[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Italy v the WB
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat May 26 08:17:51 BST 2007
(Grazie! You can take the Wolf out of the Bank, but not Wolfism out of
Bank water projects. Norway and Italy finally do something
mulitlaterally useful: deglobalisation of funding for the water
Italy breaks ranks with EU on water aid scheme
22.05.2007 - 17:56 CET | By Helena Spongenberg
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Italy has withdrawn its support for a World Bank
agency aimed at providing water and sanitation for the world's poor through
privatisation, saying that the"negative consequences" of the system need
to be looked at. Brussels says there is nothing wrong with the system.
The pull out by the Italian government comes a day ahead of the annual
meeting of the World Bank agency named PPIAF - Public-Private
Advisory Facility - in The Hague on Wednesday (23 May).
Launched in 1999, PPIAF sponsors improvements across a range of
infrastructure sectors, most notably water and sanitation in developing
involvement of the private sector.
But NGOs - led by the World Development Movement - have repeatedly called on
donor governments and agencies to abandon support for the PPIAF, arguing
it is a "highly controversial element of the World Bank's water
Instead, they say, PPIAF is designed to help Western corporations break into
emerging water management markets rather than reducing the number of 1.1
billion people worldwide who do not have access to clean drinking water.
"Water is not a commodity and we have to work to remove it from the logic of
privatisation," said Italian vice minister for development cooperation -
Patrizia Sentinelli - in a statement on Tuesday (22 May).
"I think it is crucial to have an international debate on the negative
consequences of the push for privatisation in sectors so sensitive that
upon our common goods," she said, explaining that it was for this reason the
Italian government had decided to withdraw its support for the PPIAF.
"I hope that this political signal will, together with that of other
governments, reopen international debate on these issues," Ms Sentinelli
Still strong European support
Last February, Norway pulled out the scheme following a damning report,
which said the agency funded "activities designed to persuade skeptical
populations about the 'benefits' of privatisation."
But the European Commission and EU members France, Germany, the Netherlands,
Sweden, and the UK still donate to PPIAF with London contributing 54
percent of the agency's total funds.
The commission has "taken note" of the Italian decision. "It is a political
choice and - we respect it," a commission spokesman told EUobserver, adding
that Brussels still stands behind the PPIAF.
"The commission's support to PPIAF is part of its support towards
building the private sector in Africa, which is crucial," said Amadeu
"Business development and particularly a dynamic private sector are
for economic growth and provide the main source of employment in developing
countries," he explained, adding that "[it's] not the first time that
claims that the commission funding of PPIAF is to promote privatisation of
water service provision."
Other donors to the World Bank agency include the Asian Development Bank,
Canada, Japan, Switzerland, the US and World Bank itself.
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