Pravind Jugnauth

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The Honourable
Pravind Jugnauth
MP
प्रवीण जगनाथ
Pravind Jugnauth.jpg
Prime Minister of Mauritius
Assumed office
23 January 2017
President Ameenah Gurib
Deputy Ivan Collendavelloo
Preceded by Anerood Jugnauth
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
26 May 2016
Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Anerood Jugnauth (Acting)
In office
11 May 2009 – 26 July 2011
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Preceded by Rama Sithanen
Succeeded by Xavier Luc Duval
In office
7 October 2003 – 5 July 2005
Prime Minister Paul Berenger
Preceded by Paul Berenger
Succeeded by Rama Sithanen
Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation
In office
14 December 2014 – 1 July 2015
Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Chedumbrum Pillay
Succeeded by Etienne Sinatambou
Leader of Opposition
In office
15 September 2014 – 14 December 2014
Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth
Preceded by Paul Bérenger
Succeeded by Paul Bérenger
Vice Prime Minister of Mauritius
In office
11 May 2010 – 26 July 2011
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam
Preceded by Rama Sithanen
Succeeded by Anil Bachoo
Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius
In office
7 October 2003 – 5 July 2005
Prime Minister Paul Bérenger
Preceded by Paul Bérenger
Succeeded by Rashid Beebeejaun
Leader of the Militant Socialist Movement
Assumed office
30 October 2003
Preceded by Anerood Jugnauth
Member of the National Assembly
for Quartier Militaire and Moka
Assumed office
9 May 2009
Preceded by Ashok Jugnauth
Majority 20,080 (57.10%)[1]
Personal details
Born (1961-12-25) 25 December 1961 (age 55)
La Caverne, Mauritius
Political party Militant Socialist Movement
Spouse(s) Kobita Ramdanee
Children 3
Parents Anerood Jugnauth (Father)
Sarojini Ballah (Mother)
Alma mater University of Buckingham
Inns of Court School of Law
Aix-Marseille University

Pravind Kumar Jugnauth MP Esq. (born 25 December 1961) is a Mauritian politician who is Prime Minister of Mauritius, in office since 2017, and also holds another portfolio as Minister of Finance. He is currently leader of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM), which has the majority seats in the National Assembly since December 2014.

He previously served as Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation following the victory of their alliance LEPEP in the 2014 general elections from December 2014 to July 2015. He has occupied various positions in both government and opposition since 2000. He was Minister of Agriculture from 2000 to 2003, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Finance from 2003 to 2005. While he served in Navin Ramgoolam's cabinet from 2010 to 2011 as Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Finance[2] He is also Member of Parliament for the 8th constituency Quartier Militaire and Moka.,[3] he left the coalition government and was appointed Leader of the Opposition in September 2014 until he was named as minister in his father's cabinet following their victory.

He is the only son of Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Sarojini Ballah. His candidacy for Parliamentary General Elections in Constituency No 9, Rose Belle and Vieux Grand Port in 2000 made him elected as Member of Parliament from there. He was appointed as Minister of Agriculture by President Uteem to serve in the cabinet. He served as Minister under the premiership of his father Anerood Jugnauth who became Prime Minister in 2000 after winning the elections with the MSM/MMM coalition.

He was initially found guilty of conflict of interest for a transaction of Rs. 144 million under the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) Law and was sentenced by the Intermediate court of Mauritius for 1 year of imprisonment. He was accused of having reallocated funds to purchase the Medpoint Clinic in which his sister held a majority of shares. He resigned from the government as minister following the sentence. However, he appealed to the Supreme Court of Mauritius and won his appeal.[4] He was then appointed as Minister of Finance.

On 23 January 2017, he became Prime Minister, as he commands the majority in the National Assembly, following the resignation of his father, Anerood Jugnauth, who was the leader of the coalition government.

Early life and education[edit]

Born on 25 December 1961 in La Caverne, a suburb area in Vacoas-Phoenix, Mauritius, Jugnauth was born into a modest Hindu Ahir[5] family of labourers. He was born to Anerood Jugnauth, a barrister, and Sarojini Ballah, a school teacher. He has an elder sister, Shalini Jugnauth, married to Dr Kishan Malhotra.

In various interviews, Pravind stated that he has lived a political life since birth. He stated that his father and uncles were all members of Independent Forward Bloc, a political party led by Sookdeo Bissoondoyal (a former Minister in the Cabinet of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam) during the independence rally made by the country in 1967 so as to obtain autonomy from British Authorities.

