[Blog] Time to be practical, honest, and forward looking

Surendra Appadoo

World leaders who have been stricken or forced into isolation are still grappling for ways to deal with a crisis that will have economic and social shockwaves unseen since World War II. The lockdown measures have confined more than two-fifths of the globe’s population to their homes.

More than 180 countries on this planet are experiencing this killer and invisible virus. It's nobody fault (besides all the conspiracy theories we have all seen from videos being circulated via WhatsApp etc) and it is unprecedented. Even in the west, governments were ill prepared and are coming up with all sort of measures on all fronts be it health, finance and economic. It goes without saying if factories, companies and offices are all locked down, we are destined to experience huge setbacks on all fronts. 

This is a fact and is beyond our control. What matters now is to feed the nation and tackling the spread of this killer virus. It is important to remember Mauritius has a very high propensity to import and those imports come from many countries already caught in the lockdown spiral themselves. Even when business will be back to normal in Mauritius, we will experience supply chain issues without doubt. In view of the dire economic impact, we need to look at huge savings from the public sector which can help those in need and can also equip our country in other sectors. To name a few drastic measures:
1. Abolish the need to have a vice president of the Republic of Mauritius.
2. Halve the president of the republic's monthly gross salary.
3. Halve all previous serving presidents' pensions. Huge savings here.
4. Abolish the need to have 2 deputy Governors at the Bank of Mauritius.
5. Halve all ministers' gross salaries.
6. Halve all MP's gross salaries.
7. Halve all Chair persons' gross salaries in all semi-government establishments.
8. Abstain from paying a December’s bonus to all those above.

We will recoup in the millions of rupees per month which can be used to: 

(a) Give the self-employed some basic needs going forward.

(b) Recruit more nurses and other health professionals.

(c) Finance a state-of-the-art science lab to undertake advanced research on testing, developing new techniques andgetting ready for future pandemic.

(d) Finance such project which can help the nation to   produce its own household cooking gas whether through biogas or ethanol.

(e) Equip all our hospitals and local dispensaries with the recommended PPE kits.

(f) Computerise all medical records across the whole island. Stop this old fashion of '' Tire carte''.

(g) Ensure every household is receiving clean water supply 24/7.

(h) Invest in a dedicated and new hospital dealing solely with epidemic outbreak. It should be a top-notch research centre of excellence.

(i) Build a screening booth at the airport to detect potential infected passengers coming to our country.

At this difficult time of our existence, it's not a time to show off our knowledge of economics and finance. With the use of internet, anybody can learn economic theories here and there and impress other people. What we need now is practical measures to save lives and feed our nation. Once nations across the globe are back on their feet, wealth will be created again. People will meet again but what we need now is to ensure everybody has food on the table and stay alive. It’s time that we survive and learn from this pandemic. Simple government measures should be to:

1. Ensure the actors in the informal sector are receiving a minimum wage thus allowing them to feed their family members.

2. Freeze all their personal & housing loans until economic activity gets back to normality

3. Support them with their Electricity & Water bills until normality is restored.

4.Amend the tenancy act preventing Landlords chasing with undue pressure for rents to those self-employed if they are in a tenancy agreement. 

Without doubt, we need to be less reliant on China, India and other countries and start producing locally.

1. Let's earmark a significant land mass for agriculture. Let's grow our own garlic, ginger, potatoes, onions, rice, fruits etc in Mauritius.

2. Let's breed cows on large scale and produce fresh milk and explore biogas with a view to produce household gas and supply them through metered pipe.

3. Let's encourage horticulture to all families by supporting them on all fronts be it in logistics, qualityseeds, farming techniques etc.

4. Let’s revamp our vegetables, meat and fish markets stalls across the island.

It's time to be practical in Mauritius. All the economic theories, GDP forecast and other economic indicators are all obsolete at this unprecedented time of our existence. It's time for tangible, real and practical measures. All bombastic English expressions and impressive economic theories willbe useful when one is preparing for a thesis to get through his or her PhD. For now, Mauritians should come up with practical ideas not from theories but on the ground action points. It's all about saving lives, feeding the nation and keeping the population in good spirit with minimum mental stress on one hand and preserving law and order on the other.

It’s not time for party politics. Nobody has the monopoly of intelligence on this planet. Any responsible citizen should come forward with ideas to support the state of Mauritius to which we all owe our allegiance to. 

‘’He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions.” — Louisa May Alcott
 Long live Mauritius and we will get through this invisible killer.

Surendra Appadoo
20th April 2020


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