BILLS – PAYMENT
(No. B/35) Dr. J. B. David (Fourth Member for GRNW & PORT LOUIS WEST) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain the following information from the Municipality of Port Louis –
- why it is refusing to pay the Wastewater Authority bill in several cités;
- when the decision to stop payment was taken;
- the monthly amount which it had so far been disbursing under this item;
- the number of families affected by this decision;
- the average income of these families; and
- whether these families were forewarned of the Municipality's decision.
The Minister of Co-operatives and Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo):
Sir, I am advised by the Municipal Council of Port Louis that the question does not arise as the Council has so far never been in the presence of any request for the payment of Wastewater Authority bills relating to the inhabitants of the cités. I have also been advised, that should there be any request to that effect, it will be considered by the Council for an eventual decision.
MUNICIPALITY OF QUATRE BORNES – TRADING LICENCES – ALLEGED IRREGULATIES
(No. B/36) Dr. J. B. David (Fourth Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether he will, for the benefit of the House, give a status report concerning the established cases of more than 200 trading licences issued irregularly at the Municipality of Quatre Bornes.
The Minister of Co-operatives and Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo): Sir, as the hon. Member is aware, the matter was referred to the Commissioner of Police for an urgent consideration for enquiry since 10 April 2000, and I am advised by the latter that although the Town Clerk of the Municipality of Quatre Bornes had promised to collaborate, the enquiry is to a standstill as the Chief Health Inspector of the Municipality, who was interviewed by the Police with a view to obtaining information and documents relating to the case, had replied that he had to consult his legal adviser in the first instance. Several requests made subsequently to him remained in vain.
With a view to expediting matters, I am requesting the Town Clerk and the Chief Health Inspector of the Municipality of Quatre Bornes as well as all other officers concerned to collaborate fully with the Police failing which disciplinary action may be envisaged against them, as required.
Dr. David: Mr Speaker, Sir, this is unacceptable that the Town Clerk and any other officer, be it the Chief Health Inspector or whoever, refuses to give information as regards cases of irregularity. In fact, more than 200 cases of trading licences have been issued irregularly and those people are still exerting pressures and are still taking money. I would like to lay on the Table of the Assembly a confidential report as regards these 200 cases of
irregularity and request, through the acting Minister, the Minister of Local Government to see to it that remedies are taken immediately and that those who refuse to give information be taken to task as urgently as possible.
Mr Koonjoo: Yes, Sir, I'll accordingly advise my colleague, the substantial Minister.
SOUTH AFRICA PRESTIGE AGE GROUP 2001 - MAURITIUS PARTIPATION
(No. B/37) Dr. J. B. David (Fourth Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Youth & Sports whether he will give the reasons why Mauritius has declined the invitation of South Africa to participate in the South Africa Age Group 2001.
Mr Yerrigadoo: Sir, at the outset, it is important to point out that it was not Mauritius which was invited to participate, but the Fédération Mauricienne de Natation.
As you may be aware a sports federation is an autonomous body, free to take any decision pertaining to the internal management and promotion of the sports discipline entrusted upon it. In marked contrast to my predecessor, the vision now at the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the guiding philosophy are to allow sports federations to benefit from that autonomy and not to interfere into their internal affairs.
I am accordingly informed that the invitation to participate in the South Africa Prestige Age Group 2001 was declined by the Federation upon the unanimous recommendation of its technical committee.
For the benefit of the House, I am tabling copy of the letter addressed to my Ministry by the Federation.
HOSPITALS – LITHOTRIPSY MACHINES
(No. B/38) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Miniter of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state the number of lithotripsy machines available in Government hospitals and indicate -
a. where they are located;
b. their respective costs;
c. the date on which each was installed;
d. how many are currently functional;
e. as from September 2000, how many times any of the machines has had breakdowns or any malfunction and for what periods of time; and
f. how many patients are on the waiting list for lithotripsy.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, as regards part (a) there are three lithotripsy machines available in Government Hospitals, two of which are at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam National Hospital and one at the Victoria Hospital.
As regards parts (b) and (c), the information is as follows -
- The Siemens Lithostar model located at SSRNH was purchased at a price of Rs15,342,354 and installed in September 1993.
- The second lithotripsy machine located in the same hospital is a Shanghai HX 902 model recently purchased at the price of Rs3,899,999.00 and installed on 18 May 2000.
- The third one, located at Victoria Hospital, is an Econolith 2000 model purchased at a total price of Rs6,650,000 and installed on 13 January 2000.
Regarding part (d), I am informed that two out of the three machines are currently functional. The Lithostar model at SSRNH is presently out of order and is awaiting the required spare parts from the supplier to be repaired.
Regarding part (e), the information is as follows:
Equipment No. of Duration
1. Siemens 2 From 6 December 2000
Lithostar at SSRNH for 10 weeks
From 27 February to date
2. Model Shanghai 3 From 6 December 2000
HX 902 at SSRNH for 53 days
From 5 March 2001
For 2 days
And from 8 March 2001
For 8 days
It is to be noted that the significant downtime of the Siemens equipment, manufactured in Germany, is due to the delay in the supply of its spare parts by the sole supplier of the machine. This delay is due to the embargo imposed on these spare parts in Germany. The downtime of 53 days of the HX 902 model, which is still under warranty, is due to the unavailability of the manufacturer's engineer for the necessary repairs.
As for the Econolith model located at Victoria Hospital, there has never been any breakdown, but there was a temporary interruption of the
lithotripsy sessions from 21 November 2000 to January 2001 due to a delay in receiving the required consumables used on the machines from abroad.
