Discours des députés du MSM sur le budget 2012
Mr Jugnauth (First Member for Quartier Militaire & Moka):
Mr Speaker, Sir, I have the honour and privilege to address this Assembly on the occasion of the 2011 and 2012 Budget, more so because Budget time is always a very important event for the country and for the House also. Last year, on 19 November, I had addressed this House as Minister of Finance and it was my responsibility to come up with the first Budget of ‘l’Alliance de l’Avenir’ to shape up the destiny of our country for the next 15 years.
Mr Speaker, Sir, today, we are on this side of the House. ‘L’Alliance de l’Avenir’ is no more and this has brought about two fundamental changes in the political and the economical landscape of Mauritius. First, we have a very frail Government which owes its majority to the fact that two Members of the National Assembly have crossed the floor to become Ministers.
Second, the philosophies and the priorities and the promises of the MSM which inspired, in fact, last year’s Budget are no more. There has been a complete U turn and the equilibrium between\ economic growth and the needs for social justice are no more. Why are we on this side of the House, Mr Speaker, Sir? It is basically a clash – I would call it a clash – between two different political cultures. On the one hand, we had the guiding principles of the founder of the MSM, Sir Anerood Jugnauth: hard work and discipline, loyalty, sincerity of purpose and always trying to put the nation first. On the other hand, for 15 months we were, in fact, confronted – whether I can call it a new culture which was, in fact, completely alien to us. Indecisiveness, accapareur, lack of team spirit and solidarity, putting petits copains and petites copines, also first and worst of all, Mr Speaker, Sir, using, in fact, political power to corrupt people and using institutions to oppress all those who dare oppose the regime or to challenge them. That is why, basically, we left ‘l’Alliance de l’Avenir’. Let me enlighten the House on what happened during those 15 months and I won’t go into the details. M. le président, j’ai été choqué par la lenteur chronique et je dois dire, à tous les niveaux, et l’incapacité d’un chef de gouvernement à prendre des décisions. Par exemple, sur la question de law and order, les conséquences néfastes d’une force policière déjà démotivée à cause – je ne dirais pas des promotions, mais l’exercice de promotion qui a été retardé à cause des nominations…
Mr Speaker : No, can the hon. Member enlighten the House who is the institution which promotes the Police force and who appoints or whatever ?
Mr Jugnauth : I can say that when I had discussions with the hon. Prime Minister.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member cannot say that in the House! The responsibility according to the law and everything rests with the Disciplined Forces Service Commission. If he wants to criticise the Disciplined Forces, he has to come with a substantive motion.
Mr Bérenger: If I may, on this point of order which you are taking. We were informed by the hon. Prime Minister that he was himself informed by the Commissioner of Police that all sorts of inquiries, of research were being carried out. This is not blaming the Disciplined Forces Service Commission, but he told us why things were not happening.
Mr Speaker: Yes, he obtained information from the Commissioner of Police who liaised with the Disciplined Forces. He only took the information and passed it the House. He cannot be held personally responsible as a matter of principle. If there has been no promotion or retardation of promotion, etc., it is for the Police Service Commission or Disciplined Forces Service Commission to answer.
Mr Jugnauth: But, at any rate, Mr Speaker, Sir, okay, the people will appreciate and will draw their own conclusions on this state of affairs. With regard to the effect that a number of decisions that were not taken had on the situation of law and order, that is why I say, Mr Speaker, Sir, that cela ne nous étonne pas que la sécurité est devenue une des préoccupations majeures de la population. I will bow to your ruling, and I will not dwell upon that. En ce qui concerne les corps paraétatiques, combien sont-ils qui offrent à la population un service déficient, parce qu’il n’y avait pas de nomination à la tête de l’organisme ? Les exemples ne manquent pas; Air Mauritius, Mauritius Duty Free Paradise, CEB, CWA, Tourism Authority, Wastewater Authority, SICOM, Mauritius Housing Corporation, the Financial services Commission, and I can go on and on. Let me say a few words about that, because we knew that another responsibility was being given to the former CEO of the Financial Services Commission, who is now presently serving us in New York. In fact, I had proposed that this vacancy be filled up by a competent, experienced person in the field. Nothing was done for 14 months, and it is such an important Commission because of the pressure that is being exerted on the Double Taxation Avoidance Treaty.
Troisièmement M. le président, une diplomatie paralysée, parce que nous n’avons pas nommé nos ambassadeurs dans des postes clés dans des capitales aussi importantes et stratégiques que New Delhi. Et là aussi, nous avions un membre de la Chambre qui a servi comme ancien haut commissaire qui, par la suite, est devenu candidat. Vu la relation spéciale – et comme on dit ombilical – qu’on a avec Mother India, 14 mois ! Je pourrais citer d’autres
exemples, où j’ai eu personnellement des difficultés. Quand on parle du budget, j’ai été confronté personnellement à une campagne machiavélique, et j’ai eu le sentiment, M. le président, que certains de mes collègues – je ne dirai pas tout – n’ont pas joué le jeu, que ce soit au niveau de ma circonscription, que ce soit au niveau d’un certain nombre des dossiers, et même dans la Chambre. M. le président, vous avez été témoin des attaques injustifiées qui ont été faites à mon encontre. On a voté un budget l’année dernière. J’ai lu les discours – parce que j’ai pris la peine de voir et je ne vais pas répondre à tous les membres qui m’ont critiqué maintenant – mais combien de praise, combien de support et de félicitations que j’ai eus ! On a voté le budget après les débats. On a voté le Finance Bill et puis il fallait venir avec les non financial measures. Donc, j’avais proposé l’Economic and Financial Measures (Miscellaneous) Provisions Bill. Je crois que – je n’ai pas été vérifier – dans le anales des finances, c’est la première fois que des mesures budgétaires sont votées par la Chambre presque sept mois après la présentation du budget. J’ai été vérifié ; le first reading a été fait le 05 juillet 2011. Sept mois ! Les difficultés que j’ai eues à pouvoir venir avec ce projet de loi ! Mes collègues ministres de l’autre côté en savent beaucoup, et je ne vais pas élaborer là-dessus. Il y a même un ministre qui avait refusé de discuter certaines mesures budgétaires. Je peux comprendre qu’on peut peut-être revoir certaines mesures. Mais je peux vous dire que j’avais demandé de me donner les raisons, les arguments nécessaires pour qu’on puisse en discuter, et même ça on n’a pas pu le faire. Je ne vais pas aller dans les détails. Combien de fois j’ai exprimé cette situation au Premier ministre ! Rien n’a été fait. Comme je vous l’ai dit, nous avons été l’objet d’attaques, certains portant même à mon intégrité personnelle, d’autres contre mes officiers, ici même, dans la Chambre, à travers les articles de presse écrite, dites par certains membres de la Chambre
contre mon Financial Secretary ; je me souviens très bien. Le problème était moi, et on a attaqué aussi le Financial Secretary. Aujourd’hui, on n’attaque pas le Financial Secretary. J’espère que non ! Même le ministre des finances le félicite. Il faut être honnête dans la vie.
Même l’actuel ministre des finances était, je dirais, insatisfait, pour ne pas dire formait partie de la bande. Mais je suis content qu’il ait félicité le Financial Secretary dans le budget. Je dirai aussi que, pour certains, pour justifier leur incompétence et leur incapacité à gérer les problèmes de leur ministère, la bonne raison, la raison la plus simple, la plus facile c’était de déclarer que la source du problème était le ministre des finances. Il y a même un manque de financement pour certains programmes où on a dépensé moins que ce qui a été alloué. On parle toujours du manque de financement et que le problème est le ministre des finances. Mr Speaker, Sir, how can I put it to you? We were, in fact, in power, and yet we were powerless. Mr Speaker, Sir, as has been the case with MSM throughout history, we came with our sincerity, our loyalty, our commitment and competence to work in the best interest of our country and our people. We could never do it, because we were never considered as a partner. There was no team spirit in the alliance. I must say I am amongst the few, if not probably the only one who was privileged enough to be able to meet the hon. Prime Minister regularly; that I must confess. He was always ready and willing to meet, and I raised all these issues that I am stating to the House today with the hon. Prime Minister regularly. In fact, at one point in time, I was myself embarrassed to be repeating the same thing again, but nothing happened. Then, we came to put also order in the house, not the National Assembly, but the other house. Do you know what mess we uncovered? Again, I will not dwell on all these scandals and the issues. At the STC, I remember very well and I thought we had the support of the Prime Minister, whereby a number of things had been uncovered and it is the way I work, Mr Speaker, Sir, the style that I have. Whenever there is something, I always speak to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, when looking at certain facts, went wild and said, no, we must put order there. So, I took it that probably he might not have been aware and the matter was being raised at Government level and the Prime Minister said: Let’s carry out an inquiry into this issue and see, and if there are people who are to be blamed, we’ll take them to task. We did that. You have the insight forensic report, then nothing was done. For the hedging scandal, same thing! Betamax, same thing!
Contamination of petroleum products where the country lost Rs113 m., same thing!
Let’s come to the LPG project! Probably, we will have time to talk about it later on, this is another scandal. A juicy contract was already approved by the former Government to be given to a company and when we found out about it, again I went to see the Prime Minister. We managed to stop that, but I don’t know what the situation is now, whether Government has taken any decision to go ahead with allocating this contract to supply LPG. The consequence of that would have been that the consumers would have to pay much more. The NDFP, at the GRA, I would say the wastage of money that was going to be carried out to the central monetary system, casinos, et j’en passé, M. le président. As I’ll say it again, when we were bold enough to try to clean up this mess, do you know what happened? In the case of STC, I will mention one. All the scandals at the Ministry of Commerce, the former Minister, my friend hon. Soodhun, started to be faced with a number of problems.
First, he was taken to task for telling the truth in replying to PQs in this House. Second, he was so harassed that he was, in fact, on the verge of submitting his resignation as Minister.
Third, he, in fact, ended up by requesting the Prime Minister to remove this portfolio of Commerce because he could not assume his responsibility as Minister with the dedication and the commitment he wanted, and the rest is history. In my case, Mr Speaker, Sir, as former Minister of Finance, let me give you one blatant example, that of the Mauritius Duty Free Paradise where, first of all, a number of irregularities were uncovered. I was myself really surprised that I had to push for decisions to be taken. When the Chairperson, the CEO, top management – in fact, the institution a été décapitée par le scandale. Then I wanted to nominate another Chairperson, recruit another CEO, fill up other top management posts because it was such an important institution making turnover of billions of rupees. For fourteen months, can you imagine we could not do that! It remained comme un bateau sans gouvernail. Worse still, Mr Speaker, Sir, one officer was taken to task, had been found guilty of forgery under five counts. A survey was carried out for goods that were being sold at the duty free shop and do you know what the survey revealed, that goods were being kept in offices – bottles of whiskey, champagne, perfumes, chocolates, jewellery also. That person, in fact, was dismissed by the institution.
Très sincèrement, je demande au gouvernement quel est le signal qu’on est en train d’envoyer au pays et à la population, lorsque quelqu’un qui a été prouvé coupable, a été demis de ses fonctions, et que maintenant le Conseil des Ministres, le gouvernement le remet à sa place, in the same institution, Mr Speaker, Sir. What are we telling people of this country? That people who commit illegalities, crimes, some are more equal than others? I won’t go into the Med Point issue; it has been dealt by some Members on this side and on the MMM side also. There is a lot to say about Med Point. Although you have given a warning yourself, Mr Speaker, Sir, saying that we can talk about the Med Point, except for that part where there is an application for an attachment order, but I won’t go into the details of the Medpoint issue. There are so many things that are unfair, unjust. I can say so more as a barrister – the evidence that is available and yet they are saying that there are institutions that are independent….
Mr Speaker: No, no! Be careful! On this point I will have to draw the attention of the hon. Member that an inquiry is being carried out by the ICAC. If the hon. Member tends to criticise the ICAC, he is not allowed to do so.
Mr Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, I am criticising the fact that there are evidence available with regard to some personalities, but that nothing is being done. Nothing is being done! The truth is unfurling today and the more we come nearer to the whole truth, we realise the sombre and machiavelic strategy that was put forward, in fact, to destroy the MSM. We never thought, Mr Speaker, Sir, that the Labour Party would use the MSM to come back to power and, after having achieved this, it would set up this machiavelic strategy to tarnish the image of our party, to paint us black and get rid of us out of the ruling Alliance. In fact when I look at the events that have unveiled this strategy, we have been proved right today. Unfortunately I must say. But more flagrant was, in fact, when we resigned, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Hon. Ms Nita Deerpalsing organised a party to celebrate the split. Hon. Khamajeet stated that the departure of the MSM had already been planned since the very beginning. Here, in this very
House, the hon. Attorney General stated that the split was a blessing in disguise and a manna from heaven, comme-ci le départ du MSM du gouvernement était une licence pour piller et gaspiller pour perpétuer le règne du Parti Travailliste. Et je peux comprendre, désormais, le rempart n’est plus là et pour le président du Parti Travailliste, maintenant je suis sûr qu’il peut être à l’aise parce qu’il n’était pas à l’aise avec nous, il peut être mieux à l’aise pour mieux jouir du pouvoir.
Mr Speaker: No, no, that is an imputation of motive on an hon. Member of this House. Would the hon. Member please withdraw that?
Mr Jugnauth: What I am saying is…
Mr Speaker: No, the hon. Member has to withdraw that.
Mr Jugnauth: I am withdrawing the word ‘jouir’. What I wanted to say is to use power, use so that it is, you know, plus qu’usé. And only yesterday, hon. Shakeel Mohamed had said that le MSM était un boulet au pied du gouvernement. Voilà comment nous en sommes arrivés là. C’est triste, M. le président. C’est une tragédie pour le pays. Aujourd’hui, le pays a besoin d’un nouveau souffle, d’un nouvel espoir par ces temps difficiles où il faut relever de très grands défis. Mais hélas, le budget qu’a présenté l’honorable ministre des finances le 4 novembre dernier, je dirais, ne répond nullement aux aspirations de notre nation. Mr Speaker, Sir, this House will recall that on 19 November 2010, when I presented the Budget Speech entitled “Rebalancing Growth and Consolidating Social Justice”, I was, in fact, guided by the fact that the world has just been through prolonged social experiment in which markets and money were left to find their own way around without much political control. We have been experiencing neoliberalism and then came the financial crisis of 2008 which provoked major interventions by most vulnerable Governments using taxpayers’ money to save the banking system from collapse. At the time when I took office, the ramifications of the financial crisis were still with us and the predictions of the outcome of the ensuing global economic crisis had varied widely and I had to face the euro zone crisis. These events, in fact, created a global shift of the economic power from the West to Asia and we had to adjust so that we could rebalance the growth.
Guided by the philosophy of the MSM and the quest for more social justice, I had opted for a more humane economy. So, my Budget, Mr Speaker, Sir, was a set of social recipes, articulated by a unifying vision. It specified in the goals and strategies of the then Government, its short-term as well as the middle-term and the long-term economic and social objectives. As, importantly it spelt out the vision that we had for our nation for the next 10 to 15 years. We also spelt out the main themes of the roadmap and we have a target to transform our economy into a trillion rupee economy in the 2020’s with a capita income exceeding 20,000 dollars and achieve in the same breath a better society. You will recall, Mr Speaker, Sir, that I had received – I was saying earlier – great praise from my then fellow colleagues of the then Government. I will just quote what hon. Xavier-Luc Duval himself has said – you know, probably, he might have forgotten. He said, and I quote – “Therefore, I would like to congratulate very sincerely my colleague, my neighbour here – how sincere was he, I do not know – the vice-Prime Minister, for an excellent Budget, a Budget that not only ensures that 2011 will be a good year for Mauritius. That is important, because we have to be prosperous and generous. You have to create prosperity, so that you can spend it afterwards. I think 2011 will be a fantastic year for the economy in Mauritius and, of course, I must say also, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that the Budget has taken the opportunity – and this is also very important – to bring along or to encourage certain important changes in our society (…)”
And I’ll later refer to what hon. Xavier-Luc Duval was referring to.
Let me try to find if there is another – this one is nice. Hon. Xavier-Luc Duval said and I quote – “Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Government, throughout its previous mandate and this present mandate, will be continuing to pursue its objectives of a prosperous country and a generous Mauritius, under the steady hand of the Prime Minister on my left and on my right le grand timonier.”
I was, at that time, le grand timonier. In his eyes, I hope I have not been demoted in the meantime.
Let me also refer to what the hon. Prime Minister said. You know why I am referring to this, I must say I do not know whether the hon. Minister of Finance said it – you know when you talk outside and sometimes you get carried away, because he said that for 15 months, there was no Minister of Finance. I think I can take a number of criticisms from the hon. vice-Prime Minister, but not this one. I think you can be more imaginative. The hon. Prime Minister said in his speech on the Budget, and I quote – “Mr Speaker, Sir, sustained economic success requires two main ingredients. The first is a long term forward looking perspective aimed at generating economic growth and efficiency. The second is the focus on social justice, and ensuring growth is inclusive. The 2011 Budget outlined by the vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Empowerment has both of these ingredients in abundance, and he should be congratulated for this first Budget (…).”
You know, I say this again, because you have to be fair in your criticisms. When you say that you know as if some Members on the other side have been saying that I did not exist for 14 months, nothing was moving in the Government for 14 months. In fact, quelqu’un a même dit qu’on a pris du retard. The hon. Prime Minister will answer whether we have taken du retard and I quote what he said – “Right after the elections, we responded promptly. The vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance presented the ERCP, and now this Budget is strengthening that response.”
A theme of this Budget is rebalance growth and I won’t go into all that, because then there is praise, because there is a new strategy that is being devised for rebalancing growth and looking towards – at the same time consolidating our traditional market – China, Brazil, India and so on. This is what the hon. Prime Minister again said: “Mr Speaker, Sir, this is a budget about putting people first. And that is why it has been so widely accepted by the population, by businesses and also by investors.” It is important to know why by investors. I will come to that again when I will see what the hon. Minister of Finance has been saying about giving an incentive for investment. Mr Speaker, Sir, here I have to at least comment on that, because again we have all witnessed a former Minister of Finance, Mr Rama Sithanen, at that time, who he had presented a Budget which was, of course, applauded by the then Government, by the hon. Prime Minister. A number of decisions were taken. Ultimately, there was a new alliance and we went to election, we came with another programme and, on this side, we have always been consistent by saying that a number of measures that were taken by the then Government was not in the interest of the people generally, for the poor and for the middle class. Therefore, we agree that a number of taxes like National Residential Property Tax, tax on interests and so on had to be removed, which we did. Of course, the hon. Prime Minister said that – I just quoted from the speech – this is the new policy and all the praise. I see that those taxes which we as a Government had imposed at that time are now being removed. Mr Speaker, Sir, that, in fact, the Prime Minister is consistent in his inconsistencies, because I see that, at one time, a decision is taken and, another time, another decision is taken.
Let me come to something which I consider very important, that the hon. Minister of Finance is taking credit for when he describes the resilience of the economy. But, probably, he forgot that the stewardship of the economy at that time was in my hands. Today’s Government cannot take credit for all that is positive and put the blame on me for all the indicators which are not so good.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I could not have achieved those targets we had aimed a, in fact, there was a number of constraints which I have just stated to the House. There is one fundamental indicator which is of paramount importance, that is, the budget deficit which, according to me, has been inflated. I note that in Appendix C of the document – the hon. Minister will probably reply later on – first of all, all the Funds that have been put out of the Budget, Mr Speaker, Sir. We know the IMF has always criticised that, saying that it is not sound practice. When I took over, and I decided to dismantle those Funds, and to have all the money in the Consolidated Fund and all the expenses to be allocated in the Budget in line with what the IMF has recommended, because they said that this will, in fact, reduce budgetary fragmentation and is likely to result in stronger expenditure controls. Unfortunately, first of all, I see that the expenditures that are being mentioned do not, in fact, tally. From my calculation, out of a number of those Funds like Business Growth Fund, Local Infrastructure Fund, Food Security and Social Housing, in fact, only a sum of Rs1.6 billion has been spent and not Rs5.9 billion. The hon. Minister is coming back again to this principle by setting a National Resilience Fund which is, again, bad practice and not accordance with what the IMF has stated. But, Mr Speaker, Sir, may I ask the Minister of Finance how is it that capital grants has increased from Rs1.1 billion to Rs7.3 billion in 2011? In fact, let me say that capital grants are being inflated and this explains the upward revision of the budget deficit. I can recall, Mr Speaker, Sir, that when I left office, the last figure that was communicated to me by my officers with regard to budget deficit was around 3%. Is the hon. Minister of Finance telling us th -at in the few months’ time, the budget deficit has increased from 3% to 3.8% of GDP? I can’t believe that. He explained for the increase in the capital flows. That is why, Mr Speaker, Sir, I say that probably the time of the – some people call it colourable accounting – I call it, voodoo accounting, is coming back.
Let us see what has happened one year later. In fact, the present Budget has downgraded the ambition to achieve greater growth. In fact, it has no ambition at all regarding where do we go for the next two to three years. Let alone the vision that we have for our country in the middle and the long term, there is no economic objective and what measures the Minister of Finance intends to put in place to ensure that we can weather the storm beyond this coming fiscal year.
What he contended to do was to propose a series of half-baked policies for which we can only speculate – I say we can only speculate – that we will produce a 4% growth rate. The target he has himself set to achieve during this coming fiscal year. In that respect, Mr Speaker, Sir, the House will recall that my policies during my term of office had produced a 4.2% growth rate in this present fiscal year, greater, in fact, that the actual rate of growth in 2010. I cannot understand how he can justify this lower ambition. He says that he is going to be prudent. Fair enough! And that our traditional markets in Europe and in the US are still in the crisis mode. Fair enough! But, Mr Speaker, Sir, when we put as a title for your Budget “Growth for the Greater Good”, I would have expected, at least, that he would have done better. It is 4.2% and now we are not even sure of – we can never be sure – even the estimate of 4% which is looking quite unrealistic. I hope – I pray for my country – that we do better. But when you set a target that is lower than this financial year, it is an admission of failure. In fact, another title should have been chosen for this Budget.
When I read my Budget in 2010, I must say that we had the same traditional markets that were in turmoil, they were in crisis and I believe that we have to be very, very careful. The situation does not look very promising, quite bleak, I agree, but in times where it is going to be difficult for all of us, what should have been the philosophy and the policies of this Government? Is it to come back to the ultra liberalism mode with no growth and echoing, in fact, two salient words, I would call them ‘grands et petits’ – les grands paletots et les petits copains? In fact, the Budget should not be: No Growth and Greater Good pour les gros paletots et les petits copains. The effect of this Budget, Mr Speaker, Sir, – we will be there in time to come, it is going to be caviars for the filthy rich, peanuts for the poor and nothing for the middle class. What is the removal of the solidarity tax on dividends and interests effective as from January 2012? It is greater good pour les gros paletots. Abolishing capital gains tax on immovable property with immediate effect is greater good pour les gros paletots. I noticed hardly ten minutes from the start of his speech and amongst the first measures announced was the jackpot to the private sector. I would not dare to say that we call it résultats sur résultats or lor résultats.
The hon. Minister of Finance stated, at paragraph 52, that these taxes are discouraging investment. That is why sometimes it is difficult for me to understand when I look at his reasoning on the same issues on last year’s Budget. At page 4, he says, ‘some changes in what I would call solidarity taxes to ensure that in fact everybody chips in during difficult times’. This is where we agree. I perfectly agree with what he said because in difficult times those people who have should be able to chip in. We are not Robin Wood and we are not taking the whole of their lot, but we ask them to chip in a bit to be able to spend for others who do not have. But, more importantly, Mr Speaker, Sir, this is a great paragraph from the hon. Minister of Finance, he said and I quote –
“we shall bring”,
And he said “we shall bring,” he is not saying the Minister of Finance at that time, I could have granted him probably a difference of opinion. He said – “…we shall bring welcome changes to our society, to Mauritius and to the taxation system”.
Mr Speaker, Sir, it needed to be corrected at that time. But, you can correct in a good way and you can correct in a bad way. I am sure, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the House will agree that corrections have been made in an excellent way. The NRPT has been abolished, but replaced nevertheless with a solidarity tax on the very rich people who earn more than Rs2 m. a year, who have interests as income and who achieve benefit also from dividends as income. This is important. It is 10% additional, it is not excessive. He goes on to say about exam fees and so on, but this is not of concern. Mr Speaker, Sir, times were bad, if it is not excessive the rich are being asked to ‘chip in’, in the words of the hon. Minister of Finance then. We are facing the same economic situation around the world. Let us ask the filthy rich, not the rich, those who earn dividends, those who earn interest more than Rs2 m. on the immovable property, it is not the small entrepreneurs, the big ones. I know when we discussed about those issues, I will not go into that, but now that he is saying that those taxes should be abolished, according to him, the private sector will now start probably, as an incentive, to invest massively and help the creation of more wealth. The House will certainly like to know and I am quoting a member of the private sector, Mr Espitalier-Noël, the CEO of Rogers Ltd., who stated in an interview – “Seul l’Etat a les moyens d’investir dans ce contexte difficile. Le secteur privé, après avoir été gratifié des milliards sur les différentes taxes fuit déjà devant leurs responsabilités. »
I see now the Minister of Finance had imposed a solidarity levy of 10% on management companies in the global business sector. He calls it a solidarity levy. Solidarity, I presume, because his philosophy is because they are doing well, they are earning a lot of money, so let them chip in 10% of their profits. But I already hear – and I do not know what is his stand, probably he will reply – that il est en train de reculer maintenant, that this will be abandoned. But I can say again those who are influential, those who have, are able to influence the Minister of Finance.
I will go on a number of few measures, the revival of the cleaning up and embellishment programme of the Tourism Authority. We know what happened, Mr Speaker, Sir. In fact, he is blaming those institutions like the NDU, Beach Authority, the Ministry of Environment and the Local Authorities also. They have to carry out this mission. It is within their mandate and objectives. Another unit is being set up at the level of the Ministry of Tourism and we know what has happened in the past. I will not go into that because I am sure at the level of Government there was no such agreement on this issue. That is why we dismantled this thing and a number of people had to join the Local Authority and other institutions.
Maintenant on vient avec les roving ambassadors, M. le président. We have a number of missions in Africa. There are people being paid for doing that kind of job. They have jurisdiction over a number of countries. Do we need now to appoint two roving ambassadors pour aller se promener en Afrique? Et pour faire quoi? Je dirai for the greater good of les petits copains. La tendance de gaspillage démontré par ce gouvernement, j’espère que cette somme de demi milliard qui a été allouée, promotional campaigns, ne va pas finir comme les campagnes style Thalassa à L’Ile aux Cerfs.
Let us have a look what the hon. Minister has proposed to achieve growth. Procedures for processing of licenses will be accelerated, business administrative gridlocks will be eliminated and environment will be improved. This strategy for big companies to invest more to create jobs, to achieve growth and for the SMEs lengthily expanded on measures to improve access to finance. I need to comment on the access to finance because I did not have the opportunity the other time to ask the relevant questions. Last year, I came up with some innovative measures like imposition of tax on the banks where the latter in fact had the option either to pay tax of 1.25% on profits and 0.5% on turnover or contribute the amount to the Private Equity Fund for the benefit of the SMEs.
Of course, if the banks had a choice and this would have compelled them at least to chip in an amount of money. I must say that I doubt if the measures announced with regard to access to finance will bring the required results. Now, what will be the criteria that will be applied by the Commercial Banks? Will it still be the same with the same rigidity? I see that the Chairperson of the Banking Association has given already a warning.
