10 May 2021

PPP review could lead to improved investment model - specialist

10:38 am on 10 May 2021

A recent review of New Zealand's past public private partnerships (PPPs) is expected to lead to increased private investment in public projects.

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Construction on Transmission Gully (file photo). The motorway has been built using a private-public partnership model. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

An infrastructure financing specialist at law firm MinterEllisonRuddWatts said the model was developed more than a decade ago and could be updated to address an infrastructure deficit of $75 billion.

Special counsel Simon Gray said the recent review by the Infrastructure Commission had identified lessons learned from domestic and international experiences, which could lead to an improved model.

The government had signalled a strong commitment to infrastructure upgrades, but the $12 billion set aside in the last budget left a wide gap for private investment to fill.

He said shortfalls in government funding were often cited as a limitation to the advancement of a more productive economy and the associated social benefits, but it did not have to be that way.

"Improved infrastructure, sustainable growth and improved social outcomes can be achieved successfully through appropriate private investment (utilising both debt and equity) in public infrastructure, coupled with strategic direction, transparency, responsibility and accountability," he said.

Gray said private sector financing could accelerate the development of critical infrastructure projects in partnership with central and regional authorities, outside of health, education and correction sectors which would be excluded from any PPP deals.

He said PPPs could provide better results for taxpayers, such as better budget and project timeline controls, and other private sector expertise, such as risk management.