The Economic Development Board (EDB) was at the Salon National de l’immobilier in Paris promoting the investment opportunities that abound in the real estate sector in Mauritius. Is this the role of EDB? Government has set the trail and now that’s best done by the private sector. It’s time that the EDB changes its focus on these one-off investment inflows to investments in productive sectors. A closer look at its key performance indicators will give us a better idea as to whether we are getting value for the money spent.
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A solution to the Whales and Sharks issue
We are seeking the help of Greenpeace to send a strict warning on behalf of our Ministers of Fisheries and of Tourism to the whales and sharks to avoid our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); it will be for their own good if they could migrate to other oceans and thus avoid getting massacred by our two local Lucky Lukes. That will be in their best interest given that here, in this country, “Government is Government, and Government decides”!
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Wake-up call of deputy leaders?
They have just discovered that “à Maurice, c’est une affaire de dynasties”. As long as their position was not threatened, there was nothing wrong with the leadership — dynasty was in the other political parties, not theirs. The way they stuck to their comfort zone, following in the footsteps of their leader and yessing to supremo means that they are not any different. They are likely to perpetuate the same thing – another dynasty.
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Jhugroo Building selected?
Who wants to bet that the Jhugroo building will soon be housing the offices of Zone 4 of the Ministry of Education (MoE)? Strange coincidence: whenever you have a relative in power, your offer always turns out to be the better one. A piece of advice to the MoE. Make sure that Government does not have to pay compensation to the tune of Rs 45 million when they will be forced out with the coming of a new regime. Governments play their little games and the taxpayer remains the perpetual “dindon de la farce”.
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Big Brother is watching!!!
No, it is not the Orwellian nightmare of 1984, we are not there yet, but the surveillance state is already on the march with 4300 intelligent video surveillance cameras installed all over the island in the context of the
Safe City project. What is worrying is that it’s Mauritius Telecom, not the Police, which will be managing the system. Huawei, which is working with the Chinese government on advanced new surveillance and population-control techniques, will be providing the equipment.
Another prestige project that is costing us a fortune. Watch out for the dubious accounting in the debt figures!!!
Cane industry in troubled waters
The sugar harvest is ending on a sour note; our small planters are unhappy and they are abandoning the harvesting of their produce. They are receiving only Rs 10,000 per ton of sugar when the market price is Rs 38,000 per ton, for molasses only Rs 2,150 per ton and barely anything for bagasse. They feel that the sugar barons are benefiting at their expense and they are being sent “straight to the slaughterhouse” while the authorities are watching passively.
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A modern and efficient high-tech economy: Bla Blas
They got the right buzzwords – the Metro, Artificial Intelligence or Blockchain – that will make us a modern and efficient country. But the future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. Are we creating it now? The study of Maths and Science is on a declining trend at secondary level, basic coding courses have yet to start in schools… Are we investing in a multi-skills adaptable labour force? First of all, we have to give ourselves the means to realise the efficient and modern economy.
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Efficiency and Political nominations
You want your SBM share prices to go up, lower air fares, 24/7 water availability, nice TV programmes, cheaper internet, less of financial scams , more of law and order and still pay less taxes… Get rid of the political nominees and the politically connected and replace them by proven professionals!
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Statutory Boards and Good Governance
During State Owned Enterprises’ board meetings, it’s said that most of our public servants either toe the line or are mostly dormant and become active only when tea is served. In some countries public servants are not generally appointed on statutory boards or other public bodies. If we have followed such precepts in our SOEs, we would have avoided such blatant cases of governance at its worst at the Fashion Design Institute, Mauritius Telecom, Air Mauritius, STC, FSC… you name it. And the fact that we have a sizeable number of SOEs without Directors is not arranging things either. The officers in charge can’t take decisions and tend to lean more on their parent ministries.
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Climate Change Challenges: No more coal!!!
The latest bombshell report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a kind of final call to save the world from climate catastrophe, has urged countries to respond to global warming and phase out coal power by 2050. This means that there will be mounting pressure on us to reduce our dependence on coal and move to renewable sources of energy. This will have huge cost implications. Are we preparing ourselves for these challenges when we are embarking on huge prestige projects that will be consuming lots of energy – Metro, Fintech, Safe City… ?
* Published in print edition on 112 October 2018