Et, je cite –
“Le nouveau plan que propose le budget 2012 ne va en rien diluer la rigueur appliquée jusqu’ici sur le crédit aux PMEs. Il n’a en rien une licence pour faire du reckless banking et cela même avec une garantie de 35% de l’Equity Fund”. So, in my view there is no obligation. The criteria that are going to be adopted by the bank will still be with the same kind of rigidity, but the hon. Minister of Finance has announced new legislation. The hon. Minister of Finance will come up with new legislation to compel the banks to lend to SMEs. Je ne vais pas préjuger de ce qui va être présenté au niveau de la Chambre, mais je dis bonne chance. J’espère que cela pourra se faire dans l’intérêt des petites et moyennes entreprises.
Let me remind the hon. Minister of Finance, that the issue of 8.5% rate of interest under the MTSP, the rate of interest was already 5.5% and under the Food Security Programme, the rate of interest ranging from 3% to 5%. So, I hope that there could be other schemes proposed to target SMEs, probably in terms of sectors with a much favourable rate of interest. I hope that the hon. Minister of Finance will consider and will have a look on that. I see that the hon. Minister of Finance has abolished the specific duties on shoes and other footwear. I wonder whether the hon. Minister of Finance has had discussions with people who are employed in that sector because they are regrouped in an association. I used to have budgetary consultations. It seems that the hon. Minister of Finance did not have budgetary consultations this year, but with regard to that specific measure, it is going to hurt these poor people. I don’t want to suggest, but what I could have proposed instead, is to come up, – if he wanted to lower the taxes, he could have done it in a progressive way and discussed with those people, to see how they can adapt probably over the years. Regarding public investment, this is, in fact, a major contributor to the pace of economic development. I see that the Budget mentions so much that will be spent and only one word to describe the Light Railway Transport project. I must say that despite the heavy investment that is being made in the road network, there are still being clogged, millions of hours of work and leisure are lost every day, and this I am sure this does impact negatively on productivity and competitiveness of our nation. We are still losing and it is not new – I am not saying that it is a new thing – and I am just highlighting that we are still losing billions of rupees every year in paying for the fuel. We have to import to run our vehicles and a major part of it which is wasted in traffic jam.
The LRT system of transport, Mr Speaker, Sir, was included in our manifesto. In our vision of our society for tomorrow, we have clearly demonstrated that we need a new transport system, that is, not only more fuel efficient, but also more effective in bringing our people towork and back home. This LRT strategy will also be a major factor together with the new approach in terms of air access and in making our vision of Mauritius as a shopping paradise a reality. I don’t know for political reasons, this project of LRT seems once more to find its way to oblivion. A concept of transforming Mauritius into a duty-free island, I see only one word has been mentioned, it seems clearly that there is no will to move ahead with these projects. I know that we are going to privatise a number of institutions and just to take one, as an example, I can remember that I have discussed with the hon. Prime Minister and he made the comment to the public and ultimately was taken up by other people also, with regard to our casinos. I think that this is the only country in the world where casinos are loss making, and we know what are the reasons. We must have the political will to put order and to make those institutions profitable.
Let me come to la misère qu’on est en train de faire to the elderly. I find that shocking, Mr Speaker, Sir. Last year, when it came to compensate the beneficiaries of the BRP, in order, to give them a better purchasing power, which is still not enough for them, but still I remember that I granted a compensation above the inflation rate. This year, the compensation is only Rs204 whereas the full compensation would have amounted to Rs330.
Mr Speaker, Sir, beneficiary has not been given the sum of Rs126 per month, which is their due. I have made a calculation and it would cost Government Rs150 m. if they were to correct that. I would appeal to the hon. Minister of Finance that while we are able to give to the filthy rich money in their kitty by abolishing the solidarity tax, by abolishing tax on gains, why don’t we do that special effort? In fact, it is not an effort, but their due. Give them that Rs150 m., give them that Rs126 per month, so that they will be able to bear the brunt of the loss in the purchasing power.
SMS. Again I find that unacceptable. We are talking about cyber island, we are talking about free access to internet, increase in the speed of connectivity, where our young generation will use the latest technologies in their everyday life, in their relationship also, in their leisure and, in fact, we want the whole nation to use the best of the latest means of communication and at the cheapest rate, Mr Speaker, Sir. What is this Budget doing? We have 1.2 million mobile phones and on an average, it is about probably five or six SMS per day and a calculation done again by the hon. Minister himself, we are taxing a mere Rs150 m. We are taxing in fact, above the VAT rate because it is about 17%. Again, I will appeal to the hon. Minister of Finance to reconsider this tax. Why are we giving so many billions of rupees to the filthy rich and we are going to tax ordinary people in terms of sending SMS.
Let me come to agriculture. I must say that the situation in the future looks very weak. With a sum that I have provided for the Budget and, in fact, even those sums were not being used to their full capacity. Now, we see that the cane crop is going to be 400,000 tonnes and the small planters are heading for disasters with the absence of concrete measures. I must say that I am very worried because the only measure that has been announced is the removal of VAT for the purchase of equipment. Now, there are two major obstacles in this.
Firstly, every small planter would have to get himself VAT registered, before he is able to claim any VAT, in the event of purchase of equipment. Secondly, if the hon. Minister knew and was committed to reality, he would have found out himself how many small planters buy equipment that is going to be used for their cultivation. The equipment is very expensive in itself. In fact, they are being leased. What I did was to have a scheme, to be able to motivate entrepreneurs to buy equipment at cheaper prices, in order to be able to lease them at a better rate for the small planters. This is what we should look at; the small planters will never be able to buy those equipment. On top of that, probably we have not realised the impact of the increase in the water tariffs for irrigation for the small planters, and here I am talking about the whole planting community.
Therefore, Mr Speaker, Sir, I must say that the planting community, which has been a pillar for our economy, does not look very good. But let me suggest one thing also, because we cannot come with criticisms all along. Let me suggest one thing, which I believe can be far reaching for the planters, especially in the sugar industry. Let us give due consideration to the project that has been presented by the Island Green Farmers Cooperative Society Limited. Basically what it is? It is to set up a plant for the production of ethanol, because government has already given the go ahead. We are going to produce ethanol, and I am sure that this measure will go a long way. The government is aware about this project. In fact, some Ministries have been looking at it very closely. The hon. Prime Minister also is aware about this project, and I am sure it will help the planters to remain in production, to be an active player in the value addition of the cane industry. In fact, to me – I take probably the hon. Prime Minister himself and other members of the Commission Pour La Democratisation de l’Economie – this is a golden opportunity to democratise the economy. Let the planters themselves come up with this.
Let me come to Housing. I am really flabbergasted when I talk about housing, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Last year, I had announced five schemes for different categories of people, ranging from the very poor to the middle class. Rs1.5 billion had been allocated in my budget. If you look at the budget, not a single cent has been spent from Rs1.5 billion. Now, what is being done? The hon. Minister of Finance brushes this aside, abandons these schemes, and he is now coming up with the Trust. Probably, just to remind him, I would quote what he said – ‘(…) something I wanted to mention, which I think is very important, is the extended repayment for NHDC housing and loans on houses(…) (…) but still opportunity to be able to repay your house over 40 years because this is the very purpose also of the scheme. We will make a dramatic difference to your disposable income, but it will reduce dramatically the amount that you need to pay the capital (…)’. The hon. Minister says that we will come with a Trust. Who will create those Trusts? I am told they are intended to be non-profit making. Who will manage and implement those Trusts? Who are going to be investing partners in those Trusts? Who will carry out the feasibility study, the infrastructural plan and implement those projects? What are the criteria that are going to be used? We hope we will get this information from the hon. Minister of Finance.
Let me come to one issue which has been raised by the hon. Deputy Prime Minister. I come to his sector.
First of all, let me say that, with regard to the EIB loan, in fact, in a way it was a cancellation, because government did not act promptly, did not furnish the required information to the EIB, and that is why we came up with this situation. There are other reasons also; I am not saying that everything the Deputy Prime Minister has said is wrong, but this is the main reason. It’s because we were irresponsible and did not act promptly. The CWA had no chairperson; no CEO for a whole year, and no strategic decision could be taken. The situation is critical? I agree! But the hon. Deputy Prime Minister said earlier that, in October 2010, I took the decision to increase the water tariffs. I must say that I am really puzzled, because it is as if, as Minister of Finance, I was also running the DPM’s Ministry if I had taken that decision. We should not forget that he is – I have all the respect for him. He is the hon. Deputy Prime Minister, and hierarchally he was above me at that time. First of all, let me set the records straight, Mr Speaker, Sir. True it is there have been a number of meetings with the hon. Deputy Prime Minister. Who proposed to come up with new tariffs? You must be honest with yourself, hon. Deputy Prime Minister! Who proposed to come up with new tariffs, because it is his ministry, it is his department! He came up with new tariffs because he said – because I will not accept something which is misrepresented, and he said it earlier – that the EIB is not willing to give us further money, because one of the conditions is that they are asking government to review the tariff rates. This is the truth! And he came up with this proposal for new tariffs!
Hon. Bachoo was there, hon. Xavier Duval was there, and I was there also. Don’t worry; I won’t divulge the discussions that took place. I don’t think it is proper for me. Let me say also that there were some people who were against and some people who were for. I won’t mention names; forget about it. But there is one thing I have always said, Mr Speaker, Sir. I don’t bluff and I live up to my responsibility, and whatever I have done, I live up to that. I have always said one thing. In a situation of crisis for the water problem, people – I must say some people – sometimes do not even understand the situation; some people are alive to it, some people think that even if it does not rain, even if nature is against us, it is for the government to be blamed. No! I say: let us improve the infrastructure; let us improve the water supply. Then, we can consider and come up with whatever increase in tariff, because people will not understand and people will not accept that, when there is no supply of water, when there is a problem of water, you just come and increase the tariff. I ask the hon. Deputy Prime Minister a question. He is talking about October 2010 as if I had decided to increase the water tariffs. If it was October 2010, one year has lapsed! Why did we not then increase the tariffs? The truth is, and let’s look at what decision Cabinet has taken.
Mr Speaker: Was it publicised?
Mr Jugnauth: Yes.
Mr Speaker: As a communiqué of Cabinet?
Mr Jugnauth: No, let me put it the other way: Government had taken a decision on 14 October 2011. Probably, you are mistaken about the year, hon. Deputy Prime Minister. It’s not in 2010, but in 2011 that this Government took the decision to come up with the increase in water rates.
Now, let me add also what I did. You appealed to me – let me say the truth also – that the situation is difficult and outside budget, Mr Speaker, Sir. Funds were allocated in the Budget for CWA for the water problems. What I did outside the Budget, for the connecting of Mare Longue to Mare aux Vacoas, I gave and addition Rs85 m. Additional funds had been given outside budget to lay pipes and to dig boreholes and to buy equipment. I can give a list. It’s not an exhaustive list because I was a bit taken by surprise when the hon. Deputy Prime Minister mentioned about this problem. Replacing the infrastructure from Camp Fouquereaux to Alma has been done outside budget; from Camp Thorel to Salazie; from Plaines des Papayes to Triolet; for the Pierrefonds pipeline and one of the biggest other projects is from Quartier Militaire to Mont Ida. Millions of rupees were given. So, you should not make as if whatever is good is your doing, whatever is bad is our doing. We must be fair. Mr Speaker, Sir, let me say something about the supply of energy because, again, I am very worried with the situation regarding blackout. I’m surprised that nothing has been done to address the possibility of shortage of energy in the future. This has been a sector which has been crippled by the fact that the Government could not take any major decisions. I was in Government. Mr Speaker, Sir, we have been considering coal, we have been considering clean coal, we have been considering coal/bagasse, we have been considering heavy oil, LNG – Liquid Natural Gas – and other sources. We are just like a dog trying to bite its tail; we are turning round and round. Et pourquoi? Pour divers intérests!
Let me say something about law and order again. Earlier I mentioned that, in fact, there is a sense of insecurity in the country. I hope the hon. Prime Minister will give due attention to what is happening because the cases that are being reported, the incidents that are occurring in our country, in fact, make us shiver with fear for ourselves and for our close ones. The population feels more insecure than ever before and the vice-Prime Minister, himself, has stated in the Budget that our prisons are, in fact, overcrowded. I am trying to just highlight the urgency of the situation to address this national priority. Coming to fraud and corruption, again, these scandals are a plague to our country. I must say the situation is frightening. My friends on this side of the House have dealt with a number of cases of fraud and corruption, but what is more frightening in our democracy is that the very institutions and authorities, whose mission is to combat fraud and corruption and to clean our country are, in fact, not acting in the right way.
We have cases of selective investigations…
Mr Speaker: Is the hon. Member talking about the ICAC?
Mr Jugnauth: No!
Mr Speaker: But, now, which is the institution that fights against fraud and corruption?
It is the ICAC.
Mr Jugnauth: The CCID, for example, Mr Speaker, Sir! I will give you the example.
Mr Speaker: Then, the hon. Member should talk about the Police.
Mr Jugnauth: The CCID, we all know the episode. Initially, they were trying to threaten the hon. Leader of the Opposition for a case of diffusing false news. Then, ultimately, …
Mr Speaker: That is fraud and corruption?
Mr Jugnauth: No, that is not acting in the right and proper manner in terms of …
Mr Speaker: That is different.
Mr Jugnauth: And ultimately, my friend, hon. Soodhun! Another Member of the Opposition, Dr. Joomye! That is why I say we have selective investigations. We have cases where, in fact, people, culprits, I would say, are interrogated as witnesses. We have cases where culprits are never even called to depone. We have people who have confessed in public and who are free, whereas at the same time, witnesses are being lengthily interrogated, harassed and even threatened. We have cases where inquiry has not been completed for more than four to five years. Again, others are given a certificate of urgency and cases of death in Police custody in very, I would say, disturbing circumstances! That is why I have repeatedly said that there is a major problem.
Mr Speaker, Sir, let me come to what the hon. Minister has mentioned and I find that shocking, I must say. He speaks about a committee or a mechanism that he will set up. I think it is at paragraph 233 where he says if, I remember, that he will set up a mechanism to decide on the rate of inflation. I have had a look at the Bank of Mauritius Act which I, myself, had presented to this Assembly and I look at the object of the bank. Let me quote so that hon. Members can understand –
“The primary object of the Bank shall be to maintain price stability and to promote orderly and balanced economic development”.
Then, when we look at the function of the bank, at section 5 –
“The Bank shall have such functions as are necessary to achieve the attainment of its objects and, in particular, it shall –
(a) conduct monetary policy and manage (…).”
And at subsection 2 where it is said, – and this is crucial – I quote –
(2) The Bank shall –
(a) for the purposes of subsection (1)(a), determine, with the concurrence of the
Minister, the accepted range of the rate of inflation…”
Now, it is the Bank of Mauritius which shall determine the accepted rate of inflation. What do we see today? First of all, the hon. Minister is going against the law because he should amend this law. He should not just set up a mechanism and say, ‘Look, now, we are going to decide’.
You should come with an amendment to the Banking Act and, if it is the policy of the Government that Bank of Mauritius, Central Bank, should not be the one to decide on inflation, should not act in an independent way – although, there is consultation with the hon. Minister with regard to that monetary policy. Well, say so clearly and I hope that this Government will not be encroaching and violating the law and that it will come up with the necessary amendments in order to put in place this very mechanism.
I know that time is running out, Mr Speaker, Sir, so I’ll conclude. M. le président, qu’est-ce que je vois en face de moi? Une équipe amoindrie, amputée des compétences que nous avions offertes avec sincérité. Je vois en face de moi un Premier ministre, un capitaine qui lui-même déclare qu’il n’a pas confiance en ses ministres qu’il ne veut rencontrer qu’au Conseil des Ministres, et qui avoue qu’il a peur que son équipe soit trop faible pour répondre aux interpellations de l’Opposition.
Nous avons vu, tout récemment, le triste épisode parlementaire de mardi, où, certains ministres ont été tout simplement lamentables.
Je vois un Premier ministre qui a perdu de sa superbe, qui est déboussolé et qui ne doit pas dormir tranquille pour plusieurs raisons, entre autres, sa majorité faible qui doit sans doute aussi avoir un problème de conscience. Et pour la première fois, je l’ai vu aussi mal à l’aise en répondant à des Private Notice Questions.
Mr Speaker : No, now the hon. Member is imputing motive on the hon. Prime Minister that he is not doing his work properly. I am sorry!
Mr Jugnauth: I’m not…
Mr Speaker: No, but that is the thing!
Mr Jugnauth : Yes, I am withdrawing what I said.
Quand je regarde de l’autre côté de la Chambre, il me semble qu’un ressort est cassé au sein du gouvernement et se dégage un sentiment de fin de règne. Le cycle Ramgoolam tire à sa fin. Mr Speaker, Sir, there is a wind of change blowing over the world. We have seen the Arab spring. Many leaders are being forced to leave power. The more so in democracies like in Europe; we have seen it in Greece; in Spain only yesterday. The case in Italy is even more blatant. In an article, the BBC entitled “The secret of Berlusconi”. There is an analysis of a man in power, a man who controls the media and the business community and who could even sway the Judiciary in his favour, a man who ruled and used power for 20 years in the way the Roman Emperors did. Let me quote a few lines from this article – “In politics, Silvio Berlusconi has a sure instinct how to solve problems, how to turn any event to his advantage, and how to neutralise any event that cannot advantage him. Even in a crisis, he makes it appear that he has done very well and that it is not his fault.” Mr Speaker, Sir, this, first of all, rings a bell, but this is what is happening in our country. We know that history has it that Berlusconi had to step down. Mr Speaker, Sir, the hon. Prime Minister spoke of our founding fathers and the contribution of Sir Anerood Jugnauth. He spoke of strong shoulders on which we are standing and he spoke of those who planted trees under whose shade we are sitting today. Throughout history, great leaders have felt that they should devote their whole life to the betterment of our people and the progress of our nation. In fact, great leaders have served their nation in different capacities at different times. Prime Ministers have gone and people claimed them back like Sir Winston Churchill. Presidents have gone and people have claimed them back like Général de Gaulle. In Russia, Prime Ministers have become Presidents and Presidents have become Prime Ministers. In Singapore, we have seen a call from the nation for a former Prime Minister to come as special Minister to serve his people once again. At the end of the day, what matters is what we have, a leader who cares for his people and leads them to a better destiny away from…
…chaos, insecurity, fraud and corruption, injustice, to build a country where there is peace, unity, meritocracy and happiness.
Le peuple est souverain, M. le président. Le peuple veut un retour aux vraies valeurs de la république et de la nation mauricienne à travers l’histoire ; un leadership éclairé, une expérience mise au service du pays, la droiture, la discipline, le franc-parler et la méritocratie. C’est le souhait ardent d’une majorité de la population de voir un retour aux urnes dans le plus bref délai pour qu’ils puissent choisir un nouveau gouvernement, un nouveau leadership.
I have done, Mr Speaker, Sir.
M. le président, je vais être franc et direct en m’exprimant sur la grosse trahison que le MSM a subi pendant les 14 derniers mois que nous étions au gouvernement.
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Order!
Mr Jhugroo: M. le président, beaucoup d’orateurs ont fait de grands discours dans cette auguste assemblée et puis, après les élections, ils ont disparu de la scène politique. Dans karo canne!Just to remind the House that the previous orator started his political career under the guidance of the former Leader of the MSM.
The Deputy Speaker: Please, there is no need to repeat or to make comments.
Mr Jhugroo: And if he is no more in MSM, he knows well why and what happened in 1996 during the municipal election campaign.
The Deputy Speaker: Please!
Mr Jhugroo: Can we forget the Gorah Issac case?
Mr Mohamed: On a point of order!
The Deputy Speaker: Please, yes.
Mr Mohamed: What is he trying to say?
The Deputy Speaker: No, please!
Mr Mohamed: Well, I am sorry, he cannot make any allusions.
The Deputy Speaker: Wait! Wait! I am on my feet!
Mr Mohamed: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, he cannot make allusions. The Deputy Speaker: I am on my feet!
I am on my feet! Wait! If the hon. Minister wants to make his point, please, I give him the opportunity.
Mr Mohamed: I would like to make my point.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes.
Mr Mohamed: It would be very cowardly…
The Deputy Speaker: Your point of order!
Mr Mohamed: My point of order?
The Deputy Speaker: Yes.
Mr Mohamed: My point of order is as follows. The hon. Member has said word for word: can we forget the case of Gorah Issac? It is public knowledge that I had personally been wrongly accused of that case. Now, if he basically…
Can I go on? If he is going to talk about Gorah Issac and in a cowardly unparliamentary manner, he has no guts to even mention my name, then he does not have the right to sit here?
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Minister has made his point. I am going to follow the speech of the hon. Member well.
Mr Mohamed: I would not agree that he makes allusions.
The Deputy Speaker: Please, I am on my feet and I gave the hon. Minister the latitude to make his point. The hon. Member should not attack the character of any Member. I am telling it in advance, just to remind him that he should be within the Standing Order.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Speaker, Sir, allow me to reply to what hon. Minister Faugoo said this morning about the MSM. He said that the MSM is neither significant nor relevant, we are a small party. If such is the case, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, why did his Leader, the hon. Prime Minister, so badly wanted an alliance with the MSM before the last general election?
(Interruptions) The Deputy Speaker: Don’t disturb! Let the hon. Member make his point!
Mr Jhugroo: Il avait tous les loisirs…
The Deputy Speaker: Please! Please!
Hon. Varma, I don’t want any comments. Everyone has got his style.
Please, I understand that…
Please, I don’t want to be rude, but we had the opportunity to listen to two Members in silence and for the third Member also, I want that he makes his point. Hon. Bundhoo, there is no need for you to repeat. I am warning you.
Mr Jhugroo: M. le président, quand je parle, je parle avec mon cœur.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, you…
Mr Jhugroo: Et je peux dire qu’il y a beaucoup qui …
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Jhugroo, address the Chair!
Mr Jhugroo: Je n’étais pas à l’aise pendant mon passage au gouvernement pendant ces 14 mois. Vous savez bien ce qui s’est passé ! Tout à l’heure on viendra…
The Deputy Speaker: Please! Hon. Cader Sayen-Hossen!
Mr Jhugroo:…to konn sa bien twa qui zonn tamtam là-bas.
The Deputy Speaker: Please, do not provoke the Member. Mr Jhugroo: …le Premier ministre d’aller seul aux élections, mais il avait peur. Et il savait que sans le MSM, ti pou manze la poussière. Oui, le MSM…
Twa, pas kozé, to pas inn meme gagne ticket.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Jhugroo, you address me!
Mr Jhugroo: Oui, le MSM été ensemble dans une alliance de l’Avenir pour moderniser le pays…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Varma, please!
Mr Jhugroo:…pour bénéficier de l’égalité des chances. Hélas, M. le président ! On ne pouvait continuer avec cette bande de jouisseurs et de maja caros. On ne pouvait cautionner scandale après scandale.
Mr Varma: I am sorry! On a point of order, the hon. Member cannot impute motives.
The Deputy Speaker: No…
Mr Varma: He cannot impute motives.
Mr Baloomoody: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is a ruling from the Speaker that as long as a Member does not identify another Member, there is no motive. He is speaking generally, he can be allowed to speak. There is a ruling.
The Deputy Speaker: So long as the Member is not referring to any specific Member…
No, no. He can refer to the Government as a whole, but not to Members. Please!
Mr Jhugroo: On ne pouvait cautionner, M. le président, scandale après scandale. Laissez-moi parler concernant le scandale de Med Point. Qui avait initié le projet de l’hôpital gériatrique et avec quelle intention ? Qui avait rencontré le Dr. Malhotra avant l’appel d’offres ? Qui avait demandé les spécifications avant de lancer le tender exercise ? Qui avait organisé une visite à la clinique Med Point avant l’appel d’offres?
(Interruptions)The Deputy Speaker: Silence, silence, please !
Mr Jhugroo: Qui avait demandé à faire une deuxième évaluation de la clinique MedPoint ?
The Deputy Speaker: Silence, silence! Order!
Mr Jhugroo: C’est pourquoi le Government Valuer a eu le trou de mémoire.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Jhugroo: Qui avait dit…
Mr Varma: Again, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member is going into the details of the Med Point case which is before the court.
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Attorney General is taking a point of order?
Mr Varma: Of course, because this is sub judice, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. The hon. Member cannot speak about the case.
The Deputy Speaker: Please, wait!
Mr Jhugroo: Qui avait…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Jhugroo, please, wait!
I remind hon. Members that this morning Mr Speaker stated that the issue of Med Point concerning attachment is sub judice.
The issue of attachment is sub judice and we should not refer to it. But, in any event, I’ll ask the hon. Member to make his point without, in any manner, trying to make comments on the attachment which is on. Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am making no comments. I want only to have some clarification by asking questions. They always talk about Med Point, as an hon. Member of this National Assembly, I want to have some clarification. Qui aurait dit que l’argent a été cashed le lendemain et transféré à Londres. Qui sont ceux qui n’avaient pas voté la motion de l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth et pour quelle raison? Maintenant, il y a l’autre scandale concernant Betamax, le scandale de hedging à la STC et au Air Mauritius. La couleur rose de la chemise de mon ami, l’honorable Faugoo, reflète le scandale de Rose Garden.
The Deputy Speaker: Order ! Order !
Mr Jhugroo: Are you aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, …
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Faugoo: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member has taken my name and he is casting aspersions.
The Deputy Speaker: No.
Mr Faugoo: The hon. Member is talking of allegations …
The Deputy Speaker: Alright, the hon. Minister has made his point.
Mr Faugoo: I want a ruling on this, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. The hon. Member has taken my name and he is casting aspersions.
The Deputy Speaker: I will ask the hon. Member to withdraw.
Please! Order! Please, withdraw!
Mr Jhugroo: I was only referring …
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Faugoo, Order! Order!
(Interruptions)Hon. Faugoo! Hon. Jhugroo, have you withdrawn!
Mr Jhugroo: I withdraw. Le Rose Garden scandale, are you aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir …
Mr Faugoo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I did not hear the hon. Member withdrawing what he said.
The Deputy Speaker: That is not true. I heard him.
Mr Faugoo: I did not hear him withdrawing. There was a ruling that he should withdraw. I did not hear him withdrawing.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Faugoo, please sit down! When you made a point of order, I asked him to withdraw and he withdrew, I heard it, you were not listening.
Mr Jhugroo: I can withdraw for a second time pour les sourds. Caleçon moi mo pas tiré, toi qui tire caleçon! Et to conné cote to tire caleçon !
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Faugoo, I am warning you.
Mr Jhugroo: Are you aware …
The Deputy Speaker: Please, sit down! Hon. Faugoo, I am warning you, if you continue, I will have to take sanctions. You have got the attitude to take a point of order, but you should please have the decency to listen. If you are going to act like this, unfortunately…
Mr Jhugroo: On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, why doesn’t the hon. Minister withdraw when he said about tire caleçon?
The Deputy Speaker: No, please! The hon. Member must continue with his speech!
Mr Jhugroo: Zotte gagne du mal! Are you aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, …
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Hon. Seetaram, there is no need to join in! Hon. Bundhoo!
Mr Jhugroo: M. le président, savez-vous que ce présent gouvernement est aux soins intensifs sous perfusion du PMSD et de deux transfuges.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Aimée, please! Hon. Sayed-Hossen, what is the problem?
