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LE DRAME MAURICIEN
La mentalité  “Je m’en fous”


L’île Maurice se modernise de plus en plus. C’est ce qu’on appelle développement. En fait, en matière de modernité et de développement d’infrastructures et d’économie, nous avançons à grands pas. Nous avons quitté le gouffre du sous-développement pour atteindre le stade de pays en voie de développement. Certains prétendent même que nous sommes déjà le “Tigre de l’océan Indien”. On nous qualifie de “peuple admirable”. Mais, en ce qui concerne la mentalité mauricienne, que se passera-t-il quand nous aurons atteint la vitesse de croisière de développements tous azimuts?
Déjà, la mentalité “je m’en fous” du Mauricien bat son plein. Cette mentalité prime partout et dans la rue, c’est pire. Il n’y a plus le respect d’autrui. “Chacun pour soi, Dieu pour tous”. Les mots de gentillesse, “Bonjour, merci, s’il vous plait, pardon, excusez-moi, au revoir” ont pratiquement disparu du vocabulaire des gens. Au contraire, on sort de gros jurons pour un oui ou pour un non, n’importe où. que ce soit sur le trottoir, dans une boutique ou dans le bus. On ne respecte ni femmes, ni enfants et ni les aînées. “Pas de pitié pour les canards boiteux”.
On ne se soucie guère des autres. On n’a qu’à voir le comportement des piétons dans la rue. On marche au milieu de la chaussée, on traverse la rue comme on veut. On gare sa voiture sur le trottoir, mettant la vie du passant en danger, l’obligeant à marcher sur l’asphalte. On roule sur les flaques d’eau à toute vitesse. Le jet d’eau boueuse qui éclabousse le passant n’est pas le cadet de ses soucis. Le conducteur n’a qu’une idée en tête, foncer. On ne laisse plus le passage aux autres. Les conducteurs de poids lourds collent aux trousses des plus petits véhicules. Les motocyclistes, on s’en balance. Ces derniers sont les grandes victimes d’accidents de la route.
Dans les hôpitaux, bureaux administratifs, postes de police, etc, le public n’a qu’à prendre son mal en patience. L’employé administratif lui, il s’en moque. On n’a qu’à espérer son bon vouloir. Il prend son temps au téléphone, aux toilettes. Il vient, il part, il flâne, il fait un brin de causette avec son collègue. Il part déjeuner. Vous, vous êtes le dernier de ses soucis. Il regarde l’heure et plie bagages. Vous, revenez demain ou attendez son remplaçant. Celui-ci arrive, prend son temps, s’installe. Puis quand votre tour arrive, on vous lance avec nonchalence, sans ambage et sans excuse, d’aller à un autre guichet, un autre bureau, dans une autre file d’attente, revenez un autre jour ou tout simplement, qu’on ne peut rien faire pour vous.
Chez soi, en famille, on délaisse les enfants. Ces derniers passent la majeur partie du temps devant la télé. Les devoirs, les bonnes manières, on s’en moque. On les laisse faire. Mieux, on les encourage en y ajoutant des friandises. Qu’il commence à fumer, c’est pas grave, il devient grand maintenant. On l’encourage vers l’alcool, on lui en offre même. ses fréquentations, lui seul le sait. S’il se drogue, on sera les derniers à le savoir. Plus tard, ce sera trop tard pour les regrets. D’autant que les jeunes n’écoutent plus ni ne respectent adultes et parents. Parce que ces derniers ont abdiqué leurs responsabilités. On s’en fout.
quant aux politiciens, ils se fichent doublement de la population. L’Opposition, puisqu’elle doit survivre, en attendant la prise du pouvoir, se jette dans la démagogie pure et simple. Les vrais problèmes sociaux ne l’intéresse point. L’important, c’est de dire le contraire de ce que dit et fait le pouvoir. Le reste, on s’en fout, tant qu’il n’y a aucun capital politique à en tirer. Quand l’autre dit oui, elle dit non et vice-versa. Ceux au pouvoir le sont déjà. Donc, aucun souci de ce côté-là. On est déjà bien installé, dans le confort douillet de sa tour d’ivoire. Alors, tracasseries et misères du petit peuple, même si elles sont noires, on s’en balance. Mieux, on doit surtout les saigner à coups de taxes et les réprimer à coups de lois, afin de continuer à gouverner dans l’abondance. et s’enrichir à leurs dépens. Du moment où on ne met pas la main dans sa poche, mais dans celui des autres. Quoi de mieux! Le reste, on s’en fout. La mentalité est telle et si généralisée, que l’égoïsme et le «foutpasmalisme» priment et vibrent dans le pays. La population elle-même, s’en fout. Elle ne réagit plus à rien. Chacun attend que l’autre le fasse. Lui, il en parle mais ne fait rien, il s’en fout parce qu’il estime qu’il mange, s’habille et a un coin pour dormir, alors si l’autre n’en a pas, c’est pas son problème. Il est indifférent aux souffrances des autres. Pire, même en tant que victime, il ne revendique plus ses droits quand ceux-ci sont lésés. La solidarité, l’union fait la force, il s’en fout. C’est ça le drame mauricien.... tout le monde s’en fout!
 

