dimanche 23 mai 2010

Of Harrods and Seychelles Rs.1 Public Land Deals

Did the Editorial Committee of the Seychelles Nation all attend a special school with the extraordinary merit in dulling its patrons’ sense of discernment between the obvious and the obfuscate?

Our local daily published a ‘contributed’ treatise titled “The lesson from Harrods” over the transfer of that iconic London shopping stop from Al Fayed to a Qatari investment group! For the contributor, “news of the sale was announced as if it were the most natural thing. There were no recriminations. There were no condemnations, even though the property changed hands and passed from a resident to a non-resident”.
It went on to wonder “ if such a transaction in Seychelles would have been greeted with the same intelligence and wisdom.”
Happy in having closed in on an unsuspecting public, the contributor revealed its target : a jibe at our local political opposition. “For recent history has shown that the moment that the government disposes of a property, a plot of land or assets a public outcry ensues. Is it due to ignorance, an issue of race, or simply bad faith? One is sorely tempted to believe that it is a combination of all three.”

The contributor (along with the nation’s Editorial Committee ) missed out on an important point which rendered all the arguments of the article void. The point for public concern is not one of residency or non-residency in so far as the law allows for non – resident ownership.
The point is that Harrods is a private enterprise. That the British Monarchy along with others, high or low on the socio-economic-political ladder, have shopped in there, did not give it, (barring consumer pressure) one bit of say in the matter, in so far as the transfer did not transgress national and international laws.

There is obviously no comparison possible between the transfer of Harrods and the transfer of Seychelles Public assets by the Seychelles Government to private individuals.
The Seychelles Government is bound to account to every Seychellois how it manages each public asset.
No Government can ‘dispose’ of a 120000m² public property for Rs.1 (or another 40,700m² for Rs.60,000) in far-from crystal clear conditions, and not expect a public outcry. Beyond any immediate political capital to be gleaned from denouncing Government’s action over transfer of public assets, the local political opposition is for the moment the sole credible voice against what often appears as the Government’s pimping of our national assets.