Mr Jhugroo: C’est important de commencer par cela, car si le budget 2012 a été présenté par un autre ministre que celui de l’année dernière, la raison c’est qu’il y a eu une grosse trahison politique. Fine servi MSM …
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Faugoo, last warning for you!
Mr Jhugroo: Fine servi MSM pou vine au pouvoir et fine essaye attache laqué ferblanc avek nou. Et banne masque pé tombé et pou tombé encore ! Fidèle à notre habitude …
The Deputy Speaker: Please, the official language is French and English.
Mr Jhugroo: We know that with these words, it’s more spicy.
The Deputy Speaker: No, the hon. Member should use French or English language, please!
Mr Jhugroo: Fidèle à notre habitude, le MSM était en alliance avec le Parti Travailliste, avec beaucoup de sincérité et de bonne volonté, comme cela a été toujours le cas quand nous travaillons dans une alliance. Unfortunately, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we have been forced to realise que la bonne volonté et la sincérité n’étaient que de notre part et pas dans la culture du Parti Travailliste. Connaissant mieux aujourd’hui la culture du Parti Travailliste, je dirai que leur philosophie ne se résume qu’à des mots – maja caro et magouilles.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the vice-Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance on Friday last stated that the Budget 2012 will be about dealing with issues that resonate in the daily life of our people. If we look at the first five minutes of his Budget Speech, we understand clearly that his people are les barons du secteur privé qui ont beneficié d’un pactole de plusieurs milliards de roupies sur le dos du petit peuple, by his decision to completely abolish the Solidarity Tax on dividends and interests and on the Capital Gains Tax. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I can’t understand how the Members of the Labour Party and PMSD ti tape la table when Sithanen introduced NRPT and tax on interest. Last year, when the then Minister of Finance, hon. Pravind Jugnauth, abolished these two taxes and introduced the Capital Gains Tax, tax on dividend, ala zotte tape la table encore plus fort! Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is most unbelievable and unbecoming when Friday last, when the Minister of Finance announced the removal of Capital Gains Tax and tax on dividends, ala zotte re tappe la table encore plus fort ! M. le président, il est clair que les membres du Parti Travailliste sont bons pou tape la table …
The Deputy Speaker: Please translate it in French !
Mr Jhugroo: … tape are cerf et tapé. M. le président, c’est un budget fade, décousu et sans vision. While going through the Budget Speech, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we note that the Minister of Finance, hon. Xavier Luc Duval, a fait un aveu d’échec concernant la démocratisation de l’économie pronée par le Premier ministre, l’honorable Dr. Navin Ramgoolam, infligeant du même coup, un carton rouge au tandem Cader Sayed-Hossen et Nita Deerpalsing, lorsqu’il vient, après six années d’éxistence, dire that they will now work with relevant Ministries to implement a pilot programme. C’est une honte et c’est cela leur bonne gouvernance – ala zotte fine voyager papa, tam tam qui fine democratise sa commission- là !
The Deputy Speaker: Please !
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, are you aware that over and above her monthly salary, the Deputy Chairman of Committees gets an allowance of Rs40,000 per month plus an official car, plus a driver’s allowance of Rs7,000 – bien tape cote. M. le président, le Premier ministre a toujours fait le combat contre la fraude et la corruption son cheval de bataille. Malheureusement, nous notons qu’aucune mention n’a été faite dans ce budget à ce sujet. Pourtant, les propos de notre DSK local, l’honorable Dhiraj Singh Khamajeet, tenus à Bon Accueil en Septembre dernier viennent confirmer les magouilles, la corruption….
Mr Mohamed: On a point of order, he has basically referred to a Member of this House and has accused him ofmagouilles, I insist that he withdraws that.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, you withdraw the word magouilles and you make your point!
Mr Jhugroo: I am referring to what he said…
The Deputy Speaker: Please wait; you withdraw, first of all, what you have stated! Hon. Faugoo!
The Deputy Speaker: I will ask hon. Faugoo to withdraw first!
Mr Faugoo: Okay, I just said tire calecon, but I withdraw it.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, you withdraw it first. Hon. Jhugroo, now. I did not hear you!
Mr Jhugroo: I withdraw only the word “magouilles”.
The Deputy Speaker: That is over now.
Mr Jhugroo: Apres un tel incident déplorable, nous attendions à une mesure ferme dans notre budget afin de rétablir confiance dans nos institutions telles que la PSC et la Disciplinary Forces Service Commission, mais rien n’a été fait. Au contraire…
The Deputy Speaker: No, please the hon. Member can’t make reference to the Commission.
Mr Jhugroo: I am only mentioning our institutions, that’s all. Mais rien n’a été fait. Au contraire, des portes étaient grandes ouvertes pour l’éventuel recrutement des petits copains et petites copines.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Minister of Finance announced in this Budget the recruitment of 800 Police officers. My question is very simple: will it be done according to the criteria…
The Deputy Speaker: No, the hon. Member cannot impute any motive to the Commission, please.
Mr Jhugroo: No, I am asking questions.
The Deputy Speaker: Order! You cannot refer to the Commission.
Mr Jhugroo: I am only asking a question.
The Deputy Speaker: I gave a ruling and you will not question my ruling. You rephrase your argumentation, please!
Mr Jhugroo: Will it be done as it was done before or according to hon. Khamajeet’s style?
Mr Mohamed: On a point of order, he has just withdrawn the word magouilles and now he is coming again and saying Kahmajeet’s style. He is referring to the same issue.
The Deputy Speaker: No. I do not think that it is out of order. He is not casting any aspersion on the Member.
Please you can continue.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, how can we expect good governance and equal opportunity to everyone when Ministers appoint close relatives in strategic positions as in the case of the LGSE?
The Deputy Speaker: No, please. I refer again no mention of Commissions!
Mr Mohamed: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with all due respect to the process of this august Assembly, now that he has said it, could he withdraw it? Not say it again, but withdraw what he just said.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, I think that I should advise the Member, I know what you mean but according to our Standing Order, you cannot refer to the Commission.
Mr Jhugroo: So, I will….
The Deputy Speaker: No, please you withdraw it first.
Mr Jhugroo: I will withdraw only the LGSE.
(Interruptions) …appoint close relatives in strategic positions.
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, okay.
Mr Jhugroo: Finish, full stop. Zote conner qui fine passer après.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I note that in paragraph 104 at page 16 of the Budget Speech,
The Deputy Speaker: I do not want to hear any talking. The next Member who makes comment, I am going to ask him to leave.
Mr Jhugroo: Let me quote –
“…the Office of Public Sector Governance has been set up under the Prime Minister’s Office. It will, in priority, assist public enterprises to improve governance, efficiency, services and cut off waste.” Quelle est l’utilité de cette mesure, M. le président, après que le pays ait connu d’énormes gaspillages et de dilapidations de fonds public? Preuve de mismanagement du gouvernement actuel comme confirmer par le rapport de l’Audit. L’octroi du contrat du transport des produits pétroliers par voie maritime, connu comme le méga scandale Betamax, et à l’encontre de l’esprit de bonne gouvernance.
M. le président, comme nous le savons tous, ce contrat d’une durée de 15 ans taillé sur mesure, à la faveur du clan familial Jeetah-Bunjun, contient beaucoup de zone d’ombre….
The Deputy Speaker: Make your point.
Mr Mohamed: My point is once again he has referred to the family of this hon. Member and of hon. Jeetah.
(Interruptions) The Deputy Speaker: No, I do not think that he went outside the Standing Order!
Mr Jhugroo: So what?
The Deputy Speaker: I gave my ruling.
Mr Jhugroo:… contient beaucoup de zone d’ombre tel que le nombre de voyages effectués annuellement, le tonnage par chaque voyage et tout cela, M. le président, conclu sans l’autorisation du SLO et ni d’appel d’offres – R8 milliards! Jackpot! Malgré le rapport de l’Audit qui relève le gaspillage dans nos institutions par milliards de roupies, aucune mention n’a été faite dans le Budget par le ministre des finances pour éliminer ces gaspillages. This is public funds, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, going down the drain. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in the same breath while talking about good governance, I feel much aggrieved de cet état des choses, d’autant plus, que cela perdure aussi dans plusieurs dans nos collectivités locales. Encore une fois, je tiens à déplorer le vil comportement de certains conseillers Travaillistes dans les municipalités. À la mairie de la ville de Quatre Bornes, on ne peut pas oublier qu’une conseillère avec so cabat, a été prise en flagrant délit alors qu’elle vendait des permis pour l’octroi des étaux sur une plage publique. Ce cas est toujours en suspense et notre chère institution – je crois que je peux mentionner l’ICAC – qui est l’ICAC, enquête toujours et depuis belle lurette, c’est cela la bonnegouvernance. Incroyable, mais vrai, M. le président! Du jamais vu! Un maire en exercice a été forcé de leve paquet aller au beau milieu de son mandat pour les scandales que nous connaissons tous à Vacoas Phoenix – khaler piler. Il avait l’intention de faire une balade avec ces collègues dans un jet privé, mais malheureusement, il a été botté hors de ses fonctions comme maire.
C’est cela la culture du Parti travailliste M. le président, comment peut-on qualifier ce gouvernement qui est venu imposer une taxe de 20% sur chaque SMS envoyé par les jeunes de notre République? En les privant de ces moments heureux, can we call this Government a caring Government, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? ‘Arrête faire dominère are nu zeunesse’. What do you think this will bring to Government, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? It is only Rs150 m. and these are peanuts, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, compared to the billion of rupees lost by this Government in the hedging saga; both at STC and Air Mauritius. What signal are we giving to our youth, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? When will they be asked to pay for the incompetence and mismanagement of this Government?
Dans quel pays du monde, M. le président, voit-on les casinos qui font des pertes? Si on est dans cette situation, M. le président, c’est principalement dû à une mauvaise gestion de nos casinos. Qu’est qu’on n’a pas vu, M. le président? Les petits copains et petites copines, qui sont casés et qui font la pluie et le beau temps pour ruiner les bijoux de l’état. Cette situation met en péril aujourd’hui le gagne pain de quelques centaines de petits employés. Je me pose la question, M. le président, n’y avait-il pas un agenda bien calculé, pour arriver aujourd’hui à justifier la vente des ces bijoux de l’état, tel que le Port Louis Waterfront…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Dayal, please!
Mr Jhugroo: M. le président, au train ou l’on va, je crains qu’on va aussi vendre …
C’est bon d’écouter. Je crains qu’on va aussi vendre les statues du père de la nation et de Basdeo Bissoondoyal. Heureusement, M. le président, que la statue de Sir Gaëtan Duval se trouve ailleurs! Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Budget mentions reforms of the institutions, I cannot be more agreeable to that. L’exemple vient d’en haut, M. le président. What we have witnessed at the Mauritius Duty Free Paradise is contrary to what the Budget is aiming at. Someone who has been fired after having been charged of forgery and other charges has been reinstated to his former post. The very same board, which had sacked him, had to reinstate him after having received directives from Cabinet decision. Have you ever heard, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, whiskies are getting expired and evaporated? Jewelleries are getting expired. Perfumes and champagne as well are getting expired, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir!
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, hon. Aimée! Do you want to leave early? Mr Jhugroo: This is what happened at the Mauritius Duty Free Paradise. M. le président, c’est un vrai paradis pour les petits copains de ce gouvernement. C’est comme cela que le Parti Travailliste veut combattre la corruption. On the other hand, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this was raised this morning in a PNQ, the fate of a female trade unionist, Mrs Rehana Ameer, at the MBC, has been completely ignored. In this case, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there has been no forgery, no real charges against her, despite that she was fired without any justification. Thanks this morning, I think that a wise decision has been taken by the hon. Prime Minister and I thank him very much for that. Celui qui fine coquin dans Mauritius Duty Free Paradise …
The Deputy Speaker: No creole!
Mr Jhugroo: … has been reinstated. An innocent woman at the MBC in ‘dans carreau cannes’. I hope that the hon. Prime Minister will reinstate this lady, who has suffered more than one year, as already mentioned by my friend, hon. Bhagwan, because of a dictator at the MBC. Hitler! ‘C’est comme sa qui pu donne considération banne madames’, which has always been mentioned by the hon. Prime Minister …
The Deputy Speaker: Don’t use a third language again. Please make your point.
Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is more spicy. The hon. Minister of Finance mentioned in the Budget Speech, the appointment of two roving ambassadors for Africa. Will Government assure the House that the choice of these two ambassadors will be made out of a selection of people having a diplomatic career and on competence? It will be a very a bad signal, if these ambassadors would be des nominés politiques, just to please their ‘colleurs d’affiches’.
This will lead to more ‘maja caro’ and more ‘tamtam’ as it is in the philosophy of Parti Travailliste and PMSD. As you are well aware, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a specific matter, which I had raised recently in this august House, regarding the presence of a wild stag in the region of Sodnac. The movement of the stag, from un terrain chassé to Sodnac resist to many …
The Deputy Speaker: Please, look at me. Don’t turn your back to me! Mr Jhugroo: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is it because of lack of water due to drought season? Is it due to lack of food? Or, is it just because Sodnac, c’est un plaisir? The hon. Minister Anil Bachoo is always very attentive and a very responsive Minister. He is doing very well. I am confident that he will do the needful so that our VIPs can drive safely in this region to avoid, ‘tappe are cerf’ again.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the present Government has projected to reach two million tourists …
The Deputy Speaker: Order now!
Mr Jhugroo: .. by year 2015. We will still be under the bar of one million tourists in year 2012. The situation has not changed. Mauritius is still as dirty as before. Stray dogs invade our beaches. Beach hawkers are constantly harassing the foreign visitors. Violence and aggressions against tourists have increased, leading to disrepute on the international scene. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, can we still consider Mauritius, c’est un plaisir, and still aiming at two million tourists in these lamentable conditions mentioned above? M. le président, lors de son intervention mercredi dernier, l’Attorney General a pointé du doigt deux membres du front bench de ce côté de la Chambre, comme des accusés dans le scandale de Med Point. Il les a déjà condamnés, alors que l’enquête se poursuit et les procès sont en cours. Franchement, M. le président, il ne respecte même pas sa fonction d’Attorney General.
Mr Varma: I am sorry, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. My speech is on record. I, at no point in time, said that. I said that there are two members of the front bench of the party there who have been provisionally charged. There is a world of difference.
No! The hon. Member has to look at the speech!
The Deputy Speaker: Please. The hon. Minister clarified the situation. I will ask the hon. Member not to refer to the way he did. But I won’t ask him to withdraw, because the hon. Minister clarified the situation. He is going to rephrase his comment, because I have not checked. Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, can I make one point? The point was made by the Attorney General and, in fact, if we listen..
The Deputy Speaker: You made your point. I will have to check the record and, if need be, I’ll come with an announcement in the House.
Mr Mohammed: For the guidance of the House, if I could interject. In any event, when hon. Jhugroo makes a speech and he is making an assertion that that was said, the least that we do expect is that he has in his possession Hansard, and if he does not have that with him right now, he cannot basically come and affirm that it was said.
The Deputy Speaker: He stated so from memory and, quite often…
The Deputy Speaker: No, wait! I don’t want to argue on this. The hon. Member referred to it out of memory. That happens very often. The hon. Minister who made the statement had the opportunity to stand up, clarify the situation, and we take it as it is. The matter is closed, but if there is need for me to check the record, I’ll check it, and I will make an announcement in due course. But I take it that both members acted in good faith.
Mr Jhugroo: En contrepartie, M. le président, pourquoi n’a t-il pas fait mention des autres membres du gouvernement qui sont impliqués ? Le peuple va les juger en temps et lieu. Don’t worry ! Nous tan dire l’ICAC pas guet figire ! Sans commentaires ! M. le président, attention au retour de manivelle !
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in this period of severe drought prevailing in Mauritius, the hon. Minister of Finance has completely overlooked this issue so important, that is, water, as if this is not his concern. On the contrary, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is our priority of priorities. It is most urgent; without water, we will die. Can I ask the hon. Minister of Finance what decision the government has taken so far in this prevailing condition? Nothing, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
M. le président, le sport a été toujours un véritable vecteur de rassemblement. Lorsqu’il est accessible à tous, le sport est un élément unificateur, et ses valeurs sociales sont reconnues par tous ; petits, grands, obèses, fragiles ou musclés. Le budget de l’honorable Xavier Duval en fait mention au paragraphe 315. M. le president, j’ai l’impression que l’honorable ministre des Finances se substitue au ministre des sports, et il ne parle que du Trust Fund. Pourquoi ? Parce que tout le monde sait très bien comment se porte le sport en général ici, chez nous à Maurice. Tous nos stades sont désertés par le grand public pour toutes les activités sportives. Le ministre Ritoo n’est jamais venu dépoussiérer le Sports Act et remettre à jour les lois obsolètes. Le ministre ne fait que se cantonner dans son fauteuil et gérer le sport au jour le jour. Déjà, sous l’ère Ritoo, le sport tourne aussi mal ou plus mal que du temps de ses prédécesseurs. M. le président, tout récemment, nous avons vécu le dernier jeux des îles aux Seychelles. Et quelle a été la moisson ? La débâcle ressemble à l’ancien ministre Sylvio Tang. Le ministre Ritoo et ses acolytes se sont transformés en marchands de rêve avant et pendant ces jeux. Ils ont berné toute la population, M. le president; ils ont berné toute la population, et c’est là où le bât blesse.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Jhugroo, please! Address the Chair!
Mr Jhugroo: Ale cachiète !
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Jhugroo!
Mr Jhugroo: Dilapide fonds ! Betamax ! Scandale !
The Deputy Speaker: Please, address the Chair!
Mr Jhugroo: Il ne faut pas se voiler la face avec notre sport roi, c’est-à-dire, le football, qui est à son plus bas niveau et dans le trou. Il ne faut pass commettre l’erreur de croire que tout va bien dans le foot avec notre deuxième …
The Deputy Speaker: Please, no cross-talking!
Mr Jhugroo: …place du podium aux Seychelles. Non, M. le président! Je pense sincèrement qu’une remise en question n’est que plus nécessaire. Nous avons fait piètre figure aux Seychelles, et c’est le constat de tout un chacun. I have said previously in the same House that the former Minister of Sports, Mr Sylvio Tang, a mis notre football dans le trou. Unfortunately, our present Minister Ritoo cannot get our football out of the trou, and it is sad to see, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that, day by day, it is going deeper and deeper. En sus que la MFA est en bas là haut, le problème se corse avec deux groupes qui veulent chacun diriger cette association au détriment des joueurs de foot. Le ministre des sports reste un acteur silencieux à ce problème.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Mrs Labelle, please!
Mr Jhugroo: Autre example, le volleyball qui faisait honneur au pays dans le passé est aussi dans un trou profond, M. le président. J’attire votre attention que le président de cette discipline n’a pas organisé l’Assemblée générale…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Quirin and hon. Abdullah Hossen, please!
Mr Jhugroo: Mo trouve ban transfuge koz bokou.
The Deputy Speaker: Please!
Mr Jhugroo: Le président de cette discipline n’a pas organisé d’Assemblée générale durant trois années consécutives, et sans présenter son bilan financier. Et tout cela avec le silence complice du ministre des sports. Où va-t-on, M. le président, avec de tels dirigeants ? Le ministre est incapable d’avoir un œil attentif et d’agir dans les guéguerres dans plusieurs fédérations sportives. Un leader doit prendre des décisions et ne pas se cacher au troisième niveau du Registrar Building. Je sais que le sport n’a jamais été le cheval de bataille du Parti travailliste, et en parcourant les noms des ministres précédents qui ont dirigé le sport, nous retenons les noms de Navin Soonarane, Arouff-Parfait, Sylvio Tang, et actuellement Devanand Ritoo. Je sais que le sport va à la derive, et que la chute du sport mauricien est irréversible. Avant de terminer, M. le président, je voudrais, au nom de nom Leader, mes collegues, – ‘ene seul leader, pas comment zote, transfuges!’ – et en mon nom personnel et au nom de mon parti, le MSM, remercier le Premier ministre, le Deputy Prime Minister, le Leader de l’Opposition, le vice-Premier ministre, le ministre de la santé, les autres membres du gouvernement, mes amis, les parlementaires du MMM, et tout le monde, le Speaker, le Deputy Speaker, la presse, la population qui ont témoigné leur sympathie à la famille DookunLuchoomun suite au récent accident de notre collègue, l’honorable Mme Leela Devi DookunLuchoomun.
Mr A. Gungah (First Member for Grand’ Baie and Poudre D’or) :
M. le président,après avoir écouté l’honorable Hossen, je peux comprendre son amertume vis-à-vis le MSM etsa tristesse car il sait, comme tous les autres membres du gouvernement, qu’après le départ deMSM, les jours de l’alliance PTR-PMSD sont comptés.
Mr Deputy Speaker: Order !
Mr Gungah : M. le président, personne, sauf les membres du parti Travailliste bien-sûr,n’aurait jamais imaginé qu’un an après que le leader du MSM aurait présenté le premier budgetde ce gouvernement, nous serions de ce côté de la Chambre. C’est bon de faire ressortir quequand le MSM était entré dans le gouvernement en mai 2010, nous l’avions fait pour travaillerpour le pays. Tout le monde reconnait d’ailleurs que le MSM a une culture de travail et que nous représentons la stabilité,…
The Deputy Speaker: Order !
Mr Gungah : …le développement, le progrès, la sécurité et l’unité. Mais, M. leprésident, au fil des mois …
The Deputy Speaker : Order !
Mr Gungah : …nous nous sommes rendus compte que nous sommes en train de travailler avec un partenaire qui a une culture complètement différente. Une culture qui représente le favoritisme, l’ingérence dans les institutions, une culture de lenteur chronique etd’incapacité pour prendre des décisions.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Jhugroo, please, let me hear!
Mr Gungah : Une culture qui favorise les petits copains et copines au détriment dupeuple en entier. M. le président, il y a eu des blocages à tous les niveaux pour nous empêcher de faire bouger les dossiers importants.
The Deputy Speaker: Order !
Mr Gungah: Et de mettre de l’ordre là où il le fallait. Nous nous attendions à ce qu’il yait une solidarité entre les partenaires de l’alliance gouvernementale pour pouvoir prendre desdécisions mais malheureusement le parti Travailliste s’était engagé dans des magouillesorchestrées pour essayer de finir le MSM. Et malgré tous les coups bas, malgré qu’on nous mettait des bâtons dans les roues quand l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth avait présenté son budget, les résultats sont là pour témoigner qu’il avait deliver. L’honorable Pravind Jugnauth avait su apporter un équilibre entre l’économie et le social et toute la population avait trouvé sa part dans le budget 2011. Même l’honorable Premier ministre avait flatté la gestion économique du pays. Et l’honorable Duval avait même décrit le budget de l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth comme étant un super budget. Mais qu’est-ce que nous voyons aujourd’hui, M. le président ? Le retour d’une politique économique ultra libérale qui fait la part belle aux capitalistes. Un retour confirmé par le ministre des finances lui-même dans les déclarations publiques après la présentation de son budget. Ce retour se confirme dans les cinq premières minutes du Budget Speech du ministre avec l’abolition immédiate de la capital gains tax sur les transactions immobilières et la solidarity tax sur les dividendes et intérêts. Contrairement à ce qui se passe dans le monde en entier par ce temps de crise économique notamment en Europe, même un gouvernement de droite en France a réintroduit une taxe sur les grandes richesses. Ici, on note avec regret que ce gouvernement fait passer l’intérêt du gros capital avant l’intérêt du pays tout entier. Ici on note avec grand regret que ce gouvernement fait passer l’intérêt du gros capital avant de celui du pays tout entier. La priorité du ministre des finances était de satisfaire le shopping list des fat cats du secteur privé.
Une fois que les intérêts du gros capital ont été préservés qu’est-ce qu’on voit dans ce budget, M. le président ? Des miettes pour la population ! Nous avons eu droit à un budget sans vision, sans innovation et sans ambition. Une série de mesures décousues sans aucun fil de pensée.
Even an ex-Minister of l’Alliance sociale of 2005-2010, Mr Dharam Gokhool, has said that the Minister of Finance, hon. Xavier Duval, has replaced the credo of putting people first with that of putting private sector first.
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Order! Let him make his point!
Mr Gungah: He even goes further by stating that the PMSD’s ideological proximity …
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please!
Mr Gungah: … is depicted at the expense of the Labour Party. The Labour intelligentsia has shown signs of deep frustration, just like in the time of former Minister Sithanen.
The Deputy Speaker: Please! Hon. Assirvaden, please! I don’t want any comment.
Mr Gungah: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, since the beginning of the debate..
The Deputy Speaker: My ears are here, my eyes are over there, no problem.
Mr Gungah: … on this Appropriation Bill, I am surprised by the way the Members of the Government are behaving. M. le président, pour un rien, quand un des leurs, parle ils acclament pour démontrer que faire du bruit veut dire être fort. Empty drums make a lot of noise, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir! These same persons know very well..
The Deputy Speaker: Please order! No crosstalking!
Mr Gungah: … that out there, la population dans son ensemble, exprime sa déception et la colère gronde. They can’t face the noise outside, so to console themselves, they make noise inside. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, they think they are hurting us, but when people hurt you over and over, think of them as sandpapers, they scratch and hurt you, but later you will be shining and polish while they end up useless.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, allow me now to speak on the Civil Service, which was under my responsibility under the trahison du Parti Travailliste. We, on this side of the House, nu pas ene vender. We, on this side of the House, have a vision to build a smarter Civil Service, as I stated, in this august Assembly during my intervention on the Government Programme. The efforts I made last year, along with the then vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, to set up and operate a Civil Service College, is at long last on the path of being materialised, at least, on paper. We all know that training is becoming more and more important as a tool for development of our people. It has greater significance for the success of modern organisations.
The House will recall that in the Government Programme 2005-2010, it was announced that the Civil Service College would be set up, but I must tell you that since then the project was shelved as the Government showed no commitment and seriousness of purpose on that important matter. It was only when I took office in May 2010, as Minister of Civil Service and Administrative reforms that I brought this project on top of my agenda. I took the bull on by its horns to have this project progressed on the path of implementation. Today, after so many years, it looks that the Government seems to have understood the importance of this Civil Service College.
However, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I fail to understand why the Civil Service College, will begin operations by outsourcing courses. It is a fact that the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms is already short of training infrastructural facilities because it has only one lecture room to train the thousands of public officers. In order to meet part of the demand, it is already outsourcing training programmes to institutions like the University of Technology Mauritius, the University of Mauritius, the Mauritius College of the Air, among others. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if we really want to provide quality training, we should imperatively set up the Civil Service College which should run as a training institution and man by professional trainers. I have doubt, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, on this Government’s intention. I am asking myself whether it is aiming at outsourcing the training courses to those bogus training institutes which have been set up by their petits copains.
We, on the side of the House, would wish that a proper Civil Service College be set up and operate on the model of the Singaporean Civil Service College or the Malaysian Training Institute commonly known as INTAN in Asia or the Ghana Institute of Management and Public
Administration and the Botswana Civil Service College in Africa. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when talking of reforms in the public sector, we must tread carefully. We all are for reforms in the public sector. However, the approach is crucial, if we have to make reforms more effective, meaningful and acceptable. Here, I wish to refer to the measure relating to opening of offices on Saturdays to, supposedly, improve access to public services.