His father was one of the few people to attend the conference and meeting on negotiations on the independence of Mauritius. Pravind Jugnauth states that he remembers all part of it. After independence, his uncle was appointed Attorney General in cabinet and his father was appointed as Junior Minister. He said he still remembers all negotiations on different aspects on the new constitution.

He went on to study at the local Primary School where he obtained his mother as teacher. He always mentioned his mother as his confidant and his father as his inspiration. After primary schooling, he went to Royal College Curepipe where he passed his O Levels and A levels. He then went on to study law in UK.

Jugnauth studied Law at University of Buckingham, gaining a first class honours degree. He then joined the Lincoln's Inn and became a Barrister. He then joined Aix-Marseille University in France where he graduated with an LLM. He officially joined the MSM in 1990 and was honored Doctor from the University of Buckingham with a Honoris Causa in 2005.

Early politics[edit]

Pravind Jugnauth portrait as leader of the MSM.

Pravind Jugnauth officially joined the Militant Socialist Movement in 1990 and helped as an activist member of the party. He saw his father remaining in power for a fourth time as Prime Minister in 1991 where he became more active in politics. He was candidate for the first time in the general elections of 1995 in constituency Vieux Grand Port and Rose Belle but was defeated and came fourth due to the landslide victory of the Labour Party and Mauritius Militant Movement.[6] In 1996 he was elected as Councillor in the town of Vacoas-Phoenix until 2000 where he stood as candidate in the same constituency but returned as first member of parliament for the same constituency as 1995. He was elected as Deputy Leader of the MSM in 1999.

He was appointed as Leader of the Militant Socialist Movement in May 2003 following the retirement of his father as politician. Anerood Jugnauth resigned in September 2003 as Prime Minister. Pravind Jugnauth supported candidate Paul Berenger to become Prime Minister. Whilst Berenger was head of the cabinet, Jugnauth became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

Pravind experienced the downfall of his political party. The electorate of the MSM shifted from the support of more than 30% to less than 5% of the population gradually from 2003 up to now. In 2004 while the MSM was the largest party in parliament and forming a coalition government, a poll indicated that the Labour Party had a support of 46%, the Mauritian Militant Movement had 39% and the remaining of only 15% associated them with the MSM. While the Labour party was in force having increased from a support of less than 10% in 2000 to 46% in 2004, the MMM also had an increase in approval ratings. The MSM was the only party to shift from being the most powerful to the least powerful party in the country.

In 2008 the MSM once again lost some of its supporters. A new poll was made 2008 by a local newspaper which gave the Labour Party a total of 51% of support of the population, the MMM coming in second position with 45 and the MSM came last with only 4% of the poll. Pravind Jugnauth's image as a young and more democratic leader was tarnished when he lost the majority of his supporters. Many MSM members joined either the MMM or the Labour party. In an Issue of 2 October 2011, a local newspaper made a recent poll and the MMM came out first with 64% approval; the Labour Party received 39% and the remaining 5% who did not associate with the two parties were probably supporters of the MSM.[7]

2000 to 2005[edit]

As Minister of Agriculture from 7 September 2000 to 7 October 2003, Jugnauth presented the Sugar Sector Strategic Plan and led a reform process in the sugar sector to ensure its long-term viability and competitiveness. He initiated a process to convert the sugar industry from relying almost exclusively on the production of sugar into a fully diversified sugar cane industry with emphasis on the production of ethanol, agricultural rhum, special sugars, electricity generation from bagasse and other high value added products. After these reforms, the sugar sector has been able to bring down its production costs significantly and better face the challenges stemming from the reduction in the guaranteed sugar price under the Sugar Protocol with the European Union.

While working on the reforms in the sugar sector, he negotiated a package for workers under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme. Some 8,000 workers who opted for voluntary retirement received cash compensation exceeding 2.5 billion rupees and some 825 arpents of land worth 3 billion rupees.

Jugnauth also made reforms in the non-sugar agricultural sector by placing non-sugar agriculture on the path of modernisation and sophistication. He encouraged hydroponics and other modern methods of production while at the same time strived for excellence in agricultural biotechnology research and expertise in the field. He initiated actions to set up a National Agricultural Biotechnology Institute and Food Technology Laboratory in Mauritius; he later launched the Small Planters Welfare Fund. The fund caters to the welfare of planters and their families and provides crop insurance schemes designed to financially support planters whose crops are affected by unfavourable weather conditions.

