Uber: Government gives in to taxi lobbies

Political Caricatures

This time, Government did not decide. The introduction of Uber and its customisation to local conditions could have been a win-win scenario where both drivers and customers benefit. Its advantages outweigh some of the disadvantages. Customers would have benefited, and our taxis would have dropped their exorbitant rates or lose customers. A government that boasts about Fintech and Artificial Intelligence caves in to taxi lobbies on the gig economy. A government that is primarily influenced by factors that shape its ability to maintain power cannot pose as a government for the future of this country aiming for a high-income high tech economy.

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Health sector in bad shape!!!

At the time of inauguration, the official dignitaries outnumbered the local population. They looked proudly all around at the spick-and-span and well-equipped Medi-Clinic at Belvedere. One year later, a change of scene — the population looking angrily around, the officials have disappeared and so have the ambulance, the generator, the orthopaedic services – but an out of order X-ray machine is still around. And, at Victoria Hospital, there is a shortage of medicines and the radiotherapy stimulator is defective; the situation is equally bad at Jeetoo Hospital, with patients waiting for hours before being admitted because of a limited number of beds.

The whole health sector is in bad shape. But, at the Ministry of Health, they say that everything is under control. We believe it may be another of those experiments in testing the patience of the inhabitants – one of those recent techniques learned from their frequent visits abroad.

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The Bank of Mauritius scores again

 The Bank of Mauritius (BOM) wins the 2018 award for the “Best Central Bank Governance” for the Indian Ocean. Despite some failings recently due to political interference, the BOM scores highly on its adherence to international prudential standards and exacting monitoring procedures.

Oblivious of the internecine feuds at higher levels, the competent staff of BOM should build on this accolade to continue its efforts to improve the monetary transmission mechanism, accelerate the development of the secondary market and help in bolstering savings.

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The Good Governance and Reporting Act: the challenges of Unexplained Wealth

 One eminent lawyer has commented that “the challenge of the Good Governance and Reporting Act is of great importance. What is provided in the law and the FIAMLA is different and it is unfair towards the defendant”.

Do you recall that some knowledgeable persons had warned us not to rush through this legislation and that there was need to discuss further the GGRA and consider alternatives, especially the “unexplained wealth” legal provisions? But Government was in a hurry to get it through. It seems that they had some ulterior motives. Now they bury their heads in the sand and call it “La Loi Bhadain”. Like in the BAI case, “pas moi li sa”.

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 Educational reform: Has anything changed?

 « Je suis fier de la réforme éducative » said the PM in his speech at the Aryan Vedic School. We have to wait a while to enjoy some of the fruits of the “reform”. As of now, nothing has changed; parents, teachers as well as students are yet to grasp the concept of nine-year schooling.

The reform was supposed to relieve students of the pressures of the rat race. Has it? Private tuition is still thriving and has even been boosted by the National Certificate of Education. We are still a long way off a genuine education reform. Perhaps, this time, a comprehensive tour of all the countries that have topped the PISA league tables, rather than only Finland, may lead to more positive outcomes. Of course, it will have to be a bigger delegation, for a long period and higher per diems.

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Rs 928,800 for the CEO of the EDB

In addition, the Economic Development Board’s CEO receives a housing allocation of Rs 100,000 and is entitled to a chauffeur-driven car and to two business-class air tickets on a yearly basis. Impressive perks but unimpressive performance so far. His meeting with the press to outline his vision did not impress, and it left most of the observers with the feeling that it was more of the usual investment promotion and facilitation stuff rather than what one would expect from a strategic adviser to government in the formulation of policies, programmes and projects for the country’s long-term development and economic transformation. Perhaps we had entertained too high expectations. To be fair to the EDB, let us give it some time to pick up its momentum. But at what it is costing us, the EDB has to deliver.

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 The MBC again

 Week after week, the same pattern and this time it is another controversy with the appointment of a legal adviser at the MBC. Is that another political nominee that is being imposed on the board and that is said to be causing widespread frustration, disgust and tense industrial relations within the organisation? As usual we are being told that the press reports are mere sensationalism and that hard facts and reality actually show that the MBC Board is maintaining sound working relations and conditions within the Corporation, as well as ensuring a conducive working environment for the welfare of the employees. Has it? The clip that went viral seems to testify to the contrary.

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 A new Declaration of Assets Act

Where are we? We have to be patient, first a Committee of Officials examined numerous issues and next a Ministerial Committee looked into the proposals made by the Committee of Officials and then the Ministerial Committee submitted its report. Now what? The proposals made by the Ministerial Committee are currently being examined. As the subject of Declaration of Assets has many complex issues, which require due care and caution, it is likely to be sent back to the Committee of Officials to clear out the complex issues. Do not worry, at the time of assessing the bilan of this government, they will con us again with this bureaucratic note that “action has been initiated for its implementation”. And Poor LePep, who, blinded by promises, should know by now that they are not going to materialise!!!

* Published in print edition on 26 October 2018

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