As regards part (f), as at 15 March 2001, there were 452 patients on the waiting list of which seven have already been booked. With two machines operational, arrangements are being made to have this backlog cleared in two months' time.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I wish to inform the House that I am not satisfied at all with the performance of the HX 902 model which is erratic and cannot therefore be used to its maximum. Since 6 December 2000, this machine has broken down three times and has consequently not been functioning for 63 days. Had this machine been working to its full capacity, the waiting list would have been much less than what it is. The situation is being closely monitored and if it is ascertained that the machine is defective, the supplier, one Mr Ducray Lenoir, would be officially requested to take back his equipment and refund the Ministry the amount already paid. Alternative arrangement will be made beforehand for the purchase of a more performing lithotripsy machine.
It is also to be noted that the original recommendations of the Evaluation Committee of my Ministry to the Central Tender Board was the purchase of two Econolith models at a total price of Rs13,300,000, but I have been informed that the CTB had insisted that at least one if not both equipment to be purchased, should be the HX 902 model from Shanghai given that this offer was the cheapest. The Ministry had, therefore, no other alternative than to purchase one unit of the HX 902 model.
Dr. Beebeejaun: Mr Speaker, Sir, I thank the Minister for this full reply. In a reply he gave on 14 November, he said that there was an average of four patients a week being treated, which is a very low figure. If you work on that figure, there will never be any catching up of that backlog.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed that six patients can be taken per day on each machine so that if we have two machines working, twelve patients will be taken care of daily and 60 weekly. So, as I said, I can't see how the backlog can't be dealt with within the time I have mentioned. It's a simple calculation.
PATIENTS - ROUTINE OPERATIONS - WAITING LIST
(No. B/39) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state the number of patients who are on the waiting list for routine operations to date compared with September 2000 and indicate what period of time a patient has to wait for an elective operation in the following specialities –
- general surgery,
- plastic surgery,
- gynaecology and
Mr A. Jugnauth: Sir, I wish to refer the hon. Member to the reply I have made in respect of PQ No. B/21 wherein I stressed that there is no patient on the waiting list as such. All patients requiring surgical procedures are given firm dates, except for cardiac and lithotripsy cases. In fact, the number of patients expected to undergo operations in September 2000 was 2,054 against 2,429 as at 15 March 2001, of which lithotripsy represented 459 and cardiac 88.
As far as elective operations are concerned in respect of general surgery, gynaecology and ophthalmology, patients are normally operated within a period of six to eight weeks.
As far as plastic surgery is concerned, the nature of the treatment is different. In fact, most of these patients have to be operated in stages which could take up to a few years to be completed. Regarding complex plastic surgery cases, in view of lack of technical backup, such cases are tackled by foreign visiting teams.
POST OF WARD MANAGER - PROMOTION THERETO
(No. B/40) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state –
- the number of existing posts of Ward Manager in his Ministry and the number thereof filled to date;
- the criteria followed for promotion to these posts from the rank of Nursing Officer;
- the names of those promoted and their previous rank of seniority and
- the names of those more senior officers who have not been promoted.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Sir, I am informed that:
- There are currently 72 posts of Ward Manager (male) and 75 posts of Ward Manager (female) on my Ministry's Establishment. As at to date, 65 posts of Ward Manager (male) and 74 posts of Ward Manager (female) are filled.
- Promotion for the posts of Ward Manager (male) and Ward Manager (female) rests with the Public Service Commission. According to the schemes of service for the posts of Ward Manager (male) and Ward manager (female), promotion thereto is made on the basis of experience and merit, of Charge Nurse (male) or Charge Nurse (female) respectively who reckons at least five years' service in a substantive capacity in the grade.
- The last promotion exercise for the posts of Ward manager (male) and Ward manager (female) was carried out by the Public Service Commission in February this year. In the light of that exercise, 30 Charge Nurses (male) were promoted as Ward Manager (male) and 49 Charge Nurses (female) as Ward Manager (female).
- There has been no supersession for the post of Ward Manager (female). As regards the post of Ward Manager (male), six Charge Nurses (male) were not recommended for promotion for administrative and disciplinary reasons. Of the six Charge Nurses in question, one had indicated that he was not willing to accept promotion due to family problems, two have Court cases, one has to be medically boarded in view of his attendance, one has been warned twice and his conduct is being monitored, and the last one will be considered for promotion after the filling of the post of Nursing Supervisor on the Rodriguan Establishment. However, two Charge Nurses who were recommended for promotion as Ward Manager (male) had, in the meantime, made public statements which have been considered as an act of misconduct on their part. In view thereof, offers of promotion have not been made to them. Their explanations have been sought and obtained. These are being examined by my Ministry, and a submission will be made to the PSC accordingly.
Dr. Beebeejaun: Could the Minister please tell us what sort of statement was made by those officers who have been considered so adversely?
Mr A. Jugnauth: There was the issue of inciting the nurses at a press conference that they held.
RODRIGUES - ANSE FEMY TO GRAVIERS - BRIDGE
(No. B/41) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether he will arrange for the improvement of the road access to the village of Anse Femy and for a bridge to be built across the stream between the said village and Graviers, with a view to alleviating the hardships faced by the villagers, especially school children and sick persons.
The Minister of Cooperatives & Handicraft (Mr P. Koonjoo): Sir, the access road to the village of Anse Femy from Graviers is about 1 km. Long and will necessitate the construction of a bridge across the existing river. Construction of the road and bridge will cost around Rs12 m. and has been targeted in financial year 2002/03 in accordance with the ongoing road construction programme.
