Thursday, September 29, 2011

XLD Doesn't Want To Create Poverty-Level Jobs

That's what he said in a wide-ranging interview to Karishma Beeharee on Radio+ 10 days ago. He also thought that interest rates spreads are prohibitively high and reminded the audience that the Bank of Mauritius is an independent institution.

With respect to the alphabet soup of funds created by Rama Sithanen XLD highlighted an interesting point: these were not created by a faster-growing economy but with borrowed funds.

Finally, he didn't think too much of the unique skills that the MMM said it can bring to the Ministry of Finance.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sugar Syndicate Unhappy World Not Frozen

See, its Chief Executive is not happy that the rupee did not stay at the levels of a few years ago. Maybe it's because that's near to the weakest our currency has been. Who wants to accommodate a sector which has been dead for long and which accounts for about 1% of our economy? And which is now importing sugar from world-beater Brazil?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Palestinians Rejoice As Abbas Requests UN Membership

For Palestine which currently has observer status at the United Nations. The President of the Palestinian Authority then delivered his speech to the General Assembly which was interrupted by a couple of standing ovations. But at least two nations weren't clapping: the US which has promised to veto the application once it reaches the Security Council and Israel which doesn't want to return to pre-1967 borders.

Israeli PM Netanyahu then addressed the Assembly asking Abbas to meet with him right away in NYC for peace talks.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Debt Service to Exceed Education Budget By 40% in 2013

That translates into 4 billion rupees more on interest payments than money set aside for human capital or if you prefer two Midlands-dam-sized reservoirs. The other alarming thing to note here is that expenditure on education is not even expected to keep up with increases in the general level of prices. On dit merci qui?

Hope Xavier is paying attention.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Xavier Starting on Right Foot

Paying a full compensation for salaries up to Rs7,000 per month and a partial one up to Rs30,000 has been well received. And given that the minimum compensation paid will not be lower than Rs330 someone making Rs3,000/month will be getting an increment of 11% which is almost twice the inflation rate.

And as noticed by several people including Reaz Chuttoo of the Confederation des Travailleurs Du Secteur Prive (CTSP) the Government seems to be acknowledging that a minimum salary shouldn't be lower than Rs7,000. Besides SC/HSC fees are now paid by the State for family income not exceeding Rs14,500. That's another hint.

XLD's move also smashes a myth that a finance minister will have more consideration for the lower-income groups if he sported the ancestor of havaianas when he was a teenager. Especially after claiming to have read all the books on poverty.

Yep. Mr Chuttoo, reminded us in an interview that the salary threshold for receiving a full compensation was reduced by 40% from Rs4,500 to Rs2,700 in 2008. Which was apparently the year of the Bumper Crop... 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Team-Builder Turns 111

There are many nice things that can be said about SSR but none of those should come at the expense of making Mauritius work better for us. As I look closer to what we achieved as a nation his ability to spot talent and create strong teams stands out.

Steve Jobs summed it pretty well when he said: It does not make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hired smart people so that they could tell us what to do.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mauritian Interest Rate Spreads Hurting Our Competitiveness

According to the recently published World Competitiveness Index 117 out of 142 countries have better interest rate spreads than Mauritius. Mugabe's are 19 spots lower while Canada's are 101 spots higher. Mauritius was ranked 113/134 in 2007.

We are not world-beaters either when it comes to the savings rate. 97 countries had better savings rates than us last year. Compare that with a couple of years ago when only 24 countries had higher savings rates. 

On dit merci qui?

PM Now Understands Importance of Monetary Policy

That was not the case back in 2005 when he did not immediately appoint Bheenick as Governor of the Central Bank. And I don't think he understood how important monetary policy is for the country and for the career of politicians when he nominated Manou back in 2007 on Valentine's Day. Granted he considered a few options but in the final analysis Bheenick was minted Governor mostly because he didn't want to give in to Sithanen. That's quite understandable given that both Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo and Manou Bheenick were denied a ticket which considerably reduced a mesmerised Ramgoolam's options as far as the crafting of economic policies go.

