GREEK SALAD WITHOUT OLIVE - LESSONS FOR US AS MAURITIANS

Irshad JACKARIA

One year after the global financial crisis of September 2008, the Greek government announced that it had been understating its national deficit for several years. At that point in time, the tap of financing serving the Greeks were brutally shut, and by the end of 2010, the country was at the doorstep of bankruptcy. Crying for help, Greece got 2 bailouts, amounting to more than €240 billion from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. That came with a list of austerity measures that set the social landscape on fire. Today, in August 2015, the Greek have just received yet another lifeline, by coming up with a new plan, and saving its place in the coveted European Union. The question is for how long and at the expense of what and whom? Someone is paying the bills.

For a moment, let us not talk about the Greek unemployment rate, which is over 25%, about the near 200% of Government Gross Debt to Gross Domestic Product, and about the fact that they are taking on new debts to pay older debts. These are figures that are the results of past decisions and behaviours. Let us rather analyse how and why Greece is in such a bad state. What would you predict for a country or a company or a family or a person who does, albeit their rare accomplishments, the following?

  • Gripping over generous fringe benefits at work, without it being linked to performance, productivity and presence. 
  • Running business and office in an ultra relaxed mood, with no pressure, no objectives, no responsibilities and no motivation.
  • Embracing massive fraudulent practices like acting as blind and deaf to collect disability benefits and collecting the pensions of dead people to the profit of living family members.
  • Evading tax seen as a regular practice, under-taxation as the norm and tax payment as an exception.
  • Choosing and believing in a government, which always promises to do more than what they can afford with the nation’s disposal wealth.
  • Electing for earlier retirement, in some cases permissible as from the age of 45, when the official retirement age is, at date, at 67 years.

Our suggestion is to re-read the above 6 bullets, which characterize the Greeks. And from there, ask yourself: “does any of these look familiar to me, my family, my company and/or my country?”

Far from thinking of comparing Mauritius with Greece, our message is rather geared towards each and everyone of us as member of a family, a community and a country. If you want to progress and secure a peaceful retirement and a future for your children, do everything that Greece and the Greeks did not do and turn your back on the above 6 practices that the Greeks have always been proud of. Rather, we should work further, unlike the Greeks, towards:

  • Making our country a reference in terms of productivity and performance. Let us work with more passion and for the advancement of our motherland.
  • Announcing our yearly taxable amount onto our returns form in a fair and just manner. Let us make our voice heard to make sure that taxpayers’ money is being thoughtfully used.
  • Uttering our fundamentals rights as well as responsibilities as a citizen of this country. Let us join our hands to help the needy and the less privileged of our society.
  • Respecting our inherited cultures, our history, and our institutions. Let us learn from our past to foster the good deeds done and avoiding the mistakes made.
  • Instilling the behaviours of corporate governance and ethics in our life. Let us become more honest, more disciplined and more transparent.
  • Triggering our votes to select a government that will take us to our next level of development. Let us fully play our role of being the 4th power of our democracy.
  • Investing for the future of our children. Let us have a plan for securing long-term beneficial placement in duly registered institutions.
  • Uniting our forces, as a forward-looking nation, to build an economy based on innovation and that makes efficient use of our land, sea and people. Let us focus more on our similarities and much less on our differences.
  • Saving for our retirement and for our children, without expecting help from the government. Let us spend more judiciously, without living beyond our means.

Sadly, for most Greeks at date, their world-famous Greek Salad is without its main ingredients. As true Mauritians, let us make sure that our dholl puri is always amply of curry and that our aloud carries plenty of jelly.