Tag Archives: Privatisation

From top: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) October 2018 fiscal report; Eamonn Kelly

There are a couple of startling contradictions to Fine Gael fiscal policy contained in the Executive Summary of the IMF’s latest fiscal monitoring report: “Managing Public Wealth”.

The first is that, according to IMF economists and measurements gleaned from their global survey, privatisation of public properties is always a sure-fire loss-maker.

Contrast this with Fine Gael’s eagerness to privatise everything as the main plank of fiscal management.

The IMF conclusion was arrived at by using a different approach than that normally used in order to measure a nation’s wealth.

Rather than simply looking at income versus outgoings, the new approach uses a balance-sheet method, taking assets into account; publicly owned bodies and natural resources.

The problem identified by the IMF under the old approach was that it invited governments to focus on debt rather than taking a wider assessment of a nation’s wealth.

The report says:

“Balance sheet strength is not an end in itself, but rather a tool to support the objectives of public policy. The long-term aim of government is not to maximize net worth, but to provide goods and services to its citizens and possibly to create a buffer against uncertainty about the future. Current net worth should be seen in this context.”

Notice that in this assessment, the citizenry in and of themselves are also considered to have a net worth value.

Contrast this with the results of privatisation policy as they have impacted on health and welfare in Ireland during austerity. The casualties speak for themselves.

There may be a visible and measurable short-term gain in privatising public utilities for instance, creating the kind of figure-happy stats that Fine Gael rush to press with, but the overall value of national assets will be naturally reduced.

It’s a bit like burning the furniture to keep the fire going and pointing at the blazing fire and exclaiming, “Are you all warm now!”

The IMF report goes on:

“Similarly, cutting back maintenance expenditure reduces the deficit and lowers debt, but also reduces the value of infrastructure assets, which could cost more in the long term.”

So, cutting public spending and services and contracting out to private concerns will, as many people have already worked out, cost more in the end.

Though again the initial figures will look “nice”. Until, that is, the private contractor settles in and nails everyone to the wall with a price hike, slyly cutting level of service while they’re at it to maximize profits. Before you know it, you’re paying dearly for minimal or even no service.

And you’re stuck with it because the cost of restoring the original public service is prohibitive.

The UK Independent, reporting on this fresh approach by the IMF, said that the UK had

“…undergone one of the most drastic privatisations of any economy since the early 1980s…incentivising departments and local authorities to sell off assets to fund day-to-day spending under the premise that such an approach is necessary to cut the deficit…”

This is a similar approach to the one Fine Gael-led governments have been taking to balancing the books.

The IMF however have now contradicted this approach, warning that focusing on debt “misses large swaths of government activity and can fall victim to illusory fiscal practices”.

… that serve two functions: one, it provides conservative government with selective short-term figures that look like positive gains; and two, it delivers future profits of public assets into private hands.

Eamonn Kelly is a freelance journalist

Illusory Fiscal Practises: The IMF Debunking of Privatization (Eamonn Kelly)

Right2Water writes:

Today we learned the sad news that one of the worlds greatest intellectuals, Stephen Hawking, has died. He once said:

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

So when Ronan Lyons, a senior economist says that water charges would have prevented water shortages, one would question whether this erroneous statement is through ignorance, or through assumed knowledge.

When people with actual expertise in this matter came to Ireland to talk about our water crisis, they were completely ignored.

Not one media outlet interviewed Maude Barlow or covered the two speeches she made.

Maude, if you don’t know, has written four books on water and was an advisor to the UN on water, along with dozens of other accolades.

She is widely recognised as one of he worlds leading experts on water. Her statement simply didn’t fit the medias and right-wing agenda.

“The Irish system of paying for water and sanitation services through progressive taxation and non-domestic user fees, is an exemplary model of fair equitable and sustainable service delivery for the entire world”

When the European Water Movement, the activists who are battling against water shut-offs and water poverty all across Europe released their statement on the water privatisation agenda in Ireland, they were also completely ignored.

“It is clear that the best method of securing access to water, and securing funds for infrastructural investment, is through general taxation.

“The European Water Movement views the struggle of the Irish people to abolish water charges, and to secure a referendum enshrining public ownership of Ireland’s water system, as yet more evidence of a real European people’s movement to democratise water management.”

When Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director for Food and Water watch provided the Irish media with some relevant and valuable information about water, again, ignored. Remember, Wenonah is based in a country where up to 70,000 families had their water shut off in one city alone, Detroit.

“Metering and water pricing, the policies that many economists have advocated for encouraging conservation, is a wrong minded strategy.”

“This market-oriented pricing reform is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that households can or will reduce water use when faced with metering and higher prices. However, residential water use is a small fraction of water withdrawals and even draconian water price increases will have little impact on household water consumption.

For most households, water goes towards essential uses like drinking, cooking and sanitation; consumer demand for water does not really change, regardless of price.

Economists call this price inelasticity. Consumers will not drink twice as much water if the price of water falls by half, nor will they reduce the amount of water they drink by half if the price of water doubles. A Food & Water Watch review of the economic literature found only a very modest consumer response to rising water prices. Households generally reduce water use slightly in the face of even steep price increases.”

Maybe we don’t get balanced coverage because the Irish media, who are currently struggling to make a profit, with many relying on paid advertorials from the government, were also receiving up to €3 million per year in advertising revenue from Irish Water?

Even when the government’s own “expert commission on water” published the facts and figures behind our water usage – supporting what Right2Water Ireland has been saying for years – the line from the media was that we need water charges.

Put simply, water can be paid for through three distinct methods:

1. Metered domestic charges (England, France)
2. Local rates (Northern Ireland, Scotland)
3. General taxation (Republic of Ireland)

The question everyone should be asking is, which is the optimum method of paying for water from an environmental, economic and social perspective.

With abstraction charges, effective commercial water charges and government subvention, Ireland can ensure we never have water poverty while at the same time providing the badly needed investment in our water infrastructure.

Don’t let ill informed ‘know-it-all’ economists or the media spin their ignorance or their propagenda in pursuit of a neo-liberal policy of water commodification and financialisation.

They did it in housing, health, education and other sectors of our society with devastating impacts, let’s keep our water out of their ideology and their ideology out of our water, and let’s not make the mistakes that the rest of the world has already made – and is paying for now.

Oh, and if you protested against the introduction of water charges, you are a hero, and you should be proud.

Do not let them blame you for water shortages, that responsibility is entirely down to those who refuse to tackle the real wasters (commercial enterprises) and those who cut funding for water infrastructure (Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Green Party).

Now, can we please stop the waste of money on meters, advertising, call centres, consultants, etc, and use the savings to fix the damn pipes?

And finally, sign the petition and call on your local TD’s to support a referendum on water ownership.

It’s Fake News Time Again In Pursuit Of Water Charges And The Privatisation Of Water (Right2Water)

Among the 24 routes are the 185, which connects Bray with Newtownmountkennedy, the 76a, which connects Blanchardstown and Tallaght shopping centres, and the 220, which travels from Ballymun to Mulhuddart….

UK Firm Go-Ahead To Operate 10 Per Cent Of Dublin Routes (RTÉ)






Joan Collins (right) at a water protest last year

This just in.

Joan Collins, Independendents4change TD for Dublin South Central, is to move a billl calling for a referendum to prevent any future privatisation of water services when the Dail reconvenes later this month..

The bill is called the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Water in Public Ownership) (No. 2) Bill 2016.

The bill will put an amendment to Article 28 of the Constitution as follows;

The Government shall be collectively responsible for the protection, management and maintenance of the public water system. The Government shall ensure in the public interest that this resource remains in public ownership and management’.

Ms Collins said:

”I am very pleased to be able to move this bill with the support of my Indenpendents4Change colleagues, Sinn Fein, AAA/PBP and in fact all 39 TDs who stood in the general elections on the Right2Change policy programme.

“This bill will pass if it is supported by Fianna Fail who fought the election on an anti -water charges claim. We will now see how serious their claim was. Will they support the bill or will they hide behind the fig leaf of the commission on water charges?

Privatisation is a key issue in the struggle against water charges. The whole purpose of establishing Irish Water and introducing charges was to prepare the conditions for future privatisation. By getting an article into the Constitution banning privatization the whole project and the rationale for charges will be seriously undermined.”