Monday, February 22, 2010

Biwater responds to ‘Public Citizen’ report

Of concern to Bangalore....
BVI News, daily news, breaking news on demand, photos, videos, forum, commentary, polls - Biwater responds to ‘Public Citizen’ report
Ocean Conversion has been distributing a defamatory document published by ‘Public Citizen’ entitled ‘Biwater - A Corporate Profile’.

Biwater and the other major water supply and management specialist companies worldwide such as Bechtel (USA), Veolia (French), Ondeo (French), RWE (German), Thames Water (UK), Saur (French) have been the target of anti-private sector, anti-globalization groups for a significant time; these groups fundamentally do not have the best interests of the water supply customers in mind, but rather are determined to try to force their ideals on to them irrespective of the end result for the customers.

‘Public Citizen’ was created in 1971, in the United States, in “the belief that the public needs advocates representing their interests in the United States Congress, the executive branch and the courts to push back against the influence of corporate lobbyists on government.” Perhaps it is therefore not surprising that when trying to campaign against the major European water industry companies, this entity makes so many incorrect and false statements about them.

Addressing the points in the report in turn:

1. Formation of Biwater.
Biwater was formed in 1968, not 1989. There have been no successful litigations against it in its 41-year history. It is the majority shareholder in one UK public water utility whose income is totally controlled by the UK Government’s Regulating Authority, OFWAT.

2. Tanzania
The Dar es Salaam contract was a World Bank funded project in which Biwater had a minority interest in a 10-year Management Contract. Biwater did not “saddle the Tanzanian people with $145 millions of debt”; when Biwater started its Management Contract, the bulk of the planned infrastructure works were yet to be contracted by the World Bank through public-bid contracts that did not involve Biwater in any way. In a subsequent court case Biwater was totally exonerated by the International Court in the Hague (see the attached press release) and it is worth noting that the Minister responsible for terminating the contract was fired from his eventual position as Prime Minister for corruption. Biwater will never respond to blackmail.

3. South Africa
Nelspruit has been the most successful water privatization in South Africa. The SAMWU (South African Municipal Workers Union) detests its success, as it shows how successfully water utilities in South Africa can be managed, and therefore it is the source of these totally spurious, unsubstantiated, stories. The ‘On Air’ retractions and apologies by the South African Broadcasting Corporation and public praise of the contract not only by the Government’s Minister of Water Affairs, but also by President Mbeki himself, totally dismissed this “sick, politically motivated, journalism”. See the attached documentation produced by the Executive Mayor of Nelspruit in support of Biwater.

4. Aid, Trade, and Arms
The Pergau Dam is not in Thailand; it is in Malaysia. It was a hydro-electric dam and Biwater had absolutely no connection or involvement with it whatsoever. Repetition of these spurious ‘facts’ by two newspapers in the UK resulted in very substantial damages being awarded to Biwater in the courts. (s

5. British Government
Biwater has received no British Government sponsored or aided support for over 15 years.

6. The Philippines
Biwater has a minority share holding in the Subic Bay water company; the majority of shares and control are held by the Subic Bay Government.

See the attached letter from the Government in support of Biwater.

7. Malaysia
There have never been any disputes with the Malaysian Government. Regarding the massive rural water supply project executed by Biwater see the attached letter of support from the Government of Malaysia.

8. India
The Bangalore project was a Biwater and World Bank funded proposal. To date, no privatization in either power or water exists in India and this project as with Zimbabwe did not proceed either.

9. Panama
The statement “in 1999 Biwater was changing the terms of the contract to score an additional $15 million” is simply wrong. The 15 million actually referred to 15 million gallons; the expansion required to meet the increase in demand, and considered due to a specific request by IDAAN, the Government water authority. The water supply project was a Biwater-World bank investment and was subject to full socio-economic and environmental impact studies and considerations which were executed independently by the World Bank and for which there has NEVER been any question.

10. Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water Company
This water company is consistently recognized as amongst the most successful water companies in the UK year-on-year, as determined by the stringent OFWAT regulations. The reference to a “missed notification date” is misleading, it was due to the lengthy process to attain planning permission for the disinfection plant; it was not due to any Biwater default.

The Biwater Group of companies, during its 41-year history, has never been accused of corruption. Biwater is a founder signatory to the World Economic Forum’s joint stand, with Transparency International, against bribery and corruption, and its record with the World Bank, IFC, Asian and African Development Banks, World Export Credit and AID agencies prove the ethical, business, and commercial standards of the Group.

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