Feb 10, 2017

‘Private PPPs the way forward for Sri Lanka’

Sri Lanka is moving away from taxpayer funded Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), which has been the norm, and switching to privately funded PPPs-and a domestic Infrastructure Corridor Development plan of the government within Sri Lanka has been swiftly promoted at a high profile Asia Pacific investment forum in Dhaka.

“Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is calling for more private sector initiated PPPs rather than PPPs from Sri Lankan taxpayer’s money” noted Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 8 February in Bangladesh.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the Asia Pacific Business Forum that opened in Dhaka on 8 February.

Commenced in 2004, APBF is an annual platform for regional public-private sector dialogue. Themed “Regional Integration to Achieve Sustainable Development”, this year’s event has been organized in Dhaka by ESCAP with the Government of Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The event was inaugurated by President of Bangladesh (H.E) Abdul Hamid.

“Under the leadership of the unity government of  President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Sri Lanka is on a development journey towards higher-middle income ranks. The government has given higher status to investors and the private sector in its development vision. In such a background Public Private Partnership model has become more significant. Sri Lanka’s Public Private Partnership history is not long and has been discussed in the country since 1990s. PPPs received new attention recently after the previous government closely focused on it. Sri Lanka’s previous government showed special interest for PPPs in its Development Policy Framework 2010–2016 resulting in the Colombo South Port Development Project, a Sri Lankan PPP success. Thanks to the project large container ships can berth in Colombo port. With its aim of making private sector a driver of employment and development, the new unity government is even more focused on PPPs."

“PPP partnerships must go deeper and should focus on key areas of inclusive and sustainable development. The private sector can make profound contributions” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar.  “Research indicates 71% of businesses are already planning on how to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through delivering on the SDGs, the private sector stands to potentially benefit $ 12 Trillion of business opportunities globally, which could create almost 380 million jobs by 2030” added Dr Akhtar.

More than 400 high-level professionals from both the public and private sector –including Government Ministers from Bangladesh, Nepal (in addition to Sri Lanka)-were in session at the two day Dhaka forum which closed on 9 February.  The Forum recommended that “specific areas of business related to sustainable development such as the role of business in disaster risk reduction, the need for governments to be assisted in energy infrastructure investment for low-carbon future, and supporting trade and transport facilitation for regional integration.” During his visit to Dhaka, Minister Bathiudeen also held sideline meetings to promote Sri Lanka to Bangladeshi businesses and Chambers.


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