TMD SHARES -SALE BY ILLOVO SUGAR LTD. - SUSPECTED INSIDER DEALING
(No. B/42) Mr X. Duval (Fourth Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Economic Development, Financial Services and Corporate Affairs whether he will say if, in the weeks prior to the announcement of the sale of Mon Trésor Mon Désert shares by ILLOVO, any transactions in the company's shares have been detected and whether there has been any investigation into cases of suspected insider dealing.
Mr Khushiram: Sir, ILLOVO Sugar Ltd. and Mon Trésor Mon Désert Ltd. (MTMD) both published cautionary announcements on 5 February 2001 in South Africa and Mauritius respectively with respect to the potential acquisition of ILLOVO's share interests in MTMD.
The record of trading in MTMD shares on the Stock Exchange in the weeks prior to the date of the cautionary announcement reveals one unusually large transaction of 506,619 shares exchanged on 31 January 2001 for a value of about Rs11.9 m.
I am advised that the Stock Exchange Commission, in fulfilment of its responsibility under the Stock Exchange Act, carried out an investigation of this transaction and does not consider it as a case of suspected insider dealing.
Mr X. Duval: Can I ask the hon. Minister when the inquiry was performed by the Stock Exchange Commission - when it started and when it finished?
Mr Khushiram: I am informed, Mr Speaker, Sir, that the inquiry was conducted as a routine market investigation that the Stock Exchange Commission Authorities perform in their market surveillance activities on the Stock Exchange.
Mr Duval: Can the Minister perhaps obtain from the Stock Exchange Commission the date on which the said routine inquiry was performed - the date it started and the date it finished? I have had a look at this case and I can say that it's quite a complex matter and not a simple case. That's why I would like to know the dates before we could say whether the Stock Exchange Commission has performed more than a routine inquiry.
Mr Khushiram: If it would help the hon. Member, Mr Speaker, Sir, the routine investigation was probably conducted one or two days after the transaction or immediately following the transaction, and was concluded within a couple of days afterwards.
Mr Duval: May I ask the hon. Minister to be kind enough to ask the Stock Exchange Commission whether they have looked at the shareholders of the various companies that have traded because, in fact, there are many shareholders. Société Borga and Compagnie Investissement and so on, I believe, are involved. There are many shareholders in each of these two companies, and these two companies are not the same. The mere fact that the shares were bought by someone a few days before the announcement was made public in the newspapers has meant a loss for the selling company in excess of Rs3 m. The share price was Rs23.50 when it was sold and it was Rs29.50 when trading was stopped. Perhaps this needs more than just a routine inquiry. I would ask the Minister of Financial Services whether he can have a proper in-depth inquiry carried out because there are lots of people involved behind the two companies that have traded on that day.
Mr Khushiram: The hon. Member is perfectly aware that the Stock Exchange Commission has all the powers and the competence to conduct an investigation. It has done so, and it has advised me that it is not a case of suspected insider dealing. I am surprised that the hon. Member, who is perfectly aware of the confidentiality regarding transactions on the Stock Exchange, should, today, in the Assembly, mention who have performed this transaction.
Mr Duval: The Stock Exchange does not work on confidentiality, but quite the opposite, on transparency. Restricted information leads to insider dealing. People have information and do not share it. So, I would ask the Minister to consider that the basis of a good Stock Exchange is the opposite: Complete disclosure, perfect disclosure of information. And on the basis of this transparency, I will again ask the Minister to kindly consider disclosing to the Assembly, to the people at large and to operators on the Stock Exchange, exactly what happened on that day. Everybody would be better off for it.
Mr Khushiram: I am astonished, Mr Speaker, Sir, that the hon. Member does not know that confidentiality of transactions on the Stock Exchange is preserved to the outside public, except in cases where the Stock Exchange Commission feels that it needs more information. As far as I am aware, the Stock Exchange Commission has obtained the required information about the transactors of this trade and is satisfied that it does not involve insider trading. If I may add, Mr Speaker, Sir, this transaction – I am talking of market information – was performed by one stock broking company through an acheté/vendu' which most likely points out to the fact that it may be an intra-group transaction. However, I am satisfied that the Stock Exchange authorities have carried out the investigation of the buyers and sellers and I am satisfied that it is not a case of suspected insider trading.
Mr Duval: Mr Speaker, Sir, this is not a group matter; these are individual shareholders that own shares in this company. This is not a group matter, this is not a subsidiary and holding company relationship. Can the Minister please check what he is saying? I would like him to get advice again on the necessity for disclosure and transparency in the Mauritius Stock Exchange.
Mr Dulloo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister said that only a routine exercise was done after the sale and after the offer made by ILLOVO. So, he, himself, said that the sale of more than 500,000 shares worth more than Rs11 m. was done a few days before the cautionary offer was made. Therefore, I ask him why only a routine exercise, and not a specific inquiry, was carried out into the deal that was made a few days before ILLOVO made the announcement.
Mr Khushiram: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Member may be hard of hearing. He may not have listened to what I said. The inquiry was conducted as part of the routine investigation, of the routine market surveillance that the Stock Exchange authorities conduct on stock market trading. Whenever there is a major transaction on the Stock Exchange, the authorities can immediately do an inquiry to find out whether there is anything improper about the transaction.
TRANSPORT (PUBLIC) – ALTERNATIVE MODE – GOVT. POLICY
(No. B/43) Mr X.L Duval (Fourth Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping whether he will make a statement on Government policy regarding the alternative mode of public transport.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, with your permission, I wish to refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the PQ B/503 on 19 December 2000 on the alternative mode of transport.
