The government's score-settling against the opposition in Parliament does not seem to stop. This time, it is around an old project launched in 2003 but which ultimately did not come to fruition that the government majority has chosen to score points against the opposition.

Salim Abbas Mamode, a member of parliament for the majority, questioned Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth about a project involving Paul Bérenger and Navin Ramgoolam. The question concerned a project dating back to 2003, when Paul Bérenger was Prime Minister. It is specifically a project to build 15 chalets on the Agalega archipelago, initially planned to be carried out by the firm Ireland Blyth Limited (IBL).

At the outset, in his response, Pravind Jugnauth emphasised the fact that after Paul Bérenger became Prime Minister in September 2003, he had met with Mr L, a representative of Ireland Blyth Ltd, to discuss the Agalega project. Pravind Jugnauth also took care to point out that this was an unsolicited proposal. The head of government explained that the project aimed to obtain land leases to build 15 chalets and maritime facilities in Agalega. He added that Ireland Blyth Ltd had proposed to operate regular commercial flights between Mauritius and Agalega, using a Beechcraft 1900D acquired by Catovair, a subsidiary of Ireland Blyth Ltd Aviation. According to the Department of Housing and Lands, a Letter of Intent dated 27 January 2004 was issued to IBL Ltd for an industrial lease covering 25 acres of Crown land to develop a resort at Agalega. The resort would comprise 15 fully serviced chalets, a fishing centre, boathouse and games room, with an additional lease of 87 acres of Crown land for landscaping, with a 400 metre beach frontage on the north-east coast of the North Island.

“Ireland Blyth Ltd had requested an updated version of the Letter of Intent dated 27 January 2004, which would form the basis of the agreement. Accordingly, a new Letter of Intent dated 26 October 2004 was issued by the Department of Housing and Lands to the company, where Ireland Blyth Ltd was given two weeks to confirm its acceptance of the offer,” the Prime Minister added.

“On 3 November 2004, Ireland Blyth Ltd accepted the offer from the Department of Housing and Lands as set out in the letter of 26 October 2004. The company also requested that rental payments commence from 1 January 2005. Approval of this request was granted on 22 November 2004, due to the difficult access to the site at that time, with only emergency trips being made by the Dornier. Ireland Blyth Ltd was informed of this decision on 29 November 2004,” he added.

The roles of Joe Lesjongard and Pravind Jugnauth raised by the opposition

The question posed by MP Salim Abbas Mamode clearly caused a stir within the opposition. It was thus possible to see that MPs such as Patrick Assirvaden, Reza Uteem, Arvin Boolell and also Paul Bérenger were both indignant at the Prime Minister's response and amused by the fact that Pravind Jugnauth was part of the government that had decided to undertake these developments under Paul Bérenger's mandate. “Who was the Minister of Finance at the time?” murmured Patrick Assirvaden. For their part, Reza Uteem and Rajesh Bhagwan repeatedly pointed out that the one who was the Minister of Housing and Lands at the time, and who had therefore signed the letter of intent to IBL, was none other than Joe Lesjongard, the current Minister of Public Services and Energy. Rajesh Bhagwan concluded this session by implying that this question was only intended to communalise the debate, by launching: “kominal fel”. However, he was stopped by the Speaker who asked him to withdraw the word and apologize.

Joanna Bérenger to Pravind Jugnauth: “You’re welcome”

Pravind Jugnauth's response once again highlighted his dislike for Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Bérenger, especially now that they are allies. Speaking of Navin Ramgoolam, Pravind Jugnauth described him as 'the now cherished partner and self-proclaimed 'ti-frer' of the honorable Paul Raymond Bérenger'. Although Paul Bérenger expressed his contempt for Pravind Jugnauth, MP Joanna Bérenger humorously countered by saying to Pravind Jugnauth: “To pe zalou?” This remark refers to the fact that when Pravind Jugnauth and Paul Bérenger were allies, the latter used to introduce Pravind Jugnauth as his 'ti frer'. This reply from the purple MP amused more than one in Parliament, including the Prime Minister, who muttered that “that was a good joke”

Leave a reply below

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Contact Business

Captcha Code