PIM hosts public-private partnership forum, bringing new insights

Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A forum on public-private partnership was organised by the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) recently to discuss and highlight the importance of public private partnerships in Sri Lanka’s strategic development roadmap and to create a public platform to share ideas, different viewpoints and to provide valuable insights from respected academic, public and private sector officials. Senior Minister of International Economic Relations and Deputy Minister of Finance Dr. Sarath Amunugama was the Chief Guest and keynote speaker at the event. Dr. Amunugama, addressing an audience of mostly top level business leaders at the PIM Auditorium, stressed the need to strengthen public-private partnership to take advantage of the many economic opportunities unfolding before Sri Lanka in the international economy. “Most of the goods and services in the country, more than 80%, are produced by the private sector. That is why it is called the engine of growth” said Dr. Amunugama. “However, the levers of growth are with the Government. Private sector growth is greatly influenced by public policy and the regulatory framework which determine the content and direction of its performance. There must, therefore, be a strong understanding between the two sectors in order to yield optimum results for the country,” he added. Dr. Amunugama said that it is the role of the Government to create the necessary economic environment and facilities for the private sector to perform. But the private sector must have a clear understanding of the opportunities based on a theoretical framework which would enable it to analyse and make necessary provision in their strategic business plans. “Since we are living in a ‘globalised world’, where there are both opportunities and threats we have to prepare our business plans in line with the country’s comparative advantages,” he continued. The dawn of peace, has created unprecedented opportunities for investment in any part of the country. The government’s thrust on infrastructure development and its policies to enhance macroeconomic stability have reinforced the advantages. The private sector also must consider Sri Lanka’s geographic position in the main sea and naval routes and the opportunities created, in particular, by the Hambantota harbour. Dr. Amunugama urged the private sector to develop a collective view of its relationship with the Government and be prepared to present a common position on all matters of importance. What is happening now is the individual approach with a view to serving parochial interests. Dr. Amunugama, therefore, saw merit in the PIM initiative of organising a forum for a well structured discussion on matters of mutual interest. He said that this approach should be continued. NDB Bank Director/Chief Executive Officer Rajendra Theagarajah said that he fully appreciated the need for a well-structured dialogue and expressed confidence that there  is now a greater opportunity to pursue this line in view of the programs undertaken by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The recent Economic Summit was a case in point where business leaders and Government officials exchanged ideas. Theagarajah further mentioned the investment by the NDB in a wind power project in Elephant Pass to add 20 megawatts of power to the national grid. “If successful, it will pave the way for many such projects to be developed in the future which will not only add to the country’s power generation capacity but also produce it cheaper using a feely available resource,” he added. PIM Actg. Director Dr. Ajantha Dharmasiri, speaking at the very outset, explained the role of the PIM in developing a strong perspective of public-private partnership and analytical skills to deal with many issues relating to public policy in a dynamic setting. Dr. Arul Sivagananathan, Eardley Perera and Angelo Patrick mentioned in this regard, the value of the PPBL program they followed last year at the PIM, which was based on a novel concept of knowledge sharing rather than listening to lectures. Dr. Lloyd Fernando-Program Director, Public Policy of the Postgraduate Institute of Management referred to the structure of the Public Policy for Business Leaders (PPBL) program that will be re-launched in September this year, where all the good points made at the Forum will be incorporated into a well structured agenda for discussion. “We have no doubt that the PPBL program will add value to the process of mutual understanding required to make Public Private Partnership a success” Dr. Fernando added.