Written Answers to Questions - 10 April 2001
NIU – DISSOLUTION
(No. B/146) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will state if Government is dissolving the National Intelligence Unit (NIU), and, if so, will he state –
(b) the reasons therefor;
(c) where the manpower will be redeployed; and
(d) whether the NIU will be replaced by another body with the same objectives and to carry out the same activities and duties.
Reply: The Police (Amendment) Bill 2001 which appears on the Order Paper of the House today for First Reading deals with the various issues raised by the hon. Member.
In fact, the NIU will be replaced by the National Security Service which will be responsible for gathering intelligence to protect the security of the State. However, unlike the NIU, it will not engage in any activities of a political nature overtly or covertly.
I propose to elaborate further on this matter during the Second Reading of the Bill. I shall, therefore, kindly request the hon. Member to be patient until then.
POLICE FORCE – RECRUITMENT AND PROMOTION – PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATON
(No. B/147) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port & Rose Belle) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House, ascertain from the Commissioner of Police as to whether a psychological evaluation is mandatory prior to recruitment and to promotion in the Police Force.
Reply: I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that for recruitment and promotion in the Police Force a psychological evaluation of prospective candidates is not mandatory.
The power to appoint persons to hold or act in any office in the Police Force is vested in the Disciplined Forces Service Commission under Section 91 of the Constitution. The Commission has established its own criteria for recruitment and promotion in the Police Force under Section 17 of the Disciplined Forces Service Commission Regulations.
I am informed that the present methodology of recruitment at entry grade comprises amongst others, a physical measurement test, a physical aptitude test, medical examination and an interview of candidates possessing the prescribed qualifications.
PRISONS – DETAINEES - NUMBER
(No. B/148) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity & Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions whether he will give the total number of prisoners presently detained in all our prisons and the actual capacity provided for, indicating the maximum capacity of each prison and the number of prisoners being presently detained therein.
Reply: On Friday 30 March 2001, the total number of prisoners detained in all our prisons (including Rodrigues) was 1770.
The normal accommodation for the 7 prisons (including one in Rodrigues) is 1466. However, all our prisons can accommodate a maximum of 2434 prisoners.
The maximum capacity of each prison and the number of prisoners detained therein, as at 30 March 2001 are as follows:
No. of Detainees
1. Central Prison –
2. Grand River North West Prison
3. Phoenix Prison
4. Petit Verger Prison
5. Richelieu Open Prison
6. Women Prison
7. Rodrigues Prison (Male)
HIV POSITIVE PREGNANT WOMEN - GOVT. POLICY
(No. B/151) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state Government policy regarding HIV in pregnancy, the screening of pregnant women, their follow-up and management during delivery and indicate –
(a) the number of deliveries of HIV positive women during the past six months;
(b) what care and follow-up were extended to the new-born, and
(c) the measures taken to protect medical and nursing staff.
Reply: Sir, as far as HIV in pregnancy is concerned, there is no precise "written" policy. However, since 1999, this Ministry is carrying out a programme of prevention of mother to child HIV transmission in collaboration with UNICEF, whereby pregnant women are counselled and are proposed HIV testing. The voluntary pregnant women are subjected to HIV testing with the observance of strict confidentiality. This project with the UNICEF will be completed in 2003. Based on the results obtained, further studies will be carried out to define, if necessary, relevant policies for HIV in pregnancy.
Any pregnant woman found positive is followed up and managed in the hospital according to an established protocol.
Regarding part (a) of the question, over the past six months, only one pregnant patient with a positive HIV test has delivered.
As regards part (b) of the question, the internationally accepted protocol of treatment is being applied to this one baby delivered from the HIV positive mother, namely the accepted protocol for handling the baby and the medical treatment with AZT (antiretroviral) syrup and the usual screening test for HIV post natally.
Concerning part (c) of the question, all medical and paramedical staff in the public and private sector are trained to use universal precautions during their medical or paramedical studies so that they are not cross-infected when dealing with patient.
GOVT. MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS - MEDICAL PROTECTION SCHEME
(No. B/152) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether, in view of the fact that cases of medical litigation is on the increase, he will consider the advisability of introducing a medical protection scheme for all Government Medical Practitioners and, if not, why not.
