Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ramgoolam Gives Tickets Split But Refuses to Take Questions

MSM is getting 18 tickets, PMSD 7 while Labour retains 35. Bizarre that the Prime Minister didn't take any questions although he said he would a little bit earlier at the Treasury building.

Should the fact that he organised this press conference while Sithanen is out of the country be interpreted that the bean-counter is being dropped? The other thing that was absent from his speech or the presentation of the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge alliance is Anil Baichoo. Is the latter being dumped too?

Ramgoolam said he would be only taking questions on Saturday. I don't like this very much because that chops 3 days of an already short campaign. And can you tell me how the hell we're going to have a healthy debate about important issues when we don't even know when the electoral manifestos are gonna be ready? Doesn't that feel like a travesty of our democracy to you?

Mauritius To Vote For New Government on May 5

That's what the Prime Minister announced a few minutes ago on the MBC after telling the nation that he had dissolved Parliament this afternoon. With this announcement, Mauritius is now thrown into a short 35-day election campaign. 

Ramgoolam's announcement comes 1,732 days after winning the July 2005 polls. His first dissolution of Parliament happened 1,696 days after he had won the December 20, 1995 elections while the 2000 campaign was only 31 days long.

Ramgoolam Expected To Share Election Plans With Nation This Evening

During a joint press conference at Le Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel in Port-Louis which starts at 20h. The PM will be accompanied by the Leader of the MSM, Pravind Jugnauth, as well as the Leader of the PMSD, Xavier-Luc Duval. Ramgoolam is expected to announce the dissolution of parliament and the date of the general elections.

People close to the negotiations say that an agreement has been reached to split the 60 tickets as follows: Ptr: 40; MSM:12 and PMSD:8. There are persistent rumours that we'll go to vote on Sunday May 8th.

One Reason Rama Chickens Out of a Debate With Vishnu


And deprives us of a historic crossfire between two of our Finance Ministers who've been in the job for roughly the same amount of time. I would have seriously considered moderating this landmark event but only if Rama insisted. What a shame!

But this setback shouldn't prevent us from getting our facts right. Job creation for instance has been more robust when Lutchmeenaraidoo was in the driver's seat.* Yep. The economy churned out 127,700 jobs between 1984 and 1990 compared to 72,600 during Sithanen's two-part tenure. That's 55,000 more jobs in case you're wondering.

*Data for 1983 excluded because I didn't find them.

Monday, March 29, 2010

57% of Poll Says Manou's Bedside Manners Are Better Than Rama's


Indeed, 23 of the 40 people who voted thought so. I wonder if Rashid Imrith participated.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Only Guy With Tie Turns 80


That would be Sir Anerood Jugnauth (SAJ), the second Prime Minister of Mauritius. In this picture which must be about half a century old he is standing next to my dad. SSB is also in there (in the middle of the front row).

I remember picking up our phone once back in the early 1970s and hearing a guy answer Anerood Jugnauth when I asked de la part de qui? I immediately put the phone on the smaller table of the study of the guy who never found a good book he could resist and went to look for Bhai Kher quite puzzled. 

"Dad", I whispered, "you will never believe who's on the phone?" He rushed to take the call as soon as he had deciphered what I was saying. I followed him at a distance to check the tone one should use when talking to the enemy.

I was dumbfounded when I didn't notice any sparks right at the beginning. In fact there were to be none whatsoever.

Anyway, Happy Birthday tomorrow Mr. President and... enjoy your dinner.

How Ramgoolam Did On Issues That Matter To Us

At least as revealed by a recent poll he ordered.

Purchasing power. He failed because cumulative inflation reached about 33% at the end of 2009 and the corresponding amount for the poor hit 47%. And all of this happened while massive FDI poured into Mauritius. His government had already produced the same amount of high inflation as the previous one by May 2008 -- so here's one extra thing he shouldn't blame the global crisis for.

Education. His government didn't think hard enough about this crucially important issue although there were some little things done here and there.

Employment. Navin's current government has apparently created 40,000 jobs but the savings rate hitting a historical low tells us that many of these didn't pull people out of the poverty the high inflation put them in.

Environment. He made some fine speeches but nothing happened. He made a few more and still nothing happened. Except maybe that we now use a lot more coal to produce our electricity

Traffic. I didn't see anything. Did you?

Fraud and corruption. Don't know about these but for sure corporate governance has reached a low in Mauritius. For example did you ever find out how the STC lost Rs3 billion on hedging when it didn't have any of that to do?

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

That's Ramgoolam excuse for talking to the MSM. In fact he's scared that the two opposition parties may get together and drive him out of the Treasury building after the ballots give their verdict later this year. So he's trying to keep them as far apart. And as long as possible.

For sure none of the three main parties will be able to win the next general elections if the two other gang up against it. Unlike what Ramgoolam was able to do in 2005. The PM can blame a dismal economic performance for having fewer options at his disposal.

