A Nobel Prize nomination

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Nobel Committee Members, look no further this year. We have an exceptional nominee here who deserves your full attention: the minister of finance, Renganaden Padayachy. Some of his policies are uniquely sound, workable and above all original. I personally know of no other human being currently living or dead who can hold a candle to him when it comes to thinking out of the box.

Everyone knows our economy is in shambles and is kept on life support thanks to the reserves of the central bank. To be fair, Padayachy can’t take the credit or the blame entirely for the pre-Covid economic situation he inherited and which was made worse by the pandemic. However, it is his out-of-the-box thinking that is to be recommended to the Oslo committee urgently.

There are at least two major decisions he took which make him a prized candidate for the Nobel recognition. First, when Covid-19 first hit the world, was wreaking havoc everywhere it took hold and countries started tripping over themselves to shut their borders to protect their citizens, our dear minister came up with a luminous idea for protecting the island: inviting tourists from coronavirus hard-hit countries to come and sojourn in Mauritius. To make sure they swoop in in large numbers, he doubled the alcohol allowance they are permitted to buy under our duty-free concession. He even gave a press conference to spell out exactly what he meant as it is very important for tourists to understand what is at stake: three bottles of whisky or four bottles of wine. An irresistible offer in other words!

I don’t know how many alcoholics – I mean tourists –immediately packed their suitcases and flew to come and enjoy the increased duty-free booze here but they must have sobered up very quickly and left, as today there are zero tourists in our hotels.

If you are not satisfied with this act of creative genius, here is another one. As our competitors – particularly the Seychelles – have a full, well devised plan to attract the few people who still have the means and are in the mood to travel by offering them several packages, including a five-day quarantine during which specified activities are allowed, over here we have had a much better idea: we lock them up in their hotel rooms for 14 full days! While in prison detainees are allowed to walk around and stretch their legs, in quarantine, those who insist on visiting us are not even allowed to stick their nose outside the hotel room. Now if they are unlucky enough to test positive, they are locked away in a hospital ward for an indefinite stint of Mauritian hospitality.

As tourists are not adventurous enough to appreciate this regime, our foreign reserves are drying up faster than our reservoirs.

Again, enter the Nobel Prize candidate! In the midst of this gloomy period, he comes up with yet another equally brilliant idea: reduce duty on imported cars. Who would have thought of that? And there I was, stupid little me, thinking that we should conserve our meagre foreign reserves for food and other basic essentials. Stupid, stupid, stupid! We should use them to import cars! And if we don’t have any rice or bread, we can dish up cars to our families for dinner. A real example of forward thinking.

There is of course the other brainwave that can only come from a wizard of economics: the Contribution Sociale Généralisée. It fell on our minister while he was sitting under an apple tree. A real aha moment! However, as Business Mauritius might want to use it to also nominate him, maybe for some other prize, I didn’t want to encroach upon that territory.

I hope the committee takes the above recommendation seriously. As no vaccine against Covid is likely to be rolled out this year, I doubt there will be a more deserving candidate than our minister of finance. So I am deeply convinced that your recognition, your sympathies and your votes will go to the above feats. We look forward with bated breath to the prize-giving ceremony.

In the meantime, let’s all buy a car or two. When we are out of food, they will turn out to be very handy!

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