Highlights:

First, the Good News

1) National: The good news is we’re celebrating Medicare’s 58th anniversary. But there’s bad news too. Writing in Informed Comment, F. Douglas Stephenson analyzes Medicare’s current state, which he sees as being weakened by privatization. “Most of the changes have been contractions with higher out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries and repeated attempts at privatization by Big Pharma, Big health insurance industry companies/oligarchs and their champions in the White House and Congress. (…) Some examples of privatization include the health insurance industry, the correctional system in the form of for-profit private prisons/jails, interstate highway system construction, privatization of public schools into private charter schools, privatization of medical diagnostic and treatment services such as dialysis centers, specialty hospitals and other outpatient units.”

In LA Progressive, Stephenson digs in further, this time looking into Medicaid, which appears to be heading toward disaster. “To worsen the situation, many states have over the last decade privatized administration of their Medicaid program into a managed care program administered by the private profit health insurance industry. The companies are paid by state government, and their profit depends on spending as little as possible on Medicaid patients. It’s hard to imagine any greater disconnect between public good and private profit: the interest of private health insurance companies lies not in the obvious social good of delivering quality health care to patients but in having as few as possible treated as cheaply as possible. No better example exists of a private capitalist enterprise that feeds on the misery of man.”

2) National: The Bond Buyer reports that the Biden administration is moving toward approving a grant of $6.9 billion for a new Hudson River tunnel. “We’re rushing to get the money now, so we get it under a friendly administration,” said New York Senate Charles Schumer (D). “A final funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration and the Gateway Development Commission, which oversees the project, won’t be signed until next year. The project will build a new two-track tunnel under the river for Amtrak and commuter trains and repair the existing 112-year-old tunnel that was flooded and damaged in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy. The price tag totals $17.2 billion, according to the White House. Current plans call for the federal government, including Amtrak, to cover 50% and New York and New Jersey to evenly split the remaining 50%. There are currently no plans to issue municipal bonds for the project, Pat McCoy, deputy CFO of the Gateway Development Commission, said during a March Bond Buyer podcast.” [Sub required]

3) National: The Biden administration has released an extensive report detailing its plans for the distribution of RAISE Grants program, which “provides a unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit, and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives.” See the 168-page fact sheet listing the projects across the country. But as Jeff Davis of the Eno Center for Transportation says, there are big changes in the modal emphasis of the program (which used to be BUILD and TIGER discretionary grants). For example, money for roads and bridges has gone from 71.8% under previous administrations to 53.3% under Biden; mass transit has gone from 9.4% to 16.5%; and bike/pedestrian investment from negligible to 20.8%.

4) California: California regulators have approved $4.3 billion of investments for energy efficiency efforts from 2024 through 2027, along with a forecasted budget of $4.6 billion from 2028 through 2031. “Around 14% of the budget will be channeled to programs that target disadvantaged and underserved communities, ‘helping to ensure equitable access to energy efficiency programs for all Californians served by [California Public Utilities Commission]-regulated entities,’ the agency said in a statement.” The CPUC decision “adds a fourth segment on codes and standards aimed at improving energy efficiency of buildings and products across the state.”

5) California: The L.A. City Council has voted to fund a feasibility study for the possible creation of a city-owned public bank. “The City Council voted in October 2021 to study the viability of forming a city-owned bank and to create a business plan for doing so. With new political leadership and support from a number of community organizations, the city is now preparing to devote $460,000 toward the study’s first phase. A public bank’s decisions would be driven by the needs of Los Angeles communities rather than private shareholders, advocates say, leading to investments in projects and people normally disregarded by Wall Street.”

