Quezon City: Water Privatisation
Stealing the Commons - the commodification of water29 Mar 2004 05:23 GMT
wealthy Lopez clan and the government. Together with the French water giant Suez, Lopez-owned Benpres is controlling Maynilad, one of the two private concessionaires that are distributing water in Metro Manila since the privatization of the service in 1997. While the company has raised water rates by 226 percent and both Benpres and Suez have milked the company dry, Maynilad accumulated a debt of P8 billion to the government. Under the current bailout agreement, the government will not collect these unpaid concession fees and assume almost P11 billion in outstanding obligations of the near-bankrupt company in exchange for shares. While this deal obviously favors Benpres and Suez instead of the consumers, the latter will have to bear a new rate increase of 32 percent.
In January 2004 NGOs launched a campaign against privatisation of water at the peoples World Water Forum in India to counter the privatisation agenda of the World Water Council.
In Berlin, Germany, a Forum on Global Development Policy on Water - Human Right or Commodity was held 26-27 March.