Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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India and Brazil
(Aired 1 March 2004)

   Recently our President went to India to discover his roots and to strengthen economic ties with that country. I have to do this commentary carefully since I do not want to be accused of making disparaging remarks about mother India since around 40% of our people are Hindus and look to that country as their real motherland, but it is not, and it never will be, Guyana is their motherland. So whatever I say about India tonight is not an attack on that ancient and honoured country but to put India, today, in perspective for those who want to have her as an economic partner.

   More and more I see disturbing trends of our Government pursuing an international agenda which can be inimical to our interests as a nation in international matters, and which as a Guyanese I am not comfortable with.

   We bring Chavez here at a time when he is perceived by the US as a problem in this hemisphere, since he is too close to Castro in Cuba, now he wants to have a love affair with our communist PPP. We ourselves are not on great terms with the US since two of our ministers and one diplomat are in the US's black book, Our President runs off to India to find his roots and to see if he can beg India for help. But notwithstanding that Jagdeo has visited Brazil twice within the last year, I perceive that progress of establishing real economic partnerships with Brazil is very much on the back burner whilst we are perusing other international agenda which can harm us or at best be unproductive. 

   So let's look at these two countries India and Brazil let us see which of them we should be seeking economic alliances with, India is about 3.3 million square Km in size whilst Brazil is 8.5 million square KM, Brazil is therefore about 2.6 times bigger.

   Brazil has a population of around 182 million people whilst India has a population of 1 billion and 46 million people.

   The life expectancy in India is 63.6 years whilst Brazil is 71.13 years so the Brazilians enjoy a better standard of living with better medical facilities which allows their citizens to live a better, longer life.

   The Brazilian Population is 55% white; 38% mixed races; 6% Black and 1% other- Amerindian etc. the Indian population is 72% Indian-Aryan, 25% Dravidian and 3%- Mongol and other.

   The GDP of Brazil is 1.6 trillion US dollars whilst the GDP of India is 2.6 Trillion US dollars.

   The annual budget of Brazil is revenues of $100.6 billion US and expenditures of $91.6 Billion US dollars, one of the few countries on the planet which has a balanced budget.

   The budget of India is revenues of $48.3 Billion but expenditures of 78.2 Billion dollars; this country is in deficit each year for a sum of nearly 63% of its total annual budget. Its GDP growth of 4.3 over the past 14 years has only had the effect of reducing the amount of people living below the poverty line from 35% to 25% today.

   Incredibly since India is perceived as a place which has a high moral standard in the way its films etc. are portrayed, has an incidence of HIV of 0.8%; 4 million people in India are infected with HIV and last year 310,000 of them died from it, whilst in the perceived decadent Brazil the HIV infection rate is only 0.7% with 610,00 people infected and 8400 dying from it last year, because of its population and the illiteracy rate of India, HIV is becoming a huge problem as it is in China. 

   The literacy rate of India is a total of 59.5 % with the males being 70.2 % literate and its females 48.3 % literate; whilst Brazil is kinder to its women folk with a total literacy rate of 86.4%; the males 86.1% literate and females 86.6% literate, making it one of the few countries where the female literacy rate is higher than the males.

   Incidentally 82% of all power generated in Brazil is from Hydro power whilst 82% of all power in India is generated by fossil fuel. 

  The income per capita in Brazil is 7600 US with an unemployment rate of 6.4 % with around 22% of its people living below the poverty line, whilst India's income per capita is 2600 US with an unemployment rate of 8.8% and 25 % living below the poverty line. India is therefore poorer with more unemployed people with a higher amount of its people living in abject poverty.

   Now we come to the really important matter Brazil is our neighbour and wants something that we have, access to the Atlantic Ocean, they are less than 400 miles away and they want us as their partners; why are we not playing this great hand we have been dealt, is it because we want to Indianise Guyana more? That can be the only explanation, and if it is true then we are bigger fools than I thought, I would have no problem if we Indainsed Guyana if I saw benefits from it, since I have nothing against India, part of my ancestry comes from there also, but there is nothing for us in India, the place is too small for its population which has reached saturation, it is spending more then it is earning as revenues, its growth rate of 4.3% is only having the effect of reducing its level of poverty, and it is only over the past 12 years or so that they have liberalised their investment code by attracting overseas investment which has contributed in no insignificant manner to the 6% growth, but they still have serious problems of their own, so why do we think that they can help us?  They see us as a market for Indian expertise and goods, that is all!

   We need help to build this country that means massive investment, hydropower, a deep water harbour and to increase our revenue earning capacity.

    For Brazilan goods and commodities passing to and from Brazil through our property they have to pay tolls, they have to pay wharfing fees etc. and they stand prepared to give us these benefits which can bring big money for our people in employment, Hydro power and a deepwater harbour which can reduce our cost of electricity and shipping of our goods, it can also lead to our smelting our own Bauxite since the road from Brazil incorporates a 600 Megawatt hydroelectric plant at Turtruba in the upper Mazaruni, this Hydro plant will have a dam 180 ft high and 4 kilometres wide, will take 2 years to construct and will supply power to Boa Vista and the Linden, Demerara, Berbice interconnected system, this dam will in time be capable of producing 1500 Megawatts of power enough to smelt all of the bauxite we, and the Brazilians have, and most importantly it will be on our property so they will have to pay us rent. Since the catchments area for this dam will be 900 square kilometres. This is a 1.25 Billion US dollar investment, the deep water harbour in Guyana will cost 120 million US dollars and the road will cost 300 million US, the Brazilians are estimating to ship nearly 1 million metric tons of aluminium alone [not bauxite] through Guyana annually. Can you believe the opportunities this will create for us Guyanese, so why all of the procrastination? Is it because we fear losing our sovereignty? This cannot happen since there are countless examples elsewhere where agreements exist for Oil, Natural Gas, roads etc to pass through countries which receive millions in revenues whilst the pipelines and roads belong to the country of origin. Finally which fool will make an agreement which does not pass ownership of all assets to Guyana after say 15-20 years? So I ask the question again, what the hell are we doing?