Paul Lismore

[Paul Lismore] The next Budget : Time to alleviate the living conditions of the poor

Rédigé par Paul Lismore le Mardi 16 Mars 2021

Virtually every sensible, responsible adult in Paradise Island knows what is wrong with the country and would therefore accept the following premises:

the state education system is failing a large proportion of our children, casual criminality and anti-social behaviour are undermining the quality of life for thousands of law-abiding people, the welfare system is allowing too many people to live economically and socially dysfunctional lives with gouvernman bizin doner the favoured cri de coeur when faced with any problem, a culture of corruption and nepotism has encouraged substantial numbers of individuals to unashamedly strive to join whichever nou bann is in power, and the huge increase in oil, food, and commodity prices will cause social upheaval if not addressed properly.

Can Padaleksi prescribe the appropriate palliative measures in his forthcoming budget, or will he be the victim of the cowardly and treasonably populist instinct that seems to be second nature to our politicians?

Let us look at the things that he should do but won't, as there is as much chance of a snowflake falling snugly in hell as our politicians doing what is best for the country:

1/ The monstrous nonsense of duty free cars: this is something that does not exist in any other country in the world, and it is grossly immoral on social, fiscal, and environmental grounds.

The loss to the Treasury is immense and the availability of that money would have been sufficient to deal with the many problems in our infrastructure. No politician has ever asked how much this nonsense costs the country every year, because of the fear that consequently votes may be lost; and of course they themselves would then be deprived of the obscene luxury of buying a car hugely subsidised by the rest of us. All it demands is the courage and honesty of politicians to explain to the population why this incongruous state of affairs can no longer continue.

But it will never happen as I can see ministers flinching at the thought of the opposition campaigning on some stupid theme like pa tousse nou loto, a slogan that Jugnauth himself would no doubt have adopted with relish if he was in opposition.

2/ Why do our politicians have such an obsession with big, fast cars?

A Freudian interpretation would suggest that it is a subconscious compensatory gesture to a perception of shortcomings in the bedroom, or some deficiency in the 'downstairs' department. It is inconceivable that when the rich countries of the European Union have decided to fine the manufacturers of luxury cars in order to meet strict CO2 targets, this small island in the Indian Ocean with no natural resources decided to drastically reduce the excise duty on the same polluting monsters.

Most developed countries recently announced green taxes on gas-guzzling cars, and a state-funded discount for vehicles that emit small quantities of carbon dioxide/electric cars. In a further move designed to take older vehicles off the roads, drivers have been able to claim a €300 payment from the State if they send a car at least 15 years old to the scrap yard and replace it with a small, environmentally friendly one. In the UK, vehicle excise duty for newly acquired 4x4s and sports cars have more than doubled whilst purchasers of more environmentally friendly cars will pay no tax in the first year as the government turns the screw on the market for the most polluting vehicles.

One can only hope that Padaleksi will find the moral backbone to stand up from his self indulgent curtsy to the rich by reimposing and increasing the duties on luxury cars that Sithanen removed in one of his budgets. It is nonsense and an insult to our intelligence to suggest that rich foreigners who are buying Rs 100 million IRS villas will find an extra one or two million rupees in duties too prohibitive to allow them to purchase their 'luxury' cars.

3/ How can anyone tell us with a straight face that the IRS system is beneficial to the country?

The government receives a maximum Rs 2 million from the sale of each villa, whether that villa costs Rs 15 millions or over Rs 100 millions. Someone, somewhere must be making an absolute fortune from the wholesale give away of our best lands to people who are likely to spend no more than a month every year in Paradise Island. The silence from the opposition parties on this issue is rather illuminating and shows that despite all the usual noises, there is only a paper thin difference between the policies of our major political parties.

Why is it ok for our citizens living in campements to pay up to Rs5 millions deposit and Rs 250,000 leasehold fees per annum when foreigners will pay nothing for the same privilege of living on our most beautiful beaches? We don't even know whether these people will pay the National Residence Property tax. Permanent residence does not come any cheaper than this…

4/ The risks of food riots and malnutrition will surge in the next few years as the global supply of grain comes under more pressure than at any time in our history.

How can we ensure that people are properly fed in these dark days of expensive food and shortage of basic foodstuff? We all know that we have existed on a massive fiscal deficit for years and therefore there is no money to cater for this emergency. How can we raise the money needed to ensure that people can at least afford a decent meal every day? All our political parties claim to espouse socialism, an ideology that is fundamentally based on the redistribution of resources from the rich to the poor; so, here is one way to find the money whilst simultaneously doing something for the environment: 

Petrol and diesel are more expensive in oil producing nations like the UK and Scandinavia than in Mauritius. But here in Paradise Island we are still selling petrol/diesel as if we actually produce it.

