Transport, energy among Sri Lanka priority PPP projects

ECONOMYNEXT – Transport and energy are among Sri Lanka’s priority sectors for public-private partnerships (PPPs), the head of the government’s new public-private partnership agency, Thilan Wijesinghe said.

PPPs will be new projects in which the government sector has long term interests with government having some equity stakes and land, he told the two-day annual economic summit held by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
They will involve new investments and transfer of ownership or debt of unproductive government assets, said Wijesinghe, who is also chairman of TWCorp.

“Privatization is not part of my mandate.”

Priority sectors for PPPs will include transport, utilities, ports, tourism, construction, especially affordable housing, health care, financial services, information technology, agribusiness and the mining and minerals sector.

The minerals sector had been neglected for the last 20 years, Wijesinghe said.

Sri Lanka has a phosphate deposit that can meet not only Sri Lanka’s entire needs but export for several decades.

“I hope private-public partnerships would act as a catalyst of economic growth combined with some public investment projects like the central expressway,” Wijesinghe said. 

Power projects, toll roads, and new container terminals are examples of new investments that would be pursued under the PPP model, Wijesinghe said.

Hambantota port and the Hyatt hotel are examples of dead assets of government to be transferred to the private sector under the PPP model, but the Colombo Hilton hotel, an operating asset, will be privatized.

Wijesinghe said he aims to create a brains trust of professionals to do PPP projects to meet the current imperatives of the country, which would include investment bankers, economic researchers and top negotiators.

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The multi-skilled team would be working with line ministries and external consultants.

The PPP agency has already been allocated the required funding, Wijesinghe said.

“We will prioritise projects. Some quick wins are absolutely crucial.”

Wijesinghe said he aims to get Cabinet approval for the basic PPP guidelines within one month.

PPP projects in the project pipeline include the elevated highway from the new Kelani bridge to Athurugiriya and an underground road planned to extend the Marine Drive and connect with the port access road and elevated highway to the international airport.

Inland water-based transport and inland air transport, light rail transit, utility projects in water, waste to energy, and industrial zones will be other projects in the piprline.
COLOMBO, July 25, 2017)

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