We all know that a number of years back. Nearly all public officers operated on a six-day week basis. One Government considered that operating officers on Saturdays was becoming costly compared to the real output for the half day service provided, it was decided to have those offices, whose services that could be spared on Saturdays to operate on a five-day week, while maintaining the contractual hours of work of the public officers. The measures announced in the 2012 Budget Speech to open offices on Saturdays is an insult to public officers. This measure will affect a large majority of public officers and yet this is being imposed on them as dictators do. We cannot take public officers working in the public service for granted. It is this same public service that has toiled hard to contribute to the development of the country since Independence. Undeniably, a Civil Service that has played an unfaltering and determining role in the development process of this country and that assures the continuity of the stage. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I cannot understand how on such an important issue affecting public offices, the latter have not been consulted through their unions. If we are to really to motivate public officers and to maintain harmonious employment relations in the public sector, we have to strengthen partnership with a stakeholders through consultation and dialogue. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the 21st century has been dubbed the information age, a time in which communications and the ability to harness knowledge are central to success. The era is also characterised by the rapid pace of change in every aspect of economic, cultural and social life. This inescapably calls for the modernisation of the public sector, but opening offices on Saturdays does not lead to modernisation of service delivery. There are other means to bring the public service to the forefront of development and at the doorstep of the population. There are other means to bring the public service to the forefront of development and at the doorstep of the population.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we have to get our public sector organisations to move high-tech with fully computerised operations, increase the number of e- services and make use of SMS facilities to bring services and information within hand’s reach of the public. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, my appeal to the House – let us go for the modernisation of the civil service through the use of the state-of-the-art technology and information systems. ICT will definitely support the re-engineering of processors and the effective delivery of timely services. Towards that end, I had started consultative meetings with the Ministry of ICT. I endeavoured to push forward the project for online services and e-services. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I foresee some Members on the other side will make reference to Singapore and the hours of work in the Singaporean public sector. The Prime Minister, himself, talks a lot of Singapore since his last visit there, but it is good for the House to know that, in Singapore, public officers are not made to work for long hours only. They are also properly and adequately remunerated with good conditions of employment. Singapore Civil Service is considered to be among the best paid in the world. What about the remuneration in the Mauritian Civil Service? If you want to compare the Civil Service in Singapore with that of Mauritius, we should also consider better pay packages for our public officers as well.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is sad to note that the present Government does not have at heart the interest of public officers. This Government does not have the political will to improve the conditions of employment of the public officers who are among the pillars of the Government machinery. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in the PRB report 2008, it has been recommended that the Ministry of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms negotiates with the State Insurance Corporation of Mauritius, that is, SICOM for the setting up of a contributory medical scheme for public officers, but, unfortunately, no single action had been initiated on such a score that would have benefited the thousands of public officers until I assume office as Minister in May 2010. I took the lead and I personally chaired a few meetings to ensure that actions are initiated to formulate a medical insurance scheme with the SICOM for the benefit of our public officers. Some important works had already been done when I was there as Minister to ensure the implementation of that recommendation of the PRB.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am surprised that not a single word has been mentioned on that important project to help the public officers. The vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance said that health is wealth, but the paradox is that Government does not care for the health of the public officers who are required to work under stressful conditions. Mr Speaker, Sir, this Budget was the opportune moment for the Government to show it is caring employer by making provisions for the medical insurance scheme for public officers, but who cares? The Members on the other side only care for public officers to be made to work on Saturdays. They only want to exploit and squeeze the public officers to the maximum they can without caring for them. The next PRB report, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is due for January 2013. The next report is expected to be published by end of 2012. This means five years have been lost and this medical scheme is kept in the drawer of this Government. Is this called effective Government, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? Is this called efficient Government? Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, Government will come with a lame excuse of financial difficulties, financial constraints, but how come the same Government has abolished capital gains tax illico presto s’il vous plaît. Who will benefit from that measure? Is it the workers or the fat cats? Is it what we call a caring Government, a caring employer, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir?
I will now refer to the measures on decent housing units for every family. This Government is in power since 2005. It is only now that the Government has discovered that many of the housing estates so far have become no man’s land. The Government has, through its lethargy and inaction, allowed the situation to deteriorate and become worse and in a state of dilapidation.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Government has only now acknowledged that in the housing estates there is lack of regulations and discipline, poor sanitary facilities, poor water reticulation and wastewater disposal systems. The living conditions have been made miserable as there is no clean, safe and healthy living environment in those estates. This is a complete averment of the Government which has been in power since 2005 of their inaction, lethargy, and uncaring attitude. Those inhabitants of the housing estates have been neglected and yet the Government is claiming that it has waged a war against poverty, that it is fighting and alleviating poverty. How can you claim to eradicate poverty when such an insalubrious situation has been allowed to spread in those housing estates, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? This Budget provides for a contribution of Rs200 rupees per housing unit per month to ensure that all NHDC housing estates have a functional syndic. How will this work? What is the mechanism set up to implement this measure? The Minister of Finance has not said a single word on these. M. le président, connaissant la mentalité Parti Travailliste/PMSD de jouisseurs et de protection de petits copains, je suis très sceptique quant à la réussite de cette mesure. M. le président, en parlant du problème du logement à Maurice, le ministre des finances a ouvertement blâmé la politique de logement des travaillistes et a émis un certificat d’incompétence à l’ancien ministre travailliste Asraf Dulull et l’actuel ministre travailliste Abu Kasenally quand il affirme dans le discours du budget au paragraphe 254 que:
“Another most conspicuous manifestation of poverty in our country is the number of people who live in poor housing conditions – men, women, children and the elderly.”
En même temps, M. le président, le ministre des finances donne une claque magistrale auministre de l’environnement, l’honorable Deva Virahsawmy ainsi que le Premier ministre, patron du projet Maurice île durable quand il affirme au paragraphe 150 que:” As for our environment, there is far too much litter around.”
C’est malheureux qu’un gouvernement qui se vante de ‘putting people first’ est en train d’abdiquer devant ses responsabilités en matière de logement social et dépend maintenant du secteur privé à travers le CSR. Il suffit de comparer les mesures en matière de logement social de ce budget à celles de 2011 et la conclusion sera claire, M. le président. Avec Pravind Jugnauth comme ministre des finances l’État assumait pleinement ses responsabilités. Pas moins de quarante milles familles auraient bénéficié de cinq housing schemes annoncés en faveur des ti-dimounes et de la classe moyenne. Avec Xavier Duval comme ministre des finances, la classe moyenne est complètement oubliée et pour des gens au bas de l’échelle, il n’y a que quelques centaines d’unités de logement qui sont mentionnées. Sachant M. le président qu’il y a une longue file d’attente à la NHDC pour l’acquisition d’un logement social, on est en droit de se demander sur quelle base les nouvelles unités seront distribuées. Est-ce que c’est la NHDC ou le Trust qui aura cette responsabilité ? Je pose la question.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, let me now come to a measure which is currently the talk of the town, that is, the introduction of a tax of 10 cents per message on SMS and MMS. I cannot understand why Government has decided to tax the whole population and, at the same time, remove solidarity tax and capital gains tax. I am of those who believe that the receipts from this tax will far exceed the Rs125 m. estimated in the budget. Millions will be taken from the pockets of Mauritians while the same result could have been achieved by taxing the Telecom companies which are making billions of profits.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Members, on the other side, have been criticising the VAT and they have time and again, through an unaccountable criticism on the VAT, which is 15% and the revenue therefrom is filling the coffer of this Government. If they are genuinely and sincerely against it, they should have shown the courage and the guts by removing it from this budget itself.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Members, on the other side, only talk and do not walk the talk, because they do not have the courage and the vision. This august Assembly and the whole country has, during the presentation of the 2011 Budget, witnessed the courage and vision of the MSM Leader, who had at heart, the interest of the population.
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Order!
Mr Gungah: He showed the guts and courage by removing the NRPT and the tax on interests. These were the same taxes which had been imposed by the Labour/PMSD Government, at the time when Rama Sithanen was the Labour Minister of Finance. These are the same taxes which Pravind Jugnauth as a visionary Leader removed immediately when he presented his first budget in 2011, after the 2010 general election.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this tax on the SMS and MMS is more than the VAT. Why do I say this? It is because VAT is only 15% whereas this tax on SMS and MMS is 20%.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, last week, hon. Varma, in his speech, stated that “le départ de Pravind Jugnauth est un blessing in disguise”. Do you know why they are happy, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? Because Pravind and the MSM were an obstacle to the style of recruitment of this Labour/PMSD Government…
The Deputy Speaker: No cross-talking, please!
Mr Gungah:… which the whole population has been made aware of. One private radio has been the talk of the town and is still going on and the population is very worried, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. We were an obstacle to the bal de petits copains et copines, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. They are happy, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir…
The Deputy Speaker: Please!
Mr Gungah:…because we were an obstacle to the ill-doings of the Labourites. M. le président, je remercie et félicite vivement mon Leader …
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Varma, please!
Mr Gungah: M. le président, je remercie et félicite vivement mon Leader pour avoir claqué la porte, car it would have been a shame to be part of a Government where scandals are part of governance culture. Talking…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Henry, please!
Mr Gungah: Si to envie prend ene pizza talère mo amène toi manger. Laisse mo terminer, écoute moi, mone écoute toi. Talking of governance, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is shameful for those in power to come and make big speeches while they are, in fact, treading on the dirty path of ill-doings.
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Soodhun, please!
Mr Gungah: This Government has lost the right to speak of good governance, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. My good friend and colleague, hon. Mahen Jhugroo, raised the example of what has happened at the Mauritius Duty Free Paradise. Absolutely shocking, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir! While the Prime Minister is supposed to lead the office of public sector governance and give the right signal, he, in fact, reappointed somebody at the Mauritius Duty Free Paradise, who was dismissed after a disciplinary committee found him guilty under five charges, including forgery. The Prime Minister went as far as coming to Cabinet to reappoint that person as Director of Human Resources. What is the signal being sent, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? And the Prime Minister will come and tell the nation that he would be intransigeant in the fight against fraud and corruption. C’est une farce de mauvais goût, M. le président. In the Betamax scandal also, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, principles of good governance have been flouted. A contract binding the nation for 15 years had been signed again, illico presto, to give a jackpot of Rs8 billion to the clan Travailliste, not to say the clan la famille Travailliste. The contract had been tailor-made, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, no approval had been obtained from the Central Procurement Board, advice and recommendations of the SLO had been ignored, abusive clauses of the contract have imposed unacceptable obligations on the STC and Government and, over and above all, Cabinet instructed that the deal should be finalised on a fast track basis.
Again, shame on this Government, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Gungah: And these same people would point their finger at us. They have no right to do so. They are the culprits and the population is waiting to show them the exit door, Mr Deputy
Speaker, Sir. How come this Government is claiming to foster good governance which implies transparency, fairness and justice for all! We have seen that the Betamax contract has been drafted in such a way that no information can be divulged or shared to the population. The contract is bound by confidentiality clause. Is this what we call transparency and good governance, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir?
On another score, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is unfortunate and shocking that today at a time when we are talking of global economic crisis where our export sectors are expected to face difficult situations ahead, our ICT sector which has become a major pillar of our economy, has been completely ignored in this budget. Let us forget about measures to accelerate the expansion of the ICT. There is not even a contingency plan to preserve what has been achieved by this sector up to now. Franchement, M. le président, je ne sais pas où le ministre avait mis sa tête lors de la préparation du budget.
Non, peut-être il était plongé dans les souvenirs de ses frasques à Mont Blanc! Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Government is an illegitimate one. I repeat, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this Government is an illegitimate one. L’Alliance de l’Avenir does not exist anymore.
The Deputy Speaker: Please!
Mr Gungah: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, hon. Faugoo rightly said it in his intervention, when he stated that it was called Alliance de l’Avenir. So, it does not exist anymore. L’Alliance de l’Avenir does not exist anymore because l’Avenir is on this side, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. At a certain…
The Deputy Speaker: Please, you address the Chair.
Mr Gungah: Si to ti koné ki Ah Fat ti coze are moi, si mo mette sa la la, zotte tout sauver.
The Deputy Speaker: Please, you address the Chair!
Order! Order! Hon. Assirvaden, please!
Mr Gungah: At a certain point in time…
The Deputy Speaker: No. You will have the opportunity to talk later on and you’ll make your point.
Mr Gungah: At a certain…
The Deputy Speaker: Please!
The Deputy Speaker: Address me, please.
Mr Gungah: At a certain point in time, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when there was tension within the Government, I remember very well, the Prime Minister had said that in case of cassure he would go for general elections. But, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, what did we see after that cassure? All types of canvassing had been going on, with indecent proposals. Des propositions alléchantes…
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Order!
Mr Gungah: …avaient été faites à plusieurs membres du MSM, et cela fait honte à la politique. Et, aujourd’hui, le gouvernement ne tient qu’à un brin de fil avec le soutien de deux transfuges.
The Deputy Speaker: Please, order!
Mr Gungah: Shame on them pour la trahison dont ils sont coupables! Shame on them! Mais, en même temps…
The Deputy Speaker: The hon. Member has got the right to make his speech. If you have any point to make, you will have the opportunity of doing so. Please!
Mr Gungah: Mais, en même temps, quand je regarde en direction de nos anciens collègues, j’éprouve de la pitié. Ils sont comme des orphelins politiques ; personne ne s’approche d’eux. M. le président, ils ne comptent qu’un numéro dans l’arithmétique de la majorité gouvernementale. M. le président, ce gouvernement est fragile.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Gungah: Le budget présenté par le ministre des finances le fragilise davantage. Des voix dissidentes se lèvent au sein même de la majorité gouvernementale. Je sais de quoi je parle. Ce budget, loin de souder le gouvernement, va le déchirer en lambeaux. Les travaillistes authentiques, l’électorat traditionnel du Parti travailliste, l’intelligentsia du Parti travailliste rejette ce budget. C’est pourquoi le Premier ministre a si mauvaise mine. Il sait que le peuple est contre ce gouvernement ; il sait que les jours de son gouvernement sont comptés.
Je vais conclure, M. le président …
The Deputy Speaker: Please!
Mr Gungah: … en demandant au Premier ministre, s’il croit vraiment qu’il est aussi fort comme il le clame, qu’il dissout le parlement et qu’il retourne le pouvoir au peuple. La démocratie l’exige, le peuple l’exige.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Gungah: Le budget 2012 enfonce le clou dans le cercueil du régime Parti travailliste/PMSD.
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Gungah: Vivement un leadership fort et une équipe avant-gardiste à la tête du pays !
Merci pour votre attention, M. le président !
Mrs S. B. Hanoomanjee (Second Member for Savanne & Black River):
Mr Speaker, Sir, I have listened to several interventions from hon. Members on the other side of the House. I have witnessed how most of them have pointed un doigt accusateur at me and at hon. Pravind Jugnauth.
Mr Speaker, Sir, it is indeed sad to see how people of this level can be totally blinded by power, to the point of losing their objectivity et tomber dans le ridicule. Either, Mr Speaker, Sir, they have lost their objectivity or deep inside, they acknowledge the truth, but essayent de se voiler la face.Let’s take la Communicatrice du Parti Travailliste. Has anybody here, in this augustbAssembly, heard her talking of the Khamajeet affair? Has anybody heard her talking of the hedging saga at the STC? Has anybody heard her talking of tailor made specifications for MedPoint? Has anybody heard her talking of Betamax? No, Mr Speaker, Sir! We should ask ourselves the question: why?
Après la déclaration compromettante de l’honorable Khamajeet, on s’attendait à des commentaires de l’honorable Ms Nita Deerpalsing. Elle avait disparu de la circulation. ‘Chup Chap’! Silence radio! A tel point que certaines presses se demandent ‘Kot Nita ?’. M. le président, c’est l’hypocrisie à son comble.
Mr Speaker: Hon. Mrs Hanoomanjee, you cannot treat an hon. Member hypocrite in the House.
Nobody will interfere. This is my ruling. The hon. Member should withdraw the word.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I bow to your ruling. I withdraw. Défendre l’indéfendable, enfoncer la tête dans le sable quand il n’y a plus d’arguments et qu’ils sont coincés ! Mais, attention au retour de la manivelle !
Mr Speaker, Sir, I joined my colleagues on this side of the House to say haut et fort, that the hon. vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has disappointed the people of this country. The more so, as some have said that he spent 14 months at the Ministry for Social Integration and that he was supposed to know better la souffrance des gens pauvres. Mr Speaker, Sir, what have we seen? A Budget geared for the satisfaction of the ‘fat cats’ of the private sector. The proof lies in the fact that the first two measures announced in the Budget Speech concern the abolition, with immediate effect, of the capital gains tax and the solidarity income tax regarding dividends. So, instead of ‘Putting People First’, it is putting the private sector first. That was his priority and it is a shame for hon. Members, of the other side of the House, who have applauded. That was the agenda of the hon. Minister of Finance! He confirmed his agenda when he came on a private radio to say that there is, I quote – ‘Retour vers la politique économique des années 2005 à 2010 de l’Alliance Sociale.’
An economic policy, Mr Speaker, Sir, that lead to an impoverishment of the population as indicated by the Central Statistics Office at that time. Un retour vers la politique économique ultra libérale avec des jackpots par milliards aux ‘fat cats’ du secteur privé est la confirmation que le gouvernement Parti Travalliste/PMSD a tourné le dos au petit peuple comme avec l’Alliance Sociale.
This brings me to ask a question, Mr Speaker, Sir: Do the hon. Members on the other side know what they want? They applauded the introduction of the capital gains tax and the solidarity income tax. This time, they still applauded when these taxes were removed to satisfy the shopping lists of the ‘fat cats’. Out there, the people of this country are asking questions on the real agenda of the Labour Party. The hon. Prime Minister, himself, very often, criticises the ‘fat cats’ of the private sector. Yet, each time we have seen that the hon. Prime Minister has been over-generous to those same ‘fat cats’. Mr Speaker, Sir, since some hon. Members of this House have deemed it fit to go back down memory lane, let me also remind them, how the l’Alliance Sociale Government had been over-generous to the ‘fat cats’. Sans détour, M. le président, permettez-moi de venir directement à ces cadeaux, par milliards, que le gouvernement de l’Alliance Sociale avait consenti aux tout puissants du secteur privé.
Premier cadeau : la dépréciation volontaire et massive de la Roupie, en 2006, a permis aux gros operateurs économiques, surtout les secteurs de l’exportation et le tourisme, d’encaisser plus de R 10 milliards. Deuxième cadeau : plus de R 2 milliards d’économie pour les patrons, quand le National Pay Council, mis sur pied par le ministre d’alors, a recommandé une compensation salariale bien au-dessus du taux d’inflation pour deux années consécutives en 2006/2007. Troisième cadeau : R 3 milliards consenties aux grosses compagnies avec la baisse accélérée de la corporate tax de 25% à 15%. Quatrième cadeau : R 5 milliards à l’industrie sucrière pour financier le VRS II et la centralisation.
Cinquième cadeau : R 5 milliards sur dix ans aux secteurs sucriers avec la hausse du prix du sucre sur le marché local. Sixième cadeau : R 6 milliards de concession fiscale sur les terres que les establishments sucriers vont continuer à morceler suivant le VRS II. Et, septième cadeau : encore R 10 milliards d’argent public avec le stimulus package, pour financer le sauvetage des entreprises privées et relancer les activités des opérateurs économiques, notamment à travers des projets infrastructurels. Soit, M. le président, un total de R 50 milliards sur la période 2006 à 2009. At that time, Mr Speaker, Sir, do you know what was the comment which was made by hon. Ms Deerpalsing? She had lambasted the l’Alliance Sociale Government, but publicly stating that I quote – “Since this Government took office, it has been a one-way street towards the economic elite in terms of handouts. That was their agenda and now it is confirmed that this agenda has not changed since this budget pursues with the tradition of handouts to the fat cats. It was, in fact, that agenda that the former Minister of Finance, hon. Pravind Jugnauth demolished in the 2011 Budget when he came up with measures in favour of the population, while, at the same time, asking the fat cats to pay taxes and share their wealth with the poor. I am asking the question whether the trahison of the Labour party against the MSM is not associated with the long-standing tradition of the MSM to favour the working class as opposed to the policy of the Labour party to favour the rich few. Est-ce que le MSM a été sacrifié sur l’autel de la politique ultra libérale du parti Travailliste et du PMSD. Mr Speaker, Sir, some Members on the other side, including the Minister of Agro Industry, have said that the MSM is a small parti, the MSM is a very small parti. Can I just remind the House of the score of the MSM candidates in the last general elections? All of the MSM parliamentarians scored the highest number of votes as compared to the Labour and PMSD candidates. From the results, it was clear that the petit peuple had seen in the MSM son défenseur.
Mr Speaker: I do understand that there are several Members of the Government who are going to speak and they will have ample opportunity to rebut one by one what the hon. Member is saying.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: And rightly so, Mr Speaker, Sir, the very first budget presented by hon. Pravind Jugnauth, relieved le petit peuple du fardeau que lui avait été imposé par le gouvernement de l’Alliance Sociale. In fact, all the promises as regards taxation, subsidies and direct support were fulfilled, namely the reintroduction of subsidies for SC and HSC examinations for a larger number of students. The income support for our most needy citizens was doubled. Reinstatement of the tripartite negotiations whereby representatives of workers could again sit at the same table with employers and the Government to discuss on salary compensation, income tax relieves on Housing loans, university fees, the first 60 tons of sugar produced by small planters and subsequently relieving consumers from the burden of the STC hedging saga imposed on them by the l’Alliance Sociale Government. En fait, M. le président l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth, en tant que ministre des finances avait mis l’économie au service du pays tout en rectifiant le tir sur les mesures qui avaient rendu impopulaire le gouvernement de l’Alliance Sociale. Les ti dimounes et la classe moyenne avait poussé un grand ouf de soulagement. Peut-être que les travaillistes n’avaient pas apprécié le geste de l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth au profit du petit peuple et quand le ministre des finances, l’honorable Xavier Duval vient dire que pendant 14 mois il n’y avait pas de ministre des finances.
Nous comprenons très bien ce qu’il voulait dire, c’est-à-dire que les fat cats n’arrivaient pas à s’engraisser. Il est venu à leur rescousse et a pris des mesures pour qu’ils s’engraissent à nouveau aux dépens de la population. Il y a aujourd’hui un gouvernement, M. le président qui a tourné le dos au peuple, qui s’agrippe au pouvoir grâce à deux transfuges. Encore une fois, le parti Travailliste confirme sa tradition de miser sur le transfugisme pour se maintenir au pouvoir coûte que coûte. C’est une culture qui se perpétue, ce n’est pas le peuple qui intéresse le parti Travailliste mais le pouvoir coûte que coûte. If we look back, we will see that in 1967 the Labour party was in alliance with the IFB and the CAM and when the IFB was revoked, some transfuges stayed behind to allow the Labour party to stick to power. The PMSD then joined in 1969 and later was revoked in 1974, some transfuges again stayed behind. Tout le temps, M. le president, c’est la même rangaine. Les transfuges nous dirons que c’est dans l’intérêt du pays qu’ils ont cross the floor. Dans l’intéret du pays, M. le président! If they had not been lured with the post of Minister would the two transfuges have crossed the floor? M. le président, quelle contradiction ! Pendant que le ministre des Administrations Régionales souhaite introduire une clause contre le transfugisme dans le Local Government Bill, son Premier ministre encourage et accueille au sein de son gouvernement deux transfuges. Deux transfuges au détriment de pur sang rouge comme l’honorable Madame Kalyanee Juggoo. Et ce même Premier ministre qui maintenant qualifie les transfuges de Juda et de traître. Et je vais souligner ici, M. le président, au traitement qui a été infligé à ces deux transfuges même par la MBC/TV, 10 secondes pour chacun, 10 secondes à la MBC et 10 minutes pour la caisse de résonance du général. 10 secondes, c’est ce qu’ils valent aux yeux du parti Travailliste pour ne pas dire les numéros qu’ils représentent dans l’arithmétique de la majorité. And when I look at the other side of the House …
Mr Speaker: Order, now!
Mrs Hanoomanjee: … and I listened to the intervention of hon. Patrick Assirvaden…
Mr Speaker: Some order, please !
Mrs Hanoomanjee: …himself a former Member of the defunct PSM party, qu’est-ce qu’il n’avait pas dit sur Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam ? Today this person is the President of the Labour party. Same, Mr Speaker, Sir, for some other Members who crossed the floor! Il y a certains ils ont passé treize ans à chanter les louanges de Sir Anerood Jugnauth, and today they have completely blocked out from their memory what they said. Aujourd’hui, il ne jure que par Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and this is what we call we sit where we stand, Mr Speaker, Sir. Mr Speaker, Sir, I will now address a very sensitive issue. I have given some thought to it, I have hesitated, but finally I think I have to mention it. Mr Speaker, Sir, on page 12 of the Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance gives the performance of Mauritius in a number of international rankings, but purposely or not, I cannot say, he has forgotten one, one in which Mauritius has received a gold cup. Gold cup pour Maurice sur la drogue, première place pour Maurice. Or, dans ce budget il n’y a rien pour adresser ce fléau. Le problème de la drogue, M. le président, qui fait souffrir tant de familles; des parents meurtris, des parents qui perdent leurs enfants; des jeunes qui volent, qui vendent tout ce qui se trouvent dans la maison de leurs parents. Pourtant, not a single line in this Budget and some people have the guts to come to this House to try to blot out completely the contribution of the ex-Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, in the fight against this scourge. Que certains le veuillent ou pas, que certains viennent débiter leur haine contre Sir Anerood Jugnauth, it is an undeniable fact that Sir Aneerod Jugnauth, au prix de sa vie, had taken the bull by the horns in 1986.
Mr Speaker, Sir, look at this report!
Mr Speaker: Order!
Mrs Hanoomanjee: This is the copy of the findings of the Commission of Enquiry on Drugs which had been set up by Sir Anerood Jugnauth. This Commission of Enquiry was presided by Sir Maurice Rault. Hon. Shakeel Mohamed had quoted extensively from Hansard on the drug issue with special reference to Sir Anerood Jugnauth in his capacity as former Prime Minister of this country.
Mr Speaker, Sir, since he had quoted from Hansard, I would wish today, to quote from this report which was laid on the Table of this Assembly and for which there is a copy placed in the Library of the National Assembly since 1986. I don’t whether hon. Shakeel Mohamed had read this report and if he has, right on page 8 there are certain comments which have been made. L’honorable Shakeel Mohamed sera surpris, M. le president, car, il y a des verités sur la connexion de la mafia de la drogue avec un certain légiste qui se plaît à s’attaquer contre Sir Anerood Jugnauth. Let me see what page 8 says, I quote -
“The Commission had a laborious start because self-serving demagogues, without any regard for the interests of the country, campaigned to boycott it, even if by so doing they became the allies of the drug traffickers.” I am not saying it, the report says it, and it pains my heart…
Mr Speaker: If Members don’t allow me to follow, I won’t be able to intervene if something is irregular. Yes, carry on!
Mrs Hanoomanjee: It pains me, just as it pains hon. Shakeel Mohamed, when I look at this report for the number of persons who have lost their lives through drugs. The report goes on to say -
“On 17 October 1986,..”
Allow me, Mr Speaker, Sir, to mention names!
