May 2014        

Water is a human right

As the debate continues about the charge the Government may finally set for water, what is missing is an appreciation of water as a basic human need. Once the Government has commodified water, the basic human right to have access to clean water will be turned into a means of creating vast profits for private corporations.
      The question is not one of double taxation but the privatising of an essential human need. Once they have created a market in water it will fall under the competition rules of the EU.
      The Government has also stated that it is restricted in the amount of state investment available for water infrastructure; so how will the shortage be made up other than with some form of “public-private financing”? In other words, the door will be open for private corporations, whether national or (more likely) global, to move in and make millions in profits, while the state—i.e. the people—will pick up the tab for the continuing upkeep of the infrastructure.
      We need to build a genuine people’s resistance, with the trade union movement at its core. So far, much of the left has been using the issue of water charges as little more than a vote-catching exercise. This is far too important an issue to be turned into opportunist electioneering. A broadly based campaign would lay the basis of a more organised fight-back and present a better and more people-centred way forward.

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