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Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 00:20:58 -0500
Sender: AFRICA-N Africa News & Information Service <AFRICA-N%UTORONTO.BITNET@UBVM.cc.buffalo.edu>
From: Faraz Fareed Rabbani <frabbani@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: 'The Indian Ocean Newsletter': No. 657: February 4, 1995 (fwd)

Let's get the ex-minister

The Indian Ocean Newsletter, No. 657, 4 Febrary 1995

Madagascar's former finance minister Jose Yvon Raserijaona, who resigned recently (ION No. 654) and is now managing director of the BFV bank, is coming in for increasingly targetted criticism over the trade contracts and sidesteppings that he authorized whilst minister. He is criticized for permitting, only a few weeks ago, Hiridjee Bachir, chairman and MD of Ocean Trade, to import 40,000 tons of sugar, under the mous "safety net" arrangements, without having to comply with tax requirements. A fiscal investigation has since been opened. Hiridjee Bachir had earlier been the target of virulent accusations from persons in Merina circles for having used a loan from France's Banque Nationale de Paris to have a mosque built outside Paris.

Raserijaona's detractors are also asking questions about the authorization given to the Avis car rental franchise headed by Alain Ramanantsoa for an annual export quota of 800 tons of vanilla (a figure which is three-quarters of the island's total production), for with an official vanilla export price of US$ 60 a kilo, the quota deal represents a theoretical trading value of $ 48 million. According to some sources, Ramanantsoa was being thanked for having acted as go-between in negotiating a supply contract with South Korean electronics giant Samsung. And another contract okayed by the ex-finance minister which prime minister Francisque Ravony appears to be querying could load Raserijaona with fresh troubles: contracting management of the trading company Roso (formerly Compagnie Marseillaise de Madagascar before nationalization) to a Luxembourg-registered company belonging to a Franco -Italian businessman living in Paris.

I.O.N.- In a move to put a halt to certain dubious practices, the prime minister, who now also holds down the finance portfolio, has just suspended all import tax exemptions. However, it does look rather as if the post-event attacks on the former finance minister's performance are in fact no more than a small section of the Merina upper-classes getting even with the man they never liked. Nevertheless, Raserijaona's departure from the ministry refuels the ambition of several leaders of the Forces Vives Rasalama (presidential) coalition to obtain the finance ministry, and also encourages the Merina group to step up their attacks on the present prime minister.