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LETTER OF THE DAY - Public, private partnerships the way to go

Published:Saturday | January 10, 2015 | 1:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:I wish to make an appeal to the Government and the Opposition on what I believe is a very important initiative which, if developed promptly, could be a major source of economic growth for Jamaica. I am referring to public, private partnership (P3), which has been successfully implemented in the United Kingdom and Canada.

I do not want this appeal to be critical of the administration in power, which, in fact, published the initial Public Private Partnership Policy documents in 2012. However, the present administration is the responsible entity which must drive the implementation, which I believe can be extremely beneficial in our search for economic growth. The opposition must also make it a priority and support the Government's efforts.

In essence, P3 is the divesting of government entities to the private sector in a way which enables the private-sector investor to develop and operate the public entity, with the Government retaining an interest in the entity. Examples of this in recent times have been Sangster International Airport, Highway 2000, and the government-owned sugar factories and estates. In process is the Kingston Container Terminal and the Norman Manley International Airport. These are very large projects, are of necessity, and take a long time. However, there are also many smaller government-owned entities that could be more quickly divested by the P3 method.

There are many different ways of doing this, and the purpose of this letter is not to go into details, but rather to generate awareness of the tremendous potential that P3 holds for Jamaica's development and growth.

I will just mention a few:

(1) Local capital could be invested in production and infrastructure, since the Government does not have the funds to do this itself.

Smaller public service

(2) Employees of these entities will be moved from the public service to the private sector. This would reduce the burden and size of the public service, which is a major obstacle to the Government's full implementation of the International Monetary Fund programme.

(3) The Government entities that could be privatised would become more efficient and actually cost the state nothing, or less than it is presently costing to provide the service. A classic example is the Riverton City dump, which should have been divested many years ago, and producing energy from the waste that now literally goes to real waste.

The bottom line is that, for a topic so critically important, the public and private sectors should have made this a top priority in their search for growth. The whole of 2013 has been lost and very little has happened in 2014. Let us focus on P3 for 2015 and really get it going as a matter of extreme urgency.

C. D. R. Bovell