Last weeks pullout of one of three short-listed consortiums bidding on Halifaxs $315 million sewage treatment project has dealt a crippling blow to the public private participation (P3) process.
The Halifax Regional Municipality has invited proposals from three private firms to design, build, own and operate four new sewage treatment plants around Halifax Harbour. But the consortium backed by Le Groupe Bouygues SAUR Aquatech, a company with a history of corruption and ripping off ratepayers, is pulling out.
The bottom line for these corporations is profit, said Danny Cavanagh, a CUPE activist co-ordinating this Halifax Water Watch campaign. This consortium realizes it cant make enough profit to justify this project to its shareholders. The only sound alternative to ensure that the public gets the best deal possible is if the project remains public.
Cavanagh added that this is a sign of things to come. Just like the recent fiasco between the Canadian military and the company contracted to transport military hardware from Yugoslavia, the same thing can happen with Halifax Harbour cleanup, he said. What guarantees could a multinational corporation possibly give taxpayers that it would not increase rates or pull out in five years if theyre not making enough of a profit?