Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mauritian Economy About A Quarter Less Open Than In 1990

That's according to the 'Openness' statistic published by the highly esteemed Central Statistical Office. Defined as the ratio of total merchandise exports and imports to GDP at market prices this yardstick was at 1.07 in 1990 and finished last year at 0.81. That's a decrease of 24.26% if your arithmetic is as rusty as mine and gives you an indication of the competitiveness of some of our exporters. I certainly hope that the Prime Minister and the Governor of the Central Bank use that statistic to ignore the sporadic whining of the usual cry babies from MEXA, JEC and the Ministry of Finance.

Food Crops and Fish Production Down Significantly From Their 2001 Levels

That's right. In 2001 we produced a little over 129,000 metric tonnes of food crops and almost 8,800 metric tonnes of fish. The corresponding numbers for 2007 are lower by a whopping 27% and 33% respectively. In fact the fish production numbers hovered within a narrow range of 8,800 and 9,400 tonnes between 2000 and 2006 before free-falling to less than 6,000 tonnes last year.

Shouldn't that be a cause for alarm in these times of agriflation and given that the eating habits of Mauritians are not exactly world-beaters? I am sure we can do a lot better with the world's 14th largest exclusive economic zone than to include it once in a while in a dumb speech usually appreciated while ingesting some oily gato pima.

Independent Study Says Middle-Class Worse Off With Flat Tax

A presentation of that interesting study confirms what anybody endowed with a little bit of intelligence knew from the start: temporarily removing people from the tax net doesn't make them necessarily better off if they get clobbered with double-digit inflation created deliberately especially if you also mess up their long-term plans carefully crafted with exemptions such as insurance policies, loans and pension plans.

The study by Ms. Kumari Juddoo and her colleagues at the University of Mauritius could certainly catch the attention of the next Finance Minister.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ministers and Growth Rates: The Last 20 Years

This is what I could blog in 18 months when we go to the polls assuming we grow at 5% until then. As the table shows the average growth rate of the current government would barely fall short of 5% and certainly puts the so-called reform-induced robust growth performance into perspective: Sithanen will actually do worse than his first time around when... no reform was implemented.

And should we tag along at 3% instead it would yield the worse-performing mandate as far as that extremely limited economic statistic goes. But of course we won't go to vote in July 2010: it will be the World Cup Stupid!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Just in Case You Forgot: November is Diabetes Month

Every 10 seconds a person dies of diabetes in the world. 25% of Mauritian suffer or are at high risk of developing that condition which is one of the most common chronic medical problems and a major cause of ill-health. The tragedy is that half of those affected will not even know that they have the disease. With early diagnosis, access to care and awareness the development of diabetes can be prevented specially in children.

We need to create Awareness BIG Time! And it’s the responsibility of each and every one of us. Why not use our students as media and for campaigning during the holiday seasons? This will not only help them find out about a life-long health risk but will also help to cure our affected community.

Our medical system could definitely be computerized instead of the mess of the Bristol card and dossier: a diabetes patient who is also an orthopedic patient at the same hospital has currently 2 dossiers. Having the patient full case history on a computer screen will help speed up the system for the benefit of one and all.

But WHEN are we getting started? Thoughts, action plan and decisions should meet reality within weeks! Our community is Dying!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Bean-Counter's Idea of a Trade-Off

As far as average inflation and unemployment rates are concerned we were at point A with the MSM-MMM government and Dr Sithanen quickly took us to point B in two and half short years: 3% more inflation and 1.4% more unemployment. One more reason for the guy to go when you consider that the Phillips curve turned 50 this year.

Friday, November 21, 2008

At Least One Major Arrow Is Missing

From the Education and Human Resource Plan for our country unveiled this week. And that would be from Labour Market to Higher Education in Figure 5 on page 26. If you don't understand why then you could be suffering from... linear thinking and should definitely read this to get rid of that disease. There may be much more missing but the 25-day period given for public comment on the 163-page report spanning a 12-year period is as ridiculous as the recent re-introduction of daylight savings time: it will get us to nowhere.

The plan is available here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Welcome to the Big Business Welfare State

I am caught with a sense of déjà vu as I watch Auto execs in America begging for a bailout. Shall we wince or LOL? Does not that remind you of our local cry babies and rent seekers? Give us a competitive (aka junk) rupee or else we sink together! It looks like taxpayers must always subsidise the reckless lifestyle of fat cats.

Sugar does not taste as sweet in my mouth as when I was a kid. Some people do not feel least bothered to preach free market everywhere and reverse affirmative action through the back door.

Warakurna, I think I'd better get back to humming Midnight Oil's anthem:

Some people laugh, some never learn;
This land must change or land must burn.
Some people sleep, some people yearn;
This land must change or land must burn.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Scandale MCB/NPF: Leçons Pas Apprises

Il y a urgence à modifier la National Pensions Act et la National Savings Act pour une raison capitale. Ali Mansoor se retrouve au centre d’un conflit d’intérêt étant donné l’impact que peuvent avoir les mesures budgétaires sur les marchés financiers. Des mesures qu’il aurait suggérées probablement lui-même comme secrétaire financier. 

Par exemple, la baisse de la taxe corporative à 15% qui a été responsable de l’envolée de la bourse de Port-Louis était connue avant tout le monde de Mansoor qui porte aussi la casquette de président du comité d’investissement du NPF/NSF. Il ne peut pas créer les règles du jeu et être le joueur le plus important à la fois. Mansoor doit donc immédiatement se récuser du comité d’investissement.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Singapore: Not Exactly a SIDS

It already has the world's 44th biggest economy (vs. 129th for Mauritius) and tops all the rankings that really matter so it's kind of silly to call Singapore a SIDS. It is also one of the most open economies so that it should have been hit harder by the record oil prices we've had since July 2005. Still, its rates of inflation since then, as shown above, has been a mere trifle compared to those Sithanen has been consistently throwing at the poor and middle-class over here. And the cumulative rate of inflation is even more revealing for the first 2.5 years since the Labour Party returned to power: 3.4% for Singapore vs. 20.2% for Mauritius. And you can click here to find out or remember what it's like to have the world's busiest port. 

38 years

This is about how long it would take the GDP per capita of Mauritius to reach that of Singapore. Indeed the USD 5,496 figure we clocked last year would attain Singapore's 2007 performance of USD 35,163 if it grew steadily at 5% until 2046.

But this assumes that the incredible south-east Asian tiger would stop growing for the next four decades and wait for us to catch up. A very unlikely event considering that since Sithanen joined politics, Singapore has been growing at 6.5% on average every year vs. our own 5.0%. Singapore's GDP per capita number is already better than those of Spain and Japan and should match Germany's before Brazil hosts the World Cup in 2014.