Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kozelidir Person of The Year 2010

Attributed to the Forum page of Le Mauricien for providing a healthy space to the Kozelidir Person of The Year 2009.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Important is a Budget Speech?

Depends what you say in it and what you leave out. And what you do the other 365 or so days of the year. There should also be some basic coordination between ministers. See Anil Baichoo comes on TV to announce substantial increases in bus fares -- based on reasons that appear esoteric at best -- after Pravind Jugnauth has presented his budget. Not good.

Besides cost of living is a manageable quantity that can throw all kinds of politicians out of office.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shaitanomics Failed To Deliver Robust Growth

As shown in the above graphic, growth rates between July 2005 and April 2010 were on average very similar to those of the best-managed-country-in-the-world vintage: 4.33% vs. 4.41%. And that's going to make it way easier to show how Mauritius wasted another 5 years.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top 10 Most Popular Posts in October 2010

Banker Says Mauritius Strong on Rhetoric

That was Mike Rees last Tuesday night at the Four Points by Sheraton. He was invited in the speaker series of the Society of Financial Analyst of Mauritius to talk on Opportunities and Risk in a Rapidly Changing Economic World. Rees also added that other countries in Africa have gotten their act together and their prospects are looking good.

The MBC and the media were there but given that the guy was challenging the bean-counting wisdom it's not surprising that one of our major papers barely mentioned that he was there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How Bunwaree Can Be Bold In the Next Few Days

By deciding to add a few chairs on average to each Form 1 classroom in January so that the impending CPE results don't condemn several thousands kids to one more year of boredom studying a grossly ill-designed curriculum. In the process he will make some real progress on his strategic goal to make our school system more efficient.

Atop The World's Tallest Building

Friday, December 3, 2010

Julian Assange Answers Questions

That was a few hours ago complimentary of The Guardian. In the meantime, Secretary of State Clinton reacted to the leaks while a Calgary Professor is now saying he's sorry about his earlier remarks that called for the assassination of Assange. The BBC expects that JA would be arrested soon on... sexual abuse charges. Here's JA talking to Chris Anderson a few months ago about why we need WikiLeaks.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

PM Saying PSC is Too Slow

In filling out jobs for which funds have been earmarked so that government is proposing that the PSC delegates further recruitment and promotion authority. I have no idea at which speed the PSC has been working but I'd love the Prime Minister to tell us when exactly has the speed become unsatisfactory and whether we couldn't beef up the PSC for faster delivery.

Isn't that something the passport office could look into?

WikiLeaks Reveal Purpose of Marine Park in BIOT

And that's to make it more difficult if not impossible for Chagossians to go back home. The UK is essentially saying that fishes and bombs have rights but natives don't.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meet The Eggman

Simpler Process Makes Passport Office Really Cool

Renewing your passport is not a hernia-inducing experience anymore. Yep, you just need to fill in the 2-page form, grab two recent pics, your NIC along with the old passport and head to one of the 6 police district headquarters with the applicable fees (between 400 and 700 rupees). Head back within a week and your new passport should be ready.

If you have an emergency then you may be better off braving the awful traffic and visit the PIO headquarters. There you will be greeted by some of the most relaxed public servants who are not exactly missing the big crowds of the old days. They are instead thinking about how to further improve the service.

Shouldn't we make them run the PMO?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

STC Hedging Mess is Rs1.7 Billion Bigger

So we were told a few weeks ago. That's 57% more than the huge Rs3 billion figure supplied in Parliament two years ago. And quite fishy too because the STC doesn't have any price risk to manage: it just passes it on to us through the APM. Besides, two years that's an awful long time for so many eyes to be fooled.

My hunch is that the STC never had any billion-rupee hedging losses but that we were forced to pay abusive gas prices to make up for the fiscal shortfall created by the Sithanen-Mansoor's flat tax experiment given that the proverbial robust growth rates never arrived. 

