URZ called for the imposition of a public / private dialogue agenda

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Even if it is not on the agenda of the next Finance / Private Sector meeting on Friday, a bomb from the PRB should force it, private sector captains taking advantage of this large mass to perhaps expose their astonishment, even anger over the timing of payroll reports. civil servants and its execution in the toto. They can go so far as to wave weapons of provocation in an economic situation where the effects of the Covid crisis are still being felt.

We can say all day that the announcement was expected from 2020, after the election promise given in November 2019 for 85,000 civil servants. But the harsh reality to which they are exposed today is that in the meantime there has been a pandemic, resulting in the worst economic crisis the world has known since 1929. The consequence is that in Mauritius GDP fell by 15% in 2020, the last such contraction dates from 1980.

No one disputes the state’s response to the health and economic crisis and the “rescue” of the 154 billion rupee economy (WAS, SEAS, MIC, MK, DBM, SIC and BoM), even if some users of these billions are questionable. However, is it complicated, in the context of a difficult recovery, to force officials and their union representatives to consider the country’s financial capabilities to absorb 4.3 billion Russians a year based on real data?

However, we refuse to believe that the Prime Minister and his ministers live in a bubble and are cut off from economic reality, even though their daily lives are interrupted by challenges of all kinds. And that Pravind Jugnauth was not convincing in the way this salary report was financed.

It will be up to Finance Minister Renganaden Padayachy to answer this question, and probably many others as well, when he talks to private sector representatives the day after tomorrow. If necessary give him credit for structuring this quarterly mass around a sincere exchange with starters and shakers conglomerates on the government’s economic vision, is also expected to use the true language and indicate whether the application of the PRB’s financial costs is included in the treasury in the budget for the last fiscal year. Is it by increasing certain expenditures combined with the redistribution of unused financial resources or even from extra-budgetary funds so that in the end the economic impact does not affect the budget deficit that is already estimated at 5% of the budget? the end of the fiscal year in June 2022?

“It is understood that they are faced with companies that have difficulty keeping their heads above water, doomed to restructuring” …

Conflict signals

But there is more. By publishing the report now, while all experts agree that it would make economic sense to postpone this exercise for months or even years, while waiting for an economic turnaround, the government is sending contradictory signals to the business community. By assigning such a size to civil servants even when they consider salary changes to be insufficient, the authorities are putting de facto pressure on private operators to follow suit. As evidence, past experience has shown that with each publication of this report, private sector unions are stepping up their demand for salary adjustments for their members within the NRB. Which, in a normal economic context, would be a legitimate and understandable requirement, especially to compensate for the loss of purchasing power despite the increase in the cost of living.

However, the realities are objectively different for the private sector and operators will certainly not fail to remind them of the Minister of Finance. Needless to say, faced with companies that find it difficult to keep their heads above water, doomed to restructuring by leaving some employees by the roadside to preserve the jobs of others, we see that they engage poorly in aligning salaries with those of civil servants. At least for certain categories because it is easy to understand that for certain equivalent positions in the public and private sectors, the latter already offers packages that pay their employees much more than the public. However, with the obligation of results and performance if they do not want to be fired.

Which can be said to be a PRB or not, private sector employees will be called upon to live in post-Covid instability, with wages frozen for a number of years, while inflationary pressures will be felt before the mass of more money in circulation by the end of the year.

It’s hard to understand mood of our industry captains who have not yet commented on the issue of the PRB. Will he share his concerns with Renganaden Padayachy, those who have benefited from billions under various government aid following the pandemic crisis?

At the same time, there are big name questions in the private sector about certain steps the state has taken. Like a group of IBL executives. In a recent interview, Arnaud Lagesse spoke about the Express on the composition of Airport Holdings. “Personally, I think that AML, ATOL, MDFP and MK need each of their strategies, their own executive board, which in the process specifies that we must define the goals, state them and stick to them.” Is it an inconvenience or a need to be reminded of certain truths, such as his demand to favor local companies in tendering, “No favoritism” but on equal terms, now that “Without the patriotism of these Mauritian companies, the employment of Mauritians, the use of Mauritian capital, we would not often have solutions to the various problems that these state projects may face.” No comment.

However, even if the Prime Minister remembers ok that the general elections are for three years, one should not be naive and believe that his actions towards every component of society are not devoid of politically hidden motives. And it is no coincidence that Pravind Jugnauth raises his checkbook more often today. Whether it was yesterday for retirees, for consumers recently with maintaining the prices of everyday consumer products until the end of the year and … today for civil servants. Tomorrow? Who says better?




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