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April/May 2007 No 66

Scotland's water is not for sale

Scottish Organiser Dave Watson called on the STUC "to send a clear message that Scotland's water is not for sale - privatised or mutualised.

The future is a democratically accountable and effective public service protecting one of Scotland's greatest assets". He highlighted the STUC discussion document prepared by UNISON 'It's Scotland's Water'.

This puts the attacks on Scottish Water in its international context with one in five of the world's population without access to clean water.

Dave said "Water is a scarce resource and where there is scarcity the privateers can smell a profit". He went on to set out the pernicious role of the World Bank, IMF and EU in linking development aid to water privatisation. Thanks to communities fighting back in countries as diverse at Bolivia, South Africa and the Philippines, the privateers are in tactical retreat from the developing world.

Instead they are looking to the secure profits provided by the regulatory structures in the developed world - including Scotland. This means the usual suspects are now promoting privatisation in Scotland - The Tories, CBI and the right wing press.

However they have been joined by the Water Industry Commission, led by a former Thatcherite privatisation adviser, who are using public money to promote their political ideology.

The arguments against privatisation are well understood. However, there is a new threat of privatisation by the side door - mutualisation. The cost of buying out and financing Scottish water's investment programme comes to £billions. The banks who would lend this money will demand control.

They will also demand the privatisation of operational services as they did at the only UK mutual, Welsh Water. Mutualisation will therefore result in a shell 'mutual' company with token customer representation presiding over a wholly privatised industry with most of the cost disadvantages of privatisation.

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