As a railway expert working for the World Bank, I engage with many client countries that are looking to expand or upgrade their railway systems. Whenever someone pitches a railway investment, my first question is always, “What are your trains going to carry?” I ask this question because it is fundamental to railway financing.
Railways are very capital intensive and increasingly need to attract financing from the private sector to be successful. That is why the World Bank recently updated its Railway Toolkit to include more information and case studies on railway financing. Here, in a nutshell are the key lessons about railway financing from this update.
Since the 1980s, investment in Brazil’s infrastructure has declined from 5% to a little above 2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), scarcely enough to cover depreciation and far below that of most middle-income countries (see figure below). The result is a substantial infrastructure gap. Over the same period, Brazil has struggled with stagnant productivity growth. The poor status of infrastructure is broadly believed to be a key reason for Brazil’s growth malaise.
We’ve just released the 2016 update for the World Bank’s Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) Database and it makes for some gloomy reading. Investment commitments (investments) in infrastructure with private participation in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs) fell by a whopping 37% compared to 2015.
Negotiators in Paris last December achieved a previously unattainable consensus among all countries — large and small, industrialized and developing — on a target for minimizing climate change.
They agreed to hold planetary warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, which can only happen by drastically cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Adhering to the target requires a de facto energy revolution that transforms economies and societies by weaning the world from dependence on fossil fuels. The magnitude of the task means strategies and spending on a scale far exceeding previous efforts.
Jordan is my second home, as I have worked there, off and on, since the late 1990s. I have watched Amman grow from a relaxed city into a hustling, bustling regional business and financial hub. Even though my Arabic is still rusty, there is no shortage of development partners and government officials ready to talk in our common language — the vocabulary of public investment management (PIM) and public-private partnerships (PPPs).
Recently I was invited to speak at Public Investment Management (PIM): Best Practices Workshop hosted in Amman, Jordan by the World Bank Group’s regional Governance team, led by Emmanuel Cuvillier. My job there was to show the linkages between public investment planning (PIP) and PPPs. As I prepped for my speaking engagement, I realized how little progress we, the global PPP community, have made in developing an integrated approach for undertaking investment projects.
One obvious reason for this is that PIMs are not fully integrated in the planning functions by most governments. And PPP projects that follow privatization programs have adopted many of the habits of the privatization programs — for example, only work on a list of selected entities, and establish an ad-hoc commission/committee tasked to undertake evaluation and tendering — with the ultimate aim of obtaining private investment.
But there’s an important difference in the case of PPPs. We are not selling assets, we are creating assets. The project does not end when the public and private parties sign the contract, as is the case in privatization; in fact; the project begins at that point, and has to be monitored over many years for performance and delivery. Typically, the project reverts back to the public sector at the end of the PPP agreement term. And finally, unlike the case with privatization, the public sector almost always commits to various kinds of fiscal commitments (real or contingent) in PPPs.
India needs large investments in infrastructure for accelerating inclusive growth aimed at poverty alleviation and improvement in quality of life. Given the fiscal constraints that leave little room for expanding public investment at the scale required, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) has emerged as the principal vehicle for attracting private investment in infrastructure.
However, much of the private capital required for PPP projects has to be raised from domestic financial institutions that do not have the capacity or instruments to provide long-tenure debt for projects having a long payback period. While financial sector reform is a long-drawn process, this essay demonstrates how a well-designed intervention can help in bypassing the extant constraints without compromising on the integrity and prudence associated with debt financing.
By setting up a government-owned financial institution with a mandate to provide about 30 percent of the project debt, a large volume of long-term debt was mobilised while leaving the remaining 70 percent to be financed by the normal banking system. This was perhaps, a first-of-its-kind financial institution which not only lent long-term funds, but also gave a strong signal to the banking system to participate proactively in the financing of infrastructure projects.
As a result, private investments aggregating about US$114 billion have been facilitated without any dilution in the prudential norms of banking. This essay explains the evolution and success of this initiative.
By any measure, the United States is a laggard in terms of public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Between 1985 and 2011, there were 377 transportation PPP infrastructure projects funded in the U.S. Those projects comprised just nine percent of the total nominal costs of infrastructure PPPs around the world. Europe leads the infrastructure PPP market, concentrating more than 45 percent of the nominal value of all PPPs.
There appear to be several discrete, but related, reasons why the U.S. has been slow to pursue PPPs in comparison with European and Asian countries:
In some cases, there is a lack of consensus, institutional capacity, and expertise to properly promote the benefits and costs of PPP deals. In Pittsburgh, for example, an arrangement to lease the city’s parking operations to a private entity collapsed when the city council voted against the transaction.
Deals are getting more complex, politically heated, and cumbersome as some stretch across jurisdictions and even international borders, as is the case with the New International Trade Crossing intended to connect Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.
With state and municipal finances under strain, the public sector is trying to transfer greater responsibility to the private sector, including in the arena of project financing.
In this regard, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recently noted that while the U.S. has done much to promote the benefits of PPPs, it needs to do more to assist states and metro areas in thinking through potential costs and trade-offs, as well as assessing national interests.
The last few years have brought an uptick in the number of mining investments that have been the subject of disputes between investors and governments. This trend is of considerable concern to the players in the sector across the globe.
Yet, there is a wealth of wisdom to be—pardon the pun—mined from the literature over the past few decades in an attempt to distill what the main risk factors are in agreements that govern investments in the sector, with specific focus on taxation regimes.
Number of Expropriatory Acts by Sector – three-year rolling averages
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Thanks to Urbanization, Tomorrow's Megalopolises Will Be in Africa and Asia
Tokyo will still be the world’s largest city in 2030, but it will have many more contenders on its heels. According to a fascinating new report from the United Nations, the globe will have 41 “mega-cities” -- defined as those with 10 million or more inhabitants -- up from 28 now. Although the world’s largest urban centers have historically been concentrated in the developed world, fast-paced urbanization in Africa and Asia means that the megalopolises of tomorrow will be found in the developing world. By 2030, Asia and Africa will host nine of the world’s 10 largest cities, according to the report.
Mobilizing Private Investment for Post-2015 Sustainable Development
The sustainable development goals are likely to have a more ambitious scope than the Millennium Development Goals. Accordingly, they will need a more ambitious financing for development strategy that can mobilize much more public, private, and “blended” finance. Very rough estimates indicate that at least $1 trillion of additional annual investment is required in developing and emerging economies. At first glance this might appear to be a large number, but it represents only approximately 10 percent of extra investment above current levels. It is clear that official development assistance, on its own, would be incapable of meeting financing needs, even if the target to provide 0.7 percent of gross national income were to be achieved by all developed countries. But official development assistance (ODA) could, through leverage and catalytic support, help mobilize substantially more private capital.
The President of Mongolia, Elbegdorj Tsakhia, sat at the table behind a Greek salad. We were at a lunch hosted by the Corporate Governance Development Center, an NGO which brings international best practices in corporate governance to Mongolia. Also present were the Minister of Education, the Director of the Financial Regulatory Commission (FRC), the Deputy Chief of Party of the USAID-funded Economic Policy Reform and Competitiveness Project (EPRC), which helped to establish the Center with the Institute of Finance and Economics, and CEOs of leading Mongolian firms. Several International Finanace Corporation (IFC) clients were among them.
The salad looked delicious, but it would have to wait. President Elbegdorj was speaking about the role of corporate governance in Mongolia. "Corporate governance is important for Mongolia's competitiveness," he said. I was delighted. I've been waiting a long time for this moment.