Un autre regard


Rédigé par Kugan le Mardi 7 Avril 2020

When we had to fight the corona pandemic, we asked Dr Gujadhur, the Director of Health Services, a public official to lead the fight and we were reassured... We did not ask a private surgeon to lead the effort. 

When we had to enforce the lock down, it was up to Mario Nobin, Police Commissioner and a public official to ensure it was carried out correctly... We did not ask the Director of Brinks / Caudan Security to lead the effort. 

So, I ask, how come that when it comes to leading the economic recovery effort, it isn't a public official who has been nominated to LEAD the effort but a former CEO of Business Mauritius. We have known for years that Pravind Jugnauth's achilles heel is the economy.

He himself severely lacked depth as Minister of Finance and Padayachy has not shown enough under his tenure so far to inspire much confidence (he will be highly remembered for his most controversial plan to cut government spending ahead of the crisis). Is it then that Business Mauritius is running the economic agenda of our country? Has the captain deserted the ship? 

I am not against having members (or former members) of Business Mauritius on the Board of the Solidarity Fund but it clearly sends the wrong signal to the population when the Chairperson of the Board is an individual who has served the interests of the private sector as CEO of Business Mauritius for so many years. It beggars belief that the Ministry of Finance could not find one public official to be the Chairperson of this Covid-19 Solidarity Fund. 

Let us not forget that it won't be the funds of the private sector which will fill the Solidarity Fund. For instance, ENL Ltd, one of the major private sector players, announced in recent days that it is launching its own pandemic-related solidarity fund. No major private company has announced any contribution to the public solidarity fund as far as I am aware. The overwhelming contributor to the fund won't be the salaries of MPs either. It will be the Rs 4.00 per litre 'solidarity tax' that has just been announced on petroleum products. So in essence, it will be essentially TAXPAYERS' money! 

Looking further at the composition of the Board of the solidarity fund, we see that Mr Gnany, current Number 2 at the Mauritius Commercial Bank is also included.

However,  in the official papers, his credentials are mentioned as being  'Chairperson of the Committee on Economic Recovery'. Looking at it, one would think that this 'Committee on Economic Recovery' is a public body, especially given the way in which it is quoted in the document. Wrong! The 'Committee on Economic Recovery' is a committee setup by Business Mauritius in the midst of the pandemic. Why is this not pointed out in the document? 

We also have to highlight the nomination of Mr. Rashid Imrith as representative of public employees on the board. But at the end of the day, my concern is whether or not he will be outnumbered at the table, given the proximity of the Chairperson and Mr Gnany with Business Mauritius (3 to 1); Chairperson's vote usually counts for two. Also, it will be worth knowing whether he is comfortable sitting on a public board which is clearly being driven by the private sector. 

Are we going to allow the private sector to determine where taxpayers' money will be spent? We pay our public officials, including Ministers, huge salaries so that they can take rational informed decisions on our behalf. Padayachy and Jugnauth should stop their hide-and-seek game and be accountable for their decision making. We want public officials leading the economic recovery effort! 
Public interest ahead of private interest!

Mardi 7 Avril 2020

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