By Bernice Bessey .
The government needs support to address the development aspirations of the people, and enhance what goes into Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements to somewhat reduce the pressure on state resources.
Interestingly, PPP arrangements, which are supplementary support to the development needs of the people, are inherently political, because the procedure lacks an appropriate policy framework.
As a result, politics has gradually taken centre stage of PPP and the tendency of it undermining the efficiency and continuity of the process and the project is very high.
It is against this background that the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) conducted a research and published its findings in a book titled: “Public Private Partnership in Ghana: Interrogating the Efficacy of a Politically Convenient Practice,” which was launched last Friday in Accra.
A Senior Lecturer at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Legon and a Consultant to the FES, Dr. Seidu Alidu, explained that this research work sets out to examine PPP projects within the context and provisions of Ghana’s National PPP Policy document, which provides exhaustive guidelines on how to engage in PPP arrangements in the country.
According to Dr Alidu, the publication outlines certain principles as being key to successful PPP arrangements, including value for money analysis, appropriate allocation of risk, affordability, local content and technology transfer, accountability, transparency and competitiveness.
“It concludes that with proper framing, appropriate expertise and the right legalisation, PPP projects have the potential to build the capacities of local assemblies, support their infrastructural development quest, reduce bureaucracy bottlenecks, create employment and generate revenue,” he stated
The absence of an appropriate legal frame for the conduct of PPP arrangements, coupled with politicisation and poor land administration, often leave the process to much discretion and abuse.
These deficiencies defeat the purpose of PPP as a valuable development strategy for moving forward.
He, therefore, called for the need pay to serious attention to the harm that politicisation causes to private investment, especially where public servants with institutional knowledge are asked to proceed on leave or transferred from their original posts.
He suggested that the government should develop the capacity of local assemblies on PPP contracting and arrangements, typologies and Valletta Fund Management (VFM) analysis in order to apply them in their day-to-day work.
“PPP projects should go through normal tender processes, even in BOT/ DBO cases, to maximise value for money.” Adding: “Local assemblies should allow communities that will benefit from PPP projects to participate in making decisions that relate to those projects.”
To him, there should be competition and transparency in the award of PPP projects by local assemblies, and also there should be a PPP law or an act of Parliament to safeguard indiscrete use of discretion by local authorities.
He believes that there is the need for proper land laws administration in Ghana, in order to avoid the controversy that comes with land ownership and the payment of royalties.
He indicated there is the need to reduce the over-politicisation of PPP contracts by allowing competitive bidding and tender processes, in order to make the approach fit for its purpose.
Recommending strategies that could help increase the benefits of PPP projects in the country, he stated that contracts and TOR for PPP projects should clearly state the roles and risks of the parties in the partnership, and not leave room for manoeuvring and manipulation.
“Central government should reduce bureaucracy in PPP contracts by empowering local assemblies to initiate PPP projects on their own, without recourse to the PPP desk at the MoF”.
Dr. Alidu continued that the government must explore alternative approaches that still allow the public sector to work with the private sector in a more efficient and profitable manner for both parties.
“Government needs to restore confidence in the private sector and work with it as the engine of growth, than seeing it as a profit -driven exploitative enterprise,” he noted
These recommendations, if implemented, would make PPP projects an attractive developmental option in the light of the current government’s policy of building one factory in every district through the private sector.