We live in difficult times.
There is a housing crisis.
Generations of a family tree live over-crowded in a small bit of VRS land, on a housing estate, in tied housing, in asbestos housing that is toxic, and in what people have dubbed “an inheritance house”. Land prices have rocketed, and people cannot afford to buy any. Many families do not qualify for NHDC housing because they are not in regular, long-term jobs.
Half the working class is sick and tired of looking for a job, and has withdrawn from the labour market, as the statistics put it. Of those who have work, half have work without a pay-slip, temporary, seasonal and without proper work conditions. People have lost jobs by the thousand in factories and in the fields. More sugar mills have closed. No big, new sectors have opened up to create the jobs needed.
How did we come to this?
In the year 2000, the news broke: the price of sugar would fall by half. The guaranteed prices would go. The guaranteed quotas would go, too.
So sugar estate bosses could go on making profits, the then Jugnauth-Berenger Government amended laws to allow them to convert good agricultural land, while giving tax breaks by the million, into luxury IRS villas for billionaires from abroad. So, good land has been destroyed, concreted up, sold off.
In 2005, under the next Government – Ramgoolam-Duval – there were new schemes, ERS, to allow another wave of capitalists to concrete up the land and sell it off.
In 2014, under Jugnauth-Duval, more new schemes called PDS and Smart City were introduced. This was supposed to be the Second Economic Miracle!
By the thousand arpents, agricultural land was sold off. More tax breaks handed over to the sugar estates and real estate barons.
Do the MSM-MMM-PT-PMSD take a blind bit of notice of what happens to ordinary people looking for a house? Or do they replace even the asbestos houses they so cruelly sold off to people? No. They prefer taking to heart the problems of billionaires from abroad and of sugar estate and real estate bosses.
And even when the cane industry is in death throes, what do Jugnauth-Ramgoolam-Duval-Berenger announce? The whole lot of them will go on subsidising these bosses and big planters with millions taken from public funds.
Even though the cane industry no longer gives stable jobs.
Even though it no longer brings in foreign currency.
Or even revenue.
And then they have the cheek to come and say that they have plans for the economy! They have none. The Ministry of Planning has been abolished. The economy is left in the hands of capitalists. They set up the Economic Development Board – a board of capitalist bosses.
When you vote LALIT, it means you want a plan for the economy, a political plan for the economy.
Our resources are the land, the sea, and the human capacity of all of us living in the Republic. We need to use these to open new sectors of production.
The cane industry is in crisis? Well, change things: force the estates to replace the cane and to plant new agro-food crops, bio ones. This can create thousands of stable jobs.
Just imagine for a moment what it would be like if all the thousands of arpents of cane land saw inter-line cropping of bio food crops introduced now, during the complete pivot away from cane.
Imagine if, in each region, there were factories to preserve and transform these food crops into bio products for local use and for export.
Imagine how many stable jobs could be created in storage, distribution, marketing, scientific research, in oil factories, in transformation of food crops, in canning.
Imagine how many new jobs would be needed in Government to support this new huge sector.
Imagine the integrated villages in each region where people could live and grow crops and sell them at a guaranteed price to the new factories.
The sea around the Republic is of huge value - 2.3 million square kilometres. And there is not even a proper Mauritian fishing industry. The country must invest in a fishing industry, one respectful of ecology.
Instead, Governments one after the other try to eliminate traditional fishermen – and do not try to integrate them into a big fishing industry. Instead they allow industrial fishing ships from other countries to pillage the Mauritian seas.
The International Tribunal has given its judgment: the sea around Chagos is part of the Republic. The Government must organize to care for it, and to utilize it.
We have reached a cross-roads where we need to decide today to prepare for tomorrow. For ourselves, and for future generations after us. This is how high the stakes are in this election coming next Thursday.
Voting for LALIT can make a difference. We have at least one candidate in every constituency. So we ask you to first vote LALIT.