Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fighter Jets Have Their Own Body Language



NATO F-16 buzzes the plane that was carrying the Russian Defense Minister over the Baltic Sea. Soon after an Su-27 comes in the middle and shows what it has under its wings. The NATO plane then flies away.

This comes after renewed tensions in Syria.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

LKY's Son Plans to Leave Singapore

Lee Hsien Yang is the youngest child of the former PM. He issued a joint statement with his sister Lee Wei Ling yesterday expressing concern about the omnipresence of big brother. In this case they are referring to their elder sibling, Lee Hsien Loong, the current Prime Minister of Singapore.

At the centre of the dispute is their parents' house at 38 Oxley Road which LKY wanted demolished. Lee Hsien Loong wants to preserve it.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Issues in Recent British Elections Are Relevant to Us



Listened to the first half hour and found it quite interesting. And relevant with respect to the rubbish we've been experiencing for the past decade. Just in case you missed it.

First 60-0 Turns 35

Three and half decades ago Mauritians were busy voting out every single MP in their government. This included Kher Jagatsingh, a 50-year old maverick, who had completed what he considered his biggest challenge: the reform and development of education and cultural affairs. After coming up with the idea of free education five and a half years earlier.

The tectonic shift of the results the following day didn't impress me that much. Because I was asking everyone calling in on voting day how they thought it would go. One deadpan answer from a trusted source gave me pause: 60-0. It sounded so real and definitive that other predictions received before and after that call kind of sounded fake.

Voters obviously did the right thing on 11 June 1982. Given their ability to understand the progress made at that time. They even showed wisdom in that complete sweep. And have gotten a lot more sophisticated since then.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Heads Roll As May Tries to Form Minority Government

With the help of the DUP. That might not be enough as there have been calls for her resignation within her own party. Jeremy Corbyn is also making plans to form an even smaller minority government. Brits may have to vote again if 2/3 of the MPs so decide or if two different minority governments don't survive a no-confidence motion.

Corbyn ran an effective campaign and promised to "...build a Britain that works for the many, not the few." This included following a worldwide trend of bringing back utilities under public ownership because "...water bills have increased 40 per cent since privatisation, and our private energy providers overcharged customers by £2 billion in 2015."

Friday, June 9, 2017

PJ Increases Top Tax Rates By 5%

In his budget yesterday. Along with a negative income tax (para. 280) of up to a thousand rupees. These should mitigate the growth of the Sithanen Toohrooh and could help reduce inequality. Not a bad start but it won't be enough. The establishment of a National Investment Authority (para. 321) is a good idea to optimise returns of the NPF/NSF and other parastatals and to provide much-needed opportunities for local finance professionals to put their skill set to contribution. It might even improve pension fund governance.

The big negatives include the extension of 8-year contracts to foreign labour in more sectors of the economy (p38). You don't want to do this when the economy -- broken by Dr. Calamity -- is not creating any jobs. At least not before you have a good look at pay ratios and remember that there's so much of unemployment and underemployment here. I didn't see -- haven't really read the budget yet -- anything to freeze the growth of the pool of vehicles. Not too sure you want to give all these fiscal exemptions. For example, is the minuscule tax rate for exporting companies going to apply irrespective of their size? After the rubbish of 'competitive depreciation'? Does the CMT need that?

Hopefully there will be some big improvements in these plans before the Finance Act is passed. Like scrapping the Metro Express project. And a massive reduction of nonsense.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Mauritian Taxpayers Handed Rs5 Billion Bill

Because Government lost the arbitration against Betamax Ltd. That's going to be hard to pay given that the Sithanen flat tax has broken our economy and there's tens of billions of rupees missing in the Government till. It's going to be even harder for voters to digest. How did we end up in yet another mess? Has there been any negligence and recklessness along the way?

At the very least salaries of Ministers -- and that of the Leader of the opposition given that he was the DPM until recently -- should immediately be cut by 80% to save around Rs150 million over the next twenty-four months. Government MPs should also take a big pay cut. Per diem rates should be revised downwards and overseas travel reduced to a strict minimum. Official cars should be traded for more reasonable alternatives. Like bus passes and bikes. And running shoes.

