Window of opportunities for businesses
International financial institutions are ready to provide assistance in preparing pilot projects of public-private partnership
During the Co-ordination Council session
Belarus’ Economy Minister, Vladimir Zinovsky, spoke at the opening of the session of the Interagency Infrastructure Co-ordination Council, announcing, “We have seven pilot public-private partnership projects for which we’ve received conformation of funding, from international organisations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility and the International Finance Corporation. They are ready to provide assistance to the Belarusian Government in their preparation.”
The Minister underlined that Belarus is shifting from the establishment of public-private partnership to its development. He added, “An important result of our activity has been the release of the first national infrastructure plan for Belarus for 2016-2030: the first attempt to determine the country’s infrastructure needs and to assess the deficit of resources for their financing.”
Mr. Zinovsky believes it’s necessary to set up a special department within the Economy Ministry dealing with PPP issues, saying, “I believe that colleagues from the Finance Ministry should also think about the creation of such a structure within their department.”
Belarus’ First Deputy Economy Minister, Alexander Zaborovsky, notes that the Economy Ministry estimates the country’s need for infrastructure investments for the period until 2030 at $60bn. “Our key task is to combine state budget resources with private sector resources, and loans from major international institutions. The infrastructure package is well-balanced. Half of our resources can be obtained from the state budget while the rest can come from private businesses. Showing a window of opportunity to the private sector is the main task of the infrastructure plan,” he asserts.
Experts at the UN Economic Commission for Europe have highly praised Belarusian public-private partnership projects, as noted by the Chairman of the UNECE PPP Business Advisory Board, James Stewart, before the session of the Interagency Infrastructure Co-ordination Council. He stressed, “Our experts have assessed the projects presented by Belarus, highly praising all. We’ll do our best to compile a programme for their implementation.”
Chief of the PPP programme at the UNECE, Geoffrey Hamilton, noted that, over the past two years, Belarus has made great headway in developing public-private partnership. He underlined, “I believe that, if you continue working in this direction, you may become a PPP leader in the Eastern European region.”
According to Mr. Stewart, one of Belarus’ best PPP achievements has been its drafting of a law on public-private partnership, allowing implementation of infrastructure projects, with good results.
Mr. Zaborovsky commented that the Interagency Infrastructure Co-ordination Council plans to discuss all seven public-private partnership pilot projects in detail, covering such fields as construction of roads and kindergartens, and public utility issues. “The next package represents 100 vital infrastructure projects to be ‘green-lighted’ after the pilots have finished. Undoubtedly, the national infrastructure plan will be gradually updated,” he explained.
Public-private partnership is viewed as a model for co-operation between the state and the private sector, encouraging the implementation of important social projects through reliance on private business innovations, capital and resources. This eases the strain on the state budget. Each private partner should create and service an infrastructure object for a period of time specified by contract (10-20 years usually) in exchange for fixed payments allocated from the state budget. After the contract expires, the state (via a municipal government agency) takes over the asset.
The Interagency Infrastructure Coordination Council was established in May 2014 to develop proposals to attract private capital, including foreign capital. It aims to promote efficient legal, economic and informational conditions, supporting infrastructure development projects via public-private partnership principles.
By Piotr Fedosov