Two pieces of bad news came out of the parliamentary debates this week. First, that our national debt, which hovered around 61.6% of the GDP in 2014 rose to 63.8% in 2015, and is currently at 65%! Remember that for the debt increase, the pensioners had a couple of hundred rupees more and civil servants, particularly those at the top of the scale, got a generous helping. And we are not talking about the indecent increase members of parliament and ministers are about to start pocketing. The taxpayer who is sweating for his money in the private sector, on the other hand, got nothing for his taxes. He is still stuck in traffic every morning and afternoon, there are no new roads, no modernised port, no new airport and the light rail transit system is still at the level of talk.
And there is nothing to lift your morale: the Rs1.6 billion voted in the middle of criticism and recrimination is going straight into the coffers of MauBank to plug a number of holes! Remember that two senior ministers had looked us straight in the eye and told us that the destruction of the BAI companies would not cost the taxpayer a penny. Now the minister of finance goes to parliament and asks for the bill to be voted so that our money – our hard-earned money – goes to MauBank!
As if that was not enough, the new minister of finance, Pravind Jugnauth, looked us again straight in the eye, the way his other ministers did not so long ago, and told us that public debt “would not be affected by this supplementary budget”. Really? “We are going to look at everything very seriously. We should not jeopardise the economy,” he said. So we must believe him just as we believed his colleagues. We are by the way still waiting for the thousand plus jobs created by Old Mutual as our youth were promised. In fact, we are also waiting for the two jobs per person promised though one will do, thank you!
Naturally, the opposition moaned and groaned and naturally, the bill went through based on the law of numbers and that of Jhugroo that no MP should embarrass the government.
The other piece of bad news is that the blue-eyed boy, Rakesh Gooljaury, has not changed the colour of his contact lenses. They were blue under the previous government when he got all sorts of favours from the bank which was supposed to help small and medium enterprises. And then he swapped sides, ratted on his former powerful friends, made himself new ones and he is laughing again. His Rs564-million loan has not been paid yet. But where is the problem? The new government was even more generous towards him and he got a Rs32 million loan in November 2015 and another Rs16 million one in April this year. All in all, he has been much better off since the new government took over.
As for the SMEs, they can pick a number and wait. Let our representatives serve themselves and their friends first and then look after their vote bank later. Those who need help always come last.
For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, subscribe to Weekly for as little as Rs110 a month. Free delivery to your door. Contact us:[email protected]