We also need to have more tools to deal with these kinds of situations. Like legislation that could better align the interests of politicians with ours. Including mechanisms for seizing a significant portion of the assets of members of cabinet after they play bull with our china shop. This is all the more necessary given that there are other cases pending including the USD1bn of damages lodged by Rawat.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Who Can Stop Rafa?

Looks like he's in demolition mode at the French open. He won it 4 times in a row. Didn't win two years and then clipped a streak of 5 championships. Before not winning it for another two years. There seems to be a pattern here.

If he gets past his fellow citizen this afternoon, he could be meeting Novak on Friday. Or Thiem, the only player who beat him on clay this year. But Wawrinka and Murray are still around.

Some really good tennis ahead for sure.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

NMH Saga Enters New Phase

The Special Investigator submitted his conclusions to the FSC a few days ago without some parties telling their side of the story on the ground that the appointment of Mr. Taukoordass was inappropriate. Mainstream media has leaked that there could be multiple violations of securities laws involved. And that the report has been sent to the legal adviser of the regulator for advice.

Let's see what happens next.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Currency Policy Incompatible With Feline DNA


GDP per capita for Mauritius was only $9,142 at the end of 2015. That placed us at spot 68. We would have done a lot better had we not adopted a policy of 'competitive depreciation' for the better of thirty years. If we had kept our currency fixed at its 1985 level -- which was not too much to ask from a Tiger -- then we'd be 32 spots higher. Or just above the Arabia of the Sauds. And in the company of other high-income countries.

We were also stuck below the $10,000 threshold because the Sithanen flat tax has broken our economy. Had we kept on growing at 5.5% since 2006 we'd be seven notches higher. Fourteen if the 8% growth rates promised by the bean-counter had materialised.

In the meantime another Tiger has confirmed her stripes. A combination of high growth rates and systematic currency appreciation -- 60% over the thirty-year period -- has pushed Singapore ahead of Germany, Sweden and even Denmark.

Only dimwits will believe that 'competitive depreciation' is painless.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Longest Serving 007 Dies At 89

Was watching parts of Spectre again yesterday and reading about Daniel Craig. And found out about Roger Moore still being the longest serving James Bond -- Sean Connery remains my favourite. Was also thinking that I should research the third incarnation of 007 so that I'll eventually be able to write a decent obituary. Next thing you know the suave actor has passed away.

My first contact with Mr. Moore was in The Saint. Ah, that intro. We'd whistle it before and after the program. Several times. And at school too. He then appeared in The Persuaders where you'd see him with Tony Curtis week-end after week-end. It was one of the most popular series in the early seventies. The theme music was great too. 

Should find some time to learn a bit more about him. Like I did for this other icon.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wanna Know How Absurd the 15% Flat Tax Has Been?


Then consider our recurring water problems since its implementation. Government ran out of money and the efficiency of our water network didn't improve. As much as it should have. Had Sithanen's growth forecasts happened there would have been a lot more cash in the Government coffers. Enough to change 11,585km of leaking pipes. Given that there's only about 1,600km of them do the math and find out how Mr. Sithanen has turned the clock of development backwards.

Had Dr. Kontu not messed up our economy and we had kept on growing at a very reasonable 5.5% there'd be an extra of Rs51 billion of cash in the Treasury. That would have been enough to change all the leaking pipes more than two times.

So it's a money problem. Not a management one.

Friday, May 19, 2017

AMCCA Says MK Flying Understaffed Planes



They're saying there should have been one or two more cabin crew resources on each flight. And that all of this stems from bad planning. It's not the first time they are voicing out these concerns.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Madhuri is 50



Tomorrow. That was her comeback movie five years after having moved to the states. The NYT remarked then that the dance queen still got it. Other famous people hitting the big milestone this year include Jurgen Klopp, Julia Roberts, Benicio del Toro, Anderson Cooper, Vin DieselCarrie-Ann Moss and The Wachowskis, Bobby Deol, Carla Bruni, Jason Statham, Nicole Kidman, Pamela Anderson and Akshay Kumar.

Plus another 20 million people. I'll try to put their names later today.

We should have a special thought for all of our freedom-fighters this August. And a month later the BoM will turn 50. Hopefully it will not celebrate the event by depreciating our rupee.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

How A Referendum Would Deepen Our Democracy

There are some issues that are really fundamental to our well-being and these are better addressed in a referendum. Especially when they are not discussed in manifestoes and electoral campaigns. Here are four.