As pointed out in my statement, the World Bank was approached to extend the contract of Halcrow Fox consultants, to enable them to undertake a comparative study in order to investigate the bus strategy option to the same level of details as the light rail option in the National Integrated Transport Strategy Study.
The consultants have submitted a draft report and have sought the comments of the different Ministries concerned thereon. After finalising their report, they will submit it to Government through the World Bank by next month. In the light of the recommendations of the consultants, a decision will be taken on the alternative mode of transport.
Mr Duval: Can the hon. Minister say whether we are talking of an alternative mode of transport or a complementary mode of transport?/…
Mr Bachoo: I mentioned alternative mode of transport.
Mr Duval: Can the Minister tell us whether this is alternative to the buses that already work from Curepipe to Port Louis, and therefore, that there will no longer be any buses if the métro léger is chosen? Is that what's happening?
Mr Bachoo: As I have just mentioned, I am waiting for the final draft to be submitted to the Government. It's only then that we are going to take a decision. For the time being, I am mentioning alternative mode of transport. I think the word alternative, itself, is clear enough for the hon. Member to understand.
Mr Duval: I am just asking the Minister whether it is alternative that is in replacement to the bus system that operates at the moment.
Mr Bachoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the word alternative itself signifies everything. If I am not mistaken, the previous Government had taken the same track.
Mr Duval: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he is going to lay copy of the Halcrow Fox report on the Table of the Assembly?
Mr Bachoo: I am just waiting for the final draft. Once Government approves the final draft, it will be laid on the Table and it will be made available to all Members of Parliament.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Unlike them before!
Mr Speaker: Order!
Mr Duval: I understood from statements made in the press in February that, in fact, a final decision would be taken six weeks after, therefore, at the beginning of March. Is that the case?
Mr Bachoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have just mentioned that we are awaiting the final report. Once the report is ready, it will be laid on the Table of the Assembly.
Dr. Chady: Mr Speaker, Sir, there has been a lot of speculation and according to everybody and the newspapers, it seems that the alternative mode is the light rail system. The UBIW protested and the Deputy Prime Minister has changed his mind about the whole system. If this alternative mode has not been chosen, why did not the Deputy Prime Minister make a statement to that effect?
Mr Bachoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member was himself a member of the previous Government, which did not even wait for the final report to be over to take the decision to go for the light rail system, and they had even called for tenders also. I am not going to blame anybody, but it was their doing.
Dr. David: Can we know the reason why the hon. Minister and the others refused to attend the Union's meeting? Sauvé!
Mr Speaker: It is irrelevant. Next question, please.
Mr Speaker: Order!
EX-CHA HOUSES – LEASE PERIOD & RENT
(No. B/44) Mr X.L. Duval (Fourth Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Housing & Lands whether he will say if the reduction in State land rent and an extension of the lease period for dwellers of the ex-CHA houses as announced by the former Government has been put into effect and, if not, why not.
Mr Choonee: Sir, the measures regarding rent and the lease period for ex-CHA lessees announced by the former Government have not been retained.
The duration of all leases for a maximum period of 99 years cannot be implemented through legislative constraints. However, a maximum possible period of 60 years, which gives security of tenure to the lessees, has been approved by the Government and implemented.
As regards the rent, the schedule in force is already a nominal rent and not the economic rent that is at market value.
It is considered that the rent claimed should enable the recovery of at least the administrative costs pertaining to the grant of the lease./…
Mr Duval: I don't quite understand. Has the rent now been reduced to Rs100 or not?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I stated very clearly that whatever announcement was made by the former Government, that is, Rs100 flat throughout, has not been retained.
Mr Duval: What is it now?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have it in a tabular form, but I can just give an idea to the hon. Member of what it is exactly now. Those having an income of Rs3,000 pay Rs150 per year for the first 10 years, and for the second 10 years, it goes on by a 50% increase, which is Rs225 per year for the next 10 years. Those earning Rs3,000 to Rs4,500 pay Rs300 for the first 10 years and then an addition of 50%, which comes to Rs450 for the next 10 years. Those earning Rs4,501 to Rs6,600 pay Rs450 for the first 10 years and Rs675 for the second 10 years. And above Rs6,600, the rate is Rs1,000 for the first 10 years and Rs1,500 for the next 10 years.
Dr. David: Mr Speaker, Sir, a decision was taken for the ex-CHA houses that the rent be reduced to Rs100 and that the lease be extended to 99 years. Can we know why this decision has been revisited by this Government?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, we are aware. When was the decision taken Mr Speaker, Sir? It was taken on the eve of elections by the former Government.
Dr. David: Mr Speaker, Sir, when it goes to favour the ti-dimounes in the ex-CHA Estates it was taken before the elections. Now they revisit it to Rs250 and more.
ILLOVO DEAL – SIT - SHAREHOLDING
(No. B/45) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Riviere des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether he will say what action Government intends to take in regard to the ILLOVO deal following –
- the decision taken by the Board of SIT to acquire the totality of 35 per cent of the Government's interest in the deal, and
- a letter addressed to Government by the SIT Chairman to that effect.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I should first state that, right from the start, it has been Government's intention to involve the Sugar Investment Trust (SIT) in the shareholding of the Consortium. However, for practical purposes, it was decided that the State Investment Corporation, the investment arm of Government, would hold the whole of the 35% stake in the Consortium, pending mobilisation of the necessary funds by the SIT.
