Ireland is a leading practitioner in the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), a global Deloitte study entitled - Closing the Infrastructure Gap: The Role of Public-Private Partnerships - has found.
As more and more governments around the world are teaming up with the private sector to design, build, finance and operate everything - from roads and ports to hospitals and prisons - Ireland has been identified as an example from which other countries can learn.
According to the report, Ireland is only behind Australia and the UK - the leader in PPP deployment - in the use of PPPs. Ireland is cited in the report as a leading PPP practitioner in the fields of transport, water/waste (there are currently over 100 PPP projects in wastewater in Ireland), education, and housing/urban regeneration.
Public-Private partnerships have emerged as a crucial tool for governments to tackle critical infrastructure needs around the world. Once limited to a handful of countries, public-private partnerships have emerged as one of the most important models that governments can use to close the infrastructure gap in both developed and emerging markets.
While the development of PPPs in Ireland started quite slowly, the current use of PPPs across a wide number of sectors, puts Ireland as one of the more mature PPP markets in the world - the report said.
However, there are still areas in Ireland in which PPPs could be used to improve services. A survey - in 2005 - of private infrastructure providers, identified hospitals as the sector with the most potential for PPP development - 79 percent of respondents ranked it first on their preference order for PPP development. The maturing of the Irish market should allow for greater innovation in structures used for PPPs, extending its use into other sectors such as health and IT.
The report found that the most effective public-private partnerships marry the best skills of the public and private sectors to the benefit of the public services being delivered to the citizen. By giving the private sector the responsibility to provide the infrastructure and other services, this allows the public sector to focus on its main responsibility and the objectives of providing quality services for the citizen. The report also found that the use of PPPs can be further improved by considering three essential approaches:
Adopt a 'life-cycle' perspective for each project.
This means looking not only at the financial terms of the deal, but to the entire life of the project and the impact of the project on existing and future operations of the public sector.
Use more innovative models.
While standardising PPP policies and practices is important, governments should also develop imaginative new approaches to fit the requirements of unique projects and changing circumstances.
Unlock value from under-utilised assets.
Savvy governments are, increasingly, examining ways in which they can best exploit the value of their assets, by exchanging them for other assets or services that might serve more pressing needs.
The major infrastructure sectors in which public-private partnerships have been successfully applied include transport (roads, rail and ports), water, waste, hospitals, public housing, prisons and defense.