Enhancing the Private Sector Participation In Public Procurement Through PPPs

The private sector plays a vital role in realizing Uganda’s development agenda through delivery of infrastructure and public services to the population. However, it is constrained financially and technically. The private sector is now one of the innovative options integrated to the public procurement system to enable it procure infrastructure and offer opportunities to improve service delivery and assure better value for money. This is to be achieved through appropriate risk transfers, encouraging innovation and greater asset utilization.

Through the Public-Private partnerships as a vehicle for effective participation, the private sector is able to provide infrastructure and services at both national and local government levels. Contracts and legal arrangements are at the heart of PPP transactions with a sound “win-win” agreements grounded in the rule of law to achieve the objectives set forth by the Government PPP policy framework. In the broadest sense, PPPs cover all types of collaborative arrangements that involve an interface between the public and private sectors to deliver government (public) policies, services and infrastructure.

Though application of PPPs is often regarded as an alternative to full privatization, it combines the advantages of both sectors, namely (a) the social responsibility, environmental awareness and public accountability of the public sector; with the (b) finance, technology, managerial efficiency and entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector therein bridging the gap between the two.

One of the underlying principles of the guidelines of the objectives of PPPs is equity for all parties to the partnership which levels the playground hence creating a fair competition through the open market approach. This in return ensures good service provision and transparency in the procurement process.

Important to note is these guidelines are designed for use by the local governments, the community groups, advisors and other stakeholders, desiring to partner with the private sector in the delivery of infrastructure and public services in their areas of jurisdiction. This details the dimensions and principles of the private sector and highlights what they are, how they work and how they benefit the community in which the partnership exists. All this knowledge given to the public sector ensures harmony during operations on a wide range of projects while working with the private sector.

PPPs arrangements enable the private sector to harness complementary resources and expertise available with the public sector and other civil society actors. Given that the private sector is confronted by daunting capacity challenges ranging from inadequate human resource to low revenue base it can be imperative that meaningful efficiency and effectiveness of liberalized service delivery can only be a product of shared effort between the private sector and other stakeholders especially the public sector.

Despite the fact that there is a conflicting interest between full privatization and PPPs, its biased to under look the role the PPPs have played in enhancing the participation of the private sector in the public procurement system of Uganda.