1. Tax policy can break an economy and send a country to the dogs. Which is what the Sithanen flat tax has done. And that too without asking us for our permission. 

2. Currency policy. Only morons believe that competitive depreciation is Tiger stuff. Plus it matters a whole lot who call the shots at the BoM. For example in 2010 we were told that Manou was coming back. We didn't know depreciation-obsessed Basant Roi would after 2014.

3. Party lists are the equivalent of an English Premier League without red cards. We don't want them.

4. Privatisation of any part of our public utilities or other national assets. A government that wants to sell the CWA because it doesn't like its hotline is a good-for-nothing government.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Poll Finds Nobody is Satisfied With Lepep


11 out of the 12 participants were not satisfied at all. They have many reasons not to be.

AGF Should Step Down


She's staying put. For now. But several opposition parties want her to go in connection with her involvement with Alvaro Sobrinho. If Collendavelloo is sacked pressure will mount for her to tend her resignation. But that might not even be necessary.

Poll Says Almost Nobody Will Follow Collendavelloo Into Opposition


If he was to be sacked as Minister. It's a very small sample but we can compare it to the actual events when they happen. Hopefully very soon. All 12 poll participants thought Husnoo would stay in the PJ government. No big surprise here. Fowdar and Benydin (Toolsyraj is the correct name, sorry) are not expected to accompany the leader of the kare kare party. Fowdar is dead against the privatisation of the CWA -- wonder what he thinks about the private companies that the CEB has just set up -- while Benydin has been a union boss for a long time.

Boissezon is a Minister for the first time. Don't see him leaving this behind. Especially when you consider that the ML should join the Dodo on the list of extinct animals shortly. Looks like Rutnah might not stay back. But that was before he said that he was a little fed up with the party. He has also showed up at the Line Barracks before to express support to his "elder brother" Rama Valayden and told the media that he was not desperate about being an MP. Plus if Boissezon leaves Rutnah could get his portfolio.

Gayan should be the only one following IC into the opposition. So overall PJ's majority should improve a bit. And we might get 2-3 new Ministers.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Why Le Pen Has Already Won

If Macron wins by a 20% margin today, the FN would have cut the 64% gap of its 2002 loss by almost 70%. That's a tectonic shift.

And who says the margin will be that wide?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Two Extra Dumb Reasons We Need Party Lists

One is that if there's a party that gets the most votes but not a majority of the seats that could be a "recipe for political riots and civil unrest". Voters in Mauritius don't give two hoots about vote share. They just pick the best candidates in every riding. Doesn't matter if they're from three different parties. And the party which elects the most candidates forms government. That's it. Of course a party can grab power without getting the most votes. That's definitely possible given how the number of voters in our constituencies vary. In 2014 the largest (No.14) was 2.71X bigger than the smallest (No.3). But we couldn't care less.

Besides the recipe for riots and unrest is well known: poverty and inequality. Like we saw one spring six or seven years ago across North Africa and the Middle East and next door. We even had a former Minister in Tunisia at that time who had to stay indoors because of what was happening on the streets. It didn't look like the people were mad because they had trouble grasping how the D'Hondt method works.

The second mari dumb reason is that an electoral system is fair when it "ensures that the top guns of the parties are returned to the Assembly... On the other hand, the public would have considerable difficulties to understand constituency elections without the participation of these stalwarts; such contests would lose some of its “panache” and legitimacy [emphasis mine]."

So 22,000 people thrown into poverty over five years, record inequality, savings at a 30-year low and a trillion-rupee GDP gap because of a stupid and low 15% flat tax is panache? And we should return the massively incompetent and the toxic? The mess of the trickle-down garbage was big enough that no major party wanted to take the oversized and unnecessary risk of having the outgoing Finance Minister as their candidate in 2010. Which was a first. And he didn't even run as an independent candidate. Didn't get elected four and half years later either. That too after changing for a 'safe' riding.

