Oral Answers to Questions - 10 April 2001
PRAGA MARINES LTD. - HEAVY-DUTY BOATS - PURCHASE
(No. B/139) Mr F. Abdoola (Third Member for Stanley and Rose Hill) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in view of the comments of the Director of Audit in his last report regarding the purchase of heavy-duty boats from Praga Marines Ltd., he will consider the advisability of setting up a fact finding committee to investigate into the matter with a view to shedding full light thereon.
The Prime Minister: Sir, I refer the hon. Member to the reply I made to PQ No. B/122 at our sitting on 14 November 2000, when I tabled a copy of the procedures followed for the acquisition of the four heavy-duty boats from Praga Marines Ltd.
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that the conditions attached to the order are as follows –
delivery by end of August 1999; andpenalty at the rate of USD 1,500 per boat per week in the event of delay except in cases of force majeure".
The delay for the delivery of the boats was extended up to the end of February 2000 as requested by the supplier in a letter dated 27 January 2000. The boats reached Port Louis on 31 July 2000.
At that point in time, 85% of the contract price had already been paid to the supplier.
Nevertheless, legal advice was sought, and the advice was that contract price may be adjusted by deducting therefrom penalties amounting to USD 126,000. This amount being well above the balance of 15% of the contract price still due, Praga Marines Ltd. had been informed by Police that it was not intended to settle the claim of 15% still outstanding.
Mr Speaker, Sir, in the circumstances, I feel it would not serve any purpose to set up a fact finding committee. Nevertheless, we are still open and if new facts are found warranting an inquiry, we will certainly do that.
Mr Abdoola: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have documents with me which prove that information was purposely given to Dr. Rishi by the CTB, and I am going to table these in the Assembly. I would request the Rt. hon. Prime Minister to look into the matter, as it may help to shed some light into this controversial affair.
MAURITIAN CITIZENSHIP – APPLICATIONS 01 JANUARY 1996-SEPTEMBER 2000
(No. B/140) Mr P. Roopun (Third Member for Savanne and Black River) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to applications for Mauritian citizenship, he will give the number of –
persons who applied therefore during the period 01 January 1996 to 15 September 2000, together with details of such applications; and
such applications which were still pending on 15 September 2000 and indicate the measures taken for the timely processing thereof.
The Prime Minister: Sir, from 01 January 1996 to 15 September 2000, a total number of 3,605 applications were received for Mauritian citizenship. I am tabling details relating to such applications.
Out of this number, a total of 764 applications were still pending as at 15 September 2000.
The House may wish to note that as at that time, most of these files were lying in the office of the Prime Minister awaiting final decision.
When I took office in September 2000, I started clearing the backlog at an average of 50 files per week, over and above the normal average of 25 files, which are referred to me in respect of citizenship applications every week.
By the end of January 2001, all the backlog of 764 cases had been dealt with.
LAW & ORDER – LARCENY, HOLD-UPS & KINDRED OFFENCES 15 SEPTEMBER-31 DECEMBER 2000
(No. B/141) Mr P. Roopun (Third Member for Savanne and Black River) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will make a statement on the present situation of law and order in the country, indicating the number of reported cases of hold-up, larceny and other kindred offences during the period 15 September 2000 to 31 December 2000 as compared with the period prior to 15 September 2000.
The Prime Minister: Sir, I wish to refer the hon. Member to my previous reply to Parliamentary Questions B/5, B/7 and B/16 made last month to the effect that my Government has made the question of law and order a priority, and there has been a return of confidence in the Police. I am tabling a statement giving the statistics requested.
The hon. Member may have noted on today's Order Paper, the First Reading of the Police (Amendment) Bill, which, inter-alia, provides for an increase in the penalties in respect of any breach of the Police Act, or of Regulations made under the Act.
My Government is adopting a consistent and holistic approach to the question of law and order. Towards this end, we will spare no effort to revitalise and restructure the Police Department. It is in this spirit that steps have been taken to fill vacancies, both through promotions and recruitment. Last week, 571 constables have been enlisted for Mauritius and 20 for Rodrigues. They are expected to report for duty on Monday 16 April.
Concurrently, a deliberate effort is being made to properly equip the Police Department through the acquisition of modern equipment for both crime prevention and detection.
Recent crackdown by the Police in many cases has shown that it has the necessary resilience to rise up to the occasion and face the hardest of situations. It has also shown that it will not condone any misdemeanour or unethical conduct on the part of its members.
I have been again reassured by the Commissioner of Police that necessary preventive measures are being taken by the Police through optimal deployment of all available resources in terms of manpower, plant and equipment for the maintenance of law and order.
STAUFFER, MR ERIC – LAW SUIT AGAINST MBC
(No. B/142) Mr A.K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand'Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the law suit entered by Mr Eric Stauffer against the MBC, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to whether a departmental inquiry has been carried out with a view to situating responsibilities.
The Prime Minister: Sir, I am advised that no law suit has been entered by Mr Eric Stauffer against the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation. However, Mr Stauffer has written to the MBC on 28 February, claiming an amount of $3 m. to be paid by MBC if the latter does not make an acceptable counter proposal for the settlement of the case. The Board has taken note of the letter of Mr Stauffer at its meeting held on 01 March and has decided that the matter be referred to its legal advisor. On 28 March, the MBC has informed Mr Eric Stauffer accordingly.
In the circumstances, no departmental inquiry is being contemplated for the time being.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to refer the hon. Prime Minister to the case of Mr Munshiram v/s MBC. When the claim was lodged, the MBC sued Mr Trilock Dwarka for having acted contrary to instructions and committed gross abuse of his functions.
Mr Speaker: Is this relevant to the question?
Mr Gungah: Yes, it is, Mr Speaker, Sir. He was held responsible to indemnify the plaintiff against any liability. There was a Judge order by Justice Sik Yuen…
Mr Speaker: This is not relevant. Next question, please.
Mr Gungah: It is an appeal, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Speaker: No, next question, hon. Baloomoody!
Mr Gungah: There is a very urgent need to situate responsibilities, because at that moment the Judge ordered Mr Dwarka to intervene as defendant in the principal case of the MBC.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member asked whether there has been a departmental inquiry, and now he is referring to other matters. I think it is not relevant to this question.
The Prime Minister: There is no Judge's order in this case.
NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - POWERS
(No. B/143) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Riviere des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether in view of the fact that the Human Rights Commission is now operational, he will state if he proposes to introduce new legislation to confer upon the Commission a greater degree of independence and more specific powers with a view to enabling the Commission to operate as an autonomous team of investigators.
The Prime Minister: Sir, as the National Human Rights Commission has just started operating, it is not proposed to introduce new legislation in the immediate future to amend the Protection of Human Rights Act 1998. It would be more appropriate to allow the Commission to operate under the existing legislation for some time before contemplating any amendment to the Act.
The House can rest assured that the Commission will operate with the utmost degree of independence from the very outset, and that there is no intention on the part of the authorities to interfere in its functioning. The members who have been appointed are eminently qualified, have a long experience and are known for their independence.
Section (6) of the Act mentions the specific powers of summoning witnesses, examining them, calling for documents and other records as well as issuing search warrants.
On the other hand, Section (7) provides for public officers and Police officers to be attached to help in investigating complaints.
Since the Commission is a new institution, we have to give it a chance to operate and see, at a later stage, whether the powers conferred upon it are adequate or not.
In the light of experience gathered, I will not hesitate to make amendments if the need arises, after consultation with all parties concerned.
SKY VISION - SALE BY MBC
(No. B/144) Mr D. Roopun (Second Member for Mahebourg and Plaine Magnien) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the sale of Sky Vision by the MBC, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to –
the capital invested by the MBC for the setting up of Sky Vision;
the date of such sale and the selling price;
whether tenders were floated therefor; and
(d) the terms and conditions governing such sale.
The Prime Minister: Sir, with regard to parts (a) & (b) of the question, I am advised by the MBC that an amount of Rs122 m. had been invested by the Corporation for the setting up of the Sky Vision Project.
On 01 February 1999, part of the assets of the Project of a total original cost of Rs98,095,522 was sold to MC Vision Co. Ltd. for a sum Rs61 m. The other assets of a total cost of Rs24,290,736 remained the property of MBC.
In addition a compensation of 3% of the annual total income accruing to Company would be paid to MBC over a period of four years to reach a maximum of Rs12m.
MBC would derive Rs12 m. as transmission fee and Rs900,000 as rental fee for the building premises per annum.
I am informed that as regards the 3% compensation, no payment has yet been effected by MC Vision to MBC. However, a total amount of Rs24,543,000, representing Rs22,668,000 as transmission fees and Rs1,875,000 as rental fees, has been paid to MBC.
As regards part (c) of the question, I am further advised that on account of the contractual obligations that MBC had with Canal+/Havas Overseas, the Corporation could not float tenders for the disposal of Sky Vision to any other company. MBC had, therefore, no choice than to sell Sky Vision to MC Vision Co. Ltd, a company which comprises Media Overseas Consortium, an associated company of Canal+/Havas Overseas, Currimjee Jeewanjee, the local partner of the Consortium, and Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation.