 6) Ohio: Fitch, the rating agency, has raised Cleveland’s issuer rating into the double-A category due to the city’s growing reserves and income tax collections. “The city has water and pollution control deals in the works, but the timing isn’t set and with a $2 billion master facilities plan at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, significant issuance is expected in the coming years as existing debt is paid down, Abonamah said. (…) Income taxes account for about 57% of general fund revenues while property taxes account for only 5% of general fund revenues. While the city needs voter approval to raise property taxes, it does have authority to raise various charges, fees, and other locally controlled revenues if needed.” [Sub required]

7) Pennsylvania: Amidst a wave gun violence, the City of Philadelphia is suing the primary distributors of ghost guns. “According to the lawsuit, Polymer80 Inc. and JSD Supply intentionally undermine federal and state firearms laws by designing, manufacturing, selling, and providing ghost gun kits and parts to buyers who do not undergo a background check. Claiming that their products are not firearms, these distributors sell ghost gun kits that are used to assemble a functioning firearm with household tools to Philadelphia customers without following applicable firearm regulations. Ghost gun kits are also widely available for purchase without background checks at gun shows frequently held a short drive from Philadelphia’s city limits. Because they are untraceable and do not require a background check for purchase, ghost guns have become commonly used by those who cannot legally acquire a firearm, including minors and people with a history of felonies.” [Read the full complaint]

8) Spread the word with a handy link: Public sector strikes are about aligning our society with its stated values, say Donald Cohen and Jeff Hagan of In the Public Interest. So, “Neoliberalism No Thanks.”

Education

9) National: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s elimination of race-conscious admissions policies in American education, the right wing media are ramping up pressure for school privatization. “School privatization clearly undermines the public education system, but this has not stopped right-wing commentators from using the Supreme Court’s decision to argue for the policy,” Media Matters says. “When asked by Fox News’ Martha MacCallum about the decision, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Winsome Earle-Sears instead turned to the privatization of education and claimed that ‘our children are in need’ and proposed school choice as a ‘remedy.’”

10) National: The National Education Association has committed itself to fight anti-LGBTQ+ policies. “The National Education Association delegates passed a measure to address ‘the prevalence of discrimination and violence targeted’ at those in the LGBTQ+ community, which includes mobilizing against legislative attacks, providing professional development on LGBTQ+ issues for educators, and strengthening contract protections for LGBTQ+ educators. (…) The NEA’s goal is to provide state and local affiliates with the resources they need to be able to combat anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and policies from both state legislatures and school boards, Osterling said. (…) NEA President Becky Pringle said in an interview that she’s not sure yet what the implementation of the measure will look like—but she thinks it’s work that needs to be done.” [Sub required]

11) Texas: New charter school legislation is bad, but not as bad as it could have been, says Texas AFT. “While the bill neared the finish line this year, lawmakers added a few key provisions that will increase transparency for charter schools and target self-dealing in real estate transactions conducted by charter school operators. HB 1707 will exempt charter schools from local zoning ordinances, effectively preempting any local control and public input regarding where and when a new charter campus opens in a community. Texas AFT and the entire pro-public education community opposed the bill throughout the legislative session, as did the Texas AFL-CIO, local property owners concerned about how charters could negatively affect property values, and city officials from Denton, Dallas, and Austin. While the original intent of HB 1707 was to facilitate charter school proliferation, several key amendments to the bill proposed by pro-public education legislators were added to its final version that will actually increase charter school oversight and transparency.”

12) Texas: The recently concluded Texas AFT convention passed a resolution that the organization will advocate for an economic bill of rights. Texas AFT President Zeph Capo said that despite the failure of a number of initiatives that would have improved the public education system and benefitted teachers and staff, “there was at least one positive thing about the session. ‘Due to the efforts of our union and members making phone calls and writing letters to state legislators, Texas AFT has so far defeated the Abbott-led attempts at passing a school voucher program.’ He and other leaders spoke proudly about the fact that Texas media has dubbed Texas AFT ‘the most aggressive of the four teacher groups.’”

13) International: In May, three University of Manitoba faculty co-hosted a symposium, Public Conversations About Privatization: Rejecting the Marketization of Public School Systems in Canada, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in Toronto, Ontario. “Dr. Melanie Janzen ended the symposium with a discussion about the ways we can continue to collaborate and collectively respond to educational reforms aimed at commodifying, marketizing, and privatizing public education. Through the summer of 2023, Dr. Shannon D.M. Moore will be co-hosting a special series of the podcast, Public Good. This special series will include interviews with all of the symposium presenters. Finally, each of the presenters are busy writing article versions of their presentations for a special issue of Critical Education. This special issue will be published in 2024.”

