SPEECH BOOLEL 23/07/2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first of all thank you for having responded so generously to our invitation for dinner this evening in honor of Minister Boolell, elevated to GOSK this year, Prof. Romeela Mohee, appointed National Research Chair in Solid Waste Management, Miss Clairette Ah Hen, appointed new CEO of the Financial Services Commission and Mr. Yogida Sawmynaden, appointed CEO of the Mauritius Duty Free Shops. I would like to acknowledge among our guests Former Minister Parsooramen and Mrs. Parsooramen. Dassen is back after his term at the UNESCO where he has created a name for Mauritius after his remarkable tenure at our Ministry of Education. Let us congratulate him also for being nominated “Officier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by Minister Frederick Mitterand. A wish of best luck to our well wisher, Pierre Ah Sue who is working flat out to connect Mare Longue to Mare aux Vacoas to save us from thirst. A welcome to Nadeem, our student at the London School of Economics who has made it in the First Class Honors in Advanced Maths in his first year Exams. I’d like to thank Thierry Vallet for enlisting Nadeem at AFRASIA during his holidays. Congratulations to Ravin Naga, chosen by our PM to be special advisor to Minister Bachoo. A welcome back to Reshad Laulloo who is heading an engineering project on River Ganges financed by France. Un grand Merci a Mme Bian, Ambassadeur de la RPC, qui a accompagne la délégation Mauricienne pour l’ouverture du bureau d’Air Mauritius a Shanghai. As usual, for any complaint about the venue or the food, contact our Honorary President, Baby Chattur.
Minister Boolell is a consummate politician with a career that spans over 20 years and who has devoted his energy in the Ministry of Agriculture and now in the Foreign Affairs where with a team of 20 missions abroad he is assigned to develop a foreign policy that safeguards and promotes our national interests and contributes towards the building of a secure, equitable, democratic and peaceful international community.
Minister, I looked superficially in a handbook of diplomacy and found out that yours is an easy task: to say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of your trade. When forced to speak, you can talk of meat when you meet the butcher, of bread when you meet the baker and of sandwich when you meet both of them. You have to apply the principle of give and take, in which you give one and take ten. And when you get fed up, you can always tell your interlocutor to go to hell in such a way that he actually looks forward to the trip.
But seriously Minister, in a world with a certainty for uncertainty, yours is a Herculean task. Compared to our neighbors and partners, we are a bonsai with only soft power at our disposal to influence the actions of others. And you have achieved miracles with those limited means at your service.
You have made regional integration an important arm of our economic policy and you have tapped the regional potential to give us food security by growing some of our staples in the IOR. By exploiting the energy of MEXA, MCCI, MCA and SMEDA you have converted COMESA and SADC into markets of Rs.8b for many of our exports with a potential for even more. These two regional organizations have given our tiny country some lebensraum and our private sector is exporting capital and know-how especially in sugar, crucial to the take-off of Africa. Who could have thought that tiny Mauritius would be one day the biggest source of FDI to India, a major sea-food hub and the initiator of joint ventures with Singapore to invest in Africa? It is unfortunate that our non-double taxation agreement with India is causing an upheaval: we are confident that you will find a solution that will save our economic interest.
You have understood that soft power is the oxygen and blood flow of international relations and that there is a shift of power from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. You have continued to use our soft-power to promote a Zero problem policy: we have hosted a conference on the threats of piracy in the Indian Ocean and we are playing a privileged role to solve the conflict in the Malagasy Republic and save our interest in Zimbabwe. We have not had the success we were expecting for our farmers in Zimbabwe as Mugabe is a hard nut to crack and one signatory of the Lancaster accord is not standing by its word. You have rightly pointed out that a long lasting solution to the problem of piracy resides in addressing forcefully the Somali problem. In the IOR, we usually set the agenda and everyone awaits our word. This was palpable at the successful conference organized by the BOI in June last which saw the participation of 600 delegates. What you are doing in fact is that you are redrawing the power map with one point in mind: Africa is the continent of the future with a middle class of 200m, a growth rate of 5% and a large deposit of fuel and minerals and virgin lands.
There was at one time a prevailing view that our textile industry should be considered a sunset industry. Your presence at the AGOA forum in the states is testimony that you believe along with entrepreneurs like Ali Parkar and the Floreal Knitwear Group that our textile Industry has prosperous years ahead. Let me open a parenthesis to point out that ………….
King sugar was threatened by the termination of the CSA but you fought tooth and nail to get the EU to help us convert our sugar industry into a cane industry. Your personal relationships and that of late SSB won you the unflinching support of the captains of the sugar industry to bring to fruition this dream. The lands of small planters are being de-rocked to increase production. The sugar factories are striving hard to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel by producing an appreciable amount of electricity and ethanol will be soon used to run our automobiles.
Thanks to your multi-dimensional and dynamic vision of Mauritian foreign policy, our relations with our partners are being built on firmer ground. These relations have reached a point where they can ensure bilateral and multilateral co-operations and work toward global stability.
Minister, you have done such an impeccable work that I need long hours to evaluate all of them. Suffice to say that you have been a great Minister of Agriculture and you are a great Minister of Foreign affairs and International Trade. And elevating you to GOSK is the least that this nation can do to recognize your invaluable contributions in our Bonheur National Brut. Congratulations and best wishes