Regarding part (d) of the question, there are four agreements relating to the sale of Sky Vision, namely:-
(i) Memorandum of Agreement
(ii) Shareholders Agreement
Sir, I am advised that these agreements cannot be disclosed in accordance with a confidentiality clause in the Memorandum of Agreement between Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation and MC Vision Ltd.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, what we've heard from the Prime Minister is that the total investment amounted to Rs122.3 m and what is missing is that a royalty fee of Rs22 m has been paid during that period. So the total investment made is around Rs145 m. Does the Prime Minister find it fair that the MBC sells Canal Plus to MC Vision for just Rs61.3 m?
The Prime Minister: Well, I am not an expert in these matters and I cannot pronounce on that. These are facts and I leave it to the appreciation of everyone.
Mr P. Roopun: Sir, can I know from the hon. Prime Minister whether remedial measures are being taken to recover the outstanding amount due by MC Vision to the MBC?
The Prime Minister: I cannot say whether steps are being taken, but I am sure that in due time the amount will be recovered.
Mr P. Roopun: In fact this is a clear breach of the terms of agreement and I do trust that the MBC will take proper action to recover whatever is due by MC Vision.
The Prime Minister: I'll convey that to the MBC.
Mr Dowarkasing: Will the hon. Prime Minister see it right to seek from the MBC the need for selling Canal Plus to MC Vision? Was there any need, was there any report made? Why was it just sold like that?
The Prime Minister: We'll try to find out the reasons.
MBC/TV – PEAK TIME - NEWS IN CREOLE
(No. B/145) Mr J.C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW and Port Louis West) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House, now obtain information from the MBC and the MBC/TV as to whether arrangements have been made for the broadcasting of news in creole during peak time (bonne heure d'écoute).
The Prime Minister: Sir, in the reply I gave to Parliamentary Question No. B/477 on 19 December last, I had indicated, on the basis of information provided by the MBC then, that the Corporation intended to start the broadcast of a bulletin in Creole during peak time early the following year.
I am now advised that certain logistical constraints such as additional editing facilities, purchase of the required equipment, training and recruitment of additional news and scrip writers, have so far precluded the broadcasting of news in Creole during peak time.
I am now informed that the MBC has already initiated necessary steps, such as recruitment and training of the necessary staff, acquisition of the required equipment and the other facilities for the broadcast to be programmed at the earliest.
I am informed that with all the necessary conditions being met, the news in Creole will be on air by September this year.
My Office has impressed on the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation the need to respond to the popular demand as a matter of urgency.
MAHEBOURG BUS TERMINAL – TOILETS – WHEELCHAIR USERS
(No. B/149) Mr I. Collendavelloo (Third Member for Mahebourg & Plaine Magnien) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether he will state why the newly built toilets at the Mahebourg bus terminal do not contain adequate provision for access by wheelchair users.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, the newly built toilets at the Mahebourg bus terminal is in fact the temporary relocation of an old toilet which was in a very deplorable state near to the existing Mahebourg market.
In the context of the ongoing construction of the new market, the old toilet had to be pulled down and in accordance with the terms of the contract the toilet was initially to be temporarily relocated, on the only suitable site found on the traffic centre itself.
As there was no toilet on the traffic centre, it was subsequently decided to convert the temporary toilet in a permanent one in the greater interest of the public. However, the toilet could not be provided with the required amenities for access by wheelchair users mainly on account of the exiguity of the site.
I, however, entirely agree with the hon. Member that provision for access by wheelchair users is an important aspect which deserves due consideration and in the context of the wider integrated waterfront project, I propose to request the SPDC to consider the need to provide access to wheelchair users to the new toilets to be constructed.
Mr Collendavelloo: Sir, surely disabled people must be treated with consideration. Can I urge on the Minister - since we've been able to spend huge amounts of money on toilets - to see to it whether we can build and earmark some money for wheelchair users in this market so that they can also use the toilet attendant le Waterfront? Are they going to wait for the Waterfront?
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, definitely we'll give due consideration to what the hon. Member has said. I mentioned that we could not provide access to wheelchair users on the existing toilet due to the exiguity of the site. I have also said that with the forthcoming Waterfront project we propose to request the SPDC to consider the need to provide access to wheelchair users, but we can still consider the request made by the hon. Member for the time being.
WHEELCHAIR USERS – PUBLIC BUILDINGS - ACCESS
(No. B/150) Mr I. Collendavelloo (Third Member for Mahebourg & Plaine Magnien) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizen Welfare & Reform Institutions whether he will state what measures he intends to take to ensure that all public facilities are altered so as to provide adequate access to wheelchair users.
Mr Lauthan: Sir, the issue of accessibility is a major component of my Ministry's policy which focuses on the socio-economic and cultural integration of the disabled persons.
My Ministry if fully aware that effective integration of disabled persons involves foremost the creation of a fully accessible environment, otherwise the disabled person is doubly handicapped.
In this connexion, a High Powered Committee was set up by Government in 1994 which made the following recommendations:-
a legislation be enacted to make public buildings and places accessible to disabled persons;existing public buildings be retrofitted.
Regarding legislation, on the initiative of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Building Act 1919 was amended in 1999 to provide for accessibility issues in favour of disabled persons.
I understand that the necessary regulations have already been submitted by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to the State Law Office and are presently under consideration.
The regulations will make provision for accessibility facilities to:
any new building;
any reconstruction of a new building;
any extension to a building and;
any alteration to an existing building.
These arrangements will provide for greater mobility and accessibility of disabled persons.
Sir, given the importance of this issue, I recently had a meeting with all the stakeholders with a view to expediting matters on that score.
However, regarding retrofitting, my Ministry, through the National Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (NCRD), is giving close attention to this aspect. The following public buildings have already been retrofitted –
University of Mauritius;
School and Colleges where there are disabled students;
Port Louis Museum;
Sir Harilall Vaghjee Hall;
Social Welfare Centres, etc.
It is proposed to give a further boost to this retrofitting policy by covering other public buildings and places usually frequented by disabled persons and elderly. Besides, it is relevant to note that the forthcoming National Policy on the Elderly is taking on board the issue of accessibility for the benefit of the elderly as well.
The objective of my Ministry is to make all public buildings and places (like offices, schools, public gardens, stadia, etc.) fully accessible through advocacy and technical assistance and part-funding as appropriate to facilitate mobility and the integration process of the disabled and the elderly.
Mr Collendavelloo: Sir, is there an inspection team at the Ministry to audit and inspect buildings, let alone those which have been constructed, those which are under construction to make sure that adequate provisions for wheelchair users, people who are otherwise able or disabled persons are in a position to make use of the building? Is there such a team? The NPF is perhaps the best illustration of adaptability to disabled people, but I think this is the only building. Is there a team which will start doing it or will we set up such a team?
Mr Lauthan: Mr Speaker, Sir, as I said, there is a team of officers. We invited the people concerned, but because of lack of regulations we are stuck. I even talked to the Technical Officers at the municipalities and Local Government levels and, in some cases, they are trying to include accessibility facilities as a condition to construction permit. But even then people who know that there is a lack of regulation, they are still resisting. As I have said, I will talk to the Minister of Public Infrastructure. From the information I got only yesterday at the SLO, the regulations are ready. Maybe one last sitting would enable us to pass the regulations so that we can really enforce the implementation of those regulations.
Mr Collendavelloo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the problem does not lie with private buildings. They are way ahead of Government buildings. We are talking of public buildings. Let us start putting order in our own house first! We do not need regulations to do this. Will there be a team to monitor with public utilities and everywhere? Do we imagine that a disabled person who is elected to this Assembly would not be able to perform his duty because he would not be able to walk up the stairs and come here and do his duty as an MP? Now, can't we start with this once and for all?
Mr Lauthan: Mr Speaker, Sir, we'll look into these public buildings urgently.
ALBION INVESTMENTS LTD. - LEASE AGREEMENT, PROMOTERS, ETC.
(No. B/155) Dr P. Ramloll (First Member for Quartier Militaire and Moka) asked the Minister of Housing and Lands whether in regard to the Albion Investments Ltd, he will state -
the extent of land leased to it at Albion;
when the lease agreement was entered into and with whom;
who were the promoters;
who was the Minister responsible for land and housing at the time of the lease agreement; and
whether there has been any development on that land and, if so, will he make a statement thereon and, if not, whether Government has any plan to retrieve that land.
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, following Government's approval in June 1987, a letter of reservation over 54 arpents of State land at Albion was issued to Albion Investments Ltd. for developing a medico sport hotel complex. The plot of land which was land settlement land under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture was deproclaimed in April 1988. The Ministry of Tourism approved the implementation of the project on 28 November 1996.
