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National Assembly

Debate 6


Oral Answers to Questions - 24 April 2001    
MBC- NUNKOO, MRS CHANDANI - RECRUITMENT, POSTS HELD, ETC.
          (No. B/241) Mr A. 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 he will, for the benefit of the House and in regard to Mrs Chandani Nunkoo, obtain information from the MBC as to -
(a) her recruitment, the different posts held by, and salaries paid to her
(i) prior to 01 January 1995; and
(ii) from 01 January 1996 to 31 December 2000, indicating the TV programmes she presented during the latter period and the amount paid to her for each such programme; and
(b) all benefits she enjoyed at the Corporation during her tenure of office.
The Prime Minister:Sir, I have been advised as follows by the MBC -
With regard to part (a) of the question, Mrs Chandani Nunkoo was appointed Typist/Stenographer in a substantive capacity on 14 March 1988, with a basic salary of rupees two thousand one hundred (Rs2,100). During her term of service as Typist/ Stenographer, she also performed as Freelance Presenter on Radio and TV.
          On 5 June 1995, she resigned as Typist/Stenographer on medical grounds, but she continued to work as Freelance Radio Presenter, in accordance with her request to that effect.
          At its meeting of 8 August 2000, the Board appointed her with effect as from the same date, as Producer, Oriental Section, in a substantive capacity with a basic monthly salary of rupees ten thousand, one hundred and seventy (Rs10,170).
On 12 October 2000, Mrs Nunkoo proceeded on study leave without pay for a period of two years to follow a course in the field of Television and Media in India.
          As regards part (a) (ii), I am tabling a statement giving the information requested.
          With regard to part (b) of the question, I am advised that, in addition to her salary, Mrs Nunkoo was paid freelance fees for a total amount of rupees forty-six thousand, four hundred and fifty (Rs46,450) for the financial year July 1994 to June 1995, and a total amount of rupees one million, fifty six thousand and two hundred and forty seven (Rs1,056,247) for the period 1 January 1996 to 31 December 2000.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, concerning the leave without pay, I would like to know from the Prime Minister when Mrs Nunkoo applied for it, when was it approved and who approved it.
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, regarding leave without pay, the PRB Report, August 1999 provides as follows at paragraph 12.4.99 -
"Subject to the exigencies of the service, officers holding substantive appointment are granted leave without pay to pursue higher studies."
I understand that on the very date when she was appointed substantially to the post, she applied apparently for leave, but she took it much later without the Board being advised, informed or approved.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, can I know from the hon. Prime Minister the academic qualifications of Mrs Nunkoo?
The Prime Minister: I am afraid I don't have it, Mr Speaker, Sir. I can't say what academic qualifications she has. Perhaps she was a Typist/Stenographer.
Mr Hurnam: Mr Speaker, Sir, would the hon. Prime Minister inform the Housewhether this course on which she embarked was approved and sponsored by the MBC?   
The Prime Minister: Well, not by the Board in any case, but I don't know whether the then Director was made aware or he approved, I can't say. There is nothing as information.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to ask the hon. Prime Minister whether it is true that because of remarks to the effect that she was getting too many privileges at the MBC, at least, two persons were sacked by the former Director, Mr Dwarka.
The Prime Minister: I don't know, Sir.
(PQ No. B/242 - See after PQ No. B/275)
AIR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SECTION - STAFF - TRAINING
(No. B/243) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether in regard to the Air Traffic Management, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to -
(a) whether professional training for the upgrading of the staff is being made available equally to all officers; and
(b) the names of officers who have had such training for the past 5 years together with their respective qualifications.
The Prime Minister: Sir, as regards part (a), I am advised that professional training for the upgrading of the staff is being made available to all officers in the Air Traffic Management Section.
With regard to part (b), the list of officers who have undergone training during the past five years is being compiled and will be placed in the library.
MAURITIAN CITIZENS - DUAL NATIONALITY
(No. B/244) 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 he will state the policy of Government on dual citizenship and indicate whether he proposes to amend any existing legislation with a view to imposing disqualifications on Mauritian nationals who also hold another nationality.
The Prime Minister: Sir,the House may wish to be informed that, prior to October 1995, Mauritian nationals who were holders of a foreign nationality had to renounce their foreign nationality on reaching the age of 21. Failure to do so automatically led to the loss of the Mauritian nationality. However, Mauritian nationals who acquired a foreign nationality after the age of 21, or who reached the age of 21 before the coming into force of the Citizenship Act in 1968, were free to enjoy dual nationality throughout.
This section of the law proved to be unfair to a large number of our compatriots, who were forced to reside abroad, even though they were willing to put their services at the disposal of the country.
In October 1995, on my initiative, the Mauritius Citizenship Act was amended to allow Mauritian citizens to hold dual nationality. Consequently, the law regarding renunciation of foreign nationality was repealed and those who lost their Mauritian nationality, through failure to comply with the requiredprocedures, were given the opportunity to apply for resumption.
Mr Speaker, Sir, actions of this Government over the past few months have shown that we will open all possible avenues for our citizens, to enable them to meet the challenges of this highly competitive world.
It is a fact that most citizens with multiple nationalities obtain significant international exposure, which may be of benefit to Mauritius, should they be given the opportunity to come back. This will ensure effective transfer of skills, knowledge and technology, which may be crucial to our future socioeconomic development.
It is in this spirit, Mr Speaker, Sir, that in my speech to the nation on 12 March last, I made an appeal to all people of Mauritian origin to bring in their support and contribution. This Government has therefore no intention of amending existing legislation with a view to imposing disqualifications on Mauritian nationals who also hold another nationality. We consider that all Mauritians alike should have the same rights and privileges, and should be bound by the same duties and responsibilities towards the State.
POLICE FORCE - BIKE PATROL UNIT - OFFICERS
(No. B/245) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether in regard to the new Bike Patrol Unit of the Police Force, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to the number of officers attached thereto and the specific areas they are patrolling.
The Prime Minister:Sir, the New Bike Patrol Unit of the Police Force, launched on 4 April 2001, is based on the model of the Beach and Coastal Bike Patrol Unit of the National Coast Guard.
The feedback obtained on the beach and coastal bike patrol from the Unit, "forces-vives", the press, and public in general has been very encouraging. It is in this spirit that the Bike Patrol Unit has been set up for providing a similar complementary inland service.
The Police bike patrol is aimed at enhancing Police presence on ground, for increased safety and security of people. The main target for the bike patrol are commercial areas, incident prone areas and those places generally not easily accessible by Police vehicles.
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that the new Bike Patrol Unit is manned by twenty nine (29) Police Officers, and four (4) Women Police Officers.
          The areas which the Bike Patrol Unit is presently covering on a seven (7) day week basis, are arteries and commercial areas in the following towns and villages -
· The city of Port Louis
· Rose Hill
· Quatre Bornes
· Vacoas
· Phoenix
· Curepipe
· Rivière du Rempart
· Goodlands
· St Pierre
· Central Flacq, and
· Bel Air Rivière Sèche
          Mr Baloomoody: As rightly pointed out by the hon. Prime Minister, this Bike Patrol Unit goes in certain areas where it is difficult to have access by cars. There has been a request from these members that they need a mobile radio for their safety because, in certain areas, there is no communication and they won't be able to request for further assistance in case of trouble. So, will the hon. Prime Minister look into the matter so that in each of these teams a mobile radio be provided, or at least one of them has a mobile radio so that they can communicate with the stations.
          The Prime Minister: I will pass on the request to the Commissioner of Police and ask him to look into it favourably.