God bless the FPTP.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Robben is World's Fastest Footballer



He clocked 37km/h when he scored that magnificent goal against Spain in the 2014 World Cup. Which is slightly less than the average speed of 37.58km/h of one Usain Bolt in the fastest 100m ever. Except that this includes reaction time of the giant and it's the average speed. In fact the top speed reached by Mr. Bolt during that record-shattering dash is 44.72km/h. Of course that makes it the fastest any member of our species has travelled using his own legs.

But quite slow compared to speeds Cheetahs reach routinely. Doesn't mean they can't be friends though.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fifteen Years Later FN Again At Run-off Stage

But this time France is not shocked that the candidate from the far-right survived the first round of the presidential elections. Or that the two parties which have dominated the political scene as far back as people can remember are out of the race. Ms. Le Pen received about 4.5% more votes than her father Jean-Marie did when he beat Lionel Jospin by a little more than half a percentage point. Only to lose massively to Jacques Chirac by the biggest margin ever: 82%-18%.

This time it doesn't look that clear-cut though.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Terror Attack Ends Election Campaign A Day Earlier



For at least three of the four main candidates says the BBC. There were two major attacks during the last American Presidential election campaign: the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting where fourteen people died and the Orlando nightclub attack which claimed the lives of 49 people and happened a few months before Uncle Sam voted.

Unions Wonder if Layoffs Linked to Hidden Agenda



That's not the only thing they're wondering about. They are also asking themselves if it's not time to ask for the resignation of Ivan Collendavelloo.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Soornack Says Her Hard Work Paid Off

Breaking Down The Sithanen Toohrooh


At Rs297 billion Xavier-Luc Duval accounts for the biggest share of the almost trillion-rupee GDP gap which accumulated over the 11 years ending last December. That's a couple of billions shy of our 2010 GDP. Vishnu Lutchmeenaraidoo is in second place with Rs227 billion which was generated over around fifteen months. Pravind Jugnauth is in third position with a Rs195 billion gap which also accumulated over fifteen months but he is set to capture the pole position by end of June when another Rs125 billion will be added to his running total.

Rama Sithanen, the father of massively regressive policies, is in fourth with only Rs85 billion because although he was there for the longest period among the six finance ministers the disease hadn't gathered enough momentum as it would in later years. That's how compounding works, right? This point can be illustrated by the GDP deficit generated on Navin Ramgoolam's watch: Rs79 billion although he was Finance Minister (FM) for only seven months. This puts him in fifth position and SAJ is last with Rs44 billion.

If you want to know how much revenue is missing you just have to multiply these numbers by 15% to 20% depending on the growth rates you assume the economy has to generate when you mess around with the tax rates. Finally a rough estimate of Ali Mansoor's share -- he promised back in 2006 to implement Bretton Woods policies that work -- would be the sum of the first three numbers.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Polls Are Back After A Long Time

We've got three for you:

1. If Collendavelloo is sacked by the Prime Minister who will not follow him in the opposition?

2. Should the President step down?

3. How satisfied are you with the overall performance of Lepep since December 2014?

Happy voting!!!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lalit Explains Non-Productive Invesments



Once you build a villa on agricultural land it will not generate employment like an agricultural village will. And we're not even talking how it will put real estate out of reach to large swathes of our population. They also mentioned that the major political parties are all the same. I'd go further: the LP and MSM have let Mauritius down by pursuing regressive policies as from 2006 after the MMM did so a long time ago.

They also called for the President to step down. They are not the only ones.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Net Reacts to United's New Customer Experience

Watch Theodorine Spoof Hit



The multi-talented humorist who was also a down-to-earth policeman died 25 years ago. We learn that he really liked a song from Upkar. And did it several times. Tried to look for it on YouTube. Isn't it great to live in Mauritius and be exposed to so many things?

But we need to get back to basics.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Why Mauritius Has No Money For Capital Budgets

It's not really because of the capital projects undertaken by the previous Government namely the new airport terminal and the ring road. And the sums that may be needed to rehabilitate them. The main reason is the regressive flat tax and the extensive damage that has been done to the economy to keep it at 15%. There was 927 billion of GDP missing at the end of 2016 -- aka the Sithanen toohrooh -- and if we assume that government would have reduced its revenue as a share of GDP to 15% it's missing 139 billion rupees. If it kept it at 20% then there's 185 billion rupees of government revenue missing.