As Minister of Finance from 7 October 2003 to 5 July 2005, Jugnauth reduced taxes on thousands of commodities. He increased subsidies on basic commodities and gave salary compensations well above inflation rates in two successive years. He launched a project to make Mauritius a Duty Free Island.

Pravind Jugnauth had some clashes with his then Prime Minister Paul Berenger however stayed and supported the coalition government.

Leaders said the alliance MSM / MMM, Rama Sithanen insult himself and makes demagogy when it's a failure of government economic policy. In 2004 Pravind Jugnauth mentioned that from 1995 and 2000, the unemployment rate rose from 5.5% to 8.8% with 45,000 unemployed, while in the last three years, 32,000 jobs were created. He also mentioned that despite this heavy legacy, the government MSM / MMM kept the budget deficit to 6% and hopes to return to 5.5% in 2004/2005 and 4% in 2005/2006.[8]

2005 to 2009[edit]

Paul Berenger dissolved parliament in June 2005 and announced that the elections would be held on 3 July. The MSM-MMM coalition knowing the fact that the MSM had weakened throughout the years decided to propose Paul Berenger as candidate for Prime Minister. Navin Ramgoolam maintained his alliance called the Social Alliance which was composed of the Labour party and other small parties.

The Social Alliance won a total seat of 38 against the MSM-MMM which obtained only 24 seats. Pravind Jugnauth was defeated in his constituency and received 48% of vote.[9] While the MSM had 14 seats and the MMM,the remaining 10,the MSM-MMM proposed Paul Berenger as Leader of the Opposition and maintained the alliance.

In 2006, Paul Berenger proposed Rajesh Bhagwan another member of the MMM as Opposition Chief Whip. The MSM having more seats than its sister party therefore removed their support from Paul Berenger and broke the coalition. Nando Bodha, general secretary of the MSM became Leader of the Opposition and Pravind Jugnauth continued as Leader outside of Parliament.

Another feud exploded when Pravind Jugnauth did not approve of Ashok Jugnauth- who was an elected MSM MP in 2005 and who is Pravind's uncle- to become Leader of the party and assume the responsibilities of Leader of opposition. Ashok Jugnauth left the MSM for democratic reasons stating that the party was a democratic dictatorship with Pravind as the only leader.

In 2007,two more members of the MSM namely Joe Lesongard, the party's then president and Sekar Naidu left the MSM and sworn allegiance to Berenger and thus he became Leader of the Opposition.

The MSM had weakened more and more since the leader was not in parliament and therefore they did not have a firm authority.

2009 By-Election[edit]

Ashok Jugnauth who is the brother of Sir Anerood Jugnauth and uncle of Pravind was the only MSM MP in constituency Quartier Militaire and Moka and lost his seat as the Supreme Court of Mauritius had convicted him for fraud and corruption during 2000 to 2005 when he was Minister of Health. According to law, a MP who is convicted by the court loses his/her seat with immediate effect. Prime Minister Ramgoolam then announced that a By Election would be happening in order to elect an MP.

Ashok Jugnauth announced his candidacy for the By Elections and received the support of Paul Berenger and his MMM. The labour Party decided not to align any candidate in the By-elections and to everybody's surprise provided their support to Pravind Jugnauth and his MSM who then announced his candidacy in the 8th constituency.[10] On 2 March 2009, he beat out his own relative in the partial elections and gained back his seat in Parliament. His uncle was in the other camp and accepted his defeat humbly

The By-elections sealed the Labour Party and the Militant Socialist Movement alliance for the general elections in 2010.

2010-2014[edit]

In 2010, he and the MSM joined hands with the Mauritian Labour Party and Mauritian Social Democrat Party and formed a coalition known as Ptr-MSM-PMSD which won the parliamentary elections. President Sir Anerood Jugnauth on the advice of Navin Ramgoolam then appointed him as Vice Prime Minister & Minister of Finance taking office as from 11 May 2010.[11] Ion 26 July 2011, he resigned from his office of minister as well as all other MSM Ministers due to a scandale involving one of the MSM ministers.[12][13]

In 2014, following the resignation of Paul Berenger as Leader of the Opposition,President Purryag appointed Jugnauth to hold the constitutional office.[14][15]

He was convicted on charges on conflict of interest by an intermediate court in Mauritius on 30 June 2015. He was found guilty of acting as Minister of Finance to reallocate funds to purchase a private hospital (namely Medpoint) which is owned mainly by his sister Shalini Malhotra who is the major shareholder in the owner-company. He eventually submitted his resignation to President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim as a government minister on July 1, 2015.

