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  • Electricity Sector in Vietnam: Is Competition the answer? - Apr 2013
    David Hall
    Steve Thomas
    Tue Anh Nguyen

    Rapid economic growth has increased demand for electricity in Vietnam, but the generating capacity, transmission and distribution system has been unable to meet that demand. Government policy proposals are based on liberalization to induce competition into wholesale or retail markets, but these policies have been inconsistent and contradictory, heavily influenced by World Bank conditionalities linked to hundreds of million dollars in loans, and still rely on the existing under-performing management of EVN. There is also no evidence that liberalisation will deal with the three main problems: the inefficiency of EVN arising from bad management, technical problems, and corruption will remain ; there will be no real competitive incentives or opportunities for new investment in generating capacity; and the affordability of electricity will be worsened by the policy of increasing prices towards full cost recovery.  The experience of the UK, the country which led global privatization and liberalization, demonstrates that competition does not happen in wholesale markets; underinvestment means that the UK now risks blackouts, and cannot deliver the required growth in renewable energy; while consumer prices, even under regulation, have risen sharply so that there is a serious problem of fuel poverty. The UK government has now re-established central planning of the development of the industry.

    (This paper is confirmed to be published in Vietnam Economic Management Review in July/August 2013 issue. The published Vietnamese version is based on this original English version)

  • Austerity, economic growth, multipliers – and a radical solution to the banking and fiscal crises - Mar 2013David Hall

    There is now further empirical evidence that austerity policies actively damage economic growth, and even worsen government debt. The failure of IMF and EU forecasts is based on using over-optimistic multipliers, but the European Commission remains unwilling to face the reaility of these failed policies. The IMF has already published long-term evidence showing that these policies do not work, and has also published a remarkable paper demonstrating that government spending and the renationalisation of money could be the long-term solution for avoiding future banking crises.


  • Overview of energy in Africa - Jan 2013
    David Hall
    Sandra Van Niekerk

    This report sets out a broad overview of energy provision in Africa, focusing specifically on the role of the public sector, while also mapping out the multiple roles of the private sector. 

    Africa currently has the lowest per capita electricity usage of any region in the world.  Most electricity is provided by state-owned utilities, although many of these utilities have, over the years, been broken up, and commercialized, and some have been privatised.  Most electricity production in Africa relies on large hydropower systems or fossil fuels, including gas-fired power stations operated by private ‘independent power producers’ under long-term contracts.  

    At the same time, Africa is rich in sources of renewable energy – including wind, hydro- and solar power.  There are various initiatives underway in Africa to tap into renewable energy.  Some of these are state-led initiatives, albeit with private sector partners, while others are smaller, more community based initiatives. Some are extremely large projects led by multinational companies.  

  • The economics and politics of public sector pay and the crisis - Jan 2013David Hall

    This paper examines the effect of the economic crisis on public sector pay. It examines the  evidence of changes to pay levels both overall and in the public sector since the start of the crisis. This evidence shows that public sector pay has not been rising faster than pay levels in general since the crisis began, but that there have been policy decisions to cut public sector pay in some European countries, mainly where there is an agreement with the IMF, or where there is pressure from financial markets, or both.  These results confirm previous findings - including by a recent report for the European Central Bank - and previous experience, including the impact of international institutions on public sector pay.

  • Re-municipalisation in Europe - Nov 2012
    David Hall
    Emanuele Lobina
    Philip Terhorst

    The extensive re-municipalisations in the water sector and France and the energy sector in Germany are a reflection of common political and economic factors. The most important of these are the greater efficiency of public sector provision, and the greater degree of control over the effective achievement of public policy objectives. These are closely related to the historic factors driving public ownership in the 19th and 20th century. A distinctive feature of this 21st century tendency is the prominent role of green parties and environmental policies. The  public sector paradigm has historically shown a remarkable resilience, underpinning the development of European public services for almost a century, compared to the three decades of domination by the market paradigm and its currently vacillating foundations.

  • Corruption and Public Services: annexes - Nov 2012David Hall

    Annexes to 'Corruption and public services' including further information and materials.

