Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago
It has just been announced how the Tobacco Board for the year 1956-57 has been constituted.
The new Board is composed of the following members: The Director of Agriculture, the Commissioner of Excise, the Accountant General or any officer of his department deputed by him, the Agronomist or any officer of the Department of Agriculture nominated by the Director of Agriculture, the Manager of Tobacco Warehouse, Dr Millien, the manager of British American Tobacco Co Ltd., Mr AG Rey, Mr D. Sewraz and mr R. Duclerc des Rauches.
Tobacco growing has become a strictly controlled matter. Not everybody can turn tobacco planter: one has to apply for a permit to the Tobacco Board and only when such a permit is granted that one may start growing tobacco.
Now tobacco growers can be roughly classified into two categories: the big ones, having barns, and the small ones, having no barns. According to 1954 statistics there were 478 growers of which 397 produced air-cured and 81 flue-cured tobacco. It would not be wise to overlook this distinction, the more so as the small planters have their own registered association to look after their particular interests.
The small planters complained to us some time ago about their non representation on the Tobacco Board. They said there was nobody from their class or association sitting on the Board to represent their interests.
The new Board also contains no representative of the small planters. All conceivable interests of the Tobacco Industry are there except the interest of the small planter. It is always the small man who suffers most and who has to go undefended.
The tobacco industry is one of the major secondary industries of the island. When so much is being said about increasing our production, we cannot expect to have a prosperous industry as long as the views of a section of the industry are not heard and their wants are not attended to.
We hope that Government will see to it that the small tobacco planters are properly represented on the Tobacco Board.
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The question of representation brings the name of another board to our mind: the Transport Advisory Board. Our readers need perhaps be reminded that the Transport Advisory Board is the new appellation of the old Transport Control Board.
The Transport Advisory Board, we gather, has four ex-officio members and eight nominated members. The ex-officio members are the Transport Adviser, the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Public Works and Surveys, the General Manager of Railways and the members appointed by the Governor are four members of the public (two of whom are Members of the Legislative Council), one representative of the motor trade, one representative of the bus owners, one representative of goods vehicles (lorries) and one representative of the Motor Insurance Association.
Here again the small man has been discarded. We mean the taxi-owner.
When provisions have been made for the representation of so many interests, we wonder why the taxi-owners have not been found fit to have a seat on the Board.
Recently, the Taxi-Owners Association complained about this. In a letter to the press the Secretary of the Association said: “… la demande de l’Association pour qu’elle soit representée au Transport Advisory Board est restée sans réponse jusqu’ici.”
We think that when bus and lorry owners have their representatives on the Transport Advisory Board, it is but fair that taxi-owners also should have theirs. Their interest is no less at stake than that of bus and lorry owners.
May we hope that Government will fill this gap in the Transport Advisory Board?
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And finally we come to the star-Board — the Central Electricity Board, which is so much in the limelight these days. Electricity or no electricity, it is a bad sign for a board or department to be so much in the limelight. The glare of publicity is certainly doing no good to the C.E.B.
When the C.E.B. chooses to black-out people’s homes with or without notice so often, how will it not jump into the headlines? You pay your electricity bill in advance, and if you are late in paying in advance you pay a surcharge and “if the account is not paid within 10 days at the offices of the C.E.B., your supply is liable to be disconnected.” And the supply has been disconnected when the account has been paid also.
The C.E.B. is all threat towards its customers. We wonder if Mr Bott blushes when no current is supplied to his customers so frequently. Have the customers no right against the C.E.B. for breach of contract?
The relations between the C.E.B. and electricity consumers are getting more and more strained. From complaints received, we find that the relations between the C.B.E. and its employees — certainly not those at the top, are also unsatisfactory. We hope that the new association of the C.E.B. Technical and Clerical Staff Association will be approved by the Registrar of Associations so that the workers may not allow the C.E.B. to tread on their toes.
But the biggest mistake the C.E.B. is committing is ignoring certain categories of people. We have received many complaints as regards this.
Our correspondents are unanimous to say that the recruitment of the C.E.B. personnel is scandalous. They have given us instances of favouritism which would impress the most skeptic.
Ex-Servicemen also have complained to us. Ex-captains and ex-lieutenants have been knocking at the door of the C.E.B. with no success. They are invariably sent away with these words: No vacancy. But there are always posts vacant for white young ladies and young men and other favourities of the men at the top.
That is why our correspondents say that the favouritism shown towards blue-eyed boys and girls must stop. That is why also they say that the recruitment of the personnel of the C.E.B. is scandalous.
* Published in print edition on 3 August 2018