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Privatisation takes on a number of meanings including the full or partial sale of public sector corporations the sale of government owned assets the opening of certain markets to private sector competition and governmentprivate sector joint ventures in infrastructure projects The term Government Business Enterprise GBE describes a statutory body corporation government owned company and is an important representation of the public sector when discussing the privatisation issue In recent years there has been a privatisation boom particularly in countries facing fiscal difficulties Australia is no exception with a large amount of privatisation occurring in a number of industries including telecommunications transport utilities and alike Although the revenue generated by privatisation is a dominant factor behind the push for privatisation other issues such as public enterprise efficiency capital expenditure priorities and union curbing can also have a great influence There is a large amount of support for the view that private enterprises under a system of rules and laws will maximise efficiency in delivery of infrastructure and associated services for the community BIE 1992 p42 However the efficiency of the public sector is often hindered by a number of factors including the lack of clear methods of measuring performance the assignment of multiple goals which often conflict lack of incentives to minimise costs lack of managerial accountability and vulnerability to political interference The presence of important political and social functions makes the conventional assessment of public enterprise performance a difficult task Performance indicators are necessary in order for businesses to produce gains in productive efficiency and improvements in responsiveness to the communitys needs Problems in performance monitoring arise since Government Business Enterprises are not subject to take-overs or the risk of bankruptcy consequently they are exposed to less scrutiny by the equity and debt markets than their private-sector counterparts The problem of performance monitoring is compounded by the lack of direction within public enterprises Enterprises that are able to
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