19 February 2016

Mrinal Roy: Has government lost the plot?

Has the all-consuming idée fixe about ‘smart cities’ and the hype about the imminence of a scripted economic miracle cut government from the ground realities of the country, its stark inequalities and the enduring hardships faced by the common man? Last week, torrential rains and the resulting floods wreaked havoc in Mauritius and caused distress to the people. It acted as a wakeup call from the government fixation about ‘smart cities’.

Whilst most of the brightest post independence graduates and professionals came back to Mauritius and have contributed to the national building efforts, this is progressively much less the case now. After a mere 47 years after independence a growing number of young Mauritians are, owing to the inherent flaws in the domestic recruitment process, opting to seek and pursue a professionally more rewarding career abroad. The most endowed and talented Mauritians are out in the world to excel in their respective fields of interest…
The announcement by the ubiquitous Showkutally Soodhun that the Heritage City project designed to harbour the key government offices at Highlands will benefit from a Saudi financing of Rs 18 billion is therefore quite startling. No funding is without strings. What are the strings attached to this financing? Is this the only source of funds available to Government for this project? Mauritius therefore needs to exercise extreme caution in the choice of funding away from traditional sources for projects, however important these are. In line with our long established policy, we have to ensure that all funds made available for the financing of mega projects are ‘stringless’ and ‘neutral’ apart from obviously being clean. Mauritius should under no circumstances compromise on its sovereignty or internal harmony…
Mauritius Times

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