Reply: I am advised that it is not the policy of the Ministry to ask any medical doctor employed in the Government services to buy a medical protection insurance. Because of the increase in medical litigation, it may be wise for the medical doctors themselves to voluntarily buy a medical insurance to protect themselves against claims that may arise out of medical litigation cases.
GOVT. MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS - ALLEGED ABSENCE FROM SITE OF WORK
(No. B/153) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will provide to the House the names and grades of those Government medical practitioners who –
(a) play tennis instead of being at their site of work;
(b) commit larceny whilst in receipt of wages, and
(c) pé kokain l'argent dimoune
and state what actions have been taken against them.
Reply: Sir, I was informed on 13 March last that a Medical and Health Officer posted to the Accident and Emergency Department at Dr. Jeetoo Hospital could not be contacted between 1900 hrs and 2100 hrs on 12 March, when the doctor was expected to be on duty during that time. The telephonist at Dr. A. G. Jeetoo Hospital even rang up the Chief Medical Officer to inform the latter that he had been looking in vain for the Medical and Health Officer concerned from 1900 hours to 2100 hours as there were children waiting to be seen by the Casualty Officer. In this connection, I am tabling a statement from the telephonist at Dr. A. G. Jeetoo Hospital.
Besides, my Ministry has also received a report indicating the existence of a feeling of strong discontent among outdoor patients at he Casualty Department of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam National Hospital who have to wait for long hours before being attended to, as doctors who were supposed to be on duty, often leave their place of work to spend their time at the doctors' mess room or elsewhere.
I made a statement to the effect that doctors who were supposed to work and were not performing their duties and would still draw their normal salary would tantamount to receiving salary for work not done and this would be similar to the offence of larceny whilst in receipt of salary.
A preliminary report has been received on the above cases. However, it is unfortunate to note that in respect of the first case, the Regional Health Director, Dr. A. G. Jeetoo Hospital, has recommended that disciplinary action should be initiated against the telephonist for having allegedly reported to the Chief Medical Officer the physical absence of the incriminated doctor. In this connection, I am tabling a letter dated 16 March 2001 from the Regional Health Director, Dr. A. G. Jetoo Hospital.
Nevertheless, the inquiry is still ongoing and on completion of the inquiry, appropriate action will be taken against the officers concerned.
At this stage, I am not in a position to disclose the names of the incriminated officers, as the inquiry has not yet been completed.
REGIONAL HOSPITALS - GASTROSCOPIC FACILITIES
(No. B/154) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state what gastroscopic facilities are at present available and are functioning in each of the regional hospitals and the names of the doctors in charge of this equipment and what training they have received.
Reply: Gastroscopic facilities are available and functional at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam National Hospital and Victoria Hospital, Candos. New equipment have been delivered at Dr. A. G. Jeetoo and J. Nehru Hospitals on Monday 02 April in replacement of the old and defective ones and will become operational by the end of this week.
The consultants in general surgery in the regional hospitals are in charge of the equipment.
I am also informed that the surgeons who usually make use of the equipment have either received the necessary training during their postgraduate studies or from the suppliers of the equipment. Moreover, since 1998, it has become a contractual obligation for the suppliers to provide local or overseas training or both on the operations of such equipment to the users whenever purchases are made.
(i) FOREIGN WORKERS – HEALTH SCREENING
(ii) INDIAN NATIONAL - DEATH
(No. B/181) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will –
(a) state if health screening is carried out in Mauritius on all foreign workers before their taking up employment; and
(b) state Government policy on the results of such tests, and regarding the death of the Indian national Y.R., a former employee of the New Island Clothing Ltd., he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to –
(i) when he took up employment in Mauritius, when and by whom he was medically examined and with what results; and
(ii) whether he received appropriate treatment during his last illness and why he was denied the opportunity for treatment abroad.
Reply: As regards part (a) of the question, under Regulation 3 of the Non-Citizens (Employment Restriction) (Amendment) Regulations 1994, all employers have to submit to the Ministry of Training, Skills Development and Productivity a medical certificate along with the application form in respect of each foreign worker whom they propose to employ.
The Medical Examinations Report has to be in accordance with the health requirements of my Ministry.
