Guyana Chronicle
December 5, 2002

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It comes as comforting news that for all the troubles we have, there has been significant local and foreign investment in Guyana during 2002.

According to Mr. Geoff Da Silva, Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment, some G$23.7 billion (US$126.6 million) has been invested in various businesses. The projects, he disclosed, accounted for over 3,000 new jobs.

We need, however, to identify where exactly these jobs have been created. Without this these figures would get lost in the daily diet of negative stories with which citizens are fed, or they will be brushed aside by the critics and cynics as meaningless propaganda.

It is true that Guyana shares with other developing countries the sad fate of their modest trickle of achievements being flooded out by torrents of bad news. It is hard to look around us and feel that we are going somewhere.

This is not only a Guyana dilemma. Recently, a commentator noted that for all the positive developments in Brazil, that vast sub-continent gets very little attention in the big media.

With just over three quarters of a million inhabitants, Guyana would appear like a pygmy when compared to Brazil, our giant neighbour down south. But the new energy sweeping Brazil is numbed by chilling stories of crime and pervasive poverty at home, rebellions in nearby Venezuela and, on the wider plane, rumblings emanating from Washington of imminent war with Iraq.

There, down south, some 115 million voters recently peacefully elected a former factory worker, Luis InŠcio Lula da Silva, universally known as Lula, to be president of one of the world's largest democracies.

Lula's triumph was a poor manís dream comes true. Lula began his life in extreme poverty. His father abandoned him and his mother. Rising from shoeshine boy to lathe operator to organizer for the metalworkers union to party leader, he was elected on his fourth attempt to the presidency by more than 50 million votes.

Neither in size nor population could Guyana be compared with Brazil. But we share a similar condition of poverty and social stress mostly caused by the structure of our economies and disproportionate distribution of our nationís wealth. In addition, our economies are excessively vulnerable to external financial shocks.

Studies have shown that in Brazil the richest 10 percent of the population controls 50 percent of the national wealth, whereas the bottom 50 percent has only 10 percent.

It is simply not feasible a la Robin Hood to take from the rich and give to the poor. Ways have to be found to bring the disadvantaged into the process of wealth-creation, and this is by encouraging investment.

The word south of our borders is that President Lula is forging a social pact in Brazil to garner investment, both local and foreign, and to create jobs for the millions who stand on the edge of poverty and hunger.

This is why every new investment becomes solid, good news. Every dollar invested in business brings with it hope of a school-leaver entering the life of work and industry.

This is the only alternative to the sickening nihilism of idleness, crime and drugs.

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