Points to Ponder
Politics… its bits and pieces
A First Point:
And then Rama Sithanen said that the budgetary deficit for 2009 is 3.5% whilst the projected figure was 4.8%. In a very difficult year, when the whole world experienced the unprecedented crisis that we all know about, our government has been able to put on such a good performance — this is yet another very good piece of news.
The figures quoted above are official figures and they can be obviously relied upon and if the opposition has any reason to believe that those figures have been doctored, they have to challenge the Minister of Finance. We could then witness a political debate of historical proportions. If the opposition cannot or will not challenge those figures, then it would simply mean that the Minister of Finance has been right in having adopted a policy that has kept our economy afloat in these difficult times, preventing it from crashing and sinking and getting into a situation from which it would have been difficult to recover.
Pravind Jugnauth declared some time ago that he does not criticize Rama Sithanen as a person, but rather some of his policies. He has simply been doing his job because it must be remembered that he is the leader of the second party in the opposition and so long as he is in the opposition, it is his duty to criticize whatever measures proposed by the Minister of Finance that he considers not to be in the interests of the people. And I take it that he criticized Rama Sithanen in this context and I also understand that in this very context he once said that the MSM is a loyal opposition party.
We are still waiting for the MMM to inform us in what way its economic policy will differ from the policy of the Alliance Sociale. It is not enough to simply criticize the policy of the government: the MMM should also tell us what it is proposing instead, and we are sure that Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo will agree with us. We shall then compare the two policies and we shall be able to make a choice based on our personal interests and in the interests of the country.
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At long last, a frequently-expressed prediction of Paul Bérenger will be fulfilled this year. For the past four years, he has been saying every now and then that election would be held soon and all those four years we have been waiting for his prophesy to be fulfilled. This year, it seems that it will be really fulfilled, at least we hope so. So what if Paul Bérenger has been calling for the election for the past four years, it will be held this year.
The MMM is getting ready with its list of candidates for the general election and on this score the MMM is well in advance of the Alliance Sociale. We would like to know who will be the new candidates in the Alliance Sociale, who among the sitting members will not be getting a ticket, who will be moving to other constituencies and who will be staying put. The MMM has already given a more or less precise idea of who its candidates will be, and we also know their profiles and their background.
However, we are getting to a situation where the MMM will in all likelihood refuse a ticket to Cassam Uteem, because over the weekend, we have been told that Paul Bérenger is more or less fed up with the idea that there must be an alliance between the Labour Party and the MMM as favoured by Cassam Uteem. It is well known that so far, the Labour Party is in alliance with the new PMSD and it is not going into a new alliance at the expense of allies who have served loyally and well. The MMM members blow hot and at the same time blow cold, it is difficult to understand them. Are they proposing an alliance or not? Difficult to say.
Also, it would seem that Dr Dinesh Ramjuttun will not be a candidate of the MMM in constituency no.5 that is Pamplemousses-Triolet. Will he be given a ticket in another constituency, like no.7 Piton-Rivière du Rempart or no.10 Montagne Blanche-GRSE from which constituency the incumbent is ready to move to another constituency?
It has come to our knowledge that a number of persons in the MMM have already resigned from the party and others are about to follow their colleagues. What effect such desertion of the party will have on the result of the general election is difficult to predict. But it will definitely have some further adverse effect, both in the short term as well as in the long term. Do the leaders of the MMM know what is happening in and to the party and is that the reason for which they have stopped bragging at every meeting that the MMM is the strongest party in the country? Why is Rajesh Bhagwan so quiet these days? Has he been told to shut up on this matter?
Another matter that is of concern to us is whether the MSM will join the Alliance Sociale or the MMM, because according to me, there will not be a three-cornered fight simply because the MSM will not fight the forthcoming general election all alone, on its own. So sooner or later, it will have to join either of the two parties.
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In so far as women candidates are concerned, my opinion is clear thereon. Mauritians males and females have equal rights as citizens of Mauritians, women candidates can fight any election on their own if they so wish, they can form a political party made up exclusively of women, especially that, as they claim, they are in a majority in this country. They can then field 62 candidates for the election and easily get a majority to rule the country and pass any law that they think will give them an upper hand in the running of the affairs of the country.
Seriously, in my opinion, it’s not how many tickets women candidates are given, it’s whether in the circumstances of each constituency the best candidates are fielded to fight the election. The different parties should concentrate their energy on this point and if in any situation women candidates appear to be the best candidates, let them be given tickets, but I am against this idea that women should be candidates at the general election simply because they are women.
When parties would be choosing their candidates, the leaders must be careful who they are choosing. For instance, they should not choose a candidate who is a well known abortionist, who has made tons of money and now he has decided that that money should be used in furthering a political career. One such professional man not only practices abortion for a substantial fee, he also asks for other favours and facilities from the poor women. I am sure that most people know of the case of the two sitting Members of Parliament from two different parties and from the same constituency who have an undue inclination for the female sex of the constituency. I have been told that the matter has been brought to the attention of the respective leaders. Should these persons be given tickets for the forthcoming election?
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The very small and minus parties are keeping very quiet, as if they are not interested in politics at all. Let us hope that such disinterestedness is only a passing phase and that soon they will be on the battlefield for our great pleasure. This should apply to the independent politicians as well.
