Government Responding To Challenges Faced By The PPP Projects

The India Saga, November 13, 2017

New Delhi: Learning from its part mistakes and experiences, the Government has begun to address the challenges faced by the Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects through optimal policy formulations and designing suitable organisational structures.

Under the new structural changes undertaken by the government of the day, developing pilot PPPs which can be scaled up in various sectors such as waste to energy, health and education are now being promoted. The need of the hour is that PPP projects be weighed on the basis of innovation and sustainability to foster competition, thereby bringing efficiency. This was the view of the experts at the CUTS-CIRC 5th Biennial Conference on Competition, Regulation and Development organised with CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition under the theme ?Fostering Innovation for Sustainable Development: Revisiting Intellectual Property Rights, Competition from the lens of Optimal Regulation??.

The experts including the former Planning Commission member, Arum Maira and former Finance Secretary and Chairman, CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition (CIRC), Dr. Arvind Mayaram deliberated at length with international delegates on the challenges faced by PPP projects. This included dearth of organisational capacity in States to handle PPP projects, poor policy and design loopholes. Despite such hurdles, PPPs are gaining momentum in India in terms of quantum of investments and number of projects, through innovations in technology, project structures and financing options, such as municipal bonds.

Experts talked about the need of PPP in developing countries, especially in India. Paucity of funds, and the inability of States to borrow more from financial institutions has prompted the Government to look aggressively towards private finance through innovative community sensitive PPP structures. The idea being to not only create physical assets, but also to improve service level delivery through design innovation.

Similarly, experts at another session at the conference debated about the interface between competition and IPR and the need to strike the right balance among these two sets of seemingly conflicting policies at various levels. Developing countries should consider their levels of development as well as priorities while building their IP protection regime, at the same time using competition policy as a complementary instrument to promote and protect public interests. This should then be translated into appropriate policy formulation, implementation and enforcement to promote both innovation and consumer welfare, it was felt.

The need for considering the merits of government interventions and regulations, for adapting and modernising existing regulations, and for building the institutional capacities of regulators were also brought forward.
This is in response to the rapid changes of the markets and the emergence of new business models such as multisided platforms, fintech, and other disruptive technologies, as evidenced in sectors such as ICT, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, transport and e-commerce. Devising an optimal regulatory framework would bring clarity and certainty to stakeholders, promote investment and trade while also ensuring consumer interests are protected and promoted., the key speakers felt.

The conference also highlighted the growing policy uncertainty, need of data for effective policy formulation, its impacts and the need for improved mechanisms to redesign the existing regulations. The challenges due to lack of organisational capacities to tackle policy and regulatory uncertainty were also emphasised by the speakers.

They deliberated upon the need of relevant quality data in research, how disruptions are making the past data redundant, and the importance of more dialogue between the policy makers and researchers. It was emphasised that policy uncertainty deters investment and good policies outlive governments. The importance of greater interaction between researchers, policy makers, users and civil society in better policy making was stressed upon.

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