Let’s see: restoring the progressive taxation by first introducing a negative tax bracket for the smallest pay packages. But there are some caveats. First: why in 13 months from now, and not now? Second: why implement this well after the coming into force of the minimum wage aimed at the 100,000 people earning less than Rs 8,000 per month…? And then a 5% levy onto the largest salaries? This is in effect progressive taxation system that does not say its name: so why not go « full monty », as it has a direct impact on the health of our State coffers: say, 45% for the Rs 250,000+, 35% for the Rs 150,000, 25% for the Rs 75,000, 15% for the Rs 45,000, and none for the others? Because we are still a Welfare State, right? Otherwise, the World Bank fantasy of having us pay for all what we take for granted will be realised: imagine you paying for school, hospital, and exorbitant fees for virtually everything…
What about water: our water mains really need replacement, and the budget rightly addressed the problem. But why favour the traditional method of trenchworks by open-cut technique? At best, you’ll be able to lay about 12m per day, and this neglecting the usual interferences from people with narrow interests compounding the delays. What about trenchless techniques – where it is not required to excavate from the surface? It’s high time we look at countries where this has been the norm for very long: Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Singapore are reputed for these delicate interventions in highly congested urbanised areas: you can lay pipes even under railroads and rivers without involving a large footprint as open-cut is required. Directional drilling is also of help when going around obstacles, but this demands proper planning and coordination between all stakeholders: Ministry of Town and Country Planning, and a rekindled Ministry of Planning should be at the fore. From there on, no need for budgeting for drains and resurfacing of roads: these need to be integrated into the baseline design. When roads are re-made, drains should de-facto form part of the programme, complete with winning back the encroached reserves, with the added bonus of increased safety for all road-users, less fatalities, etc… But we digress.
If we have to boost the construction sector, then the investments in infrastructure are most welcome. But then, why allow foreign labour in on such easy terms while it is widely known that their presence costs at least 70% more than locals to the employers? Is it not high time for local HR practitioners to devise alternatives to harness Mauritians’ ability and competence instead of relying on quick-fix short-term solutions of importing « cheap » foreign labour – living in conditions that we would not treat our own domestic animals? Is this the way of bringing about a high-income economy for our country? But at what cost? Would you like to earn Rs100,000 – and what if it exchanges at more than the current Rs40 per Euro, or Rs 36 per USD?
So many good measures that need focus and alignment with Bheenick’s Vision 2020 or the current Vision 2030, and so little time…