An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures
Edited by Asanga Gunawansa and Lovleen Bhullar
Chapter 5: Performance of urban water governance in France
In the past two decades, the way by which public services are being produced and provided has undergone a major transformation. Indeed, public services, such as urban water supply, public transportation, electricity production and distribution and so on, exhibit general public interest attributes and, sometimes, natural monopoly characteristics. Such characteristics prevent their provision from being left entirely to private operators through full privatization. Traditionally, the provision of such services is generally organized through public firms. In recent years, however, while the adequate provision of these public services still remains the prerogative of the state, there has been a change in the paradigm on how the state can achieve this result. In particular, while direct public provision or in-house provision of a public service is still possible and continues to be widely relied on to provide public services, legislation in various countries generally provides new contractual tools to allow some form of private sector participation in the provision of public services. Public authorities these days can use concession contracts, lease contracts, private finance initiatives (in the UK) and so on to delegate the production and provision of a public service to the private sector. Such contracts allow public authorities to involve the private sector in providing public services, while at the same time avoiding outright privatization.
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