This aspect of Shaitanomics has already played a part in preventing us and our economy from participating in the global rebound underway by making a dent in our overall competitiveness. And Pravind Jugnauth's intention of increasing excise duties on petroleum by 10% will make sure it will have another one to play in keeping us in our economic slumber. He should instead increase the special levy on banks or nudge corporate taxes upwards.

All of this doesn't look good for Mo Ibrahim's poster child for governance, does it?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How the MOF Can Improve Productivity Right Away

By allowing citizens of our country the option to download all the Program-based budget estimates for 2011 and the indicative estimates for 2012 and 2013 in one large file instead of the close to 90 individual files.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

No Labourite Good Enough To Be President

Well at least for Navin Ramgoolam who was not able to find one on each of the two occasions he could have rewarded a loyal party servant. Indeed he used them to grant second terms to both Cassam Uteem and Aneerood Jugnauth.

And these have been surprising choices. I mean granted that you may have trouble remembering Cassam Uteem as the ultimate die-hard labour. But you are unlikely to forget an ex-President going back to partisan politics to save the country from an apparently impending dictatorship. That of course after attempting to broker an alliance with the same dictator-designate who had kindly allowed him to sleep 5 more years in a chateau and not before he told us that he had finally understood that a President should remain above soapbox theatrics.

SAJ getting a second mandate is even more comical if you recall the level of animosity between him and the PM-elect at the start of Ramgoolam's second mandate. But Navin had little choice given the dedication with which two university buddies had relentlessly screwed up the economy.

The history-making nomination of Monique Ohsan-Bellepeau as Vice-President is also kind of weird. As someone commented a few days ago nobody can understand why Ramgoolam did not try to find out first if the MMM would have voted an amendment to abolish the Vice-Presidency. Which would have allowed the PM to remain consistent with what he recently told us he wanted dearly.

He could also have appointed Bellepeau as President in 2008. Or the late Chettiar. Instead of SAJ. Maybe the guy is not a Real Labourite afterall.

Monday, November 8, 2010

41% of Poll Says 3 Towns Would Go To MMM

If municipals were held these days. None of the 17 voters thought Berenger's side would get all 5 but 23% believe Ramgoolam would not give up any. 17% thought Alliance du coeur would win 3-2. In my opinion the results will depend a lot on the budget Pravind Jugnauth reads in our Parliament soon.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pamela Asked To Leave Radio

Although she still has 5 good years before normal retirement. She apparently has had shortcomings as the boss of MBC Radio but she hasn't been told which ones exactly. I don't have all the details but this sounds a little bit fishy at best. After all, Ms. Patten has spent several decades of her professional life at the national station and the general feeling is that she has done a pretty good job.

And who should be fired for the poor quality of our evening tv news bulletin?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lula's Record Powers First Woman To Brazilian Presidency

Her name is Dilma Rouseff, she is 62 and defeated Jose Serra 56% against 44% in the second round of the Presidential race yesterday because Brazilians want Lula's policies to give better life prospects to many more of their fellow citizens.

One intriguing perk of President Rouseff could happen if she hands the World Cup to the selecao in the Maracana stadium in 2014. Which would settle an old score.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why You Want To Do What You Love

The Bumper Crop That Wasn't

You already know what Shaitanomics did to our savings rate. Here's something else to confirm that you've been taken for a bean-counting ride for too long.

On December 13th 2005 given that the economy was looking good in Brazil the Lula government announced that it would be paying back its USD15.5 billion IMF loan in advance. Argentina followed suit a couple of days later with a similar announcement. That's also what Lutchmeenaraidoo did in the 80s after he bewitched cyclones into avoiding Dodoland.

Compare this to Mauritius contracting billions of rupees of Bretton-Woods debt during the so-called bumper crop. That too after receiving tens of billions of FDI.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lion Ill-Advised To Beg on Tiger's Behalf

Like recently heading to L'Elysée for a godi or asking for scholarships and brains in Singapore. And whilst it's nice that India has drawn a map of our exclusive economic zone for free we're rich enough to pay for it and for everything else that we need to swiftly get our main national problems out of the way.

