Teresa Alvarado: Transparencia Activa
The National Roundtable Against Metallic Mining, an entity that groups 11 citizen organizations - delivered a letter to the Legislative Assembly to demand approval of the proposed General Water Law submitted by civil society organizations in 2006.
In the letter submitted, they demand that the discussion of two previous proposals presented by civil society organizations and the government on the regulation of water be resumed.
The two bills were discussed during previous legislatures with more than 60% of the proposed articles discussed and approved, but both proposals stalled after failing a consensus among the various party factions on the subject of the administrative body required to manage Water resources.
Saúl Baños, representative of the Roundtable Against Mining, expressed the concern they have as organizations regarding the preliminary draft recently presented by right-wing parties to the Legislative Assembly.
"We do not agree with this proposal for the following reasons: we do not know who has made it, it is signed by an entity that does not have a public face, and that makes us think that behind them is the private sector attempting to privatize the water. Also, we are concerned that Deputy Johnny Wright, of the ARENA party, has stated that the proposal is eminently technical, implying that the others are not." said Baños.
The water proposal presented by social organizations prioritizes water access as a human right, while the one presented recently by the right wing parties GANA, PCN, ARENA and PDC parties only seeks to market the water, said Baños.
Citizen organizations have been emphatic in affirming that the initiative of law presented by right-wing parties highlights a "privatization strategy", since the management institution would consist of five representatives: two from private enterprise, two from the Corporation of Municipalities Of the Republic of El Salvador (COMURES) and only one representative of the executive government.
Baños gave some examples of how public institutions with more representation of the private sector are co-opted at the cost of the public interest, examples are the tripartite bodies in the labor sector such as the Higher Labor Council, the National Council Minimum Wage and INSAFORP, as well as in the Institute of Access to Public Information, where the National Association of Private Enterprise has refused to accept candidates commissioned by labor and cooperative sectors.
He recalled that privatization efforts in the past, such as telecommunications, AFPs and dolarization have been "technical" initiatives that have been worked by international consultants, but with a result that is detrimental to the social well being of the population. Which makes suspect that what the right parties are looking for is to privatize the water.
The Water Forum, the Human Rights Ombusdman Office, the Alliance for Governance and Justice, as well as the Central American University José Simeón Cañas, and the Catholic Church, through Archbishop Monseñor José Luis Alas, have joined in rejecting of the alleged privatization bill.
It is estimated that 8% of the world's water is destined for domestic use, 10% for industry and 82% for agricultural activities, according to United Nations reports.