History RePPPeated II – Why Public-Private Partnerships are not the solution

“In 2018, our report History RePPPeated – How Public-Private Partnerships are failing challenged the increasing promotion of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a silver bullet to finance development projects. It showed that PPPs often come at a high cost for the public purse and citizens, an excessive level of risk for the public sector and have a negative impact on democratic governanceHowever, calls for an increasing role for the private sector in the financing of infrastructure and public services, and for PPPs in particular, continue to grow.

Currently, PPPs are being promoted through a vast array of tools and by a wide range of institutions, including bilateral donor agencies, United Nations agencies and multilateral development banks (MDBs). The World Bank Group continues to be at the forefront of the promotion of PPPs, and of the use of private finance in development more generally.

The rationale is that PPPs may help overcome challenges in the financing, implementation and delivery of infrastructure and public services, based on the assumption that the private sector brings additional finance, and that private companies are inherently more efficient than the public sector in delivering high-quality public services. This overlooks evidence that points to the contrary and the fact that decades of structural adjustment programmes and austerity policies have left public services underfunded.

This report is the second in the History RePPPeated series and is once again the result of a joint civil society effort from organisations around the world. Through emblematic cases across four continents, the report provides an in-depth analysis of various kinds of PPP projects in both the global south and north. It also analyses emerging trends in the intervening four years since the first report was published, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the multiple crises facing the world.

Since then, the context for the continued promotion of PPPs has become even more complex and uncertain. In early 2020, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted how market-based models cannot be relied upon to deliver on human rights such as health, education and water provision, and the fight against inequalities. In 2022, the upsurge in the cost of living, the energy crisis and the climate crisis have further highlighted the failures of the current economic model and the urgent need to build a different one.”

Read and download the full report here.

Read more here

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