 
NATIONAL COAST GUARD -
EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE - PROTECTION
(No. B/246) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the National Coast Guard, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to what actions are being taken to ensure that it is properly manned and equipped so as to be able to protect our Exclusive Economic Zone.
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I made to PQ B/161 at our sitting on 07 November 2000, when I apprised the House of the equipment and facilities available, as well as training provided to the Officers of the National Coast Guard, for the protection of our Exclusive Economic Zone. Since then, several other measures have been taken.
Following the recruitment of new Police constables on 16 April 2001, ninety (90)additional officers have been posted to the National Coast Guard. I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that as at 20 April this year, seven hundred and sixty eight (768) Police officers were posted to the National Coast Guard in Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega and St Brandon.
As regards vessels and equipment, the offshore patrol vessel, CGS Vigilant, is presently undergoing repairs at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai and is expected back at Port Louis Harbour by the end of July.
In this report for financial year 1999/2000, the Director of Audit commented on the operational state of the two patrol vessels, CGS Retriever and CGS Rescuer,donated by the former USSR in 1990. I wish to inform the House that recently my Government has taken the decision to have the two patrol boats repaired.
Besides, the Dornier and the Defender aircraft are being utilised within our EEZ for maritime reconnaissance missions and for prevention, detection and suppression of illegal activities as well as for search and rescue operations.
Mr Speaker, Sir, provision has been made in the budget for the setting up of a Coastal Surveillance System for the protection of our EEZ.
As regards the Coastal Surveillance System, a lot of groundwork has been covered and currently the procurement procedures are being finalised.
The project would be executed in phases. In the first phase of the project, relay stations would be set up at Albion, Trou d'Eau Douce, Signal Mountain and at Fort Williams. In the second phase of the project, Rodrigues, St Brandon and Agalega would be equipped with radars and other sophisticated equipment for an extended control at sea. It will be recalled that in his last report, the Director of Audit had recommended that the budget of the National Coast Guard should be clearly identifiable in the Police Vote. This will be taken care of in the 2001/2002 Estimates.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I have previously mentioned that an interceptor boat, the CGS Observer, has been made available to Mauritius, on free lease, by the Government of India. The boat arrived on 11 April and was commissioned on 21 April.
          Mr Baloomoody: May I know from the hon. Prime Minister the number of Coast Guards actually posted in Rodrigues?
          The Prime Minister: In Rodrigues, there are 15 Coast Guards.
          Mr Von-Mally: Being given that the Coast Guards face many difficulties when they have to rescue people at sea and,recently, two men drowned at sea due to the fact that there is no appropriate vessel in Rodrigues, will the hon. Prime Minister do the needful so that we can have an appropriate vessel attached to Rodrigues?
          The Prime Minister: Well, I will pass on this request to the Commissioner of Police.
D06/P05/mt/4
UNREVISED
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES - WEATHER CONDITIONS ON 15 APRIL 2001- PUBLIC WARNINGS
(No.B/247) Mr M. Nanhuck (Third Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House and in regard to the serious deterioration of weather conditions during the night of 15 April last, ascertain why no public warnings were issued by the Meteorological Services.
The Prime Minister: Sir, warnings are issued by the Meteorological Services to the public only during adverse weather conditions such as threats from tropical cyclones and continued occurrence of torrential rainfall. I am informed that no such condition existed over Mauritius during the night of 15 April 2001.
          In fact, the Meteorological Services had forecast the occurrence of thunderstorms, accompanied by heavy rainfall over the island, in its weather bulletin on 15 April 2001.
          The intensity of the lightning and thunder during the night of 15 April 2001 could not be forecast because of a localised and sudden development of thundery clouds over Mauritius as from 20 00 hrs.
          Total rainfall did not reach 100 mms in twelve hours at any place in Mauritius, hence the condition of torrential rain did not arise.
          The circumstances and the procedure for the issue of warnings are well laid down in a circular on cyclones and other natural disasters, which is widely circulated each year. I am tabling a copy of the circular for the information of hon. Members.
MBC - MESSRS H. RAMBURN AND R. BACHOO,DIRECTOR -GENERAL AND DEPUTY DIRECTOR -GENERAL -
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
(No.B/248) Mr B. Hookoom (Second Member for Riviere du Rempart and Piton)asked the Rt. hon. Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the MBC information as to the terms and conditions of employment of Mr H. Ramburn and of Mr R. Bachoo as Director-General and Deputy Director-General of the MBC respectively.
          The Prime Minister: Sir, I am advised by the MBC as follows.
         
Mr Hotesh Ramburn and Mr R. Bachoo were appointed as Director-General and Deputy Director-General, respectively, on contract for a period of five years with effect from 1st January, 2001.
Mr Hotesh Ramburn draws a negotiated salary package of fifty thousand four hundred and fifteen rupees (Rs50,415), consisting of a basic salary of thirty-four thousand two hundred and seventy rupees (Rs34,270) plus extra remuneration and allowances totalling fifteen thousand six hundred and seventy rupees (Rs15,670), whereas Mr R. Bachoo draws a negotiated salary package of forty nine thousand four hundred and fifteen rupees (Rs49,415), comprising a basic salary of thirty thousand six hundred and seventy rupees (Rs30,670) plus extra remuneration and allowances amounting to eighteen thousand two hundred and seventy rupees (Rs18,270).

