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  • A man rides a bike near parked self-service public bicycles in Brussels, Belgium, on June 14, 2017.

    A man rides a bike near parked self-service public bicycles in Brussels, Belgium, on June 14, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 June 2017

The wave of global hubs rejecting privatization is bigger than previously thought and more successful. 

After the failure of privatisation to meet its promises, essential services in cities and towns are being returned to the to public sphere to provide better services with lower costs. 


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That's according to a new report, released by the Transnational Institute (TNI) to coincide with the United Nations Public Service Day.

The annual UN event celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community, highlights its contribution in the development process, recognizes the work of public servants and encourages young people to pursue careers within the sector.

The study's researchers found 835 examples of private or privatised services being brough back under local public control and management in recent years.

It surveyed more than 1,600 cities in 45 countries. 

In Argentina, the postal service Correo Argentino (CORASA) was first privatised in 1997 to the investment firm Grupo Macri.

But just two years after the concession was signed, Group Macri stopped making biannual payments to the government for operating the service.

After six years, President Néstor Kirchner’s administration terminated the contract and renationalised it.

According to the report, the government then lowered the cost of the postal service, improved rural route connections and increased operational reliability and accountability.

Nottingham City Council in the U.K. set up a new supply company in 2015 after finding that many low-income families in the city were struggling to pay their energy bills.

Several other cities followed settng up their own municipal companies to join the force to help alleviate the situation for the most vulnerable.


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These companies also went on to play a key role in achieving the transition to renewable energy. 

The report found that remunicipalisation is a beneficial local response to austerity.

It provides a framework for energy transition and energy democracy.

It not only drives better, cheaper, more democratic public services, but also allows cities and citizens groups work together to build new networks. 

“We do not claim that public management is a solution to every problem, nor that remunicipalisations are always smooth. But we do claim that the global experience shows that privatisation generally fails to deliver on its promises,” the report said. 

“Publicly managed services are generally more focused on quality, universal access and affordability, and on delivering broader social and environmental objectives,” it continued.

“Indeed, that public providers are very often both more innovative and more efficient than private operators – in direct contradiction with the tired clichés of privatisation propagandists.”

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