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KYOTO (20 March 03) – An industry insiders’ plan to boost funding for water services puts corporate interests first, ignoring the central role of public water systems, according to the organization that represents a large portion of the world’s water workers. Public Services International (PSI) released their critique of the Camdessus panel on global water financing at the World Water Forum in Kyoto.

“Camdessus misses the mark,” says Guillermo Amorebietta of SOSBA, the union representing water workers in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. “The problem we are here to solve is not how to shore up the profits of the failing water industry but rather how we can extend water services to the world’s poor.”

The panel’s most concrete proposals, including a ’devaluation liquidity backstopping facility’ and a ’revolving fund’ to pay for preparation of private sector contracts, will be a boon to the water industry but won’t do much to provide water to the poor.

“This is a bald attempt on the part of the bankers and water barons to socialize risk while privatizing profits,” says the PSI’s David Boys. “The Camdessus panel recommends that we change the way we finance water services so the public sector assumes ever more of the risk, while the water multinationals are guaranteed fat profits.”

To back their case, PSI has released a new report that exposes the high cost of relying on private water multinationals and rejects many of the complicated schemes proposed by the panel. The report, prepared by David Hall of the PSI Research Unit at the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom, shows the bias that underlies the Camdessus recommendations and demonstrates there are viable alternative ways to strengthen public water services.

“Bigger and better corporate subsidies and more tied aid will not help ensure the poor of the planet have better access to water,” says Hall. “The solution to financing public water systems lies in marshalling community, government and donor resources in support of public water systems and building public-public partnerships.”

“There’s no question that if the resources were invested in public water systems, we’d get much better value for money,” says Zahirul Hoque of Dhaka, Bangladesh. “We need to make sure international funding for water is invested in democratically controlled, local water systems and not diverted to shareholder dividends or the inflated lifestyles of the water elite.”


Copies of the PSI Comment on the Camdessus Panel and the PSIRU report “Financing water for the world – an alternative to guaranteed profits” can be obtained in the Press Centre or from www.psiru.org.

For further information or to arrange interviews with PSI delegates:
Robert Fox — 090 5400 6576
David Hall — 090 5396 3566
David Boys — 090 5402 0433

Interviews can be arranged in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Thai, Bulgarian, Tagalog, Sri Lankan and other languages.