Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 12 November 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on November 24, 2010

Of miraculous doctors Click here to read l’express Weekly
and breakfast skippers

Not one but two scoops this week: fi rst, if you are
hoping for the Nobel Prize in medicine this year,
forget it: your hopes have just been dashed by
Harry Tirvengadum’s doctors, whoever they
are. Unanimously! And well-deserved too: less than three
years ago, the chap was so sick that he could not face justice.
He allegedly suffered from ‘frontal lobe lesions’ and
‘vascular dementia’ resulting in ‘memory loss, anxiety
and depression’. All charges against him having been suspended
and his accounts unblocked as a result, he leaves
the court on a stretcher –a free man.
Today, thanks to the doctors we strongly recommend to
the Nobel Foundation, Harry Tirvengadum is so lucid that he
gives advice on the affairs of Air Mauritius to…Mr. Bungraz,
the General Manager, no less! We don’t know exactly the details
of the advice so desperately sought and if our sick airline,
which could do with a visit to Mr. Tirvengadum’s miraculous
doctors instead, will feel better as a result thereof, but what
we do know is that Harry Tirvengadum expressed his shock at
the state that Air Mauritius has ended up in since it no longer
benefi ts from the sound expertise of his good self. And, more
shocking than the shock itself is the fact that his feelings were
deemed worth an email to the employees of Air Mauritius!
It looks as if shock is not the monopoly of Mr. Tirvendadum.
If he was shocked by the bad health of our airline, public
opinion is shocked by his good health. And it wants its pound
of fl esh. The DDP has ordered the immediate re-opening of
the case and the population is waiting for the shock waves.
Another scoop: two guys in Richeterre have been skipping
breakfast for a couple of days. Sorry, they are on hunger strike.
The beauty of hunger strikes in this country is that you can
initiate them on your own, to fi ght for a cause that concerns
only yourself and decide on the duration at will. At the last
count, three hours of not being seen eating were considered a
‘symbolic hunger strike’ which warrants the moral and physical
support of anyone who has nothing better to do. At this
rate, we all go on hunger strike every day without realizing it.
And, miraculously, there is always a spokesman in the vicinity.
If Mr. Ramjuttun,who was so concerned, is now nowhere to
be seen, there is always someone on standby willing to step in
and take over.
The sand extractors (not sure who they are or what their
cause is) have taken a bit of time to decide whether to join the
movement by skipping lunch, dinner or the evening gajaks.
They have been looking for a place, a suitable time and probably
a cause to fi ght for. In the meantime, the other planters,
the majority that is, having realized that the world owes no one
a living, have taken the compensation given to them for land
they did not own, put it to good use and have started getting
on with their lives. Away from the cameras.
While Mahatma Gandhi is turning is his grave, we should
acknowledge that we owe breakfast skippers of all guilds a
‘thank you’ note for the great sense of heroism we now feel
during the daily three hours of hunger strike we go through
between two copious meals. Without the spinning wheel or the
home-spun clothes. What a nation of heroes we all are!

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l’Express Weekly, 5 November 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on November 8, 2010

Click here to read l’Express Weekly

The three-letter word

A few weeks to Budget Day and still no indication
as to when it will be or what it will be about.
Despite lobbies, tripartite and what not, there is a
harsh reality which nobody can afford to ignore:
the world is going through the biggest economic crisis since
the Great Depression of the 1930s, so much so that the
current crisis has merited its own defi ning name, the Great
Recession. The sooner we acknowledge that Mauritius is
no exception, the better for all of us.
Besides, just before the last General Elections, the country was
given to demagogical outbidding, with one alliance trying to topple the
other by offering more freebies. Admittedly, one alliance was heartily
leading but the other was not far behind. This resulted in a promise
to do away with the emotion-arousing National Residential Property
Tax. This intrinsically socially equitable tax could have been improved
in its scope and applicability; instead, its repeal panders to a small minority
of vocal and privileged constituents and depletes public coffers
of an important source of funding. Then followed the abolition of the
tax on bank deposit interest. Again, this tax could have been tweaked,
for example by introducing a tax-exempt franchise, rather than simply
and squarely abrogating it and inequitably letting fat cats off the hook.
As well as the loss of revenue, its abolition, incidentally, also deprives
the MRA of a valuable source of information.
Add to this the manna from heaven which invariably and selectively
falls on the lucky few irrespective of the state of the economy
and you will realize that we would be kidding ourselves if we, the population
at large, expected any largesse. Austerity is the name of the
game. Worldwide! We should get off our hammocks and look around
us. The UK government not only ordered a recruitment freeze but
also earmarked more than 100,000 civil service posts to be cut in an
attempt to reduce administration costs.
Of course, austerity measures do not make anyone cheerful, but
what makes the pill that much harder to swallow in our paradise is
the unfettered, brazen and cynical double standards. A large chunk of
public funds is squandered by parastatals and other bodies in scandalous
largesse of fat pay, perks, limousines and per diems for the lucky
few and, while the rest of us have to tighten our belts, they are sitting
pretty knowing that, come what may, their privileges will remain intact.
It is time government took action against these widespread abuses
and started by reducing the number of wasteful QUANGOS and
‘adviser’ positions. The Prime minister had announced a maximum
number of advisers each minister can have. Most of these positions in
any case only exist to provide ‘jobs for the boys’ who, as soon as they
are appointed, go to town. The generous per diems they feast on so
ravenously should be abolished and replaced by the proven ‘expense
account’ system that holds sway in the private sector. Such measures
would sweeten the pill we know we have no option but to swallow.
We hope that in the middle of his budgetary cogitations and ruminations,
Pravind Jugnauth is not thinking of the three-letter word:
VAT. If he is, we pray that he discards the thought of increasing the
rate, and thereby aggravating the burden of this regressive tax, which
hits the less well-off disproportionately hardest. We still remember
Pravind Jugnauth’s last stint in the Ministry of Finance. We hope, this
time round, he will leave better memories in the minds of the citizenry!
weekly@lexpress.mu