Thursday, December 26, 2013

Parakeet Gets Big New Home

Flying out of the recently inaugurated terminal at Plaisance these days feels like walking through a present. It smells new. On a gigantic scale. Plus courteous personnel will direct you to the right counter while you admire the building's imposing structure. Going through customs is pretty straight forward too and with all the new equipment around there is a simple message that this 57,000 square metre terminal -- or three times the Rashtrapati Bhavan --  is sending out: check me out! Add free Wi-Fi, more comfortable chairs, a lot more shops and restaurants definitely puts our national airport in an entirely different league. That's before taking in the heavenly views of Mauritius on display on the large windows.

Flying into the Terminal is good too. The wider corridors look very neat. One problem though is when you land in that huge hall where the passport officers are. You are not too sure where you need to go. That can and should definitely be improved. And you will have to bear with a bizarre parking design.

Overall the experience is quite nice. But we need to raise our game. By at least making arrivals as pleasant as departures. Fast.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Kozelidir Person of The Year 2013

Attributed to Jacques Verges for teaching us why monsters should be thoroughly understood. And to Nelson Mandela for running South Africa from prison.

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013: The Year in Review (Q3)

7.7 Milyon Malgas Vote Zordi

Zot pe vot deziem tur eleksyon prezidansyel -- enn swa ant Hery ek Robinson. Zot pe osi elir zot bann depite. Hery se kandida Prezidan aktyel, Andry Rajoelina, ek Robinson se dimunn ansyen lomfor Mada, Marc Ravalomanana. Robinson ti gagn 21% promye tur e Hery ti gagn enn tigit mwins ki 16%.

Dimunn finn perdi lavi ar la pes bibonik bann dernye semen dan pei. Si salte pu vote li pu vote Robinson. Problem ki kav ena seki nu retruv nu ek enn sitiasyon de koabitasyon politik. Ravalomanana ti perdi puvwar par enn kudeta an 2009. Depi sa Mada finn konn enn insertitid politik konstan kinn apovri Malgas buku.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013: The Year in Review (Q2)

Meeting Yvon St. Guillaume

That happened after leaving the funeral of Sir Satcam Boolell in March 2006. I was walking Lady Jag! back to our car when our path crossed that of an elegant man who was happily introduced as YSG. That gentleman became instantly interesting to me after my mom told me that he had voted for Independence despite being from the PMSD.

Yvon was beaming while I was being briefed. He seemed all set to go right into the National Assembly and second that motion for Independence again. If need be. Or maybe just for the fun of reliving those extraordinary emotions at the Champ de Mars when our flag was raised for the first time.

We left after a nice chat and I took his mobile number promising to get back to him. Mostly to perhaps get a chance of listening to the IMAX version of that beautiful story. I never did. I got busy. Firing katyushas. Non-stop. 

R.I.P. Patriot!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013: The Year in Review

January: The Economist says party lists are evil. Humanity starts its biggest gathering. Former MK boss explains how he was fired. Berenger announces he has throat cancer, steps down. Joseph beats Jackie Chan and wins award. Gandhi's assassination turns 65.

February: IPP contracts made public, finally. Heavy-rain shuts down water-starved Dodoland. Pistorius shoots model girlfriend by mistake. CEB contemplates getting Mauritius its own Fukushima. His Airness turns 50 and world longs to see Mike back. After attacking our rupee with our own money Duval tries to usurp the PM's prerogatives. PM says changes to electoral system shouldn't be done on a whim, promises consultative paper.

March: Women contribute a third more than what Mao thought. Fifteen centimetres of rain kill eleven in a flash.

Read the review for Q2Q3 and Q4.

Suarez Wins Player of the Year Award

From the Football Supporters Federation. In the midst of a terrific comeback. He is the league's best scorer for now with 17 goals or four more than City's Aguero. That's more than what 10 teams have scored this season. Liverpool is currently second but the top of the table could see more changes this week-end if Arsenal doesn't win. Good stuff ahead!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bheenick Should Make Vision 2020 Public

He referred to it nine times at his annual dinner with the economic operators last week. The Governor talked about it again a couple of days ago. And if I remember correctly it is not the first time he's mentioning it as the boss of our Central Bank. Nice.

It would be even nicer if he would do the needful to have a pdf of the document on the BOM's website. Out of intellectual courtesy. Vision 2020 could be the first document to go under "Others" in "Research and Publications". So that a maximum number of citizens can have a look at it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

World To Mourn Madiba for Several Days

Who died last night at 95. Listen to some wise words from Nelson Mandela: religion is a private matter and education is the most important weapon you need to lead.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How Our Standards Bureau Can Save Lives

By making sure, for example, that no buses that are unfit for our roads are allowed to operate. It seems strange that NTC buses kept having problems over several years yet they were not left in their garages.

Also I don't understand how in the past as many as 400 people have been victims of food-poisoning after eating from the same street vendor. That's just one example. There have been many.

Here's another one. Fans burning down houses and killing twins. Standards need to be rigorously enforced.

