NI reluctantly accepts PPPs

5 Jul 01
The Northern Ireland Assembly's finance and personnel committee gave a surprise endorsement to the Private Finance Initiative and other forms of public-private partnerships in a report published this week.

06 July 2001

Without the use of PPPs, it will not be possible to upgrade the infrastructure and services of the province, the committee concluded. But the preferred source of financing should be public finance, which is cheaper.

PPP schemes should be assessed according to their whole-life costs, it adds, with further research undertaken on ways to ensure that projects comply with future revenue planning and budgeting for services.

The Northern Ireland Executive needs to take a more strategic approach to assessing and implementing PPPs, the report suggests, including designating a minister to

co-ordinate an investment strategy. In the short term, a working group of representatives from departments should meet to develop a strategy and advise the minister, but in the longer term this should be replaced by a central investment board.

The province's Department for Regional Development is also exploring the possibility of funding capital asset improvements through a not-for-profit regional trust, to be financed by revenue bonds. Income to repay the bonds might be generated by congestion charging, parking fees and other charges.

The committee chairman, Sinn Fein assembly member Francie Molloy, said: 'We face a huge infrastructure deficit of nearly £5bn that must be tackled.

'While the committee would prefer public money to pay for public services, we recognised that the deficit will be too big to be financed from the existing block grant.'


Did you enjoy this article?