Copy of the letter to a constituent in reply to Word Development Movement campaign
on water liberalisation.
28 Oct 2004.
Thank you for your recent postcard regarding the important issue of the WTO's General
Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), and your concern over liberalisation of water
supplies in some countries.
Services are enormaously important to our own economy. They account for 70% of our GDP.
The World bank estimates that service liberalisation could increase the income of
developing countries by $900 billion. This supports my belief that free trade is an
important objective in increasing the world's net wealth.
However,free trade in services as well as goods is something that nations commit to
voluntarily. Sovereign nations are free to decide for themselves the extent of their
participation in GATS. Developing countries will decide voluntarily both the commitments
they wish to subscribe to in the GATS negociations and the extent to which they
liberalise as a result of those commitments. This voluntary approach is the basis upon
which the GATS is built and it means that all members are free to decide whether or not
opening a particular service to external trade offers appropriate benefits to their
There has been particular concern about liberalisation of water supply. It is estimated
that global investment in the water sector will need to rise by $80 billion dollars,
from $100bn dollars, if we are to halve the proposrtion of people who have no
sustainable access to drinking water. I recognise that differnt regions will have
different needs and therefore different solution are appropriate. However, in many
parts of the world I believe that the private sectoir,both domestic and foreign,is in
a good position to complement public funds. IN many developing countries,it is the
judgment of their Givernments that the only way to get the massive investment that they
need to provide clea,affordable water and decent sanitation is to bring in private
capital. That is rightly a judgment for those countries to make,not for us.
Please let me assure you that I share your concern about the shortage of water in many
areas of the world. It is absolutely crucial that real political will is demonstrated
if water and sanitation standards in the developing world are to improve. In light of
this,my Conservative collegues and I will continue to do all we can to highlight this
issue whenever the opportunity arises.
Thank you again for writing. With best wishes. Michael Howard.
This from the man who was in Thatch's cabinet that deregulated water supply here
and which tried to introduce pre payment meters that left people without the ability to
flush their toilets and which,as far as i'm aware, still bans you from giving water
to someone who's been cut off.
Pass the sickbag....