PPPs vital for economic growth
The more the private sector moves out of the Western province the
more will the regional economy be vibrant, NDB Director and Chief
Executive Officer Rajendra Theagarajah told a forum on Public-Private
Partnership (PPP) organised by the Postgraduate Institute of Management
(PIM) last week.
The PPP forum is a precursor to a series of programs the PIM plans to
embark on to strengthen private-public cooperation for accelerated
Dr. Lloyd Fernando accompanies Minister Sarath Amunugama to
Pic: Vipula Amarasinghe
Theagarajah said that development has been confined to the Western
province and added that it is time to pass on the benefits to the
periphery with vibrant private-public sector partnerships.
The age old myth that the private sector is the engine of growth was
dispelled at the recently concluded Sri Lana Economic Summit by a top
Lankan bureaucrat who redefined the concept that if the private sector
is the engine of growth the public sector is the driver of the engine.
The Rs. 450 million joint venture wind power project in the North is
a good example of promoting regional growth. Sri Lanka Telecom is a
classic example of a sound private-public sector partnership which has
proved the power of collaboration that could turn unsound balance sheets
to profit-making win-win situations for both sectors.
"Before the privatisation of SLT, its balance sheet was unsound but
the banking and finance sector went beyond the balance sheet and
provided loans which has today paid dividends as a model of
private-public collaboration," Theagarajah said.
He said that the power sector is a monopoly of the State, but power
generation is done by the private sector. For years the private sector
had lamented over terrorism in the country.
Today, the situation has changed and there are ample opportunities
for it to take advantage and drive growth with the support of the public
The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce conceptualised the theme for this
year's economic summit to achieve a per capita income of US$ 7,000 by
2020. This target could be achieved with vibrant PPPs.
Growth is here to stay but it has to be inclusive and not exclusive.
It should blend with diversification of exports and port sector
The economic summit also stressed the importance of mapping out
future education policy for economic growth.
The NDB Bank signed an agreement to provide loan schemes for
graduates and post-graduate programs which will help institutions such
as PIM to expand its scope of education.
Senior Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr.
Sarath Amunugama said that the private sector in Sri Lanka has
opportunities to expand in an unprecedented manner given the end of
terrorism and the creation of a sound macro-economic environment
combined with an inflation rate at a single digit level and low interest
The notion that the State must do everything has been a terrible
failure. It proves that private-public cooperation is vital for
efficient management and sound public administration. The world is
looking for collaboration where the State must create an environment for
Today, we are ending a phase and exploring private-public
partnerships in institutions. The Colombo Port is a good example of
private-public partnership. The government is looking at a model where
the State will retain ownership of a 51 percent stake in institutions
and vest the rest with the private sector management.
"No country could act as individual economies in a globalised
economy. If Sri Lanka is to go beyond an agricultural economy to an
industrial economy and gain a comparative advantage it has to build
strong public-private partnerships," Dr. Amunugama said.
"We need to make full use of the comparative advantage as in the case
of India and China that is transferring investments to make full use of
its resources. The private sector alone cannot compete in the global
environment," he said.
"The State has a role to play in facilitating a conducive environment
for trade and investments. Infrastructure development such as roads,
ports, airports are vital for PPPs," Dr Amunugama said.
He said that the private sector has not taken proper cognisance of
the advantages in a global competitive environment.
Except for a few blue chip companies, a large number of private
sector entities have not taken the comparative advantage of Sri Lanka
PIM Acting Director Dr. Ajantha Dharmasiri said that the private
sector is the engine of growth and the public sector is the gear box of
the engine and added that alone is not sufficient and there should be a
good driver which is the political leadership.
The PIM has launched a series of programs to bring together private
sector managers and public sector administrators to achieve greater
awareness on public policy.
Public sector leadership is vital for a vibrant private sector
The PIM has sought support from the Treasury to set up a centre of
learning excellence in South Asia. The m-learning and e-learning
technologies will help boost academic excellence.
PIM is the first to get ISO accreditation and it will be the first to
offer full time MBA programs for students in South Asia.
PIM Program Director, Public Policy, Dr. Lloyd Fernando said that the
Public Policy for Business Leaders program will help strengthen PPPs and
create more interest in widening knowledge on public policy and added
that the PIM is in a unique position to cater to private sector managers
and public sector administrators.