What can you buy with Rs185 billion? Something like the Dubai metro or the one considered by the city which pioneered the bus rapid transit (BRT). But we don't need that kind of metro although we should have been able to afford it were it not for a massive ministerial skills mismatch. We don't need a scaled down version of the Metro Leger either simply because the flat tax has placed our public finances on an unsustainable track. There are better and urgent ways of handling the traffic Frankenstein.

Even more urgent is to restore some sanity to our public finances. Not a bad idea as how can Lepep deliver an economic miracle in year 4 when it cannot organically generate money for capital budgets 12 months before?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Trickle-down Economics Doesn't Work

What You Can Learn From the Audit Report

In 2014 MT paid Rs671 million as dividends to government. Which means that it paid Rs447 million to FT. That's almost five times the dividend paid by Airports of Mauritius. And close to eight times the one paid by SBM Holdings in the same year. MT dividend paid only Rs221 million in dividends in FY ending June 2016.

One quarter of government revenue came from debt in 2014 -- one fifth by mid-2016. Which explains why the Sithanen toohrooh has gotten so big. As if we needed more proof that the bean-counter has been a financial disaster. Public sector debt (PSD) stood at a quarter trillion rupees at end of June 2015. Two-thirds of the domestic portion of that debt was due by mid 2019. Public Debt Management Act has its own way of computing debt as a share of GDP. PSD increased to Rs275 billion by June 2016. On dit merci qui?

Consolidated Fund has a deficit of Rs52 billion. Hmm, must be the early harvest.

I stopped at page 62 of the report. Here are posts on previous editions. And here's one from Singapore.

Monday, April 3, 2017

FPTP is a Special Kind of PR System


One that comes with a majority prize. It's a great system as it generates stable government after stable government. This has enabled Mauritius to achieve what it has. Its disadvantage is that a few times the prize may get too big. As we've seen in 1982, 1991, 1995 and 2000. But on the first three of those occasions the alliances did not last very long: between nine and twenty-one months. Which means that our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system saved us from going to vote a number of times because it's not a system which is vote wise and outcome foolish. Plus there are smart ways of correcting the most extreme of its scenarios without resorting to totally undemocratic devices like party lists that would rob voters of an important weapon: the final word to dump a politician.

Adding PR seats to our FPTP setup is not an alternative as we've seen what happened in Rodrigues election after election. It will eat away the stability that the majority prize provides and which is necessary for governments to operate properly. Besides our parliament is already too big. 

A couple of European jokes capture well how lucky we are to have the FPTP system here:

What is European paradise?
British parliamentary system (FPTP)
German engineering
French cuisine
Italian romance

And European hell?
Italian parliamentary system (PR)
French engineering
British cuisine
German romance

Britain has had 20 governments in 100 years. Italy, 20 governments in 5 years.

In fact Italy has had 62 governments between 1946 and 2013. But you get the point.

Friday, March 31, 2017

PM Finds Package Shocking, Sumputh Resigns


Sumputh has resigned for an extra Rs200,000 per month. Why hasn't Collendavelloo resigned yet given that he's been trying to privatise water which will cost us a lot more? Besides if you want to privatise water in any which way this means you're good for nothing.

Hopefully the ministry will be reassigned in the week-end and/or the guy is fired.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Metro Express Shouldn't Have Been A Burden


At a cost of Rs18 billion. If we had grown at the 8% promised by one bean-counter for eliminating top tax brackets. As we've shown before the 11-year cumulative GDP shortfall at the end of 2016 was over Rs900 billion. If we assume government had reduced its revenues as a share of GDP to 15% -- there was no good reason to do that though as 20% is not high given the stage of development we were at back in 2006 -- then there's about Rs139 billion of government revenue missing. As the chart shows the revenue shortfall for our government between 2006 and 2010 -- which is roughly the second mandate of Ramgoolam -- was already enough to pay for the Metro Express. This assumes government kept these monies in a drawer instead of investing it. By the way we're talking 100% government financing here. 100% cash financing. 

The other things that the chart tell us is that we could have financed at least one Metro Express in each of the four years starting in 2013. And more than three since Lepep took over. Or if you will with the 139 billion missing in its till over the last eleven years because of the Sithanen flat tax government would have been able to finance close to 8 Metro Express. Or 4 Metro Leger of Ramgoolam vintage with enough money left to change 78% of the leaking pipes of the CWA.

