On July 15, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa sealed the deal on a $100 billion international bank, with a reserve currency pool worth more than a further $100 billion.During the dog days of summer, a game-changing meeting quietly took place in Brazil. It didn’t make world headlines, yet analysts say what came out of that meeting will likely have enormous implications for global economics and politics.On July 15, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa sealed the deal on a $100 billion international bank – the New Development Bank, formerly known as the “BRICS Bank” – with a reserve currency pool worth more than a further $100 billion.Its aim? To lend developing countries funds to pay for infrastructure projects and other investments. The controversy? This is exactly what the American and European-backed World Bank Group has been doing since the 1940s.The implication? A new shift in the world’s economic and political power, says Brock political science professor Pierre Lizee.“Essentially, what we’ve had is a world order that was focused on the United States,” says Lizee. “Now what we have is a rise of new actors and institutions that are challenging the U.S.-led global order.”The World Bank Group consists of five institutions that aim to reduce poverty in developing nations. They do so through offering an array of financial and technical assistance, including providing loans for development initiatives, promoting foreign direct investment and mobilizing capital in international financial markets.But this assistance comes with strict “conditionalities,” such as liberalizing a country’s trade, financial and investment sectors, privatizing national industries and reducing public sector spending.Critics say these conditionalities take power away from a country to govern its own economy and provide basic services such as health care and education. And, the enormous debts incurred by countries forces governments to spend their precious resources on debt serving rather than on these basic services, keeping them perpetually poor.Enter the BRICS group, headquartered in Shanghai, China, the country on the cusp of usurping the United States’ position as the world’s largest economy. Meanwhile, the United States is among the top 10 most indebted nations in the world, but has the most debt of any country in absolute terms, according to a 2013 Forbes report.“This new BRICS bank, in large part, will be controlled by Chinese money and the Chinese will use that bank to finance development projects in Africa,” says Lizee. “In all of this, what the Chinese are trying to do is create a new sphere of influence worldwide where control financial flows, models of development, where they’ll eventually try to counter-balance the influence of the U.S. in global financial circles.“This is extremely important because this a complete reversal of what we’ve known for the past half-century in terms of the nature of global politics,” he says.Much as critics welcome this new rival to decades of World Bank-dictated policies they say have largely benefited Western nations, there is concern about rising Chinese influence on the world stage.Analysts say that, unlike Western assistance that is also tied to a country’s democracy, human rights and environmental performance, China has few if any such conditions. This raises fears that an important layer of accountability might become eroded.“Power is being shifted from Western governments to non-Western governments, but below all of this, you have people,” says Lizee. “And these people in the Western world and the non-Western world want a world of democracy, a world of human rights.“They will still pressure these governments and institutions like the BRICS bank to promote democracy, human rights and so on as they promote development around the world.”At around the same time as the New Development Bank was officially being signed into existence, things were heating up in Russia with the downing of the Malaysian Airlines flight in Eastern Ukraine.Reaction from the United States and other Western countries over the downed jet – and the entire Crimea situation in general – has further damaged a deteriorating relationship between Russia and the West, with sanctions harming both sides.Russia has set up a Eurasian Economic Union, having as its members Belarus, Kazakhstan and, on Sept. 20, Armenia. The Union aims to create a market of more that 170 million people, modeled on – and possibly rivaling – the European Union.Lizee says Russia is being motivated to seek out new markets in part because of its “growing tension with the U.S.” and its oil and gas reserves.“For Russia, the Chinese market is becoming more interesting,” says Lizee. “What we’ll see in the coming years is the sense of an ambivalence on Russia’s part in terms of how Russia defines its sphere of influence, how it defines its markets, does it look East rather than West?”“What the U.S. will do with regards to the situation in Ukraine and Crimea will be central: will the West be able to enter into a dialogue with Russia in its long-term objectives? Will that then shape Russia’s behaviour?”If you’re interested in this topic, tune into the podcast “Shall We Dance? The shifting power balances of China, Russia and the United States.” This is the first of a monthly podcast series produced by Brock University.
