Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 19 November 2010

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on December 10, 2010

Read l’Express Weekly 19 Nov

‘A quelle sauce sera-t-on mangé’?

This evening, Pravind Jugnauth sets out to present
the budget he has been crafting. Like everybody
else, he deserves his day in court and we would not
like to jump to the trial beforehand. Some refl ections
are, however, in order.
One thing is for sure – whatever he does, he will not meet everyone’s
expectations. The nominal increase he has granted the workers
was judged disappointing at best and humiliating and farcical
at worst by the trade unions while at the same time ambitious and
disproportional according to the Mauritius Employers’ Federation.
Nor should he aim to please everyone. One can never forget that
the budget has two legs. You cannot hope to increase expenditure
enormously without making provision for income, and striking a
balance between the economy and politics is a challenge for any
minister of Finance. The good thing about a post-election budget is
that the minister of Finance does not feel the lights of the popularity
contest shine too much on him. The complacency he shows is perhaps
born out of this happy position. There is plenty of time for the
freebies. For the time being, his priority should be to keep fi rm hands
on the wheel to prevent the economic situation from going astray.
It is therefore an opportunity for him to tackle the urgent problems
and lay the foundation for long term challenges.
The fi rst of these is transport, the biggest destroyer of the quality
of life in this country. For years, we have been hearing about
reports being commissioned one after the other and each competing
with the other to squeeze into dusty drawers to serve as food
for mites. It is high time some of these reports were dusted to allow
the suffocating island to breathe. With our current infrastructure,
no progress is feasible.
Jobs are very important and the minister of Finance is likely to
repeat the same mantra as his predecessors, “This is a Budget for
jobs.” Nothing wrong with that. There is nothing as emotive and
morale sapping as unemployment. However, one must guard against
giving in to the lobbies of those who are always seeking bailouts and
brandishing the threat of layoffs. In the interview Kee Chong Li
Kwong Wing grants us today, he enumerates the advantages these
“parasites” have already benefi tted from. These include pre-fabricated
industrial parks, cheap loans, tax breaks, subsidized water and
electricity, a special wage regime for special sectors, the Additional
Stimulus Package and the Economic Restructuring and Competitiveness
Programme. When you add to this the drastic decrease in
repo rate, you wonder whether the unskilled jobs they provide can
be saved after all. Maybe the answer is in launching a new initiative
to give unemployed people additional training to enable them to
reinvent themselves in new jobs.
One section of the population should not be forgotten: our senior
citizens. We have an ageing population and we owe it to them
in a civilized democracy to do our utmost so that in the crepuscular
stage of life, they do not live in destitution. Also, there is an urgent
need to incentivize professionally active citizens to provide more for
their own retirement by re-introducing fi scal incentives on personal
pension contributions. The responsibility for self-sustainment will
then shift away from the state and allow those who have worked hard
and contributed to the development of the country to have decent
lives in retirement.
Expectations are high and lobbies strong but it seems that,
whatever happens, frugality and fi scal prudence will be on the
menu. ‘la bous dou’ is for another day.

This evening, Pravind Jugnauth sets out to present
the budget he has been crafting. Like everybody
else, he deserves his day in court and we would not
like to jump to the trial beforehand. Some refl ections
are, however, in order.
One thing is for sure – whatever he does, he will not meet everyone’s
expectations. The nominal increase he has granted the workers
was judged disappointing at best and humiliating and farcical
at worst by the trade unions while at the same time ambitious and
disproportional according to the Mauritius Employers’ Federation.
Nor should he aim to please everyone. One can never forget that
the budget has two legs. You cannot hope to increase expenditure
enormously without making provision for income, and striking a
balance between the economy and politics is a challenge for any
minister of Finance. The good thing about a post-election budget is
that the minister of Finance does not feel the lights of the popularity
contest shine too much on him. The complacency he shows is perhaps
born out of this happy position. There is plenty of time for the
freebies. For the time being, his priority should be to keep fi rm hands
on the wheel to prevent the economic situation from going astray.
It is therefore an opportunity for him to tackle the urgent problems
and lay the foundation for long term challenges.
The fi rst of these is transport, the biggest destroyer of the quality
of life in this country. For years, we have been hearing about
reports being commissioned one after the other and each competing
with the other to squeeze into dusty drawers to serve as food
for mites. It is high time some of these reports were dusted to allow
the suffocating island to breathe. With our current infrastructure,
no progress is feasible.
Jobs are very important and the minister of Finance is likely to
repeat the same mantra as his predecessors, “This is a Budget for
jobs.” Nothing wrong with that. There is nothing as emotive and
morale sapping as unemployment. However, one must guard against
giving in to the lobbies of those who are always seeking bailouts and
brandishing the threat of layoffs. In the interview Kee Chong Li
Kwong Wing grants us today, he enumerates the advantages these
“parasites” have already benefi tted from. These include pre-fabricated
industrial parks, cheap loans, tax breaks, subsidized water and
electricity, a special wage regime for special sectors, the Additional
Stimulus Package and the Economic Restructuring and Competitiveness
Programme. When you add to this the drastic decrease in
repo rate, you wonder whether the unskilled jobs they provide can
be saved after all. Maybe the answer is in launching a new initiative
to give unemployed people additional training to enable them to
reinvent themselves in new jobs.
One section of the population should not be forgotten: our senior
citizens. We have an ageing population and we owe it to them
in a civilized democracy to do our utmost so that in the crepuscular
stage of life, they do not live in destitution. Also, there is an urgent
need to incentivize professionally active citizens to provide more for
their own retirement by re-introducing fi scal incentives on personal
pension contributions. The responsibility for self-sustainment will
then shift away from the state and allow those who have worked hard
and contributed to the development of the country to have decent
lives in retirement.
Expectations are high and lobbies strong but it seems that,
whatever happens, frugality and fi scal prudence will be on the
menu. ‘la bous dou’ is for another day.
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