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member should be careful because she cannot impute motives to hon. Members of this House.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: No. I am not imputing motives. It is only the report…
Mr Speaker: Even if the report says it, if that person whom the hon. Member is going to name, is an hon. Member of this House, she cannot impute motives on this stance.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: He is not. Mr Speaker, Sir, I am not saying it, the report says it. It says -
“On 17th October, 1986 Ally Gaffoor, Cader Gaffoor and Ismael Bacsoo, represented by Mr Mohamed, marched in procession into the witnessbox, and acting as if they were all playing the same gramophone record, declared that they refused to be solemnly affirmed.” The report goes on to say – “It is clear that they so acted on advice given and in execution of a pre-arranged plan.” “But the conduct of Mr Mohamed amounts to a confession.” “We may add that although Mr Mohamed did not ostensibly represent Satar Bacsoo, his passion for Bacsoo’s defence (which did not stop at perjury) was not that of an adviser but…”
Mr Speaker: Order!
Mr Speaker: Order! I said, order! Otherwise, I will have to get some people out of this House! The Commission of Enquiry Report was quoted about a lawyer representing his clients, advised his clients and a remark was passed that I do not know; I won’t stop, but the hon. Member has to bear in mind and assume the responsibility of what she is saying and be careful as to the role that a legal adviser has to play when he is advising his client.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: It is only the conclusions of the report and it says – “We may add that although Mr Mohamed did not ostensibly represent Satar Bacsoo, his passion for Bacsoo’s defence was not that of an adviser but of an accomplice.”
This is the report, Mr Speaker, Sir. This is not what I am saying. This is what the report had said.
Mr Varma: Mr Speaker, Sir, I do apologise but what…
Mr Speaker: Is the hon. Attornery Genral raising a point of order?
Mr Varma: Yes, I am raising a point of order. The person to whom the hon. Member is referring is not a Member of this House and she is imputing motives on that respect.
Mr Speaker: I must inform the hon. Attorney General that previous Members of the House or any member of the public are not protected by the Standing Orders and that this is where it is stated that any hon. Member is quoting the name of people who are not represented in the House and who are defenceless must assume his responsibility.
Mr Speaker: Order!
Mrs Hanoomanjee: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have said at the beginning that I have hesitated, but when I listened to hon. Shakeel Mohamed, the virulence with which he imputed motives to a former Prime Minister of this country, that is why I am…
Mr Speaker: This is a point of order! Let me listen to the hon. Minister!
Mr Mohamed: On a point of order, Sir, the hon. Member has just stated that I had imputed motives the last time that I had addressed this august Assembly upon the former Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth. I would like to state here that this whole Assembly was
presided by the Deputy Speaker and I did not. Ths is wrong.
Mr Speaker: Hon Soodhun, what is happening? Do you want to do my work?
Hon. Soodhun, let me tell you one thing! He raised on a point of order and I am now telling him that this is not a point of order, but it is a matter of personal explanation. So, you keep quiet! Don’t do my work! If the hon. Member has anything to say at the end of the speech as a matter of personal explanation, he will seek my permission. Keep quiet!
Mrs Hanoomanjee: The then hon. Prime Minister had to recall Parliament and give additional powers to the Commission while, at the same time, raising the final recusants from Rs1,000 to Rs 5m. If this is not a resolute fight against drug barons and drug trafficking, then what is it, Mr Speaker, Sir? The truth is that the population will not cease to thank Sir Anerood Jugnauth for his relentless fight against drug trafficking in his capacity as a Prime Minister. The attempts – I am sorry – of hon. Mohamed to point his finger to Sir Anerood Jugnauth will remain vain.
Mr Speaker, Sir, furthermore, I do not know how old hon. Shakeel Mohamed was in 1986, but if he had taken the pain of going back into history, he would have found that, at a certain point in time in 1985, four MLAs of the Labour Party was arrested in Amsterdam. Drugs were carried in suitcases and in a suitcase traced to one of them about 20kg of heroin was found.
Mr Speaker: I am not going to tolerate any interruption! Can you please accept?
Mrs Hanoomajee: There was one Member who was even tried and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Now, the same report spoke of another lawyer, again Member of the Labour Party who was arrested..
Mr Speaker: Can I now intervene and tell the hon. Member that we are not debating the report of somebody who is not here. We are debating a budget speech. I have asked her to respond to criticisms to a level by the hon. Minister of Labour. Now, that she has made it, she cannot continue debating the report.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: M. le président, venir aujourd’hui dans cette auguste Assemblée pour tenter de décrédibiliser un ancien Premier ministre is is shameful. I take only the time of the House to say only one sentence and that is what is quoted in that report and I quote – “In fact, one thing which the enquiry has highlighted is that the then Prime Minister was a person of uncommon integrity”
Mr Speaker, Sir, I will now say that in his speech, hon. Reza Issack stated, the other day, that – “en terme de démocratie, la République de Maurice fait honneur et prend la première place”. But, does democracy mean only free and fair election every five years? Et là aussi, j’ouvre une parenthèse avec les élections municipales qui sont dues – auront lieu, n’auront pas lieu, seront renvoyés, nous ne le savons pas encore.
But, to come back to democracy as a principle, the quality of democracy is evaluatedwith a perspective of ordinary citizens who experience its practices on a daily basis. Et là, M. le président, je tiens à dire qu’on nous traite, nous, quand nous sommes dans l’opposition ..
Mr Speaker: You don’t need to talk in a loud voice. I can’t hear the debate! You can speak in a low tone! Don’t disturb the debate!
Mrs Hanoomajee: Quand nous sommes dans l’opposition, M. le président, on nous traite comme des ennemies, non pas comme des adversaires. We have become victims of political harassment. Those who are responsible for enforcement of law and order harass Members of the Opposition. Je m’explique, M. le président. Depuis que je suis dans l’opposition, il y a la NSS qui vient jusqu’à devant ma porte pour prendre des photos de ceux qui me rendent visite. This is disgusting, Mr Speaker, Sir, with politically motivated selective prosecution, the very concept of political equality in a democracy remains an unfulfilled promise. And this is exactly what is happening right now, Mr Speaker, Sir. Politically motivated selective prosecutions! I, now, talk on procurements, Mr Speaker, Sir. When we talk of public funds, we see that a large part of Government funds go towards procurement. Procurement is done by billions and for that matter there is a Public Procurement Act which provides the necessary framework, including a Public Procurement Board. The role of the Board is clearly defined in the Act and if we look at section 11 on functions of the Board, it is clearly spelt out, Mr Speaker, Sir, that – “One of the functions of the Board is to review the recommendations of a Bid Evaluation Committee and approve the award of the contract or require the Evaluation Committee to make a fresh or further evaluation on specified grounds.”
It goes on to say that – “The Board shall strive to achieve the highest standard of transparency and equity in the execution of its duties. And, it has to take into account the evaluation criteria and methodology disclose in the bidding documents, the qualification criteria and methodology disclose in the bidding documents, equality of opportunity to all bidders, fairness of treatment to all parties, the need to obtain the best value for money in terms of price quality and deliver, having regard to such specifications and transparency of processed and decisions.”
Furthermore, the powers of the Board on section 12 of the Acts says –
“In the discharge of its function, the Board may call for such information and documents as it may require from any public body and examine such records or other documents.” Mr Speaker, Sir, I am mentioning this pour mettre les points sur les i. Especially that now, some hon. Members of this House pretend not to understand, for their convenience or I don’t know whether just to misguide public opinion that the Procurement Board is not a rubber stamp. In all circumstances, the Procurement Board has to assume its responsibilities and the Procurement Board does assume its responsibility. But, what is striking is that, in certain cases, to suit the convenience of some politicians, facts are distorted and allow me to set the records right, Mr Speaker, Sir. Dans tous les cas de figures, les pouvoirs du Procurement Board sont bien définis et les membres assument et doivent assumer leur responsabilité. But, Mr Speaker, Sir, at the same time, I would suggest that members of the Procurement Board be asked to declare their assets as well. For such an institution on which ultimate decision for procurement by billions is made, it is of utmost importance that Members declared their assets. Such a measure would not only allow transparency, but would be one of good governance.
On good governance, Mr Speaker, Sir, for a Government which is all the time talking and saying that they are champions of good governance, let us see what is the meaning of good governance for them. For hon. Members on the others side of the House, Mr Speaker, Sir, good governance means that MLAs can write to Ministries and to parastatal bodies and can use their position to ask to be appointed as legal advisors on Boards and Committees. Mr Speaker, Sir, a reply to a Parliamentary Question has revealed that a hon. Member of Government had, in his former capacity as MLA, drawn Rs 2m. as fees for legal advice tendered to Board and Committee. And that same Member, do you know what he came and said on the departure of the MSM from Government? He said that the departure of the MSM from Government is a blessing in disguise. We can understand his frame of mind, because the MSM would never have condoned such things. Mr Speaker, Sir, c’est la première fois dans les annales.
Mr Soodhun: (Interruptions)
Mr Speaker: I am saying order! I am asking you not to get excited with me! I am telling you! Or you are out of the House!
Out! Out! Yes go. I am asking you to go out.
Don’t challenge me and don’t impute motives or otherwise you will be rusticated from this
House. Carry on!
Mrs Hanoomanjee : Mr Speaker, Sir, je pense que c’est la première fois dans les annales de l’administration qu’on voit la réintégration d’un officier à son poste après…. Mr Speaker: Hon. Bundhoo what are you doing? You are linking out the talk between hon. Labelle and hon. Mohamed? Can’t you keep quiet and sit down and listen!
Mrs Hanoomanjee : Je pense que c’est la première fois dans les annales de l’administration qu’on voit la réintégration d’un officier à son poste après qu’il ait été trouvé coupable par un comité disciplinaire. Cela s’est passé au Duty-Free Paradise, le cas d’un Human Resource Manager qui se voit réintégrer. L’injustice à son comble quand on voit ce qui s’est passé dans le cas de Rehana Ameer ! Il y a eu un Fact-Finding Committee mais jusqu’à l’heure Rehana Ameer n’a pas pu réintégrer son poste.
Now, Mr Speaker, Sir, it does not stop here. I would like to know what about those who profess that tout ce qui est ethique n’est pas moral, what they think about taking their share of public funds for the clan familial. They have been talking of clan familial! Let us see, Mr Speaker, Sir, I am referring here to juicy contracts given to relatives of Members of Government, the retired father of an hon. Member of the Assembly employed on contract again; the mother of a Member of Government who is appointed chairperson on a board, the retired brother of another member of Government in a large Ministry, the daughter of another Member of Government in body corporate abroad. Brother in law, father in law, everybody has a share in the cake. Mr Speaker, Sir, c’est une honte que de voir ce partage des fonds public entre famille, tandis que ceux qui sont qualifiés attendent toujours des boulots. Et ces personnes, de l’autre côté de la chambre, viennent nous parler du clan familial ! Le ridicule tue !
Mr Speaker, Sir, I have heard both hon. Deerpalsing and the Minister for Social Security stating that the former Minister of Finance, hon. Pravind Jugnauth, refused to give additional funds for children in distress. Mr Speaker, Sir, hon. Jugnauth was right because what we found in the recent exercise of the Supplementary Estimates was revealing. In fact, funds allocated in the Budget of the Ministry of Gender Equality had not been totally spent, an under spending of Rs50m. and the Minister is asking for more just like Oliver Twist.Budget allocation goes along with Budget planning. It is all a question of establishing and setting your priorities right. All Ministers would have done the same and for that matter, I am thinking of the Ministry of Health where patients suffer from lack of beds, from lack of appropriate infrastructure, sophisticated equipment which can save lives. At the Ministry of Health, it is a question of life and death, but the priorities have to be set right. Mais non M. le président, aujourd’hui c’est clair c’est une question de faire de la politique sur le dos des enfants en détresse !
And this brings me Mr Speaker, Sir, on the women and children issues. Le budget prétend résoudre les problèmes des plus démunis et nous fait croire qu’il porte une attention particulière aux femmes mais la réalité est tout autre. Commençons par les choses les plus fondamentales qui sont directement liées au empowerment des femmes, l’éducation, la formation, la santé. Nous savons très bien que contrairement à plusieurs autres pays tels que le Singapour et l’Inde et plusieurs pays d’Afrique où il y une corrélation nette et claire entre l’éducation des femmes et leur empowerment, nous, à Maurice, nous ne voyons pas cela. D’ailleurs Maurice a chuté de plusieurs places sur le Women Empowerment Index comme l’a démontré le dernier World Economic Forum à Davos. L’empowerment des femmes passe généralement par une autonomisation économique et une forte participation dans la vie politique du pays, mais ce gouvernement ferme la porte aux femmes. Au lieu de trouver des mesures pour aider a leur empowerment, la nouvelle ministre de l’égalité du genre juge bon de renforcer la subordination et l’oppression des femmes en proposant des secteurs tels que housekeeping work, small scale farming et c’est avec une grande fierté que le ministre des finances est venu nous annoncer au paragraphe 253 de son discours que le National Empowerment Fund will train some 500 domestic workers next year. Je me demande, M. le président, comment une ministre qui supposément milite pour la promotion de la femme, peut accepter que le gouvernement traite les femmes comme des second class citizens.
En ce qui concerne la protection des enfants, le ministre des finances n’a trouvé mieux que de créer six nouveaux shelters. Mr Speaker, Sir, creating new shelters does not solve the problem. I don’t say that we don’t need shelters. We may have two, we may have three, six new shelters, what would be the quality of services offered at these centres? Would these children be accommodated temporarily or permanently? If temporarily what measures are being taken to find suitable accommodation for them? For those of school going age, would they attend schools whilst in these shelters? So, many questions that need to be addressed.
Mr Speaker, Sir, the place of the child is in the family as stipulated in the Convention for the Rights of the Child. La création de six shelters est un aveu de taille du gouvernement, c’est que ce gouvernement a failli totalement dans la consolidation de la stabilité de la famille. More in-depth measures should be taken. A sociological study is required pour attaquer les vrais maux de notre société. Si aujourd’hui, nous nous trouvons dans une situation où tant d’enfants sont en détresse, c’est que notre société est malade.
Aux grand maux, les grands remèdes. We have heard so many times, and for so many years, with this Government, l’ecole des parents, imparting parental skills, encouraging foster care, mais rien de concret. And this is why the Ombudsperson for Children has been very critical in her analysis in her last report recently published. Most of her recommendations are not implemented, but still the Ministry concerned says that it needs more money and what is more surprising is that most of the recommendations of the Ombudsperson for Children can be implemented without additional funds. It is clear that the Government is not going to the root of the problem, but is applying palliative measures.
M. le président, les petits planteurs et les petits éleveurs sont les parents pauvres de ce budget: des mesures creuses, des répétitions, mais rien de concret ! The Minister of Finance mentions at paragraph 116 of his speech that all small planters and all small breeders will obtain VAT refund on agricultural machinery, equipment and tool.
Mr Speaker, Sir, in fact, it is a burden being put on those concerned. Does he know that small planters are not VAT registered?
Small planters very rarely buy agricultural machinery. Most of the time ils louent ces équipements and, therefore, most of them will not benefit from this measure. On regrouping of small planters derocking and providing irrigation, Rs310 m. have been committed – very good – but when that scheme had been presented to small planters the latter were given the impression that productivity will be increased and that the cost of production will decrease. Most of the small planters, Mr Speaker Sir, are disappointed. Only last week, I was made aware that small planters in the region of Pointe aux Piments, who had joined the derocking scheme, have had to threaten the contractors to get their money. They have joined the scheme since 2008. The first harvest has been done in September 2011. From 2008 to 2011, they have not benefited from a single cent. They have bound their land for seven years. They were told that they would get a profit of Rs8,000 rupees per arpent, but, at the end of the day, they are getting Rs2,500. Finally, Mr Speaker, Sir, what has happened? They have given away their land, around 200 arpents of land; they have not earn anything for about three years. All the rocks which have been removed in the fields have been sold. Nobody knows who has pocketed the money. The harvest has been done in September 2011 and although they should have received during the normal course of things 80% of their dues after 15 days, now they have to threaten those concerned to get their money. This is the saga of the derocking project. Through this scheme, small planters have lost completely control on their land and they are losing financially also. An evaluation is important before more money is injected in the scheme, otherwise we will assist to the slow death of small planters. Already, they have dwindled in number, from 33,000 to 20,000.
Une parenthèse, M. le président, undoubtedly, knowing fully well that no new measures have been included in this Budget for small planters, le ministre a voulu truffer les measures, et il dit:
‘We are also maintaining the payment of an 80 percent advance to sugar planters as soon as their crops are sent to the mill.’
But, this measure was already taken by hon. Pravind Jugnauth and is already being implemented. So, I don’t know whether he meant to say that he could have withdrawn this measure. Paragraph 120 of the Budget Speech talks about the historical deal made by the Prime Minister. This reminds me, Mr Speaker, Sir, of the re-negotiation of the contract between the CEB and the independent power producers. Since 2007, there have been talks about this renegotiation which could have brought down the price of electricity, mais depuis un bon bout de temps on n’entend plus parler de cette renégociation. It appears that it is no longer on the agenda of Government. The métayers also have formed part of the so-called historic agreement, but we know, Mr Speaker, Sir, quel a été le sort de ces métayers. Some have been compelled to give away their land which they have occupied for 50 to 60 years for peanuts. L’honorable Cader Sayed-Hossen s’en est occupé personnellement. En tant que président du comité de la démocratisation, il est au courant. This is what is called democratisation of the economy. Instead of providing land to small planters, land is being taken away from them and given back to the sugar estates!
Still, the Minister of Finance thinks that the small planters will be able to produce. He says he is reintroducing a Freight Rebate Scheme. That scheme, Mr Speaker Sir, was introduced in 1991 when 50% of rebate on freight was given. That incentive was withdrawn by the Labour Government. In this budget 25% cost subsidy, and he says will be shared equally between producers and exporters. That measure is being introduced. There are lots of contradictions and confusion. We need clarification as to which products. In the past, Freight Rebate Scheme was given on export of pineapples and litchis, but now, as the name itself says – Freight Rebate Scheme – it relates to freight and freight concerns exporters. How are producers concerned?
Mr Speaker, Sir, nous assistons à la disparition des petits planteurs et des petits éleveurs. Amongst other things, small planters had requested for a land bank to be set up. They had requested for a review of the freight scheme to render it more transparent and efficient. They had requested for a re-instatement of the Electricity Rebate Scheme and they had also expected the establishment of a central wholesale market, mais rien dans ce budget. M. le président je ne peux terminer mon discours sans parler de mon passage au ministère de la santé. It is sad to note that the Budget of the Ministry of Health has been reduced. Bold measures had been taken from May 2010 to July 2011. These measures were greatly appreciated by the population. I have in mind the staggered hour appointment, the opening of health centres at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. for taking of blood samples, the renovation of children’s wards, improvement in the general hygiene and cleanliness of hospitals and health centres to mention but a few.
Furthermore whilst I was laying emphasis on prevention, I had charted out plans to combat the three diseases which top the list: le diabète, les maladies cardio-vasculaires et le cancer.
The National Diabetes Framework, le plan d’action pour les activités physiques, le plan d’action contre le cancer had all been worked out and the new Minister of Health only had to implement. Mais ce qui me chagrine, M. le président, ce sont les conditions dans lesquelles les personnes qui souffrent du cancer, et qui viennent à l’hôpital Victoria à Candos pour la chimiothérapie et la radiothérapie, sont reçues. Au temps de l’ex-ministre de la santé, ces personnes s’asseyaient sur des bancs et en période hivernale, dans le froid, en attendant leurs tours pour le traitement. Who cared? I wonder whether the former Minister of Health was even aware. When I was the then Minister I took immediate action, with funds available, at least, to provide some minimum comfort to these patients. At the same time, I managed to find unutilised space which could be converted into a comfort zone for these patients where they could have their tests carried out, their chemotherapy done, where they could rest after their chemotherapy sessions. Works should have been completed by end of August.
Mr Speaker, Sir, this Government claims to be a caring government. How caring it is? Putting People First? De vains mots pour épater la galérie! Up to now, the patients are still being treated in very difficult situations. I have enquired and I have learned that, apparently, another site has been found in Vacoas. I make an appeal to the Minister of Health: chemotherapy is a complex matter and, at all costs, has to be carried out on hospital premises. Si c’est délocalisé que se passera-t-il si un patient a des complications.
In the name of all these patients, I am asking the Minister to look into the matter again and take urgent action. Cancer patients do not deserve the treatments that are being meted out to them, spécialement quand il y a de l’espace à l’hôpital Victoria et que c’est mal utilisé.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I note with regret that there are no new projects in the health sector. Je ne sais pas si le ministère de la santé est en panne d’idées. But, what is being done to remedy le manque de lit à l’hôpital? I had told technicians of the Ministry that there was a need to redefine the zones to settle that problem. Work had already started on this issue: A 5-star hospital like Souillac Hospital where beds are available and underutilised. People from the south, from le Morne onwards have to travel to Rose Belle to be treated. All these projects were in the pipeline.
I would just ask the Minister of Health to enlighten us on this issue.
One word on the issue of civil servants having to work on Saturdays – the Minister of Finance comes up with a decision taken unilaterally, without a discussion with trade unions and announces it to the nation, most probably wanting to give the impression: ‘bé nou pe kas enn gran paket tou dimounn travay samedi’.
First, il empiète sur les prérogatives du PRB. Conditions of service are determined by the PRB. Second, he is no doubt not aware that already most Ministries have a skeleton staff on Saturdays to attend to urgent matters. S’il voulait mettre de l’ordre, he should have started by essential services like the post which closes its door for lunch between 11.30 and 12.30. Les personnes âgées qui touchent leur pension à la poste have to queue up and wait. Did the Minister of Finance take into consideration the number of women who work in the Civil Service? Did the officer responsible for the gender desk in the Ministry inform him how this decision will disrupt family life? What about the Minister for Gender Equality? On one side, we are talking of consolidating the family, protecting children, on the other side disrupting family life. But I foresee already that he will meet with a lot of resistance from trade unions, and will never be able to implement that decision unless the PRB comes with it, at least, at the appropriate time.
Mr Speaker, Sir, some few words on my constituency. I know that all the time this government tends to neglect the west in terms of projects. For about three years now, we have been hearing of a project for the elderly in Riambel. If I am not mistaken, the Minister of Social Security had already proceeded to the laying of the foundation stone, but ever since no new development.
Mrs Hanoomanjee: So, I make an appeal to government for, at least, three projects in Constituency No. 14. First, one on which the project committee had already given its approval, that is, to make of Yves Cantin Hospital a district hospital that would alleviate the sufferings of all the people from Le Morne to Rivière Noire, to Tamarin, who have to travel to Victoria Hospital for minor problems. Second, a market in Chemin Grenier. I raised the issue of hawkers at Chemin Grenier at adjournment time last week. Land can be compulsorily acquired in Chamouny road. At present, the royal road of Chemin Grenier is congested on market fair days, and it is high time to decongestion the centre of Chemin Grenier and, at the same time, provide a decent market infrastructure to vegetable sellers and other hawkers. Third and last, I wish to draw attention that there is only one road leading Flic en Flac village. With the number of hotels in Flic en Flac, with all the ongoing development, morcellements, inhabitants as well as tourists have increased.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if ever there is a natural calamity like a tsunami or a major accident, can you imagine what will happen? The appropriate authorities should start thinking about, at least, a second entrance and exit to and from Flic en Flac. Mr le président, ce budget est une trahison envers la population. Le masque du gouvernement est tombé, et la population n’est pas dupe. C’est un gouvernement caractérisé par des scandales et, j’en suis sûre, ils ne feront pas long feu. Nous sentons déjà leur agitation.
L’inquiétude se lit sur leur visage, il y a plusieurs d’entre eux qui ne peuvent même pas descendre dans leur circonscription ; les gens sont révoltés.
To conclude, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I will refer to Shakespeare’s Macbeth – “Those on the other side, they are strutting and fretting their hour on the stage. They are full of sound and fury.”
But soon, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, they will be heard no more.
Mr N. Bodha (First Member for Vacoas and Floreal):
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is always a privilege and an honour to stand up in this august Assembly to make a speech on the Budget which is considered as one of the main events in the life of a Parliament.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I feel very sad when I listen to hon. Bachoo reciting a number of things from the Scriptures. I am not as versed as he is, but Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when you stand up and speak in the House, you should have the nobility, you should have the sincerity. He said something that when you are 80 you should be detached and you should ‘bow down to life’.
My first souvenir of hon. Anil Bachoo was as from 1982 where he was asking for a vote under a spin doctor coming from the United States. He was asking for a vote to do what? To make Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam at the age of 82 become the Prime Minister the next five years up to 1987. He was doing it. He started his political career. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir….
The hon. Speaker is not here. Hon. Bachoo is the only one who was in the 1982 battle, except Paul Raymond Bérenger. But, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam was right. Why did he stand as Prime Minister? It was because he felt he could serve his country, he felt that was his mission and that was his duty, and that he could stand the test of time up to the age of 87 – I bow down to that. But he cannot come today, in this august Assembly, and tells us a story like this, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
I am not versed in the Upanishad, on scriptures but I know one thing, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Mahabharat and the Bhagavad Gita show you one thing: you have to do your duty by commitment, by sincerity, by loyalty, when you feel that that is the path you have to take.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, hon. Bachoo started with the Labour Party, then he went with the MTB, with the MMM, then with the MSM, then came back to the Labour Party. Ce sont les zigzags politiques de quelqu’un qui pense qu’il est en ligne droite, mais ce sont les autres qui voient les zigzags, pas lui. He has always applauded the Leader of the day, which he is doing now. But he should not take us for a ride; he should not take Parliament for a ride, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
I stand up here, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as a pure sang MSM, because I pride in politics, commitment, sincerity and loyalty and I have always said so, but between you and us, there are only five metres, sometimes it takes five years to change, to go from there to come and from here to go there, or otherwise if you cross the floor, it takes you a few days.
You have to choose. I have always said – when I see hon. Dr. A. Boolell, I bow down to see. We were 50, more than 50 of us here, on this side MSM/MMM Government, he was standing there alone, he was resilient; but I bow down to him, because he was loyal to his party and he believed that his party would come back to power. He came back to power. That’s why I say, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that when we have the opportunity to serve our nation and our people, we, too should do it with commitment and with loyalty. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, about this Budget, I feel like rewriting it, rewriting it with more ambition, with more pride, with more hope for Mauritius. We want to rewrite it, give it a more paradigm shift, to be more bold.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to talk about the local situation, the international situation. But before that, I was a Minister in a Government led by Dr. Navin Ramgoolam, as Prime Minister. We are here today. Why are we here today? Some say because of the Med Point affair…
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Aimée, please!
Mr Bodha: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have listened to each and every one on the other side of the House. I have not interrupted anybody and I do not think it is fair that some Members, after having made their speech at the beginning of the debates, end up interrupting all the Members, on this side, each and every time. We cannot do that. Listen to me because I have things to say.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, Why are we here? Why am I here? Some say because of the Med Point affair, some say because of other reasons, but we gave, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. I have served as a Minister under Sir Anerood Jugnauth, I have served as a Minister under hon. Bérenger and I have served as a Minister under Dr. Navin Ramgoolam. But I cannot understand that when I have an issue of national importance like the Michaëlla Hart affair, like air access, like law and order, I cannot have access to the Prime Minister. I cannot understand this, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, and they know what I am speaking of. How can you have that sort of leadership, un culte d’inaccessibilité, an aura of adulation shown on TV? How can we have this? How can I not meet a Prime Minister when I need to talk to him to go further, to decide on a flight to Shanghai, to go on a mission to London, to choose a Chairman of the Mauritius Tourism Authority? Why? Pourquoi ce culte d’inaccessibilité? I think you should be a Labour tounderstand this. I cannot. And then…
Yes, you are proud of this, but it is not…
The Deputy Speaker: Please, you will have the opportunity to reply!
