U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap in discussion with Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake

The government of United States last week expressed its willingness to assist the Sri Lankan government to adapt and institutionalize the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model to help the island meet its democratic and economic reform goals. Addressing a National Conference on PPPs supported by USAID in collaboration with the Department of Public Finance of the Ministry of Finance, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Atul Keshap said that promoting PPPs is one of U.S. Government’s key agendas, and hence it had solid experience in helping stakeholders plan, build and support sustainable PPP programmes across the world. At present he said, the USAID is working closely with a host of government agencies in Sri Lanka.

“For example, we recently helped the Department of Public Finance of the Ministry of Finance to publish a report on PPPs and to develop a roadmap to assess the current legal, regulatory, and business environment around PPPs in comparison to international best practices,” Keshap said noting that taking the report and the roadmap as a base, the Embassy is helping the government to create a PPP framework.

“We are also helping them to implement some of the recommendations included in the report such as setting up a national PPP unit and a national PPP committee, the development of a national policy and strategy on PPPs, and assistance with revisions to the legal and regulatory framework,” Keshap added.

Speaking at the same conference, Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake
said that the proposed PPP mechanism will attract more foreign investors especially to the infrastructure development sector thereby easing the government’s current budget constraints. He pointed out that the correct approach on variety of PPP modules will bring enormous foreign investment and benefits to the country without having the burden of paying back.

“PPP is quicker, transparent and will   use new technology in its processing thereby avoiding other unnecessary delays.  Earlier, the tender procedure which was archaic, corrupt and inefficient took months and years to complete projects.  Even after taking such a long time, some of them were unsolicited and were offered to certain selected companies.  Therefore, to remedy such unacceptable system, the new government is working in favour of PPP and, is determined to facilitate the new system to enable investors to engage in their venture hassle free,” Minister Karunanayake said at the event held in Colombo last week.

Ministers Rauff Hakeem, Daya Gamage and Deputy Ministers Dr. Harsha de silva and Eran Wickramaratne also participated at the event.