Kicking the can

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None of us is terminally stupid. Though it is at times good for our health to act as if we were. 

First, expectations were raised that there was going to be a queue to buy up British American Investment companies. Astronomical sums were floated about. Then wallets and purses snapped shut as the reality of the conditions imposed hit those potentially interested in a hospital that had been allowed to bleed white. And the promised purchase prices never materialised. 

We watched helplessly as Apollo Bramwell lost value by the day. And we saw how that turned out. But we didn’t learn. Promises kept being made and we got an instant replay in the case of Iframac. Peugeot quickly headed for an exit door called Axcess. Mitsubishi, as things stand, seems to have one foot out of the door. As buyers dried up, the state thought of the miracle solution: taking over the left-over assets of Iframac and leaving its management to the employees.

One has to be grateful for life’s little mercies: the employees have at least kept their jobs. If Apollo Bramwell’s workers are spending sleepless nights worrying about their tomorrows, if Courts has managed to keep only 80% of its staff, guaranteeing only 50% of their years of service, Iframac employees seem safe from retrenchment. For now!  

A crisis has been avoided but the business world is not always as accommodating as our minister of financial services paints it. And certainly, the situation does not look like Christmas. There are no free lunches. So, let’s say a prayer or two.

Let’s pray that Mitsubishi goes back under the Iframac banner. Let’s not forget that out of the three brands that Iframac has been marketing, Mitsubishi constitutes the bread and butter of the company.

Let’s pray that our minister of foreign affairs manages to convince Mercedes that it is better for them to be represented by a company run by the employees than by another experienced car dealer. His bargaining power? Mercedes  represents 0.02% of the market share in Mauritius. Surely that is enough to pressurise the Germans, isn’t it?

Let’s pray that the employees acquire the expertise necessary to choose the competencies needed to make the company run profitably and generate enough money to afford their salaries and benefits.

Let’s above all pray that the employees have the capital to invest and the means to market and sell the services Iframac will be offering.

Now that’s an awful lot of prayers. It’s an awful lot of wishes. If they are not all answered, the workers will have ‘taken over’ an empty garage and we might find ourselves in a situation where the can has been kicked down the road another few months. When reality hits again, things will be worse than what we had feared until now. And it’ll be only a matter of time before the public catches on and realises that maybe we wasted our wishes on wishing. But let’s continue wishing. And praying! “The only difference between a wish and a prayer, Jodi Picoult said, “is that you're at the mercy of the universe for the first, and you've got some help with the second.” So please help us, God! Please!

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