(The following is an opinion piece written by former President Donald Ramotar)From the time the APNU+AFC regime took office, it has been demonstrating a strong anti-democratic tendency that is leading towards another PNC style dictatorship.The first major indication was their totally insensitive action of hiking their own pay by more than 50% and allowances by thousands of percentage points.The latest action was the arrest of many officials of the former PPP/C administration. These arrests were all wrongful and, in the case of former President Bharrat Jagdeo, illegal.Former President Donald RamotarThe regime’s main purpose was to incite fear in the population.They not only arrested several high profile persons, but even went on to celebrate it.The party at the Oasis Café was the bullies were enjoying their “accomplishments: drinking wine and other exotic alcoholic beverages.Like the old PNC regime, the current government seems to lack national pride due to the fact that a British national is directing the work of SOCU. They seem happy taking orders from a foreign national, in this case, a citizen of Britain, our former colonial master.The APNU regime is in the process of subverting our institutions.The SOCU, which was setup to investigate and fight money laundering, is now being used as a political tool of the APNU.Its main purpose now is to harass PPP/C members and supporters.We are now also witnessing the creation of another body, SARA, whose leaders are already interrogating business people at the Ministry of the Presidency.Obviously, having set up this elaborate and very expensive apparatus, they will have to justify their existence, even if it means framing and setting up people. This is iron logic of where they will lead and take us.These bodies are stacked with relatives, associates from former law-firm, old Party hacks and other friends; another way of milking the treasury.Now, the regime is putting a Bill forward that is going to give enormous powers to the Executive Branch of government.The Bill states that the President will have the power to dismiss Ministers. That, however, is an authority he/she already has.The frightening one is the power being given to the Minister in the Ministry of the Presidency.He/she will have the power to dismiss elected Members of Parliament. This is a very dangerous development that will lead to authoritarianism.I say this because Members of that August body have been elected by the people. We cannot now give that right to anyone other than the persons that the Constitution so authorizes.The APNU regime’s attitude to the Constitution is that it is a piece of paper. So many of their actions are in violation of the Constitution that it cannot now be seen as an oversight or accident.Tender procedures are violated and awards are being made to APNU+AFC financiers. These are costing billions of dollars to our tax-payers.Appointments to Constitutional Bodies are being manipulated. The judges recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) are not being appointed. Attempts are clearly being made to pack the Court with judges whom the regime feels it can rely on. That is why some are saying – “we put dem deh, they gat to rule for us”.In the Parliament, the Speaker is not acting impartially. At the last sitting, he stopped M.P Nandlall from speaking about the salary of the Prime Minister after he allowed Jordan to talk about former Presidents’ pension.At every sitting, he disrupts the Opposition Members of the National Assembly when they are speaking.Constitutional appointments are also being subverted. A case in point is the position of Chairman of the Elections Commission. The Constitution is clear on who is so qualified yet the regime ruled a list provided by the Leader of the Opposition after wide-ranging consultations as unacceptable.All these are more than just signs.They are an indication of where we are heading.Already many are expressing fear; they feel that their rights are being violated. Almost everyone are of the view that their telephone conversations are being listened to.Now, they have moved a step further to stifle dissent by arresting opposition leaders of the PPP/C.It is important to point out that after the 1964 elections; the PNC regime targeted the PPP leaders as well. The PPP Chairman, Cedric Nunes, was detained for years, along with others.However, it was not confined to the PPP.Later, particularly after 1973, the then regime went against anyone expressing any views that were not in coincidence with that of the PNC regime.This is just the beginning.People need to defend the gains we have made in this country.No concession should be made to any violation of our Human and Constitutional rights.Stand up now before it is too late. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedLETTER: President’s action a flagrant disregard of our ConstitutionOctober 25, 2017In “latest news”APNU+AFC regime is anti-democratic by nature – says former President RamotarAugust 26, 2016In “Politics”Former President slams Kaieteur News for publishing ‘wild fabrications’ – in desperate effort to retain some ‘relevance’February 2, 2016In “Local News”