 
In addition, they are both entitled to the following benefits:
(a)     Gratuity:
25% of actual salary drawn and
payable annually;

 
(b) Travelling:
Chauffeur-driven car of up to 1850 cc and payment of a petrol allowance of up to five thousand five hundred and twenty rupees (Rs5,520) monthly;
(c) Telephone:
Rent free telephone and free local calls;
(d) Colour TV:
Colour TV set provided free of charge at their residence;

 
(e) Leave and
Passages:
As provided for in the P.R.B Report, as follows:
Sick Leave
Sick Leave at the rate of 21 working days per annum on completion of one year's service.
Annual Leave
21 working days for every year of contract.
Passages
5% of annual salary
MAYOR OF CUREPIPE - ALLEGED CASE OF ASSAULT
(No. B/249)        Dr. J. B. David (Fourth 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, obtain information from the Commissioner of Police regarding a recent case of assault by the Mayor of Curepipe on an inhabitant of that town and further ascertain whether the Mayor has been arrested and charged.
The Prime Minister: Sir, I am advised by the Commissioner of Police that, regarding this case, two complaints of assault have been filed at Curepipe Police station recently.
The first one was made on 25 March 2001, at 1920 hours by an inhabitant of Curepipe against the Mayor of Curepipe. The complainant reported that, on the same day, at about 1855 hours, while he was seated in his private van together with his employees in the SSR Botanical Garden of Curepipe, he was approached by the Mayor of Curepipe who was accompanied by about ten persons. He and the Mayor got into a discussion, following which the latter dealt him a blow at his left eye. He was not injured, but complained of pain at his left eye. At his request, Police Form 58 was issued to him by the Curepipe Police station.
The second complaint was made on 26 March 2001, at 18.15 hours, by the Mayor of Curepipe against that same person who had complained against the Mayor on the previous day. The Mayor reported that, on 25 March 2001, at about 1900 hours, he was travelling in his private van along Botanical Garden street through the SSR Botanical Garden of Curepipe to proceed towards the "Robinson" area, when he came across a 4x4 vehicle parked on a lawn. Thereupon, he alighted from his van, went towards the driver of the 4x4, introduced himself to the latter and requested him to remove his vehicle from the lawn. To his surprise, the driver of the 4x4 reacted by uttering filthy words to his address and also dealt him a blow at his chest. Moreover, he was struck by the door of the 4x4 which was opened heedlessly by its driver. He was not injured, but complained of pain at his chest. He neither wished medical examination nor reported the matter to the Police on the same day, believing that it was a simple incident.
The inquiries in both cases are under way. No charge has been preferred to date. No arrest has been effected as the offences are not arrestable ones.
COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATION - EXAMINATION PAPERS - MARKINGS
(No. B/250)        Mr D. Hurnam (Third Member for Pamplemousses and Triolet) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he has any responsibility for the Council of Legal Education and, if so, will he, for the benefit of the House, obtain information, as to whether there was an inquiry regarding Mr Sanjay Bhuckory, a part-time lecturer of the Council, and Ms Fiona Sylvia Laporte, a student from Seychelles, to whom the former had imparted, before the results of the September 2000 Final Bar Examinations were proclaimed, that she could rest assured that she would be successful thereat as he had spoken to some of his colleagues of the State Law Office regarding the marking of certain papers, and whether he will make a statement thereon, indicating -
(a) the outcome thereof;
(b)if the student was successful; and
(c) if the lecturer was sanctioned.
          Dr. Ramgoolam: Mr Speaker, Sir, on a point of order, I came to see you this morning and we raised the issue that we did not feel that this question should have been allowed. I want to point out that even for the Private Notice Question, you are trying to curtail me, but here this question contains nearly hundred and sixteen words. We think it is an abuse of privilege, Mr Speaker, Sir, that is why I want to raise this point of order.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Opposition met me on his own in my Chambers and he has raised objection about this question. But I must inform hon. Members that they are hon. Members and they must assume responsibility of what they ascertain. It is not for the Chair or for the Table to go and inquire as to the truth of their assertions. It is for them to take full responsibility of what they ascertain.
As regards the second point raised by the hon. Leader of the Opposition, I must say that I really did not count the number of words, but I have said in this House that there is a firm rule where questions should be about seventy five words. This does not mean exactly seventy five words, but we have also to count paraphrases as one word. I'll reiterate my request here that Members, when setting questions, should bear in mind this firm rule.
Dr. Ramgoolam: I just want to raise another matter. I will abide by your ruling, but it is said clearly in Erskine May, if I may quote page 296 of the last edition -
"The purpose of a question is to obtain information or press for action; it should not be framed primarily so as to convey information, or so as to suggest its own answer or convey a particular point of view..."
I think this is what the question is doing and this is why....
         
Mr Speaker: I understand that the hon. Member, in asking the question, is seeking some information.
The Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Constitution of the Council of Legal Education is regulated by statute and the Chairman is a Judge of the Supreme Court designated by the Chief Justice. In my capacity as Prime Minister, I have no responsibility as such for the Council, except for the approval of Regulations to be made by the Council and approval of fees to members of the Council. As Prime Minister, I cannot, therefore, intervene in the performance of the statutory functions of the Council.
I have been advised by the Council of Legal Education that for the sake of transparency, the House be apprised as follows -
(a) the 2000 Vocational Examinations for Barristers were held from 14 to 27 September 2000;
(b) at the beginning of November 2000, the Chairman of the Council received an anonymous letter wherein certain allegations were levelled against Mr Sanjay Bhuckory, a part-time lecturer at the Council and Miss Fiona Laporte, a student from Seychelles registered for the 2000 Vocational Examinations for Barristers;
(c) the contents of the anonymous letter were brought to the attention of the Chairman of the Board of Examiners. It was decided with the concurrence of Mr S.Bhuckory, who had denied the various allegations made against him, that he should not in the interest of transparency and fairness, form part of the Board of Examiners. He was replaced by somebody else;
(d) the Barristers Vocational Examinations consist of six written papers and an oral test in Advocacy. There are two markers for every single subject, and each one marks his paper independently of the other. Mr S. Bhuckory was one of the two markers for Criminal Law which is one of the three parts of Paper V;
(e) Mr S. Bhuckory was not involved with the setting or marking of any other paper or part thereof;
(f) an inquiry carried out at the level of the State Law Office has revealed that officers, who were involved in one way or the other with the 2000 Vocational Examinations, have never been approached by Mr S. Bhuckory or any other person for that matter.
As regards Miss Laporte, she was awarded a Grade C in Paper V and was successful at the Barristers Examination with an overall Grade B.
In reply to the last part of the question, the House may wish to note that the Council of Legal Education has not received any complaint on that issue, other than the anonymous letter referred to. The Council being satisfied that the allegations levelled against Mr S. Bhuckory were unfounded, the latter is still occupying his post as part-time lecturer there.
Mr Hurnam: Mr Speaker, may I table the letter which forms part of the answer of the hon. Prime Minister. I have one supplementary question.
Dr. Ramgoolam: Is the hon. Member referring to the anonymous letter that the Rt. hon. Prime Minister has mentioned? Because if that is the case we don't agree that an anonymous letter should be tabled in the Assembly.
The Prime Minister: A letter is tabled for whatever it is worth.
Mr Speaker: Reference has been made by the hon. Prime Minister to an anonymous letter, it should be for him to table it, but as he has not done so and hon. Hurnam has tabled it, I see no objection.
Dr. Boolell: Is it supported by any complaint? This is what is important. If it is not supported by...
         
