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Various cities protest Asian Development Bank’s role in privatisation of essential services

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asian_movement_bank.jpgSocial movements and
civil society organizations simultaneously held protest actions in
different Asian cities recently as the Asian Development Bank Annual
Governor's meeting was about to conclude.

asian_movement_bank.jpgSocial movements and
civil society organizations simultaneously held protest actions in
different Asian cities recently as the Asian Development Bank Annual
Governor's meeting was about to conclude.
The protest actions in
the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan raised
critique and opposition to ADB's role in the privatization of essential
services. All protesters are members of a larger Asian movement called
Asia and Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD).
ADB bears a large share of the responsibility for the privatization of
water and power services in Asia.  The experiences of communities and
peoples in Asia have shown privatization of these services cause harm to
peoples and the environment", said APMDD coordinator Lidy Nacpil.
to her, millions of impoverished and marginalized have much less access
to safe, clean fresh water with the deterioration of the quality of
service and the sharp increases in the cost of service resulting from
The ADB has been involved in privatizing water
services in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, South Korea, Nepal, and Sri
Lanka.  Power privatization-related projects in Philippines, Bangladesh,
Thailand, Pakistan, Indonesia, and at least nine states in India
received financing from ADB.

Example of these ADB-financed
projects are Philippine's Electric
Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and Indonesia's Citarum Water
Resources Management Project.
Job Bordamante of the Freedom from
Debt Coalition – Philippines said that "after nine years of
implementing EPIRA, electricity rates have doubled and government
regulation remains incapable of protecting the consumers from the
repeated overcharging of private corporations."
The Philippine's
case is an example of what Nacpil explained as one major negative
impact of power privatization – the segmentation of consumers from the
most profitable to the un-electrified.   She said "in India, while per
unit cost of electricity has gone down for the rich consumers, the
less-consuming households suffer from high tariffs and frequent power
"Moreover, even before privatization projects
become operational, thousands have already been unjustly affected for
loss of land and livelihoods without consultation or compensation, as
experienced by the Nepalis in Melamchi and Indonesians living along the
Citarum river," she added. 
Nacpil further said that the ADB has
seemed to look on blindly as its own policies on public disclosure and
resettlement is violated by the projects it is involved with.  
Samsudohha of Equity and Justice Working Group, Bangladesh explained
that the ADB's approach to essential services is "to ensure full-cost
recovery plus profits combined with placing the private sector at the
helm." "To illustrate, for the US$50-million urban water supply sector
reform of Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh, the bank requires that the
water utility be run as a commercial enterprise and as a consequence,
water tariffs are expected to increase by 200% from current levels in
nine years."
According to APMDD, ADB's faith in the private
sector is supported by increased lending.  "The bank is determined to
scale up financing to push its agenda of giving the private sector a
major role in its programs.  In fact, in its Long-term Strategic
Framework, the bank outlines its intent to "increase private sector
lending to 50% by 2020, from 12% in 2007," explained Muhammad Reza of
KRuHA, an Indonesian Water Coalition.
"And yet, the exclusion of
millions of peoples in Asia from their most basic needs and right to
access water and power services continue to be the most vivid and
undeniable testament to the failure of ADB policies", said Saeed Baloch,
of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum.
In its statement, the
following demands are put forward:
1.  For IFIs, especially the
International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank to
stop and reverse their policies imposing privatization and
liberalization of essential services.

2. For the IMF, WB and ADB to give reparations for the
continuing negative impacts of the privatization policy on peoples'
communities, health, food and livelihood, and environment.

3. For
all governments to stop and reverse the privatization of
essential services.


4. For all governments to recognize  and ensure peoples' rights
and access to sufficient, affordable, clean, water and adequate,
reliable, affordable, and sustainable power services and energy.

are also part of the Campaign Network on the Right to
Essential Services and Natural Resources which includes members from
more than 10 Asian countries.

The Network declared April 4 as the
"Asian Day of Action Against
Privatization of Essential Services."