Yep, we must be quite rich and particularly crazy for having contracted Rs9 billion of foreign debt we don't need from the World Bank. Any guess how much interest we've been paying to this loan shark since 2006?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Debate Can Now Happen

Between the two zinku who have been Minister of Finance given that the last hurdle that was preventing it to happen has now been overcome: the junior one is now also not even a member of a district council.

As I've said before I am prepared to be the moderator for this debate between our two former chancellors. Possible topics include:
  1. How much gold should go in our reserves portfolio?
  2. The fallacy of the triple external shocks argument
  3. The relationship between tax rates and growth rates
  4. The effect of a flat tax on income distribution
  5. Inflation, the worst enemy of the poor
  6. Chronic rupee depreciation and living standards
  7. How to destabilize the Governor of the Central Bank
  8. The effect of savat leponz and gato pima on the eradication of poverty
  9. Putting incompetent buddies in positions of high responsibility
  10. Borrowing billions we don't need from the World Bank and what it's like being a Bretton-Woods puppet
That's a tentative list of course. So gentlemen, how fast can it happen?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Summer is Back!

Economics Nobel Announced in Less Than One Hour

And you can watch it live on the Nobels website. Incidentally, this prize is attributed by the Central Bank of Sweden. Shouldn't this inspire the Bank of Mauritius to award a prize for bean-counting? Guess they should allow sharing of the prize.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Next Few Days Crucial For Trapped Miners

Now that the drill has reached them because the route to be taken by the capsule built on NASA's recommendations to bring them to the surface one at a time is tricky.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Father of Test Tube Babies Wins Nobel

That's the news from Scandinavia today: British doctor Robert Edwards wins Nobel Prize in medicine for work he started in the 1950s which culminated in the birth of Louise Brown, the first test tube baby, in 1978. As many as 4 million babies have been born via his method since then. Read the press release and check out the high resolution graphic.

Physics Nobel is tomorrow, Chemistry on Wednesday, Literature on Thursday and Peace on Friday. Economics is on Monday.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Queen in A Classroom

That would be Queen Rania of Jordan visiting schools throughout the world including surprise checks in her home country.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jean To Step Down As Governor General of Canada

The former Haiti-born journalist is to complete her term as Governor General of Canada this 1st October. She will be replaced by David Johnston. Toronto may well have seen the last of the popular Viceregal last May. You may wish to browse her private album on the official site.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mansoor Circular Misleading Nation

In it the Financial Secretary (FS) is saying that he was expecting our economy to ride on the coattails of a rebounding world economy. That of course made sense to him and to his university buddy as they had been attributing some of the worst growth rates in decades our country has clipped to unfavourable international factors only. Now that the world economy is growing faster than Mauritius Mr. Mansoor has had to come up with a new set of external culprits to justify a fresh round of unnecessary budgetary cuts. So as not to look too silly.

But the above equation reminds us that the FS is not telling the whole story. Indeed the amount of money our government collects depends not only on the size of the economy (GDP) -- and therefore indirectly on its growth dynamics -- but also on the average tax rate. Flattening our progressive taxation system to 15% besides creating a lot of social injustice crucially depended on the arrival of higher growth rates if we didn't want to end up with the worst of both worlds: more debt and getting nothing much accomplished.

We never got the required robust growth rates. We know we couldn't. We only contracted more debt and our problems in 2010 are worse than what they were 5 years earlier.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Competition Watchdog Not Happy About How Insurance is Bundled With Loans

After sending out mystery shoppers to investigate. John Davies, the Executive Director, said banks may be offering too little choice in terms of insurance to people who take housing loans. You can read the statement released to the press a few days ago here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

At Least 80,000 Eat 3 Rotis For Free Everyday

At the Golden Temple in Amritsar. They actually eat a healthy vegetarian meal. Read the NYT article to meet the people who run this massive volunteer operation which gobbles up about one ton of red chilies every 3 days.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Competition Commission Signs MOU With BOM

That happened 5 days ago at the BOM Tower.