Ravi

 

Budget 2002/2003
No miracle to be expected




Budget is the most important exercise of Parliament. Once a year, Government has to seek the approval of Parliamentarians to raise funds and propose plans to spend it. If Parliamentarians do not give their approval on the income and expenditure proposals of the Ministry of Finance, Government falls.
It is after a very long and hard struggle that the people won the battle of forcing the king to seek the approval of the people’s representatives before spending public funds.
At present, no expenditure can be made without the approval of Parliament. Of course, provisions are made for supplementary budget to cover excess on expenditure.
But I feel it is unfair to create hysteria and overexpectation at each and every budget time. No budget can create any miracle.
Very few people realise that over 80% of the budget is engulfed by salaries and wages and debt servicing. The Minister of Finance has very little room for manoeuvre.
That is why it is impossible for him to satisfy the conflicting demands of all sectors particularly the demands of workers and employers.
No Minister of Finance has been capable to give full compensation for the rate of inflation to all sectors. Besides the little compensation that is given is for the previous years.
There has never been any adjustment on the loss of purchasing power of the workers.
As from this year, the Minister of Finance has even stopped presiding over the Tripartite Meeting. It seems that the Tripartite Meeting does not serve any purpose of the Budget. Nor has he held any meaningful consultation with the forces vives, a vital exercise that ensures a minimum dialogue between the government and representatives of various groups and lobbies. It is regrettable that the Minister of Finance will not have the benefit of the feelings of the representatives of the people at grass root level. He has missed an excellent opportunity in public relations and for taking on board all sections of the population.
Preparing a national budget is a highly laborious matter. The financial cadres of all ministries start the preparation months before and work within the parameters fixed by the Budget Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. They cannot go against the parameters fixed.
Still, it is the prerogatives of the government to decide upon the development profiles to be implemented within a financial year.
Once the development objectives are fixed and approved by the Government, it is for the Minister of Finance to raise funds and allocate ressouces.
In theory, he has full power to raise any amount of money particularly through direct and indirect taxes. In practice, we know that he cannot do so.
No country has limitless resources for government to raise and distribute funds..
At budget time, all sectors make demands. It is for the Minister of Finance to decide the judicial allocation of resources.
This year, the Minister has already announced that he needs tremendous amount of money to ensure the development of the country particularly in the field of Education, IT, Health and to give social benefits to the vulnerable sectors. He has already sounded public opinion so far as indirect taxes are concerned. He has proposed to raise the VAT by another 3%.
It is after a long struggle and hard work that Mauritius has got a fairly good welfare state where education, health and national old age pension are provided for. Subsidies for basic commodity are also provided for.
There is tremedous pressure from the private sector supported by some international agencies to dismantle the welfare state in one form or another. It will be a fatal mistake for the Finance Minister to even think of dismantling the welfare state to satisfy the private sector.
The Finance Minister and Prime Minister in waiting called Paul Bérenger cannot afford to be in the pocket of the private sector.
I am here surmising that he is aware of it. At each budget time, the private sector through its well organised institutions is able to get maximum benefit but it does not play the game. It wants everything for itself. It wants to keep the cake and eat it too.
Do we know of any private sector initiative to assume their social responsibility? Except for MCB Scholarship Scheme, I am not aware of any worthwhile one. It is time for the private sector to participate in the social development of the country by setting trusts and foundations.
The budget provides an excellent opportunity for the Minister to give the right directions. I hate to rub it in that the billions the private sector made through such deals as Illovo are still fresh in the public’s mind.
The Budget also gives the Minister an opportunity to modernise the private sector from its archaic management structure where no equal opportunity is provided. This has blocked the development of the country.
Still, for historical reasons, it is the private sector which has the resources to develop the country.
In my view, the private sector also includes the State owned private sector. It is the State owned private sector which has created the equilibrium which has ensured peace and stability in the country. Some institutions like the State Bank, DBM, SICOM, MT, SIC, Air Mauritius can match any traditional private sector enterprises.
There is a big temptation to sell all these flowering enterprises to traditional private sector. This will be a disastrous step.
Let me take the liberty to suggest that the Minister should not give the impression that he is comfortable with the private sector only.
Budget 2002/2003 is the biggest test for him. I know he cannot provide a Lutchmeenaraidoo no tax budget nor Sithanen’s well-crafted budget proposals.
Twenty years after his disastrous «poëlon chaud» 1982 budget, on the eve of his becoming Prime Minister, I wish he produces a national budget to ensure the development of future generations.
 

