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NEWS: Ontario teacher owned water utilities to be 95% privatized in July

Council activists challenged OTPP shares in Chilean water  utilities at OTPP annual meeting in April.
Council activists challenged OTPP shares in Chilean water utilities at OTPP annual meeting in April.

The New York Times reports, “The Chilean government’s Corfo development corporation sold a 29.98 percent stake in water utility Aguas Andinas SA for $984 million on the Santiago Stock Exchange Wednesday. …In addition to putting Aguas Andinas on the auction block, the government is also selling most of its stakes in the Essbio SA and Essal SA utilities, both operating in southern Chile; and Esval SA in the port of Valparaiso. Corfo has said it expects to sell most of its 29.4 percent Esval and 43.4 percent Essbio stakes in July, and hasn’t yet decided when it will sell most of its 45.5 percent Essal stake.”

This further privatization of water utilities has been opposed Chilean civil society (including the Movement for Consultation and Civil Rights, and Chile Sustentable) and Chamber of Deputies members (including Independent deputy Rene Alinco, Communist deputy Lautaro Carmona, and Party for Democracy deputy Adrianna Muñoz).

The Council of Canadians has also been highlighting that the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan owns 50.83 percent of Essbio (now headed by a former Coca-Cola Chile director) and 69.4 percent of Esval. We have been calling on the OTPP to divest from for-profit water utilities in Chile and for the ownership of these private, for-profit water utilities to be fully transferred back to public control. Our message has been water is a human right, not a commodity to be profited from. On July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the right to water and sanitation, and on October 1, 2010 the UN Human Rights Council affirmed that the right to water and sanitation is contained in existing human rights treaties and is therefore legally binding and equal to all other human rights.

There is no word at this point if the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan intends to purchase a greater stake in Essbio and Esval this July.

In late-May, the Wall Street Journal reported, “The Chilean government will retain a 5% stake in four water utilities it plans to sell later this month, the government’s Corfo development corporation said. …By keeping a 5% stake in these companies (Aguas Andinas, Essbio, Essal, and Esval), the government will retain the right to veto issues such as water rights transfers and utilities concessions.”

For a review of our campaign to date, please go to http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=7725.