Case Studies

Argentina

The country has been a pioneer of privatization programmes in WSS since the early 1990s (see Table 2). In the capital city Buenos Aires, a consortium of private companies headed by the French Lyonnaise des Eaux was awarded in 1992 a 30-year contract to take over the state-owned Obras Sanitarias de la Nación (OSN). In addition, a thirty-year concession to run Obras Sanitarias de Buenos Aires (OSBA), the water utility serving the conurbated municipalities of the Great Buenos Aires, was awarded in 1999 to Azurix, a consortium formed by the US oil and gas giant Enron and the British Wessex Water. The privatization of water supply and sewerage services in Buenos Aires in 1992 has been branded as a successful case. However, Argentina has also witnessed dramatic experiences with private involvement in WSS: for instance, in the provincial capital of Tucumán the privatization of the state water utility was cancelled by the private operator (the French company Générale des Eaux) in 1997, after a succession of social and political conflicts with impact at the local (over 80 per cent of the users refused to pay the water fees due to quality problems), national and international levels (the company demanded the national government a compensation of 100 million dollars, although the case was resolved in favor of the Argentinean government in the international tribunal). Similarly, in 2001 Azurix followed the same path and decided to give up the concession awarded in 1999 after recurrent technical, administrative and political problems.


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