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Principles for public-private partnerships – towards sustainability? Lessons from SAGCOT, healthcare in Lesotho, and Better Factories Cambodia

Discussion Paper 194

July 2016

Byiers, B., Große-Puppendahl, S., Huyse, H., Rosengren, A. and S. Vaes. 2016. Principles for public-private partnerships - towards sustainability? Lessons from SAGCOT, healthcare in Lesotho, and Better Factories Cambodia. (Discussion Paper 194). Maastricht: ECDPM and KU Leuven.

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While private sector development and job creation are not new aspects of development policy, there is growing recognition that global development challenges are multi-faceted and complex, requiring collaborative, multi-stakeholder alliances between all sectors of society. This has been bolstered by pressure on public budgets for development cooperation and the need to complement these with private resources to finance the future development agenda.

This study looks at some of the main sets of criteria or principles that have been proposed to ensure more ‘developmental’ engagement with the private sector; and at three prominent PPP examples from the health, agriculture and textile sectors, looking at what can be learned from the experiences. The array of sectors is in itself useful for comparison of how sectoral considerations may influence the lessons learned.


Key messages


  • This study looks at some of the main sets of criteria or principles to ensure more ‘developmental’ engagement with businesses. It examines three prominent public-private partnership (PPP) experiences from the health, agriculture, and textile sectors and how sectoral considerations may influence the lessons learned.
  • Beyond generating private returns to ensure financial viability, a ‘successful’ partnership must generate public returns in terms of wider social, political and environmental sustainability. The challenge for partnerships is then to balance these dual objectives, while ensuring compliance and enforcement.
  • The two concerns raised most frequently regarding development PPPs are i) additionality related to defining, ensuring and measuring the additional impact that is being achieved due to the public finance component and ii) transparency related to the availability of reliable information on the negotiation, the design, the implementation and the results of PPPs.
  • To evaluate PPPs, two questions need to be addressed: i) is the PPP the best tool to address the identified needs in a specific context? ii) does the PPP deliver on its promises? This requires a better understanding of the distribution of costs and benefits based on greater transparency, while the PPPs’ design must take into account the likely power imbalances between actors in institutionally weak environments.

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Photo courtesy of Erik Cleves Kristensen via Flickr.

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Economic Transformation and TradeDiscussion Papers (series)Public Private Partnerships (PPPs)CambodiaLesothoTanzania