Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kozelidir Person of The Year 2014

Attributed to the Mauritian voter for acknowledging clearly that she's got the Rolls Royce of systems of government.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Did QZ8501 Crash Because of Bad Planning?

It's not a secret that the number of planes flying at any moment in time has been increasing. We know that when we check passenger statistics and the number and size of plane orders announced by major airlines. We can also get a nice visual of a region of interest

So what seems to have happened with Flight QZ8501 is that there were no paths at 38,000 feet -- to escape a thunderstorm -- that were free. Looks like someone said it was ok to fly that many planes. I guess it's ok on a day of clear weather.

There are limits to everything.

Bheenick Dismissal is Inelegant and Silly

Our learned Central Bank Governor was sacked on Friday probably on the basis of an irrelevant section of our excellent constitution. This is kind of inelegant towards a citizen of this country who has been a great Governor. You might want to check how the inflation rate -- the biggest enemy of the poor -- behaved during his tenure. Have a look at the external value of our rupee too. A smoother transition -- like the last three times we changed Governors -- would have been more appropriate for the kind of country we believe Mauritius to be.

And the nearly eight years Manou has been at the head of the BoM has made life a bit easier for at least two groups of people. The first one is an overwhelming majority of Mauritians who experienced the tangible benefits of a common sense approach to managing monetary conditions. The second one bloggers like me who had one less thing to rant against.

He will be a tough -- but not impossible -- act to follow. Because there are many people -- across all party lines -- who have gotten used to the anti-inflation capital he helped build. Despite having to deal with Finance Ministers from very small parties who seemed to be confused about monetary policy -- and many other things. At best. And a Financial Secretary who appeared to have a natural predisposition to establish contact with little green creatures that wear an antennae.

And silly because his successor hasn't been nominated yet. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014: The Year in Review (Q2)

April: 815 million voters get ready to elect Indian Government. Seeneevasen was dead against PR. Berenger heckled during politburo meeting. SLO should craft referendum legislation. Serac kills 16 on Everest. John Paul II cannonised. Gabo gone at 87.

May: Ayrton: 20 years already. Gary Becker dies at 83. Prorogation of Parliament is telling sign process is poor. Modi bags big electoral victory. Drafting of bill not most difficult part.

June: ISIS captures Mosul. Electoral reform made for three. Shakira ready for World Cup in Brazil. Constitution temporary provision bill published. Comic genius offers life perspectives. Chiellini shows Suarez bite marks.

Read the review for Q1, Q3 and Q4.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: The Year in Review

January: One Ramgoolam gets closer to another. STC offers lower basmati prices. The Mac is 30. One way CSO can reduce its carbon footprint. PM struggling intellectually with white paper.

February: How our Constitution might help refresh the political scene. Scores lose life in Boko Haram attacksiStamp to arrive in 2015. Worst Ebola breakout kills thousands. Paco de Lucia dead at 66.

March: Berenger electoral reform proposal is a dangerous flop. Burkas and sarees don't make rapes less likely. Nine years later Ramgoolam's cake still baking. Flight MH370 disappears mysteriously. How to clean up Mumbai smartly. After 389 days Ramgoolam publishes white paper, gives us 42 days to send submissions.

Read the review for Q2, Q3 and Q4.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Catastrophic Week-end Turns 35

Between 21 and 23 December of the International Year of the child a pretty little thing called Claudette visited us. Probably because she got jealous that Pele had kicked a few footballs at our George V Stadium a couple of years before. If I remember correctly we celebrated Xmas without electricity as Mauritian power lines didn't offer any major chewing problem for an intense tropical cyclone.

The upshot is that the 3-day visit helped put our economy into a depression: a 10% contraction. 1979 was also the year of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident which was essentially due to a flawed interface design. And of a major switch of how the US Fed carried out monetary policy.

If you plan of drinking in the next few days, don't drive, take a cab or pick one of your friends as a designated driver. Staying alive can be a lot of fun.

Monday, December 22, 2014

SAJ Returns To Parliament, History Accelerates

We now have a Prime Minister who has lived 84 years or 3 years more than my all-time favourite at the time he lost power in 1982. Today is also the first time the Speaker of our National Assembly was addressed as Madam. More history is on the way at Le Reduit when Ms. Fakim will replace Kailash Purryag. The sooner the better.

SAJ is also making a comeback 11 years after having announced his retirement in 2003. This never happened before. Mr. Lutchmeenaraidoo is back too for a third term -- or a fourth one -- after almost a quarter of a century. If he does that again -- assuming he loses his seat in 2019 -- he will be eligible for one of those phones that centenarians receive.

So a larger pension has been paid and there will be a Rs10 billion item in the next budget to unleash the creative capital of Mauritius.

Not missing Sithanen and Mansoor by any chance?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mauritius Says No To Wicked Plan of Scheming Trio

By booting Ramgoolam out of power, barely keeping Berenger in the Opposition for a third straight term -- but not before showing him who's the real boss in No.19 -- and preventing Sithanen from getting into Parliament. In what are probably the most important general elections since those that made us an independent country 47 years ago.