  • Corruption and public services - Nov 2012David Hall

    Corruption undermines public services and democracy when citizens have to pay bribes to get healthcare or fair policing; wastes public money by diverting it into the hands of corrupt politicians, businesses and their agents; perverts public policy by buying decisions in the interests of the rich and powerful, using corrupt networks of officials, politicians, and businesses. Corruption is not only a problem of developing countries, but pervades political systems everywhere, with government contracts and privatisations at the heart of these corrupt systems.  Institutions like the World Bank, OECD and Transparency International fail to address the central role of corporate bribery, and have facilitated corruption by discouraging prosecutions in developing countries, supporting privatisations, and continuing to protect tax havens. Ending corruption requires public and political organising to demand that political leaders represent public interests, not the interests of rich individuals and powerful companies, and to hold them accountable. Transparency, accountability and public participation are key elements in this, as are strong and independent systems of audit, and courts prepared to prosecute, fine and ban corrupt companies and officials. It also requires employment practices, including pay, which minimise the temptations to corruption and maximise the incentives to ethical behaviour.


  • Waste management in Europe: companies, structure and employment - Oct 2012
    David Hall
    Tue Anh Nguyen

    This paper examines the waste management sector in Europe in 2012. There have been few changes of ownership since 2007,  and the largest multinational companies in the sector remain Veolia and Suez, followed by FCC and Remondis. The companies are getting less business and less profit than they expected because the industrial and commercial waste market has shrunk. They are attempting to restore profits by cutting costs, including in their contracts with municipalities. Employment in the sector appears to have been volatile since 2008  as a result of the recession , with different results in different countries. About half the jobs are in the recycling and production of new materials, but collection and  sorting of household waste, and  civic amenity sites, remain the largest areas of stable employment in the sector. In the EU as a whole employment has continued to grow to nearly 1million, of which roughly 200,000 are public sector, 200,000 employed by multinationals, and 600,000 by other local and national private operators. The public private split in municipal waste collection and processing is roughly equal in the largest countries Germany, UK and France. There is a significant amount of remunicipalisation of services, however, which could grow stronger, especially as there is now yet more evidence that the private sector is no more efficient than the public sector. While EU legislation continues to drive expansion of waste services, the role of the public sector is undermined by EU institutions giving too much encouragement to PPPs, especially private incinerators.

  • Water companies and trends in Europe 2012 - Oct 2012
    David Hall
    Emanuele Lobina

    There have been few major takeovers and mergers in the sector since 2010. The French state is the main owner of both Suez and Veolia, which have both sold their last remaining water companies in the UK to private equity consortia. The main trend in ownership is towards re-municipalisation: other towns and communes in France are following the example set by Paris in 2010 and re-municipalising water services as private contracts expire; the water services in Berlin and Budapest are both in the process of returning to total public ownership; the Italian referendum result is leading to new citizen pressures for re-municipalisation, and multinationals deciding to reduce their presence in the country. However, there is a significant counter-tendency coming from austerity packages in Greece, Portugal and Bulgaria, where water privatisations are part of the planned ways of raising extra income for the state. In Spain, Madrid city council is attempting to privatise the city water company, Canal Isabel II.  The major companies – particularly Veolia - are seeking to develop a new business model based on long-term outsourcing of functions by public sector water companies. This poses dangers for both users and employees, as the cost of the contracts squeezes other spending, creates upward pressure on prices and downward pressure on labour costs as a way of boosting profit margins. The EU has published a new paper on water policy in developing countries, which is less focussed on privatisation than in the past, and it has also allocated funding to support public-public partnerships between European and African public sector water operators.


    Beyond Europe, the major companies continue to retreat from Africa, while maintaining their operations in Latin America. The stated policy is to concentrate on engineering BOTs, service and management contracts, in north America, eastern Europe, the middle east and China, but both Suez and Veolia have obtained large contracts in India.

  • ACP-EU Water Facility – Partnerships Initiative - Sep 2012
    David Hall
    Emanuele Lobina

    This report evaluates the expected impact of the ACP-EU Water Partnerships programme, and compares it with other international programmes of not-for-profit partnerships for capacity development in the water and sanitation sector. It offers lessons for the international water community on fostering the achievement of a critical mass of capacity as a precondition to achieving sustainable water development.

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