The Mauritius Telecom show via MyT Money

By L.E. Pep

This is the third time that we are being taken for a ride by Mauritius Telecom (MT) after the inauguration of free Wi-Fi hotspots that most internet users tend to avoid, then the 4K Smart Box and now the Myt money that we are being told are revolutionary when these are old applications that have been tested and re-tested elsewhere and are already operational in so many countries.

The launching of Myt Money, besides being of bad taste with sour jokes like “manz kado” while omitting to add that it is at taxpayers’ expense, is an older version of the rapidly evolving dedicated applications. Even in countries like Nepal, several mobile apps are being developed for easy online payment of day to-day-services such as electricity bills, internet bills, DTH, mobile top-ups, flight or movie tickets, etc. Even petrol pumps, clothing stores and restaurants accept digital payment via digital wallets such as IME Pay, eSewa, Khalti in case of Nepal.

Instead of toadying to the PM and acting as an MSM agency, MT would have done better to focus on its core activities and start planning for 5G mobile connections with speeds 20 times faster and cheaper than what current 4G networks offer to customers, especially in video. And why not a knowledge network where we connect 1100 nodes to some 40 gigabytes bandwidth to all our educational institutions, libraries, Research & Development institutions? That will be revolutionary, not the occasional ‘glitz’ put on display by MT.

One blogger rightly commented thus : “Bizin 1 premier ministre et 1 CEO pou lance 1 service ki fini sorti depi plizir l’année dans le monde !”

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Sir Anerood Jugnauth cancels the launch of his biography

The launch of a biography of Sir Anerood Jugnauth entitled ‘Sir Anerood Jugnauth – A Man of Destiny’, has been cancelled by SAJ supposedly because the author, Ashok Kumar Aubeeluck, was mentioned at one point as a potential candidate of the Mouvement Militant Mauricien.

In a formal notice, dated August 23 and bearing the signature of attorney Me Preetam Chuttoo, the former Prime Minister forbids the author of his biography from proceeding with the book launch which was to be held at the Hennessy Park Hotel, Ebene. Ashok Kumar Aubeeluck retorts: “It’s totally unfounded. I have already told the people concerned, including Dev Beekharry, the Senior Advisor of Sir Anerood Jugnauth that I will not be an election candidate. I have no political ambition. In fact, I go back and forth between Mauritius and Canada.”

In this autobiography which was perfectly planned for a pre-poll release, it is claimed that there is reference to SAJ’s alleged intention and attempts at not handing over the prime ministership to Berenger in 2003 in accordance with their power-sharing deal. Berenger had apparently reacted by threatening to assemble his partisans at the Champ de Mars to force SAJ to uphold the deal.

SAJ has rubbished these claims as frenetic allegations to garner sympathy for the opposition. SAJ states that he drew the writer’s attention to several inaccuracies, grammatical and typographical errors and had directed him to make amendments but his instructions were ignored. Moreover, Sir Anerood Jugnauth maintains that he has never endorsed any draft of this biography.

One wonders whether all this charade was not meant to insulate voters from unpleasant facts which may affect the party’s vote share in the coming elections. The compensation for A.K. Aubeeluck is that his book has obtained in the process more publicity than he bargained for…

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‘Kan ou militan, ou militant pou lavi !’ Really?

What’s the reason for the duo leaders of Plateforme Militante cosying up to the MSM? Has it to do with the promise of a Cabinet post in the next government if the MSM succeeds at the polls?

We would like to think that this is not the case, for they were the very ones who were portraying themselves as the few of what were left of the real leftist brigade. In fact they have been hobnobbing with the hardcore and disillusioned “militants” all over the country selling them the hope of a new dawn while nursing the ambition to be the legitimate heirs of the “militant” family.

But politics does change politicians at times. Who does not remember those who had been saying that they would do politics differently suddenly discovering a “special bond” with the Sun Empire; they went on to become both nimble in political somersaults and circumspect in grabbing the next big opportunity that came their way.

But a closer look at some turncoats reveals that they have much in common with those who, under the garb of militant activism, have excelled in the art of inventing gimmicks like “doing politics differently” and fabricating slogans and labels like “Kan ou militan, ou militant pou lavi”. But what do we find instead? Like chameleons, they change colours with time, and do not hesitate to compromise their own self-proclaimed principles such as: “une politique propre” and “la nécessité de lutter contre la corruption” or still better “la corruption a trop gangrené le pays. Il faut une nouvelle équipe propre qui va tout nettoyer.”

But mind you, today Mauritians generally have strong opinions owing to multiple sources of information; the flip-flops of opportunistic politicians are likely to find little traction with voters who hate being taken for granted. What our turncoats can least understand or realise is the manner in which people make fun and caricature them.

Facebook comments are quite punishing and unforgiving, one such being: “How can you vote for politicians who have no principles, no ethics and who jump ship to save their own skins… They don’t give a toss about those militants who have, for years, put their trust in them.”