Wonderful, more reasonable spreads in the forex market should be in on their way. The Banker, are you there?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Killed Many IRS Projects

Depreciating currency and dullness of Mauritian evenings are two reasons we identified last year. Overpricing is a third one. Here are a few more:
  1. Getting someone from the World Bank(WB) as Financial Secretary who promises to adapt WB policies to Mauritius. Investors know very well what happens when government allow Bretton-Woods-formatted cowboys to run the show: they screw up public finances and the economy, people eventually take to the streets and governments lose power along the way. That usually doesn't help real estate values to firm up. 
  2. An eyebrow-raising event: WB opens an office here in 2008 based on totally fallacious arguments. We didn't need a WB office in the 1970s when we went through very turbulent economic waters so how come we needed one 4 decades later when conditions are infinitely more manageable? Investors definitely interpret this as a signal that a few idiots have decided to send our country to the dogs.
  3. Investors were attracted by sexy ingredients that are the foundations for our country's reputation as the poster child of economic development: success in defusing the demographic bomb, rapid industrialisation, progressive taxation, free education and other carefully thought-out components of our welfare state. With the introduction of the Sithanen-Mansoor-Scott-Ramgoolam flat-tax they fear Mauritius may have lost her magic touch and know government will have no money to maintain standards or solve any national problem. Which is essentially what happened over the past 5 years. And that doesn't sell properties.
Guess you've noticed that the policy spaghetti that killed these IRS also killed our savings and made our economy more vulnerable. Things could get out of hand pretty quickly.

What It's Like Working at FB

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Les Onze Critiques De Jack Bizlall

Jack published this 80-page booklet a couple of weeks before the last general elections. It is an interesting read. Download and enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mathematics 'Nobels' Announced in City of Pearls Tomorrow

It's actually called the Fields Medal named after Canadian Mathematician John Charles Fields. In 2006, Russian Grigori Perelman declined the award while the Mozart of Math picked up his.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Democratisation of the Economy Could Now Take At Least 1,000 Years

That's 2 centuries more than my October 2008 estimate which was based on what Cader Sayed-Hossen was saying and the speed at which he was going about it then.

I added 200 years because I think I may have somewhat overestimated his ability to change anything with his commission and to account for the brutal reverse democratisation of the economy that took place over the past five years.

Friday, August 6, 2010

US Plans to Let Tax Cuts For The Rich Expire

Bush had cut tax rates for the wealthiest 2% Americans and this did not boost economic activity while it only increased the budget deficit. America will however extend those granted to middle-income families.

Recall that when Reagan lowered top tax rates by about 10% in the 1980s the US didn't experience higher growth rates but only a quadrupling of its debt. Similarly when the bean-counter flattened our tax structure we not only got some of the worst growth rates in decades but very little happened in our country save Voodoo economics and the doubling of foreign debt.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Kozelidir's Free Guide To Abolition of Private Tuition

Given that primary teachers are saying that the raison-d'etre for private tuition is a heavy curriculum kids can spend their afternoon doing all kinds of fun stuff if we lighten what they have to be taught. This can be done in two ways:

1. Get the grown-ups who design the curriculum to chop off enough material that will set our kids free after 14h30. We may be told that this is a complicated process that will take years and that teachers cannot possibly work faster than Prime Ministers promising more decent electricity prices. Fair enough. That's why we have an alternative solution.

2. Get a bunch of down-to-earth kids to tear off material they found absolutely boring in their preceding school year. That shouldn't take more than a couple of days.

Please make sure to check our other guides here including the very popular Kozelidir's Free Guide to a Successful Ministerial Resignation.