Rs 520,000 disbursed by Metro Express Ltd

Political Caricatures

The firm overseeing the implementation of the Metro Express project paid Rs 520,000 to company of the adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office and ex-consultant to assist in the communication with stakeholders relating to relocation issues. Given the chaotic situation we have on our hands and are going through, is there a possibility for the Metro Express ltd) being reimbursed, even partially, for the failure to deliver by the consultant?

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A fawning MBC

We can do much better than the recent com exercise showing the PM jogging, on his Ganga Talao Yatra and with his family picking up garbage in a move to promote greater public participation towards cleanliness. The MBC could be more innovative , more subtle such that it does not look so plainly obsequious , so partisan – for could have gone for a clip showing our PM burning the midnight oil discussing with his advisers on the growth trajectory till 2050 with the mathematics scribblings displayed out on a whiteboard in the background which would include the workings with regard to Fintech, Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence. At least hat would have given it a veneer of sophistication and concealed the abject servility of the MBC which is becoming overbearingly irritating.

Old age pension: a raise again!!!

One would argue that with the projected decline in the workforce and an increase in dependency ratio, a too rapid increase in pensions spending could pose fiscal risks or crowd out other priority expenditures. No, now it’s not the time to bring in these complexities! Everything in its own time. Now is the time to dwell on ground-level issues and pull out big rabbits out of political hats that will hopefully result in significant political gains. It seemed to have worked in 2014. Qui dit mieux !!! The only difference for us is that whoever gains power in 2019, it’s our wallets that will be on a severe diet.

Harsh Penalties: Stressed drivers!

We are not sure that the repressive traffic regime will lead to a decrease in the number of accidents; what we are sure of is that it will lead to more stressed and frustrated motorists. In addition to Income Tax, VAT, Fuel Tax, Road Tax, Environment Tax, Municipal Tax, there is now a new tax – the penalties being collected by the police to finance our national Budget. But it has a cost. Government’s popularity is likely to take another hit.

Lepep’s version of Affirmative Action: recruitments galore

All those who feel that they have been discriminated against and were not recruited by the previous government and who have helped the present  one in some way, will be given priority in new recruitments in the CWA, CEB, WMA and MBC… but only for one year. That is not a reason to despair. After one year, you can always have recourse to hunger strikes. If the Financial Secretary is still around (most probably he will), the hunger strikes usually end up with a Manraj report that will recommend your redeployment as full-time workers somewhere in the public sector. Where is the catch? Taxpayers will foot the bill!

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138 foreign trips in 14 months for our ministers

We need not be too strict in always assessing the costs of ministerial trips plus the per diems against the outcomes. As pointed out by our ex-President, all this travel is in the country’s interest. The Minister of Tourism tops the list with 15 trips. He has every reason to tour the world to seek assistance given a) our persistent lower growth in tourist arrivals as compared to the global average, b) our competitors namely the Seychelles and Maldives, which continue to outperform us with the former even realising a double-digit growth in 2017, and c) the significant drop in Chinese tourists.
Anyway, we will keep you informed of the outcomes, if any.

This time, the National Computer board

Hardly a week goes by without the press announcing another issue with an appointment at a public sector body. Letters are being sent left and right alleging that the selected person is a relative of or connected to such and such minister, that she would not have the necessary qualifications and experience and that there are so many others who could and should have been selected and who have been left frustrated. It goes on and on. It is time that we move to a more structured nomination process for public bodies, restrict governmental or political interference and ensure that the ultimate selection criterion is competency.

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Cronyism – Its impact !!!
The whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi?

Do you think we should approach our potential roving ambassador who could be of some help in tracing down the veteran Saudi journalist who disappeared after walking into the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Turkey? Our man is a close friend of the Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). You recall the banquet offered by the prince where our man made sure that our dear ladies were not invited. Do you see how wise was that decision? It’s never too late to send a word of thanks to our brave man.

* Published in print edition on 19 October 2018

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