Friday, November 15, 2013

UK Prime Minister Sends Letter to Forum

After heads of government of Mauritius, India and Canada announced that they wouldn't be going to Colombo -- the capital and not the detective -- because of the human rights record of the island state. David Cameron said it would have been better to raise the issue there than to boycott the meeting altogether.

Sri Lanka responded that she is not a British Colony. Anymore.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Watch Carlsen Challenge Anand

Cricket-crazy Nation Says Goodbye To Sachin

He is one of cricket's greatest and is ending a 24-year career this week. As I am totally ignorant about that game and hardly know anything about Mr. Tendulkar I youtubed his name and sure enough I stumbled on this interesting interview of Mr. Perfect telling us about his buddy. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shouldn't We Create a Fiscal Policy Committee?

Given how pervasive any changes to tax laws are. I mean we've seen what the flat tax of two university buddies have done to our economy and to the lives of our people. We've also seen how the same toxic bean-counting architects of probably the darkest pages of our economic history -- right up there with slavery -- have ended the part they played in it: the PM didn't exactly give them a standing o.

So, we could set up a committee with two persons on it: the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank. Each one would have one vote. In case of a tie the PM can cast a vote. What better opportunity to allow avowed Socialists to show their real stripes?

We could but we shouldn't. We already have way too many institutions doing overlapping work. What we need though is the institutional capacity to analyze proposed policies in a totally independent and most rigorous way: the PPO.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Do Mauritians Need To Learn How To Save?

Not really. We were always big savers. For example the average savings rate during the 15 years preceding the Sithanen/Mansoor reforms was 26.4%. A few years into the reforms it had hit a 30-year low of about 12%. 

Hmm, so tax rates are cut by 50% and savings plunge by about an equal amount? That does make a lot of sense because people adjust their savings to keep their standards of living at about the same level.

So no, we don't need any advice on building a savings nest. What we need is to make sure that bean-counters are always kept away from policy positions. Because although they will sound the alarm they can also go on and screw up big time. Which is a darn good measure of their skill level.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

15% Flat Tax is Enemy of Good Growth

Bean-counters' answer to their own manufactured lie was a promise of robust growth rates if we reduced taxes by 50%. That -- as expected -- didn't happen. They said well it's because of the financial crisis. Not really, the mess we're in was hatched in Mauritius: our economy didn't rebound in 2010 when the rest of the world did. Besides 57 countries had better growth rates than us in the first three years of the reforms -- which include, by the way, the years of 'early harvest' and 'bumper crop'.

But government has collected more revenue they say. Its revenue can increase if you have higher growth rates, better collections or if you are ripping us off with unreal prices. There has been better collections -- this can happen irrespective of tax rates -- but they did not make up for the shortfall caused by the string of ridiculously low growth rates of the reform vintage. Which is in any case what the PBB circulars have been telling us year after year. One is mostly a one-off thing, the other a cancer that spreads rapidly. You can find that out by recomputing the revenue government collected minus the stupid things (hedging billionsabusive energy prices, making SMS more expensive, high internet prices, wider-than-necessary interest rate spreads, etc). And have a look at the servicing of our debt and its structure for some additional clues that we need to add a couple of higher tax brackets on budget day. Having a good look at recent shutdowns of the US government is also not a bad idea.

And if unemployment has stayed stuck above 10% since the reforms began is it because our people don't have any good skills or is it because there are too many poverty-pay jobs on offer? And because the floodgates of stupidity have been opened? And no, we cannot increase productivity forever in one activity. We need to do other stuff. And use a range of tax rates to make intelligent bets.

Finally if our trade relationship with the rest of the world is unbalanced is it because we're not exporting enough or because we are importing things that we don't really need?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Proof Crisis is Homemade

Recall that the bean-counters were quick to say that their 'reforms' had produced green shoots followed by an early harvest in 2007 and a bumper crop in 2008. That is easily disproved. They also said something else: that growth rates would have been a lot better had the Great Recession -- which began in 2008 and lasted 18 months -- not happened. And that as soon as conditions will get sunnier in the world things would improve for us because we're one of the world's most open economies. 

But as the above graphic shows, we didn't really rebound when times got better. Unlike the object of our economic fantasies: Singapore. We also know for a fact that a lot of the record poverty that was created has been produced well before 2008. And before Bheenick got appointed as Governor.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Desvaux Says Illovo Split Switched After Meeting

With SAJ from two-thirds/one-third to one-third/two-thirds of the windfall gains in favour of the private participants of the deal. So he said on a private radio on Tuesday. Desvaux was the right-hand man of Berenger when the latter was Prime Minister between 2003 and 2005. And before that too.

Sydney Selvon has come to the rescue of the 'remake' by saying that JMD was a "Mr. Nobody in the media" on the FB wall of the LP. Maybe he was -- and that's irrelevant anyway -- but he also had the ear and the trust of one of our former PMs. So he doesn't exactly qualify as small fry. Even though his understanding of how the economy works is sketchy at best.

