Oral Answers to Questions - 08 May 2002
CHIEF JUSTICE & SENIOR PUISNE JUDGE - OVERSEAS MISSIONS - EXPENDITURE,
(No. B/294) 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 will, for the benefit of the House, and in regard to the overseas missions undertaken by the Chief Justice and by the Senior Puisne Judge since their respective appointments to date, obtain information as to -
(a) the number and the nature of each mission;
(b) the cost thereof, and
(c) the amount of per diem paid to each of them.
The Prime Minister: Sir, the list of missions undertaken by the Chief Justice and by the Senior Puisne Judge since their respective appointments to date and expenses incurred in this regard, is being compiled and will be placed in the Library of the National Assembly as soon as it is ready.
Mr Hurnam: Would the Prime Minister inform the House whether, at some point in time, the Chief Justice had insisted with the outgoing Government that the fares of his spouse be paid by the State whilst on overseas missions?
The Prime Minister: I must find out, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Speaker: Yes, but I must say that this question is not relevant. Next Question!
SUPREME COURT JUDGES -
(No. B/295) 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 will, for the benefit of the House, and in regard to the Judges of our Supreme Court who sit on appeal in the Court of Seychelles, obtain information as to whether they need to be so authorised by any person or authority and, if so, will he further ascertain the terms and conditions governing such authorisation and indicate the names of those -
(a) who have been so authorised, and
(b) who have not been so authorised?
The Prime Minister: Sir, Section 7(3) of the Courts Act stipulates that the approval of the President of the Republic shall be sought and obtained before any judge undertakes any other work or holds any other office, with or without remuneration.
I am informed by the Acting Master and Registrar of the Supreme Court that in December 1998, Chief Justice Pillay and Justice Matadeen were offered appointment as Judges of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of the Seychelles for the period 1999 to 2003.
Both Chief Justice Pillay and Justice Matadeen have, before accepting the appointment, sought and obtained the approval of the President.
I am further informed that, as a matter of practice, Chief Justice Pillay and Justice Matadeen have not accepted to form part of the panel of the said Court of Appeal when it sits at the same time when the Supreme Court of Mauritius is in session.
I am also advised that no instance is known whereby the President has had to withhold his approval when a Judge of the Supreme Court has been offered appointment to the Court of Appeal of Seychelles.
Mr Hurnam: I have a few supplementary questions, Mr Speaker, Sir. Question number one, in so far as the conditions are involved on the assignment of the Chief Justice and that of the Judge Matadeen, is there any clause in relation to their remuneration whilst they are sitting as judges in the Court of Appeal in Seychelles?
The Prime Minister: There is no special condition attached so far as we are concerned, but I can't say what conditions are attached by Seychelles.
Mr Hurnam: Well, it is a fact that they are paid 45,000 Seychelles rupees.
The Prime Minister: Well, may be that is correct, but I can't confirm it as I don't have the figures.
Mr Hurnam: Would the Rt. hon. Prime Minister consider whether the sums which they have obtained as remuneration in Seychelles are, in fact, declared to the Income Tax office here?
The Prime Minister: I'll have to find out from the Income Tax office.
Mr Speaker: This is not proper. I think there is a duty of secrecy. The hon. Prime Minister is not responsible for Finance.
Mr Hurnam: Mr Speaker, Sir, I thought that in view of the high office held by them, it would be proper for the Prime Minister to inquire into this matter.
The Prime Minister: I think the hon. Member can ask the information himself from the Income Tax office.
Mr Hurnam: I have information here to the effect that their remuneration for the past years have not been declared to the Income Tax office.
Mr Speaker: I am afraid that this is not proper. There is in law a duty of secrecy on officers and even on other persons, except for the Minister of Finance, who can waive this duty of secrecy. I understand the Prime Minister is not responsible for Finance.
Mr Hurnam: Mr Speaker, Sir, I take note of that. I'll consider whether I'll revert to the Minister of Finance for that matter.
(No. B/296) 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 will, for the benefit of the House, and in regard to the departures and arrivals from and into Mauritius of Mr René Denys Kwet Fat Lan Yee Chiu following his arrest for possession of heroin on 06 August 1999 to date, obtain information as to –
(a) the number;
(b) the nature of the objections raised to departure by the Police;
(c) whether there has been any breach of a rehabilitation order governing Mr Lan Yee Chiu, and
(d) the circumstances surrounding the return of his passport on 13 April last.
The Prime Minister: Sir, in regard to parts (a) and (b), I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that following the arrest of Mr Lan Yee Chiu René Denys Kwet Fat in connection with a case of "Possession of heroin" on 6 August 1999, an objection to departure was lodged against him on 16 August 1999.
This objection was, however, waived by the Director of Public Prosecutions on 10 December 1999. Then, he left for Great Britain on 16 December 1999 and returned on 12 March 2000.
In regard to part (c) I am informed that on 06 December 2000 the Intermediate Court ordered that the said Mr René Denys Kwet Fat Lan Yee Chiu should undergo the appropriate rehabilitation programme at the Centre d'Accueil de Terre Rouge for a period of six (6) months. He was further sentenced to serve a period of 6 months imprisonment, which sentence was however suspended pursuant to Section 28(5) of the Dangerous Drugs Act, so long as accused followed the appropriate rehabilitation programme which might be prescribed for him at the Centre d'Accueil de Terre Rouge.
The Centre d'Accueil de Terre Rouge has informed the Senior Probation Officer of the Rose Hill District Court in a letter dated 26 April 2001 that accused last attended treatment on 05 April 2001. In the circumstances, the matter has been fixed as pro-forma for the accused to appear before Court on Wednesday 09 May 2001.
As regards part (d), I am informed that the hon. Judge in Chamber has on 13 April 2001 ordered that the passport of the applicant be returned to him forthwith. I am tabling a copy of that order.
Applicant then travelled to Hong Kong on the same day and returned on 26 April 2001.
Mr Hurnam: I have a few supplementary questions, Mr Speaker, Sir. The document having been tabled, I have the certified true copy of the order, the relevant proecipe and the affidavit. Would the hon. Prime Minister consider the affidavit in support of the application, whether mention of the drug case for which he was sentenced to a term of suspended imprisonment was averred?
The Prime Minister: I am unable to answer that.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Prime Minister is not in presence of the document, hon. Hurnam.
Mr Hurnam: I think the hon. Prime Minister has tabled the document and, of course, the order together with the proecipe and the affidavit in support of it.
The Prime Minister: If the documents are tabled, I'll have a look and certainly after that I can answer.
Mr Speaker: The document is in the possession of the hon. Member.
Mr Hurnam: I was under the impression that the Rt. hon. Prime Minister has tabled the document, but I'll table the document itself. I am surprised, Mr Speaker, the order was made ex parte to the hon. Judge in Chambers without the Passport and Immigration Officer and the Director of Public Prosecutions, the major parties.
Mr Speaker: Hon. Hurnam, you have just tabled the document and now you are asking the Prime Minister to confirm or to reply to you.
Mr Hurnam: The question was different. The question is: in what circumstances was the presence of the representative of the DPP brought before the Court, to the Judge in Chambers and that of the Police?
The Prime Minister: I don't know how he was taken there; if the Counsel appeared at all.
Mr Hurnam: What I am questioning is the manner in which this ex parte application was dealt with on the same date; and during the course of the day...
Mr Speaker: What I understand is that the hon. Member is giving information, he is not putting questions.
Mr Hurnam: Since the hon. Prime Minister is responsible for the Police, how was the Police represented before the Judge in Chambers?
The Prime Minister: I'll have to inquire from the Police; I'll have to find out.
Mr Speaker: The question of the hon. Member is not specific, he is asking for information. I don't know whether the Rt. hon. Prime Minister will be able to answer further questions. It goes beyond the scope of the questions.
Mr Hurnam: I asked whether there are not disturbing matters in this application. It is in that context that I invited the Prime Minister to consider my supplementary questions regarding whether the Police had waived the objection to departure of this gentleman on the 13th April after instructions were given to the State Law Office or to the DPP's office.
The Prime Minister: I have already answered that this objection was waived by the DPP previously and then there was an order for the passport to be returned to the owner.
(No. B/297) 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, for the benefit of the House -
(a) obtain information as to –
(i) the number of accidents and/or incidents regarding commercial aircrafts and which occurred at the SSR International Airport during the last 2 years;
(ii) whether there exists a conflict of interest by reason of the fact that the air traffic services and the regulatory body falls under the same Director and
(b) state if he proposes to table the Comarchy and Suebaker Report and ascertain what steps have been taken in the light of the recommendations made.
The Prime Minister: Sir, with regard to part (a)(i), I am advised that no accident regarding commercial aircraft has occurred at the SSR International Airport during the past two years. However, I am informed that seventy (70) incidents, most of which minor ones, occurring at the SSR International Airport have been reported during the last two years.
As regards part (a)(ii), I am advised that there is no conflict of interest between the roles of the Director of Civil Aviation as the Regulator and as a provider of Air Traffic Services by virtue of the fact that both the Regulator and the Air Traffic Services Provider have aviation safety as their common objective. Air Traffic Services are provided and regulated on a non-profit basis by the Director of Civil Aviation in accordance with the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) and criteria laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Although the current trend is to commercialise or privatise the Air Traffic Services, some countries like France, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Seychelles, still continue with a system where the Regulator is the Service Provider. The ICAO recommends the setting up of autonomous Air Traffic Services Providers only if this will be in the best interest of users and providers.
