The bonanza

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It really felt very lonely back then when, in the middle of the general hysteria against the Rawat family, we advised some caution. Two years later, there are no charges against them? So, what was all that about?

While brandishing two words we have incidentally stopped hearing since – ‘Ponzi’ and ‘cleaning’ – ministers, who made sure they had withdrawn their money first, and their colleagues started carving up the BAI assets and sometimes inviting relatives and cronies to feast on the carcass. The bank, which was helped towards bankruptcy by huge and sudden government withdrawals, was taken over and friends, relatives and anyone prepared to snitch on the government enemies were rewarded with highly paid jobs they were barely qualified for. The insurance company was nationalised overnight and the minister in charge started promising future profits. Iframac was a big manna from heaven as people like the Jugnauth birthday organiser, Bissoon Mungroo, went on a shopping spree and came out with a basket full of goodies at an incredible price: 43 vehicles for Rs6.5 million rupees! What a bonanza!

No need to talk about Britam Kenya as the government itself has instituted a commission of enquiry into the conditions of the sale – a real admission of guilt perhaps. An own goal. 

As for the jewel in the crown, Apollo Bramwell Hospital, it became a safe haven for the lucky few. Salesmen turned into managers overnight and started pocketing big salaries. And the hospital, which was worth Rs2.5 billion according to the government’s own estimates, was first handed over for free to some dubious ‘investors’, whilst awaiting a payment that never came, before it was later sold to the originally preferred bidder, with months of funded losses in between. Only Rs77million was left when all advanced money had been repaid! This week in parliament, serious accusations were even made about some alleged commissions paid at the highest echelons of government. 

In this manna from heaven, no crony has been left out. You may not have heard of Minister Yogida Sawmynaden’s wife, Wenda, but you must assume that, as a notary, she must be endowed with the same superior intelligence and exceptional competence as her barrister colleague Kailash Trilochun. Or almost. Her fees in the transactions with government are alleged to be between Rs7 and Rs14 million, with Rs7million in the Apollo Bramwell transaction alone! One wonders at what point in time the buyer of Apollo Bramwell, the CIEL group, suddenly discovered her rare competence and unique skills. I mean, was the group using her services before? Occasionally perhaps or was it just a sudden realisation – a bit like the apple falling on Isaac Newton’s head – or being thrown on it?  

While the spoils of the kingdom are being looted with such haste and voracity, the ‘victims’ who were supposed to be ‘saved’ by the government have lost not only their investment returns but, in some cases, even the hope of ever seeing a fraction of it back. Some of the shortfall is, – surprise, surprise! – going into the pockets of people whose exceptional competence has come to light in the last two years.

But it’s not the government’s fault that all the extremely competent people are related to members of the government. It is not their fault that all the others are so useless that they have to work for meagre salaries. It is coincidence, stupid! Some sort of miracle, if you wish. Now don’t tell me you don’t believe in miracles either. That’s what we voted for, isn’t it! So, there!

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