14) Think Tanks: Brookings Metro says the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action means that HBCU investment is more important than ever. “The decision will most likely result in declines in racial diversity among many public and private postsecondary institutions, which means that some of the most talented students of color will have to pursue a postsecondary degree elsewhere. Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) can help fill this gap. HBCUs have developed talent that other institutions turn a blind eye to, and in the face of the Court’s decision, society will demand that these schools educate even more students. But for HBCUs to meet that demand, these systematically devalued institutions must receive greater investment.”

Infrastructure

15) National: The Texas Heat Dome shows that prisons aren’t remotely ready for extreme weather, Bloomberg reports. “Incarcerated people are especially vulnerable to high temperatures not just because they lack air conditioning but because prison architecture makes staying cool difficult. Windows, if they exist at all, typically don’t open, limiting ventilation and cross breezes that can lower indoor temperatures by at least a few degrees. ‘There have been reports of an inside temperature of 149F,’ Julie Skarha, a lead author on the 2022 study who recently received her PhD in epidemiology from Brown University, said of Texas prisons. ‘The temperature people are experiencing is extreme.’” The ACLU’s David C. Fathi “has sued a number of correctional departments for not air conditioning their prisons. Courts in states such as Mississippi and Wisconsin have found that failure to abate extreme heat violates the Eighth Amendment, which includes a clause against cruel and unusual punishment. But despite these rulings, prisons still lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to air conditioning. Earlier this year, Texas’s legislature allocated no direct funding to air conditioning prisons despite a $32.7 billion surplus in the two-year budget. (…) ‘That tells you that this is not a rational economic decision that’s being made,’ said Fathi. ‘This is a performative political decision that’s being made to harm prisoners.’” [Sub required]

16) National: “The federal government has more than 8,000 vacant properties. Why aren’t they being used to house the homeless?” asks Route Fifty’s Kery Murakami. “The plan also calls for building permanent housing for 100 seniors, which make up the fastest growing part of the area’s homeless population. All of this is made possible by a 2016 federal law that says that properties the federal government doesn’t believe it needs anymore should be turned over to state and local governments or nonprofits to be used to help the homeless. But because of the way the program is being run, the project in Alameda remains just a plan on paper.”

17) National/Michigan: Local governments in Michigan are having trouble spending ARPA funds, The Bond Buyerreports. “a majority of the smaller entities noted difficulties navigating state and federal bureaucracies. Tom Ivacko, the executive director of CLOSUP, said he’s not surprised that so many cities and towns are spending their federal aid on infrastructure projects. ‘Infrastructure in Michigan has been in very poor condition for a very long time,’ Ivacko said, citing the C-minus grade given to the state’s infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers. ‘That relates back to the system of funding for local governments, which has been broken for a very long time,’ Ivacko said. ‘They’ve been underfunded, and that shows up in the poor infrastructure.’ (…) Data shows that just under 11% of metro governments put their ARPA funds toward infrastructure, with 41% going toward government operations.” [Sub required]

18) National: Route Fifty’s Kaitlyn Levinson reports on suggestions by the National League of Cities on how municipalities can expand broadband even when state authority (preemption) may limit their ability to do so. Their solution: so-called public-private partnerships. “One way cities can manage state prohibitions is by partnering with privately owned internet providers, which is already a requirement for municipal broadband expansion in a few states. However, creating those partnerships could prove difficult as many companies forgo providing services in certain areas, such as rural communities, because there is little financial motivation to do so. In that case, local governments ‘would need to provide the company some kind of incentive,’ Baker-Smith said.”

19) California: Are microgrids a potential form of creeping privatization? “The city of San Diego is about to join the microgrid movement,” declares the Union Tribune. But what would be the economic and social effects of large masses of people and businesses operating independently of public utilities? “The first of eight microgrid projects to be built at city facilities was unveiled Friday at the Southcrest Recreational Center in South County as part of a $5.5 million public-private partnership designed to reduce energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions and save taxpayers money. ‘This microgrid specifically will allow the Southcrest Recreation Center to keep the lights on should there be an outage,’ said Alyssa Muto, director of the city’s Sustainability and Mobility Department. ‘It would also allow the city to rely solely on renewable energy generated and stored here on site.’ Growing in popularity in California, microgrids essentially act as mini-electric grids that can power a defined area by operating independently of the conventional electric power system.”

