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Its Always Christmas for the Big Service Corporations!

December 14, 2005

by Anuradha Mittal

Santa has come early this year for the big service transnationals moving in on essential services such as education, water, and health care.

Santa's bag contains a new-improved General Agreement on Trade in Services which will give countries even fewer options to protect their public services and give the big corporations faster access to the huge profits they are anticipating.

However, what's good for the big corporations is not good for democracy or for citizens of the world.

The GATS privatizes essential services that people depend on to live:

• It takes away the ability and responsibility of governments to provide these essential public services to their citizens.

• It leaves those who can't pay for these services without access.

• It is anti-development and will further remove the ability of governments in developing countries to deal with growing poverty, hunger, and freshwater shortages.

Now to make matters worse, the WTO is proposing that the flexibility and voluntary aspect that was originally built into the GATS be replaced by measures that will force governments to liberalize necessary public services.

If the WTO Santa really cared for all the world's children it would be promoting these essential public services as fundamental human rights, not dropping more goodies into the stockings of already powerful transnational corporations.

The World is Not for Sale Network organized an action in the Convention Center on December 14, just to challenge that. Its message: Protect Essential Services! While the WTO Santa dropped plurilateral goodies into the hands of Lockheed Martin, Suez, Coca Cola and other transnationals, activists sang the Christmas jingle to the tune of Jingle Bells:

No to GATS

Our world is not for sale,

A better world is possible

Together we'll not fail

Stop WTO

from selling out our lands

Water health and school

are for woman, child and man

No to GATS

Our world is not for sale,

A better world is possible

Together we'll not fail.