Public-Private Partnerships and the Budget
Itâ€™s noteworthy thatÂ the week before a budget that will supposedly accelerate infrastructure spending, the Finance Minister is announcing new management for PPP Canada.
Budget 2007 dictated that provinces and municipalities seeking federal infrastructure funding “be required to demonstrate that the option of undertaking the project as a public-private partnership has been fully considered.” As I have pointed out, given the current shortage of private capital, this requirement constitutes nothing but an artificial delay.
If Budget 2009 is serious about getting “shovels in the ground,” it will abandon this requirement if not dismantle PPP Canada altogether. Budget 2007 allocated $25 million over five years to establish and operateÂ PPP Canada. Scrapping it would save more than cutting the PBOâ€™s budget from $2.7 million to $1.8 million.
P3s are bad. I’m really sure about this.
I hope a lot of things can change with the demise of the Harperites, including the demise of PPP Canada, Michael Wilson sent home from Washington, etc etc.
Doesn’t it feel like the country has an old sweaty frayed shirt on? It’s time to do the laundry already.
In QuÃ©bec as elsewhere in Canada P3 were all touted as the solution to all our infrastructure woes by Charest and cie, and god knows we have infrastructure problems, as anyone crossing the Qc Ontario border from the 401 to the 20 will feel.
Anyhow, as the credit crunch grinds on some of these projects are now in danger of being halted for lack of funding. In December radio-canada announced that the procurement process for a new concert hall in Montreal had grind to a halt because the consortiums couldn’t find appropriate finance at costs that would make sense.
Last week we found out that the financial engineering firm in one the consortiums bidding for the mega hospital P3 CHUM in Montreal had gone bankrupt… That lead to this entry in my “miniprogressive economics blog in franÃ§ais”
stating that all P3’s should be converted to conventional public finance projects for 2 reasons
1. so that the infrastructure projects see the light of day in a reasonable delay
2. because our financial system badly needs the good quality public bonds that will be sold to finance these projects.
It also appeared to me that our finance minister, proud as she is of her integrity and transparency, should publish a review of stalled P3 projects and in the mean time have the honesty of subtracting the amounts budgeted for these projects from the stimulus package announced last week.
‘Doing the laundry’ means cleaning up and getting our act together. That does not mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The Globe today is reporting that Harperites want to let foreign governments own our banks and that we have to integrate our energy policy with the US. Yesterday we heard Harper is going to subsidize the Mackenzie gas pipeline so that Arctic drilling can go ahead to fuel tar sands expansion. Then more oil can be sent down to the US…
Why not just forget the preliminaries and rip up our Constitution and our Charter of Rights?
And the bunk about decreasing reliance on Middle East oil- is that why there are increasing US troops being sent to Afghanistan, increasing Canadian-made munitions and weapons systems, and increasing Canadian tax dollars going to the pipeline development ‘mission’ over there?
Imperial, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and their buddies at Gazprom, want it ALL. We hear that Russia is now going to be joining Harper in giving Afghanistan’s Karzai and his warlords more weapons to bomb the small farmers who want to keep their land along the pipeline route.
What will happen in our Arctic, now that Harper’s tar sands buddies are doing deals with Russia’s Gazprom to exploit our fragile north? What kind of assault will they plan to eliminate the resistance of First Nations, Inuit, Indigenous Peoples, and Canadians along the route, who may want to retain their rights?
What about the rest of the country, not to speak of the 55,000 species on the planet that are becoming extinct every year due to the uncontrolled behaviour of the world’s financial and political dinosaurs?
We have a window of opportunity here, people, before the climate goes into a destructive feedback loop. It’s not a large window.
We need a government that is going to seize the opportunity. Not in some half-hearted way, nor by mouthing platitudes while running in the opposite direction. We need people in government who have demonstrated resistance to financial and corporate polluters in the past, who we can rely on to do what needs to be done in the present.
Harper and his dirty shirts don’t fit the bill anymore. Nor do those who just reach into the same bin.
Laundry, guys. C’mon, you can do it.