13 November 2017

Mauritius: NHDC questions in parliament likely to cause tension

After an eventful week on the political front, parliament on Tuesday 14 November risks increasing the uncertainty for those currently in power. With a few softballs from MPs in the majority, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and his ministers will have the time to warm up ahead of tougher parliamentary questions.

MP Sudesh Rughoobur, from the Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM), will ask the prime minister about the fusion of several organisations to create Landscope Mauritius. Two of the most prominent members of Landscope Mauritius are Gérard Sanspeur, one of Jugnauth's advisors and Naila Hanoomanjee, daughter of Speaker Maya Hanoomanjee. Rughoobur's question will focus on the "reduction in the cost of human resources following the merger".

The questions will get trickier for the prime minister with MP Rajesh Bhagwan, from the Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM), asking about two senior advisors at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO). His focus will first be on a petition that employees of the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) have allegedly signed against Rudy Veeramundar. Bhagwan will then ask about the nomination of Prakash Maunthrooa on the board of the State Insurance Company (SIC).

On another note, MP Kavi Ramano, who is the only independent member of parliament, will ask about the Freedom of Information Bill, which was an electoral promise from the ruling Alliance Lepep. MP Danielle Selvon, from the MMM, will also ask the prime minister about the meetings of the Committee of Parliamentarians on the Chagos Archipelago.

Mahen Seeruttun, minister of agro-industry and recently appointed as minister of housing and lands as well, will field a couple of questions that could create tension within the National Assembly. MP Guito Lepoigneur, from the Parti Mauricien Social Démocrate (PMSD), will ask Seeruttun about the allocation of National Housing Development Company (NHDC) houses to minors. Given recent events involving former minister Showkutally Soodhun and NHDC projects, the question will likely be disruptive for parliamentary proceedings. It could even get worse with another question about the NHDC, by MP Reza Uteem from the MMM, and an alleged proposal from a businessman called Kedar Chapekar. The businessman made allegations a few months ago against former minister Soodhun over an NHDC project.

MP Bashir Jahangeer, from the MSM, will ask Nando Bodha, minister of public infrastructure, about the "number of Mauritian contractors to whom Larsen & Toubro has subcontracted works". In another question that could have an impact on the by-election in Belle Rose-Quatre Bornes, MP Ramano will ask Minister Bodha about the road decongestion programme in Quatre Bornes.

Moving on from that, the costs of two recent celebrations will be at the heart of the debate. MP Bhagwan will ask Ivan Collendavelloo, deputy prime minister and minister of energy, about the costs of the Divali celebrations by the Central Electricity Board (CEB). MP Veda Baloomoody will ask Anerood Jugnauth, minister mentor, about the costs of the celebrations for the 250th anniversary of the police force.

Depending on the answers to this question and the potential presence in parliament of Soodhun, we could be in for another rough in the National Assembly this week.


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