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Friday, 19 October 2012 16:00

National Assembly – Burning issues await MPs

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Debates resume at the National Assembly on Tuesday 23 October at 11.30 am after three months of holidays. The second session of the fifth National Assembly held its last sitting on Friday 27 July at 3.30 pm for the third reading of the Supplementary Appropriation (2011) Bill.
That session was largely dedicated to the resumption and conclusion of debates on the public bill which is related to the Government Programme 2012-2015 presented to the Assembly by the Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Xavier Duval on Monday 16 April 2012. Before conclusion of debates on the Bill and its subsequent vote, the leader of the Opposition, Paul Berenger put a Private Notice Question to the Prime Minister, Dr Navin Ramgoolam.

The PNQ related to arms trafficking as denounced by Kathi Lynn Austin, an American expert working for the Conflict Awareness Project.

Paul Berenger put his question to the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Home Affairs and External Communications, and  Minister for Rodrigues as follows: Whether, in regard to the recent reported cases of attempts to use Mauritius for trafficking of arms, following an interim report from the Conflict Awareness Project, he will, for the benefit of the House, obtain from the –

(a) Commissioner of Police, information as to where matters stand as to the inquiry carried out thereinto, indicating –

(i) if two known Russians, former associates of convicted arms trafficker Viktor Bout, are involved therein and, if so, why their involvement went undetected; and

(ii) the identity of their local contacts;

(b) Financial Intelligence Unit, the Financial Services Commission and the Independent Commission Against Corruption, information as to where matters stand as to the inquiries carried out thereinto, indicating if –

(i) a local bank reported a failed compliance check involving the two known Russians referred to above; and

(ii) officers of the Police, of the Board of Investment and of the Ministry of Labour and Industrial Relations are involved therein?

Private Notice Questions
In his answer Dr Navin Ramgoolam said that ‘we are looking at this. It appears that when Mr Kosolapov comes here, he seems to be living sometimes in hotels, sometimes in a hotel complex at Flic en Flac. We have not been able to see whether actually it belongs to him yet or not, but he seems to be living in hotels. His partner also seems to be living in these complexes and hotels.
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that, at the time of their arrival and during the processing of their application for an Air Operation Certificate, none of the two persons mentioned in the report was the subject of any of the adverse notices of Interpol.’

After the PNQ, the Supplementary Appropriation (2011) Bill final debates took place before its subsequent vote late that night. This was how the House stood adjourned until next Tuesday 23 October.

During his recent press conference and at public meetings the leader of the MMM, Paul Bérenger came back on the arms trafficking as one of the biggest scandals that took place on the Mauritian soil and that ‘this may affect foreign investment.’ He also announced a series of Private Notice Questions which he intends to put to the Prime Minister during the forthcoming National Assembly sittings.

“There are so many scandals that took place during parliamentary holidays that we don’t know where to begin,” Paul Bérenger told the press.

Immediate scandals are the ‘Gros Derek’ drug trafficking, the recent PRB report which has created a stir among public servants and the doubtful transactions related to real estate properties.
The leader of the Opposition also underlined that he will put pressure during parliamentary sittings for the holding of municipal and regional elections which have been postponed thrice. The recent fire which broke out in sugar cane fields covering around 6,000 arpents may also be an item on his agenda for a future PNQ.

As for the MSM Opposition party, some ten parliamentary questions were already sent to the clerk of the National Assembly on Monday 15 October.

The main question comes from the leader of the MSM, Pravind Jugnauth and concerns Air Mauritius; other questions from other elected MSM members concern hawkers, the death of two SMF soldiers at Tamarind Falls and the plight of Hector Tuyau, Inspector of Police who allegedly suffered from a punitive transfer.

Pravind Jugnauth wants to know “ whether, as regards Air Mauritius foreign airline companies have shown interest in a strategic partnership with our national airline, Government involvement in the choice of a strategic partner; and the status of matters pertaining to the sale of certain assets of the Group including the Air Mauritius building.’

The leader of the MSM also wants to know ‘whether Government has acquired land for the setting up of a Multi-Purpose complex in Saint Pierre.’ The secretary of the MSM, Nando Bodha wants to ask the Prime Minister if government proposes to set up a commission on drug trafficking in the wake of recent offences committed while the president of the party, Showkatally Soodhun will ask the Minister of Local Government, Herve Aimé, ‘if any study has been carried out on the number of street hawkers in the city of Port Louis and if any site has been identified for the street hawkers to operate.’ The latter also wants to know where matters stand in regard to the privatisation of assets of the State Investment Corporation (SIC), including Casino of Mauritius, Domaine des Pailles and other institutions.

New ID Card
The elected member for Constituency No6, Ashish Gungah will ask the Vice Minister and Minister of Public Infrastructure whether he has received representations to the effect that the bus stop at Royal Road Grand Bay is found in a narrow road and if he is taking any remedial measure, including the construction of a lay-bye and a bus shelter thereat and whether a restaurant situated at the same place holds the necessary permits for the holding of night clubs.

Mahen Seeruttun, elected member of Rose Belle-Grand Port comes again with his parliamentary question on the introduction of a new ID card. His question is aimed at the Minister of Information Technology and Communication, Tassarajen Chellumbrum Pillay.

Mahen Jhugroo, for his part questions the Prime Minister on the death of two SMF soldiers at Tamarind Falls: “Whether in regard to the death of the two police constables of the SMF GIPM at Tamarind Falls on 29 September, he will obtain from the Commissioner of Police, information as to: since when they joined the Police Force and the GIPM respectively and secondly if an inquiry has been carried out thereinto indicating the outcome thereof.’ He also wants to know of the circumstances leading to the transfer of inspector Tuyau. The next session of the National Assembly starting on October 23 will hold on until the eve of Christmas or two weeks before, if ever there is the holding of municipal elections.
Indradev Curpen

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