Medpoint Scandal[edit]

In 2010, the government decided to buy a hospital and to make it a specialized geriatric center. The cabinet of Ministers approved of buying the MedPoint private Clinic which was owned by Dr Kishan Malhotra and Mrs Shalini Devi Jugnauth Malhotra who is the sister of incumbent Minister of Finance Pravind Jugnauth and daughter of incumbent President Sir Anerood Jugnauth.[16]

In such matters involving large outlay of public funds, there is what is often called a gestation period and procedures have to be strictly followed and no stone should be left unturned. Although the decision to purchase MedPoint, which was not operating as a clinic at the time and still not operating, was taken by the government, in the use of public funds, the government is under obligation to consider whether this purchase is in the public interest and whether all possible measures have been taken to clinch the deal at the best possible price for the public and not for the owners of MedPoint. The government is also under obligation to demonstrate what safeguards have been put in place to guard against matters such as abuse of power, corruption and so on.

The government already had in its possession a Valuation Report for « Land and Building » for Rs75 million conducted by the government department Valuation and Real Estate Consultancy Services (VRECS) and signed Roshnee Bissessur, No.2 at the Valuation Office, a department affiliated with the Ministry of Finance led by Minister Pravind Jugnauth, brother in law of Dr Malotra, owner of ex-MedPoint Clinic.

Mrs Maya Hanoomanjee, then Minister for Health who is a cousin of the Jugnauth family requested, in September 2010, a new valuation for « Land, Building and Services » to be obtained within two weeks with the view to closing the deal in December 2010. Mrs Hanoomanjee’s yet unjustified urgent request prompted Mr Yodhun Bissessur, the Director of the Valuation Department, to write, on 21 September 2010, to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI) headed by Minister Anil Bachoo requesting the expert help of that Ministry in Quantity Surveying for the purposes of the valuation of ex-Medpoint Clinic, which proposed acquisition was for use as a Geriatric Hospital, bearing in mind that the new valuation had to include Services.

After missed site visit, further correspondence and twists and turns, the private contractors Hoolooman & Associates were hired to conduct the survey and valuation, reason given being that Navin Ramgoolam’s government lacked the necessary quantity surveying human resources to do so. Mr Ramdyal of the Quantity Surveying Unit of the MPI felt the exercise would take at least two months and not two weeks as allegedly demanded by Mrs Hanoomanjee. Also, the new valuation is not said to be confined only to the MedPoint property after depreciation for the purposes of the purchase, but to second hand medical equipment and the cost of a new replacement building at current prices which Mrs Hanoomanjee allegedly wanted, hence her need for a Quantity Surveyor, who is a professional in the construction industry concerned with building costs. Hoolooman & Associates were also originally involved in the construction of the MedPoint Clinic and they valued the Land, Building and Services at Rs.145 millions (US$5 Millions). If this valuation contained the replacement cost of the building, the government would have therefore purchased a building which is non-existent and paid the seller for a fictitious building. This in itself should go to the root of the contract and be enough to set it aside.

ICAC, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, was formally requested to investigate what has come to be known as MEDPOINTGATE, or the MEDPOINT SCANDAL, a scandal which has the potential to bring down the whole government. Similarities are already drawn with WATERGATE and IRANGATE. In line with the MedPoint investigations, ICAC proceeded to the arrest of two Civil Servants involved in the decisions taken to give the go ahead to the new Rs145m valuation conducted by Hooloman & Associates and upon which the government solely relied for the purchase. The two Civil Servants, Yodhun Bissessur and Aneerood Jeebodhun, the respective Number 1 and Number 3 at the government’s Valuation and Real Estate Consultancy Services (VRECS), have, on 5 April 2011, been provisionally charged with "public official using office for gratification", for having ordered a second valuation by Hooloman & Associates which allegedly favoured MedPoint over other contenders through the procedure of tender. The charge implies that the two Civil Servants allegedly took bribes when ordering and accepting the Hooloman & Associates Rs145m valuation without question when their own original valuation was for Rs75m. Mr Bissessur reportedly admitted that he knew the private firm had worked for Dr Malotra and detained « Bill of Quantities » for his clinic, but nevertheless accepted the firm’s valuation of Rs145m without disputing it. Hence, the decision of ICAC to proceed to the arrest of the two Civil Servants in question in the course of their investigations does appear justified.[17]

Then Minister of Health, Maya Hanoomanjee was arrested by the ICAC police and the government chief valuer was suspended from his duties. Pravind Jugnauth was also arrested in respect for conflicts of interest in the matter.[18]

On 30 June 2015, Jugnauth was found guilty of "Conflict of Interest" under the Article 13 of the Prevention Of Corruption Act 2002 (PoCA).[19]

However, he appealed to the Supreme Court of Mauritius and won his appeal.[20] He was then appointed as Minister of Finance.