Mr Bodha: But, it is not in my system. It is not in the system of the MSM. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when the MSM comes in any Government, in an alliance, it is with our heart, with our soul, with our loyalty, with our competence, because we want to be part of that team. And this is what we gave to Dr. Navin Ramgoolam and the Labour Party! We come to serve, we come to decide.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in my Ministry, – when I was the then Minister – the Tourism Industry, I consider that it can shape the Mauritius of the next years. It can do to what Mauritius did with the sugar cane, the Tourism Industry can do that. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when it came to my Ministry, I had no Chairman at the MTPA, no Chairman at the Tourism Authority, no Chairman for the Tourism Fund. There were other parastatals and they were chaired by two Members of the PMSD – who are still here. And in all, I recruited three or four Enforcement Officers and one retired Superintendent of Police to address the issue of law and order, but when I see this, I am jealous of hon. Khamajeet. I do not know how he does it. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, what I am saying is that there is a style of leadership about decision-making, about the time we take to do things. Hon. Minister Anil Bachoo is proud today of thinking of what he has done – but we all know that all this was planned many years before – with the Deputy Prime Minister – when he was Minister of Public Infrastructure. So, what I am saying, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we had the problem of Med Point, of course, we had this problem of decision-making, the problem of commitment, of consideration of the partnership.
Because we fought an election together, we went to the people together, we had a programme, a manifesto together and we wanted to be part and parcel of the Government. All the Ministers here know of what I am talking when it comes to decision-making, access to the Prime Minister, etc.
Maintenant, nous avons un capitaine avec son équipage et il dit qu’il n’a pas confiance dans son équipage ; il se méfie de ses ministres. Nous avons un capitaine qui dit emain quand il y aura la tempête et les bourrasques, mes hommes ne pourront peut-être pas tenir la force des vents de l’Opposition. Nous avons un capitaine qui est là et qui n’est pas là. That’s the whole issue, because when we are in an alliance, we have to find this synergy and we had promised the
Prime Minister, the best of our ability, competence and loyalty. I personally did that, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Having said this, what is happening in this country, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? Ce budget manque quelque chose de fondamental: la confiance et la stabilité politique. La confiance vient de la capacité d’un gouvernement à donner de l’espoir à tous les stakeholders. La stabilité vient non pas des nombres mais de la cohésion. This Government does not have the stability and it does not show the confidence that this country needs in the daunting times.
A few things, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir: we can see the business wait and see attitude; we have le Civil Service au ralenti; we have the political uncertainty when it comes to business confidence; everybody is saying what is going to happen; everybody is waiting for something to happen. Maybe the budget could have been the catalyst, but it was not the catalyst. Everybody wants this country to have a breath of fresh air, a new hope, a new leadership. Everybody is waiting for that. En attendant, cela continue.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, as I said, the budget does not create the confidence and the stability our country needs in the difficult and very daunting times. Let us see what is happening in the world today, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. We know Europe is reeling with the euro crisis. The United States is unable to stand up. And what is happening in Europe? France is thinking in terms of a 0.6 growth; Germany a bit stronger, and in Italy what has happened? Silvio Berlusconi, a magnate who controls the media, the TV and the press, who is himself a magnate in the economic world, who has an interaction with the underworld, who can even influence the Judiciary, he has been forced to resign and to leave, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. This is the lesson to learn. And when we see Italy at the brunt of a catastrophe, when we see what is happening in Europe, should we still look only at Europe? The focus of the other budget was rebalancing the economy. Let us look east. India is moving at 8, 9%; China is moving at 8, 9%. Let us look west nearer Africa which is the continent of tomorrow and we are blessed, history has changed, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, but geography has not. We are blessed to be in the Indian Ocean between Asia and Africa. We are blessed because we can still use the situation of geography for the betterment of the next generation to come. But this budget does not do anything about this. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this year we are getting 20,000 Chinese coming as tourists, starting from 6,000 with one flight to Shanghai. If the 20,000 Chinese are spending 1,000 euros, it’s 20 million euros and 20 million euros, it’s Rs800 m. Tomorrow we can double this, Mr
Deputy Speaker, Sir. The next year, we can multiply this again. But we are not doing it because we don’t believe in it, I don’t know. I will come back to this, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Concerning Africa, we want to be the star and key of the Indian Ocean again. We want Air Mauritius to be the airline and to make Mauritius as a hub. I will come to that, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. But let us see what is happening to the country. All our parastatals are doing badly; most of them are losing millions, giving a poor service. We are paying more for less water. The hedging saga cost Rs10 billions at Air Mauritius. The national carrier is still reeling under it. It cost Rs5.4 billions at the STC, we are all reeling under it, paying the hedging fee at the petrol station; the number of cases at ICAC, we have a new contract of Rs800 m. at the dutyfree paradise, we don’t know what is going to happen; how many parastatals are without a CEO or a chairperson; we have the whole jackpot of Betamax, Rs8 billions in 15 years, garantie, foolproof. We have the law and order situation. I will say a few words on that later.
Concerning the democratisation of the economy, I am sad, hon. Ms Deerpalsing is not here. When Appavou is getting disintegrated and the others are buying the hotel, is that democratisation? Now, we don’t talk of democratisation of the big companies, we talk of democratisation with the Small and Medium Enterprises. It is as if we don’t talk about the sugar barons, sugar estates, we are talking of the small planters. But what is democratisation? It is an urgency; it is a duty to history to bring a new equilibrium in our society. This is democratisation of the economy. I had one brilliant idea which I raised here, in Parliament, talked to the Prime Minister and he said it is brilliant. I talked to the Deputy Prime Minister, I said: let us take Rs500 m. – I am making proposals as well – and create a Hotel and Tourism Investment Trust, let us buy shares in the five, six big companies and sell the shares to the workers, give them one when they buy one. This would have been democratisation of one of the sectors of the economy. And the Prime Minister said: ‘yes, to ena raison.’ We can do it.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, when we see the situation of the country. I have raised all these problems. We are living in a country, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, where two neighbours were talking to each other and it ended up in the arrest of one of them pour un complot pour porter atteinte à l’intégrité du Premier ministre et de déstabiliser le gouvernement. C’est notre pays. Nous avons deux voisins qui se parlent et cela se termine en une arrestation pour complot pour porter atteinte à l’intégrité du Premier ministre et de déstabiliser le gouvernement. And this is not enough because two persons have a provisional. You have somebody else.
Hon. Assirvaden, I have listened to him!
The Deputy Speaker: Please, I will take care!
Please, don’t interrupt!
Mr Bodha: This was one charge. There could have been another charge of diffusion of false news and even the arrest of the hon. Leader of the Opposition was contemplated at Line Barracks. Why? Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, because two neighbours were talking to each other!
The Deputy Speaker: Order!
Mr Bodha: Et on est en train de déstabiliser le gouvernement! Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this is the country where we are living and hon. Bachoo can recite the scriptures, of course. We do not zig zag, we go straight, Mr Deputy Speaker. Sir. What can we achieve in this country because it is a formidable island. We can achieve the democratic model of the Scandinavian countries with good governance. We can achieve the Singapore model of education and management. Mauritians are geniuses. We can achieve the Dubai model as a hub and we can achieve the uniqueness of Mauritius as the land of peace, tolerance, conviviality and prosperity with equal opportunity, unity in diversity. This can be achieved, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. This is the Mauritius we want to build. When the former vice-Prime Minister last year came with the Budget, he put targets, we had an ambition. It is fair for us to congratulate the vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on a number of measures that he has brought because he believes that they will bring betterment to the nation. But it is our duty to say that he has not been ambitious enough, bold enough, fair enough. This is our duty as an Opposition and I am going to make a number of proposals, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Let us see what the Prime Minister said last year – “Mr Speaker, Sir, sustained economic success requires two main ingredients. The first is a long term forward looking perspective (…)” I have just painted it.
“(…) aimed at generating economic growth and efficiency. The second is the focus on social justice, and ensuring growth is inclusive. The Budget outlined by the vice-Prime Minister, has both of these ingredients in abundance, and he should be congratulated for this Budget of the first Budget of l’Alliance de l’Avenir.” This is what the Prime Minister said and, he continues – “The forward looking nature of this Budget is evident in its focus on rebalancing growth and investment for the future.”
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, he continued to say – “(…) I had come in 2005 to the nation with an agenda to democratise the economy. I am glad that we have indeed made a number of inroads in that direction.” He was speaking of the cane industry. It is the way that he ends which is good, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. This is what he said – “Let me conclude, therefore, Mr Speaker, Sir, by stressing that the policies we have been pursuing while adapting to the continuing changes in the global economy, are taking Mauritius in the right direction. (…) They will be telling about opportunities fully seized, and they will be telling about potential fully realised.”
Now let us listen to this – “As importantly, if not more importantly, they will be telling about a government which left no stone unturned to integrate those who are less fortunate into the mainstream of economic development, thus pursuing the noble aim of inclusive development.”
He ends up with Roosevelt and I am going to say what he said about Roosevelt – “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Does this Budget correspond to this? Does the Budget of 2012 correspond to the saying of the Prime Minister mentioning Roosevelt?
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Are we providing enough for those who have too little? Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this is what the Prime Minister said. I am leaving something very beautiful because I will tell you what the Prime Minister said about Sir Anerood Jugnauth in his speech on the Budget. What did the hon. vice-Prime and Minister of Finance say about taxation?
“ C’est un budget de continuité with some measures which are very welcomed and you shall bring welcome changes to our society in Mauritius and to the taxation system.” Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, you were in the Chair, it needed to be corrected, but you can correct in a good way and you can correct in a bad way. I am sure, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the House will agree that corrections have been made in an excellent way.
And then they go out and say the Minister of Finance ….
The most beautiful side of it is coming, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. The NRPT has been abolished. I had called this tax, when I was the Leader of the Opposition, the Navin Ramgoolam Parti Travalliste Tax and I said that he could have been the Poll Tax like that of Mrs Thatcher in London. The NRPT has been abolished, but replaced nevertheless with a Solidarity Tax on very rich people who earn more than Rs2 m. a year and who have interests as income and who achieve benefits also from dividends as income. It is 10% additional. It is not excessive. He said so. Why is it excessive in 2012?
He said so, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Later I will tell you what you can do with Rs150 m.? What you can do with 1% of this tax or 1% of the other tax? Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that is why I am saying that you can say something this year and you can set something else the next year. The Foreign Affairs Minister, hon. Dr. Arvin Boolell…
I bowed down to him earlier to his resilience and to his loyalty. He said – “The vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance has delivered and he has delivered much to the unexpectation of the Opposition. But he has delivered and lived up to the expectations of the nation. He has conveyed a very strong message (…)”
(Interruptions) “(…) a message of solidarity in the face of adversity. It is in the light of events unfolding on the international world which is constantly changing the landscape so much so to the extent that you don’t know whether for certain the new economic model will adapt to the changing circumstances.”
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, let me come to the Med Point affair. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Med Point affair started ….
The Deputy Speaker: Please! The hon. Member should continue with the speech.
Mr Bodha: We all know how it started, we all know what was the objective: attache ene laqué ferblanc. We all know what happened and we made a campaign of truth. One thing which is important in politics, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is loyalty and the other one is that you should be true to your conviction. We toured the island because we were in search of truth and we asked a number of questions. We asked three questions to hon. Dr. Jeetah. One regarding as to whether he had met Dr. Malhotra, whether he had received some specifications about the Med Point, whether he had given some instructions to some officers to go on site. We asked three questions to the Deputy Prime Minister: whether Government – he was there – had taken a decision regarding the purchase of a geriatric hospital as a built-up concern, whether he was there and whether hon. Pravin Jugnauth was not there. We also asked him whether he signed a resolution of Société Medinvest where he is a shareholder for Med Point to stop its activities to be sold. We asked whether the Prime Minister was aware of a number of things. First, of what the Leader of the Opposition had said to ICAC when it came to false news, whether he was aware what had happened with the exercise of evaluation, whether he was aware that there was a decision taken favorisant Med Point. All these questions have been put: the truth is trickling down the drain, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. I will not go long on this affair; I will just say what happened with the PNQ of the hon. Leader of the Opposition; hon. Baloomoody and hon. Uteem spoke about it. We had this PNQ about the proceeds of the sale, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir and we had a propaganda, banners ‘rend casse, casse ine allé’. The hon. Prime Minister made a statement; the money is gone, gone to London. I have been told that on TV; what was shown, when the hon.
Leader of the Opposition was asking where is the money? The hon. Prime Minister in a sitting position made a remark, saying that: ‘dimande li’. But, now I am asking the hon. Prime Minister, where is the money? We believe in only something very simple, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. The money has to be traced legally. What we called tracing. They should be an audit trail, not only for the sum which is at the Baroda Bank, which is left Rs120 m, but we should have an audit trail of the Rs15.5 m. as well, for the whole sum and freeze the whole sum. Let the truth come to the people of Mauritius. Let us do the tracing. Let us do the freezing, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Then let things go on, let the inquiry go on and I am convinced that the truth will come out, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, and the MSM will come out stronger after the inquiry. I commend the two Members of the MMM who have said that they have staged a relentless fight for the truth andthey will continue with the relentless fight. This is good for the democracy of this country. Thisis good for our generation to come. This is good because it will bring a bowl of fresh air on thisfight, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.I have mentioned the démocratisation de l’économie, but I forgot to say one thing – Iwould like to know what the hon. Prime Minister is going to say about it – when the Government is going to disinvest from the casinos; from Domaine les Pailles, from Port Louis Waterfront Retail outlets, from the Belle Mare Tourist Village, from the Lake Point Complex and offer a management contract for Citadel, it that democratisation of the economy? Or is it privatisation of Government assets? If it is privatisation of Government assets, that is, our assets, it means that it is doing the contrary and not doing at all the paying. It is paying lip service to the issue of democratisation of the economy, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. But, as I gave the example, if we set the hotel and tourism investment trust, it will go far in one of the booming sectors to give a shareholding of 50,000 workers in the profits and dividends of the tourism industry. Let me come to law and order, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. I have lived one of the most traumatic …
The Deputy Speaker: Order please!
Mr Bodha: … experiences as a Minister of Tourism. This was when Michaela Harte was murdered and I was the Minister. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, people have forgotten about it. Today, we can say that it did not do a lot – thanks God – to tarnish the image of Mauritius. But, one Michaela Harte murder could have destroyed the whole industry! At one point in time, the fourth day when I clicked Michaela Harte on the internet, there were 80,000 websites mentioning Michaela Harte – it pains me. I know that for the Minister, it is not an easy job. I saw « Des français attaqués dans leur chambre hôtel au Morne ». From the information that I have, it is a five-star hotel. From the information that I have, it is a very, very important person from France, close – we have to check – to a very high profile political figure in France. It is so sad. Le couple avait 58 ans et 45 ans.
The second thing is « Trois touristes détroussés dans le nord. La police a enregistré trois cas ». I know it is a tough job for the Minister. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, you know what I have done? I have created a squad of officers to go on tourism sites to help the Police, to mix and then to be able to address a certain number of issues, some sort of “intelligence” and I have asked the Commissioner of Police to give me somebody who could get head that section. He gave me a Superintendent of Police to help. I have just learned that he has been sacked. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, this was a good idea and he was a man that the Commissioner of Police had proposed to me. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, … The Deputy Speaker: I will ask hon. Ministers Pillay and Jeetah to tone down, please! Mr Bodha: When it comes to the law and order situations, the hon. Prime Minister will come tomorrow or on Monday, he will give the statistics, but the nature of crime has changed, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. There is this capacity of drug addicts to do harm, looking for their dose.
That capacity is amazing! When we see what happens in Jamaica – what we call the island culture of petty crimes, drugs, violence, alcoholism – we should do everything for it not to happen to Mauritius, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir! Qu’est-ce que je vois là ? Vols des équipements de la SMF, des officiers de la GIPM (Groupe d’Intervention de la Police de l’île Maurice). I remember that I was the attaché de presse of Sir Anerod Jugnauth, the GIGM had come, le groupe d’intervention de la gendarmerie nationale de France, to train the people. We heard that the GIPM have been arrested for larceny. Il a eu un vol d’équipements à la Clarisse House. Il y a eu un vol dans le campement du Premier ministre à Roches Noires. What is happening, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? Maybe I have some sort of a deformation, I see it from the tourism image, that the image of our country has a safe haven. We should do everything to protect that image. There was a report, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, le rapport de United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, on homicides, je vous lis le rapport – ‘Maurice décroche 4.2 points dans le premier rapport de l’United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime sur les homicides au niveau mondial. Les 54 assassinats et meurtres recensés en 2009 ont été pris en compte. Il n’y a pas que l’affaire Michaela Harte qui a placé Maurice sur la carte mondiale du crime. L’île figure en bonne place dans une étude sur la prévalence des meurtres au sein de 207 pays par the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’.
Et je lis la conclusion – « Avec ces 54 meurtres recensés en 2009, Maurice fait partie des pays africains où le taux est relativement faible, mais elle fait pâle figure par rapport à d’autres pays et on nous met au même titre que d’autres pays, mais on nous a placés pour la première fois sur la carte mondiale du crime ».
I think, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is a national concern. We are not making politics out of it; we want to help the Prime Minister, and I will come on drugs. The figures of number of people addicted vary from 10,000 to 20,000. I am going to take a very least conservative figure: 10,000. If 10, 000 people are spending Rs500 a day, how much is it? It is Rs5 m. per day, and for 360 days it is almost Rs2 billion. This is a very conservative figure, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
The other day, we mentioned the 1986 Commission of Inquiry on drugs. I have a proposal to make to the Prime Minister. The time has come to have another Commission of Inquiry on drugs. The time has come to have another Commission of Inquiry on drugs, because drugs have changed, the nature has changed, the pattern has changed, the hubs have changed, the way of trafficking has changed, money laundering associated with drugs has changed. We have to review the law, and I am making a suggestion. Let us, as a nation, come up with a Commission of Inquiry and clean our country, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. We want to help; we want to have the same bold courage Sir Anerood Jugnauth had in 1986. Let us do it together, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Let me now come to tourism. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, my former colleague made a statement here – and it was advertised on the MBC – about figures. Let me read from the Bank of Mauritius report. Growth tourism receipts increased by 10.5% in 2010; the hotels and restaurant sector grew by 6% in 2010, as against a contraction of 5.9% recorded a year earlier when the sector suffered from weak economic conditions prevailing in the main source markets. In 2010, the sector contributed 0.5% to overall GDP growth, and this year the forecast is more than 4%. France and Reunion Island is more than 5.6%, and the receipts are Rs42 billion for this year. I think that we can make it better. I will give a number of proposals, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
One thing is interesting. India increased by 50%, and China moved from 6,000 to 20,000. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if we listen to the traditional hotel sector, they will ask you only three things: air access, weak rupee and low wages. This has been the paradigm of the hotel industry over the years, but I would like to tell the hotel industry one thing Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. One plane costs Rs9 billion. It is the price of four hotels. And you want the plane to go there and sit on the tarmac! Air access is not giving flights, air access is brainstorming, how to make Mauritius the star and key of the Indian Ocean and a hub between India, China and Africa, between Europe and Australia. I will come to Air Mauritius a bit later. Let us come to the hotel industry, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, because the hon. vice-Prime Minister has said that the environment levy will be paid only if it is profitable.
Let me tell you what Sun Resorts has published – « Les chiffres publiés pour le groupe de Sun Ressorts pour les neufs premiers mois de l’année montrent des pertes de R 115 millions, soit une augmentation de 113% par rapport à la même période l’année dernière. Le groupe hôtelier a enregistré des pertes de R 115 millions. Pourtant, Sun Resorts a réalisé une hausse de 15% de son chiffre d’affaires qui est passé à R 2.4 milliards. » Mais pourquoi il n’y a pas de profits ? Il explique – « Sun Resorts estime également que la démolition de Coco Beach, la construction de Long Beach a eu un impact sur ses résultats d’implication en coût de main-d’oeuvre et de frais de marketing. »
Alors, ils annoncent une perte.
What sort of accounting do we call this? If we rely on this, we have no levy. The industry, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir – I have always said so – should be the industry of Mauritius; it should belong to Mauritius. The tourism industry makes its business on the image of a country, on the warm welcome of the people of Mauritius. What are we doing for the people of Mauritius? I have always said this. The vice-Prime Minister had put a cleaning unit, which cost Rs100 m. in three years. He said it was his priority; he took the Tourism Fund’s money, employed 115 people for three years to embellish Mauritius. I can understand that could be his priority but, for me, that was not sustainable. I talked to the then Minister of Finance, and some went to the National Empowerment Fund, some went to the Local Government, and some stayed with me with a small team of 15. He has put – “I am allocating Rs25 m. to the Tourism Authority to resume its comprehensive cleaning and embellishment programme”. Yes, we need a comprehensive cleaning and embellishment programme. But why don’t we ask the hotels of Grand’ Baie to clean Grand Baie? Why don’t we ask the cluster of Trou d’Eau Douce to clean Trou d’Eau Douce? Why don’t we ask the cluster of Bel Ombre to clean Bel Ombre? Why don’t we ask the cluster of Flic en Flac to clean Flic en Flac? What is the district council doing? What is the village council doing? What is the municipality doing? What is the NDU doing? What is the Minister of Environment doing?
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we should know what we are doing. The tourism product of Mauritus is a fantastic product. If you add the total of the hotels of Grand’ Baie, it could beabout Rs20 to Rs30 billion, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Can’t they help? I had proposed to put a Fund of Rs200 m. from government and Rs200 m. from them to make Grand’ Baie a shop window. Why can’t we do that? That’s why I have said we can rewrite this. There are so many ideas which can be implemented. It depends if you are interested in it. I am not thinking of the poor general workers who are going to work. It is alright, but we can do more with less, and we can involve those who should.
I will say one word on the Tourism Authority. I will not say much because the only thing I would like to say, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is that when I arrived, there were 2,400 applications which had not been treated, which had not been processed, and I have sent six cases to ICAC.
There was a case where Tourism Authority files were filed in a quincaillerie. There was a system, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that’s all I have to say.
Let me now come to air access and I would like to tell the vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Development and the Minister of Tourism and Leisure that I have ordered an air access study with KPMG and the results of this study are at the Ministry of Tourism. It can help to reshape and to put Mauritius in a good position. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, a plane costs Rs9 billion, a flight to Shanghai costs 275,000 Euros, Rs11m., Rs1 m. per hour. Without the Air Mauritius, this country is nowhere! But, what happened to Air Mauritius? We had a month-to-month General Manager for one year. We had one kangaroo hunter for one month and now, we have an Acting General Manager for six to seven months. How can we treat our national carrier in this manner? I asked for an appointment with the Prime Minister to sit down with him, to explain to him that the plane costs Rs9 billion. We have three A340 planes with four engines. They are using 30% more petrol, jet fuel, than the A330. We don’t know what to do with that. We have to make a decision. Are we buying more A330s? What are we doing for the years to come? Air Mauritius cannot continue as it is. It cannot be a company which is neither low-cost nor high brand. We should have a low-cost regional carrier for the Indian Ocean with planes flying daily to all the cities and concerning the duty free – I will come to that later. We have a low-cost Indian Ocean and then, we have a strategic partner. We have a strategic partner, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with one of the big companies to be able to service the industry because we are a high-end industry, five-star. We need planes to carry people who have a five-star budget.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I wanted to meet the hon. Prime Minister to explain this to him; we have to sit down, please organise a meeting or call the stakeholders. It never happened and this goes to the core of new Mauritius because if you want to make Mauritius as a hub you have to start with Air Mauritius, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Let me now come to the duty-free paradigm, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. There is one line; do you know what the duty-free can do to Mauritius? I have always, said so. We need 50,000 Chinese, 50,000 Indians, 50,000 Russians, 50,000 others, 200,000 spending 1000 Euros; it’s 200 m. Euros, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, coming to the country. Bagatelle and La Croisette will not last long, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if the tourists don’t go there. We have to make them go there and buy, the brands are coming, the intermediate brands are coming, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. But, to do so, to have the duty-free, otherwise, what is happening? The Mauritian people are going there to have fast food and window shopping and coming back from Bagatelle. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, what do we need? We need a legal framework and I am addressing myself to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, we have to sign the Madrid Convention. The Madrid Convention is the protocol which starts in 1891. Thanks to the international procedural mechanism, the Madrid system offers a trademark owner the possibility to have his trademark protected in several countries by simply filing one application directly; because, if we don’t fight counterfeiting we will not have a duty-free paradise. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am making a plea; first, we should have the signature of the Protocole de Madrid. Second, we should fight counterfeiting. Third, I had a meeting with the Comité Colbert. The Comité Colbert réunit, M. le président, les 70 plus grandes marques de la France; Louis Vuitton, Channel, Cartier, toutes les grandes marques. We have had a series of meetings with the Comité Colbert together with the Board of Investment. It is up to them to follow-up, to make this pillar happen.
It can happen. We believe in it. It is one of the future paradigms of Mauritius. The Chinese will not come if you don’t have shopping, the Indians as well, the Russians as well, and we are well placed, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, to do well as a duty-free paradise. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to come to poverty. In times of robust growth, in times of bumper crop, the Minister then said, we had 7000 people who were absolutely poor.
Hon. Obeegadoo said – “We don’t know where they are.” It was a brilliant idea of the hon. Prime Minister to start the Ministry of Social Integration. I will say it was a good idea as well to give it to the hon. Vice-Prime Minister, but we would like to know – the money is there, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir – because when poor people come to us; they have urgent needs, daily needs, one has not eaten, not gone to school, housing problems, electricity bill not paid, husband left, the wife is left alone with the children. Do we have a mechanism to address this, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? This is what we need. Un endroit où on sait que quand on va venir là, quand on va partir, on va se sentir soulagé de sa pauvreté, dans la dignité. This mechanism is it there? The money is there. So many people come to us. I would request the Minister to put this mechanism, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, and then to enable this person – celui qui frappe à la porte dans sa pauvreté, dans sa misère – to obtain something et faire de sorte que quand il repart chez lui, il peut aider sa famille. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have said one thing; it is about the Labour Party and power. We said that they don’t like to share Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, and I think we made an experience.
The MMM made an experience in 1995; sharing of power in dignity with a partner, I think is very strange to their culture, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Même dans le cas de la réforme électorale – this should be the one before the last of my subjects – d’après ce que j’ai entendu, à moins qu’ils ne le nient, ce que souhaite le Premier ministre, c’est une présidence avec des pouvoirs exécutifs. Dans la deuxième République proposée, c’est une présidence avec un président avec les pouvoirs exécutifs who can hire and sack his Prime Minister. Again, it shows the way, the thinking.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, la réforme électorale, on l’attend depuis longtemps. I will make a plea to the hon. Prime Minister is that if we have an electoral reform, it should be in the interest of the country because here we would be the fathers of that new Constitution and we should not have the new generation later saying that we did not do what had to be done as regards power sharing between the President and the Prime Minister. We still believe that the hon. Prime Minister should be the one, as in the Westminster system, who runs this country and runs it according to the will of the population. Mr Speaker, Sir, there were bits and pieces that I wanted to say. There is one thing that I want to set records straight. The hon. Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Faugoo, mentioned 2004 in the Rose Belle Sugar Estate saga. He said that the two Ministers were here. I was the Minister of Agriculture in 2004. What we did in 2004, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is very simple. What we did was to give an authorisation for VRS recoup cost, that is, we gave them the authority to sell their land to able to recoup the cost of VRS in terms of pension, lump sum and in terms of the 7 perches, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. Ceci dit, I wanted to correct this.
