GB Chamber president criticizes govt policy on PPPs
Government policy in regard to public-private partnerships (PPP) is overly bureaucratic and stymies innovation in its language on unsolicited proposals, according to President of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Mick Holding.
“I support the principle of public-private partnerships,” said Holding in a recent press release. “I think it’s a very effective way for the government to get capital projects underway in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
“I also think that’s it’s a sensible idea for the government to have a policy so there’s consistent approach to PPPs giving accountability and transparency.”
The release described a PPP as a “long-term contract between a private party and a government agency, for providing or managing a public asset and associated service, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility” and points to the Nassau Airport Development (NAD) Company and Arawak Port Development (APD) Company as successful examples of PPPs.
“The government is looking to establish PPPs in the areas of electricity generation and distribution, including the development of renewable energy sources, in the Family Islands, ports, airports, roads and bridges; information and communications technology (ICT), urban renewal and government buildings and facilities,” the release states.
However, Holding said given government’s decision to include international companies as bidders for contracts and a minimum investment value of USD$10 million to get a contract, foreign bidders with easier access to capital could have an advantage over local companies.
“I think that is detrimental to the development of small and medium-sized Bahamian businesses,” said Holding. “If a Bahamian company needs to use a foreign company for technical expertise, etc. that should be allowed, but the Bahamian company should always take the lead. I would have thought it would be quite acceptable to have an international junior partner. I don’t think it should be open to international companies to tender.”
An economist, who chose to remain anonymous but is quoted in the release, said government’s PPP policy leaves the market open to be developed by large development banks and foreigners.
The economist added that the government’s decision to put unsolicited proposals out to tender is a flawed position and could lead to the stifling of innovation.
The release explains that while the government reserves the right to accept unsolicited PPP proposals, it does not have to award a contract to the proposal provider.
“You place the company that gave you their best ideas at a disadvantage by giving the contract to someone else. Innovators should get the benefits of their innovation. Basically, the government is saying, ‘bring me a good idea and I’ll put it out for someone who has more money than you to implement’.”
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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