Government Approves Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy Framework

PPP-project-rfp-componentsIn March 2015, the Government approved a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Policy framework for Saint Lucia.  The Policy which details the criteria for engaging in PPPs will provide an alternative source of funding to the Government in meeting the infrastructure and public sector needs while at the same time ensuring fiscal and debt sustainability.

A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is defined as a “long term contract between a private party and a Government agency, for providing or managing a public asset and associated services, in which the private party bears significant risk and management responsibility.

PPPs can help increase the availability, quality and resilience of infrastructure and other public assets, and associated services while reducing fiscal commitment and risk involved in providing them.  PPPs can help mobilize additional funding and financing sources for infrastructure and public services.  In addition to providing value for money, PPPs provide for adequate maintenance funding, innovation and efficiency, focus on services delivery and accountability.

With the approval of the Policy, the Government will now be able to engage in long term contractual relationships with private sector entities which will introduce resources and expertise into the delivery of public assets and services.

Assistance for the Policy was provided by the World Bank and consultations were held with both the private and public sectors in its formulation.  This initiative was coordinated by the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) in collaboration with the Department of Finance.

The Policy has several objectives as follows:

  • providing value for money – PPPs will be structured to achieve the optimal combinations of benefits and costs to the Government and users;
  • fiscal responsibility where the impact of PPP projects is well understood, expected costs are affordable and the level of fiscal risk is acceptable;
  • transparency and probity in how PPPs are identified, developed, procured and managed;
  • environmental and social sustainable impacts of PPP projects will be carefully assessed and managed appropriately; and
  • partnership and inclusiveness where PPPs meet and balance the objects of all interested parties – the government agency and its private sector partner, end users, employees and other stakeholders. It is expected the PPPs will be managed through a spirit of partnership and cooperation to achieve common goals of improved infrastructure.

The PPP Policy sets out the following:

  • The definition of PPP and the essential features of PPP contracts;
  • The objectives and scope of the PPP programme, in the context of Saint Lucia’s developmental objectives, and the specific objectives of this PPP policy;
  • Processes by which PPP projects will be identified, developed, procured and managed – including how the Government will treat unsolicited proposals;
  • Institutional responsibilities for the PPP Programme, and for developing, implementing, and approving PPP projects;
  • Key commercial principles by which PPP contracts will be structured;
  • The right approach to managing the fiscal implications of PPP projects
  • Mechanisms for ensuring transparency and accountability in the PPP Programme.

The work of the PPP focal team will be strengthen by technical support through the Caribbean Development Bank.

Competitive Countries in the Caribbean

Competitiveness refers to is the ability of a country to export goods and services, while increasing the incomes of its citizens. Therefore, competitiveness focuses on developing optimum conditions in the country to promote economic growth.  In turn, these conditions would be ideal for producing quality exports of goods and services that create economic growth through job creation, increased foreign exchange, the creation of new businesses, increased sales for domestic businesses etc.

A country should focus on its competitiveness in order to survive both in the domestic and international arena. It is critical that policymakers focus on increasing Saint Lucia’s competitiveness as the country has experienced consecutive years of negative growth and high rates of unemployment. It is therefore important to learn important lessons from our neighbours that have attempted to a certain extent to increase their levels of competitiveness. These lessons can be tweaked to suit the local Saint Lucian economy.

The Global Competitiveness Report prepared by World Economic Forum (WEF) annually measures the level of competitiveness of 144 countries by focusing on the pillars which are crucial in achieving national competitiveness. The 2014-2015 WEF Competitiveness Report ranks Barbados (55), Trinidad and Tobago (86) and Jamaica (89) as the top Caribbean countries on the list. These countries continue to implement a number of reforms to increase the competitiveness of their economies. While Saint Lucia is not included in this ranking, we can learn from some of the reforms undertaken by these economies to improve Saint Lucia’s economic standing in the global and regional market.

Barbados has scored fairly well in terms of having a fairly skilled labour force due to a high-quality education system and high enrolment rates in secondary and tertiary education. It also has solid infrastructure and generally well-functioning institutions.

Currently, Barbados is in the process of implementing a Competitiveness Program which seeks to address some of the key areas that have constrained the improvement in the competitiveness profile of Barbados over the years. The program consists of several sub components that are currently being implemented. One of the projects that have made significant progress is the establishment of the Electronic Single Window. This system will allow traders to submit all required documents through a single electronic gateway, instead of submitting the same information numerous times to different government entities.

Although Trinidad has implemented a number of reforms aimed at enhancing its competitiveness.  One project that is on-going which can be tweaked to suit Saint Lucia‘s case is a Foresight and Innovation Network.  This project involves the development of an online social network to engage and connect champions of innovation, critical thinking, creativity and entrepreneurship in Trinidad. The project seeks to build a new generation of people with the right attitudes and mind set to build a competitive economy. The results of the program so far are as follows:

  • Eleven business investment projects have been supported by this project.
  • Youth between the ages of 15-18 years have received training in developing their critical thinking skills.
  • An Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club was established with over 1,320 members.
  • Several networking sessions for entrepreneurs have been organised.

The Government of Jamaica has focused on developing the competitiveness of its people through a number of initiatives aimed at helping students become problem solvers and innovators. Some of the initiatives launched by the education ministry include: Jamaica Tablet Program, Start –up Weekend Jamaica, Digital Jam Apps Competition and Kingstoon Animation Festival. As such, a brainchild developed by two students is the AgroCentral app.  This app minimizes produce waste and supports food security.

Local farmers who cultivate top-quality produce often have a hard time selling their entire crop to the market and have to deal with spoilage. To solve this, the app serves as the first ever digital clearing house in Jamaica. It links hotels and restaurants directly with small farmers. Therefore, clients are able to identify and purchase large quantities of produce. The young entrepreneurs plan to launch this app outside of Jamaica.

The Government of Saint Lucia established the National Competitiveness & Productivity Council (NCPC) to advocate and monitor actions that affect Saint Lucia’s competitiveness.  One of the first competitiveness projects spearheaded by the NCPC is the establishment of a Commercial Court.  The Commercial Court is expected to deliver an expeditious and cost effective mode of resolving disputes that directly affect the commercial and financial sector in Saint Lucia. The NCPC intends to work with agencies both in the public and private domain to advocate on projects that would enhance the country’s competitiveness.

Regular Exercise and Your Productive Output

Regular Excercise

Regular Exercise

It is a known fact that regular exercise can improve your health. It is key to managing your weight and maintaining healthy organs. But did you know that exercise can make you more productive? How is this possible? Well, the latest research shows that regular exercise can make you happier, smarter, and more energetic.

In his article ‘Exercise Increases Productivity’ within The Huffington Post, Robert Pozen states,

‘A habit of regular exercise will help keep you mentally sharper throughout your entire life. As you age, your body generates fewer and fewer brain cells (a process called neurogenesis). However, early research in mice suggests that exercise can help prevent this slowdown. In other words, by the time they reach their 50s, 60s, and 70s, people who exercise might have more brain cells than their more sedentary peers — giving them a major advantage in the workplace.’

Over a shorter time-frame, regular exercise has been proven to provide energy to the body throughout the day. Our cells contain components called mitochondria, often referred to as the cell’s “power plant.” Mitochondria in turn produces the chemical that our bodies use as energy, known as ATP. Physical exercise stimulates the development of new mitochondria within our cells, so that our bodies produce more ATP over time. This gives us more energy to exert ourselves physically, but it also means more energy for the brain, boosting mental output.

If you do not regularly exercise don’t panic however as it is not necessary to sweat up a storm to achieve these benefits. In a randomized controlled trial, researchers from the University of Georgia split people into three groups: low-intensity exercise, moderate-intensity exercise, and a control group who did not exercise at all.  During the six-week experiment, both “exercise” groups reported growing levels of energy (compared to the control group). Notably, there was no substantial difference in results between the moderate- and low-intensity exercise groups.

This experiment suggests that exercise can make you feel more energized within a few weeks. By contrast, the effect of exercise on your mood is immediate. When we exercise, our body releases several different chemicals within our brain. Collectively these are known as neurotransmitters. Although the mechanisms aren’t fully understood, these neurotransmitters seem to reduce the discomfort of exercise and create the sensation often referred to as “runner’s high.” Yet, despite all of this many people still find it hard to exercise regularly. When this is the case it is often suggested that individuals should organize a group of friends or family members to work out with.

Pozen continues,

‘Fortunately, working out with others is also more fun, as researchers found by studying elite male rowers at Oxford University. The rowers first exercised on a rowing machine in the company of their teammates; the next day, they performed the same workout at the same intensity, but by themselves. After each session, researchers tested the pain tolerance of each of the athletes, finding a higher pain tolerance when the rowers worked out together. The researchers concluded that exercising with others enhances the release of the pain-suppressing (and happiness-inducing) chemicals in your brain.’

Therefore, the evidence is compelling. A modest exercise habit can help keep you sharper into old age, give you more energy to take on the day, and improve your mood, all in all helping to improve your productivity. So stop making excuses, find a group of like-minded peers, and start exercising today!