Let me just say one thing, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir. My first plea to the Government is: if you were to give all the old age pensioners the Rs104 that is missing between Rs330 and Rs204, it costs Rs150 m., which is nothing. If you were to remove the tax on the SMS, it is Rs150 m., which is nothing. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, let me just tell you one thing.
It is that the banks – Mr Bheenick says so – made a profit of Rs30.3 billion. 2% of that is Rs200 m. I would ask them: why don’t they take Rs200 m. to have ten football clubs with 250 professional football players, with having their banks as sponsors, having a league where we can play football and then, we can professionalise the industry? Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, it does not need a lot of money to do a lot of thing.
What I would like to say, now to end, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is, I will quote the hon. Prime Minister, he said – “What we wanted to do, Sir, although Mauritius is naturally affected (…)” He said –“Our success is a result of our vision and of our hard work, the understanding and support of the population and also the result and the effectiveness of our economic diplomacy, but, here, in all humility – this is the Prime Minister speaking – Mr Speaker, Sir, I must say that we also stand on the shoulders of giants. They laid the founding stones of the nation, our founding fathers who fought for independence and took up the challenges that this young nation of ours had to face. And these include all those who have one way or the other worked in the national interest, including Sir Anerood Jugnauth. We have always said – I heard hon. Pravind Jugnauth say that nobody talks of Sir Anerood Jugnauth, we have been talking a lot about him – we may not agree with him – this is hon. Dr. Navin Ramgoolam speaking – we have never always agreed with him, but he has also his contribution to make in this country.” And he quotes as Warren Buffett puts it, Mr Speaker, Sir – “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, many new trees have to be planted and we need a new hope and a new leadership in this country.
Mr S. Soodhun (Second Member for La Caverne and Phoenix): Mr Speaker, Sir, firstof all, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak on the Budget. I have to thank my mandates first for the fact that I have been elected and I have been representing this Constituency for the sixth time. As a Parliamentarian, we have to listen to all the views of all hon. Members. I can conclude that Members of Parliament are like lawyers, the Attorney General, we fight our case in the court and then we are friends after the court case.
This afternoon, I listened carefully to the hon. Minister and I, personally, have been in alliance with the Labour Party since 1987; also we have worked in 2010, and the MSM is there since 1983.
If we listen carefully to the hon. Minister, it is today that they have discovered how the MSM is. In fact, it is not only in Parliament, but also outside the Parliament, that there is a panic and as we used to say in Creole: dhar dhari, they are scared of Sir Anerood Jugnauth. It is written in the wall that Sir Anerood Jugnauth might come, might stand as candidate.
Mr Speaker: No, Sir Anerood Jugnauth is at present the President of the Republic of Mauritius and whatever his future action would be, cannot be discussed subject to any debate.
Mr Soodhun: I accept your ruling, Sir. Let us put it like this: in fact, when a statement was made by the President, it has been considered as that. It is not exactly what he is going to do. But the Minister was talking about the Sun Trust, the last general election and the MSM, he said that now the MSM represents less, according to him, than 2%. I know very well – I have been participating in the negotiation with the Labour Party and the MSM – how, the leader of Labour Party urged the MSM to join the team in 2010, and at that time nobody was thinking that the MSM was a small party. It was really well mentioned by one of my colleagues from MMM that due to the participation of MSM today the Labour party is in power. We cannot deny it; this is the truth. If hon. Members fail to agree, it’s their responsibility. Concerning the SunTrust – I am proud, Mr Speaker, Sir, I am the President of the MSM party which exists nearly 28 years – I am also going to ask the question as people outside there.
The Labour Party is present since 75 years and during those 75 years they have not been able to have their headquarters. I don’t agree with people telling you that they have a l’écurie. Whatever it is, it is the quarters of the Labour Party. We are proud of that. Many MPs sometimes cross the floor or fight against the hon. Members of the other party. There is a lot of canvassing going on to become Minister. I have been Minister, not for the first time, but we, in the MSM, we were six Ministers who have never thought about our own comfort and our own interest. We have put forward the interests of the country and the interests of our party. I do not think that many people can do it. I think only Members belonging to the MMM and the MSM who can do it.
Mr Speaker, Sir, it gives me a tremendous pleasure to stand here, on this side of the House, to address this august Assembly on the Budget Speech for the year 2012. On the outset, I will say that since 1983, the MSM has been associated with the Budget Speech for, at least, 20 times and this bears testimony to the fact that we have shaped the economic model of this country and the daily livelihood of our fellow citizens for all those years. This year, we are on this side of the House whereas last year it was the Leader of the MSM, then vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, who presented the Budget Speech and this is because we were made to leave l’Alliance de l’Avenir for a number of reasons. I am pleased to mention, Mr Speaker, Sir, that first there was a lack of consideration and a true partnership within the Alliance. We felt it; there is a lack of crucial decision-making for the betterment of the country. We have witnessed it. Lack of commitment to combat fraud and corruption and I am well placed to witness this issue. I’ll give examples. Lack of team spirit and of communication with the Leader of the Alliance. Mr Speaker, Sir, it is clear that history is repeating itself. The Labour Party does not give due consideration to its partner and we are well placed to witness this over a period of fifteen months. In the past, in 1995, a 60-0 victory of the Labour Party and MMM Alliance gave a historical opportunity for the new Prime Minister to show his leadership, but that Alliance crashed before two years and for the same reason which I have mentioned earlier, Sir.
Mr Speaker, Sir, as far as I understand, from the lengthily press conference under the wide misconception, is that this 2012 Budget has been well accepted by the population. The Budget was titled: “Growth for the greater good” but days after Budget, people are still wondering for whose is this greater good.
Mr Speaker, Sir, when I took office as Minister of Industry and Commerce in 2010, I took certain initiatives to put some order in some of the institutions under my responsibility. The amount of wastage and incompetence I found was beyond imagination. It was practically impossible to get clear information on certain transactions made at the STC and STCM. Mr Speaker, Sir, I had no choice then to request for a forensic to be carried out at the STC and this exercise was done by Insight Forensics Services Ltd. The report submitted by IFSL is damning for some people, Mr Speaker, Sir. Questions have been brought to this Assembly on some of the issues raised in the report and we are still awaiting the conclusion of further administrative studies apparently being done. I hope that appropriate action will be taken and those who have looted will be taken to task. Mr Speaker, Sir, I will fail in my duty if, at this point, I do not mention a few issues that have made the population suffer and in one case, we will get the population to continue to contribute for, at least, next fourteen to fifteen years to come. The first one, Mr Speaker, Sir, is the hedging transaction. No one in the Government….
Mr Speaker: I will have perhaps to draw the attention of the hon. Member that to the oath that he has subscribed when he took office of Minister and that whatever information he acquired in his capacity as a Minister is written in this oath and that he should be very careful in
divulging it except with the authority of the Cabinet.
Mr Soodhun: Mr Speaker, Sir, what I am going to say is that this is known in Parliament as well as outside the House, especially in the newspapers. It is common knowledge. It is not only that it has been kept as a….
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member can generally criticise any issues as hedging or whatever he wants to criticise, but he cannot reveal to the House whatever privy information that he has got when he became a minister. That is clear in this oath and he has to respect it.
Mr Soodhun: Yes.
Mr Speaker: I thought that somebody would advise you on this issue.
Mr Soodhun: Mr Speaker, Sir, what I am just mentioning has been mentioned in the House through PNQs and PQs.
Mr Speaker: The hon. Member has to follow the rules.
Mr Soodhun: Yes, but let me tell you, Mr Speaker, Sir, according to what has been mentioned in this House, as a Member and citizen of this country I am also suffering. It is not only when I was a Minister. Mr Speaker, Sir, as I mentioned, I am not going through any report whatsoever. I am just going through what has been said in this Parliament in so many times. Mr Speaker, Sir, as I mentioned, we should not assume that it was one off transaction according to what the information we have in this Parliament and that it was one off mistake. It hurt me, it hurt everybody in this country due to the mismanagement, the lack of responsible decision that the Board of the STC has mentioned in this House, that on 23 July 2008, gave a covering approval for STC to engage in hedging transaction carried out with counterparties Morgan Stanley and Mey Icki on 22 July 2008.
Let me tell you what has been said, Mr Speaker, Sir. I also read in the newspapers, many different information that we have outside the House and in the House. Only on September, the first consignment of white oil super unleaded and diesel arrived in August 2008 and was paid for in September 2008 and loss incurred in that month was Rs147 m. in one month and a loss was sustained in every single month that followed and for December 2008 only there was a loss of Rs629 m. What has been said in the information in the newspaper and all that.
Mr Speaker: I will have to inform the hon. Member that whatever has been said in the newspapers cannot be made the subject matter of a debate in the House. He must know how to make his speech.
Mr Soodhun: According to the information that I have, through 16 hedging transactions on Mogas and gasoil, has incurred a loss of Rs4.7 billion between August 2008 to June 2009 and STC had to recourse to the various instruments such as line of credits, terms loan and overdraft facilities to honour its debt to the counterparties by the end of the hedging contract in 2009. Government provided the necessary guarantees to enable STC to raise those loans. It probably could not afford the risk of a severe hit on the country rating of Mauritius which should have been disastrous to the whole economy. To refund the debt incurred by them, STC increased the hedging provision in the petroleum price structure from Rs150 prior to hedging to Rs3 per litre. At this rate, STC collects about hundred million rupees monthly from the consumer of white oil and to refund the Rs4.7 billion debt. For anyone to come to say that hedging is terminated in July 2009, the STC does not owe anything since then and beyond May what do we do with the debt incurred to pay Morgan Stanley, ask the bank to write off the debt. Mr Speaker, Sir, what I have to say is, there has been no action. No action has been taken against the then people who are responsible for the hedging. I was told that in one day, one person takes the decision to hedge for R4.7 billion without having the approval of the Board of STC. Without having approval from the Government and on top of that, without having advice of the SLO and without the verification of the contract. No action has been taken. And who must pay? It is the population, the consumers. The consumers have to pay and, according to me, it is going to end in two years, every month Rs100 m., that will make around Rs5.7 billion– no action, nothing. I have not said anything that has been written or sanction has been taken. Nothing! This continues,
Sir, and we know. Another jackpot that we know – everybody knows the case of Red Eagle, that is Betamax. We climb on the roof and shout that we are for the good governance. Is it the good governance? And we believe in transparency. I have not seen any provision in the Budget that the Minister of Finance has put to combat the fraud and corruption and the case of Betamax is one example, Mr Speaker, Sir, it is a real money pit. To start with the Red Eagle itself, according to the Galbraith’s Time Charter Report, a specialist in oil tanker of brokerage renting a boat like RLR1 with the same characteristics as the Red Eagle cost US$16,500 per day, that is, Rs478,500 per day, Betamax and STC is a wisdom that defies logic entered into a lease of US$17.6 m. per year. So, US$48,219 per day, that is, Rs1.4 m. a day. And instead of paying Rs478,500 per day for the oil tanker, the STC spends exactly three times. A consultant report had estimated that the cost of construction of the oil tanker would be…
Mr Speaker: Was it all revealed in this House?
Mr Soodhun: Yes, 60 million, Sir.
Mr Speaker: You assume your responsibility.
Mr Soodhun: Yes.
Mr Mohamed: On a point of order. I am just trying to follow what the hon. Member has said. For example, a consultancy report is being referred to. If the hon. Member wants to proceed, in my view, along this line, at least, we would like him to, at least, note and tell us that this was revealed in this House on that particular date, because right now otherwise where did he get the information from? That’s the problem.
Mr Speaker: That is a very simple matter. If the hon. Member is saying that what he is talking about has been revealed in this House, he is assuming his responsibility. If that is not true, he can then be taken to task for misleading the House.
Mr Soodhun: Thank you, Mr Speaker, Sir. I just want to repeat that a consultant report has estimated that the cost of construction of the oil tanker would be US$ 65 million. How could STC agree to guarantee the annual payment of USD70.6 m. for 15 years for a tanker costing USD65 m.? With only the location, we can pay the cost of the ship, and the rest is jackpot. So, it is nearly about Rs8 billion. Government is bound to acquire the Red Eagle by paying its full price of USD65 m. in case of any breach of contract. Government has acquired this tank by itself but, for some unknown reason, government chose to forego this opportunity and to put only one family instead of putting the whole nation first. According to my information, STC has signed this contract without the approval of the State Law Office, despite the fact that the SLO has been involved in the approval of the cost of affreightment.
Mr Speaker, Sir, …
Mr Mohamed: Mr Speaker, Sir, what the hon. Member just referred to was never divulged in this House. That’s a fact. This was never divulged in the House and if he is referring to, he can’t even tell us when this was, because this never was. If he says it was, it is not true.
Mr Speaker: Yes, but I don’t have the record in front of me. I don’t know. I have just drawn the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that he was the Minister in that department. He has taken an oath, and it is clearly mentioned in the oath that he cannot reveal whatever information has come to him in his capacity as Minister, except with the authority of the Cabinet. He said that whatever he is saying in his speech has already been revealed in this House.
I don’t know. I don’t have them in front of me. So, he, as a hon. Member of this House, has to assume his responsibility of what he is saying. That is my comment, and I’ll stop there.
Mr Jugnauth: Mr Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. The hon. Member is talking about a scandal and giving information with regard to that scandal – according to him it is a scandal. Members on the government side will have the opportunity to reply to what he is saying.
Mr Speaker: Hon. Soodhun said “I was the Minister”, and then he started his speech. Then, I drew his attention on this. I said if he wants to speak, he should know how to make his speech. But, as I said, my only concern is that, if ever any information that has come to his knowledge as a Minister and he reveals that in the House, he is committing a breach of the oath that he has taken before the President of the Republic, and that is not correct. But he is telling me that it has been revealed in this House. So, if that is so, the hon. Member can carry on.
Mr Jugnauth: I had myself put a supplementary question to the Minister concerned with regard to whether SLO has been consulted and given its advice with regard to Betamax. I had put this question.
Mr Speaker: I am not disputing this. This is why I told the hon. Member that he will have to assume his responsibility.
Mr Soodhun: Mr Speaker, Sir, thank you. I am going to continue with the Red Eagle/Betamax scandal. Gradually they received more as the year passed while. For the first year, the amount of the freight was USD17.10 per metric ton and, at the end of the contract – that is to say the 15 years – the STC will pay USD21.11, an increase of 19%. STC is obliged to pay the transportation of 64,320 tons per trip. Even if the ship carries less – as an indication – its first trip to the tanker was loaded on 57,500 tons. Mr Speaker, Sir, the company has given the sole responsibility to carry the petroleum products for Mauritius. On a PQ on this subject, I had opted to speak the truth and inform the Assembly of my apprehension on various clauses of the contract. Unfortunately, some people in government could not accept that I speak the truth. Everyone is this Assembly knows of the event that followed my answer to the PQ, and I have no regrets, Mr Speaker, Sir. Today, some of the issues are coming to public knowledge.
Mr Speaker, Sir, today there is a big problem of ration rice. Ration rice is very important, and the price might go up. There was still a contract, and questions were raised in this Parliament about
Tycoon Corporation of Thailand. The contract was between Tycoon of Thailand and STC. In fact, today, we should not have had this problem on the price and the good quality. Then, they have accepted the consignment which we had with Thailand.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I have been informed that this consignment was cancelled because this Tycoon Corporation has a link with a Member of the Opposition, of the political bureau of the MMM. And for that, today, we are going to suffer; we are going to buy the ration rice at a
higher price. This consignment was for one year; it is 20,000. Double policy! This is how, today, when there is political vendetta, it’s as if, as we say ‘deux éléphants la guerre, c’est l’herbe ki crazer’.
Mr Speaker, Sir, we have talked about the scandal at the STCM and the loss of Rs50 m. This is due to the lack of seriousness of the management. Everybody knows that there have been three shipments of petroleum products and the contamination of crude oil, which we imported from Oil Mangalore. There were three consignments. This came to Mauritius, we discovered that there was contamination, and we sold it to Singapore. We lost Rs130 m. when we sold it. It was told that the case has been referred to the London Court. I wonder whether the case has been referred there. No action has been taken. It has also been said there has been a loss of nearly Rs180 m.; in the flour of Turkey : Rs280 m. When hon. Minister Jeetah was there, a team went to China and brought together with them the MBC/TV. They had all sorts of shooting.
When they came back, nothing, zero! They lost the money. So, what I am telling, Mr Speaker, Sir, is that we had a problem.
Today, we have a problem of petroleum storage. I think that the Minister of Finance could have thought about it. Again, I am afraid that this also is not going to give to only one person. It is a project of Rs850 m.
On the same line, we have the project of LPG gas. Mr Speaker, Sir, today we know that the poor people have to pay about Rs300 per cylinder; there is a problem. Everybody knows that there has been a project where the Petrodex, and a company, which is very close to power, came forward to have this contract. Finally, that contract was supposed to be Rs1.5 billion – according to our information.
Mr Speaker: Be careful in what you are saying!
Mr Soodhun: I received that yesterday. What I am saying is that if we are not cautious, the same thing may happen, just like for Betamax, just like for the hedging. The same thing may happen for LPG. The Minister of Finance will have to take precaution so that the STC can, by its own, have this tanker and this will help the population and be in their interest. It will cost less. This will be the best solution for the STC. Instead of Rs1.5 m., it will cost Rs380 m. Mr Speaker, Sir, what has happened?
Mr Speaker: Order now!
Mr Soodhun: When we are talking about what to do, – I am talking about the Board – if the Board of the STC, with the same members, are governing the STC and these people were there when the hedging transaction was done, were there when this Betamax was done, were there when there was the contamination of the crude oil, so if the people are still there, what can we expect from these people?
I suggest, Mr Speaker, Sir, that it is high time that the STC have a competent Board and not putting people who are very close the Labour Party or to the PMSD because, at the end of the day, the country will suffer. This is what has happened, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Speaker, Sir, this is a big problem. I myself have suffered for that. Every time I was willing to change the Board, put people but, when we went to the head of Government: ‘pe faire, pe encore faire’. I am saying that we have to stop ‘faire’ and …
Mr Speaker: There is another thing that you have to respect. Whatever discussions you have had with the Prime Minister as a Minister, you cannot say that in this House!
Mr Soodhun: What I am suggesting is that we have to take a good decision. Let me give an example, Mr Speaker, Sir. This does not only concern one Ministry, the Government is like this.
What has happened to the Minister of Energy? For one year we do not have one Chairman, one General Manager in the CEB.
For one year we do not have one General Manager and one Chairman in the CWA. For one year we do have General Manager and one Chairman in the WasteWater Authority.How are we to deliver?
It is really impossible. Government cannot come with a new – you cannot put a public officer to preside the CEB Board, which is very important. How can we? The members of the Board are political nominees. The member cannot just bring in his ideas and decisions, because they will clash, he is going to suffer and be transferred. This is the way. The point that I want to make is that it is high time Government thinks about it. If they continue like this, we know what will happen, Mr Speaker, Sir.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I am going to end on this note. Many Members of the Labour Party have obviously attacked the President in party rights …
Mr Speaker: In this House?
Mr Soodhun: Outside.
Mr Speaker: No, you cannot…
Mr Soodhun: What I would like to say – even in the House also they have attacked him.
Mr Speaker: So far, I was presiding the House, that did not happen.
Mr Soodhun: No, I am not telling that it was you.
Let me say a few words, the President is wise enough to know when …..
Mr Speaker: No, you are joking!
Mr Soodhun: What to say about the sad state of the country which he has built over the years? Mr Speaker, Sir, the writings are on the wall. This Government stands the pressure of the Opposition on this side of the House. There is a growing uproar in the country and the outcries of the people are out there. Government has a very frail majority, all Ministers are on the defensive because they know that the Prime Minister does not trust them – as he have mentioned. He has even said that he doubts their ability to stand up in Parliament to answer the Opposition. And over the days, since Parliament has resumed, we can see how Ministers have been uncomfortable and not able to reply properly to our parliamentary questions. They know that their days are counted. The country needs a new leadership ……and a new vision to provide our next generation with the experience, the competence and sincerity that we need in these difficult times to take Mauritius to a new destiny. They are going to try thousand times to bring la zizanie between the MSM and MMM. They are going to fail!
Do not try! This is what you are doing, but you are not going to succeed.
Mr M. Seeruttun (Second Member for Vieux Grand Port and Rose Belle): M. le président, après avoir écouté un discours très poétique et à l’écouter cela se voit qu’il ne va plus par le bus maintenant. Retournons à nos réalité, M. le président.
La présentation du budget national est un moment fort d’un pays et vendredi dernier, on a eu droit à un discours de deux heures du ministre des finances. En présentant le budget 2012, un budget sensé d’avenir, il a préféré regarder le passé, en se référant aux années 2005. On peut comprendre l’honorable ministre et son gouvernement, surtout quand il y a absence de vision pour le pays et pour les Mauriciens. En cette période de crise internationale, l’attente de la population était grande, surtout pour les gens au plus bas de l’échelle, sans oublier ceux de la classe moyenne et de nos ainés, pour qu’il y ait un rétablissement de leur pouvoir d’achat.
M. le président, ce fut deux longues heures d’attente et après ces deux heures, quelle grosse déception! La majorité des Mauriciens ne se sont pas sentis concerner par ce budget and what about ‘Putting People First’. C’est vrai aussi de dire que ce fut une agréable surprise pour le secteur privé, qui a vu toutes ces demandes acceptées par le ministre et aussi comme dirait l’autre pour les fat cats. Ils ont vu, M. le président, l’abolition nette de la Solidarity Tax introduite l’an dernier. Une taxe qui en cette période de crise aurait pu rapporter des fonds à être utilisés pour subvenir aux besoins des personnes vulnérables. Le budget fut dans sa forme comme dans son contenu, un galimatias, pour utiliser un terme très local.
Des incohérences par ci, des disparités par là. Des phrases utilisées qui ne collent pas avec l’acte de contexte, des jolis mots pour épater la galerie, mais au final du cut and paste des anciennes mesures, du rebranding. Ce qui me choque, M. le président, c’est qu’en écoutant les réactions des membres de la majorité sur ce budget, je suis convaincu qu’ils n’ont rien compris aux implications. Ces mêmes personnes, un an de cela, avaient applaudi la mise en place de certaines mesures, aujourd‘hui ils applaudissent quant à leur abolition. Est-ce qu’ils n’avaient rien compris l’an dernier ou c’est cette année qu’ils ne comprennent rien ? A moins, bien sûr, qu’ils aient eu les directives pour applaudir et sans savoir pourquoi !
M. le président, heureusement que le ridicule n’a jamais tué ! Ce qui me rend perplexe c’est qu’on se permette de faire du cinéma en occultant les enjeux de ce débat. Mais cela ne nous étonne guère. Le Premier ministre, lui-même, reconnaît que ceux qui ont des compétences ne sont plus avec eux. Nous savons, bien sûr, que les compétences sont, M. le président, de ce coté de la chambre. Le ministre des finances a avoué à une radio privée, pas plus tard que lundi dernier, qu’il ne trouve rien d’anormal d’appliquer une politique ultra libérale comme ce fut le cas entre 2006 et 2010. A cette période, il y avait quelques membres de la majorité qui avait dénoncé cette politique et il y avait même un membre de cette même majorité qui avait exprimé son désarroi dans les colonnes de journaux locaux. Et je parle ici de l’article de presse ‘TINA WALLAS’ dont beaucoup se souviendront. L’ironie c’est que le retour de cette politique ultra libérale est, aujourd’hui, applaudi par ces mêmes personnes. M. le président, comment peut-on changer de conviction en si peu de temps ? C’est une honte ! Doit-on gouverner avec rancœur et haine ? Doit on faire passer nos ambitions personnelles avant le pays et le bien-être des mauriciens ? Le budget de 2011 présenté l’année dernière par l’honorable Pravind Jugnauth voulait rééquilibrer la croissance, tout en consolidant la justice sociale. C’était un budget visionnaire et ambitieux. Un budget d’avenir qui aurait pu mettre notre île sur les rails pour atteindre en l’an 2020 un GDP de un trillion de roupies et un per capita income de 20, 000 USD, une île Maurice moderne, propre et où il fait bon vivre, où la richesse du pays aurait pu être équitablement redistribuée aux mauriciens. Ce sont ces mesures qui auraient créé la richesse, M. le président.
If it was not audacity, I don’t know what is? Le budget 2011 de l’hon. Pravind Jugnauth avait mis fin à 5 années de politique ultralibérale prônée par le gouvernement de l’Alliance sociale et la population dans son ensemble s’est sentie soulager l’année dernière. Tout en soutenant le secteur productif, il avait fait la part belle à tous les groupes vulnérables. Par exemple, M. le président, les petits planteurs de canne à sucre avaient toute la considération voulue et dix mesures avaient été annoncées pour les encourager à continuer à cultiver la canne à sucre et ces mesures avaient contribué à augmenter leurs revenus par plus de R 2,900 par tonne de sucre, et si la réforme des SPI était déjà en place, ils auraient eu encore R 600 additionnelles dans leur poche. Comme l’a si bien dit hier, le Leader de L’opposition, s’il n’y a pas la masse critique pour la production de la canne, c’est toute l’industrie cannière qui est menacée.
Parlons de logements sociaux où cinq schemes avaient été préconisés pour les plus vulnérables, mais aussi pour ceux de la classe moyenne. Tout le monde pouvait avoir leur part du gâteau national. Les PME’s, les pensionnés, les étudiants, les personnes avec des handicaps, les personnes les plus touchées par la pauvreté, la classe moyenne, et j’en passe. Ils allaient tous partager le gâteau de ce deuxième miracle économique. Hélas ! M. le président, on n’avait pas compté sur certains de ce gouvernement qui ont tout fait pour freiner le train du développement et ce au détriment de la population. M. le président voilà ce que le FMI avait rapporté après son passage à Maurice en janvier et février 2011 –
Je cite quelques extraits –
« With the 2011 budget, the government intends to set Mauritius on a strong growth trajectory”. “A well designed and predictable tax policy should support the Government’s medium-term fiscal consolidation and growth agenda.” “Taking account of the expected upturn in the world economy and the continuing effects of the fiscal stimulus, economic growth is projected to increase to somewhat more than 4 percent in 2011. “Mauritius is a pioneer in the development of green taxes, but more can be done, not least, regarding increasing road congestion. Here, tax policy has a critical role to play, including the fine-tuning of vehicle taxation to increase incentives to reduce emissions and congestion. An explicit carbon tax could replace a similarly structured tax to improve climate policy.”
“The mission welcomes the structural reforms in recent years, which have contributed to raising Mauritius competitiveness”. Maintaining reform momentum to reduce critical structural bottlenecks in infrastructure and the parastatal sector, as well as supporting export-oriented SMEs launching new products and services, will further strengthen Mauritius’ ability to compete in the world economy, including as an international financial center and the IMF stands ready to assist the authorities in the implementation of their economic program, including through the provision of technical assistance, and looks forward to continued fruitful policy dialogue in the period ahead”.
Le Country Report du FMI lui a donné raison et a vu le sérieux avec lequel l’ancien ministre des finances voulait faire bouger les choses et c’est pour cela que Africa Regional Technical Assistance Centres (AFRITACs) allaient être implantés à Maurice afin d’assister, entre autres, dans le Capacity Building.
