“Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.” – Judges 18:6
Two of my most loyal Caribbean readers for more than a decade gave me feedback to my October 10 column on Public Private Partnerships.
The first was so impactful that the least I could do was to reproduce it in its entirety.
“Your recent column touched a nerve. We often talk about ‘private public partnership’ as if it is some recent invention. All enterprise throughout the Caribbean is already a private public partnership. The partnership fails when members on one side of the partnership either fail to recognize or refuse to play their part.
“If the roads are not properly maintained by the public sector, transportation times are longer, vehicle maintenance becomes an additional private expense and efficiencies of product and services deliveries decline. If educational systems do not deliver adults with the necessary skills required by private businesses AND the government, training expenses increase, the quality of products and services decline, the cost of doing business increases and the entire country becomes less competitive. The same applies to health care, to the approval of licences, to the search for titles to land etc, etc, etc.
“If businesses are not sustainable, jobs are not provided, taxes are not collected, collective self-esteem diminishes, crime increases, brain drain increases and the society and economy spiral downward.
“So all enterprise is a private-public partnership and the sooner we all recognize that and cooperate in finding the right measure of contribution by each side, the better the outcomes for any country or region.”
In response to my questions: “Why is it that Caribbean leadership is in such chaos? Is it because of colonial heritage, power, egos, greed, arrogance, disunity, infighting, mendicancy, a fixation on reparations, lack of global vision, distrust, jealousy, hate, envy, worry, guilt and/or fear?” His response was: “It is all of these on both sides.”
He went on to say: “There are businessmen who really believe that it is their genius entirely that explains their success in the Caribbean. There are political leaders who seek to grab maximum credit for all that happens on their country. Neither one is correct. Those political leaders who ensure that government services are delivered in the most effective, transparent and efficient way will see significant increases in private investments in their country. Those investors who seek to maximize their income AND work obviously and delightfully with cooperating governments to maximize the benefits to the country, will feel an embrace as never before.
“One more thing. Private public partnerships are often spoken about as if they relate to capital investments only. True partnerships also relate to ideas, process, government policies and proper welcome and immersion of expatriates into the local culture and history. No matter the size of one’s ego, being elected does not provide instant knowledge about all aspects of one’s assigned portfolio. Being invited to invest in a country does not provide instant knowledge of those items that matter most to the people of that country. Even local investors would do well to become better acquainted with the outcomes that the government is seeking and finding ways to assist in the delivery of those outcomes.
“Private public partnerships work best when it is all encompassing. Such partnerships are not an option. They are not some new construct. They are an imperative. They are the bedrock of the long term success of any society and economy.”
The other response from another colleague, not for the first time either, was more contained but very informative and revealing: “Basil, I agree and this is where we are moving in Jamaica. Montego Bay airport went that route and has been a major success. Our main Cargo Port which has not seen growth in years was just PPP’d and we are now moving to invite PPPs for Norman Manley Airport in Kingston and several other exciting PPPs are being planned.”
In the midst of any challenges, let us confess to the errors of our ways, ask for forgiveness and become radiating centres of love thus becoming peaceful and free to partner to achieve a bedrock of stability and sustainability.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His email address is email@example.com and his columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)