Keep it Public Campaign:
Public Services Not For Sale

Socialist Voice October 2002

YOUR SERVICES are up for sale. That is the unanimous message that has come from the politicians of all parties in the Northern Ireland Executive and from the Blair government at Westminster.

Despite the fiasco of the railways, Blair is determined to privatise and wreck the postal service. 90 out of the 100 new hospitals started since Blair was elected in 1997 are being built under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). So are 500 of the 550 new or refurbished schools.

The four parties in the local Executive have followed on enthusiastically. If the Assembly has had its day its real legacy will be the zeal with which the UUP, DUP, SDLP and Sinn Fein all came together to auction off huge chunks of our public services.

One of the only things the Assembly did agree was to complete privatisation schemes worth 190 million. Further schemes to the value of 500 million have gone out to tender.

David Trimble and Reg Empey have chorused that this is the only way services can be financed. The DUP's Peter Robinson has said that one third of all the moneys to be spent on roads will be from the private sector with the introduction of tolls now being considered to help meet the bill.

SDLP Higher Education Minister Carmel Hanna, speaking at the opening of the privately built BIFHE Millfield campus, argued that PFI opened "opportunities for private sector innovation in management, teaching!!!!!, accommodation and services."

Sinn Fein's Bairbre De Bruin and Martin McGuiness are also fully in support of privatisation. Almost half of the money allocated by Martin McGuiness last year for new school building and refurbishment projects was to come from the private sector.

The sell off of our services must stop. The Socialist Party are taking to the streets with a "Keep it Public" campaign. We intend to expose the rip off of privatisation and the role of all our politicians in promoting it. We are demanding that services are kept public and that they should be properly financed and democratically run.

For details of the campaign ring 02890232962

Some reasons why PFI and other forms of privatisation should be opposed

It costs more. The state pays the private developers over twenty five or more yers at a higher rate than if the borrowed the money. For this reason the head of the Institute for Public Policy Research has described it as "economically illiterate".

It is a speculators charter. It give private companies a free rein to milk public funds. Consultancy fees for the building of St Genieves school were 623,963.

Private companies can increase costs almost at will. Average costs of PFI projects in Britain have risen 50% above the original estimates. It means worse services. When public services are run for a profit corners are always cut. Just look at what happened to the railways in Britain.

It threatens jobs and the pay and conditions of those transferred to private companies.

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