Syndicate content

The World Region

​Developing municipal credit markets: Experience with pooled finance

Kirti Devi's picture

Urbanization is a defining trend of our time. In 1900, 13 percent of the world’s population was urban. Today more than half of the estimated population of 7.2 billion lives in cities. And this growth has happened in one century.
 
On the upside: Urbanization and economic development are correlated and there are other benefits of density and agglomeration economies. Production is concentrated in cities, which are also centers of demand and social convergence. No country has achieved high-income status without significant urbanization. However, increasing energy use, accelerating CO2 emissions and more environmental pressures will accompany GDP growth. Mismanaged urbanization will impose social and environmental costs that will be difficult to reverse.
 
In many countries, this urbanization trend is playing out within the context of increased decentralization and fiscal adjustment, and local governments are increasingly responsible for the provision and financing of public infrastructure for their constituencies. This has placed an increased strain on local financing resources and led to an emphasis on the development of local credit markets and resorting to public-private partnerships (PPPs).

One question, eight experts, part four: Richard Abadie

Richard Abadie's picture
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

To gain a better understanding of how innovation in public-private partnerships (PPPs) builds on genuine learning, we reached out to PPP infrastructure experts around the world, posing the same question to each. Their honest answers redefine what works — and provide new insights into the PPP process. This is the question we posed: How can mistakes be absorbed into the learning process, and when can failure function as a step toward a PPP’s long-term success?

Our fourth response in this eight-part series comes from Richard Abadie, who leads the Capital Projects and Infrastructure Group at PwC

Having worked in the infrastructure sector for nearly 20 years, I’ve had time to reflect on what success and failure look like in infrastructure PPPs. Mistakes have been, do, and will continue to be made when using PPPs. It is not perfect — nor is its application — but what in life is?

There are so many horror stories around non-PPP construction cost overruns, delays in completion, poorly specified contracts, weak tender management, corruption, failure to run transparent competitive processes, lack of project readiness, significant post-contract variations, and sporadic asset maintenance and management. PPPs eliminate many of the above structural weaknesses, which rightfully earns it its place as a challenging but effective procurement approach.

The chief criticisms of PPP — that it takes longer to procure and is less flexible than conventional procurement — have some validity. Getting price certainty does take time and requires clear contractual risk allocation through the life of the contract.

Good decisions, successful PPPs!

Marcos Siqueira's picture

When considering public-private partnerships (PPPs), the million- (or even billion-) dollar question is: What is the single most relevant factor that drives PPP projects to failure?

Photo: flickr/Milton Jung
As a governmental officer, managing PPP transactions for many years, and later as a consultant on the private side of transactions, I have led more than 40 PPP initiatives. Many succeeded and are delivering Value for Money for users and taxpayers. However, several others failed along the way, and contracts never got signed. What surprises me is that failure came even to some technically perfect projects.

Every successful PPP with which I’ve been involved shared one important factor: effective governance in the project level, from the identification of the project, all the way to the tender process.

By governance I mean the set of processes that allows decisions to be made by the right people, with access to the right information, at the right time, so the project can meet the requirements defined by the project’s stakeholders.

PPP Days Dispatch: Day Two

Tanya Scobie Oliveira's picture
The second half of the PPP Days conference in London was devoted to country presentations of priority PPP projects, and a few projects – those most likely to be brought to market in the next six to 12 months – were showcased in detail. It was an inspiring example of collaboration for the greater good, proving that PPPs’ potential is limited only by our imagination. (OK, and budgets. And elections. And good structuring. And the presence or absence of natural disasters. But it all starts with imagination and commitment.)
 
PPP Days participants also exchanged ideas today with people around the world who are engaged in the ongoing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on public-private partnerships, via the first-ever PPP MOOC Google Hangout. This was an unprecedented opportunity for the over 23,000 people from more than 190 countries now taking the course to ask their most pressing PPP-related questions to officials and experts attending PPP Days – and for these officials and experts to learn from those in the field.

The PPP MOOC Google Hangout was facilitated by Laurence Carter, Senior Director of the World Bank Group’s PPP Group. Panelists included Julia Prescott, Chief Strategy Officer, Meridiam; Thomas Maier, Managing Director for Infrastructure, EBRD; and Pradeep Singh, CEO of the Mohali Campus and Deputy Dean of the Indian School of Business.
 