Initially, the proposal was for SIT to obtain a 15% to 20% shareholding, but as I have publicly stated on various occasions, Government has always been open-minded on this question.
The proposal of the Board of the SIT to acquire, inter alia, the whole of the 35% shareholding was communicated to me, by way of a letter from its Chairman dated 8 March 2001. I immediately convened for the 15 March, that is, last Thursday, all the members of the Board of SIT and the
General Manager to a meeting with the Ministerial Committee on ILLOVO to discuss their proposal; and the following day Cabinet was informed accordingly.
Sir, Government is agreeable to the principle that SIT, as an institution having as shareholders some 46,000 planters, artisans and employees of the sugar industry, take the whole of the 35% shareholding in the Consortium. The modalities of the financing of this share subscription have however yet to be finalised and the discussions on this question are still ongoing.
In the meantime, the Chairman of the Board of SIT has submitted his resignation, and necessary action is being taken for his replacement. I wish also to add that Government intends to bring the necessary legislative amendments to ensure that the SIT functions as a truly democratic body.
The House will be kept informed of developments in those matters.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I would wish to add the following: Yesterday and today there have been press reports that do a lot of damage to the SIT. Allegations have been made that Government is pressurising the SIT to sell its recent investments in a pleasure park at Belle Mare. Allegations have also been published in the press to the effect that Government is in presence of allegations of fishy business and so on; and that this could be referred to the Economic Crime Office. This is not the case at all. We stand by the SIT. As I said in my reply, Mr Speaker, Sir, the SIT is the body most representative of planters and workers of the sugar industry. There is no pressure from Government for the SIT to sell the water park or any of its property. The SIT Board is fully independent; we stand by them and next Thursday my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture, and myself we will address the assembly of delegates of the SIT to confirm that we stand fully by the SIT.
Dr. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Deputy Prime Minister stands by the SIT and the ILLOVO deal is a mari one: lucrative, juicy. Why is it then that - in the name of democratisation to share ownership - the totality of the ILLOVO deal is not allocated 100% to SIT. Why 35% only and not 100%?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I am not replying to that question.
Mr Dulloo: Sir, may I ask the hon. Minister since the signature of the deal by Government and the people concerned whether there has already been a transfer of the shares or assets from ILLOVO to the Mauritian Consortium where Government intends getting 35%? Has there already been a transfer of the shares or the assets of ILLOVO to the Mauritian Consortium yet?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Sir, all the required procedures under the law are being followed and things are still ongoing.
Mr Dulloo: Can I ask the Minister whether he has heard the news that two out of the three hotels apparently have already been sold to other companies by the ILLOVO people?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Sir, it was planned to be that way and it's a back to back swap; and it is in the agreement that has been made public.
AIMEE, MR H. – STATE PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT CO. LTD – PUBLIC RELATION CO-ORDINATOR
(No. B/46) Dr. B. Hookoom (Second Member for Piton and Riviere du Rempart) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether he will say if Mr. H. Aimée has been appointed Project Co-ordinator of the Mahebourg Waterfront and, if so, will he state the terms and conditions of his recruitment.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Sir, the State Property Development Company Ltd. has appointed Mr H. Aimée as Public Relations Co-ordinator on a contract basis for two years starting from 1 February 2001 to 31 January 2003. I am circulating the terms and conditions of his employment.
Dr. Boolell: Mr Speaker, Sir, since this decision has upset the grass roots of the MMM so much so that they cannot go to their respective constituency.
Find out the reason….
The Deputy Prime Minister: I feel very much touched that the former Minister should worry about the grass roots of the MMM! There are no grass roots of the Labour left at all!
Dr. David: Mr Speaker, Sir, about the terms and conditions I am sure it takes only half a paragraph. Can't it be read? The Minister is circulating the answer.
SCHOENFELD ROAD/POUDRE D'OR HAMLET/POUDRE D'OR ROAD - ACCIDENTS
(No. B/47) Dr. B. Hookoom (Second Member for Piton and Riviere du Rempart) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping whether he will –
- state the number of accidents which have occurred at the junction of Schoenfeld Road and Poudre d'Or Hamlet-Poudre d'Or Road in the course of the last ten years, indicating how many of them were fatal, and
- consider the advisability of putting up a roundabout at that point.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, I am informed that there had been 13 accidents at the junction of Schoenfeld Road and Poudre d'Or Hamlet-Poudre d'Or Road in the course of the last ten years. Two were fatal - one which occurred in 1994 and the other one in 2000.
As regards part (b) of the question, following a site visit effected by the Traffic Management and the Road Safety Units of my Ministry, it was found that the installation of a roundabout at that location is not warranted for the time being in view of the low traffic prevailing there and the good visibility of the road.
I wish to inform the House that all the traffic calming measures taken at this junction were done prior to 1995.
WASTE WATER AUTHORITY CLAIMS – CHA ESTATES
(No. B/48) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand' Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Public Utilities whether he will say if he has received representations from the inhabitants of CHA estates about their inability to pay the claims submitted by the Waste Water Authority in respect of arrears for waste water charges for the past few months and the exorbitant rate or tariff being charged now and indicate what action he has taken or proposes to take to alleviate the hardships of those persons who all belong to the low income group.
Mr Ganoo: Sir, I have received representations from the inhabitants of Pailles CHA Estates in regard to arrears and also from those of Cité Kennedy as regards the quantum of Waste Water Tax.
