Democracy & Justice in PPP’s


Dr. Vicky Walters

Public Private Partnership, or PPP is a clever scribal abbreviation for government and private sector to conspire against the public interest to transfer social service to the private markets, thus legitimising the abuse of public resources because some people can pay for them, while legally depriving others simply because they may not have the financial means to bear the cost of the services or resources.

Simply put PPP’s involve contracts between the public sector and a private party, in which the private party provides a public service or project and assumes financial, technical and operational control over what may storically have been a social service or distribution of the commons.

The collusion between the public and the private can be best understood when the difference between customary funding and the new financing of services is put under scrutiny with the view of protecting the public interest.

Extension to the legal framework of how the private sector buys into government services is being mapped out at the G20 Leaders Summit, while the G20 Peoples’ Summit is exploring alternatives to resist what many describe as the pillaging of the public good.

At 199 Boundary Road Dr. Vicky Walters and Dr. Kshithij Urs shared their experience and research on PPPs in India’s water sector, highlighting the anti-democratic and unjust character of these partnerships and making the parallels with the agenda of the G20.

During their research and work in the state Karnataka Vicky and Kshithij uncovered problematic flaws in the practices of the state bureaucracy in modifying regulations, even those ratified by the Indian Constitution, that would smooth the way for the privatisation of water.

Kshithij witnessed the total absence of public consultation prior to the implementation of new government policies to privatise water in the state, and perhaps the powerlessness of the state authority to stand against the pressure of international financial institutions and central governments to enforce their conditions in return for humanitarian or development assistance.

Vicky received admission from the bureaucrat in charge of the water reform financing that the policy document he wrote was a front-loaded conditionality for a World Bank loan. In the city of Hubli-Dharwad where one of the World Bank funded projects was being implemented she was told by members of the project team that they lied to the public about the privatisation and user charges to get them to accept the project, undermining any kind of obligation to serve the interests of the public.

Active citizens are mobilising to resist the constant current of privatisation, locally and globally. A draft statement to be delivered to the G20 Leaders Summits was formulated during the discussion with Vicky and Kshithij.

The statement may include the following key points:

  • Public money should not be channelled into private operations;
  • PPP are step towards full privatisation;
  • Tax reform is misdirected exonerating corporation and big business from contributing their legal and fair amount of taxes;
  • PPP’s result in inequitable and unjust outcomes;
  • PPP’s are not partnerships but the privatisation of core government functions;
  • Major policy shifts should be democratically decided.

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