And the MMM can be thankful to its Leader for taking the game of political Nintendo to new heights.

Friday, March 26, 2010

How Humans Broke Free From Soothsayers

Bernstein traces that moment to when the modern theory of probability was accidentally developed by Pascal and Fermat when challenged with a centuries-old puzzle posed by an Italian monk. This was to provide a strong starting point for humans to use numbers in making decisions about the future. And this meant the beginning of the end for soothsayers.

His award-winning bestseller chronicles our progress in improving the mouse-trap over several centuries. The late John Kenneth Galbraith recommended that no one should miss it. You can have it sent to you by clicking on the image below.

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Putting People Last

That would have been a more appropriate line for Ramgoolam to sell to us during the general elections campaign of 2005. That's because the Putting People First phrase was coined by Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign to summarise their promise to veer America away from the hell of trickle down economics that Reagan and the first Bush President had driven the US into. A promise that the 42nd US President subsequently made good on according to even some of his fiercest opponents.

Not exactly what's been happening in Mauritius with Ramgoolam allowing Dr Flat-tax to implement his economic kala jadu with infamous results.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

FDI, Job Creation and Our Last 4 Governments


About Rs1.3 billion of FDI poured into Mauritius the first time Sithanen was Minister of Finance. During that period some 33,000 jobs were created by our economy. Then Navin became PM and we received Rs3.4 billion. That, along with whatever local investment was undertaken, helped to create 21,500 jobs. 

Interestingly Federation 2 created roughly the same number of jobs although FDI more than doubled to Rs8.9 billion. But we have to remember that in 2000 France Telecom paid Rs7.2 billion for a 40% equity stake in Mauritius Telecom. Given that this equity sale didn't create any jobs overnight then it's only a maximum of Rs1.7 billion that was put to work for job creation.

And when we brought Navin back to power in July 2005 some Rs39.1 billion of FDI got into Mauritius till the end of 2009. The snag is only 40,000 jobs have been created with so much FDI. And the ratio FDI/Jobs stays surprisingly high even after considering the effect of inflation.

So it appears that a lot of it has not created enough good jobs and is probably of a speculative nature. And we know that the unemployment rate has stayed in double digits since July 2005 while the savings rate has hit a 30-year low.

Bumper crop, quand tu nous tiens...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What Ramgoolam Achieved Without Sithanen


A higher average growth rate -- in fact the highest of the last 20 years and about 22,000 jobs (yes, our economy creates jobs even when Sithanen is not the Finance Minister!). All of this with a savings rate that stayed above 25.6%. Compare this with the last 4.5 years: worst growth rate in decades but 18,000 jobs more.

Of course there are all kinds of jobs that are created in the economy. Those that have been created since July 2005 couldn't prevent a collapse in the savings rate which is an indication that too many of them may be of the poverty-level variety.

Another Top 10 Reasons Why Mauritius Was the Best Managed Country in the World With Berenger as PM

No. 10. It is no more the sole prerogative of the Prime Minister to pick a new minister in our 'Eastministerian' system of government.

No. 9. We have the number one spot in the SADC World as far as representation of women in parliament goes.

No. 8. The unemployment rate has gone way down since our leader maximo was seen touring in a Rolls Royce in the Persian Gulf.

No. 7. Few hours after the Grand-Baie explosion, the PM was seen inside the wrecked building and... without a helmet. (So this is what they call hard-headed?)

No. 6. Estimates of unemployment ranged between 11,809 and 54,400 at one time and at least 2 people know every unemployed person personally.

No. 5. TV signal not received by a chunk of the population for a few days because the Ebene Tower unexpectedly got in the signal's way. Opinions diverge whether the Milau Viaduct is higher.

No. 4. Endemic forest and endangered species have some nerve in getting in the way of a more than carefully thought out highway project in the south east of the island.

No. 3. We don't appear in the first 10 best countries to live in 2005 according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Quality of Life Index. In fact, we don't appear in the first 40 best places to live in next year.

No. 2. The % of fanatics who believe everything that the Leader of the Opposition says has been (scientifically?) measured at 10-15%. Has the % of fanatics who don't believe everything that the Prime Minister says also been measured? Will we ever find out which group of fanatics recently sent a representative of the no. 7 riding to Parliament?

And the No. 1 reason why Mauritius is the best managed country in the world is 

No. 1. "There is a price to pay for development." -- No kidding? And the price to pay for outright stupidity?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Economic Restructuring, German Style

That's a story I read in Spiegel Online and wanted to write about for a while now. Because of fierce competition from China and India, ThyssenKrupp decided that a shipyard with a 106-year history was going nowhere. So it sold it to another company which plans to use the shipyard to build steel foundations for marine wind farms. A move like this will no doubt contribute into Germany holding its own in the global economy.

Compare this to Sithanen throwing billions of good money after the dead sugar industry. Any idea what that does to our competitiveness?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Have You Met Our Proud Supply-sider?

