Thursday, 21 August 2008

Stealth privatisation of Stockholm's water utility continues

In a statement issued at the occasion of World Water Week, Jan-Erik Gustafsson of the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology warns against reforms initiated by Stockholm's rightwing municipal government which threaten the future of the city's world-class public utility, Stockholm Vatten. The municipal government has in the last year moved a range of the utility's activities into five new subsidiary companies, three of which have already been sold off. This asset stripping has resulted in “major job losses”.

Water sector professionals, Gustafsson writes, suspect the municipal government is preparing the whole utility for EU-level tendering, including core tasks such as drinking water supply and sanitation. European multinationals like Veolia and Suez would be lining up to take over the company.

Gustafsson points out that the privatisation process happens without transparency and participation of the water consumers. He observes the irony that the privatisation push in Stockholm happens at a time when the mayor of Paris has decided not to renew the contract with Veolia and Suez and instead will remunicipalise the city's water services. World Water Week was initiated by Stockholm Vatten in the early 1990's.

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