ACOD Lokale en Regionale Besturen (General Union of Public Services, Belgium), 5 October 2021
The following article appeared as an opinion piece in Apache, a cooperatively owned Belgian publication specialising in investigative reporting. Written by Jason Ward (CICTAR) on behalf of the local and regional government section of the Belgian General Union of Public Services, the article makes a strong case against the privatisation of healthcare utilising CICTAR’s research. The following excerpt has been translated into English.
“In Australia, CICTAR (Center for International Corporate Tax Accountability & Research) conducted a study on the key players in the healthcare sector. One had to cough up $157 million in back taxes. Another company paid only $2.4 million in taxes while paying out about $62 million in dividends. Still other players were met with protest from shareholders over excessive pay for top management. Our investigation revealed scandal after scandal and led to an official government audit of the sector. This shows that (as in other countries) publicly operated elderly care outperforms profit-oriented, commercial operators.
Belgium’s own experiences with commercial facilities seem to indicate that many of the above trends are already occurring. Just weeks before the Covid-19 outbreak in Belgium, healthcare workers in Orpea nursing homes – the same French multinational that operates Don Rafael’s nursing home in Madrid – sounded the alarm about staff understaffing and a lack of supplies. Orpea’s various holding companies in Luxembourg are a disturbing note on the wall. The creation of an even larger playing field for the private healthcare market – as stated in the privatization decree in Flanders – will only ensure that companies will be even better able to extract public wealth. With disastrous consequences for all of us.”