In 2020 the federal government suggested that microgrids might be financed by privatization (p. 9): “Utility privatization (UP): UP is another approach that may have potential for financing microgrid implementation, if an agency has the appropriate authority to enter into this type of agreement. UP transfers ownership of the entire facility electric distribution system, as well as responsibility for its operation, maintenance, repairs, upgrades, and energy systems performance, to a third-party utility provider. Where a microgrid may be necessary to meet reliability and resilience requirements, the private owner of the system may be able to install the microgrid with the agency repaying the costs through UP payments over the term of the contract.”

20) New York: “New York State Built Elon Musk a $1 Billion Factory. ‘It Was a Bad Deal,’” reports The Wall Street Journal. “‘You almost have to pinch yourself, right?’ New York’s then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a construction ceremony for the factory in 2015. ‘That this is too good to be true.’ Eight years later, that looks like a pretty good assessment. New York state paid to build a quarter-mile-long facility with 1.2 million square feet of industrial space, which it now owns and leases to Tesla for $1 a year. It bought $240 million worth of solar-panel manufacturing equipment. Musk had said that by 2020 the Buffalo plant each week would churn out enough solar-panel shingles to cover 1,000 roofs. The Tesla solar-energy unit behind the plan, however, is averaging just 21 installations a week, according to energy analysts at Wood Mackenzie who reviewed utility data. The building houses some factory workers, but also hundreds of lower-paid desk-bound data analysts working on other Tesla business.” [Sub required]

21) Ohio: Has Gov. DeWine (R) vetoed the creation of a nuclear development authority by using a line item veto? It’s unclear. “Terry Lodge, legal counsel for the nuclear-free network, wants to believe the veto stops the creation of a nuclear development authority completely but is concerned the governor’s wording might keep the door open for such an entity in another form.”

22) Pennsylvania/National: The infrastructure privatization industry thinks the reason why the I-95 bridge repair project was finished in record time was—you guessed it—because of the absence of any public input into the project. A lack of public input and necessary safeguards is, of course, the pipe dream of the industry.

As Bloomberg put it with the enthusiastic support of Public Works Financing, “The I‐95 repair was completed quickly because you could not intervene in the project. You were not consulted about the I‐95 repair project. You could not provide a comment to PennDOT about it. You could not attend a public meeting about the repair project to provide input, because a public meeting was never organized. You could not file a lawsuit against the I‐95 repair project over its environmental or social impacts. Your opinion on the I‐95 repair did not matter, and neither did anyone else’s.” [Public Works Financing, June 2023, pp. 2-3; sub required].

But Bloomberg does recognize the role of government in the success of the effort—especially if they involve executive action to turbocharge approvals. “The mobilization was also a feat of coordination. ‘In our system we have both a problem of diffuse power where don’t know exactly who is in charge, but we also have these moments of incredible centralized power where a governor, a mayor, a president whatever can act and enact things quickly,’ said Eric Goldwyn of New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management. ‘We are seeing obviously the governor lead with a very firm hand here.’ Shapiro also made sure that environmental permits that normally require months could be secured in days. Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Mike Carroll stayed on the job site and personally signed off on some things, Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Contractors, told Bloomberg News.” [Sub required]

23) Puerto Rico: The privatized electrical utility operator is crying to the public for more money and blaming environmental regulations for its woes. “The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau approved the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority transfer of $12.8 million to AES-Puerto Rico to help shore up the company, which on June 1 defaulted on municipal bonds. (…) Puerto Rico’s government passed a law several years ago requiring AES to ship coal ash, a product of its coal-fired plant, off the island. The led to higher costs than anticipated in its power purchase operating agreement with PREPA. This has been a key factor pushing AES to default.” [Sub required]. Green power vs. coal ash. Pencil it out.

