Commercial in-confidence is when a government makes an agreement with a private company either to outsource work which could be done by the government or sells off public property to a commercial concern, and at least some details of the contract are not to be revealed to tax payers.

Usually commercial in-confidence is used to hide details the public might object to such as: exit fees the government might have to pay if the work is not done on time; agreements that freight has to pay extra charges if it is landed in another port; tax and royalty concessions; changes of a road’s route so the toll charges can make more money; or simply paying more than is necessary to friends and donors. Yes this all refers to real cases…

In terms of social category theory the government identifies with the private sector and judges them with a friendly eye and aims to support them, while it sees tax payers as a hostile other who are ignorant.

Let’s be clear. If Taxpayers’ money is involved then commercial in-confidence should not exist after the contract is signed. It is our money, and we should know how it is being spent and what we are giving away. If companies don’t want to participate under these conditions, then that is their business and we probably don’t want them to participate.

Commercial in-confidence is simply a cover for commercial incompetence.

So far privatisation has failed, and it is largely because of these confidences, and sometimes because public servants do a better job.