So yeah, Mauritian voters have sent a loud and clear message to politicians that they don't want anybody to mess up their constitution and electoral system and that they want the policies which have been creating a huge amount of poverty since 2005 -- due to a massive ministerial skills mismatch -- to end immediately.

They might have voted quite differently if these important issues had not been lumped together with the normal business of electing a government. And if no 84-year old fox had been there to capitalise on this monumental political blunder.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Will Vishnu Make An Economic Miracle?

It depends how you define a miracle. But I'll tell you this. Compared with Sithanen almost anything will feel like a miracle.

Voting centres open as from 7 am. Go Mauritius! Go!

Reforms See Poor Make Tiny Progress

Indeed the 10% poorest households saw their real disposable income increase by only 6.2% for the five years ending in 2012. This compares very unfavourably to the huge progress recorded after the first mandate of Navin Ramgoolam as PM -- Bheenick and Bunwaree (BB) were his Finance Ministers. At that time the weakest households of our country saw their purchasing power increase by a very healthy 48.6% -- that's 7.8X the 2012 increase -- over the levels of the preceding half-decade. 

The reforms have been very good for the 10% wealthiest though: their disposable income has surged by almost 30%. Of course the increased inequality has helped Mauritius clock some of the worst growth rates in more than 35 years: 2014 will be the fourth consecutive year with one under 4%. Which is half what was promised to us in 2005. And the basis for the 15% flat tax.

Happy voting!

Monday, December 8, 2014

63% of Poll Say Ramgoolam's Side Won't Take More Than 30 Seats

4.6% think they will get a 60-0. While 31.6% say SAJ's party will grab at least 40 seats. Only 14.3% predict LP/MMM will get a 3/4 supermajority to screw up our excellent Constitution and system of Government. The scenario with the most votes -- and a 1/4 chance of happening -- is Ramgoolam/Bérenger ending up with between 21 and 25 seats. The next most popular pick is them getting five seats less.

Let's see. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

92% of Poll Say We Don't Need More MPs

Only 6% think we need more. Really?

77% of Poll Find Vishnu Better Finance Minister

Than Sithanen. And that too by a very large margin. Only 22% found Sithanen better. Voters from all walks of life and parties are not exactly happy with this choice of Ramgoolam. We're gonna find out how much on Thursday.

Poll Says SAJ Better PM, By Very Large Margin

More than 3/4 of the 165 voters found the 84-year old politician a better PM. Ramgoolam got 15% -- that's five times less -- and Bérenger a paltry 6%. Ramgoolam might have become the second best PM -- after SSR -- had he been able to redeem himself. That didn't happen. And it actually got worse.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

42% of Poll Find Our Westminsterian System of Government Excellent

Or 55 people of the 129 votes this poll received. Another 43% say it's average while only 13% found it pretty bad. Might there be a zom-pom dom-tom effect here?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Resources For The December 10 Elections

Who will you vote for? Well it will have to be three of these candidates.

Where will you vote? Enter your NIC# and the Electoral Commissioner's office will tell you where that will be. That's specially useful if it's the first time you're voting.

Who's the better cake-cutter? That is who divides the national cake more reasonably. I've looked at the HBS data for the past 25 years and it all boils down to who is the Finance Minister. Lutchmeenaraidoo -- at least in the data analysed -- has been good. So have Bunwaree and Bheenick. Sithanen has been a reverse Robin Hood -- takes from the poor to give to rich -- each time he's been MoF. So he's to be avoided at all costs.

Who bakes the bigger cake? Have looked at this data recently and what I've found is that Lutchmeenaraidoo baked a bigger one than the FMs who came after him; the Sithanen reforms generated the smallest cake and that Bheenick and Bunwaree hatched a cake which was slightly bigger than what Sithanen cooked in his first mandate. More on this soon.

Of course we don't want a second republic, party lists, more MPs and double candidacies.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Mauritian Voters Want on December 11

By and large, a Government with about 35 MPs and an Opposition with 25. They don't want a Government with a lot more seats because then it will start having funny ideas and do some really stupid things. Like messing up an excellent constitution. And they want policies that work for a majority of their fellow citizens not the kind of nonsense that we've seen since 2005.

It now appears that none of the two major political blocks -- thank God! -- will win three-quarters of the seats. Although Labour/MMM won all the seats in 1995 with 65% of the votes. In fact a little data analysis for that election -- which happened two decades ago -- will reveal that all we need for that alliance to shed 25 seats is a displacement of less than 16% of the voters. And about a 13% movement of voters should prevent them from grabbing 75% of the seats.

Shifts of these magnitudes have happened before. For example in 2005 LP/PMSD got 12.7 percentage points more votes than they had five years earlier. And the issues were not as important as they are now. For a hint of the kind of shift that may happen in a week we need to look at the change in the sum of the share of votes the IP and the PMSD received in 1967 and 1976. 44%.