Some of the Pailles CHA Estates have been provided with reticulated sewerage disposal facilities since 1994, while others e.g. Pailles Mauvillac GRNW, Pailles La Butte, Pailles Michael Leal have benefited from such facilities in 1998. However, no wastewater bills were issued to the inhabitants of those estates until September 2000, when the system became fully operational. The decision was taken then to start billing in respect of wastewater charges with immediate effect.
The processing took some time and bills were issued in January 2001, covering the period back to September 2000. It is to be noted that the same situation applies to some 20 estates and the inhabitants of these estates have not protested. There are other housing estates where the inhabitants are paying their bills prior to the introduction of the new tariff system in January 2000.
In any case, the Waste Water Authority will put up a desk at its Headquarters to address cases of arrears.
With regard to the rates being charged, I would like to inform the House that there is a commitment of the Government of Mauritius towards the World Bank and other funding agencies. The Sector Policy Letter signed in 1998 clearly set out the need for substantial public investment and laid down the average waste water tariffs to be applied until 2004.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I cannot stress enough on the need to develop urgently our wastewater infrastructure. Dense urbanisation and industrial development, if not provided with sewage disposal facilities can cause irreversible damage to our water resources. With less than 20% of the population served by a sewer system, thousands of cesspits are discharging human wastes which may affect our major aquifers whereas inadequate treatment before disposal at sea may endanger our marine resources. But rather than going on for an ad-hoc development, we are following a Master Plan which provides a complete blueprint for the development of the wastewater sector.
The foremost condition in all financing agreements is the rationalisation of tariffs and the institution of a cost recovery system. Prior to 1996, revenue from tariffs barely covered 25% of operating costs. In 1999/00, after interim tariffs had been introduced, at 25 rupees/month for domestic users, and just prior to rationalisation of tariffs, revenue totalled Rs30 m. while expenditure was in excess of Rs400 m. of which Rs56 m. represented only operating costs.
If all the costs were to be passed on to the users, tariffs would be exorbitant. We have thus adopted a system, whereby Government will continue to repay the debts. Revenue from tariffs will cover operating costs and depreciation.
The policy regarding tariff has always been to protect the low income groups by keeping the charges affordable. The increase as from January 2001 for the first band of consumers, that is those paying for the first 15 cubic metres has jumped from Rs1.60 per cubic metre to only Rs2.70 per cubic metre leaving the higher bands, that is, those who consume more water to pay the higher rates.
Mr Dulloo: Sir, we cannot but agree with what the hon. Minister has said generally about the situation concerning wastewater. But the fact remains that the poor people of the cités are overtaken by surprise when they were started to be billed by the Waste Water Authority so much so that some of them have got their bills outstanding from September onwards. And I lay on the Table of the Assembly the letter that was addressed to the Director of
the Waste Water Authority. They are asking that for period September 2000 to December 2000 they be exempted and that the rate that they are made to pay right now be reconsidered because it is really exorbitant and the Minister has given us the table for those of the lower income group. It has jumped up to Rs2.70 per unit. So, I lay this on the Table of the Assembly. I am begging of the Minister to reconsider his position concerning the inhabitants of the cités. For them it is impossible to pay those bills right now which have accumulated over the past few months.
Mr Ganoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, as I informed the House, the case of Cité Pailles is being looked into. There is a special desk which has been set up at the Waste Water Authority headquarters to address cases of arrears.
As far as exemption is concerned, the Member should know that nobody can grant any exempt to waste water taxes. The law does not permit me or anybody to do that, except in cases of religious and charitable institutions. So, all the cases of arrears will be looked on a case to case basis.
Mr Dulloo: May I suggest to the hon. Minister that we will be very happy to support any new regulations or amendment in this direction.
Mr Paya: M. le président, je vais ajouter quelquechose à ce que l'honorable Madan Dulloo a dit. Justement on a les mêmes problèmes dans les cités, même à Curepipe et Dubreuil où les gens sont pris au dépourvu. Ils ont dû payer à partir de septembre jusqu'à novembre. Je crois si on pourra faire une dérogation pour ces gens, cela ferait plaisir à la population mauricienne. A notre niveau, on peut le voir surtout pour les low income groups.
Mr Speaker: We have got the point of the hon. Member. This is question time.
PLANTERS (SMALL)/ARTISANAL FISHERMEN - FUNDS
(No. B/49) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand' Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether in view of the serious financial difficulties and hardships being encountered by small planters and artisanal fishermen, he will state if Government is setting up -
- a Planters' Welfare Fund and a Fishermen Welfare Fund; and
- a Pension Fund for small planters and for artisanal fishermen, indicating the amount earmarked for each Fund, the modalities thereof and when each of them will become operational?
The Deputy Prime Minister: The present Government is already doing the maximum possible to help small planters and artisanal fishermen.
As the House is aware, we have recently taken various measures to assist small planters who have been severely affected by the prolonged drought. These include, first, the implementation of the Special Loan Scheme by the Development Bank of Mauritius at a concessionary interest rate of 3%; second, the extension of a grant of Rs5000 per hectare to planters in affected areas and third, the payment by Government of the general insurance premium to the Sugar Insurance Fund Board on behalf of small sugarcane planters in the drought striken areas.
The House would appreciate that it is the first time in the history of our country that assistance was provided to small sugarcane planters under section 51 of the Sugar Insurance Fund Board Act. In spite of the prolonged drought that had affected our country, the previous Government had not deemed it fit to provide such assistance. Mr Speaker, Sir, payment of the compensation to the SIFB will cost Government about Rs44 m.
I would also like to point out that regular meetings are held with representatives of co-operatives and associations of planters to consider their problems.
