There is a vociferous media and political opposition building against the secret India Mauritius Loan Agreement, in particular there is “suspicion” building against Agalega being used for military purposes by India as a condition for the loan. Pravind Jugnauth tried to, and to some extent succeeded, in killing two birds with one stone: taking peoples’ eyes off the Agalega issue while implying that he was going to India in order to get money for the Super Cash Back Gold investors over which the vying Opposition parties and much of the media had put him in a corner. It was mere eye-wash.
But this political opposition on the loan unfortunately lacks credibility.
Firstly, firmly in the pre-Independence PMSD mode, the opposition smells of pro-Occidental hysteria, especially as the Diego Garcia issue comes to the forefront right now with the month of June being when a case against Britain will finally be placed before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Notice that today, just as the Mauritian Parliamentary group announces that the ICJ case will go ahead, the UK has “upped” Mauritius as a location for terrorist threats to coincide with the issue. And we can expect worse – like hysteria and warnings to tourists on health issues, etc. The campaign ends up concentrating on Agalega, when Diego Garcia is at a key moment.
Secondly, the opposition to the loan and its Agalega link comes from parties and some media outlets that actively support the UK-US military base on Diego Garcia. Although there is national unanimity (except for the odd dinosaur) that Chagos is Mauritian territory and that Chagossians have the inalienable right of return, on the issue of opposition to the military base, there is total agreement by all the mainstream political currents that this hideous base is, whatever the absurd changing pretexts, “a good thing”. The mainstream parties even support French military presence on the Reunion colony.
It is only LALIT that has consistently opposed this UK-US military base on Mauritian territory that thus has the credibility to oppose, as we do, any form of military base on Agalega. In addition, it is only LALIT that has consistently opposed the landing of military aircraft and that has demonstrated consistently against military vessels docking in the harbour, that can now, as we do, oppose Agalega being used for the same purpose. If one’s opposition is not principled, it has little value.
Here is our analysis on the loan from India:
The loan is a direct descendant of the accursed and abandoned Heritage City Project that LALIT opposed, the accursed and half-abandoned ID Card deal that LALIT opposed, and the accursed and abandoned Privatization Fund Act that LALIT took to the Supreme Court as anti-constitutional. Why do we say this? The Heritage City Project was a series of devices designed to indebt the country by syphoning money through private Government- controlled companies, in secret behind the back of the National Assembly. The loan will go through private companies, allowing it to be both secret and kept out of the public debt “statistics”, though the debt will remain. The ID Card project went behind the back of the National Assembly by using a private government-controlled company in Singapore and then private companies here, too. The Loan from India is, in this way, part of this terrible new deviant “tradition”. The Privatization Fund created a place to put money that would be behind the back of Parliament after selling Mauritius Telecom to France Telecom.
The loan is also a descendant of the Illovo Deal, in another way. We believe that, if you can see through the labyrinths of private companies, you still won’t find out how the loan is to be reimbursed. Where will the money actually come from? It seems that the aim is to reimburse the loan, like Bhadain’s aim in his “gift” of Heritage City to Sir Aneerood Jugnauth, by selling off “the family jewels”, i.e. government owned real estate. It is part of the destruction of the entire country by selling off capital, i.e. land, and turning capital/land into money for current expenses. It is truly shocking if this is true, and we believe it is. This has conveniently been put in the hands of Gerard Sanspeur and his Landscope.
Previous attempts to privatize the whole of the country date back to Finance Minister Bheenick’s accursed and abandoned “Mauritius Inc” plan in 1995, as well as partial selling off of “family jewels”, as in the secret Jin Fei (2006) and Neotown (2010) agreements, also accursed and abandoned.
But, the neo-liberal agenda for destruction of democratic control over public goods continues in its new forms of assault on democracy.
We call for the immediate publication of Loan Agreement. And we maintain our calls for demilitarization of all Mauritian territory from the Port Louis Harbour and Plaisance Airport to the whole of Diego Garcia/Chagos and Agalega. We maintain our call for an immediate halt to all selling off of Mauritian land, especially arable land, whether privately or publicly owned to millionaires from outside of Mauritius.
1 June, 2017