The Jewels Have Lost Their Shine


The news yesterday was dominated by the resignation of Mauritius Telecom’s CEO, Sherry Singh – and his alleged break from the Jugnauths’ inner circle. The grapevine had since the last six months suggested that the MT’s CEO and long-time confidant of the Prime Minister was being kept outside the circles of power, and at this stage the real reasons for Sherry Singh’s dramatic decision to quit are not known. Mauritius Telecom, which under the stewardship of Mr Singh had evolved as one of the most innovative companies in the private sector landscape, from its earlier sole monopoly status in the telecommunications sector, has however seen its profitability tumble down drastically over the past few years. For financial year ending 30 Dec 2020, Mauritius Telecom is reported to have suffered a loss, after tax, of Rs.188.4 M, whereas its direct competitor, Emtel, made a profit of Rs. 552.1 million after tax.

We are not aware if this dismal record or the recent initiative of Mauritius Telecom to take on the financial behemoths through its MyT Money mobile payment service had become the bone of contention between Sherry Singh and the PMO. Both the MIC’s disbursements to private sector conglomerates and, earlier, the Bramer Bank dismantling followed by the BAI debacle could indicate forces at work in our economic ecosystem which escape our understanding. There may be no reason to suspect an analogy between the resignation of an MT CEO and an ambitious Group (BAI) which could have been perceived to have started rocking the boat of the traditional private sector. But all that however is a matter of conjectures, and Sherry Singh will hopefully enlighten the country about the real reasons for his decision to quit.

As if it were not enough, there was earlier the public embarrassment – a first time in its history – of the Chairman of SBM Holdings Ltd, Sattar Hajee Abdoula – “a seasoned Chartered Accountant and one of the leading insolvency practitioners in Mauritius”, according the SBM’s website, who demonstrated his poor understanding of the rules governing the holding of an annual general assembly of the company. The latest AGA was cancelled following open protests from shareholders. But that is secondary to the current predicament of the State Bank Group – another erstwhile jewel in the country’s crown -following the publication of its financial statements. The Bank has seen its profit going down year after year (from Rs 2.6 billion in 2017 to Rs 1.2 billion in 2018, to Rs 15 million in 2019) for different reasons, but mostly due to non-performing loans running into billionsof rupees granted since 2015 to dubious businessmen, based locally and abroad. The other ‘jewel’ – Air Mauritius – came crashing down in the wake of the Covid pandemic, but the conditions for the ultimate failure of our national airline had been set much earlier, through a host of ill-advised decisions, including the ill-timed purchase of two brand new Airbus airliners the company could not afford and had to lease out at considerable losses. Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 1 July 2022

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