No struggle for social justice that lacks a grounded understanding of how wealth is accumulated within society, and by whom, is ever likely to make more than a marginal dent in the status quo. Much work has been done over the years by academics and activists to illuminate the broad processes of wealth extraction. But a constantly watchful eye is essential if new forms of financial extraction are to be blocked, short-circuited, deflected or unsettled. So when the World Bank and other well-known enablers of wealth extraction start to organise to promote greater private-sector involvement in ‘infrastructure’, for example through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), alarm bells should start to ring. How are roads, bridges, hospitals, ports and railways being eyed up by finance? What bevels and polishes the lens through which they are viewed? How is infrastructure being transformed into an ‘asset class’ that will yield the returns now demanded by investors? Why now? What does the reconfiguration of infrastructure tell us about the vulnerabilities of capital? The challenge is not only to understand the mechanisms through which infrastructure is being reconfigured to extract wealth: equally important is to think through how activists might best respond. What oppositional strategies genuinely unsettle elite power instead of making it stronger?
lower percentage for the private sector financing –
62 per cent (Boston University 2013) – either way, the private sector
would appear to be taking the major share of the financial risk.
But, as in many PPPs, appearances are often highly deceptive (see
Box 2.1 ‘When public is private and private is public’). In this case,
Box 2.1 When public is private and private is public
One justification often given for Public–PrivatePartnerships (PPPs) is
that they bring private money into the financing of infrastructure, thereby
relieving the public purse. But in many cases
In the late 1990s Third Way governments were in power across Europe - and beyond, in the USA and Brazil, for instance. The Third Way experiment was one that attracted attention worldwide. The changes made by Left parties in Scandinavia, Holland, France or Italy since the late 1980s are as much part of Third Way politics as those developed in Anglo-Saxon countries. Since the early 1990s welfare reform has been at the heart of the Centre-Left's search for a new political middle way between post-war social democracy and Thatcherite Conservatism. For Tony Blair, welfare reform was key to establishing his New Labour credentials - just as it was for Bill Clinton and the New Democrats in the USA. Equality has been 'the polestar of the Left', and the redefinition of this concept by Giddens and New Labour marks a significant departure from post-war social democratic goals. The most useful way of approaching the problem of the Blair Government's 'Third Way' is to apply the term to its 'operational code': the precepts, assumptions and ideas that actually inform policy choice. The choice would be the strategy of public-private partnership (PPP) or the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), as applied to health policy. New Labour is deeply influenced by the thoughts and sentiments of Amitai Etzioni and the new communitarian movement. Repoliticisation is what stands out from all the contributions of reconstructing the Third Way along more progressive lines.
infrastructure being transformed into ‘assets’ that will yield
the returns now demanded by investors? How much wealth is
already being extracted by finance from infrastructure? And how?
What role do Public–PrivatePartnerships (PPPs), now being pushed
throughout the global South as the ‘solution’ to a claimed infrastructure funding deficit, play in the extraction process? And why now?
What does the reconfiguration of infrastructure tell us about the
vulnerabilities of capital?
The challenge is not only to understand the mechanisms through
which infrastructure is being
infrastructure routinely raise tariffs, leaving many poorer people without
access to water or electricity. One IMF study found that 62 per cent
of all renegotiated Public–PrivatePartnership (PPP) contracts resulted
in higher tariffs. In Uganda, for example, Umeme, a privatised Ugandan
power distributor, secured a price rise of 24 per cent in 2005 and then
sought a further 37 per cent rise in 2007, leading to a court challenge
by the Uganda Electricity Users Association (UEUA). Many poorer
Ugandans were forced to steal electricity from the grid because of the
high prices; the
broader transformation of state and market relations.
Yet, because essential services involve both high capital investment and
risk, full privatisation of water and sanitation services proved less profitable than
expected. As a result, from the 2000s onwards the investment trend moved away from full
privatisation towards commercialisation of nominally public utilities and
public–privatepartnerships (PPPs) (Loftus, 2009 , p. 956). This
occurred through the outsourcing of technical knowledge, consultation projects, water
which the motorway has become a key site for privitisation that ultimately
Mobility, space and consumption
undermines its claim to national progress. If the road was once a public good,
the roll-out of PublicPrivatePartnership (PPP) schemes has steadily undone
this assumption. While public art and Irish language signage on the motorway
may have attempted to establish the Irishness of the motorway, the development of the infrastructure occurred through a network of global financial
connections, as international firms won many of the construction
delivery of environmental services. This is
particularly the case within the waste management sector where by 2002 the
private sector had become the dominant actor in waste collection and recycling.
PublicPrivatePartnerships (PPPs) are also actively fostered by the government
to provide the solutions for large-scale infrastructural projects. Whilst the
impetus towards such approaches illustrate changing patterns in governance
it also apparent that the added input of the private sector reflects the inability
of the local authority level to address sound environmental
the restoration of devolution in May 2007, for instance, records that the body had since its
inception only four years earlier been responsible for the creation of 38 PublicPrivatePartnerships (PPPs) collaborating on projects with a total value of £5.3 billion. 37
The growing reliance on private capital to finance public infrastructure
projects in Northern Ireland might be seen as emblematic of the very particular direction
that public policy came to take in the decade after the signing of the GFA. Unlike its
-run clinics to take in more patients’ (Nagraj, 2019 ). At the same time, the government has taken steps to segregate health care and limit access of expatriates to public hospitals and clinics. Central to this has been the establishment of the Kuwait Health Assurance Company (Dhaman) in 2015. This company is structured through a public–privatepartnership (PPP) that involves the Kuwaiti private conglomerate Arabi Holding Group, the KIA, the Public Institution for Social Security (a Kuwaiti public pension fund), and a listing on the stock market ( Kuwait Times , 2018