The Ministry of Training, Skills Development & Productivity then transmits to my Ministry the medical certificate of the worker for necessary follow-up. On arrival, the foreign worker has to undergo all the tests required by my Ministry and he is allowed to stay only if the tests prove to be negative and health clearance is granted.
As regards part (b) of the question, in the case of the Indian worker in question, the New Island Clothing Ltd. submitted an application for work permit in his favour on 10 June 1999, together with his medical certificate. The expatriate did produce a medical certificate from India certifying that he was in good health. His tests were negative for venereal diseases, including HIV. The medical certificate of the expatriate was then transmitted to my Ministry which informed the Ministry of Training, Skills Development & Productivity that "HIV tests and Hepatitis B Surface Antigen-Antibodies" were to be repeated for him. Health clearance was, therefore, not granted to the expatriate.
I am informed that the Ministry of Training, Skills Development & Productivity requested the New Island Clothing Ltd. to arrange for the expatriate to undergo the required tests. However, the said company failed to do so, despite written and verbal requests made by the Ministry of Training, Skills Development & Productivity. In this context, I am tabling a letter advising the company to arrange to repeat HIV in respect of the expatriate.
I am given to understand that the application for work permit in respect of the said expatriate was approved on 30 June 1999, on the recommendation of the Work Permit Committee, then chaired by Mr D. Bhima, Junior Minister. A work permit was issued on 16 August 1999, for a period of one year, taking effect from the date of arrival of the worker in question, that is, as from 28 June 1999. I am tabling a copy of a letter dated 15 July 1999 from my Ministry to the Ministry of Environment, Human Resource Development & Employment, indicating that health clearance was not granted. In spite of that, on 22 June 2000, the work permit was renewed for a further period of one year and was valid up to 27 June 2001.
It is to be noted that in this particular case, a work permit was issued to the worker, pending results of the tests required being produced by the company.
I understand that there may be other similar cases, where work permits have been issued despite the fact that health clearances were not finalised. I have ordered an inquiry to be carried out in these cases. The procedures for the grant of work permit will also have to be reviewed in relation to health clearances.
As regards the last part of the question, I am informed that on 20 March 2001, the Indian worker in question was admitted at the ENT Hospital with a case history of severe headache and occasional diplopia and vomiting since a week. I am also informed that, after investigation, the patient received the appropriate treatment for cryptococal meningitis at ENT and Victoria Hospitals. The patient passed away on 02 April 2001. My Ministry had not received any request for his treatment abroad.
VALLEE PITOT – FLOODING - DRAINS
(No. B/182) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Urban & Rural Development whether he will make a statement on the recent flooding at Vallée Pitot, indicating the reasons why the drains have not been maintained.
Reply: I am advised by the Municipal Council as follows:-
The heavy rainfall of the past two weeks had caused an overflow of water on the public thoroughfares in Port Louis and particularly in the Vallée Pitot region. However, no official complaint had been reported regarding flooding of houses in that region.
In fact, the problem of flooding of Vallée Pitot seems to have arisen in view of the fact that the region lies at the foot of a hill. Under normal climate conditions, surface water from the hillside flows freely in the drains. Hence, during the recent heavy rainfall, the debris carried by the water had caused an overflow although, according to the Council, the drains had been cleared a few days before in the normal course of regular maintenance.
However, following a site visit effected on 06 April 2001 by the Rural & Urban Development Division of my Ministry, it has been observed that flooding in the region could have been caused by non-maintenance of drains.
I would like, Mr Speaker, Sir, to inform the House that clear instructions have been issued by my Ministry on 16 October 2000 to all local authorities, to ensure that proper cleaning and maintenance of drains are carried out in the areas under their jurisdiction, and that special arrangements are made to cope with emergency situations. I am arranging for a copy of the correspondence to be tabled in the Assembly.
I have, therefore, given instructions that a committee, comprising technical officers of my Ministry and representatives of the Municipality of Port Louis, look into the problem and propose appropriate remedial measures.
