The president indicated that the proposed salary increase, for the members of his administration, was made possible thanks to an outside grant allotted for combating corruption. One wonders how Madagascar could keep this up without getting back in debt. Furthermore, quite a few Malagasy citizens could attest to the fact that corruption is not fundamentally the result of inadequate wages. Instead, it is the work of a few dishonest individuals who use their position of power and influence to obtain kick-backs and commissions for services rendered. On the contrary, millions of Malagasy people receive wages which are grossly inadequate, but they neither condone, nor practice corruption.
We are obviously dealing with two separate issues in a much too simplistic way.
1. In general, the Malagasy people?s wages are not even enough to satisfy their most basic needs (food, housing, health, education, …) This fosters many dysfunctional situations which destroy the country, little by little. For example, many public officials leave the field for other alternative ways of earning a living. Public school teachers resort to alternative teaching positions, not corruption, in order to survive. It is obvious that the country simply must find another way of dealing with this situation, so that it could get back on track. This is where the economists should intervene. They must balance the budget and come up with long-term solutions which we can live with.
2. Some individuals are inherently corrupt. Case in point, despite the fact that Ratsiraka and the members of his family are already billionaires many times over, they keep finding new ways to fleece the State. Obviously, this proves that President Ravalomanana?s remedy does not fit the ailment. Faced with such an untenable situation, the population expects for justice to eventually prevail, and for the guilty parties to pay for their crimes.
Millions of Malagasy people have marched in the streets to show that they are willing to reject a corrupt system, at any price, even at the cost of their jobs, for some of them. This is proof positive that they resent President Ravalomanana?s obscene proposal.
What seems more serious to me right now is the administration?s apparent total disregard for the current situation. They have yet to propose a budget plan which addresses properly the problematic issues facing the nation. Most likely, they simply accepted a legacy discussion of the former regime, and a few hours of assistance provided by a foreign consultant (to speed things up??).
This seems to indicate that, despite the fact that there is a new man at the helm, not much has changed. Financial backers still call the shots, and come up with grossly ill-suited plans, and the Malagasy ?decision makers? blindly apply them, with little or no regard for the consequences. I thought these administrators were supposed to be responsible for the proper management of country?s assets. Was I wrong?
It seems to me that it is the government?s duty, not the financial backers?, to make sure that the real priorities are set, and maintained appropriately.
This only shows that, to overhaul a 42 year old regime, getting rid of a dictator is only the beginning of a long, uphill battle.
Translated by J. F. Razanamiadana