Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How To Deepen Our Democracy

First we need to empower our MPs to raise the level of debate so that our representatives deliver better outcomes. We can do this by attaching a vigorously independent Parliamentary Policy Office (PPO) to our National Assembly modeled after the Congressional Budget Office in America. The PPO would analyse policies and issue informed and increasingly respected opinions. Check this sample report to get an idea.

Second we should make sure we always have a functional opposition. Given that our parliament is already too big we can do this by splitting back our 20 three-member constituencies to 40 one-member ones just like they were in 1959 and 1963. And then allocating a maximum of 8 additional seats -- on a non-ethnic basis --  to make sure our opposition has always a minimum of 8 MPs to keep our government on its toes. This would at the same time drastically reduce the unfairness of our FPTP system without compromising its stability.

Reverting to the 1959 set-up will also yield extra advantages including greater proximity between candidate and voters and getting election results a few hours after polling stations close as there would be two-thirds less votes to count.

We don't need to pass new laws to increase the number of women in parliament. There are already three times more women there than in 2000 and this should keep on rising. We certainly do not need any perverse recommendations like double candidacy because this denies citizens the basic privilege of vot ar lipie.

And finally our main parties should have their electoral manifestos released at least 3 weeks before election day. So that voters get an opportunity to sniff them out.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Mauritius is Heading into a Wall

Part of the reason is that there is no leadership at the head of the country: we have three party leaders who just want to stay in power as long as possible without actually doing any work that will lead to breakthroughs. Part is because since 2005 policy-making has been under the spell of two incompetent and toxic bean-counters who have implemented one worst international practice after the other. While Ramgoolam has been applauding.

Can you hear the sound of the bubbles deflating? Or are they bursting?

In the meantime read some reliable analysis to see through clearly.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why American Manufacturing Has Been Relocating Abroad

It's not because of lower wages. But because of the overall costs of doing business. So says an interesting 3-part article by Carl Pope. And Barack Obama who will announce what he essentially intends of doing if he gets a second mandate in November when he delivers his annual report card to Congress tomorrow is expected to address these issues.

Indeed, the media has reported that the thrust of a second Obama term will revolve around education, manufacturing and innovation. Which is essentially what Steve Jobs told him he should work on back in October 2010 in order to avoid ending up as a one-mandate President.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Photo Giant Files For Bankruptcy

Household name Kodak filed for Chapter 11 yesterday to try to get a fair deal selling its patent portfolio. Although the 131-year company was home to many inventions -- including the digital camera 37 years ago -- it was unable to translate these breakthroughs into a bigger and sustainable bottom line. Here we've been growing sugar for nearly 400 years and some seem to want to grow it for another 800 years. Good luck!

RIM too had a bad year in 2011 with its share price plummeting more than 80%. It is now trading close to its replacement cost -- how much money you would need to rebuild it from scratch. It seems that the Playbook has not been able to compete with the iPad and the Galaxy.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Drunk Casino-Owner Races Supercar Through Crowded Beach

Didier Chabaud drove his BMW 650i ferociously on the Mon-Choisy beach on Tuesday afternoon where kids were having a good time. He had a 121mg blood alcohol level. To a mother who protested that he could have killed his son, Chabaud is reported to have said: so what? how much could your son cost? He was arrested -- read extricated from the beach -- but was released on parole.

Tirvengadum Declared A Vegetable

By a psychiatrist in court two days ago. So that criminal charges against him in the MK black-box saga have been dropped. Deven T has a pretty good idea on how we could be double sure about his condition.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Jaufeerally Pleading For End of Growth Worship

That was in a very refreshing interview where he warned that our present model is simply not sustainable. I totally agree and have been using my megaphones to get this point across. Karim also found a big disconnect between the lofty speeches and what's get done about our environment. I don't disagree one bit.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

France Loses AAA Rating

University VC Resigns

So Konrad Morgan is leaving the University of Mauritius. Apparently because of political interference. What do you think of all this?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Swiss Governor Resigns

After the profit his wife Kashya made on a currency transaction erupted into a row that would not die down. I read a very good article in 2007 by Phillip Hilderbrand in the collection published by the CFA Institute to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Financial Analysts Seminar. In it he said that the potential Achilles' heel [in our financial system] is the risk management systems and processes of the 12 most important investment banks. These kind of statements usually catch my attention given my addiction to systems thinking.

Naturally when hell broke loose beginning in 2008 this phrase immediately sprung to my mind wondering how well the risk exposures of the systemically important financial institutions (SIFI) had been monitored by the regulators in the world's largest financial centres. Hard to go against greed, eh? In any case if you want to read that article and many others by folks like Marc Faber, Jim Walker, Peter Bernstein and Robert Shiller, just click on the following image to purchase this nice book.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Singapore's PM To Take 36% Pay Cut

As per the recommendation of the committee set up to review the salaries that are needed to buy Singapore the kind of leadership that will deliver the high performance that Singaporeans expect. Interesting concepts in there including a GDP bonus -- a maximum of 2 months salary if GDP growth is higher than 8% -- and attention to income distribution.

Will Ramgoolam deliver better outcomes if we pay him more?

Classy Messi Wins Third Ballon d'Or in a Row

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Asia on Track To Reclaim Economic Dominance

By 2050 if it avoids the middle-income trap and current growth trends persist. So says an ADB report. It would then account for 52% of World GDP just like it used to 300 years ago before it failed to make the most of the industrial revolution. Otherwise it will be about one-third less important. In other words it has to Samsung its way up to the new level. Is the Tigger of the Indian Ocean paying attention?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Should We Benchmark Against Trinidad and Tobago?

The Prime Minister thinks we should. I don't. See although T&T started at about USD5,000 per capita just like us when Ramgoolam II first became PM, they now roughly have twice our income level per Mauritian. Higher oil prices since then must have helped given that in T&T oil and gas accounts for 40% of GDP and 80% of exports. This could explain why it clocked a 12.6% growth rate in 2006. Something Ramgoolam won't tell you.

Just like he was bragging about having a higher growth rate than Singapore back in 2008 but stopped talking about the South East economic dynamo when the Tiger rebounded out of recession with a 14.5% growth rate in 2010. He then started talking about Greece. Seems that he always looks for countries that happen to do worse than us at one point in time. Which is fine though because you are watching Pyongyang TV. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ready For The International Year of Cooperatives?

That's what the United Nations calls it. We just see it as an another opportunity to cover additional ground that matters. 2012 will be an interesting year for Kozelidir: somewhere during September or October we should reach the 1,000 post milestone. Which will be around the time we turn 4.

Make the best of this new year. Take care of your health and be happy. We'll provide the right angle for the debates.