24) International: Where were the government regulators while Britain’s privatized water utilities were careening toward disaster? People are asking questions and demanding answers, reports the Financial Times. “The risk of a financial collapse at Thames Water, the largest and most indebted water monopoly, has placed regulator Ofwat more directly in the line of fire. Set up in 1989 to monitor the newly privatised water industry, the watchdog has been accused by politicians and experts of failing to deliver the financial or management discipline that was promised 34 years ago. Added to the list of accusations are regulatory capture and a watchdog in thrall to the very companies and people it is expected to oversee. Lord Andrew Tyrie, Tory peer and former chair of the Competition and Markets Authority, has called for a thorough review of regulation in the UK, saying some regulators had been ‘captured by vested interests.’” [Sub required]

Public Services

25) National/Texas: The state’s Child Protective Services “is paying two companies that provide moonlighting law enforcement officers nearly $30 million over 18 months, according to contracts and other data obtained by The Dallas Morning News. A recent state request for bids to continue the security work after Aug. 31 could wind up costing as much as $17 million a year. The agreements came under scrutiny this week by a federal judge overseeing a long-running class action lawsuit over the state’s treatment of foster youth. U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack described the officers’ tactics as over the top and questioned why the money isn’t instead being used to find stable housing for the youth.”

26) National: The backlash against public health measures taken during the coronavirus emergency has weakened governments’ abilities to confront future pandemic responses, reports the Washington Post. “When the next pandemic sweeps the United States, health officials in Ohio won’t be able to shutter businesses or schools, even if they become epicenters of outbreaks. Nor will they be empowered to force Ohioans who have been exposed to go into quarantine. State officials in North Dakota are barred from directing people to wear masks to slow the spread. Not even the president can force federal agencies to issue vaccination or testing mandates to thwart its march. Conservative and libertarian forces have defanged much of the nation’s public health system through legislation and litigation as the world staggers into the fourth year of covid. At least 30 states, nearly all led by Republican legislatures, have passed laws since 2020 that limit public health authority, according to a Washington Post analysis of laws collected by Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press as well as the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University.”

27) National: Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation, denounces the private equity takeover of hospice care. “As it turns out, not even hospice care is immune to private equity’s takeover of just about everything. One study foundthat the number of U.S. hospices owned by private equity firms nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2019. And the percentage of American hospices that operate for-profit in general has ballooned dramatically in the past couple of decades—going from approximately 40 percent of the total in 2001 to 72 percent in 2020. Half of all Americans now die in hospice care—and a majority of them are now being treated by for-profit services. “Profit over people” is an unappealing MO for any company, but it is an especially ugly approach to operating a hospice, where the people in question are, by definition, some of society’s most vulnerable.”

28) Illinois: “Despite horror stories and deaths, will Illinois keep an expensive prison health care provider?” asks Shannon Heffernan. “Health care behind bars in Illinois comes with heavy financial and human costs. Since 2011, Illinois has paid Wexford Health Sources, a private company, more than a billion dollars to provide medical care to people in the state’s prisons. During that time, a federal judge determined the care was so poor it violated the U.S. Constitution, and an independent monitor has released reports documenting deaths from substandard medical care.

Wexford’s shortcomings could be measured in numbers: Fifty percent of the health care provider’s jobs in Illinois are unfilled. Three Wexford doctors lack proper credentials. Patients in need of dental fillings at one prison are on a 104-week waitlist. And in a review of 17 deaths, an outside monitor found that medical staff gave two prisoners medications that contributed to their deaths.

Or you could measure the failings in the horror stories…

“Wexford’s 10-year contract with Illinois expired in 2021, but the company continues to provide care in prisons. The state is seeking bids for a new contract, which gives Illinois a chance to make a change and rethink its prison health care—but advocates worry Wexford or another similar profit-driven company will win the deal and essentially continue the status quo.”

29) New York: The privatizers are waging an expensive, desperate, last ditch lobbying campaign to try and prevent LIPA from being de-privatized and moving into the public’s hands. Their last hope: New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “State records indicate that a top PSEG Long Island official and at least two outside lobbying firms met with legislators and the governor’s office as the state approved a commission on LIPA’s future that would focus on transitioning the utility to a fully public model. PSEG’s contract with LIPA ends in 2025. If LIPA moves to a public model, it would put PSEG Long Island out of the job of managing the Long Island electric system. The activity comes as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office is said to be moving to engage more fully on LIPA issues, and could start with new appointments for the governor’s five seats on the LIPA board as soon as this summer. The governor’s office effectively controls the LIPA board with five trustees appointments. All current governor appointees are holdovers from former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and are operating on expired terms. Hochul’s press office didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

