Re the interview with Mr Sayed Cader-Hossen (S-CH) in MT last Friday 15-Jan-2019. I just wonder when will big, well-off politicians realize that all the bla-bla and fla-fla about diplomatic politics, democratization of the economy and all other theoretical propositions mean nothing to the little man. The only thing that does matter to him is how much money he has in his pay packet/OAP envelope at the end of the month.
- By juxtaposing the 23% increase in the OAP against a 28% depreciation of MRU against USD, SC-H is being less than honest in leading the reader into believing that everything we Mauritians consume is imported and paid for in USD. Including our tomatoes, our aubergines, our litchis and a myriad other local produce/products!
- Among the many sins of Israel he heaps on the Lepep Government, he accuses them of being responsible for “une forte croissance des inégalites économiques.” This fallacious statement is totally belied by (a) the increase in the OAP by 84.50% during this GM’s tenure; and there is talk of further increases until it matches the Minimum National Wage – MNW (b) the introduction of the MNW which has lifted 140,000 working people out of the poverty trap, (c) the Negative Income Tax (NIT) which tops up lower wage packets by up to Rs 1000 a month, and (d) free tertiary education for all our children. Including the very many poor who can’t afford it!
All this must have de facto narrowed the gap between the rich and the poor. On the other hand, what prominent policy did the last LP governments introduce in this respect? Reduce the Corporate tax by half from 30 to 15%, thereby doubling the income of the very, very rich. As this generosity to the rich was never matched by a similar rise in workers’ pay, this would have widened the gap between rich and poor, the very thing S-CH accuses the Lepep government of.
Finally his reply to MT’s last question concerning the MedPoint saga. It is again utterly disingenuous of him not to add at the end of the list “Et toujours est-il that all this shenanigan took place during the reign of a LP government headed by my leader, a wonder-boy named NCR!”
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On another note, I would like to make some comments on our national airline. Thirty years ago, at the end of my first tour of duty in Paris, I was returning home to the UK for Christmas. But just before I left, I had a serious attack of gout. Consequently in spite of the strong painkillers, it was difficult to walk. My friend Dr Ranji kindly offered me a posh walking stick bought from the Galleries Lafayette.
Come Christmas Eve, I duly boarded the UK-bound Air France. Upon landing at Gatwick, I let all the passengers get off to avoid the rush. Eventually when I did get out of the plane, a man was waiting with a wheelchair. Expecting he had come for some sick elderly person, I told him there was no one behind. To which he replied to my amazement, “But it is for you, sir!” It transpired that, after seeing me hobble up the gangway at Orly-Charles de Gaulle Airport, the cabin crew had contacted Gatwick and requested for a wheelchair. How very thoughtful!
For the New Year 2019, I went to Rodrigues for five days. On the return journey, I saw an elderly man struggle to check in, walk to the ATR-72 parked 100+ yards away from the terminal building and negotiate those short but steep and narrow steps leading in/out of the aircraft. However not once did any of the MK staff offer any assistance to the poor man at Plaine Corail or at Plaisance. How disgraceful!
Yet on the MK website, one can read, “We bring you the spirit of this country and its people on each of your flights with special attention that our Mauritian crew provides.” They should perhaps have added: “But not always” so as not to be in breach of the UK Trade Descriptions Act 1968 and possibly many more!
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Apropos ‘Second class citizens in our own country’
I came across the article of your columnist ‘L.E. Pep’ – “Second class citizens in our own country” in relation to public beaches in your country, which appeared a few weeks back.
Aret Kokin Nu Laplaz (“Stop Stealing our Beaches” in Mauritian Creole) complains that Minister Jhugroo “promised to conduct an investigation into the extent of encroachment on the beaches of the island but nothing has been produced so far”. The story underneath is headlined “University of Mauritius: Not enough research”.
There seems to be an obvious solution to both problems. Rather than paying foreign consultants to produce over-priced studies and reports or waiting for unwilling ministers and dozing government departments to provide them, why doesn’t the University conduct the research the country so obviously needs? In most countries around the world, universities play a vital role in publishing the results of their research – in medicine, law, social sciences, technology, agriculture, transport, etc. In fact, it’s that research that justifies the money the universities receive from government and sponsors/donors.
Some subjects worth studying might include:
– the use and ownership of beaches and the Pas Geometriques
– better methods of fruit-growing and protection of fruit trees
– better understanding of bat populations in Mauritius, including humane deterrence methods
– effect on weather patterns of increased building and removal of trees
– effect on air quality and general health of increased car use in Mauritius
– improved methods of waste disposal, including remediation of hazardous substances, etc.
The government should also be getting Larsen & Toubro and the Metro Express subcontractors to sponsor advanced transport engineering programmes at the university. As Metro Express expands – as it surely will – there will be a growing need for highly trained engineers and operational staff to run the rail transport system.
* Published in print edition on 22 March 2019