You don't have to believe me when I tell you that our bean-counter is also a pathetic supply-sider. Nope, you definitely don't. You should instead hear it straight from the horse's mouth. Here's what Rama Sithanen said about Pravind Jugnauth becoming the next Finance Minister in an interview to Rabin Bhujun of L'express a week before his last May budget.
"On ne parachute pas au ministere des finances quelqu'un qui ne sait pas calculer la dette publique et qui ne connait pas l'impact de la fiscalite sur la croissance...."
Hmm. So he halved the marginal tax rate by flattening the tax structure and set Mauritius to grow by the worse pace in 25 years. Now, should we keep this kind of person at the Finance Ministry?

Ogilvy Quote Highlights Difference Between Ramgoolams

The first and third Prime Ministers of Mauritius that is. Here's what the ad maverick had to say:
"If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs, but if each one of us hires people who are bigger than we are Ogilvy and Mather will become a company of giants."
Read about that and a lot more when you order his must-have book by clicking on the image below.

 Ogilvy on Advertising

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rating Agencies Sued For Violating Public Trust

According to the Los Angeles Times Connecticut's Attorney General filed a lawsuit a few days ago against Moody's and S&P claiming that they knowingly cooked up the ratings they issued for complex derivatives. The latter have been blamed for sending the US economy into recession.

You will recall that the SEC also carried out an investigation of the ratings agencies. We blogged about that at the end of 2009.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Berenger No Longer Acceptable

First as Leader of the Opposition because we expect the person occupying this constitutional post to provide us with an alternative to the government of the day. And God knows how easy this has been since July 2005. Besides a Leader of the Opposition is also a shadow Prime Minister: a strong contender to the topmost job of the land. Paul Berenger has certainly disqualified himself for both jobs by sitting on his hands and more importantly by desperately and openly begging for an alliance with the Labour Party.

And secondly as Leader of the MMM. He should have called it quits in 2005 when the Labour Party managed not only to throw the other two big parties out of power but also clipped a clean sweep in the municipal elections the same year. Why is he insisting on killing the MMM one more time?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Meet The Tuk-tuk

Google Cuts Time Students Spend on Translations


Not too sure you'll have enough time to do the translation homework before that football match begins? Maybe you will if you let Google do the spadework for you. Just head to translate.google.com, type in the text (you can also copy and paste or upload a file) and watch Google statistical algorithms instantly translate it for you. Whilst the translation will not be perfect there will be little left for you to polish.

Grown-ups can also use it to translate texts into some 52 languages as I write this. That should speed up the learning of new languages. It's gonna be real cool when kreol gets added there.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Titmuss Didn't Win the Economics Nobel

Unlike what you heard the Prime Minister say on TV this evening. Only James Meade won it when he shared the prize with Bertil Ohlin in 1977. You want to scroll down a list of all the winners? Easy, click here. You want to read Meade's Nobel lecture? Find it here. You want to know who's gonna win the World Cup in South Africa? Hey, don't push your luck too far!

How Not to Double the Number of Women in Parliament

That would be counting on our macho politicians to make it happen. Women should instead create a new party with a credible plan for Mauritius and have enough good female candidates stand in the forthcoming elections. Or takeover an existing one.

I don't understand what's stopping them from doing so.

Happy International Women's Day!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Listening to our YouTube Channel Becomes Easier

We received fan mail telling us that they were able to listen to only the first of some of the multi-part interviews on our YouTube channel. No problemo. Just click once on the link below to listen to all the parts of the interviews (the next segment of each interview will automatically begin a few seconds after the current one ends).

Sanjay and Kee Chong R1 Le Grand Debat: 2010: Kels Perspektivs (Jan 10, 2010)

TopFM Hard Talk: Alternativs a la poltik de Sithanen (June 10, 2009)

TopFM L'interview: Kommenter 2 zur apre presentation bidze (June 9, 2008)

TopFM L'interview: Ki kantite marz de manev minis de finans ena pu so bidze (June 2, 2008)

Rode inpe bon pistas ou bien mais bwi apre kas zot poz tande.

Kozelidir's Free Guide to Bank of Mauritius Issues

Just click here so that you can make up your own mind about the issues at the Bank of Mauritius and ways out of them. You may also wish to read a more in-depth piece.

Happy reading!

Contrast

Saturday, March 6, 2010

MTC Should Auction Off Broadcasting Rights

And get the MBC to remember that it makes good advertising money around these broadcasts. That's not any different from big TV networks bidding for broadcasting rights for events like the olympics, is it?

Can't wait for this monopoly to end.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Top 10 Most Popular Posts in February 2010

2/3 of Poll Saying Don't Renew Mansoor's Contract


41 of the 61 votes casted were against the renewal of the contract of Sithanen's university buddy as Financial Secretary. I guess worst growth rates in 25 years, savings rate at a 30-year low, unemployment that has remained in double digits for five years, maximum social injustice and massive poverty creation must have tilted the scales.