Friday, October 05, 2007

P3s - The need for transparency

Governments have a lot of money and a lot of power tied up in very few hands. And when so much money and power is concentrated in such a small place, the vultures start to circle. People are fallible, and that is why openness and transparency should be the rule, not the exception in the business of government.

Governments are turning more and more to public private partnerships to build core infrastructure. This creates a challenge in terms of transparency and accoutability, because as taxpayers, we need to know that our money is being spent wisely, honestly, and fairly.

In B.C., the contracts between government and industry are on the government's website, but information harmful to the business interests of a third party is not disclosed.

If some information is excluded from disclosure, who decides what to exclude?

Who decides which information would harm the business interests of the third party?

Agreements must be available for scrutiny and be designed to minimize opportunistic behaviour on the part of the private sector partner.

Thomas Jefferson said long ago that a well-informed electorate is the most important constraint on government, and he was, and still is, right.

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