World Bank Group #PPPMOOC Google Hangout

PPP Days Dispatch: Day One

Tanya Scobie Oliveira's picture

As your PPP Days Rapporteur, I feel like I should start this dispatch by typing “Dateline: London” on a manual typewriter in a newsroom thick with cigarette smoke. Alas, I am hunting and pecking the tiny keyboard of my phone from Exchange Square, the immaculate, smoke-free home of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), our hosts for the PPP Days meeting.

Photo: (c)EBRD/Dermot Doorly

“Doing More, Doing Better” is PPP Days’ ambitious-sounding theme. The event’s creators convened the gathering to enhance the collaboration among multilateral development banks (MDBs) that is already strengthening the PPP marketplace. One of the best examples of this collaboration, the PPP Knowledge Lab, launched at the conference this morning. The PPP Knowledge Lab, now live at www.PPPknowledgelab.org, is an online “one-stop-shop” for everything PPP. It’s an important online resource that will continually be refreshed and expanded.

Just as the PPP Knowledge Lab gathers great ideas onto one platform, PPP Days has gathered experts and thinkers in one place. These two days are packed full with talks, presentations, panel sessions, and breakout sessions that chip away at one of the most challenging questions of our day: “What would it take to double the right private infrastructure investment in emerging markets?” 

Forging a partnership with the Global Infrastructure Hub

Mark Moseley's picture
During the Spring Meetings in mid-April, the World Bank Group committed to addressing the world’s data gaps for infrastructure investments, which will help lower barriers to those investments and help provide services to more people across the globe.

Our team signed an agreement with the recently established Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) – an initiative of the world’s G20 leading economies – that paves the way for future cooperation.

The GIH came into existence last December, as a result of decisions taken at the November 2014 G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, Australia. Based in Sydney, the GIH is designed to drive progress on the infrastructure agenda of the G20 and, in particular, to encourage additional private sector involvement with infrastructure development.

It will be a knowledge-sharing network, which will aggregate and disseminate information on infrastructure projects and financing opportunities. The GIH is also designed to assist governments with capacity-building in regard to infrastructure development, by sharing best practice approaches.

The agreement signed by both parties details collaboration on new knowledge products and the mutual support of conferences and learning opportunities, such as the forthcoming Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) Days event in London on June 16-17, 2015.

Learning Public-Private Partnerships

David Lawrence's picture

 
Long ago, when I was stationed abroad with IFC, I joined a visiting colleague in a meeting with a senior government official to talk about public-private partnerships (PPPs). A few junior officials were also there, busy scribbling down everything my colleague said. He talked about the benefits of private sector participation in infrastructure, health and education; he described the various forms PPPs could take; he explained how IFC could provide transaction advice. The official, a man nearing retirement with grey hair and professorial glasses, nodded silently as he listened.
 
“Are you following everything?” asked my colleague. “If not I’ll be glad to explain anything that isn’t clear.”
 
“I understand,” he said. “Please continue.”
 
But I could tell from his body language that he didn’t understand anything at all. And I knew he would never admit a lack of knowledge in front of his subordinates. But there was another reason I suspected the official wasn’t being entirely forthright: I could barely follow the discussion myself.
 
After the meeting I googled “public-private partnerships” to give myself a crash course. There were literally millions of information sources, but most were difficult to follow. I ground through a few articles and slowly began to understand. But what of the official? At his level of English, it would be nearly impossible for him to educate himself about PPPs.
 
Why was this a problem? Because the country in question very desperately needed to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure, inject new life into its healthcare system, and bring educational institutions to a higher level. Through PPPs, private sector could potentially contribute financing, managerial expertise and technical know-how to help government address these challenges. But since so few policymakers understood how PPPs worked, it would be hard to tap into these resources.

What if we disclosed everything?

Marcos Siqueira's picture
One day in 2012, when I was the head of a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Unit in a subnational government in Brazil, I woke up at 7:00 am to my phone ringing. I was surprised to see that it was the State Governor calling me – not his assistant but him, personally. He was not happy and had a very direct question: Why are today’s newspapers saying that one of our most successful PPP projects is failing to meet quality standards?
 
