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The Political Financing Bill requires a three-quarters majority in Parliament. A majority that the government does not have. Hence Pravind Jugnauth's call for the population to grant him a larger majority in the upcoming general elections, allowing him to “put the country in order”.

Prime Minister and leader of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), Pravind Jugnauth, calls on the population to give him a larger majority in the next general elections. This, in order to “continue to clean up the country”. He spoke on Saturday, July 6, 2024, during the meeting of the expanded central committee of the Sun Party, at the Sun Trust building in Port-Louis.

The leader of the Orange Party firmly defends the bill on the financing of political parties, which is currently being debated in Parliament for the second time with some amendments, after a first attempt in July 2019. He recalls the efforts made to achieve this legislative proposal.

“The last time we presented it, we did a series of consultations. The opposition had participated in the debates and expressed certain objections. This time, we did the exercise again. The ministerial committee that I chaired discussed it in depth. We took certain points that we consider valid and included them in the bill that we subsequently made public so that everyone could give their point of view,” explains the Prime Minister.

He stresses the importance of transparency and the fight against corruption in the financing of political parties. “Everyone understands that we need regulation of political financing. I could have, as a party leader, advocated the status quo, but I want transparency and for elections to be held properly, and above all I want to fight corruption,” he says.

The Prime Minister criticizes the opposition for its lack of constructive contributions to the parliamentary debates on the bill, citing in particular Paul Bérenger, leader of the MMM. “He spoke for only five minutes. He made no proposals and said that he would propose a good law if he returned to power. Is he the one who will bring a good law with Navinchandra Ramgoolam? Bérenger is drowning in mud today and then he says that we are throwing mud at the opposition? Everyone has seen the famous safe containing millions of rupees and dollars,” he castigates.

Pravind Jugnauth assures that he wants great transparency: “I am a leader myself, I receive funding. We put it in a register. We write down everything. We have a bank account. We have a register of our expenses.”

Stressing the importance of regulation for a modern country, he denounces dubious political financing practices: “Contributions in US dollars and plastic and coming out of a foreign bank? People love it so much? Will Mauritians continue to accept this? In a modern country, we need regulation.” Reference is made here to the leader of the PTr and former Prime Minister, Navin Ramgoolam.

Project in Agalega

Referring to the issue of Agaléga, the MSM leader refutes the opposition's criticism. “The people had the information on Agaléga, an answer that I gave in Parliament. What accusations have we not heard about Agaléga, while a friendly country offered to give a new dock and a landing strip as a gift. This allows us to open the way to bring even more development and improve the quality of life of the Agaleans. But Mr. Bérenger, when he became Prime Minister, he met (Editor's note: he cites the name of a businessman here) and told him: 'I'll give you 25 acres for a hotel, 87 acres for planting and landscaping'. There is no expression of interest? No call for tenders? Done on the sly! “The project, never materialized, mentioned by Pravind Jugnauth, dates back about 20 years and was the subject of a question asked by MSM MP Salim Abbas Mamode, last Tuesday in Parliament.

The Prime Minister concluded by reaffirming the need for this law to ensure fair and transparent elections, while denouncing the past practices of the opposition: “For this law to be adopted, a majority of ¾ is needed and we are not numerous enough. Maybe this can serve as a lesson. When I come back, I must have a good majority to be able to continue to put order in the country.”

He criticizes the instability within the opposition, pointing to the frequent changes of leadership and the failures of parliamentary initiatives: “Four opposition leaders in five years. That's their stability. Real comics! The PNQ of Arvin Boolell and Shakeel Mohamed were fiascos. Their strategy is to throw mud at us.” Pravind Jugnauth does not, however, mention Xavier-Luc Duval, who was the opposition leader for most of the mandate from 2019 to 2024.

The Prime Minister also addressed criticism of rising prices, explaining that inflation is a global phenomenon: “They campaign on rising prices. You know our language of truth. We have never said otherwise. It is the case across the world. Every country has inflation. There are factors that are beyond our control.”

He recalls the opposition's past economic performance: “What did they do from 2005 to 2014 to compensate the population for inflation? They broke records. There was never a population classified as absolute poverty, but it was necessary to create this category under the PTr mandate. Public debt and unemployment had increased. There were only six months' foreign exchange reserves. These are facts. The figures were published at the time by Statistics Mauritius and the Bank of Mauritius. This is the PTr's record. Now in opposition, they have forgotten that and come to sell dreams to the population. They repeat anything and everything and come up with crazy measures.”

Political Financing Bill: continuation and end of debates this Tuesday

The outcome of the vote seems already certain, with opposition MPs having clearly stated their opposition to the Political Financing Bill and the constitutional amendment that goes with it. However, this Tuesday, July 9, in Parliament, the debates will continue and will end with the interventions of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Housing, Steven Obeegadoo, before the summary by Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. The text of the bill will then be put to the vote.

The opposition denounces the timing of the presentation of the bill, a few months before the general elections, as well as the lack of broad consultations, among other things. MPs from the Labour Party, MMM, New Democrats, PMSD and Nando Bodha of Linion Moris will not vote in favour of the text in its current form. As a result, the bill will not reach the ¾ majority required for its adoption.

We can therefore already foresee a scenario similar to that of July 2019, when a quasi-compliant bill was presented to the National Assembly and failed to obtain the necessary majority. From the debates, it emerges that after five years, the new bill has not taken into account the proposals made by the opposition at the time, with very probably the same result.

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