SOHAM

 

Harry Sookhun’s First City Bank inaugurates a new ray of hope


The birth of the First City Bank has not been a smooth one. Indeed, it has been full of traumatic spasms and tremors. It has taken 12 weeks for Mr. harry sookun to finally be able to sign the protocol with the Bank of Mauritius and open his bank on Friday last. But Mr. Harry Sookun, a London-based Mauritian businessman originating from a modest background from Pont Praslin has finally won the day and written his success story.
With 39% shares in the First city Bank, Harry Sookun had to face tremendous hassles and obstacles before eventually allowed to operate his Bank. These obstacles were created by henchmen of Ketan Somaia, who has plundered the former Delphis Bank with the connivance of Bank directors, politicians, auditors and accountants. Millions of rupees were siphoned away which led to the closing down of the Delphis Bank.
It is to be remembered that Harish Boodhoo held two public meetings in front of the closed Delphis Bank on 30 March and 7 april. He mobilised public opinion throughout the island in about 80 public meetings and sensitized the public to the serious financial scandals rocking the bank putting into jeopardy the future of the 56,587 depositors, the 199 staff and 1700 shareholders. He warned the Government and the public of the fate reserved if serious steps were not taken to find an immediate take over by the Bank either by Mauritian businessmen or other strong and stable banks. He recalled the fate of the MCCB which is under liquidation and the death of the Union Bank. There is no doubt that the pressure of Harish Boodhoo and his groupe de réflexion accelerated the decision of the Government to find immediate measures to re-open the defunct Delphis Bank as soon as possible and remedy the malady.
Hence came Mr. Harry Sookun of the Global Direct Finance Limited who bought the buildings of the former Delphis Bank and offered to re-operate the closed bank.
The hitch came when politicians close to Ketan somaia and the rogers Group in Mauritius did everything possible to thwart Harry Sookun’s venture and scare away his financial partners from abroad. So that he could not constitute his consortium within the given time frame. Finally, the Government thrashed out. The Bank of Development was roped in, and became the major partner with 51% share, State Investment Corporation holding 7%, and small shareholders 3% and Mr. Harry Sookun himself 39% of the shares.
and so the First City Bank did eventually open its doors on Friday last.
Graft and opportunities for graft are so much available now that they have become almost irresistible. The country’s huge parastatal sector and public-owned companies with cushy monopolies are shielded from the pressure of public and shareholders. This is why no one has to be acccountable to public scrutiny. And politicians who want to shield their cronies and political appointees go on masking grafts, and lucrative jobs are doled out as political favours.
The decade of the 1990’s has witnessed the closing of 4 banks: (1) MCCB, (2) Habib Bank , (3) BCCI and (4) Union Bank and the beginning of the 21st century a fifth bank - the Delphis Bank closed down.
We can only hope that Mr. Harry Sookun with all his financial experience and business acumen will be able to keep the First City Bank as a first and prevent any further financial haemorrhage. We cannot afford to have the 1990’s bank saga again. All of us have to be on the watch. Including Mr. Harry Sookun - for his own image, esteem and credibility and the financial stability of the country on the whole. A vast operation of confidence building needs to be set up in the bank and its directors.
 

Harsha Vardhan