When Mauritius was moving from one concrete realisation to the next, particularly in the 1980s, the foundations of which had been set earlier, there was an urgency to make projects materialize. Today many debates pitched at varying levels are being launched, in a bid to chart courses that might prove to be the new-found sources of future realisations in several domains, and especially so in the context of the post-pandemic world that will hopefully come about in a not too distant future. The people, however, are in another mood: they want “something new, something concrete” that they have been looking forward to for quite some time to be presented to them. Nothing has been forthcoming, unfortunately. No amount of intellectualizing or sophistry will substitute for what the people now want to see in concrete terms.
What, in essence, are the expectations of the people? Several things. Above all, they want to see a fair deal in all matters. They want to be able to enjoy the bare necessities of life – food, shelter, clothing – at reasonable and affordable prices. They expect that the more vulnerable members of society irrespective of ethnic belonging will be taken care of, so that they and their children can look forward to the prospects of a better future awaiting them.
People are also impatient for a fairer meting out of justice, new and rewarding opportunities for employment, an education system that is capable of taking to high points the aspirations of our children and citizens, skill acquisition of a standard that will raise our global export capabilities and a more universal access to property and work opportunities. All these deliverables appear to be attainable. In fact, they are multi-faceted and considerable; deliberate efforts are required to realise them.
There is however a feeling that we have been losing our way. Nothing has really materialised. A country that means business should identify briskly the new areas of work, the international partners with whom such work should and can be carried out and the pursuit of consistent policies that leave some leverage in the hands of the government to provide for the future of those elements of the population who are not richly endowed. Once done, it should set out to deliver on each of these fronts and generate the necessary confidence in the population to look forward to a brighter future.
Instead of that, besides rising unemployment, people have been facing a number of price increases which are adversely impacting their standards of living. What with hardly any new sectors of diversified activity being put in place for the near term, the burden becomes even more difficult to bear.
The question therefore still remains: what has the government to show that will go towards fulfilling the legitimate expectations of the people? For the much-expected departure away from the beaten track, politics was expected to lay down the pre-conditions. There is a void so far in this respect.
This puts an enormous onus on the government of the day, but that’s what governments are elected for. The next budget had better be one that can show the way forward out of the morass that we are in. Otherwise it will be just another no-brainer.
* Published in print edition on 4 June 2021
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