Privatization & Procurement

The U.N.'s Global Compact with international big business "at the moment is so voluntary that it really is a happy-go-lucky club," says Ramesh Singh, chief executive of ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation. The controversy has come to a boiling point because of the Global Compact Leaders' Summit being held in Geneva on Thursday and Friday, at which over 1,000 representatives of multinational companies are taking part, in addition to well-known civil society figures like Irene Khan, the secretary general of AI; Mary Robinson, president of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative; Guy Ryder, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation; and Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of Oxfam International.
Glencore corporation, the secretive Swiss commodities giant which has become one of the world's biggest trader of grain, oil and minerals, has hit an unlikely roadblock. The Bolivian government nationalized the Colquiri tin and zinc mine, the third Glencore asset to be seized by the state in five years.
The U.S. State Department on Thursday suspended the international export activities of AEY Inc., a Miami Beach arms-dealing company led by a 22-year-old man whose munitions procurements for the Pentagon are under criminal investigation.
Agility, a Kuwait-based multi-billion dollar logistics company spawned by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, is facing criminal charges for over-billing the U.S. taxpayer on more than $8.5 billion worth of food supply contracts in the Iraq war zone. If the lawsuit is successful, the company could owe the U.S. government as much as $1 billion.
While Iraq represents bloodshed and death on a massive scale to most people, to Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) it has brought a boom time, boosting the revenues of British-based PMSCs alone from £320 million in 2003 to more than £1.8 billion in 2004. In the same year income for the industry worldwide reached $100 billion.
Water experts and businesses teamed up on Tuesday to fight corruption feared to be siphoning off billions of dollars from projects to supply drinking water to the Third World.
L-3 Communications, a little-known but gigantic military contractor, provides 300 contract intelligence experts to the Pentagon in Iraq to support operations ranging from interrogation to media analysis. The secretive $426.5 million operation, which is run out of Virginia, may be a recipe for disaster, say critics.Also see related story, A Translator's Tale, by Pratap Chatterjee.
The headline read like something you might see in the conspiracy-minded Pakistani press: "Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants." But the story appeared in Monday's New York Times, and it highlighted some big problems that have developed in the murky area between military and intelligence activities.
Stanford University Professor Martin Carnoy, explains that while Chile's voucher experiment did little for poor schoolchildren, it was part of a broad trend towards privatizing social services. Originally published in Selling Out our Schools by Rethinking Schools.
In the face of criticism over its controversial construction projects, Bechtel has taken media manipulation to the next level, employing a three-pronged approach to weaving a rosy story for the public and investors.