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MSM’s poaching operation

The turncoats are having a field day. Five members of the MMM, Ahmad Jeewah, ex-president of the MMM, Prakash Meenowa, selected candidate for No 7, Sandiven Permal (No 8), Hurmila Routho et Viren Ramchurn, ex-candidate of the MMM at No 9, submitted their resignation to join the MSM. Rajesh Bhagwan, SG of the MMM, reacted as follows: « Une opération de money politics! C’est une honte ». A poaching operation initiated by the ‘Kitchen Cabinet’.

Much of the discourse over the MSM’s electoral strategy revolves around its outrageous poaching of candidates from the opposite side. What is being enacted in terms of political alliances is a shameful disgrace for the nation. It is sheer blatant and audacious horse-trading that baffles partisans and voters, and exposes the glaring dearth of ethics and basic decency in politics. One can see how money, opportunistic politics and Machiavellianism have succeeded in tarnishing the sanctity of our democracy.

One blogger rightly commented: “Si une équipe, le MSM, se renforce pour les prochaines élections en recrutant du côté des déçus du MMM, c’est qu’elle sait à ce jour qu’elle, avec les renseignements de la police, n’est pas sûre de gagner les prochaines… donc Navin est favori pour être le futur premier ministre”.

Another is more sarcastic: “Bien entendu, vous vous sacrifiez pour le bien du pays et de la population !!! Quelle grandeur d’âme !!! Vous n’êtes certainement pas intéressés par des tickets ou des postes de ministre, PPS ou ambassadeurs. Ai-je raison?”

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Miammiamgate: Rezistans ek Alternativ calls for the revocation of Sinatambou

A controversy surrounding the hotel bills that the Minister of Environment and Social Security Etienne Sinatambou has forwarded to his ministry was at the heart of the press conference of Rezistans ek Alternativ (ReA), last week.

Economist Kugan Parapen has called on Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth to freeze EIA permits granted by this minister to hotel developers. He is of the opinion that Etienne Sinatambou has “disqualified” himself as a minister, if he has benefited, as alleged, from certain favours in hotels.

“Elsewhere, for a lot less, a minister would have already resigned. It is the duty of the Prime Minister, who calls himself an adherent and an advocate of good governance, to take action. This policy of no accountability and transparency — “pa bizin ran kont lepep” — is a very bad message sent to the population,” says Parapen. « Nous ne pouvons pas faire confiance à aucune des décisions du ministre dans l’allocation des permis EIA. D’où notre requête pour que tous les permis octroyés soient gelés »…

The causes of the frequent endorsement by some fawning Permanent Secretaries (PS) of some of the dubious expenditures of their Ministers have to be scrutinized. We have to curb the power enjoyed by Ministers in choosing their own PS. This has led to favourites being selected, sometimes along communal and casteist lines. They should have fixed terms of one to two years so that they can function without fear or favour. Permanent Secretary appointments should be a clear process, leading to the appointment of the person most capable to do the job. The present free leverage given to ministers in the selection process has helped to develop some incestuous relationships that are costing us dearly. Miammiamgate is just one of the many such examples. Have a look at the list of Ministers and match it with the Permanent Secretaries along the criteria mentioned above and you will understand in what a heck of a mess we are in and how much we need to clean up.

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Raiding Central Bank’s reserves: Some tips from India

India’s central bank approved a record 1.76 trillion-rupee ($24.4 billion) payout to the federal government, boosting New Delhi’s coffers at a time when it is under pressure to provide a fiscal stimulus to the slowing economy.

The Reserve Bank of India’s board approved the transfer, which includes 1.23 trillion rupees as dividend and 526.4 billion rupees from its surplus capital, according to a statement. The dividend payment includes 280 billion rupees already transferred to the government in February. The payment from its surplus capital comes after the RBI’s board accepted the recommendations of a panel named by it to study its economic capital framework.

The opposition has criticized the raiding of the RBI reserves and tweeted under the hashtag #RBIlooted. “PM & FM are clueless about how to solve their self-created economic disaster. Stealing from RBI won’t work – it’s like stealing a Band-Aid from the dispensary and sticking it on a gunshot wound…”

The record transfer’s main points:

  1. Reserves floor (of 5.5% of total central bank assets) set to cover risks, prior to distribution of reserves or annual net income to Government. Since reserves level is now 6.8%, about 1.3% of assets have been distributed as surplus reserves to Govt for 2018/19, along with almost all annual net income of 2018/19 distributed as dividend to Government, but this is a one-off surplus reserves transfer.
  2. Reserves representing unrealized valuation gains over provisioning (i.e., gains from appreciation of foreign exchange reserves) are not distributable to Government.

Tips for the Bank of Mauritius (BOM):

  • BOM should set a minimum economic capital reserves requirement too.
  • BOM should also forbid distribution of unrealized valuation reserves to Government.

(https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-26/india-central-bank-to-transfer-24-billion-funds-to-government)

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Quote

Pradeep Jeeha, former member of the Politburo of the Mouvement Militant Mauricien, about whether he intends to join the MSM: “I didn’t leave a liner to get into a canoe.”


* Published in print edition on 30 August 2019

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