The matter was revived in 1997 and the lease agreement was signed on 2 June 1997 with Albion Investments Ltd. represented by Mr Voon Chong Fon Sing and Mr Clifford Fon Sing.
Rent has been paid up to 30 June 2001 at the rate of Rs350,000 p.a., but the site has remained undeveloped. My Ministry is seeking legal advice for the retrieval of the plot of land.
Dr. Ramloll: Mr Speaker, Sir, can I know from the Minister when was the Albion Investments Ltd. incorporated and who were the shareholders thereon?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Albion Investment Ltd. was incorporated on 3 April 1987 as a private company limited by shares. The capital of the company at date of incorporation was Rs9,000 divided into 900 shares of Rs10 each, of which -
Mr Manoware Ahmud Bhunnoo had 300 shares;
Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam had 300 shares; and
Les actions de différence non encore souscrites resteront sous le contrôle du Board des Directeurs et seront émises de la manière et aux conditions stipulées au "Articles of Association" de la compagnie.
Mr Paya: Une question supplémentaire. J'aimerais bien demander au ministre si l'établissement a été déjà fait et si cela existe.
Mr Choonee: I said earlier, Mr Speaker, Sir, that there has been no development so far; and at the Ministry we are looking for legal advice to retrieve the land.
Mr Paya: One more supplementary question, Sir. I heard that there were different shareholders who joined the company afterwards. Can I know who were the different people who joined as shareholders?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, subsequently the shares were sold –
100 shares of Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam were sold to Mr Omar Farouk Hossen on 23 November 1993;
200 shares again held by Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam were sold again to Mr Farouk Hossen and the sale was made on 21 April 1995;
Sale of 100 shares which were held by Mr Devanand Virahsawmy were sold to Mr Farouk Hossen on 23 November 1993;
Sale of 200 shares again held by Mr Devanand Virahsawmy were sold to Dorset Ltd. This was done on 17 March 1995; and
The sale of 300 shares held by Mr Omar Farouk Hossen were sold to Dorset Ltd and the sale was made on 01 April 1996.
I am informed that as a consequence of those sales and of an issue of shares by the company, the shareholders of Albion Investments Ltd. as at 17 March 1997 are Mr Farouk Hossen: 2,000 shares and Dorset Ltd.: 8,000 shares.
Mr Paya: Can I know who are the people in the company of Dorset Ltd.?
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, from information I have, Dorset Ltd. was incorporated on 23 February 1995. The registered office is at St. James Court. The authorised capital is Rs100,000. The issued capital is again Rs100,000. The shareholders are
Fon Sing Alexandre Voon Chong : 100 shares
Jade & Company Ltd. : 900 shares
The Directors of Fon Sing Company are -
Fon Sing Clifford
Fon Sing Derrick John
Lo Seen Chong Deans Tommy
Fon Sing Alexandre Voon Chon
Jade & Company Ltd. was incorporated in 1976. As at 14 January 1999 the shareholders were -
Fon Sing Jennifer
Fon Sing Clifford
Fon Sing Derrick
Fon Sing Daisy
Fon Sing Alex
Mr Paya: Une question supplémentaire, M. le président. Il y a tellement eu des tractations et des ventes de toutes les différentes compagnies, est-ce qu'on pourrait savoir maintenant qui sont vraiment les shareholders de la compagnie de Albion Investment Ltd.?
Mr Choonee: Je viens de préciser, M. le président. Les directeurs actuels sont les Dorset et les Fon Sing.
RODRIGUES, MARECHAL LE CHOUX COLLEGE - NANCY, MR JEAN ALEX - ALLEGED FORGERY
(No. B/156) Mr G. Paya (Second Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether he is aware that last year it was reported to the PSSA that a secondary school teacher of Marechal Le Choux College had made use of forged documents and certificates and, if so, will he, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to -
the person/s involved;
the remedial measures taken to forestall a recurrence of same, and
whether a full inquiry has been carried out into the case and, if so, the outcome thereof.
Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, I am informed that in or about September 2000, the PSSA learnt from the press and by hearsay of allegations that Mr Jean Alex Nancy, then employed at Maréchal College, Rodrigues had falsely represented that he was the holder of a "Licence de Biochimie" from the Université Henri Poincaré of Nancy, France.
I am further advised that Marechal College Management subsequently sought clarifications from the said University and was informed in a letter dated 06 September 2000 that Mr Jean Alex Nancy had never, in actual fact, been awarded such a degree whereas in or about December 1992 he had allegedly stated to the Manager of Maréchal College and the PSSA that he did indeed hold that qualification.
I am further advised that on 13 September 2000, Mr Jean Alex Nancy resigned from his post at Maréchal College and that the alleged forgery has been reported to the Police by the Manager, Maréchal College, for investigation. I am, however, not aware of the status of the Police inquiry.
As regards remedial measures to forestall recurrence of situations whereby registration of teachers who have not yet been issued with their final degree leads to errors through confusion or misrepresentation, I am informed that the PSSA is exercising stricter control. However, I am grateful to the hon. Member for drawing my attention to the matter and shall now personally look into the relevant procedures and take all appropriate measures.
FOREST SIDE - DISPENSARY
(No. B/157) Mr G. Paya (Second Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in view of the fact that there is an increase in the population in the vicinity of Forest Side encompassing Cité Atlée, Cité St. Luc, Camp Bombaye and others, he will consider the advisability of converting the dispensary of Forest Side into a medi-clinic for the benefit of the population of those regions.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, medi-clinic is a new concept whereby all records are computerised. Medi-clinics provide in addition to other services laboratory services, X-ray and ultrasound services. In view of the present infrastructure at Forest Side, it will be impossible to provide medi-clinic services.
Further, the conversion of the two area health centres at Belvédère and L'Escalier into medi-clinics has cost a lot of money and has aroused much suspicion. It is now under scrutiny by the Economic Crime Office. Until and unless the matter has been cleared, it will not be the policy of my Ministry to convert health centres into medi-clinics.
Mr Paya: We know that the Economic Crime Office is actually scrutinising some medi-clinics, but still the dispensary of Forest Side cannot cope with the number of people who actually go there. Mr Speaker, Sir, it is now becoming more difficult with the increasing number in the population in Curepipe. I would like to know from the hon. Minister whether he is contemplating to find a solution with regard to this problem, especially now that people from 6eme mile are also attending this dispensary.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I must draw the attention of the hon. Member that we already have an area health centre at Curepipe. This centre is very near to Forest Side. I have given the reasons why it is practically impossible to convert the health centre into a medi-clinic. Of course, I know there are a number of people attending that centre, but still it is not possible to convert it into a medi-clinic.
Mr Paya: Mr Speaker, Sir, with the increased population in the vicinity of Curepipe, especially with all the cités around, the area health centre operates from 8.30 a.m. till 4.00 p.m. and it is very difficult for those people to find a transport at that time to go to the hospital. Will the hon.Minister consider the possibility of opening a medi-clinic there or extend the opening hours of the health centres well after 4.00 p.m.?
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I think we can look into this aspect of things. I'll let my friend know whether we can increase the number of sessions that are being offered at Forest Side Health Centre.
Mr Abdoola: May I draw the attention of the hon. Minister to the fact that this is presently the case in my constitutency at Stanley and Rose Hill. Will the hon. Minister please look into the matter and extend the working hours?
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, these community centres or area health centres offer sessions. As you are aware, there is an acute shortage of doctors and nurses, in particular as far as nurses are concerned and it is not easy to offer more sessions than are actually being offered. But, in some cases, where the need arises, I'll look into the matter and see if the number of sessions can be increased.
MORCELLEMENT CANDOS, TAMARIN AND COTTEAU RAFFIN - DRAINS CONSTRUCTION - ALLEGATIONS BY MR NAIDU
(No. B/158) Mr F. Abdoola (Third Member for Stanley and Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether he will state if, in furtherance to the allegations made by Mr S.L. Naidu, an engineer, to the effect that the construction of drains at Morcellement Candos, Tamarin and Cotteau Raffin were not according to specifications, he will state if a departmental inquiry has been carried out and, if so, whether any officer has been blamed therefor and suspended.
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, in my PQ. No. B/57 on 20 March, I have already informed the House that my Ministry had carried out investigation on the allegations made by Mr S.L. Naidu. Following the investigations and in accordance with procedures, relevant explanations and classifications were sought from the contractor and the officers concerned with regard to the discrepancies noted in the execution of the contract.
However, the explanations provided so far by those concerned have not proved satisfactory. In the circumstances, Government has been apprised of the situation and has decided, after taking into account the gravity of the allegations, to set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate into the whole issue of awards of contracts by the Ministry of Rural & Urban Development Division since July 1997 to June 2000.
The terms of reference of the Commission have already been cleared with the State Law Office. The members of the Commission will be appointed shortly and will be expected to complete the assignment within a period of three months.
I wish to reassure the House that necessary actions, as appropriate, will be taken against those concerned in the light of the findings of the Commission.
INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATIONS - AMOUNT SPENT, ETC.
