Valuation Office and Private Practice

Points to Ponder

By Lex

A First Point:  We have been given to understand that the Chief Valuation Officer of government has the right to private practice.

He is the officer who is responsible for the valuation, among others, of all property in which government has some interest, whatever that interest may be.

I do not know the reason for which an officer of the government of such a high rank has been given this privilege, but it is being whispered that there are not enough valuation experts in the private sector to undertake what the government valuation officers are called upon to do for the government. Why not encourage students to go for that field of study? I do not know.

I know that in most cases involving the purchase and sale of an immoveable property, a certain value is declared for registration purposes and government gets a tax ad valorem on the value declared. In most cases, the registrar general is not satisfied with the value declared. The matter is therefore referred to the valuation office, which in most cases  find that the value declared has to be increased. The matter is then referred to the relevant Tribunal where it is heard for a final decision regarding the value of the property.

When government wants to acquire a property, valuation officers are called upon to put a value to that property, which value can be contested before a judge in case the vendor is not satisfied with the government’s estimate (usually on the low side). The case is heard in Chambers and I would think that the Judge hears the matter in the capacity of an “arbitre”, not as a Judge proper.

Valuation officers play a key role for the Exchequer, and therefore they cannot be placed in a situation where they may be conflict of interest. I am not only against government valuation officers doing private work for payment, I am also against any government officer being authorized to do private practice. Take the case of medical practitioners. There are many specialist doctors who spend so much of their working hours in certain  private clinics looking after their private clients.

There may have been a specific reason at a given period in time which justified private practice. I understand that at one time there were very few specialists in the country and some of them were allowed to do private practice whilst in the employ of the government to meet the demand for medical care. Things have changed: we now have enough doctors both in the public and private sectors to meet the present demand.

So I am putting the following questions: Is it not time to withdraw the right to private practice?  Shouldn’t doctors devote their full time to the service for which they are employed? Those who complain about the pay in the public service may wish to go for private practice, but I wonder how many will resign from government service.

Moreover, why is it that senior officers in the administrative service are paid for sitting on committees in the parastatal bodies? Aren’t they supposed to work full time for government? If the parastatal body has to pay for the attendance of an officer, the allowance should go to government and credited to the consolidated fund. Do we have one, just one officer of the rank of Permanent Secretary who has the guts to say that he is paid by government to do his job, and that job includes the attendance of committee meetings and that he will not pocket allowances that are not morally due to him?

A generation of “neurotics”

A Second Point: It may be that in certain matters Mauritians are rather prudish but we prefer to be so rather than go to the other extreme. We must remember that we live in a plural society, amongst persons whose civilization and culture differ from the Europeans’. We must respect the civilization and culture of everybody, and we expect that everybody else will respect ours.

The other day I read an article detailing the “ébats” of a man and a woman splashed on the first page of a newspaper. Granted that we have a free press, but does this mean that the papers can take the liberty to publish anything they feel like? Young children of the Fifth and Sixth Standards are encouraged to read the newspapers for their general knowledge as well as for keeping track with local as well as world events.

I wonder if the persons responsible for that particular paper would encourage their own children to read such stuff. We have all been children and we know how we have learnt about the facts of life. We had friends, who were two or three years older than us, and who taught us about these matters without appearing to be teaching us. It was done smoothly and I am grateful to all of them.

And now we have papers feeding the minds of small children with the wrong sort of stuff. It is not surprising that we have so many juvenile delinquents… But who cares? Does the Minister responsible for children’s affairs care? What about the Ombudsman for children or those persons responsible for the welfare of children? They canvass in favour of children’s rights of children. What about their responsibilities? And what about those of parents? The parents should shoulder the responsibility of raising their children to the best of their ability and the teachers should be allowed to teach their pupils to the best of their ability. I do not know who came up with this stupid idea that parents are not good enough to raise their children, nor are the teachers good enough to teach their wards. And again who has had this stupid idea that children should not be punished? Neither by the parents nor by the teachers?

Persons in authority bring in all sorts of laws to curtail the natural rights of parents and of teachers – oblivious to the fact that they are in fact producing a generation of “neurotics”. Compare the children of the past generation with those of the present generation: we have turned out to be alright, I would think. Can we say the same thing as regard the children of the present generation? Some people seem to forget that children are children and they must have the necessary space to grow up as children.

Let me end this point with a quotation: “If you have a child that grows in a home that values education and parents who encourage it, then there is no doubt in my mind that the child is going to succeed in life. They will have a good work ethic and they will achieve well.” — Ronnie Kuhn, the Headmaster of Northfield School, in an interview to l’express, 21 May 2011. Is there anyone who dares to disagree with this opinion?

 Undesirable elements should not be
allowed to set base here

A Third Point: The previous minister of Tourism had decided to allow people from certain countries to visit Mauritius without a passport provided they have a return ticket and a personal identification document. The present minister is extending what his predecessor had decided for French citizens. I was against the decision of the previous minister as I am against that of the present minister.

I have nothing against any citizen of any country but I am afraid that certain undesirable elements from the countries named might land here and they may try to establish their nefarious activities. Let me quote an example. Trinidad is a country just like Mauritius where you find Indo-Trinidadians, Afro-Trinidadians, Sino-Trinidadians and others.

Sometime in the past, quite a number of Chinese persons were allowed to enter the country and now it appears that people of the Triad have infiltrated Trinidadian society. These are very dangerous people and it would seem that money is not a problem for them. Of course, on the face of it, any activity established by such people is above board and legal.

We do not want to face such a situation here – not now nor in the future. Our ministers must be careful. Undesirable elements from wherever they come from should not be allowed to set base here.

* Published in print edition on 27 May 2011

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