In the event there is need to conduct an investigation on an accident involving air traffic services, the Civil Aviation Regulations 1986 become applicable. Regulation 93 of these regulations, in particular, provides for the setting up of a Committee of Inquiry by the Minister excluding the Director of Civil Aviation. Thus, there is no conflict of interest during investigation.
With regard to part (b), in fact the two reports are the Cromarty and Weston-Baker Reports. They were submitted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority following a request for an assessment of the Air Traffic Services and an independent investigation into the incident which occurred on 14 December 1999.
It is not proposed to table the reports as these contain sensitive information which cannot be released.
The recommendations of the reports are being attended to by the Department. The following immediate remedial steps have been taken –
(1) procedures for a standardised method of strip management have been developed and put in operation;
(2) Air Traffic Controllers are monitored and debriefed on their strip management;
(3) a self improvement programme for the assessment and debrief of phraseology for Air/Ground Communications has been introduced;
(4) In-house briefing and quick reference procedures to enable Communicators and Air Traffic Controllers to cope with emergencies have been introduced;
(5) proficiency and competence checks for Air Traffic Controllers are being carried out by Senior Air Traffic Controller;
(6) Incident Reporting Procedures have been reviewed; and
(7) all ICAO documents related to services delivery have been fully updated.
Dr. Maudarbocus: The hon. Prime Minister mentioned that there were 70 incidents during the last two years.
The Prime Minister: They were minor incidents.
Dr. Maudarbocus: Did the incidents occur in flight or on ground?
The Prime Minister: These are technical matters connected with the airplanes.
Dr. Maudarbocus: Being given that now the concept is no longer air traffic control, but air traffic management because of satellite communication, computerisation and all this and being given that air traffic in Mauritius is expected to grow by a figure of about 14% this year compared to the worldwide growth of about 5% - 6% and also being given that Air Traffic Services Provider recommended a period of 24 - 36 months of training for a new entrant, can the Prime Minister inform us how, at the airport, they have a proposal now to provide the staff three months classroom training followed by hands-on training for another three months? Will this not be a danger to the airlines and the airport in general if the Air Traffic Controller does not get the proper training?
The Prime Minister: Well, I suppose they get the necessary training because they are allowed to provide the services otherwise they would not be qualified.
(No. B/298) 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, for the benefit of the House, obtain information from the Commissioner of Police as to -
(a) whether a raid was carried out recently at la Citadelle and, if so, whether explosives and other dangerous substances were found thereat and
(b) the person or authority who was responsible for La Citadelle, indicating since when.
The Prime Minister: Sir, with regard to parts (a) and (b), I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that following certain information to the effect that explosives and other dangerous substances were being kept at la Citadelle, a party of men from the Flying Squad accompanied by a team of officers from the SMF Explosive Handling Unit visited the place on 01 April 2001.
A search of the Citadelle was carried out in presence of one Mr Hedley Essoo who is also the Director of DB Vision. The Management of the Citadelle rests with the Ministry of Tourism and Leisure. However, on 1 June 1993, the Ministry entrusted the day to day management of Citadelle to Mr Hedley Essoo.
During the search various types of materials supposedly used for fireworks as well as their devices were found in a room. The materials were examined on spot by the Officer in Charge of the Squad who confirmed that these materials were, in fact, fireworks.
On the following day, another party of men from the Flying Squad under the charge of an Inspector and an Officer of the SMF Explosive Handling Unit as well as a Divisional Officer of the Government Fire Services visited the place again and effected another search, but no explosives or any other dangerous substance were found. The officers, however, confirmed the presence of fireworks only.
In view of security hazards, the fireworks in question were removed therefrom by the Managing Director of DB Vision on 17 April 2001.
Mr Abdoolah: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I know whether this place is still being managed by DB Vision?
The Prime Minister: It looks as if yes.
(No. B/299) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand'Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the Interpol Report on Mr Eric Stauffer mention of which was made in the course of a public gathering at Curepipe last year and relayed by the MBC in its news bulletin on TV, he will now state what actions have been taken or it is proposed to take against the MBC and/or the offices responsible for the news.
The Prime Minister: I am advised by MBC that since Mr Eric Stauffer has now entered both criminal and civil proceedings in Geneva against the Corporation, the matter is sub-judice. As the Corporation is party to the proceedings, it cannot at this stage reveal any information which may jeopardise its interests.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is a well-known fact that the financial situation at the MBC is bad. Can the hon. Prime Minister see to it …
Mr Speaker: Hon. Gungah, the hon. Prime Minister has said that this matter is sub judice. I won't allow any further questions on this.
(No. B/300) 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 Mobile Police Posts, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain information as to –
(a) the purpose for which they are being used, and
(b) what action is being taken to ensure an optimum use thereof.
The Prime Minister: Sir, I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that the Police Department has two Mobile Police posts. One mobile Police post which was previously at Solferino Road, Vacoas, has been transferred to Albion and is presently being utilised as NCG post on the public beach. It is being manned round the clock for Police coverage on the beach as well as for security in the lagoon. The mobile post has been very useful to the NCG on account of the conclusive results obtained so far and numerous assistance provided to persons and boats in difficulty at sea. It is the intention of the Police Department to keep the mobile Police post operational until such time that a permanent structure to house Albion NCG post is constructed.
The second mobile Police post was formerly utilised at Cité La Cure and is presently lying in the yard of Abercrombie Police Station. I am informed that it is proposed to transfer it to the sea front near GRSE Fish Landing Station where it will be used in conjunction with the actual local NCG post which is located around 1.2 km inland. Such a strategy would enable the NCG personnel to exercise a better control and supervision over sea related activities and increase its range of action and effectiveness within the lagoon.
I am informed that three other mobile Police posts which were under the custody of National Business Agency since they landed in Mauritius and on which 50% down payment has been effected on 12 June 1997, were being retained by the Comptroller of Customs in connection with the Commission of Inquiry on procurements by the Police and supplies by Ramrechhea to the public sector. The Commission of Enquiry has now completed its work and the Commissioner of Police is liaising with the Comptroller of Customs on the future course of action.
(No. B/301) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas and Floreal) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the resurfacing of the airstrip in Agalega in September/October 1999 by the DWC, he will, for the benefit of the House,
(a) obtain information as to (i) the total cost of the project and the amount already paid (ii) the reasons why total payment has not been effected,
(b) state if he has been apprised of any danger or risk to which aircrafts using the airstrip are exposed.
The Prime Minister: Sir, with regard to part (a) (i), I am advised that the works relating to the resurfacing of the airstrip at Agalega were entrusted by the Outer Islands Development Corporation (OIDC) to the Development Works Corporation (DWC) for the amount of rupees three million three hundred and eighty thousand (Rs. 3,380,000). The amount already paid to DWC is rupees two million one hundred and ninety seven thousand (Rs. 2,197,000).
As regards part (a) (ii), full payment has not been effected to DWC as the OIDC was awaiting the final clearance of Aéroports de Paris, the consultant for the New Airport Master Plan.
The report of the consultant has just been received and is being examined by OIDC.
As regards (b), I have been informed that, due to weathering effect, the layer of bitumen had a tendency to peel off from the surface resulting in deterioration of the airstrip surface and affecting aircraft operations. Basing himself on a report by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure on the state of the airstrip, the Director of Civil Aviation is not in a position to recommend flights to Agalega.
Mr Sakaram: Can the Rt. hon. Prime Minister state who was the Minister responsible for Outer Islands in the previous Government?
The Prime Minister: I know it is presently under the Prime Minister and I do not know whether it was the same.
Mr Sakaram: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have got a few very disturbing photos about the airstrip in Agalega and which I would lay on the Table of the Assembly. What is very disturbing, Mr Speaker, Sir, is that, apart from empty barrels of tar that are found there, there are also barrels of tar worth Rs1 m. which are lying in nature. I would request, Mr Speaker, Sir, that a full enquiry be carried out, because not only has there been waste of public funds in the mainland, but also a waste of public funds even in the Outer islands.
The Prime Minister: We will have to have an inquiry to know the exact facts, but it seems that there has been a big wastage.
Mr Sakaram: Sir, I have also brought to the Assembly samples of the airstrip – layers of bitumen and sand. The airstrip represents a danger for planes during the landing. I would request that a full inquiry be carried out so that the life of the passengers and members of the crew are not endangered. I talked to the pilot who told me that it is for the first time in his career that when he lands on an airstrip, he can't land on the right-hand side, but on the left-hand side because of the bad state of the airstrip.
The Prime Minister: We will have an inquiry to look into this matter.
(No. B/302) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Home Affairs and Minister of External Communications whether, in regard to the setting up of an Island Council in Rodrigues, he will, for the benefit of the House, state –
(a) the procedures that have been followed for the appointment of former Justice, Mr R. Ahnee, as sole responsible person for the preparation of the report for same;
(b) the progress achieved so far in the matter, and
(c) when the report is due to be completed and laid on the Table of the National Assembly.
