Monday, August 29, 2011

Should We Prefer One Type of Tourists Over Another?

This is a long-standing debate: some say we should only get the cream of the crop while others are perfectly comfortable with all kinds of tourists visiting Mauritius.

What are your views?

Youth To Stage Rally on September 11

To say no to the current social and economic climate. Listen to Jameel Peerally one of the organisers who clearly emphasised that we do not need changes of the type we saw during the Arab spring. I agree, our system needs some tweaking, albeit urgently.

Visit the movement's FB page which has already 10,000 members.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mansoor Saying Maintenance of Welfare State Dependent on Growth Rates

According to Le Mauricien. That was on Thursday during the same event where Manou talked to our local cry babies. What bean-counting Ali should instead have said is that his tax experiments have cost tax payers a lot and have made previously sustainable social nets overdependent on robust growth rates. This economic poop of his can be fixed by sufficiently raising taxes of the well-to-do.

What do you think? 

Manou Re-explains BOM's Role To Mexa

Which is the pursuit of price stability. The Governor also enumerated how the Central Bank has been assisting economic operators as of late. He also explained the consequences on our public finances of doing what the Swiss National Bank did to try to counter appreciation of the Franc. That was on Thursday.

In a similar vein Fed Chairman remarked on Friday that US public finances could spin out of control if current fiscal policies are not reviewed. Put differently it will make them overdependent on unrealistic growth rates.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jobs Steps Down As Apple's CEO

So he wrote in a short letter to Apple's ecosystem. He will continue as Chairman of the company while Tim Cook is the new CEO. The New York Times has a nice retrospective of Steve's days at Apple.

Indian Supreme Court Quashes Ban On Aarakshan

A few days ago. So people in Punjab and UP will now be able to watch the Prakash Jha movie that deals with the touchy issue of reservation (quotas). I went to see it in the week-end and enjoyed the great cast, the contagious songs and the script. And would definitely recommend it.

Malaysia is grappling with similar issues.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kozelidir Turns 3

Yep, 3 years ago we guessed that SAJ would not be getting a second mandate as President because Navin Ramgoolam would prevent Sithanen from closing the few windows of opportunity that were still available in August 2008. Well, how could we know that the PM likes to operate with all the windows shut? I even wonder whether he has noticed they are not opened.

That of course didn't prevent us from looking at a number of issues that affect the lives of the people of Mauritius. We have now reached 763 posts and the 2,700th comment should arrive in the next little while. I never thought we'd grow that big that quick. Now I get the feeling we're just warming up.

Thank you for the wonderful conversations!

Go Kozelidir! Go!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Our Parliament May Already Be Too Big

Because you would be hard pressed to write down the names of 10 MPs (members of cabinet included) in each of our last four governments alongside anything significant they've done that improved your life.

Our parliament looks also way too big when we compare it to that of a country which works well: Canada. They elect only 305 MPs although they have 34.5 million people. That's one MP for every 113,000 people if my math is as good as yours. By this yardstick our National Assembly shouldn't have more than 12 MPs. And Canada is one of the most geographically diverse country on the planet with almost 10 million square kilometres.

Which makes the suggestion that we should increase the size of our Parliament rather absurd.

Arab Spring Spills To Unlikely Place: Israel

And the 3-week old protest shows no sign of slowing down. The people are not happy because they feel their government has stopped listening to them. So it's not about whether Karl Marx is a prettier boy than Adam Smith. It's not about whether one God is better than another. Nope, it's about living conditions that have become increasingly unbearable.

I wonder if they have a toxic duet there too.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sithanen Available To Offer Opinion on 5 Issues, To Anyone

Which he qualified as extremely complicated. These are:
  1. Electoral reform
  2. Institutional reform
  3. Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty (DTAT) with India
  4. Global Economic Situation
  5. Local Economic Situation
He met the PM yesterday and has volunteered to tell Berenger exactly the same thing he told Ramgoolam if moustas wishes. He is also prepared to meet anybody else who is keen to hear what he has to say. But he didn't want to tell Radio+ this morning.

Two things seem to be happening here. First, it looks like he's desperately trying to creep into the limelight again because if he is prepared to tell everybody exactly what he told the PM he should write an article about it or make a little statement to any of our radios. I mean for the sake of efficiency -- and in the spirit of the, ehh... PBB -- that's what he should do. The second one is that he seems to have a lot of time on his hands to be able to go around like a ghar ghar ki lota. But it's true that the unemployment rate has remained in the double-digits for the last many years.

