To: Mr. Callisto Madavo
Africa Region Vice President
Mr. Peter Harrold,
Country Director for Ghana
We, the undersigned citizen's organizations from around the world, Support the right of the citizen's of Ghana to participate in public debate, discussion and decision-making about whether the proposed leasing of the Accra-Tema water system to private transnational corporations (privatization or private sector participation) is the best way to promote accessible and affordable water and to ensure public health, social equity and environmental sustainability.
There is widespread international concern about privatisation and cost recovery policies that treat water primarily as a commodity, or an economic good, to be bought and sold in the marketplace. There is concern that such policies increase the obstacles to clean and affordable water to which every person, rich or poor, man or woman, child or adult, is entitled. Clean water is essential to human life and a natural resource that should be held as a public trust for the common good of our societies and the environment.
We call upon the World Bank, in order to promote safe and affordable water for all people, and to support sovereign, democratic and participatory decision-making processes, to undertake the following:
- Remove water privatization (leasing the Accra-Tema water system to private transnational corporations) as a condition for access to World Bank loans.
We believe that it is inappropriate for the World Bank to impose water privatization as a condition for access to loans, debt relief, or other creditor or donor resources. World Bank conditionality should not intervene in the national debate and decision- making process. By imposing water privatization as a condition for access to Bank resources, there is a
risk that the pressure on the government will reduce accountability to the concerns and viewpoints of citizens.
- Remove increases in water fees (for low-income and marginalized populations that will be less able to afford safe water) as a condition for access to World Bank loans. Increased water fees can impact negatively upon access to safe and affordable water for low-income groups. Public subsidies, a guaranteed water lifeline, progressive tariff structures, cross-sectoral subsidies, and expanded access to potable water are critical to ensuring public health, social equity, and environmental sustainability.
- Support the call to stop the "fast track" toward water privatisation. The citizen's of Ghana deserve the opportunity to publicly discuss and debate a wide variety of water management options. Citizens have a right to effectively participate in the shaping of national policies that fundamentally affect their lives such as the control and management of water. Support for the "fast track" toward water privatisation should be stopped until a broad and participatory process of debate, discussion and consultation takes place.
Support information disclosure to the public. Currently there are five multinational corporations bidding to lease the urban water service in the Accra metropolitan area. Information about the terms and conditions of the privatization, such as the proposed tariff structure, expansion plans, connection fees, and possible subsidies should be made available to the public for open debate and discussion.
- Support measures to discourage corruption in international business. Support measures that will automatically exclude companies whose business practices have been known to exert corrupting influences on public officials anywhere in the world from participating in any bids.
We hope that you will be able to respond promptly and affirmatively to these concerns. The World Bank has publicly committed itself to making poverty reduction central and to promoting genuine national ownership of policies. This requires, among other things, supporting genuine processes of national debate, discussion, and citizen participation in policy decision-making, even when the policy choices being discussed may not be in consonance with World Bank opinion.
Halifax Initiative and many others including Ghana National Coalition Against Privatisation of Water.
Cc: Mr. James Wolfensohn
President, World Bank