Touria Prayag's Blog

l’Express Weekly, 28 October 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 27, 2012

Poor acting but free entertainment

As we hurtle towards our dotage and think we have seen it all, new events happen which make us realise that we are still so young, so green and wet behind the ears. We thought we knew how public fi nances work and that the proposal to approve the supplementary funds used to pay for the MedPoint deal, no matter how shady it was, was a statement of the Pretty Bloody Obvious. It was a mere formality. The cheque had been approved at record speed by Pravind Jugnauth, then minister of fi nance. And, lest we should forget, it was authorized on the eve of the coming into effect of the Capital Gains Tax, a tax introduced by the same then- minister, presumably for anyone else who is not related to the family or at least not well- connected. No cabinet approval was necessary. If there were any warnings from civil servants, they were not heeded. With the help of two relatives, the cheque went reeling to other relatives at a speed faster than light travels.

And, with the same speed, i. e. the very next day – why waste time when it comes to money- the cheque was cashed by Pravind Jugnauth’s brother- in- law and his sister got her fair share, instantaneously! Rs. 15 million! Naturally, everyone knew that those who had been raking in money by the bucketful are not stupid enough to wait for the scandal to break before they start groping for the cash. Everyone, apparently, except Pravind Jugnauth! He does not have any loyal acquaintances at the head of the State Bank, he is not on talking terms with his relatives and he knows nothing about human nature. So, he had no way of fi nding out that his own relatives had cashed the cheque he had so hastily approved.

All this is just too comical for words. But what is even more so is the way the same Pravind Jugnauth who had authorized the cheque ( and since he did not ask for any Cabinet memo, we assume that his defence is not there) stands up and, to everyone’s surprise, puts up a motion not to authorize the supplementary funds! In other words, what he was asking for was not to give the MedPoint owners the money they had already cashed, some of which had been transferred abroad! Don’t ask me how one can do that. Like you, I am still young, green and learning.

What is even more surprising is that the leader of the opposition, who has, up until now, had a reputation for not pulling his punches when corruption is involved, playing silly side- kicks to the newly discovered brother, seconds the motion! Anyone listening here? The money is gone, siphoned out of our pockets while we were sleeping, vanished, some of it spent, the rest making more money in a deposit account while waiting for some shareholder to claim it.

“ Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me,” said Steve Jobs. It looks as if this view is not shared by everyone and that some people are working towards becoming the richest of corpses. Good on them. Let the rest of us enjoy the free entertainment provided by some of our Members of Parliament. The acting is poor but one should not look a gift- horse in the mouth. It is, after all, free. Even if it is at our own expense.

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