As far as the 5 topics go we know that electoral reform is not priority; we have tasted his idea of institutional reform with the appointment of his toxic little buddy as FS and the display of what a pathetic Bretton-Woods puppet looks like and that treaty has probably contributed in preventing the full genius of the Mauritian people to emerge. And the internet provides us with enough information about point 4 so we don't really need him for this while I am hoping he will issue a mea culpa to the beautiful people of Mauritius for the unmitigated mess he has done to our local economy with his ultra-liberal policies.

Finally, these issues are not exactly complicated and the sun will keep on rising in spite of him.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Electoral Reform is Not A Priority

Because although the current system is not perfect it has proved to be good enough. What can and should instead be immediately improved is the level of debate across the political spectrum as to how to fix our ailing society. See, we didn't really get any debate on electoral manifestos during the last three general elections. I don't think that makes our democracy more vibrant. And we have seen what economic groupthink has done to Ramgoolam's political fortunes in 5 short years.

Still, if we insist on getting distracted with electoral reform I think we should involve as many people as possible. And there's no easier way of doing this than for the Prime Minister to put all the working documents online. Today. And anybody who feels he has written anything good about this topic should do the same.

For sure we don't want a parliament of a 100 lawmakers: we already have too many who don't contribute anything interesting. And we don't want the names of political leaders to also appear on party lists if ever a dose of PR were to be considered. Nah, these TINA-like suggestions should be brushed aside.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Martin Leaves MSM, Ramgoolam's Majority Improves

It's now 37-32 so that even if MR leaves government, Ramgoolam can still pass budgets and begin work to shrug off his neocon label. This will also allow Ministers to travel a bit more freely during Parliamentary season. And apparently there are a few more MSM MPs seriously thinking about joining government.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why Our Economy Was Not Resilient in 2008

Or in the recent past as the Financial Secretary would have us believe. Here are a few pointers:
  1. Growth in USD was about -5% in that year.
  2. The Misery Index was close to a 10-year high -- average inflation was 70% higher than under Federation 2.
  3. We missed the rebound in the World Economy in 2010 -- resilience means rebounding by the way.
If you're still not convinced have a look at our little but growing collection on the topic.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Understanding Resilience: Part 4

To maintain or improve the lot of as many people as possible you need a progressive taxation system and some growth. If you lower taxes by too much the finances of the government will become overdependent on the realisation of higher growth rates. As we've seen happen with the policies put in place by the toxic bean-counting duet.

This cannot make Mauritius more resilient for sure.

Shammi Kapoor Passes Away at 79

In Mumbai a few hours ago. He was a very popular face in the 1970s -- I often got tired seeing him so much on TV instead of Amitabh -- along with his two other brothers, Shashi and Raj. And a remarkably versatile actor too. R.I.P Shammi.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ramgoolam Has A Challenge for MSM MPs: Resign From Parliament

So he said at a lengthy press conference which ended a little while ago. He did not think too much of their political weight either suggesting that they might have downgraded from a little party to bagasse.

The Prime Minister also said, in reply to a question about Ali Mansoor's controversial circular, that the Financial Secretary is a technical guy but that it's the politicians who craft policy because they consider more dimensions than the bean-counter. Really? Can he substantiate this?

Friday, August 12, 2011

71% of Poll Expected PM To Eject MSM

Interestingly as days passed after 6 ministers resigned more people concluded that the MSM would not be accommodated (which has 2 'm's). Which is what happened.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

For Paul and Pravind, It's Still Love At First Sight

When they met today in room 616 at the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel. They apparently discussed about electoral reform which is a thorn in their side. This doesn't look too serious because when they had an opportunity and the supermajority to do something about it -- between 2000 and 2005 -- they didn't go beyond babbling.

We also haven't heard the MMM on the crazy circular issued by the Financial Secretary last week. When are our politicians going to get serious?

Maybe they don't love us anymore?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eski Kiltir Nu Bann Parti Politik Diferan?

Saem pe tande la. Sanla ena kiltir, sanla pena. Ki zot pense lor la?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Who Says The Next Rainy Season Gonna Be Better?