A ceux qui disent que le pays a perdu une année avec l’ancien ministre des finances, M. le président, je réponds que c’est de la mauvaise foi car les experts pensent autrement. Revenons, M. le président, au budget 2012, où le ministre des finances met l’accent sur quatre axes dont –
Faire face à la crise internationale;
La reforme fiscale;
Et finalement, le social; 64
Au départ même, le ministre démontre que les mesures annoncées ne vont pas donner des résultats satisfaisants. Une croissance de 4.2% est prévue pour 2011 tandis qu’il prévoie une baisse de la croissance à 4% en 2012. Du côté de la Chambre de Commerce Internationale de Maurice elle prévoie une croissance de 3.8% seulement pour 2012. Déjà un aveu d’échec. Comble du ridicule, les membres de la majorité applaudissent à cette annonce! A la page 3 de son discours le ministre parle de, je cite – « It is only when it is dark that you can see the stars.» C’est vrai, M. le président, ‘noune trouve zétoiles avec ça budget la’.
M. le président, la confiance reste le facteur principal pour la croissance et peu importe quelles sont les mesures incitatives qu’on peut donner. En ce moment la situation dans le pays est précaire que ce soit au niveau de law and order avec des crimes de plus en plus atroces. La corruption qui fait rage – la saga de la STC – hedging/Betamax ne sont que des exemples.
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Hon. Jhugroo, please!
Mr Seeruttun: Ce matin on a su à qui le crime profite! Le gaspillage des fonds publics, pour ne pas dire des ‘pillages’, et ce qui se passe à la Mauritius Duty Free Paradise en est un exemple flagrant! Le favoritisme…
The Deputy Speaker: Yes, Hon. Varma! You will have the opportunity to reply! Hon. Mrs Hanoomanjee, please! Keep cool! 65
Mr Seeruttun: Le favoritisme, M. le président, – politique de petits copains et de « mone garde bane postes dans mo poche », que connait bien notre ami. Le fléau de la drogue reste entier. La gestion de nos ressources en eau et en énergie par des nominés politiques laisse à désirer, M. le président. Sans oublier que nous avons ici un gouvernement fragile qui a dû attirer deux transfuges pour s’accrocher au pouvoir.
The Deputy Speaker: Order! Silence, please! Hon. Soodhun, if you have something to talk in private, you go outside!
Mr Seeruttun: M. le président, ce ne sont pas ces excès …
The Deputy Speaker: Hon. Varma, you will have the opportunity to reply! Hon. Soodhun, I am calling you to order, once again! Also, hon. Varma! You will have the opportunity to reply!
Mr Seeruttun: M. le président, ce ne sont pas ces excès ou cette insécurité ou encore ce pillage des fonds publiques qui vont attirer les investisseurs. Surtout que ce budget n’a rien prévu pour mettre fin à ces fléaux. Et, M. le président, c’est vraiment, vraiment dommage. M. le président, parlons maintenant de certaines mesures fiscales que le ministre des finances vient d’abolir à la demande du secteur privé. Sa justification étant que ces mesures freinaient la croissance. Quand au ministre de l’éducation, lors de son intervention hier disait que le FDI était en baisse dans le premier trimestre de 2011 à cause des mesures préconisées dans le Budget 2011. What were those fiscal measures, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? Imposing a Solidarity fee of 10% on High Income Earners on their dividends or interests income;
Imposing a Capital Gains Tax on immovable property for gains in excess of Rs2 m.; 66
Who were those targeted by those taxes, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? You will concur that it is the Corporate Sector.
At a time when the crisis is hitting hard, most advanced economies are taking bold measures by asking the haves to make sacrifices so as to protect the haves not. Warren Buffett a mega rich investor, who needs no introduction, is supporting a pledge in the US to tax more the rich so as to provide social protection to the less fortunate. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, that is what Mr Buffett has to say, I quote – “People who make money with money are getting taxed at a far lower rate than people who make money by their own labour”. He even publicly scorns a system that allows him to enjoy an effective tax rate that is less than his secretary’s. And Warren Buffett isn’t the only rich guy who wants higher taxes on the rich.
The Obama Government is coming with fiscal reforms based on the “Buffett rule”. A growing number of the rich appear to agree. Wealthy Germans and French have signed petitions in favour of higher taxes. The Chairman of the Italian sports-car company Ferraris stated that it was ‘right’ for the rich to pay more. The broader public agrees. Even in tax-hating America, some two-thirds of voters support deficit-reduction plans that include higher tax rates for top earners. Not to mention that increases in the top tax rate under President Bill Clinton were followed by robust economic expansion.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, if an individualistic society as the US has recognised that taxing more the rich is no more an evil thing to do, we, who claim to care for our social fabric is doing the exact contrary. By abolishing the solidarity tax on dividends and interest for high income earners and at the same time increasing by 50% the tax on car benefit of an ordinary salesman, it shows that this Government is out to eliminate the middle class citizens. Plus royaliste que ça tu meurs. Mr Speaker, Sir, no need to say it is a middle class citizen who goes out for dinner, who does house extension or renovation works, who affords to enjoy a weekend in a resort hotel, who does shopping of semi luxury goods. By reducing their purchasing power, this budget is slowly killing the economy.
Today it has become a sin to tax dividend claiming its double taxation implication, this was, but a solidarity tax of 10% and high income earners, these people would not have been deprived of their basic needs or even a good bouillabaisse, Mr Speaker, Sir. And yet the Minister of Finance felt sorry for the high income earners. Peut être il a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas. Le retrait du Capital Gains tax est aussi sur les lèvres de tous les membres de la majorité, ceux la même qui étaient pour l’application de cette taxe l’année dernière. Cette taxe aurait touché un seul secteur qui est le Real Estate et les plus concernés auraient été ceux qui dépassent Rs 2 million et plus.
Cette taxe aurait permis de soulager les moins fortunés comme les pensionnés qui vont recevoir en 2012 une compensation misérable de R 204. Alors, le ministre a préféré soulager ‘les gros paletots’ comme on dit et priver une augmentation décente aux pensionnés. Ce budget donne aux riches au détriment des pauvres. Mais, allons pousser le débat plus loin M. le président. Si on voulait promouvoir notre île avec un régime fiscal léger afin d’attirer l’investissement, pourquoi imposer donc, une taxe de 10% sur les Offshore Management Companies ? Une incohérence totale du ministre des finances. Surtout à un moment où il y a une pression de l’Inde à revoir le Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement Treaty. Cela représente un réel danger, et donc, qui attend avec le risque que plusieurs de ces Offshore Management Companies plient bagage. M. le président, nous avons le potentiel de faire mieux en termes de FDI et de croissance et ce n’est pas une taxe sur les dividendes ou le capital gains tax qui sont la source du problème. En 2011, il y a des projets d’investissement d’une valeur de presque R 80 miliards. Rs 80 miliards qui sont restés bloqués dans différents départements et notamment au Prime Minister’s Office. La lenteur chronique de ce gouvernement reste un handicap majeur au développement de notre pays.
Mr Speaker, Sir, another issue that should raise concern of this House is the setting up of a mechanism by the Ministry of Finance of a target rate inflation. This will definitely be in contravention to the Bank of Mauritius Act and superseding the role of the Monetary Policy Committee. L’indépendance même de la banque centrale est menacée. We have witnessed in the recent years the ego of the Governor of the Bank of Mauritius and that of the former Minister of Finance and these ego issues have had a bad signal given to the economy and has taken the economy on hostage. Is that the sort of situation that we want to relieve, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir? I don’t think so.
Mr Deputy Speaker : Hon. Seerrutun, will you be finishing in five minutes ?
Mr Seeruttun : No, 10 minutes. Please, bear with me, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir.
Mr Deputy Speaker: Okay, continue! Order please!
Mr Seeruttun: Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, some time back I put a question to the hon. Prime Minister about the role and the responsibility of the Commission for the Democratisation of the Economy and I also asked about the outcome so far of that Commission. The reply was not convincing, the hon. Prime Minister is not prepared to table the reports of the Commission, if report there was. Nothing tangible has come out from that Commission, it looks like money has gone down the drain for the past six years. But, it appears that the Minister of Finance has realised that and is putting the Commission to task. Hopefully, we will be able to assess the raison d’êtreof that Commission.
Mr Speaker, Sir, I would like also to talk about an issue which could be very detrimental to our financial system if we don’t do anything about it very quickly. Cela concerne un surendettement de la population. We agree that access to finance firms and households is important. However, we must learn from what happened in the past and which is still happening in the US and Europe. In times of low interest rates, there is a borrowing frenzy, access to finance is cheap and financial institutions are more than generous in their lending practice. In Mauritius we must now use this increasing indebtedness of the population with concern. If left unchecked, the aggressive marketing of banks for their loan products and credit cards are contributing to worsen this tendency of spending beyond our means. This is paving the way for default by many, should the world economic situation worsen. This risk of default on a massive scale in the event interest rate rises would endanger our financial system. Confidence in the financial system is vital. It is this loss of confidence in the financial system that led to the global economic recession. Gouverner c’est prévoir, M. le président. Qu’est ce qui est fait pour éviter une catastrophe financière locale ?
Mr Deputy Speaker: Order, please! Hon. Aimée.
Mr Seeruttun : The breakthrough, as claimed by the Minister of Finance, with regard to the SME’s access to finance through commercial banks is but a non-starter. The hon. Minister is boasting that SMEs will be granted loan at 3% above repo rate, that is, at 8.5%, but let me remind the House that the DBM is already granting loan at lower rate of 5.5% and the hon. Minister wishes that the DBM aligned its lending rate to that of the commercial banks. What a contrary to what we are aiming at, that is, getting people to start small businesses. Not to mention that banks would be allowed to deduct straightaway, for tax purposes, any bad debts provision that may arise, and the security given by the government. Again, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, pile je gagne, face tu perds.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the Minister of Finance said that henceforth all small planters and all small breeders will obtain VAT refund on agricultural machinery, equipment and tools that they purchase in 2012. This will benefit some 23,000 sugarcane planters, some 6,000 horticultural producers and some 5,000 animal breeders, including cattle and pig breeders. But, let’s face facts, Mr Deputy Speaker Sir. This measure will not make any difference to the plight of the small producers, especially the small cane planters. These small planters, unlike the big producers or the corporate sector, where they have all the necessary set-up to be able to take advantage of such a measure, won’t take any benefit of that rebate, Mr Deputy
Speaker, Sir. The Minister of Finance has missed the opportunity to bring a real difference to the plight of the small producers, in particular to the small sugarcane planters, and to keep them in business. What would have been appropriate, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is a scheme with more economic sense, to bring new support measures on the cost of inputs, and this basically relates to the reduction of price of inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, to mention just a few. Waiving or refund of the VAT on these inputs would have made more economic sense. The high cost of input remains the main constraints for the small planters to stay in business. Most of the small planters have small parcels of land, and it is a farfetched idea to think that these planters will be able to mechanise their operations. Therefore, refund of VAT does not make much of an economic sense, and the cumbersome exercise a small planter cum breeder will have to go through to get that refund will be another paire des manches. It appears to me that the Minister of Finance has looked for easy ways to collect taxes, like the 20% tax imposed on SMS. But, when it comes to tax rebate, he makes it so complex that no one will take the trouble to ask for that rebate. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, let’s now talk about the service providing institutions, the reform of the sugar industry. The government had finalised reform process in the sugar industry as per the MAAS in mid 2006, and it was only in December 2007 that it concluded what in its jargon is considered as a historic deal. One of the main components of the MAAS was to ensure that the sugar sector remains viable and would be the reform of the cess funded institutions – the service providing institutions. Today, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we are in November 2011; more than four years have elapsed, and not much headway has been made. But, worst of all, reform of these institutions has been retained as a condition for the disbursement of funds from the EU, as per the accompanying measures. Furthermore, we all know that one of the major facets of the reform would be the loss of jobs. I am deeply worried, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, for I receive representations from the employees of this sector almost every day. I am anxious, as there is a time constraint to complete the reform. I understand that the deadline is 31 March 2012, and time is running out. This will be what we call a drame humain. We hear the distress of the employees of these SPIs almost every day in the media. I was myself an ex-staff of one of these institutions, and I can understand the plight of these employees fully well. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the House will note that, in the Budget Speech of 2011, the Minister of Finance had indicated that the actuarial review of the Sugar Insurance Fund has started, and the recommendations purporting to enhance the viability of sugar produces will be implemented amongst others through amendments to the Sugar Insurance Fund Act.
The present Minister has indicated that the SIFB will grant a 70% discount on premiums due for 2011. This should reduce cost of small planters by around Rs3000 per arpent. I suppose that the producers are themselves providing for the grant. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, once again I must say that I have a lot of apprehension. The mathematic is simple; we do not need to be an actuary to understand. If we pay low premium, obviously the compensation will similarly be lowered. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the insurance system has played a pivotal role in stabilising the revenue of producers in difficult times, heavy cyclones, severe droughts. I would have thought that the Minister would have come with more innovative measures to reduce cost of operation of the Fund and increase its revenue through more innovative investment portfolio. Avant de conclure, M. le president, le précédent orateur a parlé de l’Afrique. Dans le budget, le ministre des finances fait mention de l’Afrique. C’est maintenant qu’on a découvert le potentiel de l’Afrique. Et pour conquérir l’Afrique, on parle de deux roving Ambassadors. Si c’est pour caser les petits copains, je souhaite bonne chance à mon ami Arvin. D’un côté on félicite le Board of Investment pour le bon travail et, en même temps, on ne lui fait pas confiance, parce que c’est leur rôle d’aller chercher les investissements étrangers. Donc, je ne vois pas l’intérêt de ces deux roving Ambassadors ; caser encore d’autres petits copains. To conclude, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to say that this Budget 2012 has been a non-event for the majority of the population. The timetable for the implementation of the measures is perceived as a joke, and no one believes that they are achievable. However, I do admit that the Minister of Finance has been cunning enough by taking the precaution to officially defining who should take responsibility of these budgetary measures, as very often, in the past, the Minister of Finance had to take the blame when things did not work out in other ministries. I just hope that Ministers know that they are being taken to task now. I concur, Mr Speaker, Sir, that there has been some innovation though. I would like here to emphasise that the Budget Speech contains a glossy photograph of the Minister and that it has been delivered in a gift bag – un cadeau empoisonné pour la population.
Mrs P. Bholah (First Member for Piton & Rivière du Rempart):
Mr Deputy Speaker,
Sir, my feeling towards Budget 2012 is one of deception. I observe that it is geared towards empowering the private sector and deepening economic liberalism. It fails to respond to urgent needs of the sons and daughters of this land. By removing, the land transfer tax, the Government is missing out, millions from its treasury especially when we know how much IRS, ERS bring in through the land transfer tax. The budget, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, fails to respond to the urgent needs of the population, who have been toiling hard in this country. Fortunately, the NRPT and interest taxes have been removed by the former Finance Minister, hon. Pravind Jugnauth, last year. The 2012 Budget does not pay any attention to the tornado of the social crisis heading on us at great pace – scarcity of water;
inadequate control of NGOs in the social sector, and increased price of commodities with the lack of incentives for local agroindustries, except for those already given last year. It mainly caters for the richer community, leaving those at the lower ladder in great discomfort.
The Resilience Fund of some Rs7 billion, which gives the impression that this Budget is making big effort to address the problems, might arise to face the crisis, but the truth, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, is that that sum was already provided last year and is being carried forward in the 2012 Budget.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, throughout his speech, the hon. Minister of Finance has tried to give some measures trying to bring a sort of feel good factor. But the truth is that today, people can foresee, but a very grim future ahead and can hardly smile at each other.
According to the hon. Minister, people will now eat more shampoos, perfumes, cosmetics and shoes because he has chosen to remove duties from these products. But he has completely ignored the outcry from the population at large to intervene on the price of basic foodstuffs. This is where the nation is suffering. There is no single action to listen to the outcry of the people in these difficult times, where prices are going up every day without control. In fact, there is no incentive to enhance local food production. A concrete example is the depletion of green lands replaced by a panorama of concrete where more agricultural activities could be effected, thus producing more and more food crops. It is simply a danger to our food security. Removing VAT from agricultural equipment is nothing but a mirage since you cannot buy such equipment as there is no soil left to toil. Where is the integrated farming proposed by the hon. Minister of Finance going to be located? Certainly not near the malls!
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, nothing has been put to heal the nation. We are having an increasingly number of social problems. It is now hitting all regions of the country, with families often falling in the violence trap and having the most horrible crimes in regions, once known as very peaceful. The lack of leisure and good quality of life are causing an unsuspected level of stress in Mauritian families. But this does not seem to have been considered in the present budget.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, the prevalence of gender base violence remains very high and is a great source of concern in Mauritius. In a bid to prohibit all forms of gender base violence, the SADC protocol stipulates that legislation must be enforced. Although the Budget makes provision for a Victim Assistance Scheme, including sexual offences, there is no mention of shelters for such victims. It is also about the time that the Sexual Offences Bill be passed. However, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, there has been a bold decision in the Budget for creating six shelters for vulnerable children as well as the recruitment of 20 Support Officers for the Child Development Unit. Children shall no longer be subject to violence only from 9 to 4 pm but, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, measures must be taken to that vulnerable children get a-24 hour service. Moreover, the idea of foster families should be encouraged without having to go for lengthy adoption procedures with the aim to bring in the children with a homely environment.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, talking about social housing, it has been a complete failure under this Government since 2005. We should go far beyond the subsidies to NHDC syndics in order to avoid a social crisis in the NHDC complexes. Although syndics have been working satisfactory during the year 2000 to 2005 they completely failed afterwards due to lack of consideration from Government. The reintroduction of syndics should be established through a very meticulous canvassing in order to create awareness with the NHDC population through an adequate methodology, proper regulations and all other criteria necessary to make it functional. 66 Let us not forget that quite a few of these complexes are in a bad state and urgent action should be taken to improve the situation and the environment as a matter of priority where the lands claimed to have taken from sugar barons for social housing. They are not to be seen not even in dreams. Today, I believe that the Minister has forgotten his time spent at the Ministry of Social Integration because the words ‘Social Integration’ are not mentioned at all at the Budget speech not a single time and to add insult to injury, the hon. Minister of Finance is coming up with a social register of poor people to categorise them to make them behave as per the agenda of private lobbies to entitle them to a housing unit. This is why I said: it is an attack on human dignity. Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, poverty devastates families, communities and nations. Kofi Annan said, I quote –
“Let us recognise that extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere. Let us recall that poverty is a denial of human rights. For the first time in history in this age of unprecedented wealth and technical prowess we have the power to save humanity from this shameful scourge. Let us summon the will to do it”.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with the facilities that companies will give for crèche, kindergarten through the Corporate Social Responsibility, women will be encouraged to join the workforce. Furthermore, the extension of the pre-primary education grant will also encourage them to work as their children will apparently be taken care of. As a lure for needy mothers who must work to be able to survive they will receive some Rs1,500 per month to send their children who are under three to a crèche but, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, these crèches will not ease the life of working mothers as, on the contrary, they will be compelled to work odd stressful hours.
Consequently, this is bound to create stress in their family life. This may be considered as a form of modern slavery. One cannot just pay lip service to a mere wish of women joining the manual workforce without creating the ideal conditions for same. We want the women to get better pay for the work they are doing. We need some quality jobs for women and we can just laugh when we hear now that the Commission for the Democratisation of the Economy will work with relevant ministries to implement a pilot programme to empower vulnerable women through small scale farming projects. But we all know that the Commission for the Democratization of the Economy is a non-starter. It is a waste of public funds, it is useless unless if democratisation of the economy means giving contracts 67 like Betamax or the Duty Free Paradise. In my constituency, people of Panchavati are desperate to land such jackpots.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, in my humble opinion women are not in a position to take loan to start business ventures at this time of great economic turmoil. The hon. Minister has not stated how the commercial banks will make loan available to women. What is needed is a form of equity in the business projects rather. The 8.5% of interest is still very high for SMEs start-up which, by definition, do not have enough financial strength to stand on their own specially with the forecast of a stunted economic growth rate of 4.4 % or even less in 2012 compared to 4.2% for the current year 2011.
M. le président, c’est un fait connu que quand une femme veut lancer une affaire, personne ne peut l’arrêter, même si elle ne dispose pas d’un local. Presque chaque jour, les médias rapportent l’histoire de femmes qui ont converti une petite chambre de leur domicile en usine. Désormais, avec la provision budgétaire de construction de 175 unités industrielles additionnelles pour les PME, les femmes n’auront plus besoin de travailler dans leurs maisons.
Mais elles doivent s’assurer qu’elles aient leur part du gâteau. Attention aux farceurs !
M. le président, permettez-moi de vous dire que ce budget est très décevant surtout en ce qui concerne la femme mauricienne. La femme est le socle principal d’une société et sans un vrai empowerment de celle-ci, nous ne ferons pas de progrès et la société restera en arrière pour longtemps encore. C’est surprenant et inacceptable que la femme mauricienne n’a pas été considérée à sa juste valeur. La femme est au centre de tout développement, elle qui s’occupe de sa famille, des vieux et des jeunes. Elle qui est au centre même de ce qu’on appelle ‘le care economy’, ce secteur qui reste non-rémunéré, a été largement ignorée et pourtant toute les instances internationales ne cessent de nous dire à quel point c’est important de lutter contre toute forme d’inégalité envers les femmes. Un des meilleurs moyens pour lutter contre le gender inequality c’est, bien sûr, à travers le budget, mais ce dernier reste grossièrement silencieux sur la création d’emplois pour les femmes. Le marché du travail mauricien est très biaisé, le taux de chômage parmi les femmes est supérieure a celui des hommes, mais l’Etat semble considérer cela comme étant très peu important. Et quid de nos jeunes femmes sortant des quartiers défavorisés et celles qui sont victimes d’un système scolaire qui ne fait que de reproduire des inégalités, sont souvent proies à toute forme de pathologie sociale qui engendre un cercle vicieux de la pauvreté. Mais au lieu de faire sortir les femmes des métiers traditionnels qui sont considérés comme des low-paid, low-status jobs, le ministre des finances fait de sorte à ce que les femmes restent confinées dans des positions marginales. Les mesures prônées renforceraient l’inégalité des genres.
L’empowerment de la femme passe par plusieurs étapes. Le programme gouvernemental lui-même avait fait ressortir qu’il faut que chaque ministère ait un Gender Policy mais en termes de ressources allouées pour ce projet si important, le budget n’a rien proposé. Le Budget aurait dû par exemple proposer un audit du secteur pré-vocationnel pour mieux comprendre la disparité qui existe entre filles et garçons dans le secteur et mettre les mesures appropriées pour donner des chances égales à nos jeunes citoyennes et citoyens. Ainsi on éviterait l’émergence d’autres pathologies sociales et le cercle vicieux de la pauvreté. Un budget qui n’est pas gender-sensitive est un budget qui va à l’encontre du développement de la nation. La République de Maurice a signé et ratifié le CEDAW (Convention of Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women), mais lorsque nous voyons les conditions dans lesquelles nos sœurs Rodriguaises, surtout celles qui sont venues à Maurice, dans l’espoir de trouver une meilleure chance, on ne peut que conclure que ce budget ne fait pas honneur à notre pays.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, talking of education, I find it very disappointing that the budget address has not considered the issue of providing more mitigating measures against increasing school-violence, school gangs in traffic centres, absconding, bullying and other major problems amongst the student population.
There are so many live social issues as from the primary level as well which have not been addressed closely.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, although education is free in Mauritius and both girls and boys have the same access to education, very often girls are at a disadvantage as they have to help with household chores. The chapter on “Shaping the Education, Training and Skilling for the 21st Century” puts in place “Summer School Programme” whereby slow learners and those who are behind with the curriculum can catch up. They will also be provided with hot meals. This measure is only to achieve universal primary education goal as well as the SADC Protocol which highlights retention in primary, secondary, tertiary, vocational and non-formal education. But, the effects of offering schooling during summer may prove to be detrimental to the épanouissement de l’enfant since he will be away from his peers while everybody will be enjoying their holidays.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, with the provision of Rs500,000, already available since January this year for the upgrading of all Government schools, but which is greatly inadequate, we hope that the Minister of Education, and his officers will see to it that schools become a clean and safe place for our children as well as making sure that there are adequate and separate toilets for girls and boys. We all know girls have different needs and cannot use the same toilets as boys.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, whilst the Budget is emphasising on foreign students, there is not much emphasis on safe and accessible accommodation for these students and facilities for student accommodation is a prerequisite for any country wishing to attract foreign students. Also, there needs to be emphasis on medical checkups also for these students (as risk of communicable diseases could potentially be introduced) and who will pay for these?
Whilst there is money invested for IT infrastructure and other physical infrastructure as well as maintenance, there is no mention of funds invested for the continuing training of teachers, exchange programmes for teachers, increased intake of teaching staff and other support staff.
No doubt, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, investment in human resources is important to achieve excellence. In fact, real innovation measures would have included holiday schools to further introduce school children to extracurricular activities and free parents to go to work; access to schools that foster creativity e.g. publicly funded music, dance, art, drama schools for school children who are more inclined in these subjects. Currently, parents have to pay a lot to have access to these activities, musical instruments in private schools etc. to enhance creativity amongst our youth.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, research is such a crucial aspect in countries who want to achieve growth and again not much attention for research and development or innovation has been made in this budget. There is a complete disinterest in scientific research. If we look at what Singapore is doing in terms of Research Investment, this budget seems to have missed out the idea completely.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, at tertiary level, we are heading towards a disaster with many graduates not obtaining jobs as a result of mismatch between choice and career opportunities. In scarcity areas Government has to import human resources whereas on the other hand, graduates are queuing up to obtain a decent job. We only hope meritocracy will still be put into practice contrary to what everybody heard about the news of fishy type of recruitment. This is another explosive situation. It’s very good to have campuses all over the island, but the Government must see to it that those coming out with diplomas and degrees do not work as clerical or are jobless otherwise. In his plight to create job experience training opportunities, no emphasis have been put by the Minister of Finance on the creation of jobs of specific nature related to the courses being offered. In my opinion, a new study should be carried out for career prospective prior to introducing courses in the tertiary curriculum.
Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, I suggest that the vision of research be broadened by setting up a National Research Foundation (NRF) like in Singapore with the following objective –
1. Setting the national direction for Research and Development (R&D) by developing
policies, plans and strategies for research, innovation and enterprise;
2. Funding of strategic initiatives;
3. Building up research and development capabilities and capacities through nurturing
our own and attracting foreign talent, and
4. Coordinating the research agendas of different agencies to transform our country into a knowledge-intensive, innovative and entrepreneurial economy.
While talking of infrastructure, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, more specifically in my Constituency No. 7 Piton/Rivière du Rempart, sufficient funds have been released by the former Minister of Finance, following identification of various projects. Under the emergency flood rehabilitation programme some important projects namely in Panchavati and L’Amitié have been identified and initiated by the Minister of Public Infrastructure. As for other projects related to road safety particularly at Piton Junction and Labourdonnais, I only hope that these projects be considered and executed in the near future to avoid any further road calamity. While concluding, Mr Deputy Speaker, Sir, we want in short to have a country where all Mauritians have decent employment opportunities, a country which provide safe and healthy lifestyle, which has a modern infrastructure and vibrant economy and where the standard of living is high. The 2012 budget, according to me, does not completely reflect the legitimate aspiration of the people of this country.