Dutch government urged to promote public-public partnerships

A coalition of Dutch NGOs, EPSU affiliate AbvaKabo and water experts sent an open letter to Minister Van Ardenne (development co-operation) and Minister Schultz-Haegen (Transport and Waterworks) on March 3rd. The signatories express their concern about "the lack of coherence in the government's policies with regards to the expansion of access to drinking water in developing countries", in particular "the strong emphasis on increasing the role of the private sector through public-private partnerships".

The letter points out that "promoting PPPs and encouraging Dutch water companies - without exception in public hands - to develop commercial activities in developing countries is at odds with domestic Dutch water policies which rule out privatisation". The signatories refer to the new Dutch water law (February 2005) which makes clear that only public water operators are allowed to deliver drinking water.

Dutch water companies belong to the most efficient and sustainable in the world, which is achieved without "private sector participation" or profit motives. On this background, political and financial support for public-public partnerships (PUPs) is the logical way forward. The letter calls upon the Dutch government to use the Fourth World Water Forum (Mexico City, March 16-22) as an opportunity to recognise the importance of public-public partnerships and to announce concrete measures to promote PUPs. The Dutch government has over the last five-ten years been one of the most eager promoters of public-private partnerships in the international water debate and uses a large share of development aid budget for this purpose.