The Prime Minister: Sir, in regard to part (a), Government has enlisted the services of Mr Louis Robert Ahnee, Law Consultant, for a comprehensive study of the decentralised system of Government in Trinidad and Tobago and to make recommendations for the establishment in Rodrigues of a similar system bearing in mind the specificities of that part of the State of Mauritius. Mr Ahnee will be solely responsible for the preparation of the report following consultations with all stakeholders both here and in Rodrigues.
With regard to (b), Mr. Ahnee was initially requested to undertake and complete the study as early as possible. From 10 to 13 October 2000, he was in Rodrigues where he had extensive consultations with Members of Parliament representing the Constituency of Rodrigues, the Island Secretary and Representatives of "Forces Vives".
He intended to proceed to Trinidad and Tobago in November 2000 to study the decentralised system of Government there. However, his visit had to be postponed because of the general election fixed for 11 December 2000. Subsequently, with the constitutional crisis that followed the elections, his mission had to be postponed several times. Finally, Mr Ahnee accompanied by Mrs Antoinette Prudence, former Chairperson of the Rodrigues Local Council, proceeded to Trinidad and Tobago on 29 April 2001 where they had consultations with various personalities and institutions. On the return journey Mr Ahnee intended to do some research work in London.
As regards (c), Mr. Ahnee is fully aware of the need to finalise his report urgently. However, I am not in a position to say when the report will be ready.
Mr Von-Mally: Mr Speaker, it seems that Government is willing to proceed fast with this project. Can I know whether a site has been chosen for the setting up of the mini-Parliament in Rodrigues?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Le Camp du Roi!
The Prime Minister: No, I do not think so.
Mr Von-Mally: Mr Speaker, Sir, being given that Mrs. Prudence was a political nominee in the ex-Rodrigues Local Council - and we know that she can be a candidate in the forthcoming election of the Rodrigues Island Council - is it not unfair to give this advantage to one political party in Rodrigues?
The Prime Minister: She was chosen because of her past experience at the head of the Local Council.
(No. B/305) Mr D. Hurnam (Third Member for Pamplemousses & Triolet) asked the Minister of Education and Scientific Research whether, in regard to the Technical School Management Trust Fund at the Swami Dayanand Institute of Management, Pamplemousses and to the recruitment of personnel and to overseas training, he will -
(a) give the respective qualifications and salaries of Mr S. Kasenally, Mrs S. Peeroo and Mr S. Beeharry;
(b) ascertain why Mr A. Jugmohun, Mr A. Mohabut, Mr Lamport and Ms P. Guness who were recruited before the 3 aforenamed officers were never assigned any overseas training; and
(b) state if certain malpractices of the outgoing Director have been brought to his attention.
Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, as regards part (a), I am informed that –
(i) Mr S. Kasenally holds a LLB Hons degree from the Wolverhampton University, U.K, and he is at present drawing a monthly salary of Rs14,445;
(ii) Mrs S. Peeroo possesses a Maitrise d'Administration Economique et Sociale from the University of Toulouse, France and she is drawing a monthly salary of Rs13,945; and
(iii) Mr S. Beeharry has a MSc in Engineering from Ukraine University and his monthly salary is Rs13,945;
With regard to part (b), according to the information provided to me, the policy of the Technical School Management Trust fund is to train members of teaching staff of all departments at the Swami Dayanand Institute of Management. Nominations for training are based on seniority and officers nominated for training are required to sign a bond requiring them to follow the course regularly and complete it and on completion of the course, to resume duty immediately and remain in the service of the Technical School Management Trust Fund for a period of 12 months from the date of resumption of duty in Mauritius.
I am further informed that the teaching staff who have so far followed training overseas in the department of Accounting and Marketing are, in fact, senior to Messrs A. Jugmohun and Lamport (Accounting Department) and Miss P. Guness (Marketing Department)
It would appear that Mr A. Mohabut was nominated to follow a training programme in Information Technology. The course was fully paid from local funding. However, he refused to sign the bond unlike his other colleagues. On the eve of his departure he declined the offer and returned the air ticket. It was by then too late, in fact, to nominate another officer for the course.
As regards part (c). my Ministry has received an anonymous letter last year pointing to certain malpractices by the Director. At that time, the Chairman of the Technical School Management Trust Fund was requested to look into the matter and I am informed that the Chairman found that the allegations were not justified.
(No. B/306) Mr A. K. Gungah (Second Member for Grand'Baie & Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Housing and Lands whether he has received a petition from Les Forces Vives du Littoral Nord concerning the fencing of a part of the beach at Grand Gaube known as Butte à L'Herbe and, if so, will he state what action he proposes to take thereon.
Mr Choonee: Sir, on 11 April 2001, my Ministry received copy of a petition made by Les Forces Vives du Littoral Nord addressed to the President of Pamplemousses/Rivière du Rempart District Council to the effect that a fencing was under construction at Butte à L'Herbe, Calodyne, in the north of the island.
A site visit effected by officers of my Ministry has revealed that a stone wall and a chain link fencing on wooden poles have been constructed illegally on part of Pas Géométriques Butte à L'Herbe, at Calodyne, leased as a campement site.
The said fencing and wall have not been erected on the Butte à L'Herbe public beach. However, the public beach adjoins the campement site where the two structures have been erected.
My Ministry has already informed the campement site lessee of the unauthorised construction of the two structures, calling upon him to remove them forthwith.
Mr Gungah: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to make an appeal to the hon. Minister to see to it that the wall be demolished in the very shortest delay because it is really creating a big hindrance to the public as well as fishermen.
Mr Choonee: I have taken note, Mr Speaker, Sir.
(No. B/307) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether he will give the reasons why cardiac operations are delayed or postponed and the measures his Ministry is taking to address this problem.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Sir, I wish to inform the House that the Cardiac Centre conducts some 8 to 9 cardiac operations weekly. Some postponements or delay are unavoidable as the operations sometimes depend on the availability of ICU beds which are also shared with the Department of Neurosurgery. Another cause for delay or postponement is due to unavailability of blood of rare groups e.g AB-ve, O-ve and B-ve. However, emergency cases are dealt with immediately.
I am advised that as at April 2001, there were 102 cases at the Cardiac Centre waiting for surgery. These include 80 adult cases and 22 paediatric cases. The waiting time is about three months.
In order to avoid postponement of cardiac surgeries, arrangements are being made to increase the number of ICU beds and the number of ventilators. The Blood Transfusion Unit has been asked to facilitate the provision of rare blood groups.
Dr. Beebeejaun: Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like to ask two questions. Firstly, there has been a representation from patients that they are asked to go and look for their blood groups themselves. I think this ought to be removed from their shoulders. They will provide donors, but they cannot go and provide for a B negative group.
Mr A. Jugnauth: As far as the question is concerned, I have no knowledge of that. I'll have to look into it and see why patients are asked to go and find their blood groups. But I know, as a matter of fact, that, in some cases, the delay occurs because even the Cardiac Centre cannot get these rare blood groups. I'll have to look into why patients are asked to go and find their blood groups. May be patients are asked if they can help to obtain these rare blood groups. But whether they are compelled to go and find the blood groups themselves and bring it to the Cardiac Centre, I will have to look into it and find out.
Dr. Beebeejaun: My second question concerns operation in children. May be the hon. Minister would like to extend his reply to operations in children. Sometimes there are delays because they have to go abroad and there are a lot of procedures, but delays have been introduced because of waiting for opinion from doctors who are visiting us and then they are screened and approved. Then again, they are asked to go through the same exercise. I would like to ask the Minister whether this procedure could be stopped.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is true that there are certain difficult cases which cannot be operated upon in Mauritius. There is quite a number of visiting teams coming from abroad who screen and look after these paediatric cases and they operate as well here. We are encouraging this approach rather than sending the children abroad as it causes a lot of inconvenience because these children should be accompanied by parents and they are not in the same environment. So, we are encouraging visiting teams to come over to Mauritius and perform these operations.
Dr. Ramloll: After all cardiac surgeries, patients are to be put under ventilators. Is it true that, in the recent weeks or months, some patients were kept too long under those ventilators, thus hampering cardiac surgery to be carried out normally?
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is true that two or three patients had to be kept under ventilators longer than normal, but if they were removed, most probably, they would have died. This is the reason why they had to be kept under the ventilators for longer than usual.
(No. B/308) Dr. R. Beebeejaun (Second Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether his Ministry will take appropriate measures, including the installation of handrails, to improve security on the Arsenal-Inkerman Road, Port Louis.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, the Arsenal and Inkerman Roads, Port Louis are Municipal roads and, therefore, do not fall under the direct responsibility of my Ministry. However, I have given instructions to the Road Safety Unit of my Ministry to effect a site visit to assess the security aspect of this road and to make appropriate recommendations to improve the security and safety, if needs be.
Dr. Beebeejaun: Mr Speaker, Sir, there is a steep embarkment along that road and there is quite a serious risk of cyclists or motorcyclists falling off into the precipice.
Mr Bachoo: I will look into it, Sir.
(No. B/309) Mrs F. Labelle (Second Member for Beau Bassin & Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will state if the hotline service in hospitals is no longer operational and, if so-
(a) since when, and
(b) what measures he is contemplating to enable patients to lodge any complaint.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Sir, my Ministry has decentralised the activities of the Complaints Board which was formerly based at the headquarters. In this regard, since March this year, a Regional Complaints Board has been set up under the chairmanship of the Regional Health Director at the level of each regional hospital to look into complaints made by the public in their respective region. A hotline is operational in each of the five regional hospitals to receive complaints from the public on a 24-hour basis. This measure was given wide publicity in the local press and on the MBC/TV and Radio.