SAJ has denied the allegations made by JMD while Berenger was not too convincing at their press conference yesterday.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rose-Hill Transport Takes Service To New Levels

With its two brand new Yutong semif-floor buses which are according to Mr. Sharma structurally stronger and provide a more comfortable and secure ride. For only Rs6 more. They come with a camera and will set RHT back by Rs4 million a piece. Kind of happy to see this given what I said five years ago.

In the meantime the NTC is buying buses via a tender. Shouldn't we scrap this process and empower the CNT to buy buses that make sense?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Munro May Write Again, After Winning Nobel

That's what the charming 82-year-old Canadian told Adam Smith a couple of days ago. I know next to nothing about the "master of the contemporary short story" so I was curious to read what other writers had to say. And here's some of her pieces to discover.

What I do know however is that the Nobel committee is discriminating against the ultra-short story writer. Maybe I should stop writing too.

P.S. The economics Nobel Prize will be announced tomorrow. Too bad they don't give a reverse Nobel Prize, eh?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sat Mao

Dan enn interviu Ali Mansoor dir ki linn resi truv sa sat Mao ki konn maye lera la. Mo pe sipoze ki linn zwen ar sat la Minister Finans. Li ti pu interesan si li ti kav dir nu:
  1. kan linn truv sat la promye fwa?
  2. si sat la tuzur dan minister?
  3. kuma sat la apele?
  4. ki laz liena?
  5. ki kuler liete?
  6. sat mal sa uswa femel?
  7. si enn sat maron sa?
  8. si sat la konn zis maye lera uswa li ena lide lor reform elektoral usi?
  9. si sat la ti pe visit so fami batiman trezor?
  10. si sat la pa finn viktim trafik lorgan par hazar?
  11. e finalman si sa sat la kinn fann sa bann gro dal la pandan wit banane?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Idiot Factories

I used to love laureates. A lot. Who wouldn't? They were the reason we could stay away from dumb teachers for one or more days. And taunt the other schools which did not have any in a particular year. Yep, if you want to be mean, start early.

But then we learn that some of them don't actually manage to finish their first degree. Which is fine. Or if they do they do so in a very average way. Which is fine too. Lack of ambition is one reason. That can change later. Peaking too soon is another. Relying on rote learning will not help them either because there is now way too much codified knowledge around to digest. 

And because there is only so much you can learn in the three years of your first degree. Compared to say the fifty or so years that you'll have on the clock after you promised to stay hungry and stay foolish. If you don't keep on learning you will be outsmarted fast because learning has never been easier. It's even better to learn different things. And stay out of narrow silos at all costs.  

The media can provide a nice platform for some to try -- to borrow from Ken Galbraith -- to make the ideas of your graduate days or of a Washington-based loan shark last a lifetime. But it will be an increasingly risky strategy. Worldwide. Besides maintaining a large ego is quite draining: you will have less energy to go to sleep everyday a bit less stupid than you when woke up. And it will hurt when you will come off that arrogant pedestal. 

So yeah, every year prestigious universities around the world will produce smart people and brilliant ideas. And idiots too. It will become increasingly easy to recognise them. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bird Nest Telling Us Something

That we are using way too much paper and plastic and throwing it everywhere. I don't know how typical this one is but when you come across more have a look and tell us what you find. Because twenty-five years ago they were made of almost 100% natural stuff. Not good.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Understanding Our Recent Budget Deficit Numbers

Did you notice that the bean-counters are crying on every roof that our budget deficit is under control at 1.8%? Presenting it as a proof that the so-called reforms have worked. It's quite easy to disagree with that.

Remember that the silliest idea of the reforms was to slash tax rates by half promising that we will grow faster. We know our economy didn't clip the required higher growth rates. In fact the reforms have ushered in a string of persistently low growth rates. So the small deficit numbers didn't come from better growth rates. We know it did not come from reducing wastage either: we just need to read the audit reports to strike this one out. So where did these low deficit numbers come from?

Well that's easy. By not spending budgeted funds and other essential monies that prevent the country from going to the dogs. And by doing other stupid things like keeping oil pump prices at unreal levels so as to pocket billions more in VAT and making us pay for a strange multi-billion-rupee hedging loss at the STC that seemed to get bigger as the toxic bean-counters got craftier.

Think of it this way: for many years hyenas have been trying to make an easy-going tiger run faster but instead of cutting the fat they been taking out the muscles of Panthera Tigris. For personal consumption. And unsurprisingly this has badly crippled the big cat.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Wanted: New Devil's Advocate

It's only yesterday that I learned the demise on August 15 of Jacques Verges, lawyer extraordinaire. He was one of the most articulate person I've seen and had a lot of fun reading his book "Omar M'a Tuer". A fascinating documentary was also made about his unusual life journey. Me Verges died in Voltaire's bedroom. He was 88. Or maybe 89. Here he is, putting some things into perspective.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Inpe Zafer Ki Totalman Inprevizib

