Half-a-million-dollar baby

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Am I shocked that the prime minister’s very special adviser, Gérard Sanspeur, walks away with half a million rupees every month? No, I am not. You can only be shocked by the unexpected. After hearing the astronomical figures paid to wasters heading quangos of all kinds, it is clear that the watchwords at the highest echelons of the country – from the president down to some lucky receptionists – seem to be ‘let’s fill our pockets as quickly as possible, for as long as the fun lasts’. And the competition is intense. What shocks me though is the greed and voracity which have become the hallmark of this government.

Let’s postulate for a moment that Sanspeur is endowed with some intelligence. (If, by the way, every intelligent person in this country earned a fraction of the sum paid to cronies, there would be little poverty left). Going from the principle that Sanspeur is one single human being and that there are only 24 hours in a day, can anyone explain to us how his intelligence can be so superior to that of the rest of us that he needs to hog eight jobs and claim to excel at all of them to deserve the half million monthly fees we work so hard to pay him? Isn’t that preposterous? If one man sits on seven boards, as chairman where he has to be very involved, and on top of that advises the government, how can he argue that he discharges all his duties in a satisfactory way?

What transpires from all this is that there is a pool of privileged men and women who are emptying the government coffers and bleeding the country dry. They are leaving no crumbs for others who have hopes and aspirations to be able to contribute to the development of their country. And Sanspeur is only the tip of the iceberg. You all saw the secrecy around Sherry Singh’s salary and the bogus excuses given by Minister Sesungkur, who referred us to the Mauritius Telecom annual report, where Singh’s salary is not disclosed. The reason given for the non-disclosure? ‘Commercial sensitivity’ – which is nonsense, of course, as MT is a state-owned monopoly and non-disclosure goes against the government's own code of corporate governance imposed on the corporate sector! The real reason is in fact political sensitivity as the chap, according to some MPs, walks home with over one million rupees a month plus about two million rupees for his Christmas shopping! All this suggests that the government couldn't care two hoots about sound and responsible public finance management, even though public debt is spiralling out of control.

Add the Choomkas, Yerriahs, Hanoomanjees, Trilochuns, Sumpuths… and top that with the fleet of luxury cars also revealed in parliament this week and you will discover the insatiable appetite with which our money is being gorged upon. In the meantime, all the government MPs voted against Alan Ganoo’s motion of disallowance, which would have reduced a bit of the burden on the population. How else would they be able to pay such huge salaries and fees to the same people?

And some of these people dare justify their humongous pay packet by immodestly self-proclaiming their competence and effectiveness. They also have the gall to make an oblique and offensive reference to Opposition MP Rajesh Bhagwan’s past as a meter reader! At least the meter reader can ‘read’. That’s more than one can say about a few of the government members some very special advisers are advising.      

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