PFI: No good for UK. Good enough for Palestine?

Sep 17, 2011

Rejected as an economically viable method of building at home, business leaders and government departments are insisting on exporting PFI wherever they can overseas.

The UK is promoting the use of Public Private Partnerships to countries across the third world, including Palestine, helping to put vital public services into the hands of private companies and place the some of the world’s most vulnerable people at further risk.

PFI has become the dirty addiction of the UK government. They profess its not good for us but keep going back to the corporate dealers that are milking public coffers for ridiculous amounts. They harbour secret delight when they introduce a new user to the dealers, perhaps feeling glee at knowing they’re not the only ones turning to the crack cocaine of private profiteering sucking the life out of public services.

In July this year the Lord Mayor of London Alderman Michael Bear completed a tour of Israel to promote UK financial and legal services. While there he visited the occupied territories and met with the Palestine Monetary Authority and the Palestine Investment Fund. In his diary it states the “[the Lord Mayor] will seek to facilitate key PPP projects in areas such as waste disposal and water supply” to help Palestine develop “executive functions of state.”

John Hilary, director of anti-poverty charity War on Want which campaigns for Palestine, said: “Just as the British people are waking up to the full horror of PPPs and PFI, we are busy touting them around the world to others. Poorer countries should look carefully at the long-term debt that comes with such initiatives before contemplating them. PPPs are the last thing that Palestine needs.”

This month the Treasury Select Committee issued a damning condemnation on the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and it’s cosier sounding but almost identical guise Public Private Partnerships (PPP).

It described PFI as a “costly drug” to which the country was addicted, adding that it offered “poor value for money” for the taxpayer. A top-line of the report says that PFI projects built under the scheme are up to 1.7 times more expensive than those built directly by the government.

In the UK public services budgets are now restricted in the long term. This year the Treasury estimated the UK will pay £267 billion to PFI consortia by 2050.

Though PFI, or ‘PPP’, has damaged the UK’s infrastructure seriously, in Palestine and other third world countries it will be a wrecking ball. In Palestine, where hunger is a problem and access to basic amenities is limited, PFI will divert scarce resources into the pockets of global corporations.

The Treasury Committee’s analysis follows critical reports by the National Audit Office and the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee that criticised PFI’s poor value for money, its lack of transparency and its inflexibility.

Over 60 MPs, including even Tories, have now signed a parliamentary campaign against PFI.

The indefensible practice of crusading for UK corporations in the full knowledge of the failure of PFI to offer anything approaching value for money is reproachable. To keep returning to this method in the UK is criminal enough, to spread it to developing countries, as they have been doing over many years, is downright appalling.

with thanks to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund where we borrowed the photo from

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