Points to Ponder
A First Point: What has the central government to do with the street hawkers? It should be the duty of the local authorities to see to it that the municipalities allocate to them the areas where they can ply their trade. In return they must respect the law: they cannot sell anything anywhere.
It is one of the duties imposed by legislation on the local authorities to see to it that everybody – everybody – must respect the conditions imposed for the carrying on of any trade. Like all other citizens, street hawkers have to work within the parameters of the law and the conditions set down.
I do not understand the reasoning of the government. A site has been identified for the hawkers, but these people say that they do not want to be there, they must be in another place. Government chooses another place, but the street hawkers still refuse to go there…
Apparently earlier the street hawkers used to sell surplus stocks of the local factories or stocks with slight defects that could not be exported. But these days, most of them sell imported articles at more or less the same price as the regular shop keepers. Who imports those articles, can somebody enlighten us? The hawkers are thus in competition with the regular shopkeepers or traders who have to keep their records for income tax purposes.
I have said that one of the duties of the Local Authorities is to see to it that nothing illegal is tolerated within their jurisdiction. And the councillors, together with the officers, have miserably failed in putting some order in so far as street hawkers are concerned. It seems that the councilors and the officers have jointly decided to abolish the Local Authorities. If that is the case, so be it.
But right now, the central government has no authority over the street hawkers; that is a matter that concerns the Local Authorities. Is it the government’s case that the Local Authorities are not doing their legal duty and that is why it has taken over their duties? Here also it looks as if government is going in the direction of abolishing the Local Authorities. If Local Authorities would continue to exist, then they must do their duties according to the law.
The Court has performed its duty when it gave judgement in both the Rose Hill and Port Louis cases. But the problem is with the Police. Why is it that the Police is not acting with the necessary authority to enforce the judgments? The Police Officers should not obey any other person in enforcing the judgments and the Constitution says so. Politicians cannot tell them what they can or cannot do. Is nobody interested to listen to the voice of reason and let the law follow its course?
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A nation of gamblers?
A Second Point: With 3% growth, our economy is in a better situation than that of most other countries. It is no use to be des prophètes de malheur and we do not need vultures waiting to pounce upon filing economies. Those who work hard deserve a salary that will allow them to lead a reasonably good life. By reasonably I do not mean that they must spend a large part of their monthly pay packet in gambling. Gambling attracts many people and the authorities must see to it that such gambling is not advertised in the written press, the television or the radio.
I know that we have the government lotteries. This has been going on for decades and people do not spend much money on this type of lotteries. Then we have gambling at the races, the Merven and Poupard lotteries, but the real problem is with gambling at the bookmakers. How many millions of rupees are gambled away by ordinary persons on every single race, and this mostly by people who can ill-afford to spend that kind of money? Do the authorities know that there is a parallel system of gambling at the races where maybe as much money is put at stake as through the official system? How much money does government lose in this parallel gambling?
Then we have the casinos which also attract quite a number of persons who are keen to lose their money on an illusion. Is it known that some people work only to gamble away what they earn?
We also have the cartes à gratter. Nearly every month a new card is put on the market. One may be surprised to learn that there are currently more than eighteen types of these cards. And then there is that big money earner for the organizers, the Lotto which has turned people crazy, it has created an expectation that everybody will win a huge sum of money, inciting and more and more people to turn to gambling.
The question is whether it is healthy for the people to turn into gamblers? Can the government tolerate so much gambling all around us? Is it not time to ban all advertisements on gambling? I know that it is impossible to stop all gambling transactions, but at least they must be within limits. And this is the duty of the government. Definitely, making Mauritius a nation of gamblers, of zougaderes is the last thing we want for this country.
* Published in print edition on 12 October 2012