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LALIT looks at Long-Term Destructive Effects of Pravind Jugnauth’s Budget

01.08.2016

Just as Mr. André Bonieux of Price Waterhouse Coopers applauds measures in Jugnauth’s budget that will bring one-off windfall gains from land speculation into the pockets of the lazy bourgeoisie, LALIT deplores the unprecedented dangers that these same measures provoke for the whole of society, including all working people.


 We go further. We predict that the Jugnauth Budget, if not opposed by mass mobilization, will risk destroying Mauritian society. Mauritian society is already made fragile by mass under-employment, insecure jobs, overcrowded housing, increasing disparity between rich and poor, and the lack of any new productive sectors. These economic problems have already produced a spate of hold-ups, armed robberies and violent burglaries as well as, and linked to, drug abuse and small-time trafficking, intra-familial conflicts of a rare violence, and a generation of children suffering severe disorientation.


 Not only does Pravind Jugnauth propose no new production of any kind, as even Lindsay Riviére deplores, not only has he absolutely no new job creation whatsoever in his budget, but his Budget comes and literally liquidates the only source of future production and job creation: the arable land.


 There are no longer limits to the liquidation of arable land. All land can now be liquidated, sold to the highest millionaire bidder from abroad, and made into concrete and golf-courses. This is the nightmare scenario proposed by Percy Mistry, and ignored, at the time, as being far-fetched. And this nightmare for the people causes the jubilation of PWC, which represents the 1%, who get to pocket the loot from the land they will have pillaged, and at the same time this nightmare scenario causes the alarm of LALIT, a party interested in the well-being of all in society.


 What measures is LALIT referring to? Mr. Bonieux refers to these same measures, at the outset of the PWC communiqué, as follows:


 1. “Removal of constraints around Property Development Schemes” (PDS). For people who have not followed the changes in appellation, PDS is none other than IRS and RES combined. This, taken together with changes in the Investment Promotion Act (Smart Cities’ legal framework) means that it will be easier for sugar estates and other big land-owners to sell off agricultural land to millionaires from abroad, making one-off windfall gains. In exchange, as we know, the millionaires from abroad get Permanent Residence for themselves and their entourage, or in cases where they invest, they all get citizenship, nationality. What this means in practice is that Ministers will give permits for land conversion plus tax waivers, for parcelization plus tax waivers, for sale of land without registration duty, for import of building materials without Customs Duty, for purchase of building materials without VAT, and even for an 8-year tax holiday for companies investing – under this new regime, i.e. with “removal of constraints”. There will be no democratic restraint, for example, from Local Authorities. There will be “acceleration in issuing Building and Land Use Permits” and “new powers to the BOI to clear projects already in the pipeline,” PWC says accurately. This is the kind of measure PWC sees as “highly encouraging”. Permits will be granted automatically, after the expiry of a delay i.e. without being looked at properly or at all, permitting all manner of sell-offs. Pravind Jugnauth has even scrapped the restriction that 25% of Smart Cities villas be reserved for Mauritians and the diaspora.


 This means that the Government economic strategy is based on the precise kind of colonization that Israel does in Palestine. It creates gated communities, where colonizers from abroad buy land and “settle”, live in a kind-of Apartheid reality, and then these communities are linked to each other and to malls and Smart Cities by motorways that the Government builds.    


 2. “Authorization for non-citizens to acquire apartments and business buildings”, as PWC accurately puts it. This new measure means that, unless we can reverse it, there will be colonization a-la-Israel expanding and becoming even more insidious.


 These measures mean that the demands of the sugar estate land owners and property speculators have been met. And this has been done by exposing the entire country to ruin.


 


Lindsey Collen


for LALIT


1 August, 2016