PPP process not functioning properly, says govt.’s PPP boss

 By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The Finance Ministry’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) unit chief yesterday pointed out that the PPP process is not functioning at its best capacity and the relevant stakeholders could look at exploring new options in improving the situation that in-turn would help boost the overall economic growth 
of the country.

“The PPP process is not working efficiently. We are using limited option for fiscal consolidation; we are not looking at enough opportunities,” said the Finance Ministry’s PPP Unit Chairman Thilan Wijesinghe delivering the keynote address at the seventh Capital Market Conference, organised by UTO Edu Consult, 
in Colombo, yesterday.

According to him, there should be implementation priorities that should create a virtuous circle of investor confidence, private capital inflows, state-owned enterprise (SOE) and capital market reforms deepening to reduce fiscal dependency 
on the Treasury. 

He said possible measures that could be explored in this regard include divestures, public listing of strategic minority stakes, restructuring via transaction advisers and pushing executive committees of the SOE boards to implement restructuring.

Wijesinghe also opined that the current government “does not have any low hanging fruits” to generate economic growth and that is primarily due to the inability to focus on the micro level problems and execution.

“We have a fantastic Central Bank, a great brain thrust in the Finance Ministry but we are failing at the micro level, planning, problem-solving and execution,” he asserted.

Wijesinghe professed that if getting the micro-level aspects right, Sri Lanka can move from the current low GDP growth of 2 to 3 percent to 6 to 7 percent by focusing on sectors such as tourism, ports and shipping, aviation, logistics-based manufacturing, knowledge-based services such as IT, financial services and agri business.
Furthermore, he asserted that the measures need to be taken to accelerate the implementation of bilateral trade agreements.

At present, Sri Lanka has over US $ 7 billion worth PPPs in operation, with the largest being Colombo Port City.


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