I am advised that complaints are being received on the hotlines and these are being dealt with by all Regional Complaints Boards.
(No. B/310) Mrs F. Labelle (Second Member for Beau Bassin & Petite Rivière) asked the Minister of Education & Scientific Research whether he will state what measures his Ministry is proposing to take to remedy the drug problem in our schools.
Mr Obeegadoo: Sir, I am very much concerned about the problem of drug abuse in our schools. Several press articles in the recent past have highlighted this problem, and I have recently had discussions with my colleague, hon. Lauthan, on the need to sensitise the general public and more specifically the student community and we have, for some time now, been closely coordinating the work of both our Ministries in this respect.
The Ministry of Social Security is in fact, I am informed, organising a sensitisation campaign in schools already on drug abuse. We are increasing efforts by getting on board the support of PTAs, students and teachers to combat this scourge. A brainstorming workshop with all stakeholders to finalise a detailed strategy pertaining to this problem will be organised in the coming weeks.
By next year, pedagogical modules relating to harmful and illegal drugs will be introduced within the primary curriculum either within the new subject of Citizenship Education or within Health and Physical Education. The initiative will then be extended to the secondary and preparatory work is ongoing in that respect.
As regards private secondary schools, I am further informed that the PSSA is presently carrying out a survey on the dug problem in private secondary schools. In the meantime, NATReSA's leaflets and stickers and posters are regularly distributed to those schools and they have been invited to participate in the NATReSA's sketch competition on substance abuse and prevention in schools.
Of course, any further suggestion from the hon. Member would be most welcome.
Mrs Labelle: Will the hon. Minister inform the House of the measures that are being taken to get parents involved?
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I think there can be no real solution to this problem unless and until parents are fully involved at the level of both primary and secondary schools. That is why one of the first targets of the campaign is the parent teacher associations. We are trying to fully take on board the parent teacher associations in devising ways and means specific to the realities of each different school to tackle the problem. As I mentioned, we are planning to have a brainstorming session in the very near future which will bring on board the students, their parents, the teachers, managers of schools and responsible officers from the Ministries of Education and Social Security to look at the specific features of the problem in the different localities and see how to address them.
Mrs Labelle: One or two schools are coming forward with the idea of "école des parents". Will the Minister consider the possibility of having such training sessions for parents so that they can deal with the problem?
Mr Obeegadoo: This is an excellent suggestion. In fact, I understand that the Ministry of Social Security has already taken steps in that direction.
Mr Dulloo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I heard the Minister say that NATReSA is putting at the disposal of schools posters and pamphlets to be distributed. May I ask him whether he has looked well into this procedure because this could be most dangerous if not backed up with proper education and awareness campaigns? This may arouse curiosity in children who are not fully informed. I, therefore, believe that we better get better advice on that before proceeding with this method of just putting literature and other gadgets at the disposal of the students.
Mr Obeegadoo: I could not agree more, Mr Speaker. This has been the practice in the past - NATReSA regularly sending off materials to different schools. But what was possibly lacking was an integrated programme, which we are now urgently looking into.
(No. B/311) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Rivière des Anguilles & Souillac) asked the Minister of Industry, Commerce & International Trade whether, in regard to premises rented by the STC, he will state-
(a) the number and the quantum of rent payable;
(b) the precise address of each and every such premises, and
(c) the procedure followed for the rental thereof.
The Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping (Mr A. Bachoo): Sir, the information in respect of premises rented by the STC is as follows-
1. STC headquarters, of an area of 1200 m2, situated in Fon Sing Building of 12, Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis, rented from Fon Sing Property Co. Ltd. at Rs157,975 per month + VAT and one-fifth of the common charges. The rental, which started in 1987, was obtained through negotiations. The renewal of the lease as from November 2000 with an increase in the rental is being negotiated.
2. Mauritius Ports Authority - Shed A
The shed, situated at Quay A in the harbour, is a warehouse of 7500 m2 rented from the Mauritius Ports Authority. The monthly rental is Rs472,500. The lease has been renewed for one year with effect from August 2000 and a request for an increase in the rental is being considered. The lease was made through negotiations.
3. Mauritius Ports Authority - Shed 1
The shed, situated next to Quay 1 in the harbour, is a warehouse of 3000 m2 rented from the Mauritius Ports Authority. The present monthly rental is Rs193,500. The annual lease will lapse in July 2001. The lease was made through negotiations.
4. Roche Bois - Shed No. 1
The shed, of 1800 m2 is situated at Mer Rouge in the Roche Bois region near the Quarantine Station. It is rented from Société Mer Rouge and the monthly rental is Rs210,048. The lease which was obtained following a tender exercise will lapse on 19 May 2001.
5. Roche Bois - Shed No. 2
This shed of 3,549.76 m2 is adjacent to the Roche Bois Shed No. 1. It is rented from Société des Entrepôts du Nord at Rs496,540.42 per month + VAT as from 12 November 1999. The lease was obtained following a tender exercise in 1998. Five offers were received. The lowest was from the Mauritius Freeport Authority at Rs8.36 per sq. ft. and the second lowest was from the Société des Entrepôts du Nord at Rs13.00 per sq. ft. - a difference of approximately Rs5 per sq. ft.
5.1 In December 1998, the STC approved the lowest offer from the
Mauritius Freeport Authority subject to the provision of a weighbridge of 60 tons and six doors of 5 m x 5 m each.
5.2 The Mauritius Freeport Authority (MFA) was prepared to provide the weighbridge. The building already had five doors of 3 m x 3 m. The structure of the building was such that a covered and continuous loading bay of 66 m - 6 m with four dock levellers was available. The MFA informed the STC that small forklifts could be used and that modifications of the warehouse doors were not necessary.
In February 1999, the STC decided to award the tender to the 2nd lowest tenderer, the Société des Entrepôts du Nord at Rs13 per sq. ft. against Rs8.36 per sq. ft. from the lowest tenderer. An agreement was entered for the period 12 November 1999 to 31 August 2002 and the rent was Rs496,540.42 per month. The lowest would have cost Rs319,464 per month. The difference is Rs176,540 per month. It is to be noted that the tenderer who won the tender had no building at the time when the letter of intent was issued. The construction started thereafter. The building was ready on 12 November 1999 and was handed over to the STC, that is, three months later.
However, the STC could not make use of the building for flour operations for which it was meant. The "forces vives" had protested for the following reasons:-
The roads were too narrow for the movement of 70 heavy duty lorries which would be plying daily and could jeopardise the security of pedestrians and local traffic. Some 700 tons of flour were expected to be transacted daily from the shed. It appears that this aspect of access by road to the shed was not considered during the tender exercise. The STC investigated the possibility of extending the quarantine road to the Mauritius Freeport Authority. This alternative was, however, abandoned as the Ministry of Agriculture had closed all access to the Mauritius Freeport Authority for security reasons.
Rent has been paid as from 12 November 1999, but the whole building remained unoccupied till April 2000. After April 2000, a minor part of the building was used for fumigation of rice for a few months. Most of the time, the building remained unused and unutilised. An amount of Rs8.7 m. has been disbursed as rent. Its lease agreement cannot be rescinded as it does not provide for early termination. In case the premises are not rented for the residue of the period, STC will have to pay the whole of the rent for that period, amounting to Rs8 m., thus the sum of Rs16.7 m. will go down the drains.
Mr Baloomoody: Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Minister has said that the contract cannot be terminated, but all the legal men in this House will agree that the fact that this building cannot serve the purpose for which it was rented, the contract is frustrated by itself and it should be terminated immediately. No rent should be paid.
Mr Bachoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I'll communicate this to the substantive Minister.
Mr Baloomoody: I am sure that what has been said is not through legal advice; it is probably from the Permanent Secretary, and I am sure that the Minister will look into it. Who are the people behind the Société des Entrepots du Nord?
Mr Bachoo: According to an extract of a deed dated 06 April 1999, the partners of Société des Entrepots du Nord are –
(i) Privy Ltd, represented by Mr Thierry Ollivry and Mr A. Vyravene;
(ii) Mr & Mrs Agumbarum Mootoosamy, actually absent from the country, and represented by Mr Narainsamy Narayanen of Impasse Imbert, Vacoas.
Mr Baloomoody: Is the hon. Minister aware that Mootoosamy' is, in fact, a prête-nom of the then Minister Sunassee?
Mr Bachoo: I am not aware, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Baloomoody: Given the circumstances in which this lease was granted, can I ask the hon. Minister whether the file can be referred to ECO for an inquiry to be carried out?
Mr Bachoo: We will certainly do it, Sir.
(No. B/312) Mr S. Sakaram (Second Member for Vacoas & Floreal) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether he will give a list of pesticides and herbicides that have been banned within the Republic, indicating –
(a) their scientific names and their corresponding trade names; and
(b) the reason for such ban.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Sir, with your permission, I am circulating the reply to part (a) of the question (Appendix I). As regards part (b), the reasons for the ban are as follows:-
(i) the products are very toxic;
(ii) they are hazardous to health and the environment; and
(iii) safer substitutes are available for the products.