Mr Speaker: I have not seen the content of the letter yet.
         
Dr. Boolell: But then anybody can draft anonymous letters.
         
Dr. David: Mr Speaker, Sir, the letter has now been tabled and it is anonymous.
         
Mr Speaker: I haven't taken cognizance of the letter, it is only when I see it that I can make comments.
Dr. Ramgoolam: Mr Speaker, Sir, with all due respect, an anonymous letter is being laid on the Table of the Assembly; if somebody cannot actually be here and defend himself, I think it is unfair. The hon. Prime Minister referred to it, it is fine because it is an anonymous letter, but the fact that you allow it to be tabled here, I think we will take great objection to it, Mr Speaker, Sir.
(Interruption)
Mr Speaker: After going through the letter, it is the opinion of the Chair that this letter, being an anonymous one and in view of its contents, is unreceivable and it is preferable for the Member to take back the letter.
          Mr Hurnam: Mr Speaker, I only put in the letter in view of the answer of the hon. Prime Minister who referred to it, to make it have a
complete proper reply. My supplementary question would be: is it a fact that this student left Mauritius before the results were out?
The Prime Minister: I cannot say when she left Mauritius.
Mr Dulloo: Sir, this Council of Legal Education is a body corporate and nobody is answerable before this House. May I ask the hon. Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Council is presided over by Judge Matadeen and that the Board of Examiners, to which he has referred, is presided over by Judge Lam Shang Leen and amongst the members of the Board of Examiners, who considered candidates who have participated in that examination, we have the Solicitor General and hon. Ivan Collendavelloo also as members of the Board of Examiners?
The Prime Minister: I have no reason to doubt the words of the hon. Member.
          Dr. Ramgoolam: Since the hon. Prime Minister answered the question, I heard him say that, in fact, in that paper, where Mr Sanjay Bhuckory was concerned, the marks of the two examiners were C.
          The Prime Minister: In all papers.
          Dr. Ramgoolam: The 11 papers. I think, therefore 22 examiners. It is clear, therefore, that the marks where Mr Sanjay Bhuckory was the examiner, were less than the average she achieved.
          The Prime Minister: I do not know.
AGALEGA ISLANDS - RESIDENT MANAGER - TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
          (No. B/251) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to the name and qualifications of the Resident Manager for the Agalega Islands, his terms and conditions of employment, including all fringe benefits and ascertain whether the post was advertised before it was filled up.
          The Prime Minister: Sir, the Resident Manager for the Agalega Islands is Mr Jugdich Ry Seebaruth. He holds the following qualifications:
· a School Certificate,
· a General Certificate of Education - A Level
· a Diploma in Legal Studies from the University of Mauritius
The terms and conditions of employment of the Resident Manager are governed by the Pay Research Bureau Report of 1998 and are as follows -
(a) He has been employed on contract for a period of one year with effect from 15 March 2001 with the possibility of renewal.
(b) Salary: Rs 19545 monthly inclusive of extra remuneration.
(c) Gratuity of 25% of basic salary on satisfactory completion of contract.
(d) Inducement allowance of 25% of monthly salary while serving on Agalega.
(e) Leave entitlement:
                             (i)      Sick leave - 21 working days for every year of contract
(ii)     Casual/annual vacation leave - 21 working days for every year of contract
Mr. Seebaruth is also being paid a subsistence allowance of Rs 1000 monthly approved by the Board.
It is the Outer Islands Development Corporation Board which appointed Mr Seebaruth. There was no advertisement.
RODRIGUES - RIVIERE BANANE - PUBLIC TRANSPORT
          (No. B/256) 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 village of Rivière Banane, he will state if public transport (bus) service has been made available thereat and indicate if such service has already stopped and, if so, will he ascertain the reasons therefor.
          Mr Lesjongard: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am informed that a bus service along Route No. 208 was operating between the regions of Rivière Banane and Port Mathruin with effect from 12 February 2001. Two daily trips were performed as follows -
(i) Departure from Rivière Banane to Port Mathurin at 6.45 a.m
(ii) Departure from Port Mathurin to Rivière Banane at 3.00 p.m
The bus operator has stopped the service with effect from 7 March 2001, due to the worsening of the state of the road.
Steps have been taken to improve the road and the bus service will resume thereafter.
          Mr Von-Mally: Can I know from the hon. Minister whether there is a direct line to Rivière Banane and, if not, will he arrange to have one line from Rivière Banane to Port Mathurin?
          Mr Lesjongard: Yes, Mr Speaker, Sir, we are going to give due consideration.
RODRIGUES - WATER WORK PROJECTS
          (No. B/257) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in regard to water work projects in Rodrigues, he will state the number of minor works contracts that have been allocated during the last 5 years, indicating -
(a) who conceived those projects;
(b) the contractors to whom these contracts were allocated;
(c) who supervised and report on the work in progress;
(d) who approved the quality and quantities of work done by the contractors, and
(e) who certified payment for jobs performed under allocated contracts.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I shall, with your permission, arrange for the information to be placed in the library of the National Assembly as soon as the compilation thereof is completed.
          Mr Von-Mally: Mr Speaker, Sir, it seems that the water sector in Rodrigues has been "la poule aux oeufs d'or" for certain persons. Can I ask the hon. Minister to have an appropriate inquiry carried out in that sector, for example, how the chlorination plants works or whether they are working, etc?
          Mr Lesjongard: There is an ongoing inquiry taking place in Rodrigues. The outcome of the inquiry will guide us on the course of action to follow.
RODRIGUES - RIVIERE BANANE - BUILDING MATERIALS
          (No. B/258) 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 Trust Fund Housing Project, he will state if building materials have been granted to anyone at a site close to Mr Georgie Larose's cattle shed at Riviere Banane and, if so, will he indicate -
         
