A group of international civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the World Bank to implement smart procurement guidelines that support the development of the domestic private sector of developing countries. This submission calls on the World Bank to review its procurement guidelines so that they become an economic policy tool which is pro-poor, promotes domestic industry development and empowerment, reduces asymmetries between local and foreign companies in order to create a truly level playing field, focusing in particular on SMEs and works towards poverty eradication, sustainable development and mitigating climate change. The Bank should become a development tool, considers social and environmental criteria, and creates incentives for all private actors to behave in a socially and environmentally responsible fashion. It should also respect transparency and accountability, emphasising that accountability to citizens in developing countries matters most. The Bank can play a catalytic role in strengthening domestic accountability through its procurement practices, the CSOs argue. Finally the Bank should increase the effectiveness and developmental impact of aid and ensures that the larger share of aid inflows remain in the recipient countries.
Water, the most precious global resource, was the subject of World Water Day on March 22. This was preceded by the World Water Forum, held between 16-22 March, where officials from 140 countries met to discuss how to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. Patrick Bond discusses the “water wars” – the battle by activists against the global trend that seeks to turn the delivery of water into a commercial enterprise.
On the eve of the landmark inquiry into the private healthcare industry in South Africa, the Netcare group is challenging the Competition Commission's use of professional services firm KPMG as its technical service provider for the investigation. The commission originally suggested the market inquiry into the private healthcare industry after concerns were expressed that certain factors in the sector prevent, distort or restrict competition. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has been particularly vocal in expressing his disquiet about the matter. The market inquiry provision in the Competition Act became effective last year and paved the way for the introduction of an inquiry into private healthcare. The provision will allow the commission to initiate an inquiry if it has reason to believe that any feature of a market distorts or restricts competition. Unlike the 2006 inquiry into banking costs, which required the banks’ voluntary co-operation, the commission now has wide-ranging powers to summon people to testify or to provide documents. It will be able to call for any information it may deem relevant and may initiate a complaint against a firm based on what it gathers during the inquiry. The final terms of reference for the competition authorities’ private healthcare inquiry were published at the end of last year. They included looking at possible cost drivers such as pharmaceutical manufacturers, medical equipment and the inter-relationship between the public and private healthcare systems.