Nobody. In fact, if global warming has modified rain patterns it would be silly to stay put and expect Mare-aux-Vacoas to fill up with the same regularity as it used to. So that we may be better off building smaller reservoirs in the places where rainfall has been more generous in the recent past. And give phase two of the Midlands dam the go-ahead. In other words we need a good plan. The snag is that no ministry has been taking care of planning for a while now. This hasn't changed either with the latest permutation in the cabinet.

Despair not. We still have a direct line to God.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mansoor Wants Mauritius To Pay For Bean-Counting Mess, Again

That's what I conclude from skimming through his latest PBB circular No 7. In it, he is saying that the economy is not growing as fast as expected so that he now wants to introduce and/or raise user fees. Because, he adds, there is limited scope for raising taxes if we don't want to scare off private domestic investment and FDI. Well, we know for a fact that the Rs 40 billion of FDI we received after taxes were slashed by 50% didn't make a difference in the lives of a supermajority of Mauritians. For five straight years. So that's a spurious argument at best.

Also, the average growth rates of 4% he's expecting for the next three years is not that bad by itself but too low to get us out of the toxic debt dynamics his flat tax has thrown us into. And recall we were told back in 2005 that two years of belt-tightening combined with the potent new medicine of Dr Kontu would send us orbiting into economic nirvana. That did not happen either. In fact Mauritius missed one of the strongest world recovery last year and could miss more. A lot more.

The dismantling of our welfare state which incidentally established the reputation of our country worldwide by providing exceptional social mobility to countless thousands will also have severe repercussions on the political chessboard. Ramgoolam has already seen his majority dwindle from 38 at the the time of result proclamation in 2005 to a current 36 after best losers and turncoat. The stage could now be set to seriously frustrate his attempts to stay in power after 2015.

MSM Leaves Government Without Delivering Second Miracle

After Pravind Jugnauth has been Finance Minister for 15 months. I am really surprised because I thought that the the Universe had conspired to make the first one happen as soon as the MSM was created back in 1983. And that after the then Labour Party had left the economy in shambles.

So what's different now? Economic conditions are worse than in 1983? The magic formula is not working anymore? Or maybe there was never any magic formula and the MSM of SAJ mostly got quite lucky?

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Seetaram Crosses Floor To Give Ramgoolam Breathing Space

He is one of four Ministers minted today which provides Ramgoolam with at least a majority of 3 (36-33) in Parliament. This could change as Ramgoolam could mint a few more to consolidate his numbers in our Assembly.  And those could still include Pravind Jugnauth. Other things of note is that Xavier Duval becomes Finance Minister while Anil Baichoo is promoted as Vice-Prime Minister.

So that's where the political chessboard stands as we speak.

Ramgoolam To Mint New Ministers

That's what he announced a few hours ago. The names will be made public at a televised press conference this evening. That's the right thing to do. Ministries should not be managed by part-time law-makers for an extended period of time.

In the meantime the MSM is pointing to other reasons for resigning from cabinet. While the latest events have sent a daily grinning.

US Loses Triple-A Rating

Indeed S&P lowered Uncle Sam's credits to AA+ citing reduced predictability of US policy-making and debt-levels dynamics that don't look too good. A lower-rating means higher interest rates must be paid for investors to purchase American debt. It also means a higher likelihood of default.

I wonder what are the recommendations of the toxic bean-counting duet for the United States: a flat-tax plus focus on the doing business rankings?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Advertising Watchdog Ditches Julia Roberts Ad

Because the UK authority thinks her picture has been digitally enhanced way too much. So they've got codes that govern the amount of exaggeration that can go in ads? Not. Bad.

Little escapes the alert British society.

Obama Turns 50

He's been one busy President. Jumped in the worst crisis since the Great Depression and barely managed to avoid the US defaulting. And the world is becoming increasingly multi-polar with Chindia to play a larger role in many spheres.

And Obama will seek re-election next year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

US To Vote on Debt Deal Hours Before Going into Default

The vote is due anytime now. But the intriguing possibility of Uncle Sam defaulting has eroded, albeit slightly, the safe haven status of American T-bills.

Make sure to check the interesting interactive graphic of the New York Times to find out how US debt progressed under different administrations. The Economist summed it as essentially the product of two tax-cuts, two wars and one stimulus package.