Government should take great care to ensure that the envisaged public private partnership (PPP) law is all inclusive and does not only benefit tenderpreneurs in order to obtain its set objectives, analysts advises.
Analysts have cautioned government to take serious consideration with the outline and implementation of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Bill so that it does not fall into the hands of tenderpreneurs only.
Labour expert, Herbert Jauch, said while drafting the legal framework for the PPPs, government must ensure that measures are taken in to consideration which will allow for an all-inclusive policy.
Jauch warned that the policy objectives of the envisaged PPP law stands a chance of failing if it becomes a policy that hoards tenderpreneurs, adding that government must take into consideration the administrative efficiency of PPPs. He noted that unless a systematic and strategic approach is made, PPPs will not be able to lead to the desired socio-economic improvements.
Jauch urged government to uphold the promise to adopt a pro-poor approach, it highlighted in the PPP Policy. The policy is currently in its legal drafting process, anticipated to be completed during the next month. Regardless any legality attached to them, government’s Public Private Partnership (PPPs) need to safeguard the interest of the poor in order for it to work efficiently, the analyst said.
“While being couched in the language of growth and efficiency, Namibia’s PPP policy implementation relies on a very efficient state bureaucracy to ensure public benefits. There is the danger that the state bureaucracy is not able to rise to that challenge and that PPPs become just another site for awarding tenders. There is also a danger that PPPs become the vehicle to outsource on a large scale and to reduce staff in both the civil service and SOEs,” Jauch noted.
In the design of PPP projects, the focus is placed on the needs of the lower income and historically disadvantaged groups with the PPP planning and service delivery process approached from a pro-poor perspective.
In addition to employment creation, capacity building and economic participation, the pro-poor approach will also relate to infrastructure and service provisioning and removing of constraints faced in service delivery.
Government believes that PPP’s will enabling them to leverage on private sector project delivery capacity and risk taking ability by making payment contingent on infrastructure/service delivery, while also enabling them to build their socio-economic objectives into the design and evaluation of PPP projects. However, Jauch cautioned that tll hands need to be ready in order to speed up the process of implementation of the policy.
“The contingent risks arising out of entering into PPPs need to be noted and addressed through the establishment of a formal PPP Framework and a specialist PPP Unit with appropriate skills and expertise,” Jauch said.
The PPP Policy also proposes to develop PPP Regulations for Namibia to govern Government’s partnership with the private sector.
Jauch noted that in fact, the PPP policy document notes that Government will retain responsibility of delivering core services (though this will be determined on a jurisdictional basis) and PPP proposals will offer fair treatment of public employees and best support of the government’s economic agenda.
According to the policy, innovation in PPP models will be encouraged while transparency and fairness will be held paramount and it will be underlined that the processes for delivering PPP project should be able to reflect experience and the changing environment in which the project is financed, constructed, and delivered.
Jauch added that some experiences in the Ministry of Health provided a warning as the Ministry has been outsourcing the catering and security services on a two-year basis since independence.
“Similarly, the outsourcing of security at all health facilities through the Tender Board did not lead to the expected results as the Ministry struggled to secure its property. The commercialisation of the laboratory services through the establishment of the National Institute of Pathology (NIP) in 1999 led to an improved provision of services but the Ministry was concerned with the rising costs of those services, making them unaffordable to the poor,” Jauch said.
Also speaking to The Villager is Dr. Omu Kakujaha-Matundu, Deputy Dean of the University of Namibia, Faculty of Economics, saying that for government to know the outcomes of its objectives it must evaluate the outcomes so as to know exactly whether government has obtained its stated objectives from a particular PPP project.
He added that there should also be consequences for non-performance or poor service delivery, with PPP contracts clearly stating out those consequences.
“For example permanent disqualification from government contracts; jail terms where criminal intent can be proven. Such carrot and stick approach from government will discourage tenderpreneurs and attract serious local and international entrepreneurs and investors in PPPs. I think the performance agreements with the Minister under the new Investment Promotion Act is a step in the right direction. Let there also be serious consequences for government officials who connive with tenderpreneurs to raid public coffers with no results to show for,” Dr. Kakujaha-Matundu said.