(a) the amount of building materials earmarked for same;
(b) the beneficiaries, and
(c) if the lease has already been approved, and
(d) whether the prior approval of the environment unit was sought for the implementation of this project.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I am informed as follows -
(a) The social facilitators in Rodrigues appointed by the Trust for Social Integration of Vulnerable Groups have on 28 March 2001, submitted the names of 12 needy families of Rivière Banane for consideration under the Housing Project of the Trust Fund. The project provides for the allocation of building materials to beneficiaries who are themselves responsible for mobilising labour required for the construction. Up to now, none of the 12 families has been granted building materials under the project.
(b) However, I am informed that a building site has been cleared without approval in a region of about 10 metres from Mr. Georgie Larose's cattle shed by one Mrs Margarette Hortense born Clair and her relatives for the construction of a housing unit from building materials purchased from their own funds.
(c) Instructions have been given to Mrs Hortense by the Principal Surveyor not to proceed with any construction.
LA POTAIRE FORT ADELAIDE - SEWERAGE WORKS
(No. B/259) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South and Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Public Utilities whether sewerage works in the region of la Potaire Fort Adelaide, Port Louis, which started last year have been stopped and, if so, when are they likely to resume and to be completed.
The Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping (Mr A. Bachoo): Sir, works in the region of La Potaire Fort Adelaide were temporarily stopped at the end of last year as a result of certain contractual issues amounting to a dispute that needed to be resolved.
The Waste Water Authority has taken up these issues with the relevant authorities, and all the necessary clearances having been obtained, works resumed since yesterday and are expected to be completed within the next two months.
Dr. Beebeejaun: Mr Speaker, Sir, I think the hon. Minister is not aware of the problems, but, just for the record, work has not started yesterday.
Mr Bachoo: This is the information that I have with me. I will look into it.
          HOSPITALS- MORTUARY CHAMBERS
(No. B/260) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South and Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether he will inform the House about the existing facilities for conserving bodies in each of the Government hospital mortuaries and say how often the refrigeration units have failed and the consequences thereof.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, mortuary facilities exist in all the five regional hospitals.
At Victoria Hospital, there is one mortuary chamber which can accommodate nine corpses and the equipment has never failed so far.
The mortuary at SSRN Hospital is functioning properly and can accommodate nine corpses.
For Flacq Hospital, we have a mortuary chamber for nine corpses which has never failed.
Two new mortuary chambers which can accommodate six bodies each have been delivered on 13 April last at J. Nehru Hospital. I am informed that one is fully operational since 20 April. The other one is being installed and commissioned and may be operational by the end of this week. The four mortuary chambers of J. Nehru Hospital were boarded out and bodies were sent to Victoria and Flacq Hospitals.
At Dr. Jeetoo Hospital, one of the two mortuary chambers has been condemned by the Electrical Services Division since 20 July, 2000. Quotations have been sought for the purchase of a new one which can accommodate nine corpses. Meanwhile, there is one mortuary which is functional and can accommodate six corpses.
          Dr. Beebeejaun: Mr Speaker, Sir, the point of my question is that there have been problems at Nehru hospital to the great distress of parents, where bodies have had to be moved during the night. I wanted to draw the attention of the hon. Minister to this.
          Mr A. Jugnauth: The hon. Member is right. There were four mortuary chambers at Nehru hospital and all failed since 1994. The last one failed about four or five months ago and now one has already been installed and the other one will be, most probably operational, as I said, by 20 April.
          Dr. Beebeejaun: To show you the distress of parents, how I learned about this, one relative was told "I hope your mother dies before sunset so that you can take her out"
          Mr A. Jugnauth: No.
(Interruption)
          Dr. Beebeejaun: That is the sort of problem some people meet.
          Dr. Ramgoolam: Mr Speaker, Sir, as we are on the subject of mortuary chambers, last time, there was a problem where a policeman went to open the mortuary. The minister said that he was going to look into the matter. I suppose this has been corrected and there will be no such problem where a policeman can go and just open the mortuary and take the body out. Do you remember the case when the wrong body was sent to the person?
          Mr A. Jugnauth: I can only hope that it is being done.
          Dr. Ramgoolam: The hon. Minister said he would look into the matter.
          Mr Von-Mally: Can I know from the hon. Minister whether the one at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Rodrigues is operational? Because recently we have had problems and now and again there is breakdown.
          Mr A. Jugnauth: Unfortunately, I do not have any information about the hospital in Rodrigues, but I will look into it.
OLD AGE PENSION - MODES OF PAYMENT
          (No. B/261) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity and Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions whether he will inform the House of the present arrangements for the payment of old age pension and state the hardships encountered by the beneficiaries.
          Mr Lauthan: Sir, at present payment of basic retirement pension is effected in three ways -
(a) Payment in cash;
(b) Payment by order books; and
(c) Payment into banks.
Payment by cash is effected by pay clerks throughout the island at social security offices, social welfare centres, community centres and village halls. This mode of payment is used at present in 80 localities where there are no banks or post offices.
          Payment by order books is done at State banks and post offices.
          As regards payment into bank, pensions are credited directly into the bank account of the beneficiaries at any bank.
          These three modes of payments have been established since long and I wish to assure the House that beneficiaries do not encounter any major hardships. Any minor problem which may crop up is dealt with promptly by my Ministry.
         
          This being said, Mr Speaker, Sir, I have always felt ill at ease at the sight of our old-aged people queuing up, particularly, in front of the Plaine Verte State Commercial Bank. When we were in Government in 1996, I enquired about the situation elsewhere and was informed that the State Commercial Bank at Plaine Verte was servicing the highest number of pensioners (4,147) from Plaine Verte, Camp Yoloff, Cité Martial, Roche Bois, Ste Croix etc compared to other branches of the same bank which cater for around 1000 beneficiaries.
          I then proposed to have arrangements made so that our elderly citizens could have sitting accommodation in a nearby social hall instead of keeping them exposed to harsh weather conditions on the pavement in front of the bank. While talking to the pensioners themselves I was informed that at times one or two of them would fall unconscious and hurt themselves quite dangerously.
          Being now the Minister responsible for the welfare of our senior citizens I have made the necessary arrangements to have them seated in a nearby hall, the Yusuf Ali Hall, to receive their pension. Upon my personal intervention, the hall is being temporarily put at the disposal of the Ministry free of charge. In the meantime necessary steps are being taken to open a regional office to serve the whole area mentioned above.
          Dr. Beebeejaun: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to draw the attention of the Minister to one aspect. I gather that pensions are paid by alphabetical order. On certain days, it is from A to M and then from M to Z. Unfortunately, if somebody misses for some reasons through ill health or otherwise the appointment, he or she may have to wait up to three weeks to come back and get the pension. I will give the Minister the necessary information and I would ask him to look into the matter.
                                     