Wake up Mauritius! We're not in the middle-income trap. We're in the flat tax trap! It's a lot worse but we can get out of it a lot faster. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Following Parliament Becomes More Interesting

You can now watch the business being done in our National Assembly live and direct. The other nice thing is that there is the agenda on the right. And it's scrollable. For instance the PNQ today is on the Metro Express. Plus the PM will answer questions on an anti-defection bill, electoral reforms and VIP lounge facilities. Ministers will be put questions on the water sector reform, reform of the universal pension, Air Asia and the biometric id card to name just a few.

Good.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The First 49

Fourteen years of brilliance. Followed by twenty-three of bat-bate. And twelve of crap.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Private Sector Behind by 740 Billion Rupees


Over the last eleven years compared to the average robust growth rate of 8% that was promised when the highest tax brackets were eliminated starting in 2006. The almost three-quarter trillion rupee GDP gap -- the 80% estimate of Business Mauritius times the Sithanen toohrooh -- clearly tells us that our private sector did not create value anywhere near the levels needed to justify the 15% flat tax. That was kind of expected when we consider the stupid ways it was financed and the kind of massively unproductive FDI we've been chasing. Or if we were familiar with the damage done by Reaganomics. We shouldn't also forget that the Sithanen flat tax was implemented on the basis of three alternative facts: the infamous triple external shocks.

You may not fully grasp how big a number 740 billions is. Well that's more than the combined GDP of Mauritius for 2006, 2007 and 2008. More than half of that gap happened on Ramgoolam's watch. That took nine years. It will take Lepep less than three to match that if the finance minister doesn't bring back some sanity to our tax regime. A la Bill Clinton. That's because -- as the above chart shows -- the annual shortfalls have been increasing constantly. Thanks to an impressive string of low growth rates. By our historical standards or what we would have been able to achieve. Had the incompetent Mr. Sithanen not badly messed up our economy. For example had we continued growing at an average of 5.5% with our progressive taxation, healthy savings rate and a slightly improved management the private sector would have generated an extra two hundred billion rupees of GDP over the last decade. Which is roughly the GDP of Mauritius for 2006. Just imagine if that was combined with a stable or slightly appreciating currency. We'd all be very looking forward to Mauritius @50. More on this soon.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Metro Express Not Needed, For Now

We should do it now otherwise it will cost more later I hear you say. The correct yardstick is its share of GDP otherwise we're blindsided by money illusion. Besides there are better choices. The first one is obviously to beef up the number and quality of buses -- fitting a number of them with catalytic converters will also improve air quality -- on our roads. And improving their schedules. Plus letting congestion pricing do a little bit of its magic. After making cars more expensive. Especially the larger ones. While making the smaller hybrid ones even cheaper. This should improve flow. And GDP. But not as much as restoring progressive taxation. Which should be the topmost priority.

Not sure whether a metro should run between Port-Louis and Curepipe. When it will be the right time to do it we might find it obvious to exclude these two cities. 

Cyclones Pose New Risks to Mauritius

Gone are the days when an intense cyclone like Claudette would shrink our GDP by about 8%. That's because four decades later sugar weighs about nineteen times less in our economy. The risk now is being visited by a series of cyclones in a much shorter period of time. We will have a lot more flooding so we need to prepare for this with drains that are not built to accommodate the rainwater of one large cyclone in a month but like three of different sizes in three weeks or less. Contingency plans will therefore have to be carefully updated. So should our relationship with fellow creatures.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Can Mauritius Do Better Than 56th in Maths?

That's how we did in the 2009 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey. That puts us in the company of Thailand but a lot better than Qatar (80th) and Ghana (88th). But kind of far from the UK (28th) and Germany (16th). I think it was the only time we ever participated in this interesting exercise. Germany has used her PISA experience to improve her education system. Surely if its valuable to the exportweltmeister it will be for us too. Besides don't we pride ourselves on being quite good in the Queen of Sciences?

Speaking of mathematics there's also an important competition that we seemed to have missed since it was first organised back in... 1959. The 58th edition of the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) will take place in Rio de Janeiro between July 12 and 23. 109 countries have already confirmed their participation. Including plenty of African nations like Algeria, Botswana, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, South Africa and Tanzania. In last year's competition Thailand came out 12th. Even Syria will be in Rio. So should Mauritius. Details are at http://www.imo-official.org/.