How about imposing a tax on petrol/diesel that would have the quadruple effect of discouraging people from using their cars so often, walk instead and improve their health, invest in public transport, and help the environment with less traffic congestion? An oil producing nation like the UK imposes duty on petrol at 2/3 of the price at the pump, money which is then used to sustain the health and educational services for all citizens. In our case, we could use that money to properly subsidise the food that we all eat, and which the poor depend on most, like rice, flour, grains secs, etc.

 But Padaleksi won't do it. He can already see the opportunistic placards of the opposition, and self appointed lifelong "consumer leaders" screaming, pa tousse nou lessans!

5/ It is quite extraordinary that sex education still isn't compulsory in all secondary schools. The recent figures show an alarming increase in the number of teenage pregnancy and an increase in HIV/sexual diseases.

The only consistency about our politicians is the obstinate ostrich like attitude to ignore the problem, or worse, to advocate the abstinence teaching that has failed so miserably to stop the spread of AIDS, sexually transmitted disease, and unwanted pregnancy in other countries. At the moment, a whole generation of school children is learning about sex from the internet, and Cyber Island has taught our youngsters that sex is the cold, mechanical thrusting and heaving of online porn movies.

 Full time nurses employed in various school catchment areas would build on the trust that comes from their unique right to keep confidential secrets, something that teachers can't, and explain to rapidly growing teenagers the complex issues of sex and relationships, the paramount need for condoms during sexual intercourse if that is what they are hell bent on doing, and the dangers of drugs and drug injection.

 But Padaleksi won't do it. Too many pandits, imams, priests, and other self appointed representatives of God will object to a proposal that will save the lives of many of our youngsters from the ravages of an AIDS epidemic, or a life limited by giving birth in teenage years. And the hypocrisy of many politicians will only be superceded by the shamelessness of words like 'virtue' coming out of such fescennine quarters. These people will try to convince us that it is better to be dead in God's Kingdom than taking the basic precautions that will prevent an untimely and horrible death…

6/ The Annual Audit Report highlighting the enormous waste of public money by various government departments has now become our own version of the 1993 film 'Groundhog Day' where the same thing repeats itself day after day; every Audit report is followed by government inaction and apathy. We spend an absolute fortune on rent for government offices despite the Audit office's recommendation over decades that the government should invest in the construction of its own buildings. Civil servants are suspended on full pay for years without anyone doing anything to deal with the matter with the celerity required; various ministries rent telephone lines at great cost without anyone ever using them; astronomical medical bills are paid by us for so called diplomats; the list is endless and the conclusion that such a litany of waste and abuse would never be tolerated in the private sector is inescapable.

But the one thing whose illogicality is simply breathtaking is the contract that ministers design for their so called advisers and special appointees as ambassadors, chairmen/ directors of parastatal organisations, etc: on top of a salary that is way above the qualifications of these self important pip-squeaks, ministers of all governments have also given them thousands of rupees every month for 'entertainment allowances'; no wonder our night clubs are such profitable ventures! But what makes no sense whatsoever is a performance bonus consisting of up to a third of annual salary which is paid regardless of performance. Remember how, for example, the Frenchman in charge of sorting out the huge problem of water wasted because of corroded pipes received over a million rupees in December on top of his stupendous monthly salary; and the problem of corroded pipes and waste of water remains as acute as ever. These contracts ought to be rationalized by someone who understands that it is simply wrong to pay someone millions of rupees when a huge section of our population has to exist on  Rs 10,000 a month.

But Padaleksi won't do it. Too many nou bann would feel upset if they were asked to return even one cent of our money.

All our politicians of ALL parties have so far put into practice Thatcher's dictum that "there is no alternative" to a market fundamentalism that subordinates human welfare to the demands of business. They have created a political monoculture that has killed voters' enthusiasm and left people with a sense of fear about a future that looks wonderful for those who have friends in power and very bleak for those who will be hammered by the increase in energy and food costs.

The tragedy of our politicians is that they are snobbish bastards and power quickly makes them forget the poverty which their parents endured. Therefore, doing something meaningful to alleviate the poor living conditions of so many of our citizens is never something at the forefront of their minds. It is all about votes and how to buy them with more 'freebies' which incidentally come from the pockets of a Lepep too easy to con and to bribe....

It is all about filling their own pockets first.

Mardi 16 Mars 2021

1.Posté par kersauson de (p) le 17/03/2021 13:48
mwa l anglais !!!
1 2phrases ca va, une chanson de john Lennon
mais là .. je ne puis.. sorry

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