Mr Lauthan: Mr Speaker, Sir, there has been some misunderstading. In fact, it is not in alphabetical order from A to M or M to Z. I have given instructions to retable the number of beneficiaries so that we have an equal number échelonner sur plusieurs jours parce que si on le fait par ordre alphabétique, il peut y avoir plus de pensionnaires dans certaines lettres d'alphabètes. Les pensionnaires ont eu comme impression que s'ils n'avaient pas pu toucher leur pension le jour du paiement, ils devraient attendre le mois prochain ou plusieurs semaines. Mais tel n'est pas le cas. On a mis des avis un peu partout pour leur dire qu'ils peuvent aller un autre jour à la banque pour toucher leur pension.
          Dr. Beebeejaun: The purpose of the question is for the Minister to improve the service. I will give him the information.
CEB NETWORK - BREAKDOWNS
          (No. B/262) Mr M. Allet (Third Member for Beau Bassin & Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Public Utilities whether, in view of the fact that there have been frequent breakdowns in the CEB network during the past month, he will, for the benefit of the House, ascertain the reasons therefor and say what action he is contemplating to take to ensure reliability of supply and the protection of domestic, commercial and industrial electrical appliances.
          The Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping (Mr A. Bachoo): Sir, I am advised by the CEB that during the last 30 days there have been eight breakdowns on the electricity supply system. As a result of severe electrical disturbances caused by thunderstorms, two important breakdowns occurred on 24 March and 15 April.
          I am laying on the Table details on the duration, areas affected and causes of these breakdowns.
          I am also advised by the CEB that the services of experts from Electricité de France are being urgently sought to advise on measures to be implemented with a view to improving the protection relay systems and the stability of the whole system against severe thunderstorm conditions.
          These measures will ensure reliability of supply and protection of electrical appliances for the consumers at large.
VANDERMEERSCH/REDUIT LINK ROAD - CONSTRUCTION
         
(No. B/263) Mr M. Allet (Third Member for Beau Bassin & Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether, in view of the fact that there is an acute problem of road congestion in the centre of Beau Bassin/Rose Hill, to and from Port Louis, especially during peak hours in the morning and in the afternoon, he will consider the advisability of making operational the new link road from Rose Hill through Ebene.
          Mr Bachoo: Sir, the tender documents for the construction of a new link road from Rose Hill through Ebene, also known as the Vandermeersch - Reduit link road, have been finalised and bids will be invited once land acquisition is completed.
SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT
          (No. B/264) Mr J. C. Barbier (First Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether he will make a statement in regard to solid waste management all over the country indicating -
(a) the actual situation;
(b) the Government strategic plan for years to come regarding landfills and incinerators; and
(c) the total estimated funds needed in each case.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, first of all, I would like to thank the hon. Member for giving me the opportunity to apprise the House of the present situation regarding the management of solid waste and of the plans of the Government for the short and medium term.
          At present, the management of solid waste is limited to the following main tasks -
          Storage and collection;
          Transfer; and
          Disposal
          The collection of household waste is undertaken by my Ministry through private contractors and by Local Authorities through private contractors and their inhouse teams of refuse collectors. Some 1000 tonnes of household waste are collected daily for transportation to disposal sites directly or through transfer stations.
          The Mare Chicose sanitary landfill which was initially planned to receive some 400 tonnes of wastes daily is at present accommodating more than twice that amount, as it was decided in 1997 not to proceed with the construction of a second landfill projected at Mare d'Australia. Also, the Richfond dumping ground is daily receiving over 100 tonnes of waste generated by inhabitants in the eastern part of the country.
          Most of the waste transported to the Mare Chicose sanitary landfill transit through the transfer stations of Roch Bois, Poudre d'Or, La Brasserie or St Martin to enable compaction, thereby rendering haulage more cost-effective.
          The deficiencies in the present system are, inter alia -
no standardised storage receptacle and lack of waste storage facilities at household levels;
absence of appropriate cost recovery mechanisms;
irregular or inadequate collection service in some areas;
inadequacies within the institutional, legal and regulatory framework;
limited disposal capacity; and
no national waste minimisation programme.
          These shortcomings have been addressed in the reports of Fitchner, a German firm of consultants appointed by the World Bank in August 1999 to conduct a feasibility study as well as an Institutional, Legal and Cost Recovery Study for an Environmental Solid Waste Management Programme for Mauritius and Rodrigues.
          In November 2000, a ministerial meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to consider the strategy for solid waste disposal. A sub-committee was set up to examine the various options and to make recommendations.
          The main recommendations of the sub-committee are as follows -
extension by 20 hectares, of the Mare Chicose sanitary landfill which is expected to reach situation point over the next five years. My Ministry has already started the preliminary activities in connection with this project.
          Arrangement for the construction and commissioning by 2004/05 of a waste to power incinerator plant on a BOO basis. This project has the advantage of using waste as a source of renewable energy and of contributing towards sustainable development by reducing the use of fossil fuels and cutting emissions of greenhouse gases.
          Our strategy for solid waste management is dictated by two broad principles -
          maximisation of value derived from waste; and
          minimisation of waste production.
          As far as waste minimisation is concerned, a compost plant of 10,000 tonnes per annum for green and part waste will be constructed and operated by year 2003. The plant will be extended to handle approximately 25,000 tonnes of green and household waste per year and will help to achieve a sustainable waste management system.
          Mr Speaker, Sir, the Government is fully committed to procure the highest standards from all waste management facilities and to minimise all environmental and health hazards. In this context, the last operational dumping ground at Richfond will be closed as soon as the La Laura/Caroline Transfer Station becomes operational.
          All the other already closed dumping grounds will gradually be rehabilitated.
          In regard to part (c) of the question, it is estimated that -
          the extension of the Mare Chicose landfill will be around
Rs500 m.;
the construction and commissioning of an incinerator of a capacity of 100,000 to 150,000 tonnes per year will be around Rs2 billion; and
the construction of a green pilot compost plant will be around Rs30 m.
          Mr Speaker: Hon. Members, I am repeating my request that whenever Ministers have long replies to make, they better have them circulated. Thank you.
USED OIL - POLLUTION
          (No. B/265) Mr J. C. Barbier (First Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Environment whether he will make a statement on the measures Government proposes to take for the control of pollution caused by used oil.
          Mr Bhagwan: Sir, the information asked for is being circulated. (Appendix I)
MTPA - AUDITED ACCOUNTS
          (No. B/266) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Tourism whether he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to when the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority last submitted its audited accounts, indicating the reasons for any delay and state if he proposes to review his policy towards the Authority with a view to making it accountable in respect of public funds spent.
Mr Bodha: Sir, the final accounts for financial year 1999/2000 were submitted to the Director of Audit on the 06 March 2001. Late submission was due to a technical problem which arose during the upgrading of the Pastel accounting package in use. A letter to that effect was addressed to the Director of Audit on 28 November 2000.
I would like to add that since I took office and became aware of the shortcomings of the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, I have taken a series of measures to set matters right. A Deputy Director has been recruited to shoulder administrative responsibilities. This will go a long way in timely preparation of accounts and other matters.
I would like to inform the House that an Accountant has also been recruited. He is responsible to the Director for the sound financial management of the business of the Authority and for the development and implementation of a suitable accounting and budgetary control system.
Mr Speaker, Sir, in brief, he will be responsible for streamlining financial procedures and see that all financial matters are dealt with in time with transparency and accountability.
I would further like to inform the House that the last Public Accounts Committee Report related to the old system of appointment and budgetary allocation of Public Relations Representatives abroad.
Since July 2000, new Public Relations Representatives have been appointed and new procedures have been clearly defined for approved projects to be implemented and their financial control.
          Mr Duval: May I ask the hon. Minister why, according to the Report of the Director of Audit, the accounts of the MTPA have not been laid on the Table of the Assembly since the year 1997/98?
          Mr Bodha: Mr Speaker, Sir, I can't give an answer to this question. I will look into the matter.
SHIPWRECK BANDA - INVENTORIED LIST OF OBJECTS
         
