While Madagascar poverty grows, HAT falsely promises economic recovery

Because I have not seen any news stories that report anything but the various attempts by the HAT to make people believe will be an election at some point in time, I haven’t felt as though there was anything particularly interesting to blog about.

But between last week and this one, I have found 3 reports that I think are a cause for concern, so I wanted to post them online and highlight some of the information from them.

Madagascar poll date set

The first article “Madagascar poll date set” is concerning because it appears that there is some sort of resolution that has been accepted by members of the HAT to systematically replace all municipal governments with HAT friendly politicians:

Elections for councillors and mayors will be held on Monday 20 December,” the statement said

The resolution stipulated that mayors and local councillors countrywide should be removed and replaced by transition officials, in all likelihood dignataries closer to the island’s strongman Andry Rajoelina.

I am not entirely how true this article is, but I don’t think it really matters because even if it is a rumor at this point, it does not sound outlandish enough that the HAT wouldn’t try it.

For quite some time now I have believed that the HAT would attempt to do something similar to this, but I was only thinking of other parts of national government.

If this turns out to be true, how will it be possible to have a legitimate election in the country? You can almost guarantee that each of the replacement mayors and/or additional governments top priority will be to spread misinformation or rig any votes in their municipality that do not favour the HAT. This kind of plan would never be accepted in a democratic country, so it just goes to show you how undemocratic the government is if it pushes ahead with such a horrible plan.

Poverty grows in Madagascar

The second article suggests that the Malagasy public as a whole is suffering horribly from the coup d’etat and does not provide much hope for the people of Madagascar:

Prior to the current political crisis, children being treated would get free milk, medication and treatment until they were ready to be discharged.

The centres now have to charge for feeding and medical treatment. A doctor explained that parents no longer bring their children because they cannot afford to pay.

Rising poverty means that families can no longer afford to send their children to school and are having increasing difficulty in providing them with an adequate diet. A quarter of all the health care centres have been forced to close. The purchase and distribution of drugs throughout the whole country are collapsing.

Another indication of the growing social crisis is that 18 women who have given birth over the last year have left, abandoning their babies at the Befelatanana hospital.

Rosa worked at the factory for seven years. She explained that she had lost her job and was now at home looking after her two children. Her husband works in the capital city at the informal street markets that have mushroomed since the coup. He is only able to scrape together $1 to $1.50 a day. The family can no longer afford to send their children to school. They are falling behind with the rent and fear eviction.

Labourers in the forest villages have to rely on this trade as their only source of income. They may get paid $2 for dragging out the felled trees that weigh around a tonne. Local merchants will pay around $53 for a 3-metre log of Rosewood, which on the international market could fetch $1,300. The trade, which is thought to be worth around $230 million a year to the handful of timber barons who control it, has generated widespread corruption.

It is clear that after 18 months of intrigue and political instability it is the poor masses of Madagascar who are bearing the brunt of cuts in aid and trade to this already impoverished country.

There was so much information in this article on just how much your average Malagasy person is suffering that I had to include so many quotes from the original article. But it does highlight all the problems of the average Malagasy and just how bad it is starting to get in the country.

Why is it that there “used” to be assistance for those who need it? How does assistance work if it is priced in such a way that the poor cannot afford it? What happened to make them charge? Is the humanitarian aid disappearing?

And just how many people lost their livelihood when Madagascar’s AGOA privileges were cancelled? It almost appears that anyone that is not lucky enough to own their own business or work for one that has survived is forced to try and sell anything they can in hopes of getting a lowly $1 – $2 a day.

How does a Malagasy person resist taking part in some sort of illegal action to survive? It appears as though the only way to make money in the country these days is to be performing some sort of illegal activity or working for the HAT.

There are just too many questions and uncertainties in Madagascar and because of the HAT’s “orange revolution” many Malagasy can no longer afford to pay rent, send their kids to school, feed their families or purchase medicine and it seems to be getting worse.

It paints a very grim future for the Malagasy, especially considering there are no prospects of a legitimate resolution to this crisis any time soon. Even if there was, would it matter? An internationally recognized president might start the funds flowing back into the country, but since the damage to the country is so extensive it would take years to bring the country back to where it was when Marc Ravalomanana was president. And would the Malagasy people have patience for a recovery? Would another opportunistic politician derail recovery for their own benefit?

Madagascar to Revive Economy Without Foreign Aid, Finance Ministry Says

The final and most ridiculous news comes from a Bloomberg article where the HAT states that they are perfectly capable of resurrecting the economy without help from anyone.

Madagascar’s government plans to revive economic growth next year without resorting to loans or grants from abroad, said the cabinet director of the Finance and Budget Ministry, Hugues Rajaonson.

The government has “its own resources to make the economy work,” Rajaonson said in an interview in the capital, Antananarivo, yesterday. “We don’t need one dollar from abroad or any of their help in how to manage our economy. We have the same diplomas as them.”

The government can fund its spending through tax revenue, Rajaonson said, without giving details. In September, the budget for all ministries was cut by 40 percent.

“We have a strategy but we are not going to tell it to anyone, even the World Bank,” Rajaonson said. “We have nothing to see until we do the budget,” which should be published by Jan. 3, he said.

This is perhaps the most absurd thing that I have heard in a long time from HAT and I would be surprised if even Hugues Rajaonson believes what had come out of his mouth. Here is quick summary of what he had said:

    • The HAT has mystery resources it is going to leverage to recover the economy.
    • The HAT is going to rely on tax revenue to fund its operation.
    • The HAT believes it has freed up money by cutting government budgets by 40%.
    • The HAT has a strategy that it cannot tell anyone that will fix the Malagasy economy.

I think perhaps that Andry Rajoelina should have picked another person to talk to the press about the economy. There is not one single part of Hugues Rajaonson that is even remotely believable:

Resources

The “only” resources the HAT has at it’s disposal are illegal ones. They HAT will continue to export whatever it can to make up for the money it is lacking from the international donors.

Tax Revenue

Where is this tax revenue coming from? Most of the country has resorted to local trade to make a measly $1 – $2 a day if they are lucky. And if a business is fortunate enough to remain in business, I am sure that they cannot possibly produce the amount of tax revenue to make up the difference missing from the donor money.

Cutting Budgets

How does cutting ministry budgets by 40% make sense?. If the budget for the government before the crisis was composed of 50-60% donor money what is 40% of the remaining 40%-50% non-donor money? You would assume that the remaining 40%-50% was revenue from Madagascar itself (manufacturing, tourism, exports… etc). But since there is virtually no manufacturing, tourism or exports now… I doubt that the 40% non-donor money is even close to being as much as it used to be, so cutting that by an additional 40% doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

Perhaps the quote from Hugues Rajaonson would make more sense if he had said it like this:

The government has “its own rosewood resources to make the economy work,” Rajaonson said in an interview in the capital, Antananarivo, yesterday.

“We have a no strategy and we are not going to tell it to anyone, even the World Bank,” Rajaonson said. “We have nothing to see even when we do the budget,” which should be published by Jan. 3, he said.

It is truly sad that the Malagasy continue to suffer as the HAT runs around desperately trying to prove that it will have elections to an international community who is tired of it crying wolf.

There is no focus on Madagascar right now and unless something drastic happens, I doubt there will be in the near future. Madagascar is stuck, and will never move forward so long as a criminal is running the country for his own benefit.

 

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