(No. B/159) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Minister of Arts and Culture whether, in regard to the Mega show organised last year in the context of the Independence celebrations, he will -
the total amount spent therefor;
the procedures adopted for the selection of artists;
the name of the Event Manager and his remuneration and
give a breakdown of expenditure incurred on publicity and advertising fees.
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed that no Mega show was organised in the context of the Independence celebrations last year, i.e. year 2000. Only regional shows were organised.
Again no Mega show was organised in year 1999, because of social unrest. However, a Mega show had been organised in 1998 in the context of the 30th Anniversary of the Independence celebrations.
Assuming that what the hon. Member has in mind is the Mega show organised in connection with Independence Celebrations in 1998. I am prepared to place in the Library of the National Assembly copy of the relevant information called for by sections (a), (b) and (c) of the question.
May I add also that if my hon. friend wishes to ask any question concerning the Mega show, he'll be most welcomed.
(i) REVENUE AUTHORITY - TAX FRAUD CASES
(ii) TEN FA MARKETING LTD. - INVESTIGATION
(No. B/160) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether, in regard to the functions of the Revenue Authority, he will -
(a) since its inception to date give -
the number of inquiries carried out by it concerning fraud in the Customs Department;
state the amount of duties and taxes recovered;
state whether the activities of the Ten Fa company, a market leader in snacks, were ever investigated into regarding under-invoicing and other irregularities, and inquire whether senior officials of his Ministry have any vested interest in the company.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, as regards part (a) of the question, a Fiscal Investigations Unit was set up at the Revenue Authority in November 1999 to investigate into cases of tax fraud and fiscal evasion which were being investigated by the former URB Investigations Unit. The Unit is composed of nine officers comprising two accountants and seven other officers from Customs, VAT and Income Tax Departments.
Since its inception, the Unit has carried out investigations into 42 cases concerning Customs fraud of which seven are still in progress.
The duties and taxes, including penalties resulting from these investigations amount to Rs25,309,254.
With regard to part (b), I am informed that in April last year, an investigation had been started into allegations of under-valuation by the company Ten Fa Marketing Ltd., an importer of snacks. Certain documents and figures had been obtained and information had been sought from overseas. The investigation is still being pursued and evidence gathered with a view to establishing a case of under-valuation.
As regards part (c) the shareholding of Ten Fa Marketing Ltd., or any other company for that matter, is available at the Registrar of Companies. I am, however, tabling copy of the extracts from the files of Ten Fa Marketing Ltd., Ten Fa Industries Ltd. and Ten Fa International Ltd. I wish to point out that no officials of my Ministry have any interest whatsoever in the above companies.
TRAFALGAR THEATRE HALL - RENOVATION WORKS - CONSULTANT, EXPENDITURE INCURRRED, ETC.
(No. B/161) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Arts and Culture whether, in regard to the renovation works of the Trafalgar theatre hall, he will -
(a) state the name -
of the local firm appointed as consultant and the amount paid to it;
of the firm to which the works were entrusted;
give a breakdown of the expenditure incurred there, indicating how they were met;
state the date on which the works were completed, indicating if there was an application for an extension of time;
state the cost of the stage equipment and seating, and
state if any VAT was paid and, if so, why.
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, with regard to subsection (i) of part (a), the Government of Luxembourg which participated in the project from the beginning, appointed a local firm as part of its input. That local firm was AARC Architects (Atelier, Architecture, Recherche et Conception).
Hence, in accordance with the Agreement signed between the Grand Duché de Luxembourg and the Government of Mauritius on 03 November 1995, the entire cost of consultancy services was met by the Government of Luxembourg as part of the contractual agreement between those two parties. The Ministry, therefore, does not have any information on the fees paid.
Regarding sub-section (ii) of part (a) the contract for the works was awarded to Mr P. Seereekissoon Construction Ltd. following invitation to tender from Grades A and B contractors registered with the then Ministry of Works and after approval of the Central Tender Board.
Concerning part (b), total payment of Rs27,314,848.52 excluding VAT has up to now been made to the contractor. Payments were effected from the Ministry's vote in the Capital Budget. I am circulating the breakdown of the payment mentioned above. (Appendix I)
Sir, I wish to add that the Government of Luxembourg had funded the project to the tune of Rs5,330,700. This amount represents the contribution of the Government of Luxembourg for the provision of stage equipment and seating facilities and is exclusive of consulting fees.
For part (c), the works were certified by the consultants as practically completed on 13 April 2000. As regards the extension of time, we are informed by the Consultants that eight applications for extension of time were made. Out of a total number of 535 days, only 206 days were granted as extension of time to the contractor.
With reference to part (d), a contract for the stage equipment and seating was awarded to the firm Harel Mallac & Co. Ltd for a total amount of Rs6,899,737. It is good to note that Harel Mallac & Co. Ltd. was a sub-contractor for the provision of stage equipment and for seating facilities. It should also be noted that a provisional amount of Rs3,735,500 was made in the main contract awarded to Mr P. Seereekissoon Construction Ltd. for the provision of stage equipment and seating capacity. However, following tender procedures by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and the approval of the Central Tender Board, the sub-contract was awarded to the firm Harel Mallac Co. Ltd. for the sum of Rs6,899,737.
Regarding part (e), an amount of Rs1,877,910.58 has also been paid up to now as value added tax (VAT) in order to comply with the provisions of the Value Added Tax Act 1998.
Mr Dowarkasing: May I know from the hon. Minister why the contract which was originally allocated to the Development Works Corporation in May 1996 was terminated in April 1997 without any work being done?
Mr Ramdass: Yes, Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member is right. I am given to understand that the DWC did not start work as scheduled. I am also given to understand that the DWC had not been present at the appointment time of the handing over of the site for that project.
Mr Dowarkasing: Can the Minister inform the House whether there was any request for extension of time only two months after the contract was being allocated?
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, the DWC was not present at the appointed time for the handing over; it means that it has not appeared on the day it was supposed to take the responsibility of the work.
Mr Dowarkasing: Can the Minister inform the House whether there were any variations sought on the contract in 1998 and what was the outcome of those variations?
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am given to understand that the contract was awarded with a delay of sixteen months because the project, initially, was meant for the re-roofing of the Trafalgar Hall, but when the Government of Luxembourg came into play and proposed to finance the project, it was then that the Ministry decided to award the tender to the firm which I have just mentioned.
Mr Maudarbocus: I would like to ask the Minister whether the stage equipment - lighting, sound is being operated by someone from the Ministry or by a local contractor?
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, I made a statement the week before regarding this particular subject where there was a contract awarded to a certain Mr Lebon for the operation of the site and light system for an amount of Rs80,000 per month. The contract already awarded to that company was binding as I stated in my statement. The contract will very soon be reviewed. The procedures have already been launched by the Ministry of Arts and Culture to recruit people.
HEIFERS - IMPORTATION FROM AUSTRALIA - INQUIRY
(No. B/162) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology and Natural Resources whether, regarding the inquiry on the importation of heifers from Australia chaired by Mr Harry Ganoo, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Co-operation, he will –
state the outcome thereof and the ensuing measures and sanctions, if any, taken;
whether all parties involved were invited to depone;
the names and professions of the members of the committee of inquiry, indicating -
how they were selected and
whether all of them had a clean criminal record and, if not, indicate the nature of the offences committed by any member, his name and the date of such offence.
MINISTER OF WOMEN'S RIGHTS, CHILD DEVELOPMENT & FAMILY WELFARE (FORMER) - INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCES
(No. B/163) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Women's Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare whether, in regard to international conferences attended by her immediate predecessor during her tenure of office, she will ascertain -
the cost incurred in respect of each trip, indicating the source of financing;
whether she submitted a report in respect of each conference attended and, if not, the reasons therefor, and
the follow up actions, if any, taken after each conference.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Sir, the information is being compiled and will be circulated at the next sitting.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, can the Minister inform the House whether her Ministry is in possession of all the information and documents regarding those conferences?
Mrs Navarre-Marie: No, Sir, this is why the information is still being compiled. There are some missions to which the former Minister attended, but no records are available as at now.
Mr Dowarkasing: Mr Speaker, Sir, can the Minister inform whether documents related to the famous Sweden Conference and the San Francisco Conference are missing?
Mrs Navarre-Marie: These are the documents which are missing precisely as at now.
GRAND' BAIE GOVERNMENT SCHOOL & NORTHERN COLLEGE - LACK OF DISCIPLINE
(No. B/164) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand' Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether he has been made aware of certain problems arising out of lack of discipline at the Grand' Baie Government School and at the Northern College and, if so, will he state what measures he has taken or proposes to take to remedy the situation.
Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, I am informed that there is no reported problem of lack of discipline at Grand' Baie Government School save for the case of two teachers with frequent late arrivals and that is being dealt with.
With regard to Northern College, a Fact Finding Committee has been initiated and is to submit its report within three weeks of the date it was set up. I am nonetheless closely monitoring the situation at the college.
