Saturday, March 18, 2017

The First 49

Fourteen years of brilliance. Followed by twenty-three of bat-bate. And twelve of crap.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Private Sector Behind by 740 Billion Rupees


Over the last eleven years compared to the average robust growth rate of 8% that was promised when the highest tax brackets were eliminated starting in 2006. The almost three-quarter trillion rupee GDP gap -- the 80% estimate of Business Mauritius times the Sithanen toohrooh -- clearly tells us that our private sector did not create value anywhere near the levels needed to justify the 15% flat tax. That was kind of expected when we consider the stupid ways it was financed and the kind of massively unproductive FDI we've been chasing. Or if we were familiar with the damage done by Reaganomics. We shouldn't also forget that the Sithanen flat tax was implemented on the basis of three alternative facts: the infamous triple external shocks.

You may not fully grasp how big a number 740 billions is. Well that's more than the combined GDP of Mauritius for 2006, 2007 and 2008. More than half of that gap happened on Ramgoolam's watch. That took nine years. It will take Lepep less than three to match that if the finance minister doesn't bring back some sanity to our tax regime. A la Bill Clinton. That's because -- as the above chart shows -- the annual shortfalls have been increasing constantly. Thanks to an impressive string of low growth rates. By our historical standards or what we would have been able to achieve. Had the incompetent Mr. Sithanen not badly messed up our economy. For example had we continued growing at an average of 5.5% with our progressive taxation, healthy savings rate and a slightly improved management the private sector would have generated an extra two hundred billion rupees of GDP over the last decade. Which is roughly the GDP of Mauritius for 2006. Just imagine if that was combined with a stable or slightly appreciating currency. We'd all be very looking forward to Mauritius @50. More on this soon.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Metro Express Not Needed, For Now

We should do it now otherwise it will cost more later I hear you say. The correct yardstick is its share of GDP otherwise we're blindsided by money illusion. Besides there are better choices. The first one is obviously to beef up the number and quality of buses -- fitting a number of them with catalytic converters will also improve air quality -- on our roads. And improving their schedules. Plus letting congestion pricing do a little bit of its magic. After making cars more expensive. Especially the larger ones. While making the smaller hybrid ones even cheaper. This should improve flow. And GDP. But not as much as restoring progressive taxation. Which should be the topmost priority.

Not sure whether a metro should run between Port-Louis and Curepipe. When it will be the right time to do it we might find it obvious to exclude these two cities. 

Cyclones Pose New Risks to Mauritius

Gone are the days when an intense cyclone like Claudette would shrink our GDP by about 8%. That's because four decades later sugar weighs about nineteen times less in our economy. The risk now is being visited by a series of cyclones in a much shorter period of time. We will have a lot more flooding so we need to prepare for this with drains that are not built to accommodate the rainwater of one large cyclone in a month but like three of different sizes in three weeks or less. Contingency plans will therefore have to be carefully updated. So should our relationship with fellow creatures.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Can Mauritius Do Better Than 56th in Maths?

That's how we did in the 2009 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey. That puts us in the company of Thailand but a lot better than Qatar (80th) and Ghana (88th). But kind of far from the UK (28th) and Germany (16th). I think it was the only time we ever participated in this interesting exercise. Germany has used her PISA experience to improve her education system. Surely if its valuable to the exportweltmeister it will be for us too. Besides don't we pride ourselves on being quite good in the Queen of Sciences?

Speaking of mathematics there's also an important competition that we seemed to have missed since it was first organised back in... 1959. The 58th edition of the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) will take place in Rio de Janeiro between July 12 and 23. 109 countries have already confirmed their participation. Including plenty of African nations like Algeria, Botswana, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania. In last year's competition Thailand came out 12th. Even Syria will be in Rio. So should Mauritius. Details are at http://www.imo-official.org/.

What Happens When Justin Gets A Gift

If its value exceeds $200 he has to disclose it publicly. Within 30 days. This doesn't apply if the gift is from friend or family. But it covers any advantage they may have obtained. For instance he received a few bottles of whisky on last January 6 from the Ambassador of Guinea. Three days later cufflinks for his birthday from the Afghan Ambassador. And butterfly glasswork from Norway's crown prince last year. All the disclosures are available online.

The scrutiny doesn't stop there. The designer clothes the Canadian First Lady receives as gifts are also inventoried. Like the tuxedo suit by Pink Tartan. And the holiday at Aga Khan's home in the Bahamas. Journalists have also found that the Trudeau Foundation received about 10 times more money once Justin took over the leadership of the Liberal Party -- most of the donations came from overseas. And have mapped conference sponsorships against corresponding lobbying issues to highlight any potential conflicts of interest. Air Canada for example has lobbied 102 times over a two-year period.

Canada ranked 9th in the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Singapore was at spot no 7. Mauritius at 50.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Voters Evaluate Ministers Constantly

And the analysis is getting more sophisticated. Every day. Thanks to the amount of quality information out there and the multiple ways people are now connected. Plus internet time is at least seven times faster than normal time. All this explains why newspapers have been dying across the world. People don't want to pay for news that don't lift them up or don't make them smarter. Or which are entirely fake. Or driven by a hidden agenda. Especially if they are badly written. This is good news for democracies. And bad for politicians and rent-seekers.

We've seen how smart Mauritian voters are in 2014. They didn't fall into the wicked trap of proportional representation and party lists, 7-year Presidential terms and fake simulations. And in the process kept several toxic politicians out of Parliament -- God bless our FPTP system. They've bagged victories with the family of new banknotes and the CHCL. They are now fighting for their basic rights: their beaches and their water. So these are healthy fights against nonsense and arrogance.

But the fights don't have to drag on. The Prime Minister can immediately cut a couple of Ministers to size or proceed with a reshuffle. Because we've got better things to do. Because we've fallen behind. And because it's 2017.

Mauritius Surprised to Be Told That Labour History is More Than a Tale of Two Ramgoolams

Indeed its leader mentioned a list of about 20 people a few days ago. I have no idea where he got that list. Could it be a bad case of alternative facts? Or maybe because we don't have someone at the MBC with a clause of conscience -- which is really a wonderful way of making sure that facts are not subjected to too much violence.

Ramgoolam the Second also mentioned that the Labour Party has always fought against social injustice. Always? Come on. Everybody knows that's not true. The LP only started to roll back poverty as from 2005 when it made a break with its regressive past.