(No. B/313) Dr. N. Issimdar (Second Member for Rivière des Anguilles & Souillac) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport & Shipping whether, in view of the fact that the existing bridge at Rivière du Poste is very old and is a cause of great inconvenience to the inhabitants of that village during the rainy season, he will consider the advisability of having a new bridge constructed in replacement of the present one.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, the project for the reconstruction of the bridge at Rivière du Poste had been initiated by my Ministry as far back as 1994. In a letter dated 02 April 1999, the then Minister of Health & Quality of Life also drew the attention of the then Minister of Public Infrastructure on the dangers that the bridge represent, but even then no positive action had followed.
My Ministry has now included this project in its programme of works for the next financial year.
(No. B/314) Dr. N. Issimdar (Second Member for Rivière des Anguilles & Souillac) asked the Minister of Education & Scientific Research whether, in view of the fact that the old buildings housing the Rivière des Anguilles Government School are causing great inconvenience to those small school children, especially during the very hot weather and that a new NHDC housing estate now adjoins the existing fencing which is very near to the toilet, he will consider the advisability of arranging for the school to be uplifted and for a proper and appropriate fencing to be put up .
Mr Obeegadoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am grateful to the hon. Member for bringing to my personal attention the problems of Rivière des Anguilles Government School.
I am informed that the Rivière des Anguilles Government School is housed in six old blocks of classrooms and a seventh one which is relatively new.
The six old blocks are made up of concrete walls, but have corrugated iron sheet roofing which is not in a very good condition. Furthermore, the 28 classrooms are not provided with the false ceiling.
I am also informed that the NHDC units have been put up only some nine metres away from the toilet blocks of the school, thus causing considerable embarrassment both to school children and to the NHDC residents.
I have arranged for a team of technical officers of my Ministry to carry out, before the end of this month, a detailed survey to assess the extent of works required. Particular attention will be given to the need for replacing the existing chain link fencing between the school toilet blocks and the NHDC compound by a concrete wall. This will enhance the privacy and security of the school children.
Funds permitting, the possibility of providing false ceiling to the classrooms will be explored after the necessary repairs to the roof would have been carried out.
When establishing priorities for infrastructural works to be undertaken in primary schools during the next financial year, due consideration will be given to the case of Rivière des Anguilles Government School.
(No. B/315) Dr. N. Issimdar (Second Member for Rivière des Anguilles & Souillac) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions whether he is planning to have a community centre constructed at La Flora inasmuch as land therefor has already been earmarked.
Mr Lauthan: Sir, the responsibility for the construction of community centres rests with the Rural and Urban Development Division of the Ministry of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural & Urban Development. Once the building is completed, it is normally handed over to the Sugar Industry Labour Welfare Fund for day-to-day running and maintenance.
I am advised that the Ministry of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural & Urban Development has included in its plan, for financial year 2001-2002, the construction of a community centre at La Flora.
At 1.00 p.m. the sitting was suspended.
On resuming at 2.35 p.m. with Mr Speaker in the Chair.
(No. B/316) Dr. S. Maudarbocus (Third Member for Port Louis South & Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Health & Quality of Life whether, in regard to the purchase of drugs for AIDS patients, he will consider importing generic drugs now that the Pharmaceutical Manufactuers' Association has withdrawn its case against the South African Government.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, as a matter of policy and as a general rule, the Ministry of Health & Quality of Life procures pharmaceutical products under the form of generic drugs.
The Ministry has adopted the policy of providing anti-retroviral treatment presently in their original trade mark as opposed to generic molecules to the following groups:
- children suffering from AIDS;
- HIV positive pregnant women with a view to preventing vertical transmission of HIV;
- staff of the hospital having a risky exposure on the work premises in view of preventing them from getting contaminated.
As for other AIDS patients, the Ministry provides treatment for the management of opportunistic infections with the use of generic molecules in general.
Yes, we may in future, purchase generic drugs for AIDS patients when all technical considerations such as drugs authenticity and fiability, and optimal supply, would have been reviewed and when these molecules will be regularly available on the market.
Dr. Maudarbocus: Sir, in reply to PQ B/411, the Minister said that since 1996 local infection has exceeded imported cases; and according to the prediction of the Ministry we have around 800 HIV positive cases in Mauritius now, out of which about 150 cases have been detected. The projection he has made is that there may be 800 cases. The Minister said that it is estimated that the number of HIV positive cases should not exceed 800…
…because all the people in Mauritius have not been tested. Being given that sex workers and people in prisons are potential HIV positive cases they can spread the disease very easily. Now that the Pharmaceutical companies under the pressure of the South African Government, the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the UN, WHO, UNICEF, many other organisations and NGO like OXFAN have been forced to withdraw their case, it means that implicitly they have accepted that the TRIP clauses of the WTO Agreement should not apply in case of an emergency, as AIDS is considered a medical emergency. Actually now, in New York, they are talking about ways to fund a World programme to combat AIDS. So, I will ask the hon. Minister if locally the necessary infrastructure can be put in place to assess the efficacity of generic drugs and, at the same time, to contact the organisation that is working on this programme so that all our AIDS patients can get the proper treatment, not only for opportunistic infection and complication.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, to set the record right, between 1987 to end of March 2001 the total number of cases detected: 228 Mauritians; non-Mauritians: 67. Among these 228 Mauritians, 67 have passed away; presumably living: 161. Annually there is an average of 10 expected HIV positive mothers who give birth. As I said in my answer that when all the technical considerations have been taken into account, that is, authenticity and fiability and that there is sufficient supply on the market, it is then that we will be able to purchase these generic and be in a position to treat all the patients with these anti-retroviral drugs (generic).
(No. B/318) Mr J. C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW and Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Environment whether in view of the fact that the recent tidal waves have damaged the gabions of Rivière des Galets beach, he will state if repair works are envisaged.
Mr Bhagwan: Yes, Sir. A recent visit at Rivière des Galets beach has revealed that about 36m of gabions has been damaged at 3 different locations out of the 800m that were installed. Action has already been initiated to undertake the repair works.
Mr Speaker, Sir, coastal erosion is a problem that needs our urgent attention. During the past years, my Ministry undertook to redress some of the most affected sites through installation of gabions. Six sites, namely Grand Bay, Rivière des Galets, Cap Malheureux, Flic-en-Flac, La Prairie and Riambel were upgraded whereby some 3,500m of protection works were undertaken. Seven other eroded sites along the coast have been identified where protection works have to be carried out, over a length of about 5.0 km. These sites are Trou-D'Eau Douce, Flic-en-Flac/Wolmar, Belle-Mare, Pointe de Flacq, Pomponette, Le Morne and Rivière Noire.
Gabions are robust, durable and flexible enough to take up unexpected and localised loads. It is also permeable and drains water efficiently. It is an energy dissipator and helps in accreting sand as well. However, damages to the gabions may be caused by -
continuous assaults of high energy waves
wear and tear with time
There is, therefore, a need for regular monitoring and repairs. In addition, alternative ways to better protect eroded sites should be explored.
However, I should like to point out that -
(a) it has so far not been possible to adopt an integrated approach for the management of our coastal zone;
(b) we do not have a complete data base on the erosion problem; and
(c) there is a lack of technical expertise
In fact, the Director of Audit has, in its last report raised serious concern on the whole issue.
In view of the prevailing situation -
(i) a complete study on coastal erosion will be undertaken in the very near future;
(ii) an Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Unit has already been set up within the Ministry. This unit is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government which is responsible for public beaches. The setting up of a Beach Authority will soon be another step to consolidate an integrated approach to beach management.
(No. B/319) Dr P. Ramloll (First Member for Quartier Militaire and Moka) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether in view of the fact that the users of Bois Cheri, Mount Ory Road are encountering difficulties when proceeding to Port Louis, he will state when the flyover project concerning same is likely to start or whether an alternative route has been identified.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, my Ministry intended to construct a flyover over the motorway M1 linking Mount Ory road to the northbound lane of the motorway. However, as there is a project proposal for the construction of a road to link Port Louis and Moka, the construction of the flyover is not justified at this juncture.
(No. B/320) Dr P. Ramloll (First Member for Quartier Militaire and Moka) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether in view of the fact that the Pont Colville subway is a constant threat to its users owing to its bad state due to absence of proper maintenance, he will state if his Ministry proposes to erect an appropriate footbridge and, if so, when the project is likely to start and if not, why not.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, technicians of my Ministry have carried out a survey and have recommended the construction of a footbridge at Colville Deverell Bridge. The project is estimated to cost Rs10 m. and has been included in my Ministry's list of projects.
(No. B/321) Dr. S. Maudarbocus (Third Member for Port Louis South an d Port Louis Central) asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation whether in regard to the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use and Financing of Mercenaries, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 04 December 1989, he will say whether Mauritius has signed and ratified it and, if so, when and, if not, why not.
Mr Gayan: Sir, the International Convention referred to by the hon. Member is in fact known as the "International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries" and Mauritius has neither signed nor ratified, nor even acceded to it.
After 4 December 1989 when the Convention was opened for signature, the international community was confronted with, for example, major developments in the Warsaw Pact countries. The invasion of Kuwait has occurred in 1990 and the beginning of the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa was about to start.
These events, as well as others, caused the Convention to disappear from the international radar screen. It appears that for these reasons this Convention which needs only 22 ratifications or accessions has not yet entered into force.