What Happens When Justin Gets A Gift

If its value exceeds $200 he has to disclose it publicly. Within 30 days. This doesn't apply if the gift is from friend or family. But it covers any advantage they may have obtained. For instance he received a few bottles of whisky on last January 6 from the Ambassador of Guinea. Three days later cufflinks for his birthday from the Afghan Ambassador. And butterfly glasswork from Norway's crown prince last year. All the disclosures are available online.

The scrutiny doesn't stop there. The designer clothes the Canadian First Lady receives as gifts are also inventoried. Like the tuxedo suit by Pink Tartan. And the holiday at Aga Khan's home in the Bahamas. Journalists have also found that the Trudeau Foundation received about 10 times more money once Justin took over the leadership of the Liberal Party -- most of the donations came from overseas. And have mapped conference sponsorships against corresponding lobbying issues to highlight any potential conflicts of interest. Air Canada for example has lobbied 102 times over a two-year period.

Canada ranked 9th in the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Singapore was at spot no 7. Mauritius at 50.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Voters Evaluate Ministers Constantly

And the analysis is getting more sophisticated. Every day. Thanks to the amount of quality information out there and the multiple ways people are now connected. Plus internet time is at least seven times faster than normal time. All this explains why newspapers have been dying across the world. People don't want to pay for news that don't lift them up or don't make them smarter. Or which are entirely fake. Or driven by a hidden agenda. Especially if they are badly written. This is good news for democracies. And bad for politicians and rent-seekers.

We've seen how smart Mauritian voters are in 2014. They didn't fall into the wicked trap of proportional representation and party lists, 7-year Presidential terms and fake simulations. And in the process kept several toxic politicians out of Parliament -- God bless our FPTP system. They've bagged victories with the family of new banknotes and the CHCL. They are now fighting for their basic rights: their beaches and their water. So these are healthy fights against nonsense and arrogance.

But the fights don't have to drag on. The Prime Minister can immediately cut a couple of Ministers to size or proceed with a reshuffle. Because we've got better things to do. Because we've fallen behind. And because it's 2017.

Mauritius Surprised to Be Told That Labour History is More Than a Tale of Two Ramgoolams

Indeed its leader mentioned a list of about 20 people a few days ago. I have no idea where he got that list. Could it be a bad case of alternative facts? Or maybe because we don't have someone at the MBC with a clause of conscience -- which is really a wonderful way of making sure that facts are not subjected to too much violence.

Ramgoolam the Second also mentioned that the Labour Party has always fought against social injustice. Always? Come on. Everybody knows that's not true. The LP only started to roll back poverty as from 2005 when it made a break with its regressive past.

Monday, February 20, 2017

What an Average Performance Would Look Like

For Mauritius. 5-6% real GDP growth, a stable currency of Rs25/USD and progressive taxation. Energy costs sensitive to decreases and increases in international prices. Unemployment brought down to 6-7% once it is measured properly. Underemployment heading south too. Savings reverting to average pre-Shaitanomics levels of 25%. Productive investments encouraged. Speculative investments discouraged. Reducing national frustration with some basic policies. Like proclaiming beaches as public spaces. Not deproclaiming any beaches. Preserving the views of Mauritius. Waging total war against diabetes. Not doing anything blatantly stupid like signing TISA. That too behind our backs.

And what would an economic miracle look like? I guess lowering the retirement age to 55 or less. Definitely a surging currency: a good start would be an average 2% annual appreciation against the USD from the base above. Along with higher growth rates. Plus an infinite number of thoughtful little things.

Miracle not happening for sure. In fact an average performance looks increasingly out of reach. There's too much ambient stupidity. But that can be reduced. Like by releasing the water sector reform report of the World Bank. For a start.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Drop The Lemon Tart

Air Asia Drops a Paradise, Adds Another One

Guess you heard they are pulling out for Mauritius. After only four months. Wonder why and how it is related to other recent airspace decisions. It's a loss for Mauritius as they offered interesting links to Asia at prices that partly made up for the continuous slaughtering of our currency. But they don't look too worried. They've just opened up a route to our sister paradise in the Pacific.

