Saturday, 20 February 2010

PRIVATE CAPITAL, PUBLIC MISERY.



Extract from an old article on : http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=3768

      Throughout the world, public services have been under attack for the past twenty years. Forming a central plank of the capitalist globalisation agenda, ‘privatisation’ and ‘competition’ are the seemingly unchallenged dogma of modern capitalism. The levels of privatisation which have taken place worldwide are absolutely mind-blowing. During the 1990s alone over $900 billion worth of public assets were transferred into private hands. Globally this agenda is pushed by the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The basic theory by which these bodies operate is that all decisions should be made on the basis of profitability alone. Economies in the so-called ‘developing’ world have been carved up under re-structuring deals called Structural Adjustment Programmes which have been like manna from heaven for international business. The World Bank website(1) , for example, “provides information on more than 9,000 privatisation transactions in developing countries from 1988 to 2003”. This information is presented as ‘revenue generating opportunities’ for international capital. The current phase of the WTO’s strategy for the imposition of its privatisation agenda is the General Agreement on Trade in Services – which looks to sell off such basic services as healthcare, education, housing, water supply, waste management etc. This strategy is driven not in the interest of the ordinary people of these countries but by the needs of international capital. As David Hartridge, Director, WTO Services Division put it quite succinctly: “Without the enormous pressure generated by the American financial services sector, particularly companies like American Express and Citicorp, there would have been no services agreement and therefore perhaps no Uruguay Round and no WTO.” (2)
      This privatisation agenda has had disastrous consequences for many peoples and communities in the developing world. According to journalist John Pilger,
“The introduction of school fees where there was previously free education has driven many poor families to withdraw their children from school, while hospital fees have put basic health care beyond the reach of millions. Although they acknowledge the harm which privatisation has brought to poor communities in the Third World, the World Bank and IMF still insist on prescribing it as an economic model. Water privatisation is just one example. The World Bank notes that water in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince costs up to 10 times as much from the private sector as it does from the public supply, and that poor families in Mauritania now have to spend a fifth of their household income on water. Yet both the World Bank and the IMF continue to force water privatisation on developing countries. During 2000 alone, the IMF made water privatisation or full cost recovery a condition of loan agreements to 12 African countries. The World Bank has promised Ghana an extra $100 million in loans if it privatises its water supply.”
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