But we do recognise that the Convention deals with very important issues relating to stability, peace, good neighbourly relations among States and the necessity of doing away with mercenaries who represent a serious danger to countries which are particularly vulnerable.
So, we are studying with the State Law Office all the changes that need to be brought to our national legislation so as to give effect to the provisions of the Convention.
(No. B/322) Mr J. C. Armance (Third Member for GRNW and Port Louis West) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether in view of the fact that the school population in Central Flacq and its vicinity consists of several thousands of pupils, he will consider the advisability of setting up a public library there.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I am advised by the Moka/Flacq District Council that there is already a reading point at Central Flacq which is however not in a good condition.
I understand that the Council had a construction project at Central Flacq to the tune of Rs8 m. and that this project provides inter alia for a library. However, I understand that the Council is still at the stage of tapping financial resources for the project.
I entirely agree with the hon. Member that there is a need for a modern library in the region and I would impress on the District Council to finalise the project at the earliest.
In the meantime, I would request the District Council to consider making relevant provision in its 2001/2002 Estimates for upgrading the existing reading point as a temporary measure to make it more responsive to the needs of the public pending the construction of the proposed new library.
Mr Armance: Mr Speaker, Sir, may I ask the hon. Minister whether he is aware that the actual reading point is slightly larger than a corridor and the actual school population frequenting Central Flacq is very large? So, implementing or upgrading the reading point is not a solution. Will the Minister consider the advisability of setting up a new and good library there?
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, this is not a permanent solution. As I said, the upgrading of the reading point is a temporary measure, but I will impress upon the District Council to go for the construction of a library.
(No. B/323) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether in regard to the resurfacing works of La Vigie Road, he will state -
(a) the cost thereof and
(b) the number of times that road has been resurfaced, together with the dates and the cost of, and the reasons for, resurfacing.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, as regards part (a), the cost is Rs73.6 m. including VAT.
As regards part (b) the road between Phoenix and La Vigie has never been resurfaced since its construction in 1988. Therefore, the question of dates, the cost and the reasons of resurfacing do not arise.
Dr. Chady: Can we know whether there has been any resurfacing on that particular stretch of the road?
Mr Bachoo: Since its construction in 1988, there has never been any resurfacing on that stretch of the road.
Dr. Chady: Mr Speaker, Sir, there is apparently something wrong in the base of that road that might require resurfacing every now and again. Can I ask the Minister to inquire into it because there has been resurfacing - may be not La Vigie - of the road for Rs22 m. when I was Minister?
Mr Bachoo: That resurfacing was between La Vigie and Nouvelle France. That is the reason why we are resurfacing that part of the road properly and we are trying to ensure that repeated breaks won't occur in the future.
Dr. Chady: I would also like to know from the Minister whether he has carried out a core sampling of that road to find out the real cause as to why that road needs resurfacing almost half of the lifespan of any other road.
Mr Bachoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, in fact, in the past remedial action had been taken. And being given that that region is a bit marshy and because of repeated rains that do occur in that region, it is very difficult for us to guarantee the road for years to come. The notes, which I have in front of me mention that there has been deterioration of the pavement surface as well as deformation in certain specific locations on account of traffic loads and climatic conditions. So, we'll try to ensure that the repair that we are conducting to the tune of over Rs73 m, be tougher and better than what it was earlier.
(No. B/324) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether in regard to the South Eastern Highway Project for the Mahebourg and Belle Mare link road, he will state -
(a) the name of the consulting firm who was awarded the contract for the design, together with the date of the award and the cost thereof;
(b) the date on which the study was submitted to Government; and
(c) the cost of the project.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, as regards part (a), this project was initiated in 1987 as the Mahebourg/Trou d'Eau Douce/Belle Mare road. In 1994, the Government of India through the Indo Mauritian Joint Commission approved the financing of the study. Subsequently, proposals from Consultants were invited by the Government of India and the contract was awarded to Consulting Engineering Services (India) Private Ltd in 1995 for the sum of Indian Rupees 2,958,852.
As regards part (b), the feasibility study was submitted on 27 November 1996 and the draft detailed engineering report and tender documents on 7 May 1998. The final reports and tender documents were submitted on 8 March 1999. In June 2000, negotiations were held with the African Development Bank for the financing of the project. However, in July 2000, the then Government decided to change the mode of financing and to modify the already prepared tender document to include a clause requesting financing of the project by the contractors.
In December 2000, the present Government once again reviewed that decision and decided that the project would be financed by the African Development Bank.
As regards part (c), the estimated cost of the project is Rs723 m.
Dr. Chady: May we know whether this sum has already been approved by the African Development Bank and when is the project likely to start?
Mr Bachoo: We are still at the initial stage, because the tender documents will be ready most probably by the end of August or September.
Dr. Chady: What I want to know is whether the funds are already available.
Mr Bachoo: I have only mentioned that we are negotiating with the African Development Bank. When the tender documents will be ready then we will launch the tenders, but I must say that it will be financed by the African Development Bank.
Dr. Chady: My question relates to whether the funds are already available. Even if the tender documents are ready, if you don't get the funds in time you can't start the project.
Mr Bachoo: Well, it is already in the pipeline. I can assure the hon. Member that the funds will be made available.
(No. B/326) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port and Rose Belle) asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether he will state if a new economic agenda report has been prepared and, if so, will he make a statement thereon.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Sir, the hon. Member will have to wait for the forthcoming budget.
Dr. Boolell: I can't understand the Deputy Prime Minister. After the report on the economic status of the country was published, he was the first to say that Government intends to come with a new economic agenda. I don't know whether it is the policy of this Government to constantly do U-turns.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, my good friend, the hon. Minister of Education has asked the hon. Leader of the Opposition to wait for one week. I shall have to ask the real Leader of the Opposition to wait for five weeks!
Mr Dulloo: Mr Speaker, Sir, we remember well, when the debate was on the state of Mauritius economy, the Government sides, especially the Minister of Finance said that we would have the new economic agenda at the beginning of the year and he even gave us the timetable as to when there would be the budget, etc. So, we are asking the hon. Deputy Prime Minister why is it that we have not been gratified with this new economic agenda? But, we are patient enough.
(No. B/327) Dr. A. Boolell (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port and Rose Belle) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Food Technology and Natural Resources whether he will state if the strategic plan on the sugar industry makes provision for a pension for the workers of the sector and for each sugar estate to set aside 1,000 arpents to be allocated, on a formula being worked out, to employees of the sugar industry who would opt to retire on a voluntary basis.
The Minister of Housing and Lands (Mr M. Choonee): Mr Speaker, Sir, the strategic plan on the sugar industry is still being considered by the Government and it would be premature at this stage to make any statement on the matter.
(No. B/328) Mr V. Baloomoody (Third Member for Rivière des Anguilles and Souillac) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether, in regard to the forgery committed at the NTA by an importer of motor vehicles by falsifying its bill of entry in order to obtain a dual-purpose licence instead of a goods vehicle licence, he will state -
(a) the number of cases involved and the types of vehicles, and
(b) what action is being taken thereon and whether the matter has been reported to the ECO or to the Police for inquiry.
Mr Bachoo: Sir, as far as part (a) is concerned, I am informed by the National Transport Authority that a new vehicle was in fact produced at the Plaine Lauzun Vehicle Examination Centre on 27 March 2001 for the purpose of obtaining a certificate of its particulars required for its registration.
The rate of duty payable was observed to have been tampered with in its bill of entry. This change was most probably effected with the intention to obtain a dual-purpose classification for the vehicle instead of goods vehicle. Goods vehicles pay only 10% duty and are allowed to carry only two passengers besides the driver while dual-purpose vehicles pay 80% duty and are authorised to transport at least five passengers.
The details of the bill of entry was cross-checked with the Customs Department and it was ascertained that only 10% duty had been paid in respect of the vehicle under reference. A certificate of particulars classifying the vehicle as a goods vehicle was then issued to the importer.
Up to now, only one such case of falsification has been detected involving a small van. The records at the NTA for the past one year are being scrutinised with a view to detecting any other similar case. The Customs Department will also be involved in the exercise.
With regard to part (b) of the question, a decision to report the matter either to ECO or the Police will be taken after completion of the inquiry and a full assessment of the extent of the identified malpractice.
(No. B/329) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in regard to tourism development in Rodrigues and to the necessity to preserve the environment, he will arrange for a certain number of beaches in the island to remain free public beaches and for the necessary amenities to be set up accordingly and, if so, will he give an indication as to the measures he proposes to adopt.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I am informed that a list of sites was identified for declaration as public beaches as far back as 1995 and was referred to the then Ministry of Housing and Lands for proclamation. However, there has been no follow-up in the matter.
My Ministry has since reviewed the situation and has already initiated necessary action for declaring a certain number of sites as public beaches. Once this exercise is completed, appropriate measures will be taken for the setting up of necessary amenities on these beaches.
On the other hand, the Consultants Deloitte & Touche have last month submitted their draft final report on the Master Plan for Tourism Development for Rodrigues. The official presentation of the plan will be made by the Minister of Tourism in Rodrigues next Saturday and on that occasion a brainstorming session will be organised with all stakeholders with a view to reaching a consensus regarding the type of tourism and projects most appropriate for Rodrigues while taking into account the need for preserving the environment and the needs of the people for leisure facilities.
