A call for businesses to work with lawmakers on better PPP models, The Daily Star, October 21, 2012

Star Business Report

The private sector should work closely with lawmakers to help them formulate laws to make the initiatives of public-private partnership more effective, speakers said at a conference yesterday.

They also urged the governments in the region to form a parliamentary standing committee on PPP with independent staff members having required skills so that they come up with the best business practices.

The observations came at a regional conference on “strengthening cooperation between members of parliament and the private sector in making PPPs more effective” at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.

NK Singh, a member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian parliament, said parliaments have an important role to play in making the PPP projects more effective.

“If countries do not improve the business environment in the region, they will lose out,” he said.

Chandimal Weerakkody, deputy speaker of the parliament of Sri Lanka, said there is a common regional mistrust among the general public about the private sector that it would extract resources selfishly and indulge in unfair activities.

“We will have to bridge this gap,” he said.

Farooq Sobhan, president of Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, said there should be close interaction between the private sector and parliaments through lawmakers, to have better PPP models that spur economic growth.

Lyonpo Om Pradhan, chairman of Druk Holding and Investments, Bhutan, said parliamentarians should reform regulations to cut the cost of doing business and create a congenial environment for investors.

Asif Ibrahim, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the efficacy of a transparent policy environment and independent regulatory framework in attracting private investment cannot be undermined.

The transition path and sustainability of reforms provide a long-term policy stability thereby reducing investor risk, he said.

Malathy Knight John, head (industry and enterprise development policy research) of Institute of Policy Studies in Sri Lanka, said the lawmakers should step in and give comfort to the private sector so that they feel convinced to invest.

Jagdish Prasad Agrawal, former vice president of Confederation of Nepalese Industries, said there is a huge potential in the PPP in the region. “We just need a viable business proposition. Otherwise, businesses will not be interested.”

Aftab ul Islam, president of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh, said governments would have to change mindsets as they see profit made by the private sector as an unholy thing.

Debmalya Banerjee, co-chair, eastern regional council of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India, said the lawmakers would have to align the interest of the private sector into the interest of the people.

AK Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said if the lawmakers step in to make PPPs more effective, the private sector would grow further, which will ultimately spur economic growth.

Shawkat Ali, deputy speaker of parliament in Bangladesh, said he cannot say whether the lawmakers would be able to do it collectively. They might do it individually.

He said he hopes the lawmakers would come forward to make the cooperation between the public and the private sector more effective.

Bangladesh Enterprise Institute organised the day-long event in association with USAID, UKAID and the Asia Foundation.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=254646

21 October, 2012