And of course proportional representation (PR) has created another huge mess in Rodrigues. A very comfortable majority of 10-2 for the OPR has melted into a regional government that will be a lot weaker. This of course comes right after the mess of 2012 when the wish of the voters ended up being frustrated with the same PR seats. What we saw on Monday was kind of expected wasn't it? Just like having mutating 'experts' in electoral reform put their hairdryer into high gear to try to confuse us with jargon they don't understand very well. Besides it was kind of obvious that the Duval Committee was on shaky grounds. And we know PR will produce unstable governments. After unstable governments. But did we have to use Rodrigues as a guinea pig? And that too for 5 years running?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

MGI Bags Four HSC Laureates

Quite a performance. Which is one more than CSE. But five less than RCC. The QEC powerhouse had a terrible harvest this year: only eight. The other nice thing is that 'small' colleges had their champs too. Some probably for the first time. Including College Ste Marie a mixed college just like the MGI. Hopefully policy-makers will look at this data carefully and update their policies.

Anyway here's the list.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Oxfam Warns Unjust Society Not Sustainable

The recently published report has a number of interesting stats including:
  1. 1% of the world's richest are wealthier than the remaining 99%
  2. 8 men are as rich as the planet's 50% poorest
  3. income growth for the bottom 50% has been zero over the last three decades while the top 1% have enjoyed a corresponding increase of 300%
  4. it takes 10 years for the poorest person in Vietnam to earn what the richest person there makes in a day
The report also highlights how politics may be highjacked so that rules are written in favour of the 1%. I guess a bit like the Sithanen flat tax which has caused 22,000 Mauritians to be thrown into poverty over the first five years of Shaitanomics while incomes for the bottom 10% have risen five times slower than the corresponding income for the top 10%. There's also a trillion-rupee GDP shortfall and the very dumb policy of 'competitive depreciation' which has quickly dumped us into a recession -- in USD terms -- a mere three months after the December 2014 polls.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Voters Pick Unsuccessful Candidates Wisely


These are the eight unsuccessful candidates in the 1982 elections that got the highest vote shares in their constituencies. They would have no doubt been a much better opposition than the one we got. Picking additional candidates like this will make sure we have an opposition of minimum size when we need it the most and dovetails nicely with a common sense return to 40+2 single member constituencies. This would also satisfy the UNHRC ruling in a thoughtful way without compromising any of the incredible advantages of our FPTP system. While avoiding the PR-related mess we witnessed in Rodrigues.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

iPhone is 10



It's 9h41am in San Francisco on January 9, 2007 when Steve Jobs starts introducing the product that will change everything. Mike Lazardis, co-CEO of BlackBerry, is puzzled for a few months until he opens one and stares at its guts. And doesn't find anything that makes him happy: he understands that he might now have to compete against a Mac. Microsoft derides the touchphone in public. But Gates would eventually use one.

Blackberry would still go on to more than double its market share to 20% over the following couple of years. By which time the iPhone would have seized 17% of the global market. And help Apple become the most valuable company in the world.

More than a billion iPhones have been sold so far. A little bit more than the 10 million that Jobs had expected to sell by the end of 2008.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Mauritius in 2017

Thousands will again be denied a place in a secondary school because of a badly designed learning experience. Our roads will kill another 140. Eight or nine amputations will be performed every week or about 400 for the full year. Mauritius will shutdown around Saint Valentine as soon as we get some heavy rainfall. The CWA will announce harsher cuts right after. We will send a team to the IMO for the first time and get ready to participate in PISA 2018.

Roughly 1,000 people will be thrown into poverty. Every three months. Thanks to the trickle-down economics which has been going on for a decade now. The flat tax trap will cause the GDP shortfall to reach a trillion rupees about half of which would have happened on Lepep's watch. This will make government increasingly unpopular. Voters will keep on getting smarter. And that will be bad news for our political class. The water supply will improve as Bagatelle dam comes into operation in the second half of the year. Potential tragedy of a horrific number of fatalities during Porlwi by Light.

Quite a few of the bad events don't need to happen or can be mitigated. Like how does Mahebourg by Light sound? We could also avoid several road deaths if Lepep recognises that it might have acted in haste and brings an improved point system back.