Sunday, January 31, 2010

Electoral Commissioner Should Be On Next Plane To Canada

To find out why general elections results there are announced the same day voters make their choice on paper ballots. Despite having many times more votes to count which are spread over a land area of almost 10 million square kilometres. About 14 million in the last 3 elections if you want to know.

The election process is certainly the last place we want to show off our environmental zeal.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Proof That Someone Had Already Messed Up Mauritius Before the Global Financial Crisis

Labour-MMM Alliance Good for the Uteems Not for Mauritius

Good for them because that's about the only way father or son could get elected in the next polls. Not good for Mauritius because that alliance would win all the seats without a serious plan for our country before breaking-up one year later. 

President Uteem has yet to tell us how this is in the interest of our country. I suspect he'll have a hard time doing that because he doesn't seem to understand that a former President shouldn't go back into partisan politics.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Better Ranking in The Heritage Foundation's List Confirms Ramgoolam's Betrayal of Labour Party's DNA

This is what Paul Krugman had to say in The Conscience of a Liberal -- one of three books Navinchandra told us he was reading at one point in time -- about institutions like The Heritage Foundation:
"Where did these institutions come from? The story, in brief, is that in the late 1960s and early 1970s members of the new conservative intelligentsia persuaded both wealthy individuals and some corporate leaders to funnel cash into a conservative intellectual infrastructure. To a large extent this infrastructure consists of think tanks that are set up to resemble academic institutions, but only publish studies that play into a preconceived point of view... The Heritage Foundation was created in 1973 with cash from Joseph Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife."
Here is the page for Mauritius in the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom. Make sure to also check the international rankings to get a good laugh: Sweden is at 21 and Germany is at 23!!!

Just When We Needed The Audit Report The Most

L'Express reported a week back that the report is late because the Audit boss doesn't know if he has to issue two reports or one. Some dilemma, eh? Who cares about whether hot glue is still available or if they've got a big enough stapler in there??? Just get it out on the net. Please.

The audit report is not really about format but more about how much of our money government has wasted. And  this year it will be more than a little bit interesting to see what they'll have say about the extremely controversial stimulus package.

Where To Find Us On YouTube

You can listen to the HardTalk audio clips here. Make sure to hit the "More From:" arrow to move to the next clip in the series.

For the more recent Le Grand Debat audio clips click here. Kee Chong's video clip is also in there.

We're gonna add interesting clips soon. So stay tuned! Better still, subscribe to the channel!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Does it Take Rs39 Billion to Create 7,000 Jobs?

What am I talking about?

Did you know that our economy created some 33,000 jobs the first time Sithanen was around as Finance Minister -- i.e. between September 1991 and December 1995? And that happened with Mauritius receiving about Rs1 billion of FDI over that 4.25-year period.

Now, given that we apparently received Rs40 billion over the last 4.5 years and that the economy created 40,000 jobs this means that the extra 7,000 jobs seemed to have been created with the additional Rs39 billion. That's a lot of billions for only 7,000 jobs if you ask me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

How The 4.3% Growth Forecasted For 2010 Gonna Feel Like

A lot like the 4.5 years that have just gone by. That's because the average growth rate from July 2005 to December 2009 is ... 4.3%. And 4.3% combined with a flat tax of 15% is way too low for the government to keep the welfare state that has seen us through thick and thin. That's because 4.3% and 15% brings less money to the government coffers than a 5.5% growth and a marginal tax rate of 25%. Better collection may and have brought in more money but they will not do that in a recurrent manner.

So that's bad news because the service level of government is going to go down and if you thought you'd seen some rather hectic voodoo accounting, well, you ain't seen nothing yet. At least till we go to elect a new Minister of Finance.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

10 Years of Savings Gone in 4 And You're Better Off

That's essentially what Ramgoolam and Dr. Flat Tax want you to believe. Actually it looks like they might even want you to say thank you and probably wouldn't mind if you got on your feet and started clapping.

I always thought you become more vulnerable when your savings decrease because the cushion to absorb any humps in your life becomes smaller. Savings are already at a 30-year low.

Likewise they want us to agree that Mauritius has become more resilient with their reforms. Ahem. How does that happen when you give away Rs5 billion to a sunset industry which accounted at the time for only 4% of our economy. Or by throwing our good money after hubris-infected companies? Or by deciding to borrow in dollars instead of investing in our great people?

