More money for the plebeians. And of course more money for those in power but this is no time to spoil the fun. Eight thousand three hundred and fifty-three more civil servants will be hired, naturally in the usual most transparent way. More money for pensioners – rich, poor, retired, still drawing salaries…Subsidies on food items for everyone...
These are just a few of the great things that happened to us after last week’s budget. They clearly show that we are doing really well. Our exports have gone down proportionately and so did our productivity; tourist arrivals are well below the targets set in the last budget; the dollar is trading at over Rs44 and you’d be lucky to find it even if you paid more; year on year inflation is at a crippling 11% and rising…But no need to worry. There is a lot of money in the country and many funds to dig into. When there is no money, you print it. It’s as simple as that! Only morons in developed countries haven’t discovered the magic recipe used for years in countries like Venezuela, Argentina and Zimbabwe.
The outlook? Absolutely brilliant! A minimum FDI of Rs4.5 billion, according to Padayachy, as expected fallout from the Dubai exhibition thanks to all the investments we made in paying business and first class tickets, per diems and entertainment allowances for our ministers, lucky civil servants and other hangers-on who visited the exhibition. Don’t worry if the government is so embarrassed that they categorically refused to disclose the amount spent. They must also be hiding how much of the anticipated Rs4.5 billion we have in reality managed to rake in. Perhaps it is due to their characteristic modesty?
Growth in 2022? Brilliant too: 8.5%! Hallelujah! Last year, the minister of finance had projected a whopping 9% and we ended up at 6.9%, according to the figures provided by his own ministry. But this year, things are definitely better. For us I mean. Who cares that the IMF, The World Bank, the EU, the OECD and every other country are bracing themselves for a looming, choppy economic future. The doom and gloom scenario they prognosticate will not reach our shores. For as long as Renganaden Padayachy is our minister of finance. No other finance minister in this country or elsewhere has managed to discover the Holy Grail he has so effortlessly put his hands on.
Tourist arrivals? Who can resist the temptation of a trip into the lovely past when everyone had to wear a mask, keep social distancing and have their noses tampered with? One million tourists are coming in 2022, according to the minister of tourism. Even better: 1.4 million in 2023, according to Magic Man. That must include the promised 15,000 super rich visitors from Dubai1 thanks again to the amounts of money we spent on our ministers’ missions.
Productivity? Who cares? We can sell government assets and cash in on quick money, can’t we?
If you don’t believe Magic Man, listen to the “experts”. It would seem that so many of them have turned into part-time spin doctors! What happened to professionalism, objectivity and patriotism? Apart from very few brave ones, most of them skilfully avoided embarrassing questions such as the most obvious one: where is the money coming from? Most failed in their duty to warn of the dangers ahead. When the Bank of Mauritius – the regulator!!! – raised eyebrows by not publishing its monthly balance sheet, they deliberately avoided the question: why? Why? Is it because of “a decline in the level of its economic capital below the Rs10 billion minimum in April 2022”2 as Sameer Sharma, from the Bank of America, suggests? If the answer is yes, where did that money go? In which special fund? Does anyone, by the way, worry about the numerous funds being used for capital expenditure? Where will these experts hide when the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Moody have a close look at government finance?
As for the opposition, please don’t make me laugh! They were so happy that the minister of finance “listened to their advice”! What exactly is that precious advice? In a nutshell, using money we don’t have, which we printed, when we shouldn’t have, to give people the illusion that they are richer while the consequent inflation is driving them deeper and deeper into poverty! Under other circumstances, I would have invited you to share in the joke.
1 (l’express 10 April)
2 (l’express 14, July)