The DBM Mess

Points to Ponder 

By Lex

A First Point: I am a bit nonplussed. I cannot understand how people who borrowed money from the Development Bank of Mauritius have not been paying their loan back once the legal time for paying back arrived four years or more ago. I take it that when the debtors were advanced the money, the Bank caused them to sign documents as to when they should pay back, or start to pay back, and that if they fail to reimburse according to the agreed conditions, as to what the consequences would be. Both the Bank and the debtors very well know what those conditions were. Why have these conditions not been enforced?

This situation calls for an independent enquiry, preferably conducted by a team of at least three persons, including one from the judicial sector, one with a good qualification in Economics and one with a qualification in Accountancy. Let this team go into every case where the debtors have not paid or are not paying whatever sum they owe. If the enquiry discloses that some people have been inefficient in their duty, they should face disciplinary action. Not only that, they should also be made to pay a heavy penalty that would cover at least part of the money that has been lost through such inefficiency.

If some people come forward to say that they did not claim the reimbursement because they had received orders from higher up, they should be able to produce evidence of that, a letter, a memo or some such other document. Failing this, they will have to accept the responsibility of making the Bank lose so much money. If they have the evidence that they acted on the instructions of others, then it will be easy to throw the blame on those others. The others should then be sued either civilly or criminally.

There must be a department that is responsible for disbursements and one for recovery. If a borrower fails to pay on the due date, the file must be sent to the recovery department, those who have failed in their duty must give their explanation, and if there is no satisfactory explanation, the guilty parties must be punished.

But have the members of the Board and the managing director of the Bank any idea that they are dealing with money belonging to the State and that they should exercise a degree of care that should far exceed the degree of care than when dealing with their own money?

So far as I know, the Development Bank falls under the purview of the Ministry of Finance. The Minister has appointed a new Chairman and we hope that he will do his job to the satisfaction of the Minister of Finance and of the public generally.

Ti Vegas and Q-Bornes MPs

A Second Point: Nita Deerpalsing, one the duly elected MPs representing the constituency of Quatre Bornes, was seen at the Municipality of Quatre Bornes. Most of the people of Quatre Bornes were happy to learn that their Member of Parliament was seen doing the work for which she was elected. That is what a Member of Parliament is elected for. We shall tell her to continue doing the good job; we believe that those politicians who will not or cannot do a good job should get out of politics.

We are happy to see that at least one member takes her duty seriously. We know that she was very busy with the problems that the inhabitants of the constituency had been facing facing in connection with the casino “Ti-Vegas” for quite a long time; they are all relieved that, at long last, action has been taken and the license of the gambling house is not going to be renewed.

As to be expected, those responsible for running the gambling house are not happy, and we knew that they would appeal against the decision of the authorities. They are trying to save their bread and butter and they are doing everything to continue operating from where they have operated for so many years.

Why are they so keen to operate from the centre of Quatre Bornes? Do they not realize that their business of gambling attracts all types of loose characters, so much so they require the services of Police Officers around their premises, beside their own security guards and we do not know how many bouncers?

One person is not happy that Nita Deerpalsing is trying to help the electors of Quatre Bornes. And that person is her political opponent, the MMM member Kavi Ramano. He is the only member who has been elected and his two friends who lost the election are not heard of at all.

What is Kavi Ramano doing to give satisfaction to the people of Quatre Bornes? Nothing, I should say. And how easy it is to come up with the usual excuse that he is in the opposition and he cannot do anything? But people have voted him to solve their problems. Is he good only to put a few questions in the National Assembly and to make a few speeches now and then? I will say that he should work together with Nita Deerpalsing to give greater satisfaction to the inhabitants. I will simply ask him what he has done in the case of the “Ti-Vegas” gambling house when the people were complaining for so long? Has he taken any steps to get the casino away from the centre of Quatre Bornes? Does he take the complaints of the persons concerned to the Municipality of Quatre Bornes as Nita Deerpalsing has done? If he cannot help the people of Quatre Bornes, why is he the Member of Parliament of constituency no. 18?

Let me try to find out if he can help his electors on one matter. There is a place next to the locale occupied by “Ti-Vegas” which is used as a dancing place or for I do not know what activities. This place is creating a lot of mischief and people say that it attracts unsavoury people. And it attracts street traders till 1 am or 2 am, who sell food to the persons coming out of that place at that ungodly hour. And all these activities are getting on the nerves of the inhabitants. Now can I ask Kavi Ramano to help the persons living all around that place, on both sides of the main road as well as on the side roads, to get rid of the organization, of its activities as well as the activities of the late night traders? We could very well have addressed the request of the people of Quatre Bornes to Nita Deerpalsing, but being given that you both have been elected at the same time, you may feel that we are not giving you the same attention as we give to your colleague. So the people of Quatre Bornes are waiting for you to do your duty.

