Intensify cooperation between MPs and private enterprises : Effective PPP execution, The Independent, October 20, 2012

DHAKA, OCT 20: Speakers at a regional conference in the city underscored the need for strengthening cooperation between members of parliament and private enterprises to make Public Private Partnership (PPP) more effective. They observed that the growth of private sector was essentially linked with strengthening of democratic institutions and practices. Despite a good growth rate, regulatory mechanism has remained poor to facilitate growth of the private sector in south Asia region, they pointed out.

Deputy speakers from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and some members of parliament in south Asian countries took part in the opening session of the day long regional conference on “Strengthening co-operation between members of parliament and the private sector in making public private partnership more effective.”

Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) organised the seminar at Ruposhi Bangla hotel in collaboration with the Asia Foundation USAID and UKaid.

BEI president Farooq Sobhan presided over the inaugural session. Chandimal Weerakkody, deputy speaker of Sri Lanka, Shawkat Ali deputy speaker of Bangladesh’s parliament, N K Singh a member of Indian Rajya Sabha, Dupthob, and chairman of parliamentary standing committee on poverty in Bhutan took part in the discussion.

Russell Pepe, chief of party PRODIP, Asia Foundation gave the welcome address.
Shawkat Ali, deputy speaker in Bangladesh parliament called upon the organisers to formulate some modus operandi on how the members of parliament can contribute collectively to strengthening co-operation between members of parliament and private sector.

He pointed out that MPs can contribute individually in this regard but it is very complicated to contribute collectively.

“Find out some ways of development co-operation between private sector and parliament members.”

Ali, however, said members of parliament can contribute a lot to create awareness among the people. He hopes that the members of parliament will come forward in this regard as a good number of businessmen now became House members.

Chandimal Weerakkody deputy speaker of Sri Lanka said that mistrust existed between common people and the business community.

The commoners do not believe in what businessmen say as they think the business people always run for profit, he observed. Chandimal said Sri Lanka has been making tremendous growth since the year 2009 after eradication of terrorism. He said Lanka has a number of success story regarding public-private partnership.

He claimed that his country became one of the best telecom providers in the world because of private sector growth.

The second international airport and second sea ports in Sri Lanka are also being built on the basis of Private Public Partnership, he told the seminar. N K Singh from India pointed out that governments adopted PPP because it generates additional resources and improves management of private sector.

He however observed that parliament was never engaged when PPP draft was crafted.

Three keynote papers were presented at the working session by Parvez Karim Abbasi consultant BEI, Dr Fouzul Kabir Khan, chairman of Keystone Business Support Company of Bangladesh and Dr Malathy Knight John head of industry and enterprise development policy research of Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the working session, Asif Ibrahim, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and industry (DCCI) observed that there were more than 10,000 regulations—acts, rules, circulars, resolutions in the country but most of those regulations are hundred years old and inoperative.

They do not match with the needs of the people under present conditions. Considering this situation, the government of Bangladesh took some steps to address the present day needs.

He made a number of recommendations. The recommendations include more sector-base studies to be done to reform the existing regulations. And, this is how those could be supported by evidence and that more consultation should be done with various sector representatives to make reforms more business friendly.

There should be more accountability in legislation as most of the legislation missed accountability and parliamentary control, DCCI chief said.

For effective regulatory governance, a good match between institutional capacity of Bangladesh and the structure of regulatory governance is crucial. It will build a credible and stable regulatory regime.
“The major problem in Bangladesh is not over regulation or under regulation rather the problem is ill regulated regulations which really accelerate the sufferings of the common people,” the DCCI president pointed out.

According to him bureaucratic red-tapism and administrative inefficiency were the other major sources of public sufferings. Giving importance on transparency and accountability in every area, Asif said it should be started from selection of personnel for the regulatory commissions to effective and sincere implementation of the recommendations.

He informed the seminar that the government of Bangladesh recently took some reforms initiatives like, drafting a new company’s act, new export and import policy formulation, competitive law and formulation of a comprehensive trade policy. Besides, a public private partnership platform has been created through the establishment of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) a project undertaken by major chamber bodies with collaboration of Asia Foundation.

President of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh, Aftab ul Islam underscored the need for bringing a change in Bangladesh’s mindset to build trust between the private and public sector people. “PPP starts from trust between public and private sector,” he pointed out.

He stressed the need for right kind of policy, right PPP laws and congenial atmosphere for successful implementation of projects under PPP.

“The PPP is most talked about subject in Bangladesh but we do not know when we would be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Aftab said presenting a dismal picture of PPP performance in Bangladesh.

He further said nothing will happen as long as the public sector people consider profit taken by private sector was ‘an unholy thing’.  He said some PPP projects failed because of opposition from civil society. “It was observed that projects under PPP were cancelled even after singing final agreement and awarding contract for construction”.

“The private sector people will not invest money unless government gives sovereign guarantee to their investment,” he categorically told the seminar. He also blamed the lack of consistency in public policy for lower flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in to the country. “There should be some sort of flexibility in laws for bringing substantial amount of FDI”.

Aftab suggested that an efficient group of officials comprising all ministries should be selected for providing supports to the private sector.

Abu Rashed, PPP advisor to PMO, Jagdish Prasad Agarwal, former vice-president of Confederation of Nepalese industries also spoke at the working session.


20 October, 2012