Utilizing public-private partnerships
As our government (like all others) strives to create the conditions for sustainable economic growth, identifying avenues for continued investment in public infrastructure is as crucial as it is challenging, given fiscal constraints across much of the world. Often, we are forced to choose the cheaper, rather than the most appropriate, option.
Partnerships between the public and the private sectors (PPPs) can be an important enabler of sustained investment to help REBUILD DOMINICA BETTER post-Erika. PPPs promote the provision of efficient and cost-effective public services – with modern facilities, with reduced risk and reduced upfront costs to government. (But, truth be told, asking the Dominica private sector to come up with some of the MILLIONS required for geo-thermal was a bit ambitious…)
Normally, any business investment or involvement with public sector projects will lead to: innovation, a culture of delivering on time and on budget. In short, they can provide value for money. It is no wonder that they are increasingly on the agenda of governments. One estimate puts the value of potential PPP projects in the Caribbean at US$17 billion.
The UK has pioneered the global development of PPP. Its principal model, Private Finance Initiative (PF1, recently reformed as PF2) typically sees a private sector partner either design (eg, the Roseau Renewal Plan!), or build, or sometimes even finance, operate and maintain an asset to provide a public service (e.g. a school, clinic, road or BRIDGE, while the UK gov't commits to pay an annual charge over the next 20-30 years.
That UK experience – and their known willingness to engage – seems an attractive prospect for serious discussion in the DOMINICA/Caribbean context.
The Public Private Partnership approach is obviously not a silver bullet. It will not solve all of Dominica's challenges in funding the more effective services necessary for the citizenry and indeed, in generally rebuilding our country, but it is worthy of a serious engagement with the British as a start. It could be a significant part of the RDB development mix.