By Umaru Kashaka
THE state minister in charge of investments, Gabriel Ajedra, has asked lawmakers to pass the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) Bill 2012 in order to improve the country’s service delivery.
Appearing before the parliament’s finance committee recently to help scrutinise the Bill, the minister noted that the Bill if passed into law, could pave way for government to tap into private resources to build public infrastructure.
“We need this law because Uganda does not at present have a distinct piece of legislation governing public-private partnerships,” Ajedra told the committee chaired by the Kyadondo North MP, Kasule Sebunya.
The Bill, which seeks to provide for public private partnership agreements; provide for the role of the private party in a public private partnership and related matters, was first tabled before the House for reading in early February this year by the finance state minister Aston Kajara before being referred to the committee.
Ajedra added: “Uganda’s experience with public-private partnerships to date has been limited to a few projects including energy infrastructure development and concessions of the existing assets in the energy, transport, water and tourism sectors.”
He explained that the implementation of these partnerships has occurred without a clear policy, legal and institutional framework and this has sometimes been poorly coordinated with adhoc processes and responsibilities leading to mixed results.
Proponents of the Bill argue that the law is vital now that Africa’s traditional source of bilateral and multilateral finance – European countries - are likely to be subjected to inevitable pressures in the wake of the Euro-zone crisis.
Thus, they say, the need to partner with the private sector within the region to develop the necessary infrastructure.
PPPs are long-term contractual arrangements between the public and private sector, in which the private sector is responsible for significant aspects of the building infrastructure to deliver public services.
They are fronted as a good alternative to funding expensive and long-term undertakings such as roads and railways.
Under PPPs, infrastructure is built, managed and maintained by the private sector which then charges the public a certain fee for using the road.