The economy-‘Our lonesome cowboy’

The ex- Finance Minister, now Minister of Foreign affairs, had not so long ago announced with great pride or concern, I leave you readers the choice, that the public debt has surged by 84% in the last nine years. Why did he choose nine years as a reference, you are clever enough to have already guessed the motivation behind.  Yes! He made reference to the nine years of the previous regime reign.

 

Unfair, isn’t it? Statistics cannot be manipulated nor can they be altered but they certainly can be presented as a positive or a negative. It’s just a matter of interpretation and appreciation. Why did he not tell us what happened to the same public debt in the one and a half year or so of the Lepep Government’s reign. At least under the previous regime’s era we did see improvement in our road networks, airport and other infrastructure. At present, no major projects have seen life except castles built in the air (reference being made to smart cities and so many other projects which are either supposed to be in the pipeline or are simply stillborn ones). Yet, public debt is continuously piling on. We wonder where the debt is going. Is it to pay the lucrative salaries of the new CEO and chairman positions created and reserved only to the political siblings, progenies and acquaintances? We need answers!

 

It remains though that the public debt statistics so carefully chosen, in order to present them as yet another bad management result of the previous regime, was a non-event at the end of the day. Some media talked about it a few times and then it vanished from the headlines as quickly as it appeared. In Dodo Land, the media it seems, are much more inclined towards sensational news and the current government regime is leaving no stones unturned in feeding them with such bones day in and day out.

 

FDI is continuously slipping and business confidence is at a long time low. The corruption index is sky rocketing and unemployment rate surging. We are sitting on a time bomb which may explode at any time carrying us into a no man’s land. One thing leading to another, the bad state of our economy is having a social repercussion as well with criminality rate increasing. With the double taxation treaty with India at stake on the one hand, and with the wrong signal sent to investors by government’s unwelcoming intervention in the every-day life of all business sectors on the other, we wonder towards where we are heading. Not so long ago, we were proud of our economy’s resilience. Despite the international economic crisis, we were able to withstand somehow and bring along positive economic growth. Now all of a sudden all economic indicators except tourism are in red. What has happened overnight?

 

The reason is quite obvious and crystal clear. By focusing only on the so-called ‘nettoyage’ side if  not ‘harassment’ side, I am more tempted to say, the LEPEP Government has completely overlooked the economic baby. In the name of cleaning up, the police which as a matter of fact fall under the aegis of the PMO, have even allowed themselves some leeway and crossed their limits in some instances thus infringing some basic human rights. Once more, this abuse of power echoed throughout the world blotting our reputation as a democracy.

 
Where is the 5% economic growth promised in the Electoral Manifesto, where is the full employment, where is the minimum salary? One Vice Prime Minister even went as far as saying that all youngsters will have two jobs under LEPEP reign. Let it be one job, our youngsters are currently finding it difficult to even find one part time job. Fundamental issues like FDI, unemployment, road security, commodities prices only to name a few are far from the government priorities.

 

We often say that we must have long-range goals to keep us from being frustrated by short-term failures. It seems that the LEPEP government has adopted this motto as their mantra which is reflected in their recent economic vision over 30 years. Short term failures there are! Loads of them and on all the lines! Can we really dare to dream of better days ahead with what is happening currently? As I write, some people may have been handed their dismissal letter. Judging by the pace Mauritians are losing their jobs and at the same time the complacency of the government, there are all the elements to guide us towards a bleak and gloomy future.

 

This is why the famous adage ‘Virer mam’ has lately changed into ‘Plorer Mam’. Let’s not shy away! The VIRER MAM’s are frustrated and are slowly but surely returning in mass to their ‘lacaze mama’.
We recently got to hear from a self-proclaimed political guru that ‘Government is government and that government decides’. So please dear government! Decide once and for all! We want action. Please roll up your sleeves and get to work. My children need jobs, my elders need better care and we must be able to buy households for our family. We are not living in a third world country. We are in Mauritius for God’s sake. Enough of blame games! Please, save us from the witch hunting and political vendetta or at least put it off for some other time. We are at a crossroad and our destiny is in our hands. I think we all deserve that little much.  Don’t we?

 

The Young Observer.