  1. Guvernman pu fer 7,500 a 9,000 zelev fel zot legzame CPE ankor enn fwa biento. Eh wi, sa li pu enn mari sirpriz sa. Nu pu totalman etone. Anfin, ziska mem kantite zelev fel lane prosen.
  2. 11 dimunn mor dan inondasyon le 30 mars. Non, u pe fer erer: zame u ti truv enn PPS bloke dan so loto divan la rad le 13 fevrier. Aret reve kamarad!
  3. 11 dimunn mor dan enn bis CNT. Enn kut fluk sa papao. Aksidan Montebello 2009? Enn deziem kut fluk sa do matlo.
  4. Kupir dilo rekumanse ankor. Pa fot guvernman sa. Se u fot. U pa pe priye bondie ase pu fer lapli tombe. Se usi inpe so fot: li pa konn viz kuma dimunn. Nu dan guvernman nu pu kontinye ogmant pri dilo ziska u aret servi dilo uswa ziska u la priyer marse.
  5. Lekonomi pann rebondi kan lekonomi mondyal finn sort dan resesyon en 2009. Kifer u prese kumsa, ein? Finn gayn zis katran depi resesyon mondyal finn fini. Li pu bizin rebondi dan prosen sinkant banane. E pa bliye ki se akoz bann kondisyon extern ki nu dan fatak. Apre aret pleyne. Nu dan byen isi gras a reform. Pena bomb be tom lor u latet ek anplis nu pe travay dir pu polisyon vinn kuma dan lasinn. 
  6. Flat tax finn zet 22,000 dimunn dan lamizer. Pfew, enn kwinsidans sa mo burzwa. Sat mao pu maye lera vit vit la. Pa trakase.
  7. Buku milyar FDI pa finn redwir somaz mem. Get sa, pa akoz u ena enn degre liniversite ki u pa pu kapav vinn enn bon zardinye dan enn proze IRS. Wena bel swa: u kav netway pisin usi. Apre ler u rant lakaz pa bliye ekut nuvel pu apran listwar u pei kuma bizin.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Philippe Forget Dead At 85

Here's a quote from 'Civic Rights' which he wrote on Friday 13th, 1961 in the Mauritius Times.
"No election with a result favourable to socialist ideology is ever free from consequences of spiteful retaliation, of dismissals for frivolous reasons, of provocative sanctions, of petty nagging, penalising the workers on the suspicion that they "must have voted labour"!"
He wrote in the Mauritius Times because he was friends with Kher Jagatsingh and because that paper was founded in 1954 -- 9 years before L'Express. Incidentally a senior newsman who worked at the local Pravda once explained to me how the guys who set up l'express helped my dad set up his paper. Yeah, right!

Anyway, here is one of the last interviews of PF. R.I.P.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

iTunes Invites You To Month-long Music Festival

You can watch the festival from anywhere via iTunes. If you are in the UK apply for free tickets. Elton John is playing tomorrow while Justin Timberlake is on the 29th. Here's the site for the festival.

Bastille is looking good.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What Will The Stock Market Do?

It will fluctuate famously answered J.P. Morgan a long time ago. But what's on everyone's mind these days is "what will Apple do?". We'll find out on Tuesday in California and Wednesday in China. Here are some of my guesses.
  1. Take the iPhone the iPod route: have it in different colours and use something other than gorilla glass to lower the price of the company's cash cow for better penetration in emerging markets. 
  2. An apple TV. Man, they've been looking at this for some time now. If they are happy and roll it out, get ready to throw away what you have at home.
  3. A smartwatch. There are a few out there -- Samsung just unveiled its idea of what it should look like a few days ago --  but they are expensive and don't have that Apple design signature in them.
  4. A driverless car. That would surely upend development efforts in this market namely those of Google.
  5. Enter new markets: you know what I mean if you read Mona Simpson's eulogy or the iBio.
  6. Little tweaks of existing products. These should not be underestimated. It's very difficult to keep on simplifying great products.
Let's see.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ballmer Finds Quick Way To Make A Billion: Resigning From Microsoft

That's what happened to the value of his Microsoft shareholdings when the markets heard he was leaving. Often described as an anti-Steve Jobs -- for missing all the important technological waves unlike the Swami from Cupertino -- that announcement sounded like Gates getting rid of his old buddy because otherwise there would have been a smoother transition at the top of the Redmond-based giant.

Interestingly they are bringing back a former Microsoft guy, Stephen Elop, along with part of the former maker of toilet paper he's been trying to fix for a couple of years: Nokia. Probably to be the next CEO. Soon. Elop is famous for a "burning platform" he wrote a few years back. Something Mauritius Inc cannot miss reading.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Harbour Bridge Project Should Be Scrapped

We can spend the money a lot better. Like injecting billions of rupees into the CNT to purchase enough buses to match the calibre of our new airport terminal. So that when you hop onto one you are not putting your life at risk. This should help people leave their cars at home and reduce the pressure on our roads and health system. And help Mauritius overtake Estonia as the place with the planet's best air quality.

