By definition, public services are those that are provided by governments to the people living within their jurisdiction. Private services, on the other hand, are services provided by private citizens and corporations. For the longest time, governments from across the world have been seen collaborating with private businesses to provide various services to their citizenry. Some of the industry where most governments have collaborated with the private sector are; healthcare, transport, security etcetera. Indifferent areas, these collaborations have received praise and criticism in almost equal measures. It is in this context that the paper will provide a detailed exposition of the pros and cons of outsourcing public services to private corporations.
Proponents of privatization of public services argue that whenever the government engages the private sector to provide public services, they promote the growth of small and medium enterprises. For example, many governments have delegated the role of healthcare provision to privately managed companies. This greatly boosts the companies’ profitability and ultimately a country’s economy. Given that the government empowers these businesses, mainly through financing, the private sector experiences tremendous growth. Some also argue that private companies strive to provide high-quality services in order to retain the partnership. Given that the government-private sector partnerships are competitive, every private corporation that secures the opportunity to work with the government will do everything within its capability to ensure that it retains the partnership for the longest time possible.
One would also argue that private companies should be allowed to provide public services in order to build capacity amongst a country’s investors, especially young people. Through public-private partnerships, a country’s citizenry is given a chance to grow in terms of investment and professionalism. For example, if a private company is outsourced by the government top constructs a road, people investing in the company draw benefits from their investment while other individuals, like engineers, get an opportunity to grow and gain experience in their career. For this reason, every government should aspire to ensure that it partners with as many private companies as possible.
The delegation of service delivery to the private sector gives the government official enough time to concentrate on the development of necessary policies. Arguably, governance is not only about service delivery. Legislation is also a key aspect of governance. For this reason, elected and appointed government official would be overburdened if left to handle both the legislative and service delivery aspects of governance. Therefore, besides benefiting the private sector, privatization of public services also cuts some workload off the hands of the public servants. Privatization of public services also, in a big way, reduces the financial burden of the government. Whenever governments partner with the private sector, there is some sort of cost sharing. For this reason, the government does not have to burden its citizens with heavy taxes in an effort to meet budgetary demands. This is a win-win situation for both the government and the citizens. This, in a big way, ensures that all the arms of the government are running as smoothly as possible.
When the private sector chips in to provide public services, it becomes much easier to meet the demand for various services. For example, the public hospitals in the United States can only handle between 50 to 60 percent of the total number of heath cases reported in the US in a year. Therefore, if the private sector is not allowed to provide health services, many of the patients in the US would go unattended. Evidently from the above example, one would argue that the government alone does not have the capability to provide some of the key services to its citizens. For this reason, it is the responsibility of private citizens and private businesses to chip in and help where the government can’t.
In some cases, private investors have the capability to provide better quality and more specialized services than the government. For this reason, they should be allowed to provide public services. The main reason why this is true is because the private investor can put a lot of resources on one investment whereas the government has to share the available resources across different public sectors. All across the world, private health facilities are, in most case, more equipped that the public health facilities. This further proves that public-private partnerships are of great importance in the delivery of critical services to the citizens of any country.
Privatization of public services also ensures that there is an equitable distribution of wealth in the country. While licensing companies to provide public services, governments ensure that no single entity is given the monopoly to control a certain sector. To make this possible, the government ensures that the process of licensing and issuance of work permits is fair and transparent. When this is done, only the competent individual and businesses are allowed to operate. For this reason, the standards and quality of various services provided to the citizens can be regulated.
People opposed to the provision of public services by private companies argue that private businesses may concentrate so much on profits and end up compromising on the quality of services they provide to the citizens. For example, in an effort to cut on cost, a hospital may hire under qualified doctors. This will have detrimental effects on the quality of services provided. In most forums where the issue of privatization of public services is discussed, this is one of the commonly raised concerns. Cases of substandard service delivery in private hospitals have been reported on several occasions in the USA. This makes the above-mentioned argument very valid.
Some people also argue that some public services are so sensitive to be left in the hands of private companies. Some of the services that people consider sensitive are healthcare and security. With regard to healthcare, some people feel that as much as the private sector does not have a permanent obligation to provide healthcare services to the citizens. For this reason, if a critical private health facility closes up its operations, the people in need of health services would be left stranded. It is also, to some extent, difficult to hold them accountable as the people would hold the government accountable. Some people also argue that allowing the private sector to provide public services gives a few influential individuals a chance to enrich themselves.
When private businesses venture into the provision of public services, the government becomes more reluctant to develop the public facility. When the members of the public can conveniently access public services from private businesses, the government tends to underutilize public resources meant to establish and develop various public facilities. For instance, in an area where there are developed and well equipped private medical facilities, governments tend to be hesitant to develop public health facilities. This, however, shouldn’t be the case since these facilities ought to be developed using public resources.
Some opponents of privatization of public services argue that it brings about unnecessary socio-economic differences in the society. In many places across the world, private health facilities that offer specialized medical services are too expensive for ordinary citizens. The ordinary citizens are therefore left with no choice but to seek similar services in government institutions where similar services are a little bit more affordable. This, therefore, creates a social-economic gap amongst people accessing similar health services. Regardless of all the benefits that privatization of public services brings to both personal businesses and the society, the above issue is a great vice that should be avoided at all cost. Given the fact that every member of the society personally contributes to the public funds’ kitty through tax, no person should be denied access to specialized treatment due to lack of funds. While setting up private health facilities, investors look at various economic factors, like return on investment. For this reason, they tend to invest more in urban areas where the population is high and other costs, like the cost of power, are low. For this reason, people living in rural areas are left with limited access to healthcare. Therefore, even where private companies are providing public services, the government should ensure that various services are subsidized and accessible by every member of the society, in spite of their socio-economic status.
From the information provide in this paper, it is evident that privatization of public services is not entirely beneficial to both the private sector and the society. It has its cons. However, in many people’s opinion, the pros outweigh the cons. Therefore, one would be justified to conclude that, with effective partnership frameworks, various governments should work hand in hand with the private sector to ensure that they provide high-quality services to that benefits both the society and the private sector. To sum it up, provision of public series, however, should not be entirely left in the hands of private individuals and corporations.