Thursday, June 18, 2009

The party maslahathu

Today you often here on TV, the politicians frequently say something along the lines of
"Parliament members should work in the interest of the public rather than the party"
Or in dhivehi
"Party ge maslahathu kurinaaruvaa rayyithun ge maslahathaaigen masakkai kurun"
You will see politicians congratulating themselves for promoting citizens' interests rather than party interests. This begs the question--If their party interest is not the same as the citizens' interest, isnt there something wrong with their parties? Are they not admitting themselves that their party has an interest different from the citizens?

This brings us to the question, what do these parties stand for? What are their philosophical, ideological or pragmatic approach to addressing the economic, social, cultural and host of other issues that need to be addressed. Everyone agrees what the problems are (drugs, child abuse, etc.), but the differences comes in HOW to tackle those issues. It is not sufficient for the parliamentarians to say they will work in the interest of the public. They have to explain HOW.

The answer to the question of how is not that clear cut. It depends on the party's or person's political, religious, economic and social orientations. It depends on what they really stand for. Is party X the defenders of democracy at all cost? Or do they firmly believe in establishing Sharia Law? Or do they stand for liberty and freedom?

I stand for liberty and freedom. What do you stand for?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Breaking the monopolies

When you go around in Male' shopping for a jeans, or anything for that matter, you get to decide from where you want to buy it. You can decide whether you want to buy from the local corner shop, or you want to buy from the supermarket where the product comes in good packaging. A perfume X available for 100/- at the supermarket might be available at 95/- at the local corner shop. There is healthy competition.

Suppose one day, the government decides that it is in the interest of everyone that the government decide who sells perfume. The idea being that, the right to sell perfume will be given to selected 4 or 5 parties, hoping that the public don't have to worry about fake products and low quality perfume. Do you think such state granted monopolies will actually improve quality, reduce price or benefit the public in general at all?

Well, such a thing was done in the land of Elvisdam. A similar thing has been ongoing right here in Maldives, the exclusive right to export tuna had been granted to selected companies. What right does the state have to give away the country's resources to selected parties? Does that really improve the conditions of fisherman or the small entrepreneur?

Fortunately, the news has come that the current government is atleast thinking of abolishing the state granted monopolies. These monopolies are one of the main reasons for the troubles faced by the fishermen. Some parliamentarians, during their campaign, promised to solve the problems of fishermen. But what everyone had in mind was more subsidies in fuel, ice and loans. Such subsidies hurt in the long run, and make the fishermen dependent, rather than independent and self sufficient.

Ofcourse, the question remains of how to actually abolish the monopolies. They too have made massive investments, and there should be appropriate compensation. There will be jobs lost and many other problems in the short term, but it is the sour but right medicine that we have to take.

In addition, in the recent news conference held by the employment ministry, it was stated that the exclusive monopolies given to so called 'expatriate workers importing agencies' need to be broken. That's right, state should grant no monopolies here too.