Besides it would make a lot of sense -- especially after we've seen what Tsunamis have done in 2004 and 2011 -- to displace the centre of gravity of our economic activity southwards. So that if Port-Louis is struck by a deadly wall of water, we can be back in business a lot quicker. Elsewhere. But we don't want to build a new city on our best arable land. No, we should use our marginal ones. Foodwise.

Terminal 3 Launched To a Difficult Crowd

Not many applauses during the official ceremony for the new building. Though it has received a lot of positive reviews. Maybe because it wasn't done in either the global lingua franca or the language 84% of us speak at home. Or that beautiful language in which the PM delivers his press conferences and Independence Day messages.

If you are impressed by the amount of money it has cost us then you should definitely have a look at our debt servicing numbers since the bean-counting reforms of two university buddies started screwing up Mauritius back in 2005.

Let's hope T3 will help us climb a few notches up Africa's busiest airport (by passenger traffic) list: we've been oscillating between 18th and 20th for the past five years.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

GML Boss Spends Monday Night in Jail

After being picked up by the CCID at the airport. And in connection with the the import of one super car. The media has reported millions being transferred to the account of one returning resident.

The ex-Chairman of GML -- one of the island's largest group by turnover -- is not the only one being investigated. Indeed Ernst and Young have also purchased pricey cars from SS Motors.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Civil Service Hostage of Finance Ministry

So says union boss Rashid Imrith. He reminded us that one Audit report mentioned that less than half of the occupational health and safety inspections were carried out. And that one Minister blamed the Ministry of Finance for not being able to operate his Ministry normally.

This is not exactly new stuff. Ministers between 2005 and 2010 have personally told me that Sithanen kept babbling a pair of words: pena kas. And now the CWA has started applying cuts again. Which gives us an idea of the credibility of the so-called reforms.

Imrith has also given XLD one week to meet with union leaders. Before they make a statement to the Police.

Btw, don't forget to send your best wishes.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BOI To Promote Occupational Permits Overseas

Because it wants to increase the number of people holding them by 500-700 to 5,000 according to Le Mauricien. If that's true then dumbness has become a national disease. Because we have a serious problem of unemployment in this country -- probably close to 12% -- and many thousands of young graduates are not able to find jobs let alone meaningful ones. Let us not even talk about the likelihood they'll be able to buy a decent house with all the real-estate speculation that has been going on for 7-8 years now. And frankly I don't think that's the way you solve one of the worst cases of brain-drain in the world.

The BOI should definitely get serious about the types of investments and people that are allowed to come in our country. Young graduates should be allowed the maximum of opportunities to get smart.

Michio Kaku on Civilisation Paths

How Robin Sharma Beat Laziness

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rezistans Should Ponder Over Alternatives

For sure we have to be quite grateful to that small group of people who have shown a formidable amount of persistence to try to eliminate the best-loser system from our electoral traditions. But the problem is that they haven't proposed any serious alternatives so far or what they have proposed doesn't have a strong basis. Let us consider three arguments made by Ashok Subron, the movement's strongman:
  1. The current set-up is not good because it doesn't allow new parties to emerge. Really? What about the MMM in the 1970s then? Was it beamed into the political arena by Scotty? Besides Mauritian voters have demonstrated that they know how to send sophisticated signals.
  2. He wants all political strands to be represented in parliament. What is a political strand for Karl's sake? If I dress up as Elvis do I become a political strand? Or rather a political strand however extraordinary it may be needs to be validated by voters?
  3. Our constitution has institutionalised communalism. He seems to forget that it's the same excellent constitution that has seen us move from a left-for-dead country into one which has provided upward social mobility to many many thousands of our citizens. And will see us flying even higher as soon as the tax structure catches up with monetary policy. Let us imagine for just one moment that the BLS is gone so that nothing stands in the way of the face of R&A to run as PM. What is your plan for Mauritius Mr. Subron?
Matters get more comical because Subron is also in a big hurry. Wrong place to be in a rush. Besides the PM's white paper is due soon.

Why Government Securities Are The Safest

Because of two things it can do that private corporations cannot. The first one is to collect taxes and the second one is to print money. So that if a big payment is due the state can always raise income or corporate taxes or have its adviser -- the Bank of Mauritius -- order a container of the good stuff from Thomas de La Rue. But you don't want to play with these levers for day to day matters. Or to compensate for dumb policies. Nope. You want to design policies that are at least sustainable if not thoughtful.

Still these two trump cards puts government in a very strong position to undertake the biggest projects. Which is why, for example, it used to produce all of our electricity through one of its manifestations.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Audit Report for FY 2012 Now Available

Here. Glanced at it quickly. It is saying that debt servicing has increased dramatically. Which is something we've highlighted before. But boy is this a report that's not the easiest to read.

Your comments?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bus Conductor Sues CNT For Rs15 Million

Ram Bundhoo says that he and his colleague driver, Ganesh Deepchand, who was among the 10 who lost their lives in the Blue Line bus 4263 AG 2007 on Friday May 3 -- the death toll now stands at 11 -- had repeatedly reported mechanical problems with that particular bus.