MOBAA - DIRECTOR
(No. B/186) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Economic Development, Financial Services & Corporate Affairs whether, in regard to the Director of MOBAA who recently quitted, he will –
(a) state the reasons of his removal;
(b) give details of all benefits paid to him by way of compensation, pension or otherwise;
(c) state if he has been replaced and, if so, by whom, indicating the terms and conditions of service of the new incumbent and his nationality
Reply: As regards part (a) of the question, Mr Dev Bikoo, former Director of MOBAA, has been offered appointment as Senior Adviser in the Ministry of Economic Development, Financial Services & Corporate Affairs in the wake of the proposed restructuring of the regulatory framework for financial services. Mr Bikoo has accepted this appointment and has taken up his new post as from 02 April 2001. He has thus resigned from his post of Director of MOBAA on 31 March 2001.
Regarding part (b) of the question, the details of all benefits paid to him are being circulated (Appendix IV).
With regard to part (c) of the question, Mr Bikoo has been replaced by Mr Hilton McCann. Mr McCann, of British nationality, had, early in the year 2000, been contacted by the MOBAA in view of taking up the position of Head of the Licensing and Compliance Division. Mr Hilton McCann has worked in the financial services industry for 30 years successively at the Northern Bank, the Bank of Ireland Group, the Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission and lastly, as Chief Regulator of Offshore Banking and Investment Services at the Malta Financial Services Centre.
When Mr Bikoo indicated his agreement to take up the post of Senior Adviser at the Ministry, Mr McCann was contacted to replace him as Director of MOBAA and he has accepted the offer on terms and conditions that are no less favourable to what he was obtaining in his previous position at the Malta Financial Services Centre.
Mr Hilton McCann is employed as from 02 April 2001 on a two-year contract, providing a monthly salary of £6,333.33, with a gratuity of 25% of annual salary, a monthly rent allowance of Rs35,000, medical insurance for him and his wife, car facilities and a petrol allowance, and an entitlement to leave and passage benefits.
OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY – DIPLOMA - RECOGNITION
(No. B/187) Dr. J. B. David (Fourth Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety (the Diploma) issued by the National College of Industrial Hygiene of Australia (the College), he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to –
(a) whether the Diploma is internationally recognised;
(b) whether the views of the University of Mauritius (the University) have been sought before granting recognition to the Diploma;
(c) the minimum academic qualifications required by the University to enter for the Diploma and those required by the College, and
(d) the duration of the studies leading to the Diploma at the University as compared to that requested by the College.
Reply: The answer is as follows -:
(a) I am not in a position to state whether the Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is internationally recognised, but I am advised that the Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety issued by the National College of Industrial Hygiene (NCIH) in Mauritius.
The diploma in Occupational Health and Safety awarded by the College of Industrial Hygiene of Australia was recognised as far back as in 1981. In fact, the said diploma appears in the Regulations made under Section 57 of the Labour Act 1975 in 1981.
(b) In April 1987, the Ministry of Labour & Industrial Relations, Women's Rights & Family Welfare made a request, to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to ascertain as to whether or not –
(i) the Diploma in Occupation Health & Safety (National College of Industrial Hygiene, Australia)
(ii) the Diploma in Industrial Hygiene (National College of Industrial Hygiene, Australia)
could each be considered equivalent to -
either (i) a diploma in Occupational Health & Safety (University of Mauritius);
or (ii) the certificate in Occupational Health & Safety (University of Aston in Birmingham).
The National Equivalence Council, which was set up by Act of Parliament in 1986, and which was functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Education, took up the matter. The views and advice of the University of Aston (Birmingham, U.K.) and of the University of Mauritius were sought.
However, the University of Mauritius advised that some components of the courses offered by the NCIH, having direct bearing on the training requirement in the field were not covered, e.g. industrial psychology and advanced safety management.
Following the above advice, the two diplomas awarded by the NCIH were not considered equivalent to the diploma offered by the University of Mauritius. The Ministry of Labour & Industrial Relations was informed accordingly.
The case was again taken up at the National Equivalence Council meeting held on 17 June 1988 and it was decided that both diplomas be considered equivalent to the Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety (University of Mauritius) provided the components not covered are included.
In 1997, the Agricultural Marketing Board requested clarification from the National Equivalence Council as to whether the Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety awarded by the NCIH, Australia was recognised.
The National Equivalence Council confirmed that the diploma was recognised, but until 1988 could not be considered equivalent to the Diploma of the University of Mauritius as it was only in 1988 that all the other components were included in the course.