PUBLIC DEBT - GOVERNMENT'S STRATEGIES & POLICIES
(No. B/165) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand' Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether, having regard to the comments of the Director of Audit on the deterioration of the public debt, he will – ascertain who allowed the situation to deteriorate and state the measures Government proposes to take with a view to curbing the problem.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Sir, as pointed out in the Report of the Director of Audit for the year ended 30 June 2000, public debt increased by 99 per cent from Rs26.6 billion in 1994/95 to Rs52.9 billion in 1999/2000. As a percentage of GDP, total public debt increased from 40.5 per cent to 46.9 per cent during the same period. This deterioration is a direct consequence of the persistently high budget deficit and extra budgetary financing resorted to by the previous Government. The average budget deficit for fiscal years 1995/96 to 1999/2000, excluding receipts from the sale of shares, was about 4.6 per cent of GDP. For the current financial year, the budget deficit is expected to exceed 6 per cent of GDP.
I consider that the previous Government as a whole bears the full responsibility for this alarming situation. The verdict of the population during the last election speaks for itself.
Mr Speaker, the level of public debt is a serious cause for concern. I must point out that the only solution for reducing the public debt burden is to redress our public finances. In the coming budget, Government will set out its strategies and policies for dealing with this issue in the short and medium term.
BENARES GOVERNMENT SCHOOL – RENOVATION WORKS
(No. B/166) Dr. N. Issimdar (Second Member for Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Minister of Arts and Culture whether he will state when renovation works will start on the Benares Government School building which has been declared a national monument by his Ministry.
Mr Ramdass: Mr Speaker, Sir, I wish to inform the house that the Benares Government School building is not listed as a national monument, yet.
However, the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, in a letter dated 30 January 2001, finding that the building was very old and its architecture of a historical nature which could be of interest to the National Monuments Board, sought the clearance of the latter on proposed renovation works to be made on the roof of the Benares Government School given the historical importance of that building.
At its meeting of 15 February 2001, the National Monuments Board, on the understanding that the building could qualify for listing as a National Monument, examined with some sympathy the request in the presence of the representative of the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research and was agreeable in principle to the proposed repairs on the roof of the building subject to the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research providing the detailed drawings for the proposed renovation works so as to ensure that the original architectural and historical cachet of the building would be preserved.
I am informed by the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research that the renovation works will start at the beginning of the next financial year and that the duration of the renovation works is estimated to be six months. The detailed drawings are presently being worked out by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure.
I understand that this building presents a special interest to the National Monuments Board which will make an appropriate recommendations in due course for the Benares Government School building to be listed a National Monument.
CHILD CARE NURSERIES - CONSTRUCTION
(No. B/167) Mr G. Paya (Second Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Women's Rights, Child Development and Family Welfare whether she will state if her Ministry has any plan for the construction of child care nurseries with all the facilities and professionally equipped all over Mauritius to alleviate the burden of those Mauritian couples with children under 2 years who are required to work to earn their living and who encounter difficulties in finding a safe and sound place to leave their children on going to work.
Mrs Navarre-Marie: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is the policy of my Ministry to provide support services to working couples, women and children in general. In this context my Ministry proposes to set up one day care centre in each women centre district wise including Rodrigues. Management of these centres will be entrusted to specialised NGO's
Furthermore, with a view to providing better services to privately – run day care centres, my Ministry provides training courses to stakeholders and caregivers whilst at the same time sensitising parents and the community on quality child care practices.
I wish to point out that the Institutions for the Welfare and Protection of Children Regulations 2000 has been promulgated on 23 December 2000 for the registration and licensing of child care centres. The sensitisation campaign for managers, child caregivers, parents and the public at large is ongoing. My Ministry is in the process of recruiting resource persons for the implementation of the regulations.
A Child Care Accreditation Bureau has also been set up on 22 November 2000 by Government and it will be responsible for the administration of accreditation and quality improvement of day care centres.
Mr Paya: M. le président, c'est bien d'entendre les propositions de la ministre sur la création des crèches. Mais il y a beaucoup de couples qui travaillent dans les usines et c'est difficile pour eux de joindre les deux bouts pour payer ces crèches privées. Est-ce que la ministre pense créer, dans les années à venir, un plus grand nombre de crèches à Maurice pour aider ces couples qui ont des difficultés à payer des crèches privées?
Mrs Navarre-Marie: I have already answered, Sir.
RIVIERE DES ANGUILLES – SWIMMING POOL - CONSTRUCTION
(No. B/168) Dr. N. Issimdar (Second Member for Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Minister of Youth and Sports whether he will state when construction works for the swimming pool at Rivière des Anguilles are likely to start since land has already been identified and earmarked for the project.
Mr Yerrigadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, in September 1995, private land was identified for the construction of a swimming pool at Rivière des Anguilles and acquisition procedures had to be completed.
However, the project was kept in abeyance as the Ministry was considering other alternative sites in the southern part of the country.
In March 1999, the then Minister of Youth and Sports in reply to PQ No. A/2 informed that it was not proposed to construct a swimming pool at Rivière des Anguilles. In December 1999, an alternative site was identified at Chemin Grenier and a site visit was effected in June 2000, but sadly enough no follow-up action ensued.
Upon my assumption of duty as Minister of Youth and Sports in September last year, the matter has since been reviewed, and it has now been decided to construct the swimming pool at Rivière des Anguilles. I am pleased to inform my hon. friend that land acquisition procedures have already been initiated for the said project.
BROWN SEQUARD HOSPITAL – NURSES - SHORTAGE
(No. B/169) Mr F. Labelle (Second Member for Beau Bassin and Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether, in view of the fact that there is a shortage of nurses at the Brown Sequard hospital, he will arrange for a recruitment of nurses and, if so, will he (a) say when and (b) give the number.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed that there are 2004 posts of Nursing Officer on the establishment of my Ministry and 1887 Nursing Officers are in post.
However, due to the ongoing expansion of the health services, there is at present a shortage of nurses in our health institutions.
In order to palliate the shortage of nurses and with a view to ensuring a safe level of health care in our institutions some 2250 Nursing Officers and Charge Nurses are serving under the In-Service Bank Scheme and 57 retired Nurses below 65 years of age are also working on a sessional basis under the External Bank Scheme. In March this year, 58 Nursing Officers have been employed to give assistance at Nursing Officer's level on a month-to-month basis.
It is to be noted that 147 Student Nurses have been recruited in February this year. Currently, 671 Student Nurses are undergoing training and some 46 will be completing their three-year course by the end of this month. Moreover, the Public Service Commission has been requested to enlist a batch of 170 Student Nurses in May 2001. It is also planned to recruit some 500 Student Nurses in the course of the next financial year. Besides, a selection exercise is underway for the recruitment of about 350 Health Care Assistants (General) as supporting staff to give assistance to the Nurses. These measures will go a long way towards improving our staffing situation.
As regards Brown Sequard Mental Health Care, I am informed that there are 67 posts of Nursing Officer (Psychiatric) on the establishment of my Ministry and 26 are in post. 2 Nursing Officers (Psychiatric) are employed on a month-to-month basis and 26 Nursing Officers (General) are also posted there.
I am also informed that the patients who are admitted at Brown Sequard Hospital for mental illness, do also suffer from other general illness. That is why there should always be a mix of General Nursing Officers and Psychiatric Nurses, as well.
In addition, the scheme of service of the post is currently being amended in order to broaden the scope of recruitment i.e. holders of qualifications in Mental Nursing from countries other than the U.K and Wales and whose qualifications are registrable with the Nursing Council of Mauritius and acceptable to the Public Service Commission may also apply.
My Ministry is also proposing to mount a training course in Mental Health Care Nursing shortly.
At 1.00 p.m the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 2.35 p.m. with Mr Speaker in the Chair.
HOTEL DES ILES LTD – ISLETS - LEASE
(No. B/170) Mrs F. Labelle (Second Member for Beau Bassin and Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Housing and Lands whether he will state if any islet (ilot), other than Ile aux Cerfs, has been leased out to Sun International/Touessrok and, if so, will he give the names of those islets.
Mr Choonee: Sir, the lease agreement which is held by Hotel des Iles Ltd, a subsidiary of Sun Resorts Ltd, over what is commonly known as Ile aux Cerfs also comprises five other islets, namely Ile de L'Est, Couba Island, Ile Trou Vire, Ile aux Rats and Ile aux Lièvres.
The company has in January 1998 also obtained the lease of Ile aux Levrettes which was formerly a campement site.
STOCK EXCHANGE COMMISSION – LISTED COMPANIES - REGULATORY CONTROL
(No. B/171) Mr F. Abdoola (Third Member for Stanley and Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Economic Development, Financial Services and Corporate Affairs whether, in regard to the Stock Exchange Commission and to section 22 of the Stock Exchange Act 1988, he will, for the benefit of the House -
obtain information as to –whether the Commission has succeeded in exercising the necessary control on listed companies in cases of financial irregularities and/or in cases where listed companies have been experiencing a contant downfall in their share price, despite being profitable, as is the case with Air Mauritius Ltd.,
what measures have been taken in such cases with a view to protecting the interest of potential and existing investors and shareholders; and
ascertain how the London Stock Exchange Commission would have handled the same situation.
