Transparency and a clear communication strategy were presented as the key factors behind the success of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Centre of the Philippines—a case in point where Sri Lanka could definitely take cues from.
Talking to a group of reporters, mainly from the Asian region, taking part in the 51st Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank, in Manila, the Philippines’ top PPP Centre officials pointed out that transparency and a dynamic communication strategy are equally important in shaping public opinion on PPPs.
The Philippines’ PPP initiative, spearheaded by the PPP Centre, was set up in 2010, largely to address the country’s lagging physical infrastructure and is widely considered as one of the finest in Southeast Asia.
A recent World Bank study ranked the Philippines among the best that have regulatory frameworks and recognized good practices that govern PPP procurement across 135 economies.
The study titled ‘Procuring Infrastructure Public-Private Partnerships’, which examined four major areas, ranked the Philippines first on preparation of PPPs, contract management and unsolicited proposals and third on procurement of PPPs behind China and Vietnam.
Of all the 135 economies surveyed, the Philippines is also one of only 11 economies that provided specific methodologies for all seven assessments measured by the report, which are: fiscal affordability, socioeconomic assessment, environmental assessment, risk identification, financial viability, comparative assessment and market sounding.
Compared to the Philippines, Sri Lanka ranked poorly, having no specific methodologies for most of the assessments.
Sri Lanka last year set up a dedicated body for PPPs—the National Agency for Public-Private Partnerships (NAPPP)—under the Finance Ministry and appointed former Board of Investments Chairman/Director General Thilan Wijesinghe to run it.
However, the NAPPP is yet to even have an official website, let alone a proper communication strategy to rally public support for Sri Lanka’s PPP initiative.
PPPs and privatization are largely frowned upon by the Sri Lankan public, owing to bad past experiences caused by manoeuvrings of corrupt politicians, public officials and their cronies. Although PPPs and privatization may not be the panacea to the economic ills of the developing world, in most instances, positives of such exercises outweigh the negatives.
Hence, for any agency promoting PPPs or privatization it is imperative for them to garner public support by being transparent about what they do and conveying the progress of the projects that they have undertaken on a regular basis.
The PPP Centre of the Philippines maintains a fully-fledged official website, which contains regular updates about statuses of projects it’s currently handling, among information about many other things such as policy circulars, legal and regulatory frameworks, information on past projects and the pipeline of future projects.
The Philippines PPP Centre also has developed proper processes and methodologies to entertain unsolicited proposals, possibly another area where Sri Lanka could take cues from as successive Sri Lankan governments have shown a preference towards entertaining unsolicited proposals, particularly on big-ticket projects. (IS)