(c) The minimum qualifications required by both the University of Mauritius and the National College of Industrial Hygiene, Australia for such diploma course are -
Cambridge S.C./GCE "0" in 5 subjects including English and a Science subject and
GCE "A" level in 2 subjects – plus 2 years of relevant experience or 5 years of relevant experience in a responsible position.
(d) The duration of the course, both at the University of Mauritius and at the National College of Industrial Hygiene (NCIH) for such diploma course is of two years (part time).
MINISTRY OF FINANCE – ADVISERS –TERMS & CONDITIONS OF SERVICE, ETC
(No. B/188) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime & Port Louis East) asked the Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance whether he will give the number of advisers attached to his Ministry, indicating their names and their respective duties, terms and conditions of service.
Reply: There are presently 10 advisers attached to my Ministry. I am circulating the information sought in respect of these advisers (Appendix V)
May I point out that out of the 10 advisers, 7 have been recruited by me in my capacity as both Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. The others have been in post well before I assumed office.
I wish to remind the House that the former Minister of Finance had 11 advisers and the former Prime Minister 27.
SUGAR INDUSTRY EMPLOYEES – RETIREMENT SCHEME
(No. B/189) 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 a Land Bank will be set up to cater for the needs of the employees of the sugar industry who will go on a voluntary retirement scheme.
Reply: The Sugar Sector Strategic Plan provides for a voluntary retirement scheme. The Plan is being considered by Government and it would be premature at this stage to make any statement on the Plan and on its contents.
EX-ILLOVO GROUP – EBENE – LAND SUITABILITY INDEX SURVEY
(No. B/190) 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 a Land Suitability Index survey has been carried out in respect of land to be released in Ebene and other areas belonging to the ex-Illovo Group and, if so, whether he will make a statement threon.
Reply: No specific Land Suitability Index survey has been carried out in respect of land to be released in Ebene and other areas belonging to the ex-Illovo Group. However, following the land indexing exercise carried out by the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute, land suitability ratings of all cane lands across the island have been compiled.
The Agreement signed between the Consortium and Government and which has been laid on the Table of the National Assembly is very clear regarding the various extent of land, which would be released to Government.
The land at Ebene would be used for the setting up of a knowledge part and a cybercity, close to existing facilities namely the present University complex.
Government would also take land from the 600 arpents slot in the Plaisance area for the future development of the airport, which is of strategic importance to the country.
The role of Government is to consider all sectoral issues and to reconcile the various interests of all groups so as to ensure the harmonious development of the whole of society.
LABOUR ACT - AMENDMENTS
(No. B/193) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Labour & Industrial Relations whether he will state if he is introducing amendments to the Labour Act and, if so, will he ensure that the acquired rights of workers are not abolished.
Reply: In order to respond to changes taking place in the world of work and in the economic environment, also with a view to reinforcing the fundamental rights of workers in line with international labour standards, I am proposing to introduce amendments to the Labour Act.
Concerning the qualm about the acquired rights of workers, I must state that there will be consultations with all the stakeholders.
PETROLEUM PRODUCTS - PRICE
(No. B/194) Mr X. L. Duval (Fourth Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether in view of the fact that the price of petroleum products has had an adverse effect on the economy, he will arrange for such price to be reduced.
Reply: As was fully explained in "The Present State of the Economy", this Government inherited a situation of financial disaster at the State Trading Corporation (STC). At the time we assumed office, in September, the accumulated losses of the STC on petroleum products had attained some Rs1.8 billion and the STC was making a monthly loss of around Rs300 m. It was estimated that, if no corrective measures were taken, the deficit would reach the colossal amount of Rs4.7 billion by the end of the financial year.
As the House is aware, this catastrophic financial situation was the direct consequence of the indecision and irresponsibility of the former Government. Whilst world oil prices doubled from US$ 15 a barrel in June 1999 (when the retail prices were reduced) to US$ 30 in September 2000, they chose not to increase the retail prices, preferring to bring the STC to a situation of near-bankruptcy. As any responsible Government, we took necessary adjustment measures; and, in the absence of any indication of marked reversal of the situation in the world oil market, we had no alternative but to increase the domestic price of petroleum products. But, in so doing, we ensured that the full impact of the increase in world oil prices on our economy and our population is cushioned, in particular -
(a) by significantly lowering the rates of excise duty on Mogas, from 220% to 150% and on gas oil from 75% to 25%; at an annual cost of about Rs1.5 billion; and
(b) by providing temporary subsidies to the tune of Rs100 m. to bus companies and individual bus operators, both in Mauritius and Rodrigues.