Sithanen & Lutchmeenaraidoo: Both cannot be right
A Second Point: I am a bit concerned about the opposing views concerning the economic and financial situation in the country. The reason is simple: I am not an economist nor am I versed in financial matters, but we shall have to choose one of the two versions in order to vote with full knowledge of the situation.
On the one hand we have got the version of Rama Sithanen the Minister of Finance. He has quoted facts and figures and he has drawn conclusions based on those facts and figures. And he expects us to believe him.
On the other hand we have got the version of Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo, the shadow Minister of Finance of the MMM. He has not quoted facts and figures, but he has come up with certain conclusions. He says that Rama Sithanen is completely in the wrong. We would like him to quote facts and figures and tell us where Rama Sithanen has gone wrong. Obviously the two of them have different views on the same set of facts, but whose views are more accurate? Both cannot be right.
I know that the MMM has been waxing eloquent about its shadow Minister of Finance and of Economic Matters. However, just eloquence will not do, there must be some reasoning behind it that can convince the electorate that his economic and financial policies are the correct ones to solve our problems, create wealth and share that wealth in an equitable and fair manner.
I have understood up to a certain extent the policies of the government in relation to the economics and the finances of the country. I have understood what government is doing to create wealth and how it is going to share that wealth equitably and fairly. Besides, so many Mauritians are satisfied with the economic and financial policies as has been reported in the really independent press. I do not think even for a moment that the persons in that press are anything like independent. Can we believe them?
But there is more. Have a look at the international press organs that speak about Mauritius from time to time. Those papers do not have to please the government nor have they any reason to go against the opposition parties, they just analyse a situation and they publish the opinion of specialists in the field. They are all praise for the present government for its financial and economic policies. Should we believe them or should we reject their findings and their opinion also?
We know what the economic policy of the government is. But we know nothing of the policy of the MMM on this matter. If the MMM were to prepare a well-researched and serious document, wherein it will spell out what it proposes to do if it forms the next government, with full and detailed facts and figures, then we can start believing that the party is becoming serious.
Simply criticizing the government should not be the policy of any party in the opposition, especially of the MMM. Is the MMM still with its original extremely leftist policy with which it could have put to shame the Soviet Union of those days? Or is it at home with the rightist policy of the interim years? What is its policy these days? It has a difficult task ahead, trying to convince the electorate that the policy of the government is not the right one for the country, what with the international press being in favour of such policy that has brought good dividends when the whole world has been experiencing an economic downturn. The MMM will have to contend with the international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among others, that have said that the government has done very well, especially in the management of the economic crisis, when we know that several very rich countries have been facing bankruptcy.
The ball is in the court of Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo and the MMM. Will Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo answer or rather will he answer Rama Sithanen on the relevant points? It will be to the benefit of the MMM if he does answer, otherwise each party will have to take its responsibility.
The Ministry of Health, again
A Third Point: Let us talk about the Ministry of Health on a matter that concerns the patients. There is an ambulance service that is meant for the transportation of patients and in no circumstances should the ambulances be used for the transportation or conveyance of the staff of the Ministry of Health.
I am informed that in many cases, employees of the various hospitals use the ambulances for their conveyance to and from work, to the detriment of the patients. Those employees should understand that they must attend work by their own means of transport and when they go off work, they will have to make their return journey by the same means.
The drivers of the ambulances must be given strict orders not to carry members of the staff except those who accompany the patients. But to start with, the ministry should carry out an enquiry to find out to what extent the rule that those who are not entitled do travel in ambulances do so and why. Those in charge of the ambulance services should answer for any flouting of the rules and regulations.
Another matter and this concerns our diabetics. It is of prime importance to those who suffer from diabetes. We know that a large percentage of Mauritians suffer from the silent killer disease that diabetes is. Some of patients go to hospital for their treatment and we agree that government is doing whatever is humanly possible to contain the disease.
Some of the patients go to the public hospitals for their treatment as I said, but most of them rely on the doctors in private practice or in the private clinics. Government services have so much less worry. However, there is one problem that these patients have to face on a regular basis. The treating doctors say that the patients must carry out tests regularly about the glucose level in their blood. And this is normally done with an apparatus. A finger is pricked, a strip is inserted in the apparatus, a drop of blood is collected on the strip, and some seconds later, the reading appears on the apparatus showing the level of glucose in the blood. This is essential for diabetic patients.
The problem is that there are a number of different makes of such apparatus and each type of apparatus can accommodate only one variety of strips. You buy an apparatus and maybe you will get about fifty strips and once these fifty strips are exhausted, you try to buy another box of strips but the strips are not available. So you are forced to buy another apparatus simply because the supplier to the local market is not interested to sell the strips. This is most unfair to the patients who have to rely on someone for their health.
I know that the Ministry of Health is not at fault in this matter, but the authorities are duty bound to look for a solution because it seems that the patients cannot rely on those who those who are supposed to sell at a reasonable price the required strips. Maybe the State Trading Corporation can import one type of apparatus with all the strips needed by the patients and sell the apparatus at cost price. This will be doing a service to the patients who very badly need such service.
I have appreciated what Rama Sithanen said about the economic performance of the government and based on that performance, about the economic projection for 2010. The Minister of Finance said that for December last, the inflation rate was down to 2.5 per cent. We have been used to an inflation rate of 8 or 9% for so long that it was unthinkable that we would ever get to a rate of 2.5% for our country. That is one piece of good news.