Blog: PRB - Irrational Behaviour
Do you know of anybody who is happy at the salary rise given to him by PRB? Do you know of anybody who will refuse to sign the option form allowing him to benefit from the new salary scale? An observer told me that the first ones to sign the option forms will be those who are most loudly opposing the PRB recommendations.
The question is whether they have gone through and analyzed coolly and rationally the recommendations. I am sure they have. In their heart, they know that giving a sum of Rs 4.6 billion salary rise is no mean feat, particularly in the dire economic situation we find ourselves in.
From a reliable source, I have learnt that it was Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam who had insisted to accept the report in toto and pay the bill in one installment. The irony is that the reward is blame.
Of course the report is not perfect. There are errors and omissions, but PRB provides a mechanism to correct them. For example, PRB has missed an excellent opportunity to merge the salary scales and conditions of service of primary and secondary school teachers. Only this year, 2300 students will graduate from the University of Mauritius. They could have easily embraced their teaching profession. It has also turned MBC upside down.
Many students come from modest background. Their families invest heavily in education, the greatest leveler and provider of opportunities for a better life. That is why Equal Opportunity Act has been promulgated and the Equal Opportunities Commission setup.
Some blame should be laid at the door of the director of PRB and government. They have miserably failed to market the product. In fact, the media made the director of PRB a hero, a Zorro who will tackle all the financial problems of the civil servants and bridged the gap caused by inequality in salary scales. Mohun Aujayeb conveniently played the game. Government always suffers from communication deficit.
People don’t forget the haughty posture of Aujayeb when he was on his way to hand over the report to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Civil Service. Live on radio, he was giving statements and accepting to participate on a program to speak about his recommendations. This is not done in such a way. Those who made him a Zorro are today pouncing on him and asking for his head to roll.
I do not understand why nobody wants to address the real issue. Where the money will come from to “faire la bouche doux,” to distribute goodies to all? Should the government give an increase across the board? The Minister of Finance will have to provide for the sum in his next budget. Mauritians know that money cannot be printed in the printing presses publishing newspapers for distribution!
Are we prepared to accept a massive increase in Value Added Tax? Question pour un Champion, who last raised VAT from 10 to 15% ? The poor will suffer most. Other options - abolition of subsidy on rice, gas, transport, introduction of targeted old age pensions? All these will affect the poor.
What’s about the workers in the private sector? They do more productive work. True everybody needs rightly and deserve a lot of money. Everybody has to pay utility bills, tuition fees for their children, loans, face inflation. Times are hard. PRB will definitely help but cannot solve all the financial and debt problems of the civil servants.
PRB has not bridged the gap of inequality in salary scales of different grades. The 2008 ratio of 1 to 8 is maintained. The system is pyramidical. The pyramid cannot be flattened. Those who have tried it in the last century, in Russia and China, Madagascar and Cuba have failed miserably.
In Mauritius, Paul Berenger and MMM in the seventies wanted to nationalize banks, lands and factories of the sugar barons. In short they wanted to bring communism. Do you remember the person who had snatched the mike from then Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth live on television when he was about to announce the promised 30% salary increase in 1982?
We should remember that progressivism is tackling equality without hurting economic growth. Let normalcy and rationality prevail. In the end, is it not the economy, stupid?