          (No. B/267) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Arts & Culture whether, in regard to the marine archeological exploration conducted in the early eighties on the western coast of the country and which led to the discovery of shipwreck Banda, on which Pieter Both is supposed to have perished, and as a result of which a number of objects of historical importance were found, he will say whether a list of such objects exists and, if so, will he indicate if any action is being envisaged for their recovery.
          Mr Ramdass: Sir, I am informed that, following the approval of the then Government on 27 July 1979, a marine archeological exploration was carried out on the wreck of Banda by a French national, Mr Jacques Dumas and his team between 27 July 1979 and 9 May 1980.
          On the basis of the agreement between the then Government and Mr Jacques Dumas, all unique objects would be given to the Government and the duplicate/multiple objects would be shared between the twopartners on a fifty-fifty basis.
          According to some records dating back before November 1980 at the Mauritius Institute submitted by the then Ministry of Education, Arts & Culture which was monitoring that project, there appears to have been 17 unique objects and 26 categories of multiple/duplicate objects that had been recovered. Seventeen unique objects and 26 categories of multiple/duplicate objets were to represent the share of Government while Mr Dumas was to obtain 13 categories of multiple/duplicate objects. But also, according to records at the Mauritius Institute dating 1987, only 11 unique items and 21 categories of duplicate/multiple objects had been inventoried by the Institute. Some of these objects are presently displayed at the National History Museum at Mahebourg. The rest are kept in the museum stores.
          I am placing a copy of the inventoried list of items comprising, amongst others, astrolabe, Ming porcelains, musket balls, cannon balls in the Library of the National Assembly.
          There is an apparent discrepancy in the records I have mentioned. I have asked for additional information from the Mauritius Institute to explain this.
           
MTPA - CHAIRMANSHIP
          (No. B/268) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Tourism whether, in regard to the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and in view of the fact that-
(a) the comments made in the last report of the Public Accounts Committee are damning and
(b) the remarks made by the Director of Audit are unfavourable,
he will now say if it is not high time to revoke the Chairman of the Authority.
          Mr Bodha: Sir, as I informed the House earlier, I had told the Chairman that his chairmanship would be terminated with the new restructuring exercise.
          Further, I also informed him that he would no longer form part of any delegation or mission going abroad for the marketing of Mauritius as was the practice in the past. This has been complied with.
          The Chairman presented his resignation yesterday and a new Board will be reconstituted in a few days.
HEIFERS - IMPORTATION
          (No. B/269) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology & Natural Resources whether, in regard to the importation of Australian heifers in 1997, he will state-
(a) the total sum of money involved therein;
(b) whether, on arrival, there were 50 pregnant heifers missing;
(c) whether he will table copy of the landing permit;
(d) whether there were other animals on the same ship by which the heifers arrived;
(e) the place where the heifers were quarantined and
(f) the outcome of the inquiry of the ECO therein.
The Minister of Housing & Lands (Mr M. Choonee): Sir, heifers were imported from Australia in 1996 and not in 1997.
The information requested is as follows-
(a) The total amount paid for the purchase of heifers from Australia was Rs16,104,199.12.
(b) There were no pregnant heifers missing.
(c) A copy of the landing permit is being placed in the Library of the National Assembly.
(d) There were four horses imported by the Mauritius Turf Club on the ship the heifers arrived. This was allowed by the then Principal Veterinary Officer as there was no technical justification to prevent cattle and horses from travelling together.
(e) The heifers were quarantined at Beaux Songes Quarantine Station belonging to Société de Développement Industriel et Agricole Ltée. (SODIA).
(f) The Economic Crime Division has not yet completed its inquiry.
          Mr Dowarkasing: Can the hon. Minister confirm to the House whether there has not been surfacturation and whether the heifers imported were of good quality?
          Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I cannot confirm this. Hon. Dr. Boolell could do it better.
          Mr Dowarkasing: As regards the horses, can the hon. Minister inform the House whether there was an import permit for the horses that were on board together with the cattle?
          Mr Choonee: Mr Speaker, Sir, from information I have, there was an import permit. I am laying a copy of the permit on the Table of the Assembly.
          At 1.00 p.m., the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 2.30 p.m. with Mr Speaker in the Chair.
GAS OIL - LEVEL OF SULPHUR & PETROLEUM PRODUCTS - LEAD-FREE & SULPHUR-FREE
          (No. B/271) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Industry, Commerce & International Trade whether he will, for the benefit of the House, ascertain the percentage level of sulphur in gas oil in previous consignments and that in the present ones and, with a view to combating air pollution, he will consider the advisability of requesting the STC to opt for lead-free and sulphur-free petroleum products in the forthcoming tender exercise for the purchase of same.
          Mr Cuttaree: Sir, the maximum percentage weight level of sulphur in the specifications for gas oil was as follows:-
1985 to 1995        1.0%
1996 to 1998        0.55%
1998 to date                   0.50%
          The actual sulphur content in consignments received during the past months has varied between 0.45 to the maximum of 0.50% by weight.
          Government is fully aware that there is need to import lead-free and sulphur-free petroleum products, to be able to bring down air pollution caused by vehicle emissions. The various stakeholders, namely the oil companies, oil distributors, service stations, car importers and customers need time to be able to switch to unleaded gasoline and sulphur-free gas oil.
          In fact, the following pre-requisites are needed before the measures can be introduced -
(1) Additional storage facilities will be constructed at Mer Rouge to allow for a phased and then complete cleaning of existing tanks without disturbing the available stock to cater for the local market.
(2) A high percentage of the actual fleet of vehicles constitutes of two-wheelers and old vehicles which would not be able to run on unleaded petrol.
(3) Old petrol driven cars are fitted with soft exhaust valve seats, which would be damaged without lead compounds in petrol. There would be a need for these cars to add special additives to the unleaded petrol for the protection of the valve seats.
(4) As far as two-wheelers are concerned, I am given to understand that they constitute 50% of the total fleet of vehicles on our road. The engines of these two-wheelers are not fitted with catalytic converters and, as such, these vehicles should have recourse to the special additives.
The impact of the procurement and the cost of these additives need to be assessed.
(5) New cars imported recently are fitted with catalytic converters. However, I understand that the converters of these cars are damaged when used with leaded petrol. Hence, the introduction of unleaded gasoline will eliminate lead, but will not necessarily improve the quality of vehicles emission unless the worn-out catalytic converters are replaced. Appropriate incentives need to be worked out to encourage such replacement.
(6) A structured and sustained national educational/information campaign will be undertaken to sensitise motorists on the measures to be taken to implement this policy.
Mr Speaker, Sir, an inter-ministerial committee chaired by my colleague, the Minister of Environment, and involving all stakeholders, has been set up to look into the question of air pollution caused by vehicle emissions, and has found that a time frame of about 18 months would be reasonable for an effective implementation of Government's policy to introduce unleaded and sulphur-free petroleum products. Therefore, it is not advisable for STC to opt for lead-free and sulphur-free petroleum products in the forthcoming tender exercise for the purchase of same.