Ashwin Dookun gave an interview as Chairman of the CNT on Sunday where he recommended that Anil Bachoo take his retirement. He was sacked the next day.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How High Should Top Tax Rates Be?

Probably not lower than 25%. See tax rates were as high as 60% when Uncle Nadess was Minister of Finance because we were just emerging from under colonial rule and the country had to be built. From the ground up. And pressing problems solved while diversifying a basket case economy. Treading intelligently, Vishnu was then able to lower taxes by almost 50% because the Labour Party had made the economy a lot more resilient and international conditions were a lot better. 

Rama then committed political hara-kiri by irresponsibly reducing them by another 50% and making an incredible number of dumb moves. This has created a multi-giga rupee toohrooh and a string of problems that, unsurprisingly, has stalled the economy.

Xavier has little choice but to quickly increase top tax rates back to at least 25% to avert soon having to increase them a lot more. Like what the French did recently. He might not though because flirting with brutal political extinction may be quite addictive.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Murray Bags 2 More Sets To Make Tennis History

2 more sets compared to the one he snatched from Roger last year. And yes, it's been an amazing 77 years since a British player won the most famous lawn tennis tournament in the world. It seemed that almost no one attending the event was there the last time it happened. Save the couple of the grannies that looked as young as Jeanne Calment.

Andy had many amazing shots against Novak who didn't look his best. How could he? He played del Potro in the semis and boy was this a draining fight. Just like Rafa who didn't even win a match in Wimbledon after laboriously beating Novak at Roland-Garros.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Book Steve Jobs Read Once A Year

After having discovered it before his first trip to India as a teenager. As reported by Walter Issacson in the amazing iBio it was also the only book he had downloaded on his iPad 2. Now, surely it must be a very special book for someone like Steve to have found time every year to read. So I checked out the over-500-pages book and ordered it twelve months ago. 

I read a few pages now and then because there are plenty of interesting stuff in there -- the unforgiving schedule didn't help either -- and because I didn't want to miss anything. An extraordinary book indeed. One that easily deserves at least another even slower read.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

State Flip Flops On the CNT

First it reallocates routes to private companies because a number of the CNT buses are apparently unfit for our roads. That seemed to have been discovered right after 11 people died recently in a gruesome accident in Soreze. And then workers strike because they feel it's a disguised attempt to privatise their organisation essentially asking why would the most profitable lines be transferred if not to further weaken the company.

Government then u-turns under pressure and hands back the lines. The strike stops but then on Friday Cabinet maintains the reallocation of the routes saying it cannot play with the security of passengers.

Now, isn't that funny? Tolerance for killer buses doesn't seem to be uniform among cabinet members. It would be interesting to find out the safety features of the CNT buses compared to let us say those of the official cars that are provided to Ministers. And about the operational history of each of the buses that the CNT bought over the last 20 years or so. Not bad either if we could be told what exactly was done after the accident in Montebello in 2009 where four people lost their lives.

By the way, how come the state buys sophisticated transport equipment like the Airbus A-340 and then buys crap for the travelling citizens. That too after an early harvest and a bumper crop?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Berenger Back As Himself, Almost

He has grabbed back the leadership of the MMM from Alan Ganoo. But not the post of Leader of the Opposition. Shall we then infer that the latter might just be too tough for him to resume given his current medical condition?

Not too sure about this though. Given that he was seen on a soap box as recently as yesterday. And that he has said that he will be in parliament when the PM brings an electoral reform bill to our National Assembly. And if no bill is presented?

Guess you also noticed that he had to mention that Remake 2000 is still 'on'. I wonder why.

How much do we pay our MPs again?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

ACIM Makes Serious Arguments To MPC

They rightly wanted the repo rate to go up by 15-20 basis points because
  1. year-on-year inflation is already higher than it should be and soon hovering between 5% and 6%
  2. inflation hits the poor harder
  3. the latest household budget survey shows that economic growth of the last five years has not been inclusive
No one in her right mind can disagree with these facts. A few comments on them:
  1. one former Governor likened inflation to radioactivity
  2. South Africa has calculated that the inflation that hits the poor is 3% higher
  3. as expected the flat tax disease has operated like a reverse Robin Hood
Furthermore even the JEC -- not exactly the source of the most progressive economic statements since dinosaurs were wiped out from the face of the earth -- asked that the repo be left unchanged. 

How can you then explain that the Financial Secretary asked for 50 basis-point cut? And that the MPC ended up lowering the key rate by 25 basis points?