2014-present[edit]

He was appointed as Minister of Information Technology following the alliance LEPEP's victory. Local political analysts predicted instability in the government as he was leader of the largest party in parliament and was therefore holding a parallel position to the Prime Minister (his father) in the Westminster style of government.

Though there was various moments of major disagreement including the nomination of Menon Murday as Vice President, the revocation of Roshi Badhain as minister, the dismissal of Vishnu Lutchmeenaraido following the Badhain-Lutchmeenaraidoo dispute and also on government policies. He nevertheless supported the Prime Minister and continued as minister.

While many politicians and observers see him as the prime minister in waiting due to Anerood Jugnauth's advanced age, the opposition claims that it would be blatantly undemocratic to appoint him as prime minister without going through the polls in the event that Jugnauth Sr. was not prime minister anymore. On January 21, Aneerod Jugnauth announced that he will be resigning as Prime Minister as of January 23, and that he will be succeeded by his son, Pravin Jugnauth.

Family life[edit]

Pravind Jugnauth married Kobita Ramdanee in 1992 and is the father of three daughters: Sonika, Sonali and Sara. His father is Sir Anerood Jugnauth and his mother is Sarojini Ballah. His sister is Shalini Jugnauth Malhotra who is former owner of Medpoint Clinic.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://electoral.govmu.org/English/electionresult/nasselec/Documents/2014/Const.%20No.%208.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/GovtHomePagesite/menuitem.c0a01177fcf48dfcf6be501054508a0c/?content_id=dc12d575d1a88010VgnVCM100000ca6a12acRCRD
  3. ^ http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/assemblysite/file/hansardd0109v2.pdf
  4. ^ https://supremecourt.govmu.org/scourt/judgment/memberShowDoc.do?id=52768
  5. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282603686_Gender_and_Politicised_Religion
  6. ^ http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/eco/menuitem.37ba32a3c4783128d6c8662948a521ca/?content_id=88e19dbfa1158010VgnVCM100000ca6a12acRCRD
  7. ^ http://www.lexpress.mu/idee/autour-d%E2%80%99un-sondage-fictif
  8. ^ http://www.5plusltd.com/archive/2003/novembre/23_11_2003/eglise.htm
  9. ^ http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/eco/menuitem.37ba32a3c4783128d6c8662948a521ca/?content_id=223a9dbfa1158010VgnVCM100000ca6a12acRCRD
  10. ^ http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/AssemblySite/menuitem.3bef52ce598560451251701065c521ca/?content_id=71fc3c2fffb85210VgnVCM1000000a04a8c0RCRD
  11. ^ http://www.defimedia.info/articles/8321/1/Cabinet--bapteme-de-feu-pour-7-ministres-6-font-leur-comeback-au-Conseil-des-ministres-12-ministres-sortants-reconduits-a-des-fonctions-ministerielles/Page1.html
  12. ^ https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-26/mauritius-s-finance-minister-jugnauth-to-hold-briefing-after-resign-report.html
  13. ^ http://www.mopays.com/msm-ministers-resign-from-their-ministerial-duties/
  14. ^ http://www.lemauricien.com/article/assemblee-nationale-changing-guards
  15. ^ http://news.islandcrisis.net/2014/09/pravin-jugnauth-appointed-leader-of-opposition/
  16. ^ http://news.kotzot.com/medpoint/
  17. ^ http://www.ile-maurice.com/forum/actualites-de-lile-maurice/10828-maya-hanoomanjee-msm-conspiracy-extremism.html
  18. ^ http://www.ile-maurice.com/forum/actualites-de-lile-maurice/11221-pravind-jugnauth-s-26th-september-2011-incriminating-medpoint-statement-icac.html
  19. ^ "Pravind Jugnauth found guilty of conflict of interests in the MedPoint case". Indian Ocean Times. Indian Ocean Times. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  20. ^ https://supremecourt.govmu.org/scourt/judgment/memberShowDoc.do?id=52768
Political offices
Preceded by
Anerood Jugnauth
Prime Minister of Mauritius
2017–present
Incumbent