Despite the revision in the domestic price of petroleum products, the STC is still in a critical financial situation because of the huge backlog of losses. I am informed by the STC that though it is no longer making losses on petroleum operations since January this year, its accumulated losses are hovering around Rs1.8 billion and are forecast to be around Rs1.7 billion by end June 2001.
As regards the effects on inflation, I wish to apprise the House that, in spite of the increase in petroleum prices, inflation for calendar year 2000 was at the low rate of 4.2%. Latest available statistics indicate that the rate of inflation for the 12 months ending March 2001 stood at 4.2%, which compares favourably with the rate of 6.1% in the same period last year. All indications are that the rate of inflation for the financial year 2000-2001 will be below 5%.
Clearly, in such circumstances, the question of reducing the price of petroleum products does not arise.
ROSE BELLE - TRAFFIC CENTRE & MARKET FAIR - CONSTRUCTION WORKS
(No. B/195) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port and Rose Belle) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether he will state when construction works for the traffic centre and for the market fair in Rose Belle are likely to start.
Reply: The preliminary design and the preparation of the tender document for the traffic centre and the market fair in Rose Belle which will be implemented as one project is presently underway.
Once this exercise is over and subject to availability of funds, it is expected that the construction works may start in the course of the next financial year.
Mackay Report - implementation
(No. A/28) Mr I.Collendavelloo (Third Member for Mahebourg and Plaine Magnien) asked the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Human Rights whether, he will state what steps are now being taken to ensure the prompt implementation of the Mackay Report.
Reply: Following the recommendations made by the Presidential Commission, a number of legislative measures have been taken with a view to implementing the recommendations contained in the Report.
The Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1998 was the first legislation which was passed. It implemented the recommendations as set out in (Appendix VI).
Further, the Bail Act was passed in 1999 and the Judicial & Legal Provisions Act was passed in 2000.
The main object of the Bail Act is to amend and consolidate the law on the remand or release of persons charged with an offence or arrested on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence.
The Act in particular, provides that it shall not invariably be necessary that -
(a) a person who is released on bail be required to provide sureties;
(b) a recognizance entered into by the person released or by his sureties should be accompanied by the lodging of money or money's worth.
In order to implement the Mackay recommendation, the powers of the police to lodge oppositions to the departure from Mauritius of persons who have committed, or are suspected of having committed, an offence are now subject to judicial control.
A Bail and Remand Court has been set up to deal with all matters of bail and the questions related thereto, and for appearance to be made and evidence given before that Court by means of live video or television links.
The Judicial and Legal Provisions Act has been passed to make provision for a number of measures for the improvement of the administration of justice. In particular, it provides for -
(a) the setting up of a Rules Committee responsible for advising the Chief Justice as to the making of Rules of Court;
(b) new Supreme Court Rules made following the Report of the Presidential Commission relating to the judicial system and the legal profession;
(c) the Rules in respect of legal fees;
(d) the imposition of -
(i) a wasted costs order on legal representatives as a result of any improper, unreasonable or negligent act or omission on their part; and
(ii) adjournment costs on parties to judicial proceedings so as to avoid undue delay arising from postponements;
(e) improved measures relating to the duties and powers of the Master and Registrar, de bene esse proceedings, skeleton arguments and submissions for the hearing of appeals, the order of closing speeches in criminal cases, the Director of Public Prosecution's powers to appeal against sentence.
Any Arbitration Bill is now being prepared in order to implement the recommendations for the introduction of a modern statutory text which would enable the ratification of the New York Convention on Foreign Arbitral awards and will soon be introduced in the National Assembly.
I have also taken steps, to which the Chief Justice has agreed, to initiate the regionalisation process. Government has already approved the project. It is proposed to set up five regional jurisdictions which would comprise both the Intermediate and Industrial Courts namely -
(a) Port Louis for Port Louis District;
(b) Rose Hill for Plaines Wilhems and Black River Districts;
(c) Mahebourg for Grand Port and Savanne Districts
(d) Flacq for Moka and Flacq Districts; and
(e) Mapou for Pamplemousses and Riviere du Rempart Districts.