He appears to have learned his lesson because during the last electoral campaign he announced that Bheenick would be returning at the Bank of Mauritius. That's, by the way, the closest you can get to having an elected Governor.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What SSR's Colleagues Gave Him For His 80th Birthday

It's sometime before September 18, 1980 and I go up to my dad who had been nominated President of the committee organising chacha's big 8-0 bash with the most important question of the year: So, what are you guys giving him for his birthday? We haven't decided yet was the answer. So that I had to gently pester the Minister of Education with the same PQ when I got the opportunity to do so. In the meantime I was rushed to several functions including the cake-cutting ceremony and watched the horse race dedicated to Seewoosagur chit-chatting with the birthday boy. He was a very approachable fellow and it was always a lot of fun talking to a Ramgoolam who knew that Titmuss did not win a Nobel.

So, what did they give him? A watch bhai Kher told me later. What kind of watch? His fellow Ministers contributed to buy him a Rs15,000 watch. 

Aren't you grateful to that teenager for carrying out this special investigation?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why Alex Ferguson is Still on the Pitch

Because his wife Cathy didn't want a retired Scot in the kitchen bothering her. T Mag has an interesting portrait of Sir Alex this week. You don't want to miss it.

N.B: I am a Liverpool Fan.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

56% of Poll Don't Think Electoral Reform is a Priority

This topic was brought back on the front burner after gran frer gran malelve welcomed ti frer ti malelve to renew their vows after the latter's break-up with mo papa-mo papa's son.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Employers Can Pay The Smallest Compensation

By asking the Bank of Mauritius to target a level of inflation consistent with price stability -- that would be between 1-3%. They wouldn't be asking anything extraordinary because that's what already written in the law governing the business of the Central Bank. In fact, law-makers around the world have drafted similar provisions not because they like their fellow countrywomen too much but because they've noticed how higher inflation has a persistently naughty habit of throwing politicians out of office. Which would partly explain why we had 3 different Finance Ministers in the last 16 months.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meet The Policy Matrix

Which helps you to quickly make sense of the policies that are proposed and implemented in Mauritius. Our leaders should obviously try to have most of their policies in cell 1: those that are good for Mauritius and help make their re-election easier. The selfless leader will not hesitate to execute policies in cell 2: he might face electoral setbacks and even political death but his policies will be recognised when the dust settles. The selfish policy-maker won't mind having policies in cell 3: he could be deriving substantial personal benefits from his position and he couldn't care less about Mauritius. Could get re-elected but will rapidly be on borrowed political time. Finally the dumb toxic leader will focus on cell 4: his policies could cause untold misery and his political career will hopefully end up just like toxic waste: buried.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Two-thirds of Poll Think MSM MPs Should Resign

From Parliament that is. For sure it's a small party but big enough for Ramgoolam to have needed them to stay in power given how bad economic policies were during his second mandate.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jamaica 100m Relay Team Too Strong For World

The 100m World Champion Yohan Blake runs the bend and gives it to the 200m World Champion and twin dash record-holder Usain Bolt to improve their 2008 record by 0.06s. And mind you, Asafa Powell was not on the team. The new record is more than three-quarters second faster than the one at the first World Championships. So humans, sorry I mean Jamaicans, will soon be running under it under 37 seconds.

Amazing, especially when you consider that Jamaica has only 2.8 million people.
Dodoland? Tuzur enn plezir mem?

Only 23% of Poll Happy With Paul Meeting Pravind

In the Presidential Suite at the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel almost immediately after they left government. A little over 40% were not happy while 34% were indifferent to the two political leaders meeting. And the MMM die-hards were not exactly thrilled.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

IMF Confirms Bean-Counters Indulged in Voodoo Accounting

After carrying out a PEFA (Public Expenditure And Financial Accountability) Assessment at the request of our Government for 3 financial years ending 2009. In the report they are saying that about a quarter of the capital budgets for two fiscal years was not spent. Which is something we had already pinpointed a couple of years ago.

I also want to know who placed in this dumb request because we surely can put our public officers to better use than to duplicate work that the Audit Office does every year. Especially given that they seem to be already spending too much time -- and hence our tax rupees -- with that white elephant called -- PBB. And the bloody audit reports have been coming in with terrifying persistence.