Regarding artisanal fishermen, the hon. Member may recall that the Fishermen Welfare Fund Bill was passed by the National Assembly in July 2000. However no follow up action was taken. It is under this Government
that matters have been expedited and the Fund, under the chairmanship of Mr Aimée Lamarque, was officially launched in March this year. A new item "Fisherman Welfare Fund" has been created to enable the Fund to become operational. Necessary funding will be made through that item. I also wish to point out that the Mauritius Fishermen Co-operative Federation is being reorganised so as to make it more effective in looking after the interests of artisanal fishermen.
As regards part (b) of the question, Mr Speaker, Sir, Government provides various incentives to encourage our citizens to take private pensions for ensuring an adequate retirement income. Furthermore, the National Pension Scheme covers self-employed persons, including small farmers and artisanal fishermen. The setting up of a separate Pension Fund for small planters and fishermen may therefore not arise at this stage. Anyway, Government is open to suggestions from the planters and fishermen community on issues relating to their welfare.
Mr Dulloo: I have not heard the hon. Minister answering the part concerning the Planters Welfare Fund. I would like to know whether Government intends setting up the Planters Welfare Fund.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I repeat what I said in my answer. The other Ministers and I meet regularly with representatives of serious both co-operatives and planters associations. Our ears are open. We are open to suggestions. As I said, we are open to new ideas, but until now the representative associations or co-operatives of small planters have not made that suggestion. If they make it, it will be studied.
LUMPY SKIN DISEASE - COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY
(No. B/50) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand' Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology and Natural Resources whether in regard to cattle health in Mauritius, he will state -
- if an inquiry has been held into the cause and the effect of the recent outbreak of lumpy skin disease in the country and, if so, what has been the outcome thereof;
- in connection with the foot and mouth disease, the reasons for the banning of importation of cattle from Zimbabwe and South Africa, and
- for the period 01 January this year to date, the number of cases of tuberculosis detected on animals sent for slaughter to the Mauritius Meat Authority stating -
i. the date/s
ii. the origin or supplier of such animals and
iii. the action/s taken following such detection
Mr P. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, a committee of inquiry was set up on 28 November 2000 following the outbreak of the lumpy skin disease to investigate into the allegations of maladministration and malpractices at the Division of Veterinary Services, with the following terms of reference -
- to inquire into the allegation of -
- maladministration and malpractices at the Division of Veterinary Services of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Technology and Natural Resources, resulting in the outbreak and spread of the lumpy skin disease.
- Malpractices in the issue of -
iii. import permits for cattle;
iv. slaughter permits;
v. permits for the establishment of private quarantines.
- to establish whether any officer/s of the Division of theVeterinary Services has been guilty of professional misconduct, malpractice or negligence in the handling of the lumpy skin disease.
The Committee of Inquiry is chaired by Mr Harry Ganoo, Permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Co-operation, and has as members the following persons -
a. Mr Ram Prakash Nowbuth, former Principal Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Technology & Natural Resources.
b. Mr R. Kailaysur, a private Veterinarian.
The committee issued a press communiqué on 01 December 2000 inviting all persons having any information related to the subject matter of the inquiry to depone before the committee.
The Committee has not yet submitted its report.
However, I wish to inform the House that the measures taken following the outbreak of the lumpy skin disease have proved efficient and no case of the disease has been recorded for more than three months indicating that the disease is under control.
With regard to part (b) of the question, I invite the hon. Member to refer to the reply I gave earlier to PQ. No. B/20.
As far as part (c) is concerned, for the period 01 January this year to date, no case of tuberculosis has been confirmed on animals slaughtered at the Mauritius Meat Authority.
However, on 01 March 2001, five carcasses originating from a cattle farm at Savannah Sugar Estate were seized at the abattoir because of multiple abscesses suspected to be due to tuberculosis. Appropriate samples were collected for analysis at the Animal Health Laboratory of the Veterinary Services and also at the specialised tuberculosis laboratory of the Chest Clinic of the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life. Preliminary tests in both laboratories failed to establish the presence of the causative organism of the disease. Culture of the organism which takes 3-5 weeks is in progress in both laboratories.
As a matter of precaution and until further notice, the Manager of the farm has been asked not to dispose of any animal from his farm, except for the abattoir.
In the meantime, all the 290 adult animals present in the suspect herd have been tested for the disease and no positive case has been detected. Tests will continue on other cattle farms belonging to Savannah Sugar state.
Mr Dulloo: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he has asked his officers to see to it that quarantine conditions be imposed at the place where those carcasses were obtained and, secondly, whether he has ensured that private citizens do not have access to that stock? Because I am given to understand that certain heads of cattle have been disposed to individuals, specially during the last religious ceremony of Eid-Ul-Adha?
Mr P. Jugnauth: The hon. Member could, of course, provide me with the specific information and I'll further inquire into the matter. But, so far, I am not informed that this has happened. I hope the hon. Member will communicate the information to me.
Mr Dulloo: I would like to know why quarantine conditions have not been imposed on that stock?
Mr P. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, as I said in my answer, the farm is under supervision and the Veterinary Services have already requested that no animal be disposed of from that farm. All the animals in that farm have been checked and they have been found to have no disease as yet. Of course, we are monitoring the situation.
GRAND' BAIE, CAMP CAROL/SCHOOL LANE– FLOODING, POLLUTION, ETC.
