Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Seychelles Column - By Christopher Gill

What happened at PUC and the infamous “Three Month Review”

Recently President James Michel bounced Electrical Engineer Philip Morin from the key post at the Seychelles Public Utilities Company (PUC). Mr. Morin has been given the new profile to look into alternative solar energy for Seychelles. I am most certain, Mr. Morin a well qualified Electrical Engineer of the highest order, can find work commensurate with his training in Mombasa; similarly to Rondolf Payet, the man who wanted to control sea cucumbers, Bourgeois (red snapper) fish and export mackerel burgers to Paris. But there is more to this sudden personnel transfer at PUC than meets the eye.

We must be wary when leaders try to play with our lives with the idea of saving their own political lives. To save themselves, as we have seen throughout most of corrupt Africa, putzy leaders use the people and scam their money to stay in power. In many cases, political leaders do not know what it is like to earn a living outside of a government office for 10, 20 even 30 years, unless they steal money. Barack Obama has his eye on these despots. We should as well. Do not be fooled by the leaders who supposedly feel our pain, and miss us, and cry for us when they travel, but do not even know us. Instead, they call us, “Sa Madam”, “Sa Myse laba”, then they say, ”Minis get ou zafer”.

Faure Said Review Every Three (3) months

When the world oil prices were going out of control, Minister Danny Faure told us that fuel prices at the pumps and PUC electricity bill charges would be reviewed every three (3) months to correspond with world market trends in the price of fuel. What happened? Since this grand announcement was made, fuel prices on the world market has slumped by more than 100%.

In Seychelles, our prices have stagnated at all time high prices. This results in an obvious net benefit to SEPEC and PUC that could in theory amount to at least $25 – $50 Million per annum. Ironically, that is about the sum SPPF-Parti Lepep will need to win an election again, unless the Opposition commits suicide.

The French At PUC Might Say: “But Your Rupee Devalued”

Of course, the Frenchman in charge from Suez Group will say the Seychelles Rupees devalued by 78% last year. Yes it did, Mr. Frenchman. But it also regained 38% in value according to our Governor of the Seychelles Central Bank Mr. Pierre Laporte. That is an incredible rebound, especially if anyone has ever played basketball. Hence today, the price of fuel in real terms even when considering the value of the Seychelles Rupee, cannot be more than 38% of world market prices, prorata, compared to current market prices.

What Is Happening ?

But THEY are of course scamming the difference. Likely saving it for an election slush fund because they can no longer think of a project, prepare a budget, double it, and then get a loan and pocket half of it in order to make the country and the party work. Nowadays, they are restricted from obtaining loans without IMF approval. Who are THEY? Well, it sure as hell is not me. I do not live by fake figures.

How To Raise Money For An Election?

Well, if a party cannot borrow money for an election, then that means they cannot order a new batch of new generation fuel efficient generators that cost Euro 35 Million. Nor can they buy another batch of oil tankers these days tallying up another Euro 100 million plus. So what are these poor rich boys from Africa to do?

Stick it to the people and get in a “friendly Frenchman” on a Euro 2 MILLION contract to ensure that the stick - sticks. What about qualified locals? Well, they know too much and say too much. Hence because deep down inside, all true Seychellois want to do the right thing by their country, they will not successfully walk down the wrong path of corruption and abuse indefinitely. Sooner or later, good overcomes evil, even in the hearts, and with that good men and women will leave Parti Lepep and its fossilized SPUP and SPPF.

To these men and women I say : Congratulations. Good on you Mr. Morin, you have done the right thing. Now we wait for Charlie, your brother to seek redemption. Perhaps he can have removed the tax incentives for donations to golf clubs in Seychelles and place the 200% incentive on drug rehabilitation centres in order that we can salvage our people from drug addiction and give them a second chance at life.

As for Mr. Philip Morin, I thank God that under your watch, the lights were not turned out in the aftermath of the last Presidential elections. Soldiers could have ended up hurting someone or even themselves in friendly fire when out of confusion, darkness would prevail over good.

Long and Short of a Scam

Simply put, rates on fuel and electricity consumption will stay high in order to pay for an election, because no one will lend Parti Lepep and SPPF even a mop to clean up the mess they have created. IMF will be watching every expenditure and loan. Of course, ex-PUC Managing Director Mukesh Valabhji could always donate some of the millions from his Intelvision empire or other businesses, or ex-President Rene could sell the Aussie farm and give the money to his favourite Party. But somehow, I doubt those two have a heart for all Seychellois like President Michel. After all, the global economy has been quite tough lately on billionaires!

In the next election, the Opposition will be wise to carry along some portable Honda generators with lamps attached, or even carry some old “Fanal Petrol” and some holy candles as backups. They may also want to add an alarm and motion sensor, just in case anyone or that usual party tries to steal the election while the lights are out.

You can use Robert Mugabe as a yardstick of things to come in Seychelles.

May God Bless All Freedom Loving Seychellois and Our Beloved Seychelles!


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