Mr Khushiram: Sir, as regards part (a)(i) of the question, the Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) has exercised the necessary regulatory control over listed companies, but no evidence of financial irregularities in a listed company has been reported to, or has come to the knowledge of SEC, that would require action on its part.
As regards the depressed share prices of several listed companies, despite their satisfactory current financial results, it should be noted that a low share price may be ascribed to several factors, which include the uncertainty of future earnings potential, negative overall market sentiment, the relatively better yield on competing Government securities and the prospects of more attractive returns on foreign portfolio investments. The SEC does not have the power, nor is it expected, to exercise control over investors' expectations and market sentiment, in the case of depressed share prices of listed companies.
With regard to part (a)(ii), the SEC has the responsibility to safeguard the interests of investors on the Stock Exchange and to take the necessary measures to suppress illegal, dishonourable and improper practices in relation to dealings in securities. It is primarily concerned with ensuring that full information needed for investors to take a well-advised decision is available and disseminated to the market in a timely way.
To provide for a fair, transparent and well-regulated stock market, a new set of listing rules, largely based on the listing and disclosure requirements of the London Stock Exchange was introduced last year and is applicable from February 2001. These listing rules require companies seeking admission on the official list of the Stock Exchange to prepare detailed information on the company's current financial situation as well as its future growth prospects to be disclosed to potential investors. Furthermore, all listed companies are subject to stringent continuous listing obligations and disclosure requirements for the benefit of all existing shareholders, the Stock Exchange authorities and the public at large. Investors and the public are thus kept fully informed by listed companies of all factors, which might affect their interests and, in particular, that immediate disclosure is made on any information which might reasonably be expected to have a material effect on market activity and the prices of listed securities.
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius and the Listing Committee, comprising both SEC and SEM representatives, also have the power to suspend or withdraw any company from the official list, if required to take such action in the best interests of the market and of investors in the light of evidence of financial irregularities in a listed company.
As regards part (b) of the question, the regulatory approach of the Stock Exchange Commission in Mauritius is conducted on the same principles as the Financial Services Authority of the U.K. As a member of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions, SEC follows, as far as possible, the same international standards that are applicable in other regulatory bodies around the world.
STOCK EXCHANGE COMMISSION – LOCAL EXPERTISE
(No. B/172) Mr F. Abdoola (Third Member for Stanley and Rose Hill) asked the Minister of Economic Development, Financial Services and Corporate Affairs whether he will state if our Stock Exchange Commission has the necessary expertise and brains to provide the best services and to modernise our Stock Exchange to favourably compare with the norms which obtain in European countries.
Mr Khushiram: Sir, since the inception of the Stock Exchange in 1989, the Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) has fulfilled its role as the regulator of the securities industry mostly on the strength of a limited pool of local expertise and with the support of French technical assistance. As with other regulatory bodies, the SEC has faced a dearth of qualified and specialised personnel in the field of supervision. This lacuna should be largely overcome with the setting up of a unified financial services regulator to integrate the SEC, MOBAA and the insurance division. The Financial Services Commission (SEC), as proposed in the Financial Services Development Bill already introduced in the National Assembly, will have the flexibility to devise its own remuneration policy and thus have a free hand to attract and retain highly qualified and competent personnel locally and from abroad. The FSC is being designed to offer a regulatory framework of international standards.
As regards the modernisation of the Stock Exchange to meet European and international standards, this is the primary function of the Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM), although the SEC has also acted as a facilitator in the past. The SEM has over the years taken major steps to modernise the infrastructure of the Stock Exchange. Computerised clearing and settlement facilities were introduced in 1997 with a Central Depository and Settlement System providing for delivery against payment.
The SEM is going ahead this year with an automated screen trading system that will give investors the possibility of placing orders through the internet. Several SADC countries have shown a keen interest in the CDS, possibly one of the best in Africa, and the services of the SEM are being solicited for establishing stock markets in other African countries.
The SEC and the SEM have accomplished a creditable task in respectively regulating and developing a market for securities. There is, nevertheless, still sizeable room for further progress. The existing shortcomings of the Mauritian stock market arise mainly from the limited liquidity due to the smallness of our financial system, which may be potentially relieved in the future by the adoption of a strong, regional and international financial development strategy.
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC UTILITIES – MR P. M. K. SOONARANE - SCHOLARSHIP
(No. B/173) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Public Utilities whether he will state if any officer of his Ministry has been awarded a scholarship and leave with pay to study abroad and, if so, will he -
give the name of the beneficiary and the duration of such leave;
give the total amount spent on that officer;
state whether the officer has been bonded to serve the Ministry after his studies; and
state whether such award is a normal feature and, if so, whether any other officer will be afforded the same facilities in the future.
Mr Ganoo: Sir, one officer of my Ministry namely Mr Pradeep Mahesh Kumar Soonarane, Policy Planning and Research Officer was, in July 1997, awarded a scholarship under the U.K Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan to read for a doctoral degree in renewable energy at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London. He was granted three years leave with pay with effect from October 1997. The leave was extended by six months up to end of March 2001 to enable him to complete his research work.
The total amount spent on Mr Soonarane in terms of salary and bonus is Rs 1,014,108.34.
Mr Soonarane has been bonded to serve the Ministry of Public Utilities after his studies for a period of five years. He resumed duty on 02 April 2001.
Mr Soonarane was awarded an open scholarship through the Ministry of Education & Scientific Research as I said earlier under the U.K Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan. The course was considered as an in-service training and a priority field of study. Consequently, he was granted leave with full pay to attend that course in accordance with existing Regulations.
The same facilities will be extended to any other officer provided he satisfies the established criteria for the grant of study leave with pay.
Mr Chumroo: Sir, can we know what procedures were adopted at the time of selection of Mr Soonarane,? Were other officers given the opportunity to apply for that scholarship?
Mr Ganoo: Sir, according to the information that I have, it was an open scholarship. Before authorisation was given to Mr Soonarane, the matter was cleared with the Ministry for Civil Service Affairs which approved the leave with full pay to enable Mr Soonarane to read for his three-year doctoral degree.
Mr Chumroo: Can the Minister tell the House whether other officers will be given the same facilities if they ask for?
Mr Ganoo: Yes, Mr Speaker. In fact, when the Ministry for Civil Service Affairs cleared the authority, the attention of my Ministry was drawn to the provisions of Chapter IV, Section 10 of the Personnel Management Manual regarding study leave on full pay and which reads as follows:
"An officer shall be eligible for study leave with full pay where he is nominated for:
in-service training, that is, training under an approved scheme;
an open scholarship which is considered as in-service training and, of course, is a priority field of study."
These are the conditions and Mr Soonarane seems to have satisfied the conditions.
RODRIGUES - ELECTRIC PUMPS
(No. B/174) 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 borehole of Fond La Digue, he will state –
when the pump was installed and the reasons given for its breakdown, and
if he is contemplating the carrying out of a proper inquiry to look into the matter as well as into the way electric pumps have been purchased and installed during the last four years in Rodrigues.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I am advised by the Island Secretary that there are two pumps at Fond La Digue. One is inside the borehole and another one, which acts as a booster pump, is in a small tank next to the borehole.
The booster pump was commissioned on 30 September 1999 and is still operational.
The pump inside the borehole was installed on 15 December 1993 by the Water Unit, just after the drilling of the borehole.
The pump inside the borehole has broken down and the reasons for the breakdown are not yet known. In fact, in January 2001, the electrical team of the Water Unit noted an electrical fault on the control panel and decided to remove the pump to investigate the reason of the electrical fault. However, while removing the pump, the latter got stuck further down in the borehole. Several attempts made by the Water Unit to remove the pump have not been successful so far.
In the circumstances, and especially in the light of the current drought situation in Rodrigues, Government has recently approved that immediate steps be taken for the drilling of a new borehole at Fond La Digue to remedy the situation.
The Island Secretary has already been requested to take immediate action accordingly.
As regards part (b) of the question, the reply is in the affirmative. In fact, my Ministry has already appointed an engineer of the Central Water Authority to carry out an inquiry into the matter, especially with regard to electric pumps purchased and installed in Rodrigues over the past four years.
Mr Von-Mally: I thank the hon. Minister. I must say that this affair really stinks.
The Deputy Prime Minister: The borehole?
Mr Von-Mally: Those in charge of the borehole also. Can I know from the hon. Minister to which firms the contracts for installing the pumps were awarded? Because I have been given to understand that contracts were awarded to private firms, but that Government employees were doing the work.
Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, I do not have the information right now, but one thing for sure is that the engineer will also look into that matter.
