“Gouverner pour le peuple – avec le peuple”
Dear Sir Anerood Jugnauth
Congratulations on your election victory, but there is something you need to know. Many of us didn’t vote for you. We voted against Ramgoolam. If you had been allied with him, you would surely have been humiliated instead of Bérenger. Do we have blind faith in you? No. It was not without reason that you were crushed 60-0 in 1995. In 2000, you were given another chance, but your party failed to live up to expectations and was replaced once more. Of course, the alternative turned out to be even worse. Will you do better this time? We hope so.
“BLACKOUTS!” This is the threat that some quarters are using to argue the case for more coal-fired electricity production, i.e. CT Power. Environmentalists and local residents are protesting against this but have yet to present viable alternatives. What is the real situation and do we have other options? Continue reading
During MID week at the University of Mauritius in March 2009, Nissan presented its plan for our island to be the 7th nation in the world where the Leaf, their new electric car, would be available for sale. In February 2012, we became the first country in the southern hemisphere to have the vehicles delivered, so why does it appear that we might be the last place on earth where one is actually sold? Some say this is because the government cannot determine what import duty to levy on each car, but might this apparent confusion actually be the fruit of incoherent policies? Continue reading
When the Prime Minister announced that he and Joël de Rosnay had conceived Maurice Ile Durable during a brief encounter in Paris, did he imagine that the gestation period would last 3 years 9 months? Finally, the long-awaited MID Strategy is about to be born… Or is it?
At the MID workshop last Thursday, some participants were calling for delivery to be postponed for another year. Had they peeked at the baby and seen the 4 limbs, head and body that they had carefully constructed in the 6 Working Groups, stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster? Alas it is worse than that. One participant summarised the overall conclusion to a long round of applause: “For the moment, the strategy we have looks more like Mauritius Green Washing than Maurice Ile Durable.” Continue reading
MID was launched in 2008 in Paris and 2009 in Mauritius, promising to fundamentally change Mauritian society and its impact on Nature in four major spheres: economic, social, political and environmental. A visioning exercise was conducted in 2010 to capture the population’s dreams for the future of the Republic. However, the output has been ignored and this has been rightly criticised by the Truth and Justice Commission. Instead of a co-created, inspiring blue-print for the future, the MID Vision is a bland statement of a few generic elements of sustainable development within a framework that is far from comprehensive. There is little in the MID Vision that permits one to visualise the future and indeed there is nothing in it that is specific to Mauritius – it could just as easily apply to France. Continue reading
The Empires Strike Back
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
A tiger-class merchant ship was making its way with the rest of the fleet towards the Golden Dawn of the New Age. Without the added weight of weaponry, it was one of the fastest craft around, it’s path illuminated by a state-of-the-art 4-sight navigation system which resembled a balanced tripod supporting a bright spark. All would have been perfect, except that three officers coveted the captain’s chair and the fickle crew regularly mutinied in favour of one or the other.
The first was an old Jedi Knight, who had turned completely to the Dark Side. The second was a short-sighted son of a former captain, who had lied about his lineage, assassinated his rivals and betrayed the most vulnerable members of the crew to get the post. The third was a rejected member of a race of condescending albinos, who had deceived the crew into believing that the ship could not operate without them, even though they did little work themselves. They had been the first to board the ship and, though few in number, still controlled most of the trade. Somehow they had managed to convince everyone that they had a divine right to occupy the best quarters and live in luxury while others lived in squalor.
Shortly after an unusually traumatic upheaval, the Dark Knight was reinstated as Captain. Once in control, he ripped the tripod apart, giving each leg as a prize to his key supporters and jettisoned the bright spark. The merchant ship meandered aimlessly. Half-hearted attempts were made to copy the trading strategies of others and unprofitable sectors were subsidised, mostly in the interests of the albinos and their fratres, whom many suspected of secretly manipulating the ship’s controls. Caring less about the lack of progress, the wannabe captains continued their feud for the captain’s chair. Continue reading
[Extract of his speech at the annual dinner for economic actors – see last sentence]
Now let me turn to our economic prospects and our high aspirations.
We are living in troubled and testing times. Several questions arise. Will we be agile enough to meet the severe tests ahead? What kind of growth should we seek? Should it not be more inclusive? And more equitable? We are trying hard to move into niche markets but is this enough? What else must we do to escape the middle-income trap, to be amongst the best small economies, not just in Africa, but in the wider world where our main competitors are to be found?
We have seen the likes of Malta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland and others raising the bar to achieve GDP per capita, adjusted for purchasing power, more than twice the levels we have achieved despite our continued economic growth. Can we make the breakthrough? Are we prepared to do what it takes to do so? Continue reading