Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Senator Ozouf’s Eastern promises….

Winning the star prize in the raffle even before leaving London must have seemed a good omen for Senator Philip Ozouf so far as the latest India project is concerned.

But we should bear in mind that a £10,000 holiday trip is not on the agenda for most of that huge country’s billion plus residents and that grinding poverty is their everyday reality - and we raise such issues in this 2 part blog interview with Jersey’s Finance Minister.

So why are we now trying to sell our latest Finance Foundations to India’s wealthy minority or encouraging them to buy expensive properties in London? Surely we could be better and more usefully engaged in addressing some of India’s social problems rather than creaming off new wealth from the most fortunate few?

Even if the Jersey cattle breed is no longer the international force that it once was – surely there is still some local farming expertise that could be sold in places like India OR why not utilize our financial knowledge and contacts to promote genuinely beneficial projects? It doesn’t have to be done on a charitable basis – expertise can be sold and partnerships formed which can boost our own economy just as much as helping the world’s poorest peoples.

In Maharashtra region, over 1,000 poor farmers have killed themselves per month because they cannot pay back the money-lenders who financed the purchase of GM seeds. In Chattisgarh, 125,000 have killed themselves and Prince Charles has launched the Bhumi Vardian Foundation in Delhi to help alleviate the suffering. But it’s not just about lack of rain or even the 1000% increase in the cost of GM seed over more usual local variations. The problems are tied to the whole IMF initiative of making huge loans to India in the 1980’s and 90’s to stimulate the development bonanza that is now taking place around the cities and their techno-parks and to pump-up agricultural production too.

Not only have rivers been dammed and forests cleared so that the traditional water tables have dropped in rural areas but the American suppliers of seeds and petro-based technologies have been encouraged as part of the IMF development package and the farmers are desperately trying to keep up and produce more. Gandhi’s vision of a sustainable future and the country’s Socialist ideology, look doomed in the face of the international capitalist demands of growth and profit.

On paper, India’s projected economic growth rate of 7% looks good on the IMF/OECD balance sheets and there are many other finance centre vultures circling but somebody surely has to intervene on behalf of the poor millions and to speak out against the horrendous human rights violations against men, women and children that are still commonplace in this diverse and troubling country.

Of course, Jersey’s own human rights record so far as signing up to Human Rights conventions is deplorable and we have no claims on the high moral ground – but is this latest carpet bagging initiative really the best that we can do for the world?

What is the benefit to the majority of Indians if we open yet more finance based offices – whether in St Helier or Delhi – and what does the Jersey balance sheet for Dubai and the rest of the Middle East bonanza of yesterday now look like?

About 20 local leaders of the Finance sector went on this latest jolly which was a confusing and worrying mix of commercial promotion with official Jersey government support and regulatory (JFSC) participation. Senator Philip Ozouf was accompanied by Martin De Forest Brown from the Chief Minister’s Department together with Wayne Gallichan for the Economic Development Department, at tax payers expense.
John Harris represented the JFSC with the Commission paying his costs – which really means taxpayers too.

We thank Philip Ozouf for his time and assistance in preparing this blog and would welcome any comments - especially from those who took part in the India trip.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Goog to see you interviewing somebody intelligent for a change!

Anonymous said...

What use are any tax havens? Its about time that somebody listed any benefits that such places as the Channel Islands, the Caymans and all the rest contribute to the world.
A postage stamp should be big enough for the list.

Anonymous said...

Wow seems like our Jon Boy appreciated this one. lol Anything to do with his 'hero' sets his pulse a going. Reminds me of the song "He is out of reach" still dream on Jon, a few more brownie points and who knows!!!!!!

Nice interview VFC - can't say that for Ozouf - talk about pie in the sky - time this guy got his head around the real world and the real people.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating argumant on IT. We are short of land and skilled labour. We'll get the work done by India. So another local industry sector crumbles away. But one wonders why that argument does not apply to say, politicians?


Anonymous said...

It's certainly helpful to produce interviews like this. There is an opportunity to get to know much more about Jersey's key decision makers. Unfortunately the interviewer spent too much time pursuing the "isn't Jersey just going to be a leech on India?" theme. It was OK raising it once, but by the third or fourth time it became obsessive.

Senator Ozouf's comment to the question about putting all the eggs in the finance basket, along the line that in the finance industry there are lots of different eggs was clumsy. I think he was trying to imply that there are lots of different baskets. In my view it would be a lot more honest and less dangerous if he stopped pretending to be the island's Treasury Minister and outed himself as the super-salesman for Jersey Finance.

Anonymous said...

Presumably anonymous would find references to the 6,000 bride "burnings" each year for non-payment of dowries and the 50 millions of children under 13 working in all sorts of dismal places and the child abuse, prostitution and pornography or that rape is the fastest growing crime in India equally obsessive?
Good job that these weren't mentioned along with the lepers, beggers and scavengers, the bonded labour, caste system, illiteracy, unemployment, lack of health care and discrimnation against disabled people and the ethnic tensions, police methods etc etc. And it would have been downright rude to mention that homosexuality is still illegal under article 377 of the Indian code.

Yes for sure - the interview could have been really obsessive.

Anonymous said...

Who is Jon boy?

Anonymous said...

I’m afraid this posting along with the interview with Senator Ozouf proves just why citizen media can never be taken seriously.

The pre-write which accompanies the interview, reflect far too much the views of the interviewer – who I believe stood for election some years ago and came bottom of the poll.

It is quite clear that the interviewer holds strong anti Indian Government views, which of course is his entitlement, but would simply not be allowed in the main stream accredited media.

For example, it breaks the BBC broadcast code and would certainly breach Ofcom’s (ITV regulator) code of conduct for broadcasters.

Fair play to Philip Ozouf for taking part, but I will certainly be forwarding a link to this blog for Senator Shenton to view as part of his research into local citizen media.

There’s no doubt that citizen media is here to stay, but don’t for one moment think it will ever be compared with the highly professional main stream media that serve the Channel Islands so well.

I suspect the professional gap between the two disciplines will widen, as it’s now so easy for ‘journo wannabees’ to broadcast their biased views to whoever wants to listen.

Anonymous said...

Did Senator Ozouf stop for one minute to think about his justifcation of a free market in india, one which lifts people out of poverty, with the hindu caste system which keeps millions trapped within their social and economic status?

Pretty ill informed and flimsy stuff as usual from Senator Ozouf.

Anonymous said...

Philip Ozouf won't give a dam if he is ridiculed on this blog, youtube or any other Forum unlike Stuart Syvret who gets very bitter and twisted especially with one person in mind. Yes this blog is a one sided political view and it has been said elsewhere but when it comes to Island wide voting it does not even make the slightest of ripples in the statistics so just leave citizens media to do what it wants. The right story will come along eventually it just has not happened yet.

Anonymous said...

Philip Ozouf should not be wasting his time with interviewers like this.

Anonymous said...

Quote from above: Fascinating argumant on IT. We are short of land and skilled labour. We'll get the work done by India. So another local industry sector crumbles away. But one wonders why that argument does not apply to say, politicians?
Unquote from above comment:

The same applies to civil servants, we could outsourse. WahHaayy!