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.