Just a little fact for you to see a bit better through Big Brother's propaganda machine: over two financial years (2007 and 2008) our country spent Rs23 billion on debt servicing while we spent only Rs19.6 billion on education. That's close to Rs3.5 billion more.

Where do you think the country is heading?

P.S: You may want to have a look here to find out what was happening in our country in the 1970s just in case you napped through most of it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CEB Should Have Produced All Our Electricity

We're a country with a small land mass. CEB used to be the only electricity producer when one private concern under the first Navin Ramgoolam government was allowed to join that market. And then Federation II took power and that strategic institution was declared broke to allow more abusive and confidential contracts to be signed in the back of the citizens of this country.

And then in November 2007 Ramgoolam went through his tarzan-like-chess-thumping routine to say that this couldn't go on and that he'd change his name if he would allow the good people of Mauritius to be subjected to this kind of rip-off. Even Berenger said that the rates of return of the IPP were too high and he suggested a 10% rate to maintain a facade of credibility after sitting on his hands when he was Prime Minister.

I am not too sure 10% is the right number. The discipline of establishing a fair rate of return in these particular cases is well established and can be used to determine the amount of money that has to be returned to the people of Mauritius through the CEB. What I am sure of though is that
  1. Contracts involving billions of rupees of public funds cannot be confidential and more importantly they cannot be abusive.
  2. CEB should again take the lead because Mauritius is awash with cash.
  3. This matter could have been resolved very quickly. Going forward, it can be resolved in a week.
  4. Abusive energy prices have along with the other blunders of Sithanen made Mauritius a more vulnerable and less competitive country.
Does Ramgoolam want to keep his name?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Economist on Growth Forecast

What We Can Learn From Malawi

I am writing this of course in connection with the conference that the World Bank will be organising this week to showcase how Sithanen is enn terrib. For sure most of these folks from Africa are coming to visit our beautiful island to get pampered from morning till evening. Wouldn't you?

Still, I wonder if Malawi has been invited. If it has then everybody should shut up and find out what happened when that country started to think by itself. You don't know. Or maybe you don't remember? That's not a problem. Hey, that's why we are here after all: to help you connect the right dots. Just click here to find out why you may get mad.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Gates Foundation Picks Kreol-speaking Economist To Head Strategy



In its Global Health Program, that is. Oxford-trained Beeharry joined the Foundation in 2005 and was until two days ago its Deputy-director for Global Health Delivery. He will lead a team of experts who make sure that the grant portfolio of the world's biggest private foundation has the maximum impact on health in developing countries.

Still not convinced about the importance of Kreol?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Who's Gonna Be The Next Finance Minister?

Is it going to be Pravind Jugnauth in a Ptr-MSM alliance? Or maybe Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo if Labour and the MMM go together? You think Rama Sithanen is to going to keep the job? Somebody else will be finance minister?

You decide and vote in the opinion poll which has just started.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Poll Finds That Stimulus Package Did Not Save 4,700 Jobs



As the above shot shows, 81% of the 27 respondents don't agree that the stimulus package saved 4,700 jobs. It's also kind of absurd to have a stimulus package when we're told that the economy is creating 10,000 jobs per year, right?

Tens of Billions of FDI Later, Jobless Rate Still in Double Digits


Unemployment is expected to have ended 2009 at 10.8% up by 0.4% from its level of a year before. That's kind of strange given that Mauritius received more than Rs6 billion in the first three quarters of last year. And that followed two years of Rs11 billion each.

In fact the jobless rate has stayed above 10% over the past 4.5 years. That's very surprising because the Rs40 billion FDI that has poured into Mauritius over that period is a massive amount which even under a mediocre type of economic management should have pulled down the unemployment rate much closer to the ground and made everyone richer.

Nothing of the sort happened: the poor got hit with record inflation and the savings rate is at a 30-year low.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Paglanomics

In FY 2007/08, it costs Rs155 million to remove 41% of individual tax payers temporarily from the tax net. Temporarily, because they will eventually migrate back to that net as their incomes increase. Hopefully. Compare that to the Rs130 million government collected on interest income in the same year. So it's pretty much I give you with one hand and take back with the other kind of stuff.

In fact government must have taken back far more than it has given when you analyse the numbers. If we divide the Rs25 million difference by the 36,600 tax payers removed from the tax net (2007/08 budget speech) we get Rs683 saving per tax payer. That's assuming that people who got off the MRA net paid tax on their interest income. Some must have. Some for sure didn't.