Image: www.e-builder.net

The day before I received the Governor’s phone call, I had ordered disclosure of full performance reports for all PPP projects on our website. This was the first time that any government had done that in Brazil. The particular project that the Governor had mentioned was a toll road that scored 83 percent in the previous trimester[1]. This was a fantastic score from a technical perspective. Besides, the performance indicators that we used were created to maintain incentives for improvement over the life of the contract. It was never meant for the private party to score 100 percent. Unfortunately, the news reporter did not understand this and didn’t invest time to ask – so I received the governor’s call. At that moment I knew I had a very strong case to make.

From my experience of more than eight years managing transactions and capacity building programs in Latin America and Africa, a radical approach to transparency is the key to enable PPPs to deliver more and better infrastructure services. In other words, I am fully convinced that opacity is the shortest route PPP projects can take towards the expensive failures mentioned by Laurence in his inaugural blog post.

The crude truth is that opaque PPP policies serve a lot of interests, but almost none of them benefit service users or taxpayers.  Here are some of the key points on transparency in PPPs, from my perspective:

Look who's talking about PPPs

Alison Buckholtz's picture
Long-term infrastructure planning. Service delivery even beyond the “end of the line.” E-government outreach that includes everyone. As these and other benefits of public-private partnerships (PPPs) reach more people, a deeper understanding of PPP strategies is entering the mainstream. 

Examples of this organic knowledge-sharing, born of individuals’ first-hand positive experiences with PPPs, can be found among thought leaders across a range of fields. Editors of Handshake, the World Bank Group’s PPP journal, have interviewed many of these experts about their experience with PPPs and have compiled some of their perspectives here.
 
Edward Glaeser, urban economist and Professor of Economics, Harvard University (Cities issue, p. 30, “Triumph of the PPP”), on the need for oversight of PPPs: “There is a lot to be gained in the marriage of public and private, but there are also enormous risks. There are cases where either the government has mistreated the private partner, or companies have figured out a way to mistreat the government. PPPs always require firm oversight. They are enormously valuable as a way to solve a financing problem, and the people who are fighting to solve this problem are doing one of the most important jobs in the world.”

Francesco Bandarin, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture (Tourism issue, p. 26), on PPPs as a solution for World Heritage Sites: “Over the past 10 years we’ve had an increased level of attention to World Heritage Sites, and there’s been a subsequent expansion in the number of sites as a result. When you have an expansion of your core business the first question you ask yourself is 'How do I keep delivering the same quality of services?' For us, this includes monitoring services, support to member states, tracking and responding to trends, and trying to use tourism as a resources instead of just a force of destruction. We want to deal with tourism in a way that’s constructive. PPPs can help us do that.”

Helping communicate the potential of PPPs through a new, free online course

Clive Harris's picture
The World Bank Group’s twin goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity can’t be achieved unless we see a huge boost in the quality and quantity of infrastructure services. Boost infrastructure and do it right and you can generate jobs and boost economic growth. Improving sanitation and access to clean water is essential to improve health outcomes. 
 
According to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, “Today, the developing world spends about $1 trillion on infrastructure, and only a small share of those projects involves private actors. Overall, private investments and public-private partnerships in developing countries totaled $150 billion in 2013, down from $186 billion in 2012. So it will take the commitment of all of us to help low- and middle-income countries bridge the massive infrastructure divide.”
 
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) can be an important way for governments to help supplement the role of the public sector in meeting the infrastructure deficit.  But PPPs are controversial – there have been some high profile, expensive failures, and some stakeholders feel the private sector should not be involved in providing basic infrastructure services like water. 
 
On the flip side, many have over optimistic expectations for PPPs. PPPs are often not easy to do or to get right and governments need to make sure they are choosing projects suitable for the PPP approach. Through a variety of initiatives and collaboration with partners – including the world’s main multilateral lending institutions – we are helping clients better understand both the potential and limitations of PPPs, including helping them assess when a PPP is the right option and when it is not, and how to procure and manage these projects effectively.

Our free massive open online course (MOOC) – “How can PPPs help deliver better services?” – will help participants gain an understanding of when, how and why to implement PPPs, based on real examples of what has made for successful PPPs and what has led to failures. Students will gain insights into the PPP life cycle and its challenges, from project selection to implementation. Whether you are a PPP practitioner, policy maker or completely new to the subject of PPPs there is something here for you.

Pages