'Missed opportunity' for private investment in infrastructure

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
7 October 2016

Many economies around the world are failing to adopt good practice around the procurement of public private partnerships (PPPs), according to a groundbreaking benchmarking report.

The World Bank study of 82 countries across the developed and developing world found “most economies fall short of recognised good practices” around PPP infrastructure schemes, with project preparation and contract management “two areas where a significant number of countries perform poorly”.

The report, the first of its kind, benchmarked government capabilities across four key areas: PPP preparation, procurement, unsolicited proposals and contract management.

The bank said transparency was “essential to monitor and manage PPP contracts”, yet only 16% of countries require data to be publicly available.

“When designed well and implemented in a balanced regulatory environment, PPPs can bring greater efficiency and sustainability in providing such public services as water, sanitation, energy, transport, telecommunications, health care, and education,” said the bank.

Laurence Carter, senior director of the World Bank’s Public Private Partnerships Group, said of the globe’s 56 poorest countries, more than half had no private investment in infrastructure in the past five years.

“And in 2015 only 14 energy, transport and water projects involving private investment were concluded in that whole group of 56 countries – with them occurring in just eight of the countries,” he said in a blog. “In the past five years, only one country – Bangladesh – has seen private investment in infrastructure each year.

“Given that well-structured private infrastructure projects can bring a useful infusion of management (and sometimes money) to help provide better quality and access to infrastructure services, this seems like a missed opportunity.”

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