A recent parliamentary brawl and a public polemic have highlighted the contradiction inherent in the government policy of outsourcing social services to NGO’s, while retaining ministerial responsibility. This privatization of services like child care under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme is perhaps masking budgetary expenditure, but the government is obviously having great difficulty in dealing with the new situation.
The first brawl between Ms. Martin (Minister for Gender Equality and Family Welfare) and the Parliamentary opposition, involved the alleged case of sexual assault on a child at a home, privately run, but where the Minister refers a number of cases. In response to a parliamentary question, Minister Martin tried to provide reasonable answers, but she was helpless in the face of this fundamental contradiction where she had responsibility for the children, but no real control over the way the home was staffed and run.
A week later the same Minister was involved in a polemic related to the problem of looking after “street children”. Once again it is an ONG that has been active in that field, but the Minister is ultimately responsible.
In general, government Ministers will find that, although it is quite convenient for them, and in line with World Bank and International Monetary Fund neo-liberal philosophy, to privatize as many services as possible, they will be opening new areas of conflict and new conflicts.
(For a more thorough analysis of the implications of CSR strategy, see the News article of 13 Jan. 2011 (page 8)– Letter from USA- on our site)
26 April 2013