Mr Von-Mally: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he will arrange for the reafforestation of certain neglected beaches, like Dans Cocos and Baie du Nord?
Mr Lesjongard: We will take that into consideration, Sir.
(No. B/330) Mr J. Von-Mally (Third Member for Rodrigues) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in view of the fact that the beach at Mourouk has reached an advanced stage of degradation due to sand erosion, he will state if he proposes to take urgent steps to combat same and, if so, will he make a statement thereon.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I am informed as follows. A delegation of officers from the Ministries of Fisheries and Environment was on mission in Rodrigues from 05 to 25 April 2001 to look, amongst, others into the problem of erosion at Mourouk.
Observations have shown that the beach is actively being eroded at numerous places due –
(i) to incident wave energy;
(ii) the prevailing long shore current, and
(iii) the presence of two groynes previously installed at two locations running from the beach into the lagoon.
It has also been observed that part of the eroded sand is accumulating on one side of the groyne system and part is being transported to the Grande Passe by the relatively strong prevailing current.
The delegation has recommended that mitigative measures be undertaken urgently to combat the erosion problem at Mourouk and that care be taken to design appropriate soft structures so as not to create hazards in view of its popular use for leisure activities.
The following proposals made by the delegation to combat the problem of erosion will be examined for implementation –
(i) a complete study of the areas and adjoining areas so as to have a clear picture of the current patterns in Mourouk;
(ii) appropriate design of soft measures and follow up of impacts over a period of 1 year;
(iii) plantation of casuarinas (filaos) need to be looked into as it has been observed that there is an absence of buffers which act as wave energy impact absorbers, and
(iv) consideration of alternatives to hard structures such as underwater groynes using combination of sand bags and gabions.
(No. B/331) 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 Montagne Chérie, he will -
(a) arrange for the access road to be tarred, and
(b) give the reasons for the non-completion of the road works already started.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, I am informed that 1.2 km of the road from Coromandel to Montagne Chérie via Tammes, which is about 2.7 km long have been tarred over the past financial years in accordance with availability of funds. There remains, therefore, a stretch of road about 1.5 km to be constructed to reach the village of Montagne Chérie. In fact, I am informed that it has been the practice over the past years, to construct/upgrade roads up to a certain stretch in different areas on the basis of availability of funds. This has, therefore, resulted in road construction being partly completed in certain regions.
I have since reviewed the situation and have given instruction for road construction/repairs to be completed over the required full stretch on the basis of a priority list established, after taking due account of funds made available in Estimates.
Consideration will be given to complete in the next financial year the construction of the remaining stretch of the road to reach the village of Montagne Chérie.
(No. B/332) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Local Government, Rodrigues and Rural and Urban Development whether, in regard to the Sooben Commission on Local Government, he will state -
(a) the total amount of expenditure incurred thereon;
(b) whether the recommendations contained in its report has served any purpose till now, and
(c) if he has new proposals for a complete overall of the present Local Government legislation before the next Local Government elections.
Mr Lesjongard: Sir, with your permission, I would like to inform the House that I have already provided relevant information on this matter in my reply to PQ. No. B/155 on 31 October 2000, and in the statement I made at our sitting on 07 November 2000.
Concerning part (a), in fact, the total expenditure incurred on the Sooben Report amounts approximately to Rs2.4 m.
As far as part (b) is concerned, the recommendations contained in the report have not served any purpose up to now as the report itself had been referred to as a non-event to the extent that it failed to respond to the expectations and aspirations of the stakeholders.
As far as part (c) is concerned, my Ministry is currently working on a complete review of the present Local Government Act and will definitely come up with a new legal framework which will uphold the ideals of regional democracy and will be more responsive to need of the local community through greater empowerment, effective decentralisation, adequate administrative and financial autonomy and enhanced resources.
Finally, I wish to inform the House that the review of the Local Government Act is and remains both a priority and an urgency, but in view of the complexity and magnitude of the exercise, it is not possible at this stage, to be precise regarding the date for the completion of the exercise. My Ministry will, nevertheless, endeavour to complete it at the earliest.
(No. B/333) Mr M. Chumroo (First Member for Port Louis North and Montagne Longue) asked the Minister of Youth and Sports whether he is coming forward with new proposals regarding the Sports Act.
Mr Yerrigadoo: Yes Sir, consultations have been held with all the stakeholders in the sports sector, and new proposals are being compiled to amend the Sports Act.
- TERMS & CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT
(No. B/334) Dr. S. Chady (Second Member for Port Louis Maritime and Port Louis East) asked the Minister of Fisheries whether he will give the number of advisers attached to his Ministry, together with their names and their respective terms and conditions of employment.
Mr Michel: Mr Speaker, Sir, there are four advisers attached to my Ministry, namely –
(1) Mr Javed Iqbal MOSAHEB
(2) Mr Jean Paul LAVENERABLE
(3) Mr Benjamin MOUTOU
(4) Mr Shree Krishna BALIGADOO
I am tabling a paper on the terms and conditions of their employment.
Dr. Boolell: When was Mr Baligadoo recruited and in what capacity?
Mr Michel: Mr Baligadoo has been appointed last month as adviser.
(No. B/335) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand' Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Health and Quality of Life whether he has set up a committee to inquire into the management and the situation prevailing at the Duke and Duchess of York Cardiac Centre run by the Trust Fund for Specialised Medical Care and, if so, will he state why and the terms of reference of the said Committee.
Mr A. Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, Government has set up a Ministerial Committee under my chairmanship and comprising the Minister of Economic Development, Financial Services and Corporate Affairs, the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity & Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions, the Financial Secretary and a senior official from the Prime Minister's Office.
I wish to point out that the Cardiac Centre came into operation on 01 June 1998 and its activities have since then been financed from public funds.
Over the years, the cost of running the Cardiac Centre has increased from Rs52.9 m in the financial year 1998-99 to Rs76.5 m in the financial year 1999-2000 and the first quarter of this year up to April of the present financial year, the Cardiac Centre has already spent Rs57.3 m.
Statistics show that, in our present situation with diabetes and hypertension being so rampant in our society, the need for cardiac surgery would be around 800 cases yearly, while the Cardiac Centre can do a maximum of 450 cases yearly.
In view of the increase in the number of cardiac cases, the Cardiac Centre will require substantial financial resources to be able to provide continuous, quality and comprehensive services. In fact, the question has been raised as to whether Government can sustain such expenditure which will keep on increasing. It is for this reason that Government has set up a Ministerial Committee. The terms of reference of the Committee are as follows -
(i) to carry out an in-depth review of the organisational structure and activities of the Trust Fund for Specialised Medical Care since it became operational in June 1998 and to make recommendations regarding its future; and
(ii) to look into the provision of cardiology services in the regional
hospitals and to make recommendations accordingly.
Mr Dulloo: The hon. Minister has just said that Government is asking itself the question as to whether it can go on financing this centre. So, is it one of the possibilities that Government would back out from financing this centre anymore?
Mr Jugnauth: This Ministerial Committee is going to look into that.
Mr Dulloo: Is the Minister aware that, following the interventions at Ministerial level, there are now some problems at the Cardiac Centre, matters are being attended to rather slowly and as a result, there has been quite a number of cases now queuing up to be attended to?
Mr Jugnauth: Wrong information has been passed to the hon. Member, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Dulloo: Will the hon. Minister agree that the question of financing is one of the main concerns of Government? Is it not a question of administration by or competence of the people which is being questioned?
Mr Jugnauth: I have just given the terms of reference of the Ministerial Committee, Mr Speaker, Sir. It is clear that the Ministerial Committee will act within the ambit of those terms of reference and then we are going to make suggestions to the Government.
Dr. Boolell: Can I ask the Minister whether closure of the centres is one of the things to be considered?
Mr Jugnauth: I'll ask the hon. Member to wait for a couple of months because we will have to work on the terms of reference and then submit our proposals to the Government.
Dr. Boolell: No, this is very serious because what is happening is that the Ministry has created a climate of uncertainty with the end result that people are not able to work properly. This is a highly technical unit, can I impress upon the Minister to see to it that the resources given are used judiciously?
Mr Jugnauth: This is a perception created in the mind of the hon. Member, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Dr. Boolell: It is a campaign deliberately being waged by the Minister and we know the kind of conversation that has been going on, the kind of information that has been exchanged. Can I impress upon the Minister to see to it that those people, who are professional, are allowed to carry on with what they are doing? But, of course, Government has the right to see to it that resources are judiciously used.
Mr Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is not in the habit of the Minister to get involved in such campaigns.
Dr. Boolell: This is why I put the question.
(No. B/336) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie and Poudre d'Or)
asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance whether he will use his good offices to ensure that the casino companies of Mauritius set up urgently a pension scheme for employees of the industry in accordance with their conditions of employment, more particularly as provided for in the Review of Organisation Structures and Procedures, Pay Structures and Conditions of Employment, commonly known as the Appanah Report.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker Sir, as indicated in my reply to PQ B/217 on 17th April last, a Memorandum of Understanding providing inter alia for the setting up this year of a pension plan, will be signed between the union of casino employees and SIC Management Services Co. Ltd. I am informed that the MOU has already been submitted to the union and a response is awaited.
I would like to point out that the Appanah Report refrained from making any specific recommendation about a pension scheme as it considered this to be, I quote - "a very specialised field and required in-depth actuarial survey." However, the employees have legitimately been awaiting for the setting up of a pension scheme. Nothing was done by the previous management to address this important issue.