The remaining recommendations which relate mainly to the Supreme Court would require constitutional amendments and are now being studied with a view to their implementation taking into account the administrative, financial and logistic needs which such changes would entail.
Similarly, those recommendations dealing with legal aid, forensic and pathological services, the legal profession are also being considered and are presently the subject matter of consultations.
Further, a good number of the remaining recommendations would only require administrative action and would not call for any legislative measures. Additionally most of the recommendations pertain to the administration of justice and any action for their implementation will necessarily have to be initiated by the Judiciary.
CUREPIPE/MIDLANDS - SPORTS ACTIVITIES
(No. A/29) Mr G. Paya (Second Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Youth and Sports whether, in view of the fact that the number of youngsters practising sports is on the increase in the constituency of Curepipe and Midlands, he will consider the advisability of arranging for an increase in the number of Centre de Formation of football, volleyball and athleticism with professional coaches.
Reply: In accordance with the Sports Act, sports activities are organised on the basis of sports regions. At present the following training centres are operational in the region of Curepipe -
(i) one "Centre Régional de Formation de Football" in Curepipe;
(ii) one "Centre de Préformation de Football" also in Curepipe;
(iii) four "Ecoles de Football" are operational in the Curepipe region at -
(iv) one "Ecole de Volleyball" in Curepipe;
(v) one athletic school in Curepipe and one in Rose Belle; and
(vi) one "Ecole de Judo" in Floréal.
The request for the increase in the number of "Centre de Formation" will be discussed with the sports federations concerned and consideration will be given to the opening of additional centres within the limits of funds available.
Vallée des Prêtres & Congomah Government SchoolS
- RENOVATION WORKS
(No. A/30) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether, in view of the fact that the renovation of classrooms and the renewal of equipment at the Vallée des Prêtres Government School and at the Congomah Government School are now long overdue, he will state when same will be attended to.
Reply: My Ministry is actively pursuing a programme of renovation of school premises as well as renewal of school equipment.
At Vallée des Prêtres Government School -
(i) 3 classrooms have uneven flooring. Renovation works will be carried out during the Easter vacation so as not to disturb normal classes;
(ii) leakages occur in two classrooms. Roof waterproofing of those classrooms will be considered during the next financial year;
(iii) classrooms need interior painting which will be undertaken with the collaboration of the PTA.
Some repairs/renovations have already been effected by the maintenance team of my Ministry at Vallée des Prêtres Government School. They pertain to the existing toilets (2 wc pans, 6 wc cisterns, all doors, wooden structure supporting corrugated iron sheet roof) and classrooms (leakage, replacement of 10 naco panes, 9 door locks and 2 doors).
As regards the classrooms of Congomah Government School, they need a fresh coat of external paint. The work has already started and will be completed by the beginning of the second term.
In addition, there are some damaged windows and leakages in the roofs of some classes which will be attended to during the coming school holidays.
L'ESCALIER VILLAGE - PAVEMENTS, HANDRAILS, ETC.
(No. A/31) Dr N. Issimdar (Second Member for Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether, in view of the fact that the public road in l'Escalier village is narrow, he will state when such village will be provided with pavements alongside the road.
Reply: Technicians of my Ministry have carried out a survey and have recommended that –
(a) 4 km of footpath and drains with handrails be provided for safety of road users;
(b) the road be widened to approximately 6 metres with a view to alleviating traffic flow;
(c) a footbridge be provided on "Rivière Sèche Bridge"; and
(d) services/existing blockwalls be relocated.
The works have been included in the Ministry's programme of works and will be executed in phases subject to availability of funds.
SECOND HAND VEHICLES - IMPORTATION - LICENCEES
(No. A/32) Mr X. L. Duval (Fourth Member for Curepipe and Midlands) asked the Minister of Industry, Commerce and International Trade whether he will table a list of all persons who have obtained a licence for the importation of second hand vehicles.
Reply: Twenty-one (21) licences authorising motor-dealers to import second-hand motor vehicles have been issued as at 6 April 2001. The list of the companies having obtained such a licence is being tabled.