Tuesday, August 07, 2007

P-3s - Plundering the Public Pocketbook

Vaughn Palmer tells us in The Vancouver Sun that Macquarie Infrastructure Group or MIG, one of the largest toll road companies in the world, is the "main player" in the P-3 bid to build a second span beside the Port Mann Bridge and widen 37kms of the TransCanada Highway :

Vetting will be done by the Ministry of Highways and Partnerships B.C., the provincial agency for overseeing P3s. The process will be scrutinized by an independent fairness adviser, put there to oversee the public interest in equal treatment of all three bidders.

"Oversee the public interest"? That's very amusing, Vaughn.
Does this mean Macquarie is no longer on the Partnerships BC payroll then?

In 2001, Macquarie was asked to write a report about the feasibility of going ahead with RAV as a P3. The verdict was favourable. Subsequently, Macquarie was retained by Partnerships BC to continue to advise it in regard to the commercial and financial aspects of RAV while at the same time, [Macquarie was] bidding on Sea to Sky.

A bid they were successful in securing, I might add - Macquarie is project manager of the Sea to Sky Highway.

Vaughn goes on to say : "The B.C. Liberals are perhaps hoping to avoid the kind of controversy that has dogged one of these players in Texas."

According to Manufacturing and Technology News, Macquarie has been recently accused of financing Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani through a shell law firm. When there was public outcry against the privatization of the public roads in Texas, Macquerie spent $110M buying up 42 local newspapers along the proposed Texas Corridor, also known as the southern end of the NAFTA Superhighway.

From Manufacturing and Technology News, here's how this P-3 scam works south of the border :

"What I think has happened is that "read-my-lips" George Bush Sr. couldn't figure a way to operate government without raising taxes. His son solved the problem by radically increasing the national debt, borrowing primarily from the central banks of other nations.

Now, we have a new generation of Republicans who say I'll cut taxes, and I'll never raise taxes. They intend to finance their promise by selling off the public infrastructure. What the public doesn't understand and what the media is not explaining is that the private operations of our public infrastructure represents the highest tax you can possibly have because those investors are going to run up the prices they charge to the limit and under the binding contracts these "no-new-tax" governors are signing, we have no democratic alternative for dealing with these contracts."

"If you are a governor and you need $3 billion, $4 billion or $5 billion to finance state government and you have a heavily trafficked route, these private companies will come in and pay the state the money and you're all of a sudden flush with cash. They will put together a package and their teams of lawyers will come in to work with you on what you need to do to change your state constitution and change your laws.

If you need to do a referendum, they will help you finance and run the referendum. They'll lobby the state legislature and the local media. To streamline all of this, the U.S. Department of Transportation is working with them state by state on privatizing public roads."

Ask not for whom the road tolls...

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