Questions and evasions

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Feeling reassured after watching the parliamentary debates which resumed after a four-month break? I thought not. There’s never much reassurance to be had when every trick in the book is used to avoid transparency.

Didn’t have time to watch? What a pity! This is what you missed:

  1. The Private Notice Question, as expected, was on the Sobrinho saga and the commission of inquiry virtually every Mauritian citizen is asking for. No, we can’t have that. The only commission of inquiry the prime minister, Pravind Jugnauth, is prepared to have will look into the defunct commission of inquiry set up by the then-president of the Republic, who is now history. A witch hunt if you prefer. For the real questions about who brought Alvaro Sobrinho to Mauritius, who changed the law to make it possible for him to launder his money, who looked into his eyes and saw high quality detergents and why board members resigned from the Financial Services Commission and the Board of Investment just before Sobrinho was granted the dubious licences, you need to go to the Independent (very independent) Commission against Corruption (ICAC)! Why the ICAC? Because the prime minister received a letter, which he will table. When will he table it? He will seek advice to find out whether or not he can table it. The ICAC has no credibility? How shocking! We have to trust our institutions! They are all working independently.
     
  2. When did the prime minister first get to know about Ameenah Gurib-Fakim’s use of the Platinum credit card? A serious question we were all expecting an urgent answer to. Instead, we were treated to a picture of PMSD’s MP Aurore Perraud, then-minister of gender equality, sitting in a function organised by the Presidency and the Planet Earth Institute with Alvaro Sobrinho and a thousand other guests! Seriously? That is the answer? And the speaker came to the rescue by signaling that Question Time was up.
     
  3. MMM MP Rajesh Bhagwan wanted to know about the overseas trips undertaken by ministers and how much they cost the taxpayer. The answer was ready and it is the same as the one given to the same question a year ago: “The information is being compiled.” When is this endless compilation exercise likely to be over? “In due course!”
     
  4. Can we know the conclusion of the report of the Fact Finding Committee set up to look into the salary of Vijaya Samputh, former executive director of the Cardiac Centre? We paid for that report, didn’t we? Ehmmm, we can’t make it public: the committee – which was supposed to investigate – found out that more investigation was needed and the file has been referred to the ICAC! Did the report contain elements that may be of interest to the ICAC? We can’t reveal anything because the ICAC is investigating. So next question please!
     
  5. How about the report of the Fact Finding Committee on the former director of the Independent Broadcasting Authority, Youshreen Choomka? After all, the committee met on no less than 22 occasions and heard 26 witnesses. Surely, we are entitled to know the recommendations it made, aren’t we? No, unfortunately, because that too was referred to the ICAC! So, sorry we can’t help.
     
  6. Can we know if we paid more for our petrol when we contracted it from Saudi Arabia and the Seychelles? No, we can’t disclose that information. It’s commercially sensitive. What about the freight? We can’t disclose that either for commercial reasons.
     
  7. What happened to the allegations of malpractices and mismanagement at the Irrigation Authority and the alleged generous payments of arrears made to the previous acting general manager there? The matter is still being looked into by the committee. We can’t disclose anything until the report comes out.
     
  8. Is it not true that Mauricoast, belonging to PPS Sandya Boygah’s husband, which got a barachois free of charge, is unable to go ahead with any project because it doesn’t have any money? “I don’t have that information.” Any more questions?

No, that’s enough transparency for today, thank you! You can head for the lunchroom where a delicious meal is waiting for you. We are happy to pay for it because you have worked so hard to deserve it. Dodging all the questions with such ease is really hard work. So, bon appétit!


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