Others probably moved down a few rungs on the social ladder when they didn't get the 50% subsidy for the SC/HSC fees. It didn't matter if you weren't affected by the latter subsidy because you could still be ripped off with abusive petrol and electricity prices which would also make sure everything else in the economy cost more than it should reasonably have. Or maybe you paid an exorbitant price for a 20-minute air trip. All of that was before a depreciating rupee was thrown in for good measure.

Still surprised that the savings rate is less than 12% these days?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Was Madam Secretary Not Briefed Properly?

To have apparently come up with a statement which Sithanen tried to leverage in paragraph 38 of his November 18 budget by attributing it to one Senator Hillary Clinton. Hmm, maybe there is a comment by Elvis about the success of his reforms in that speech too? Here's part of what was reproduced:
"They've demonstrated a commitment to transparency, accountability and good governance. Now, the people of Mauritius have been the primary beneficiaries of these reforms: it does help to unlock human potential and to create conditions where people feel that their hard work will actually be rewarded."
That's quite surprising given the supply-side madness that Sithanen has been subjecting us to and the Obama administration's drive to make America a fairer society after 8 years of Bush folly. Transparent? Like what? Like the controversial stimulus package or the yet-to-be-understood hedging scandals at the STC and MK?

I always thought that crony capitalism and good governance were two entirely different things.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Evaluating Ramgoolam's Second Mandate

Economic: Worst average growth in 25 years at 4.32%. Savings at 30-year low. Economy has become more vulnerable by becoming less competitive. He didn't solve any major problems. Traffic, for example, has been clamping us down for another 5 years. So he wasn't able to solve it in 10 years as Prime Minister. And he says he likes speed.

Social Justice: Never in the history of our independent country has growth been so unequally distributed.  Reducing marginal tax rates -- as in the Reagan years -- allows the rich to hit the jackpot. Flattening the tax structure is the thing to do to create maximum social injustice. Don't forget to add a lot of speculative FDI to that and subtract a weaker safety net for the poor and the middle-class to get an idea of what has happened. Also cumulative inflation, the worst enemy of the poor, has been between 54% and 70% higher than under Federation 2 since 2005. Ramgoolam has turned back the clock of social progress in this country. That's a betrayal of the dearest ideals of the Labour Party and of what SSR stood for.

Cultural Growth: After failing on the economy and on social justice he's been recently including cultural growth in his speeches. Does boring us to death with the same stories about SSR count as cultural growth? I don't think so. And is cultural growth possible when you're creating poverty and inequality by the truckload?

Environment: Maurice Ile Durable should be re-christened as Maurice Ile Palabres. Nothing significant was achieved on this front over the last 4.5 years.

Do You Know What's Going On in America?

Take the CNN Challenge to find out. And you can invite your buddies too. Have fun!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Persons of The Year Around the World

Time gave it to US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for averting an economic catastrophe. Read his interview where he says that the States need to get rid of the too-big-to-fail problem.

Financial Times awarded it to Goldman Sachs CEO Llyod Blankfein. In response to that the Huffington Post carried a story where a bank analyst cancelled his subscription to FT because he thought it was repugnant and ridiculous.

The Medical News picked Charlie DuBois for doing a lot for the chiropractic profession.

007 was selected by PETA.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was named Cannes Lions 2009 Media Person of the year.

In Mauritius, Le Defi+ chose Manou Bheenick. Great pick. And as you know Kozelidir picked the Mauritian Civil Society.

Samad put up a poll in the final days of 2009 for the Person of the Decade. Jack Bizlall won that with Ashok Subron as runner-up. The BBC also had something along those lines.

New Decade Starts Now

So we're gonna watch the World Cup for a month in the middle of 2010 and elect a new government. We probably don't know which one yet. Ramgoolam is not sure to stay on as Prime Minister. He can blame his now legendary escapism for it. The MMM has nothing serious to offer unless Berenger and fellow dinosaurs allow the party to get a new lease on political life. The MSM is the only opposition party that has shown some spine in Parliament. But not enough to take Mauritius to where it should go.

The most positive development of the last few years has been the emergence of new voices and platforms to challenge fossilized ones. This process seemed to have accelerated in 2009. I suspect it will grow louder in 2010 as we make sure to end Sithanen's supply-side madness.

We don't have any other choice. Unless we want to put another lost decade under our belt.

Happy New Year!