Key government initiatives.
The Indian Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) has highlighted that the Government of India (GOI) is committed to raising the investment in infrastructure from its existing level of 4.7% of GDP to around 8%. Infrastructure shortages are proving a key constraint in sustaining and expanding India’s economic growth and making it more inclusive for the poor. The government is actively promoting PPPs in the key infrastructure sectors of transport (including railways), power, urban infrastructure, and tourism. PPPs are seen as an important tool for producing an accelerated and larger pipeline of infrastructure investments, and reducing the country’s infrastructure deficit. A PPP department has been established in the DEA to administer various proposals and coordinate activities to promote PPPs.
Viability Gap Funding (VGF) scheme.
The GOI has established the VGF scheme as a special facility to support the financial viability of those infrastructure projects which are economically justifiable but not commercially viable in the immediate future. It involves upfront grant assistance of up to 20% of the project cost for state or central level PPP projects that are implemented by a private sector developer who is selected through competitive bidding. An Empowered Committee has been set up for quick processing of cases.
Facilitating Public-Private Partnership.
GOI has established India Infrastructure Finance Company Limited (IIFCL) as a wholly government-owned company to provide long-term finance to infrastructure projects, either directly or through refinancing. The IIFCL caters to the growing financing gap in long-term financing of infrastructure projects in the public, private, and PPP sectors. Any government project awarded to a private sector company for development, financing, and construction through PPP will have overriding priority under the scheme. GOI is working on a number of initiatives to assist and encourage capacity-building at the state and central levels. It is identifying the capacity-building needs of state governments and providing assistance for the creation of state-level PPP cells such as a nodal agency, streamlining the PPP approval process, developing PPP toolkits, model concession agreements (MCAs), bidding documents, and project preparation manuals. GOI is also building a central database and website on PPPs to disseminate updated information to the states and the private sector. Arrangements are being finalized under which, state governments would be able to avail themselves of consultancy support for developing PPP projects. Institutions like the ADB have begun supporting the capacity-building process through these workshops and proposed technical assistance projects.
Status of PPPs and States’ perspectives.
Eighty-six PPPs have been awarded in India so far, totaling about Rs 340 billion, in twelve states and three central agencies. Roads and port sectors have dominated in the number and size of PPPs. As of October 2006, twelve proposals were given in-principle approval under VGF. State governments have identified a whole range of sectors for PPPs, including roads and highways, ports (air, sea, and container), telecommunication, water supply, waste management, tourism, power, industrial infrastructure, township development, leisure, and health. States have also identified potential PPP projects that could be developed over the next few years. Many of the projects are already in the bidding stage using both memorandum of understanding (MOU) and competitive bidding procedures. Not many of these projects would require VGF funding. No clear link between institutional structure and success of a PPP has become apparent.
State/Union Territory (UT) governments have indicated marked differences in the process of PPP development, including variations in existence of infrastructure legislation and policies, institutional arrangements for identifying and approving PPPs, project development funds and companies, financial structuring, and procurement procedures.
Requirements of Central Assistance.
The states highlighted a number of areas where guidance, assistance, and technical support are required from GOI. These areas are: VGF(viability gap funding); quicker approval procedures; relaxation of the project details currently required for an in-principle approval; inclusion of projects awarded through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) route and not competitive bidding, like railways; inclusion of rural sector projects and unfinished projects; inclusion of land costs under VGF financing, capacity-building, setting up PPP cells at the state level; access to project development resources; advisory support on infrastructure legislation and regulatory frameworks and detailed PPP policies; model PPP execution cycle; contract monitoring and time scheduling; guidelines on public sector comparator (PSC) and its comparison with the private sector ADBI Discussion Paper 80 Geethanjali Nataraj 28 predictor; information on potential sources of long-term debt; and formalization of state PPP plans. The states have also called for streamlining of the statutory clearances on environment, defense, airport authority, land acquisition, etc.
Private Sector Perspectives.
The private sector recognizes the enormous business opportunity of PPPs in India and has welcomed the Government of India’s PPP initiatives.
The private sector has urged the government to publicize the size of the business opportunity for PPPs in India to the private sector, which is estimated to be much more than has been previously thought. Given the enormous investment requirements in infrastructure development, the need for a sustainable pipeline of PPP projects has become paramount.
The private sector remains eager to see more substantive reforms, enabling changes by government in the policy, regulatory provisions, and procurement procedures for PPPs.
Improvements in India’s enabling environment.
The private sector has called for changes in India’s enabling environment and suggested measures to foster efficiency and transparency in the bidding process, ensure sanctity of contracts, encourage competition, promote market-driven tariffs, and separate regulatory and adjudication authorities. It has called for developing appropriate legislative framework for PPPs, clarification of entry conditions, suitable contractual structures, and clarification of incentives and concessions.
Standardized procurement procedures.
Given the variations in the formats, bidding procedures, agreements, and overall execution of PPPs among the various states and agencies, the private sector has highlighted the need for standardized prequalification and bidding procedures and guidelines for ensuring efficiency, predictability, and ease of approval process.
The need for maintaining transparency in the entire PPP project cycle and stakeholder interactions has been noted as a key factor in determining the success of PPPs.
The private sector has urged the central and state governments and other public sector project sponsors to be cautious of the “selection by nomination”20 procedure, which is not the same as transparently awarded PPP contracts.
Project development and structuring facility.
A major impediment to successful commercialization of projects in India has been the absence of rigorous project development. Many of the projects put out for bidding by GOI have been inadequately structured and unsuitable for a PPP. A project development facility (PDF) that provides project sponsors, the resources to procure consultancy, and expert services for conducting pre-feasibility studies and assessments is required.
Public sector capacity to successfully execute PPPs.
The private sector has highlighted its concerns about the absence of a robust pipeline of bankable PPP projects. This is attributed to insufficient capacity of the PPP-sponsoring public entities to identify and implement deals and execute PPPs. Capacity deficit is seen as the crucial bottleneck in achieving a steady flow of successfully negotiated PPP deals.
Public sector reforms, with or without PPPs.
The infrastructure sector suffers from supply-side constraints. The PPP experience in various states has shown that procedures and processes have been extremely dilatory. The infrastructure sector needs to urgently implement public sector reforms to address supply-side constraints. Changes in delivery mechanisms, processes, procedures, and institutional structures need to be tailored towards client-focused outcomes and results. Land acquisition and environmental clearances are best obtained by governments. Social and environmental clearances are also best obtained ADBI Discussion Paper 80 Geethanjali Nataraj 29 by government and not by the private partner. Several projects have stalled with huge time and cost overruns due to delays in land acquisition and transfer of land possession to the private sector. The private sector could deliver much faster if these clearances were handled by the project sponsor. Building in environmental and social dimensions of PPPs needs to be made part of the project development cycle.
Genuine and mutually rewarding partnerships.
PPPs represent partnerships in action with huge stakes for both the public sector and private sector agencies to succeed collectively. It is important that the public and private sector work together, keeping the project and outcomes in focus rather than maximizing their own interests, and collaborating for mutually enduring value. PPPs are a new way of doing business and are not about command and control. Ultimately, the project partners need to remember that PPPs are not about finance, but about improving the quality and efficiency of public services.
Geethanjali Nataraj, Infrastructure Challenges in South Asia:
The Role of Public-Private Partnerships, ADBI, 2007