RODRIGUES - FOND CAVERNE PROVERT - ACCESS ROAD
(No. B/175) 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 access road to Fond Caverne Provert, he will –
state if he has received any letter from the villagers concerning the necessity of reconstructing it, and ascertain the reasons why it had been demolished.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, from information obtained from the Rodrigues Administration, I understand that in December 1997 a request was made to the Island Secretary by the Caverne Provert Village Committee for the construction of a road along the river bank at Fond Caverne Provert.
As regards part (b) of the question, I am informed that, according to the Public Infrastructure Division of the Rodrigues Administration, there is no official record concerning the existence of an access road to Fond Caverne Provert. However, I am further informed that, according to the inhabitants, there was a small access road which was demolished when the bridge at Caverne Provert was constructed. This was due to the fact that the level of the bridge had to be raised.
As the hon. Member may be aware, the construction of a proper access road at Fond Caverne Provert requires also that –
the river be properly dredged to avoid heavy flooding during heavy rain;
a retaining wall be constructed to protect the road during floods; and
the lease of the adjacent land be cancelled.
I propose to request the Island Secretary to look into the matter and to consider placing the project in the programme of work for the next financial year.
MAURITIUS SPORTS COUNCIL - RECRUITMENT OF WORKERS
(No. B/176) Mr M. Nanhuck (Third Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Youth & Sports whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information from the Mauritius Sports Council as to whether there has been any recruitment of workers on a contract basis during the past two years and, if so, will he further ascertain –
their respective purposes, and
their respective conditions of service.
Mr Yerrigadoo: Sir, during the last two years, the Mauritius Sports Council has recruited workers on a contract basis.
As regards part (a), 42 workers have been recruited.
Concerning part (b), 36 Handymen, three Secretary/Receptionists, one driver, one supervisor and one attendant have been recruited.
With regard to part (c), I am tabling the information regarding the conditions of service of these persons.
Mr Nanhuck: May we know whether, regarding those cases, proper recruitment procedures had been followed?
Mr Yerrigadoo: It would seem that the former Minister of Youth & Sports proceeded on an ad-hoc basis to recruit, in pursuance to la politique des petits copains, and to place agents of the political party then in power, that is, the Labour Party, in jobs here and there around the island.
Mr Nanhuck: In these circumstances, is the Minister looking into the matter and does he envisage to have an inquiry carried out?
Mr Yerrigadoo: The hon. Member can rest assured that already measures have been taken in many cases and that measures will be taken to restore the proper course of public administration in this country.
KEN LEE TOWER - RENTING OF OFFICE SPACE
(No. B/177) Mr M. Nanhuck (Third Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Environment whether he will give the reasons which necessitated additional provision in the financial year 1999/2000 Estimates for the renting of office space at Ken Lee Tower.
Mr Bhagwan: Sir, I have been advised that additional office space to an extent of 12930 sq. ft. was rented at Ken Lee Tower as from April 1999. The additional office space was required for the office of the then Junior Minister and for the creation of additional divisions in the Ministry.
PLAINE SOPHIE - STATE LAND
(No. B/178) Mrs D. Perrier (Third Member for Belle Rose & Quatre Bornes) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology and Natural Resources whether, in regard to the allocation of State agricultural land in Plaine Sophie I and II, he will state if a survey is being carried out with a view to ascertaining to whom the plots have been allocated.
Mr P. Jugnauth: Sir, State land at Plaine Sophie I and II was formerly under tea cultivation and was vested with the ex-Tea Development Authority. The former tea plots have been leased for vegetable cultivation mainly. The names of the beneficiaries of these lands along with the other beneficiaries of other tea lands were laid on the Table of the National Assembly last year.
Mrs Perrier: Le ministre peut-il nous dire si ces terres ont été exploitées depuis qu'elles ont été allouées?
Mr P. Jugnauth: M. le président, d'après les renseignements que j'ai, il apparaît que toutes ces terres ont été exploitées. De par une procédure existant à mon ministère, un avertissement est donné dans les cas où les terres ne sont pas exploitées for retrieval of those plots of land. According to my information, all the plots of land are under vegetable cultivation.
CITÉ CHEBEL - SEWERAGE NETWORK
(No. B/179) Mr M. Allet (Third Member for Beau Bassin and Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Public Utilities whether he will state when the project for the upgrading of the sewerage network at Cité Chebel will be implemented, indicating the timetable scheduled for such works.
Mr Ganoo: Sir, Cité Chebel and a number of other low cost housing estates have been identified as requiring urgent rehabilitation of sewerage infrastructure. However the House will appreciate that the magnitude of investment required warrants that the sewerage problems on these estates be addressed in a phased manner and in order of priority depending on the prevailing sanitary conditions. The Government will soon be called upon to decide on the best way of securing financing for the rehabilitation of the sewerage network in the housing estates on a priority basis. Following this decision, I hope that sewerage rehabilitation works in Cité Chebel will be implemented as early as possible and I shall keep the House informed.
MORCELLEMENT MONTREAL, COROMANDEL - SEWERAGE NETWORK
(No. B/180) Mr M. Allet (Third Member for Beau Bassin and Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Public Utilities whether, in regard to Morcellement Montréal in Coromandel, he will state if it is fully connected to the main sewerage network and, if not, will he state which part of the Morcellement is not so connected, indicating –
the proportion that such part bears to the whole area of the Morcellement, and
when same will be connected to the main network.
Mr Ganoo: Sir, Morcellement Montreal is divided into three parts namely Montréal I, II and III. So far only Montréal I and III are connected to the sewer network.
Montreal II was subdivided after the design of the Coromandel sewerage network and was therefore not included in the Project.
Accordingly, Montréal II will be provided with sewer reticulation and house connections under a contract to be co-financed by Government and the World Bank. Tenders are scheduled to be floated by next month and works are expected to be completed by March 2003.
EX-MCCB LTD. - LEGAL ADVISERS' FEES, DEBTORS ETC.
(No. B/183) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether, in regard to the ex-MCCB Ltd., he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to-
the amount paid as fees to each legal adviser;
the amount recouped from debtors to date, and
the total amount written off to date, indicating the names of the debtors.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Sir, the information sought in part (a) of the question is being circulated. (Appendix II).
As for part (b) of the question, the amount recouped from debtors on loans and advances up to 31 March 2001, inclusive of interest, amounted to Rs719,133,813. The total amount due on the date of liquidation, that is, 19 April 1996, was Rs1,520,687,302.
As regards part (c) of the question, I am informed that there has been no write-off of debts as such, but, following normal negotiations in the liquidation process, debts have been waived with the written authorisation of the Bank of Mauritius in accordance with Section 5(1)(g)(i) of the MCCB Ltd (Liquidation) Act 1996.
The liquidator has also informed that he has been instructed by the Bank of Mauritius that, although the MCCB Ltd. is a defunct bank, he must abide by Section 39 of the Banking Act on confidentiality of information. Accordingly, information relating to the banks' customers cannot be revealed without the latters' written and freely given permission.
Mr Speaker, Sir, as the House is aware the liquidation exercise is being carried in accordance with the MCCB (Liquidation) Act of 1996. The Act, as a matter of fact, aimed at providing the orderly and expeditious liquidation of the assets and liabilities of the ex-MCCB Ltd. As the exercise is taking an unduly long time, I am proposing to advise Government to review the whole situation, with a view to finding a more rapid solution.
Mr Chumroo: Mr Speaker, Sir, can we know the amount waived so far?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I don't have further information, but what I can repeat is that debts that have been waived have been done so with the written authorisation of the Bank of Mauritius, in accordance with Section 5(1)(g)(i) of the MCCB Ltd. (Liquidation) Act 1996. As I said a few minutes earlier, I think we will have to revisit this Act and find ways and means of not only completing the process, but also lying to rest any interrogation that remains concerning the liquidation process.
Mr Chumroo: In view of the amount recouped and the proposal made by the hon. Minister, is it possible to launch a bank for planters immediately or as soon as possible?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I think that if I reply to that question and to many others, there won't be much for me to say in my Budget Speech. So, I'll ask the hon. Member to be a little bit patient.
NHDC FLATS - SYNDICS
(No. B/184) Mr J.C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Housing & Lands whether, in view of the fact that numerous complaints from residents of NHDC flats have been urged against the syndics, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information from the NHDC as to what steps it has taken or proposes to take with a view to ensuring that the syndics work properly.
Mr Choonee: Sir, first of all, I would like to inform the House that the residents of NHDC apartments are owners of their housing units and, consequently, co-owners of the complex.
The co-owners of the complex constitute, as per the "acte de vente" and the "Règlement de Co-propriété", a "Syndicat des Co-propriétaires" which is a legal entity. Hence, the residents, being members of the "Syndicat", have to abide by the rules and regulations of the "Règlement de Co-propriété".
The "Syndicat", which regroups all co-owners of the complex, elects a syndic which is responsible for the overall maintenance and upkeep of the complex. Here, I wish to point out that the NHDC assumes the role of "Syndic Provisoire" only for the first year or so.