With the advent of the new management team after the last general election, this issue of pension scheme has been tackled immediately. All the technical aspects and actuarial studies of the pension scheme that will fully recognise past years of service of all employees have been completed. Once the MOU is signed, the pension scheme will be set up.
Mr Dulloo: May I ask the hon. Minister whether he is aware that over the years there has been in the terms and conditions of employment of the workers - whenever they have been signing written contracts - there is one condition that they will benefit from a pension scheme and for years now, this has not been done?
The Deputy Prime Minister: I repeat what I said. Under the previous management, under the previous Government, for years absolutely nothing was done to set up such a pension scheme. One of the first things which the new management did was to look into that, generally improve industrial relations, get people to work in the right atmosphere instead of the political interference that was the rule of the day under the previous Government and the previous Management. So, within weeks of the new management taking over, the plans for a pension scheme have been devised and the trade union is now examining those proposals and we are awaiting for their reactions.
(No. B/337) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Land Transport and Shipping whether he will state why employees of the DWC who have been contributing to the Mauritius Civil Service Mutual Aid Association Ltd. are not being granted any loan by the said Association since the beginning of this year and state what remedial action he is taking thereon.
Mr Bachoo: Mr Speaker, Sir, prior to December 1995, the DWC was contributing regularly to the Mauritius Civil Service Mutual Aid Association Ltd. However, as from that date the Corporation has accumulated considerable arrears in its contribution with the result that an amount of over Rs6 m. representing contribution for period December 1995 to March 1997 was settled only in June 1997. Moreover, in December 2000, my Ministry had to release an amount of Rs3 m. to enable the DWC honour its commitments towards the Mutual Aid Association.
I am informed that due to severe liquidity problem faced as a result of lack of projects awarded to the DWC by the previous Government, the Corporation again did not remit check-off amounting to Rs1,950,000 representing contribution to the Mauritius Civil Service Mutual Aid Association Ltd. for the months of February, March and April 2001.
However, remedial action has been taken and the DWC has already effected the necessary payment. The grant of loan to beneficiaries should therefore automatically resume.
(No. B/338) Mr M. Dulloo (Third Member for Grand'Baie and Poudre d'Or) asked the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizen Welfare and Reform Institutions whether, in the light of the report by the Mauritius Institute of Health on the inquiry conducted for the NATReSA, he will state what urgent remedial measures he is taking, especially to reduce the very high incidence of drug abuse, cigarette consumption and alcoholism amongst our school population and the youth generally.
Mr Lauthan: Sir, a community-based "kabp" survey, that is, the survey on the knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and practice of substance abuse among youth aged 12 to 24 years was conducted in Mauritius from September to December, 2000. The study was commissioned by NATReSA and executed by the Mauritius Institute of Health, with the asssistance of NATReSA, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and social workers and peer educators.
Six hundred (600) male and female youth aged 12 to 24 years were randomly selected both from the rural and urban areas and interviewed peers aged 18 to 30 years acted as interviewers supported by a close supervision from the Youth Officers of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The findings of this study were complemented by focus group discussions in order to validate the information generated from the interviewers.
The findings of the survey still in a draft form was discussed by doctors, field workers and counsellors during a one-day workshop on Monday 30 April 2001.
Such a survey is very important in the fight against substance abuse. If we want to delay or prevent experimentation with alcohol, cigarette and illicit drugs by our youth, that is, the practice or behaviour we must aim at changing their attitudes towards those drugs. And in order to change their attitude we need to modify their beliefs about these substances. Finally, if we want to change their beliefs we have to improve their knowledge about those drugs.
Hence, Mr Speaker, Sir, in developing a prevention strategy we have to focus our attention on all these four concepts: knowledge, beliefs, attitude and behaviour. Unfortunately most of the press reports on the findings of the survey chose to focus on only one aspect, that is, the practice or the prevalence of the problem whereas a lot of lessons can be derived from a close scrutiny of the report under the other angles, that is, the knowledge, beliefs and attitude of our youth towards substance abuse.
However, I wish to put on record the excellent awareness raising contribution of Mr Jacques Achille of Week End for his series of factual and objective articles.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I have just received the official version of the deliberations of the recent workshop. At the same time, I have personally scrutinised the draft report of the survey. I shall soon come to the House with a full-fledged statement.
In the meantime, the grassroot social workers are being encouraged to deliver talks in our secondary schools. There is definitely now a greater awareness of the prevalence of substance abuse by our youth among an increasing number of rectors/managers.
My colleague, the hon. Minister of Education and Scientific Research, and myself shall be meeting the executive members of the federation of PTAs of State Secondary Schools. That will be the first time that such a meeting will take place. So, we will be meeting the executive members of the federation of the PTAs of all State secondary schools on Friday next.
We are organising a series of regional meetings with rectors, representatives of PTAs, the teaching staff and the representatives of students.
Mr Speaker, Sir, pending the drafting and publication of the National Master Plan, I will place in the Library a long list of activities which have already been proposed by the Ministerial Committee which I am chairing and which are being implemented by various Ministries and NGOs to protect our student population as well as our out-of-school youth.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I am also tabling a list of some 15 proposals made by the participants at the recent above-mentioned workshop.
Mr Dulloo: Mr Speaker, Sir, the statistics emanating from the said report and which has been made public are really frightening. I do not know whether the Minister will confirm those figures that have been made public, because it does not look good for Mauritius. But, at the same time, it makes every parent worried about what is happening, specially in our schools when we are told that for the age group between 12 to 24 years, 61.5% have already consumed alcohol, 54% smoking cigarettes, 18% already consumed illegal drugs and, what is more, 24% of our children of 8 years have started drinking alcohol. Perhaps the figures may be wrong and, already, the Minister may be aware that there are controversies about those figures. Sir, I think this should be set right and, if this is the real situation, then it is not just a national plan, but a whole national strategy should be put in place. So, I am asking the Minister whether he could confirm those figures and what action he is taking in order to set the record right?
Mr Lauthan: M le président, nous procédons d'une façon scientifique. Il y a eu cette étude par l'institut de santé avec une approche scientifique et ces findings pour les valider – je l'ai dit dans ma réponse, c'est la pratique normale. Il a eu ce qu'on appelle a focus group discussion, c'est à dire, que nous avons presenté ces findings aux personnes qui sont dans le domaine, qui connaissent ce monde et qui ont travaillé avec des jeunes toxicomanes.
Nous passons maintenant à une troisième étape - ce workshop dont le rapport, comme je l'ai dit, est toujours dans son draft form – visait à inviter tous les travailleurs sociaux, les médecins, les professionnels, pour discuter davantage. Personnellement, je sais qu'il y a eu quelques réserves . Je sais qu'on a parlé de 19.5% qui ont goûté l'opium et 19.6% qui ont goûté la cocaïne. La Police nous a informé qu'il n'y a pas eu des arrestations en ce qui concerne la possession de la cocaïne. Il y a certaines réserves de la part des travailleurs sociaux qui sont sur le terrain et qui n'ont pas rencontré à travers leurs clients ces produits. Mais, c'est tout à fait normal. Le but même de cet exercice c'est de continuer à discuter avec les travailleurs sociaux pour voir plus clair et arriver à une conclusion.
Par exemple, on a trouvé drôle que la NATReSA est plus connue par les jeunes comparé aux ONG, alors que nous savons que depuis des années les ONG ont été très actives. Cela ne me surprend pas car les ONG avaient même baissé les bras dernièrement parceque la répression ne fonctionnait pas comme il fallait. Elles ont continué leur traitement, mais n'étaient pas actives sur le plan de la prévention. Or, la NATReSA, si elle est connue, ne l'est pas dans le sens positif. Je sais que la NATReSA était un peu au centre des discussions. Cela ne m'étonne pas. On dit aussi que les ONG ne sont pas perçues comme étant très populaires, mais l'essentiel de l'exercice est de connaitre, comme je l'ai dit, la somme de connaissance, les croyances, les attitudes et les pratiques de nos jeunes.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Minister is debating too much.
Mr Lauthan: Je réponds à la question. On doit prendre les résultats comme ils sont dans le but de devise an appropriate national strategy.
Mr Dulloo: I have a last question, Mr Speaker, Sir. I congratulate the Minister for taking the issue so seriously while others are not, unfortunately. He has referred to the Ministry of Education and he is emphasising on the preventive side and on the education side, which is not bad, but our schools are vulnerable and I think he should liaise with the Prime Minister's Office as far as the enforcement side is concerned, because drug peddlars are infesting the areas around the schools. There should be more supervision as far as policing is concerned. I would like to ask the Minister whether he is thinking along this line also.
Mr Lauthan: Je suis entièrement d'accord avec l'honorable membre. Malheureusement je n'ai pas les chiffres avec moi, mais si, aujourd'hui, il y a une nouvelle dynamique et que la population, les forces vives et les parents sont mobilisés, c'est parce qu'effectivement il y a eu une activité aggressive au niveau de la répression. J'ai comparé les chiffres des derniers six mois avec ceux des derniers six mois avant les élections, il y a eu une augmentation considérable d'arrestations. C'est ce qui a encouragé les forces vives et les parents à venir de l'avant pour lutter contre ce fléau.