Simple: there are way too many people on the MPC and at the Ministry of Finance who don't seem to understand the scope of an MPC. That's unacceptable. Because I am sure that the cost of running the MPC is nothing to be sneezed at. We should be able to count on Mr. Alan Ganoo to find that out for us. And to apply parliamentary pressure so that the MPC works for most of us.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

How Long Things Take

  1. Presentation of Financial Secretary to one MPC meeting -- about three quarters of an hour
  2. Presentation of one UK budget by Gordon Brown -- about forty-five minutes
  3. Implementation of free education in Mauritius -- literally overnight
  4. Creation of the world -- 7 days
  5. Kurukshetra War -- 18 days
  6. Creation of the American middle-class -- 7 years
  7. 2005 economic reform in Mauritius -- 8-year poop and still waiting for Godot
  8. Deactivation of Mauritian demographic bomb -- 10 years
  9. Malawi following famine-creating policies courtesy of the World Bank -- 2 decades

Monday, June 17, 2013

Confederations Cup Offers Sneak Preview of Next World Cup

That's what you could take away after watching the first three matches of this competition currently happening in 6 Brazilian Cities between 8 teams. Although Brazil beat Japan 3-0 I was not impressed by the Selecao. I found their passes quite sloppy. True they got some great talent on board but don't they always do? Italy met Mexico and the match felt like a World Cup Final. Italy has a strong squadron and seem to be a lot more organised than the Brazilian side. But don't write Mexico off yet. It is after all the current Gold Medalist of the last Olympic Soccer tournament.

And then Spain played Luis Suarez and friends and won 2-1. Spain is simply unbelievable. As usual they make a debilitating number of precise passes that drive their opponents nuts and then pounce for goal each time they're given half a chance. Which is quite often.

But let's not be in a hurry to sell the bear's skin. The final is on June 30 at what used to be the Grand Daddy of all stadiums: the Maracana.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Club M To Miss World Cup in Brazil

Very surprised to learn that we apparently pulled out of the qualifying rounds in October 2011. A BBC article quoted a source within the MFA attributing the withdrawal to a lack of funds.

Mauritius participated in the qualifying rounds of the last four World Cups.

So shocking!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How Much Did Our Ministers Take Home Last Year?

Salary, per diem and other perks. And was their output commensurate with what they cost us?

Not a bad idea if we ranked them. Or grouped them.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Manraj Report to Cost An Extra Billion

According to media reports of the press point of the PM yesterday. The report itself can be downloaded here. Just thinking aloud: why hasn't the duty free car privilege been cancelled and replaced with a bus pass?

Maurice, Ile Durable?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

India Welcomes Back Friend As Chinese Premier

Li Keqiang is back in India today after 27 years for a 3-day visit. This is his first overseas trip as Chinese PM. Which is happening a few days after the standoff in Ladakh ended peacefully.

He will be meeting the Indian PM for talks on a wide-ranging number of issues. Including border claims and dams that the Middle Empire wants to build on the Brahmaputra.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Norton Deems a Malicious Site

Got this unusual warning message when I was trying to read the report on that terrible accident. The other media sites seem ok. Bizarre.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Manu Wins 20th, Ivanovic To Be Tested For Rabies

After being bitten by the Premier League Top Scorer until last night. Luis Suarez has already apologised, been fined by Liverpool, offered anger management classes and is likely to face more than the standard 3-match ban from the FA. But depending on when the suspension actually starts he could still score more goals than anybody else this season. And win the PFA Player of the Year award. Too. In five days.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Human Computer Dead At 73

Shakuntala Devi passed away yesterday morning in Bangalore after respiratory problems caused two heart attacks according to the Times of India.

She caused a sensation on her first visit to Mauritius while the Guiness Book of Records did not immediately believe that her gifts were for real.

Not bad for someone who was too poor to attend school.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston Marathon Ends in Carnage

Two or three dead and over one hundred wounded when a few bombs explode as the international event was drawing to a close. Police are still piecing the story together.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Robertson Publishes Preliminary Media Report

And you can read it here. Skimmed a few pages earlier today.

What do you think of the report?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Iron Lady Dead At 87

Margaret Thatcher was the longest serving British PM. She was for deregulation, weak trade unions and privatisation of state-owned enterprises. The former PM also waged war against Argentina to recapture Islas Malvinas. Here she is talking about socialism at the end of her 11-year Prime Ministership. 

And here is Meryl Streep winning another Oscar for her extraordinary portrayal of the Iron Lady.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fifteen Centimetres of Rain Kill Eleven in a Flash

That's way too many Mauritians to die in a few hours. It's equivalent to about 10,600 deaths for India. Which is roughly the number of lives that were lost there in the 2004 Tsunami. The sheer scale of Saturday's tragedy requires that we find out exactly what went wrong and what needs to be fixed. And what has been done since the Domah report on the 2008 floods was published. But in the meantime the torrential rain protocol needs to be optimised for the preservation of lives. At least those using the underpass of death everyday. Because of how the climate and the concrete invasion is different every few kilometres on our island.

All this should happen while we experience one of our national treasures: our legendary solidarity. And we should definitely be grateful that the torrents of water weren't radioactive.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Ramgoolam Right To Tread Carefully With Electoral Reform

By soon publishing a consultative paper and therefore essentially asking the whole nation for input. That's a very commendable move because as the Prime Minister has reminded us yesterday changes to our constitution shouldn't be made on a whim. Or, if I may add, because one or two hysterical marxists like hearing the sound of their voice on radio as often as possible.

