Govt’s Public Private Partnership plan has no takers in 5 months

SRINAGAR: The state government has not received any proposal in the 10 sectors it had identified for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects. Industrialists say the proposal had no takers because the government was not clear about the scheme and because of the general investor distrust.
The government led by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had decided in the cabinet that infrastructure upgrade projects through PPP mode would be taken up in roads, tourism, housing, urban development, sports, technical education, health, horticulture, industries and mining sectors.
Five months down the line, no business group has submitted any proposal.
The government had also constituted a steering committee with chief secretary B R Sharma as its chairman and administrative secretaries of finance, planning, revenue and law as its members. Its mandate was to monitor the selection, formulation and implementation of the scheme.
Former president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shakeel Qalander believes the government’s proposal was vague and investors perceived it to be risky.
“The idea was good but no investor can invest his money if he is not sure about when the project will be completed. The government was not clear about implementation. Its history of changing policies is a nightmare for an investor,” Qalander told Kashmir Reader.
Qalander said the government should have backed the PPP decision with legislation that will provide investors a sense of security.
“Any person can move court against an investor. For example, a project can get stalled because people might feel that public property is being fiddled with.
Once in court it doesn’t matter who wins but litigation can stall a project for years which incurs huge losses. Investors have faced these problems before but now they have learnt a lesson,” he said.
The aim of giving projects under PPP was to boost the infrastructure development by bringing additional resources, technical expertise and efficiency in project implementation. It was decided that all the departments concerned would immediately identify the projects.
Several projects had been identified. Construction of housing units for Dal dwellers at Rakh-e-Arth, Jawhar Nagar and Gandhi Nagar under housing and urban development and Sonwar-Gallandar road, Chatroo-Vailoo Tunnel, Mughal Road Tunnel and inter-district roads in the roads sector.
In tourism sector, the identified projects were upgradation of infrastructure at Ranjit Sagar Dam and Doodhpathri.
In sports, two Sports Cities, one each at Jammu and Srinagar; in health sector, setting up of state-of-the-art diagnostic facilities at government hospitals; in horticulture, high-density plantation and in technical education, setting up of skill development institutions had been planned.
President Federation Chamber of Industries Mohammad Ashraf Mir said the “government’s laxity, an inefficient administrative system and the absence of legislation” kept investors at bay.
“Policy is fine but it has no worth if it is not implemented. It takes years for the completion of a project. A few years ago, the government asked people to invest in mini hydro-power projects. Twenty-two people had submitted proposals but only a few people were granted the projects,” he said.
“These projects also faced losses. They could neither sell their energy nor transmit it to people because the government had no system in place. It took government two years to solve the issues during which the investor faced huge losses. Now tell me would any one invest under this system, absolutely not,” he added.
President Chamber of Commerce and Industry Jammu Rakesh Gupta echoed the Kashmir industrialists.
“I squarely blame the government for its failure. We have a system where it takes years to sign MoUs. This delay causes losses and investor would not be interested. There should be foolproof system prior to inviting investments in the government sector,” he said.
In the wake of such poor investor response, the government is itself preparing PPP proposals for two projects in Kashmir and Jammu regions—construction of commercial complexes and housing units. Earlier, the investors were supposed to come up with proposals.
“Wakaf and custodian departments are now working on it. It will take two months for them to finish the detailed project reports before tenders will be invited,” said a member of the Steering Committee on condition of anonymity.