(No. B/51) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand' Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Environment whether, in view of the pollution, health hazard and degradation of the environment caused by flooding, water logging and water stagnation in the region of Camp Carol and School Lane (Chemin L'école) at Grand' Baie following the recent heavy rainfalls, he will state what remedial measures he is taking especially in order to (a) abate the nuisance and pollution (b) render the roads, pathways and public areas accessible and safe and (c) safeguard the health and quality of life of the inhabitants.
Mr Bhagwan: Sir, the problems mentioned by the hon. Member at Camp Carol are longstanding. My colleague, who knows the region since
1976, is very well aware in which circumstances this particular locality has developed into a residential area without any planning.
Camp Carol is prone to water accumulation and flooding during heavy rainfalls leading to pollution problems, health hazards and insecurity as roads, pathways and certain public areas become inaccessible. The long-term solution to the problem is the implementation of a proper sewerage project and the construction of drains.
I have been informed that the sewerage aspect will be taken care of through the implementation of the Grand' Baie Sewerage Project by the Waste Water Authority. The Rural and Urban Development Division of the Ministry of Local Government will implement a project for the construction of 1,200 metres of drains at School Lane and 500 metres at Camp Carol.
The problems mentioned by the hon. Member were, in fact, acute in February as a result of heavy rainfalls. On 28 February, the Waste Water Authority made arrangements for pumping of stagnant water in critical areas. I am also informed that all stagnant water in that region are treated once or twice weekly with Larvicide and where warranted with disinfectant by the Ministry of Health.
Following a letter received from the hon. Member and representations made to me by hon. Gungah and hon. Jeeha, I visited the area last Saturday and the situation still calls for urgent precautionary measures to be taken to abate the problems. I have already liaised with the Waste Water Authority for further pumping of stagnant water in critical areas. I have been informed this morning that the tanker of the Waste Water Authority has effected several trips yesterday to pump accumulated water from the streets and has also effected three trips to empty cesspits from private premises. The Ministry of Health has also been requested to monitor the situation. I'll also press upon my colleagues for the quick implementation of the two projects I have just mentioned.
Mr Dulloo: I thank the hon. Minister. If we have turned to him ultimately it is because the problem was dragging on and if we want radical and expedient measures, it seems he is the person to turn to. The problem of water stagnation and flooding recently was due because of the blocking of drains, but, of course, there have been past problems which have accumulated with this problem. So, I am asking the hon. Minister whether he would keep a constant review of the situation there in order not to allow further accumulations.
Mr Bhagwan: We shall be doing the needful.
PRIMARY CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT PROJECT - CPE – SCIENCE AND INFORMATICS SUBJECTS
(No. B/52) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Primary Curriculum Development Project, he will state –
- if Science and Informatics will be included for CPE examinations;
- if grading will be introduced, and
- his policy regarding the fate of oriental languages.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, proposals of the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research relating to curriculum renewal at primary level have been submitted to Government and are presently under study. It would accordingly be premature and unhelpful to disclose details thereof at the present stage. In the circumstances, the hon. Member will appreciate that alleged details of the project published in the press are not necessarily accurate and may be misleading.
Nonetheless, I wish to thank the hon. Member for the interest shown in the matter and wish to assure him that any curriculum reform project of my Ministry will necessarily give due importance to Science, Information Technology as well as to Asian Languages and Arabic.
Once approval of Government is obtained, the proposals for curriculum renewal will be presented to the stakeholders of the primary sector for discussion.
In addition, I intend to renew the initiative of meeting with Members of Parliament to discuss proposed reforms in education and I do hope that this time round the hon. Member will attend. My earnest hope is that we be all guided by the national interest, the interests of the nation's children and that proposed reforms in education be considered in a non partisan perspective.
Dr. Chady: Mr Speaker, Sir, I just want to make one observation. I am glad that the Minister has said that whatever is being published in the newspapers is not official. I would have liked it if the hon. Minister would go to the press to explain that whatever is published therein is not from the curriculum nor is it the conclusion of any report, because this is creating a lot of confusion in the mind of people.
Mr Obeegadoo: I must confess, Mr Speaker, Sir, that I have not been made aware of any doubts, widespread in public opinion, on this matter. I can assure the hon. Member that, very soon, these proposals will be made public and will then be opened to discussion. Once again, I wish to invite the hon. Member to attend the meeting of MPs. We had one a few months back, hon. Madun Dulloo and hon. Dr. Hookoom were there to discuss with all the other MPs of the reforms in education. I would invite hon. Dr. Chady to be in attendance next time.
Dr. Chady: If the hon. Minister will give us the date and time of the next meeting then we will be able to attend. Now that the hon. Minister has said that this is not creating any doubt in the mind of people, I would like to know whether this information about grading whereby a student who scores 4 A+ with 86 points each would be lesser considered than a student who has 2 A+ and 2 A of 99 points each for 2 A+ and 84 points for 2 A in comparison with a pupil who has 4 A+ with an aggregate of 344 points while the other pupil who has 2 A+ and 2 A will have an aggregate of 366 points. So, if this information is not emanating from the Minister's document, I don't know how this has been published in the newspaper. This is creating doubt in the mind of the people and this means that the grading system does not have any foundation.
Mr Obeegadoo: I would entreat the hon. Member to show a little patience so that very soon we can have some more meaningful discussion once Government has made public its proposals.
Dr. Chady: May I ask another question, Mr Speaker, Sir? All that has been said about grading, informatics and science does not make sense at primary level; we all know. There are no resources; the hon. Minister should not take us for a ride. After five and a half months, it is better for the hon. Minister to come up with whatever is concrete and besides he should have responded about those articles which appeared in the newspaper.
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When the project is made public, the resources will be there for the hon. Member to see.