BICA Chief: PPPs would ensure “true” accountability

BICA Chief: PPPs would ensure “true” accountability
Gowon Bowe

President of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), Gowon Bowe, said that he supports the Government’s formal framework for public private partnerships as it would ensure true accountability.

“There are projects that you want to be properly planned; projects that you want to be properly scoped out, and you want to be properly executed – more importantly – properly operated and accountable,” Bowe told Eyewitness News on Thursday.

“So for those businesses or those persons who say this [public-private partnership] is adding bureaucracy, I would say that maybe you were getting away with something that was not as equitable for government.”

Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the Government had established a formal policy for public-private partnerships (PPP) that sets out clear definitions and terms to govern the process of identifying, screening, procuring and managing PPPs, including how to treat unsolicited proposals.

The DPM said in the past, the term PPP had been used in broad, often metaphorical terms to account for any number of projects, including those categorized as joint ventures, management contracts, and even simple vendor-financed transactions that represented essentially short-term loans to the government.

Turnquest noted, however, that with the new policy, the government specifically defines a PPP as a relationship between the government and a private sector entity or consortium designed to introduce private sector resources and expertise into public infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, the BICA President said the PPP exercise will also set out how the Government is going to determine types of projects and it will also ensure true accountability.

“Oftentimes we have seen a number of PPPs simply being unsolicited proposals going into government and the policymakers of the day saying, ‘that sounds like a good idea’. The ones that have been successful are the ones where there was a pause button, it said do I have the right expertise to even understand what I need,” Bowe explained.

Bowe added that in order for the government to meet its infrastructural needs, especially in the family islands, PPP’s are a must.

The intended use of a PPP is to implement priority investment and infrastructure projects that are aligned with the government’s development objectives, where doing so is expected to provide the best value for scarce resources.