 
PRIVATE SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS - PENSION SCHEME/PRB REPORT 1998
          (No. B/272) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North & Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Education & Scientific Research whether he will state if the pension scheme of secondary school teachers has been reviewed with a view to adjusting the pension of retired teachers to bring it in line with the PRB recommendations.
          Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, staff of private secondary schools are covered by three pension funds managed by the State Insurance Company of Mauritius Ltd.
          PSSA and SICOM are jointly working on the review of pension schemes regarding, inter alia, the purchase of past services as recommended in the PRB Report 1998.
          I am informed that the review exercise involves the amendment of several of the pension provisions, and is in the process of being finalised by the PSSA and SICOM Ltd.
          Mr Chumroo: I am referring to those teachers who have already retired and who are not having the adjustment that they should have had.
          Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, my understanding was that the question referred to the prescription of the PRB report 1998 which states -
"We recommend that the pension provisions be amended to allow officers who would possibly not qualify for full pension at the normal time of retirement, to purchase some additional years of service at the start of their career, to enable them to qualify for full pension. Officers already in post should be given this option as from date of implementation".
I understood the question to refer to this part of the PRB report which is actively being looked into right now by the PSSA and SICOM, and the relevant provisions will be amended. If the hon. Member has suggestions or representations concerning teachers who have already retired, I'll welcome any suggestion in that sense.
          Mr Chumroo: I'll just make an additional remark to the effect that those teachers who have already retired have not got any kind of benefit after the PRB report. It has to be worked out.
          Mr Obeegadoo: If details are communicated, I'll look into the matter, Sir.
PAC REPORT - COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS
          (No. B/274) Mr P. Roopun (Third Member for Savanne and Black River) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether he will state what measures his Ministry proposes to take in the light of the comments and recommendations contained in the report of the Public Accounts Committee which was tabled on 17 April 2001.
          The Deputy Prime Minister: With your permission, Sir, I will reply to Questions B/242, B/274 and B/275 together, as they all relate to recommendations contained in the Public Accounts Committee Report laid on the Table on 17 April 2001.
          The House is already aware that this Government is determined to take all measures possible to ensure transparency and good governance at all levels and in all sectors. As such, the comments and recommendations as contained in the Public Accounts Committee Report or in the recent report of the Director of Audit will be given the consideration they deserve and will definitely not stay "lettre morte", as has been the case in the past. The Management Audit Bureau has been requested to study them and report on the possibility and on the ways and means of implementing them. Appropriate action will be taken in the light thereof.
          As regards part (a) of question B/242, it is noted that the issue has been raised in several audit reports in the past.
          The recommendation of the PAC that the Director of Audit audits/should audit the accounts of Government owned or Government controlled companies is, in fact, in line with what prevails in several countries, and my Ministry is giving serious thought to it. There will have to be consultations with the Director of Audit and, also, the legal aspects will have to be looked into before a final decision is taken.
          As for part (b) of the same question, the suggestion is being considered. In the study to be undertaken by the MAB, the possibility of introducing performance indicators will be looked into. On the other hand, as the House is aware, action has already been initiated by Government to ensure the judicious and efficient use of public funds by, inter-alia, a close monitoring of the actions taken by different Ministries and Departments in the light of the Director of Audit's Report. In that context, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I made to PQ B/239 on Tuesday last.
PAC REPORT - COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS
          (No. B/275) Mr P. Roopun (Third Member for Savanne and Black River) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether, following the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee in its report which was tabled on 17 April 2001, he will state what measures he proposes to take to tighten control and scrutiny over companies where Government has controlling interests.
(Vide reply to PQ No. B/274)

PAC REPORT - COMMENTS & RECOMMENDATIONS
          (No. B/242) Mr M. Dowarkasing (Third Member for Curepipe & Midlands) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether, in the light of the recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee in its report which was tabled on Tuesday 17 April last, he will consider the advisability of -
(a) amending the Statutory Bodies (Accounts and Audit) Act with a view to having the Director of Audit appointed auditor for companies where a Ministry or other public body has a majority shareholding; and
(b) introducing performance indicators to ensure the judicious and efficient use of public funds.
(Vide reply to PQ No. B/274)

LES SALINES - PUBLIC BEACH
          (No. B/276) Mr J.C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Housing & Lands whether, in view of the fact that there now remains only a small part of the beach at Les Salines, next to the bulk sugar terminal, he will consider the advisability of having that part proclaimed a public beach.
          Mr Choonee: Sir, all State lands adjacent to the bulk sugar terminal at Les Salines, inclusive of the small part of the beach referred to in the question, have been vested in the Mauritius Ports Authority with effect from 01 April 1998 by virtue of the Ports Act and are, therefore, within the Port security area.
FISHERMEN - PENSION SCHEME
          (No. B/277) Mr J.C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW & Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Fisheries whether he has any plan for the setting up of an appropriate pension scheme for the benefit of fishermen and of other self-employed of the same category and, if so, will he make a statement thereon, indicating the measures he envisages to take to make it known to all those concerned and to the public.
          Mr Michel: Sir, I am advised that the National Pensions Act makes provision for a special scheme as regards self-employed persons. The contributions payable by these persons are in multiple of Rs5, with a minimum of Rs35 and a maximum of Rs290 per month. On top of that, there is an enhancement of these contributions by the National Pensions Fund at the rate of 50%.
          Self-employed contributors are not liable to surcharges. They may pay contributions as and when they wish.
          The fishermen community in Mauritius and Rodrigues will be encouraged to contribute to this scheme.
          My Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity & Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions and the Fishermen Welfare Fund will embark on a sensitisation programme for the fishermen community.