Prior to the signature of the deed of sale, information meetings are held on site, whereby the residents are briefed on their rights and obligations and on syndic matters. At the time of taking possession of their units, they are also given a booklet summarising the "Règlement de Co-propriété".
However, it happens that although when the actual syndic has been elected, the co-owners make complaints to the NHDC against their own syndics. Here, though the NHDC is not legally empowered to interfere in matters pertaining to the syndic, it still tenders advice to the co-owners on how to improve the relationship between the residents and the syndic. This is done only with a view to ensuring the smooth running of the complex.
It should also be noted that the general assembly of the co-owners can decide to elect another syndic if they feel that it is not performing to their satisfaction. The role of the NHDC in such cases is only to advise the residents on the recourse available to them.
In furtherance to its aim to ensure the proper working of the syndics, the NHDC proposes:-
to have the signature of the deed of sale at its office whereby the NHDC officers and the notary will hold lengthy briefing sessions with the to-be residents on their duties and responsibilities and the role of the syndic;
to look into the possibility of having a video presentation on these issues;
to update the documents given to the residents, so as to make them more explicit and clear;
to recruit social motivators to assist residents to integrate in the complex, prepare them to assume their duties, in order to facilitate the role of the permanent syndic and assist the latter as and when required; and
to hold general assemblies as soon as possible, to avoid the account being in deficit, as it is felt that this acts as a disincentive to the syndics who will take over.
Mr Armance: Mr Speaker, Sir, in view of the fact that these people are bénévoles, I would like to ask the hon. Minister to consider the advisability to give them a training and formation course in that field.
Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, we understand that the syndics already have a difficult time with the residents. However, I am taking good note of the advice of the hon. Member and we will see to it that it is implemented.
Mr Barbier: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I know from the hon. Minister under which specific legislation is the syndic operating? Is it under the Code Napoléon or under a specific legislation?
Mr Choonee: I need notice of this question, Mr Speaker, Sir.
BEAU BASSIN PRISON – STAFF, DETAINEES ETC
(No. B/185) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Rivière des Anguilles & Souillac) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions whether, in view of the fact that the Beau Bassin Prison is overcrowded and understaffed, he will state what action is being taken to ensure both the comfort of the detainees and the safety of the Prison Officers.
Mr Lauthan: Sir, the Beau Bassin prison has accommodation for 655 cells, including 215 large cells which can each accommodate up to four detainees. This means that the maximum number of detainees that can be accommodated there is over 1,200. We had, as at yesterday 9 April, 1,060 detainees in that institution (including 400 on remand. I would also like to point out that there has been an increase of about 25% in the remand cases from January 2000 to January 2001. I wish to point out that most of the difficult detainees are kept at the Beau Bassin prison, except for a few dangerous ones who are sent to Phoenix.
We are fully aware that urgent steps have to be taken to cope with the increasing number of detainees. Consequently, we are constructing a new wing at Beau Bassin prison, which will accommodate about 300 detainees. Works will start next month and are expected to be completed by August 2002.
For the long term, Government has approved the construction of three new prisons.
As regards staffing, all vacancies have now been filled and we have a prison staff of 850 for about 1,850 prisoners.
As regards security of staff, I am informed that two cases of assault on prison officers by detainees have been reported during the last two years. I shall hasten to add that, if the situation is still manageable now, it may deteriorate in future because, in view of the very risky and delicate nature of the duties performed in prison, people are less interested to work in prisons. During the last two years, out of 134 recruits, 51 (i.e 38%) left the prison services to join other ministries or the private sector.
Therefore, apart from the infrastructural improvement, we are taking a host of other measures to decrease the prison population. Some of them are:-
the introduction of the Transfer of Prisoners Bill which, incidentally, is before the House today for First Reading;
improvement of the functioning of the Parole Board by releasing more prisoners on parole.
But, let us admit, Mr Speaker, Sir, that these measures may only reduce the number of prisoners in our prisons. I say may reduce, but I am not so sure, in view of the increasing number of arrests due to the improved efficiency of the Police Force since this Government is in place.
What we really need, Mr Speaker, Sir, is to address the issue of criminality at source. Since I took office, I have visited all our prisons in Mauritius and Rodrigues, including the Rehabilitation Youth Centre and the Correction Youth Centre.
I have already had two meetings with the Director of the Mauritius Research Council and a group of his researchers to undertake some research work at the levels of the RYC, CYC and the adult prison. In a move to be proactive I want to know the root causes of criminality by our young offenders and at the same time try to find out whether our prison system is really addressing the psycho-social needs of offenders as well as the security needs of society.
Recently, Mr Speaker, Sir, I visited the International Centre for the Prisons Studies of King's College, London and the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NACRO) based equally in London. The first institution has been undertaking a lot of research and comparative studies of prison systems around the world and NACRO aims at preventing relapse and re-offending through community resettlement and rehabilitation.
My Ministry is building up a database of good models of prison management and best practices in order to improve our own prison management. I shall soon have consultations with all stakeholders of the Criminal Justice System to bring the necessary amendments to existing legislations to enable us improve our carceral system. As an avant-gout, from what I have seen and learned, the main areas of interest would be -
How prisons can best serve society;
The balance in prisons between justice, security, good order and humanity;
Applying the agreed international standards to imprisonment;
Special regimes for specific groups of prisoners, including –
maximum security prisoners;
mentally disordered prisoners;
prisoners serving life sentence.
How to create awareness among prisoners of the consequences of their action.
Preparing prisoners for release.
Links between the prison and the family, the Community and the larger society
Staff issues, including
training and development
safety and security
With the implementation of the above measures, I hope, Mr Speaker, Sir, to bring about a marked improvement in the human relationships within our penal institutions between management, prison officers and the detainees on the one hand and between ex-prisoners and civil society on the other hand through a holistic approach to crime prevention.
Mr Baloomoody: Sir, we know that there are two categories of prisoners. One who has been convicted and the other one are those who are on remand, who have not been tried yet. I would like to know whether Government intends to go ahead with the construction of a remand prison because now those who have not been convicted have to suffer the same regime as those who are convicted?
Mr Lauthan: Mr Speaker, Sir, this is true, but unfortunately because of the lack of space we have to put both of them together. But in view of the improvement in the space in the number of cells I hope that we'll be able to separate them because they need different treatment.
Mr Baloomoody: Even if you have another wing at Beau Bassin they will have to go through the same regime. Those who are on remand have the right of visit everyday. They get their food, their clothes from home, but in Beau Bassin they are entitled to these facilities twice a week. My question is whether we will have a remand home for those prisoners who are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty so that they can have the same facilities that the law allows them to have.
Mr Lauthan: We'll consider this question being given the limited means.
Mr Daureeawoo: Is the Minister, in fact, in favour of what is commonly known as la peine de la honte? Instead of inflicting imprisonment to people who are found guilty they undergo a sentence which means to carry pancartes à travers la ville to show that they have committed an offence.
Mr Lauthan: I know that this is being put in practice in very advanced and civilised countries, but I do not think that we'll go that far. We will surely contemplate the possibility of introducing the community service as part of the imprisonment.
TERMINATION OF CONTRACTS OF SERVICE BOARD – CASES – 01.01.96-31.10.2000
(No. B/191) Mr R. Daureeawoo (Third Member for Montagne Blanche & GRSE) asked the Minister of Labour & Industrial Relations whether he will, for the period 01 January 1996 to 31 October 2000, give a list of employers whose cases have been referred to the Termination of Contracts Service Board, indicating the number of employees whose employment have been terminated, and indicate the decision reached by the Board in each individual case.
Mr Soodhun: Sir, the information sought by the hon. Member is being circulated. (Appendix III).
ESCORT HEART SERVICES INSTITUTE AND RESEARCH CENTRE – CARDIAC MONITORS - PURCHASE
(No. B/192) Mr R. Daureeawoo (Third Member for Montagne Blanche & GRSE) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state if the Escort Heart Services Institute Research Centre of New Delhi has put in a claim for the purchase of five portable cardiac monitors and, if so, will he indicate the amount claimed and, for the benefit of the House, ascertain whether such monitors are not the subject matter of a private transaction between his immediate predecessor and the aforesaid company through a commission agent.
Mr Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, Escort Heart Institute and Research Centre of New Delhi has, on 28 February 2000, sent a bill of Rs200,000 (Indian Rupees) to the Mauritius High Commission in New Delhi.
As far as the second part of the question is concerned, the House will note that the matter has been referred to the Police since 30 March 2001 for investigation.
Mr Daureeawoo: Sir, it would seem that the apparatus has disappeared like an OVNI, but the question is: who is the proprietor of this object? Either the Ministry is the proprietor of this object and if it has been lost it would mean that it has either been a larceny or an embezzlement or it is the ex-Minister who has made a private deal then it is for him to foot the bill. Who is the proprietor of the apparatus?
Mr A. Jugnauth: I can accept the last part of what the hon. Member has said. It was a deal of the ex-Minister who took those things and brought them to Mauritius.