Three people have spoken in the last two weeks and we are still soaking in the wisdom of what came out.
The first to have initiated this illuminating exercise is none other than Governor of the Bank of Mauritius Yandraduth Googoolye. For years, he was seen but never heard. His expressionless face seemed to be hiding something of a world mystery up there with the building of the pyramids and the hanging gardens. Then he spoke and lessons will be learnt forever: “The role of the press is to protect the Mauritian jurisdiction not to dwell on the size of the car the Bank has bought for me nor (Sic) on the quantum of my per diems.” Aren’t we glad our Bank governor broke his vow of silence! At least now the press know what to be interested in and what to steer clear of.
We should not worry about money squandered on useless trips or luxury cars (Audi A8) paid for by the taxpayer. What is of interest to the public is not important. What we should instead be doing is repeating that our jurisdiction is clean and that every investor who comes to this country is a bona fide investor, whatever the rest of the world might think.
As if that was not enough wisdom, someone we had nearly forgotten about made the headlines again in a case against Anerood Jugnauth claiming Rs417 million! Naturally, everyone is entitled to go to court and seek redress and compensation. My only contention is that the amount of this compensation is based on absolutely scandalous fees paid to the lawyer and brother-in-law of a minister in 2016 and which led to his resignation once the sum became public knowledge. Then-Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth himself expressed or feigned shock. Instead of hanging his head in shame, he actually used the fees paid by the cash cow ICTA as proof of his competence, stating that he would have worked for another 20 years and based on his income in 2016, he has suffered and will suffer a loss of Rs309,533,580! How about using his fees before his brother-in-law came to power as a yardstick?
More came from Sanjeev Teeluckdharry – God bless him – the fountain of wisdom. You will recall that the guy was hardly attending Parliament before his short stint as deputy speaker. When asked about his frequent absence, his reply was disarming: “I am too busy,” he said, referring to his court cases! The Rs157,500 salary we are paying him every month for sitting and doing nothing seemed irrelevant. You will also recall his written complaint to the speaker for restricting his trips – at our expense – to “underdeveloped countries” where “the per diem perceived is not very high”! Following his forced resignation as deputy speaker, he publicly declared this week that he is “reorganising” his work to “resume his professional activities on a full-time basis”. So expect to continue to fork out his salary while he attends Parliament on the rare occasions that his timetable allows him to do so.
The lessons in good governance are clear: Milk the taxpayer as much as you can while you can: exorbitant fees, luxury cars, overseas trips whose only purpose is to visit other countries at the taxpayer’s expense and fill one’s pockets through per diem – a lot of it. Work as little as you can or not at all if you can help it. If ever the manna from heaven stops, sue the state!
And the press should shut up! It’s not the fact that some people have their hands deep in the state purse that is harming the country. It’s the noise made in the press about it. Let the thievery and daylight robbery continue without fuss. That’s the lesson to draw from the last two weeks’ events.
For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected]