Make Public Information on PPPs, World Bank Tells Government

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Bennett Oghifo

The World Bank Group has recommended that governments ensure full disclosure in respect of infrastructure projects proposed for public-private partnerships (PPPs) to remove elements of suspicion and to encourage acceptance.

Nigerian governments, federal and states, have been struggling, unsuccessfully so far, to evolve sustainable PPPs, making it imperative for them to heed the World Bank’s advice.

“At the World Bank Group, we believe that information is critical when governments make decisions about what infrastructure projects to prioritise; how people, businesses, and the environment will be affected; and which procurement method best meets government goals and public needs,” said the Group in a statement, recently.

Like other procurement methods, the WB said “public-private partnerships (PPPs) require good infrastructure governance. This includes planning, setting fiscal appropriations, and proper preparation and tendering of projects. But this knowledge is not just important for governments—it is crucial that citizens also have access to information about projects that affect them.”

To help governments disclose information about their PPPs more effectively, the World Bank Group has launched a new online learning course on Planning and Implementing Disclosure in PPPs. The course is designed to provide government officials with essential skills in planning and implementing a customised disclosure framework for PPPs, with the goal of disclosing project information more systematically and sustainably.

An informed public sector, combined with an informed public, is critical for PPPs to deliver lasting social and economic benefits. Moreover, disclosing information when implementing PPPs has interconnected benefits—for governments, for citizens, and for investors. These include greater accountability in expenditure, increased public confidence in projects and the fairness of the process, better value for money, reduced risk of corruption, and investor confidence in procurement processes that can result in greater infrastructure investment. Importantly, disclosure also helps to build a better understanding by the private sector of the public sector’s requirements and expectations.

In the long run, the feedback loop that’s created by making transparency and public disclosure a core part of public infrastructure projects can also help governments develop better policies and practices related to PPPs. So, it is essential to build the right frameworks for disclosure—as well as to frame this discussion through outreach and engagement with stakeholders.

Indeed, the World Bank’s Benchmarking Infrastructure Development series scores countries on their disclosure of information throughout the PPP lifecycle, one of the many actionable indicators we measure to support regulatory reforms that improve the enabling environment for developing quality infrastructure projects.
The World Bank Group has worked with governments for many years to improve disclosure policies and practices.

For example, we worked with governments in Nigeria and Kenya in 2016 on PPP transparency initiatives, which led to Nigeria launching a national PPP Contracts Disclosure Web Portal in 2017 and Kenya launching its Public-Private Partnership Disclosure Portal in 2018, helping both countries move toward greater transparency and openness in their procurement processes. Uganda, Ghana, Honduras, and Afghanistan—as well as governments from countries affected by fragility and conflict—have also benefitted from the World Bank support in this area.

“Over the years, the World Bank’s Infrastructure Finance, PPPs, & Guarantees Global Practice and IFC’s Transaction Advisory Services team have also collaborated on tools and frameworks to help governments disclose PPP project information more effectively. This includes the World Bank Group Framework for “Disclosure in Public-Private Partnerships that provides a structure for disclosing project information, accompanied by Jurisdictional Studies and Good Practice Cases. The new course on implementing disclosure in PPPs builds on these efforts.

“But we’ve gone further than just making these tools available; we actively use them. World Bank teams support governments to embed disclosure in legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks; incorporate disclosure clauses in PPP contracts; and proactively disclose information at various stages in the PPP lifecycle.
Similarly, when IFC advises governments on designing and structuring PPPs, our teams encourage all our clients to follow the World Bank Group Framework for “Disclosure as best practice. Whenever IFC invests in PPPs, we conduct detailed due diligence that includes assessing the host government’s disclosure framework as it applies to the proposed investment.

“We do this for a very simple reason: disclosing information builds trust and accountability while aligning private investments with public interest, which is good for projects and good for communities.”

PPPs should provide value to the public, and here at the World Bank Group we believe that, by increasing disclosure and transparency of PPP processes, citizens will be more engaged and able to help improve project designs with the resulting PPPs delivering sustainable benefits for the people they’re intended to serve.

“We hope this new course will contribute to this by providing governments with the practical knowledge and skills needed to make transparency and timely access to information a core component of their PPP projects. This interactive course has been designed in partnership with the World Bank Group’s Open Learning Campus who provided support for the pedagogy, multimedia packaging, and dissemination,” the World Bank Group said.