Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Government To Destroy Biometric Database

This piece of good news was announced yesterday in the 2015-2019 Programme Speech. Along with a number of laudable intentions like
  • making SC/HSC exams free;
  • an SME bank which will invest Rs10 billion over the next five years;
  • a minimum wage bill;
  • focus on job creation for Mauritians: 15,000 will be created every year with many in the public sector;
  • a football academy will be set up;
  • ensuring competitive energy prices;
  • setting up a vascular surgery unit to reduce the number of amputations;
  • and organising referendums on crucial national issues. 
There are also some very vague promises such as 'inflation will be kept under control'. Hmm. An inflation target is a must for two reasons: one to preserve the hard-won anti-inflation capital and two to keep depreciation-happy Basant Roi on a tight leash. Government also wants to include a dose of PR in our electoral system. That's a dangerous proposition that needs extensive debate and a referendum.

Let's see how well this plan is implemented.

Basant Roi Back, Rupee Down By 3%, Already

By yesterday our currency had lost 3.28% of its value against the dollar. In the mere 18 trading days since Basant Roi has been back at the BoM. He is known to have a strong and silly depreciation bias. In fact if you had to chart the number of times he has asked for a lower value for our rupee -- when he was not in a position to sink it himself -- you would literally have to use a log scale.

I hope Mr. Lutchmeenaraidoo's idea of a "second economic miracle" doesn't involve making Mauritius increasingly insignificant in the world. And keeping local pump prices artificially higher after oil prices collapsed is kind of contradictory about making SMEs the backbone of our economy. And is oblivious to the fact that he is presenting a budget in a few weeks. Besides we've been suffering from such a disconnect for way too long. And for very wrong reasons.

All has not been bad though. Swiftly increasing pensions to Rs5,000 will surely help restore some disposable income to those who need it the most. And that cannot do our economy any harm.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

World On Display in Milan, For Six Months

Beginning May 1st for the Universal Exposition. Over 130 countries are going to showcase their answer to the expo's theme of "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life". It's a hell of a great opportunity to brand a country -- or to get inspired how to do it.

Many Africans countries will be there -- including the Seychelles, Rwanda and Ziwbabwe -- but I didn't see Mauritius in the list. Too busy with the Mo Ibrahim index? Or is it the Doing Business index?

If you're not heading to Milan you might want to get busy trying one of these 123,506 recipes.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fans Shocked Gerrard Leaving Liverpool

For sure at 34 he doesn't have the legs he used to when they won the 2005 Champions League in Istanbul. Carrying the Reds almost single-handedly for several seasons will wear you down. And I don't think it's reasonable to expect him to keep on doing that to compensate for weaknesses elsewhere in the team. They could have adjusted their game to keep him playing as a deep-lying midfielder like 35-year-old Andre Pirlo is for Juventus.

I'm not too impressed either by the recent signings of Brendan Rodgers. The Reds have been playing some really sloppy football recently. At times it seems they can't even manage some really basic passes.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What's the Deal About Pesticides?

We sometimes hear that way too much is used in Mauritius. And that doctors in Singapore know we are from that cute Indian Ocean island just by looking at our blood tests. Friends will often recommend that we don't buy vegetables which appear to have been photoshopped. Or that we wash them thoroughly. But is that all we can do?

I don't think so as we are aware that an overuse of these chemicals will have more people developing cancer. And ruin our habitat. It shouldn't be difficult to at least have an audit trail. And start producing great vegetables on an appropriate scale. That will not hurt our trade relationships with the rest of the world.

Any thoughts on this?