A Few Step Backwards in Education

A Third Point: I read in one of the papers concerning a person who questioned Mukeshwar Choonee as to why he addressed a Hindu gathering in Hindi and that he should have addressed the persons in English or French or Creole. For me this is downright stupidity. Why should M. Choonee or any minister for that matter, be forced to address in a language other than Hindi? If that person does not understand Hindi, is it because he has been prevented from studying Hindi? Or he could have learned to speak Bhojpuri which at one time was the language used by about 75% of the inhabitants of the country.

And now you have the Creole language that is making this claim. We were always happy to speak our Bhojpuri and learn French and English at school. I mention French before English because we started learning French before English, though we did not know a thing about either of these two languages. However, we have never wanted to give up our Bhojpuri in favour of any other language.

If some of our citizens voluntarily want to take a few step backwards in education, who are we to prevent them from doing so? But I know very well that many Creoles, especially those who have had a good education, are not very keen to teach their children either through the medium of Creole or Creole as a subject. It seems to me that those persons are right and the Minister will eventually realize that those persons have been on the right course. However, by the time the Minister will come to this point, it will be too late, and I am sorry for those children who would have lost their life’s chances by then.

The authorities pay too much attention to what the papers write. We do not have independent papers in Mauritius, whatever some journalists may say. They are all committed to some political parties, and I can say that most of them are committed to parties that are not in favour of the Hindus.

One more matter. Why is it that people call our moortis as statues? There is no word that can translate the concept moorti into any other language from the Indian languages, what with the Pran-Prathistha and other prayers. The word statue can never convey the true meaning of the word and the concept cannot be understood by those who are not Hindus. So may we ask those who use the word statue unknowingly for a moorti should refrain from doing so and simply to use the word moorti in its stead? Hindus would like it. And this applies to the MBC as well. The MBC is supposed to be the window of all our cultures, but they do not know very simple matters.  

The Opposition’s Agenda

A Fourth Point: Should I believe whatever the opposition and its stooges might be saying, knowing full well as I do that the opposition has a special agenda of its own, that it is dead against the government, that it wants the government to fall? Should I believe the local press, the majority of which for obvious reasons can be called as the MMM press, having clearly as its duty to defend the policies of the MMM or to prepare the policies of that party?

Or should I rely on the opinion of the foreign countries, be they from the European Union, from the Asian countries, from the United States or Canada or from any foreign country whatsoever? Or again should I depend on the views of the international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and such other organizations? Should I trust the opinion of the countries in the regional groupings like the SADC and others?

I know that the foreign countries and the international institutions give their unbiased opinion as to how the country is faring and how the government is performing. Their opinion is that the country is well governed, that the economy is well managed, that the government is doing its duty as it should, that the country has faced the international financial and economic crisis as it should and that it is doing far better than many advanced countries. If I were to believe the opposition and the local press, then the government that we have is the worst government that the country can have, that nothing is being done to improve the lot of the people, that there is corruption everywhere, that there is no justice for the workers, that communalism and racism are rampant, the ministers are useless, there is no sense of good governance and the list goes on and on.

The same people of the so-called independent press and our opposition forget that we have a judicial system that is completely independent from the Executive and that everybody is free to seize the relevant Court any time they think that their right is not being respected. As an example, why is it that the ex-planters of Riche Terre, who claim that they were not treated in a fair and just manner by the government, did not go to the Supreme Court and make out a case that the government has done something wrong towards them? They have had so many legal and other type of advisors, I am sure that some of them may have advised that they have a good case and that they should sue the government. I am sure that they already know what the outcome would be, so they prefer rather to use all sorts of measures to bring some pressure on the government like going on a hunger strike or organizing a march with the help of some persons who have nothing to do but who can get some cheap and free publicity and also with the help of some supposed politicians. But why do they refuse to go to Court where their real remedy lies, that is if ever they have any need for a remedy? There are documents that were signed by all the parties and if government has treated them unlawfully according to their own document, they are sure to win their case in Court. But they know the reason for which they refuse to go to Court.

I prefer to rely on the opinions of the foreigners, be they the foreign countries or the international institutions rather than on the opinion of the local press generally.

* Published in print edition on 17 September 2010

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