And given that we are about to broaden the debate it would be necessary to ask the Electoral Commission to put as much disaggregated data as possible on its website so that we don't shut out any thoughtful solutions.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sik Yuen Exercises Ministerial Prerogative

And sacks Robert Desvaux as Chairman of the MTPA. Xavier Duval is not happy about this and wants Sik Yuen to either reinstate his buddy or quit as Minister. In essence the PMSD believes it is the owner of the Ministry of Tourism.

This reminds me of Obeegadoo's recent comments about how electors literally aren't allowed to vote as they please. And of Sithanen's week-long whining-cum-crying back in February 2007 when he wanted to usurp the Prime Minister's prerogative of picking the Governor of our Central Bank. There was also that circus about him insisting to stay on as Finance Minister beyond April 2010. Could this explain why his report on electoral reform contains perverse recommendations to institutionalise the ownership of ridings and ministries? Aka double candidacy.

Returning to the current situation remember that Ramgoolam's government has a majority of 38-31 and that the PMSD has 4 MPs in Parliament. If 3 Coqs leave Ramgoolam will still have a majority of one. Of two if Guimbeau supports Government. More if a few unhappy MMM MPs cross the floor.

Duval who said he was a reasonable man should do a reasonable thing: resign from Parliament and face his voters immediately as many of them don't remember empowering him to attack our rupee with our own money.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Will Jordan Put His Shorts Back On?

He turned 50 last Sunday and if you remember he didn't rule out making another comeback. He's apparently in great shape which is why calls for him to stay in retirement might not be so disinterested. 

Mauritius To Get Own Fukushima

That's an intriguing possibility when you have a look at the Integrated Electricity Plan for the next 10 years published by the CEB. Stop at the second paragraph of page seven to read that "as implausible as it may appear, nuclear technology is a generation option".

I'm sorry but it's not an option for us because there are way too many idiots walking around in Mauritius. Besides we won't even need a tsunami to trigger our own nuclear disaster: we can count on a few centimetres of rain, can't we?

Not a bad idea to get inspired by Germany which less than ninety days after Fukushima had announced that they would be phasing out nuclear power within ten years.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pistorius Shoots Model Girlfriend By Accident

Reeva Steenkamp was apparently shot four times by the double amputee paralympic champion after he mistook her for an intruder. She just wanted to surprise him for Valentine's Day. That's one version of the story.

South African police is being very cautious and professional at this stage. Just watch how this brigadier handles the press.

Heavy Rain Shuts Down Water-Starved Dodoland

Yesterday. And just like in 2008, people have lost their lives too during the past few days. I guess Mauritians again experienced how resilient we are. Some people think we should rename ourselves as Gopialand.

Long live the bean-counters!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

IPP Contracts To Be Made Public, Finally

Tomorrow according to one newspaper. The government also wants to release the Hunton and Williams report that apparently wasn't too favourable towards the private producers. This is definitely good news as energy is an important building block of our competitiveness.

Hopefully we'll see how we messed up and restore some sanity in this sector.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Joseph Beats Jackie Chan And Wins Award

Namely the Brillance of China Award 2012. There was a clip on the JT yesterday where TMK had the following to say:

Si par examp monn kapav viv dizon la kiltir sinwaz e promuvwar li dan la fason ki mo finn fer li mo ena la sans inn viv dan Moris ki enn pei de grand tolerans, enn pei multikultirel. E dayer monn insiste lor la. E letan mo ti gagn sa pri la monn tenir usi pu dir ki mo dedie sa a Moris, a mon pei.

I'll drink to that.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Berenger Has Throat Cancer, Steps Down

As leader of the MMM. For at least three months according to L'Express. And for about three months says Le Mauricien. Ganoo is expected to run the MMM while Berenger undergoes surgery overseas. We wish him well.

One of the first time I heard about throat cancer was when Fischer Black died of it. A year after he was diagnosed with it and after having surgery.

Steve Jobs too thought he had overcome cancer. But the disease returned.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Former MK Boss Explains How He Was Fired

This was in an interesting interview which appeared yesterday. He's talking now two years after the event because he is suing his former employer and was bound by a contract clause.

Another interview worth reading is that of former Chief Justice Victor Glover who thinks that Justice Balancy shouldn't give 3-page interviews every 3 weeks.

Any comments?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Humanity's Biggest Gathering Starts Today

When millions are expected to take the dip into one or more of India's holy rivers. The gathering is to last 55 days with over 100 million people to attend. There will be more pilgrims on some days than others: many astrologers have gathered to sort out the most auspicious ones. Today is good to take that sin-cleansing dive. Unless you don't want to miss that Makar Sankranti's kitchari.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Party Lists Have Undermined Accountability in SA

According to The Economist which ran an interesting article on South Africa last October. The famous magazine rightly concludes that individual MPs don't worry about voters anymore: they instead bend over backwards to please party leaders who determine how far they end up from the top of the list.

Guess it too is saying that party lists are evil.