30) North Carolina: Mount Airy may privatize its garbage collections. “This is part of an overall attempt to reduce expenses to the municipality, Mayor Jon Cawley explained Wednesday in saying that he is still familiarizing himself with all the details involved with the sanitation solicitation. ‘I do know the staff suggested it, and the commissioners agreed, that we need to look for cost-cutting opportunities across the city,’ he said of what led to issuing the request for proposals. This process will examine whether having an outside provider to handle the residential garbage/recycling pickups at local homes would be ‘less expensive than us running our own trash department,’ Cawley said. ‘We are in the fact-finding phase and just doing due diligence to see what’s out there,’ he advised regarding the possibility of reduced costs for private-led sanitation collections. ‘And I have no idea what the results will show.’ While the request for proposal process now under way pertains to residential collections only, not industrial or commercial garbage pickups, Cawley mentioned that studying the privatization of those components could come later.”

31) Tennessee: Nashville’s NewsChannel5 reports that disability rights groups are denouncing new proposed Department of Children’s Services rules. The new rules “could lead to widespread privatization of youth detention facilities and may even lead to children being kept in solitary confinement. (…) Child advocates said the Department of Children’s Services is creating an entire new licensing category for facilities that hold delinquent youth. They claim the new category has fewer restrictions on things like the use of chemical spray and solitary confinement. ‘We urge the Department to change its course,’ said Zoe Jamail, policy coordinator with Disability Rights Tennessee. A representative from the Youth Law Center, a national non-profit law firm, also spoke out against nearly 100 pages of newly proposed rules. Disability Rights Tennessee and the Youth Law Center published a report about abuses at the state-run Wilder Youth Development Center after an investigation that began in 2020, which found juveniles kept in solitary confinement and guards abusing juveniles. ‘We’re concerned about the creation of a new category in licensing,’ Jamail said at the public hearing today.”

32) International: Watch this great two-minute video explanation of how the privatization of employment services in Australia in the 1990s has been a disaster, and why Australia should instead direct the $7 billion a year its pays to three behemoth for-profit corporations into a public system. That is, a return to the Commonwealth Employment Service. “Privatisation and public services just don’t mix.”

Everything Else

33) National: Think outsourcing is a great idea because it works in the private sector? Improves efficiency and security and introduces professionalism into processes? Think again. “The SEC found that J.P. Morgan had begun deleting communications that they were no longer legally required to maintain from the 1970s and 1980s, according to a filing by the SEC. During this process, employees of J.P. Morgan deleted records in 2019 that had been created early in 2018, and therefore not past the 36-month period in which they are legally required to maintain those records. The SEC noted that J.P. Morgan had outsourced recordkeeping functions to an unnamed vendor. According [to] the regulator, that vendor had assured J.P. Morgan and FINRA that communications that are legally required to be kept, such as those younger than 36 months, were coded in a way that made it impossible to delete them, even deliberately. This function was not working on many communications from early 2018, and 47 million emails were permanently deleted in the troubleshooting process from approximately 7,500 employees, according to the SEC.”

34) Oregon: In timber country, a town has bought the surrounding forests to confront climate-driven wildfires. “Conventional wisdom in the region would have Butte Falls try to reclaim its former glory as a logging hub. But community leaders have hatched an ambitious plan to protect their future by looking to the forest itself as a source of protection as much as prosperity. ”

35) International: How closely are bidders for public assets vetted and scrutinized? In India, officials looking under the hood have found major problems. “The privatization drive in India, aimed at boosting economic growth and efficiency, has hit a roadblock with the disqualification of winning bidders in high-profile cases. (…) The Indian government has pursued an aggressive privatization agenda to reduce its stake in public-sector enterprises and promote private-sector participation. The move aims to attract investments, improve operational efficiency, and reduce the fiscal burden on the government. However, the privatization process has faced several challenges and controversies. The Centre has nullified the strategic disinvestment process of helicopter carrier Pawan Hans (PHL) and disqualified the winning bidder-consortium Star 9 Mobility due to ‘integrity issues,’ echoing several instances in which it has failed in its efforts to privatize state-run businesses. The winning bidder was announced after the second ‘strategic disinvestment’ process was put on hold in the previous two years.”

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