Legislators in the Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies yesterday passed a law that will govern public-private partnerships as a step toward enabling the government to court investments in key development projects.
Tabled before Parliament by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in April, the Bill provides for the legal framework concerning establishment, implementation, and management of public-private partnerships (PPPs).
According to RDB’s chief executive Francis Gatare, Rwanda needs a special law to regulate PPPs because the ordinary law on public procurement is not enough to attract investors.
He says “large investment projects” increasingly require the partnership between government and the private sector, hence the need for a law to govern the partnerships.
While the ordinary government expenditure is currently governed by public procurement law, the latter was not suited to handle public-private partnership procurement.
“A legal framework was needed to ensure that the government receives value for money with each PPP project,” Gatare told The New Times.
Among the proposed principles in the law is that PPP projects will be procured on a competitive basis.
The law also states that procurement process for PPPs will be based on transparency, fairness, non-discrimination, efficiency, effectiveness, protection of public property and public interest, and accountability.
How to ensure that the above is respected in the management of PPP projects was at the centre of legislators’ discussions before they passed the law.
“This law encompasses important interests for the country and for Rwandans; we need to be convinced more on how the PPP projects will be managed,” said MP Jean Thierry Karemera.
At one point, some legislators wondered if there should not be a special organ in charge of monitoring and evaluation of PPPs instead of leaving this task to the contracting government agency and a “PPP Authority” established as a centre of expertise hosted by RDB.
“There should be a legal framework that helps to control that a PPP move has been conducted in a transparent manner. We have to close any gaps that may lead to abuse,” said MP Constance Mukayuhi Rwaka.
However, Gatare said setting up a special organ to look at PPPs would not work given that it is officials in different government agencies that have the knowledge of what is needed for the particular PPPs.
“It is not easy to set up a special government agency in charge of monitoring PPP projects because every project will require specific expertise which is already found at different government agencies and ministries. So, the latter will be in charge of supervising the projects,” he explained.
Under the law passed yesterday, the application of PPPs must be closely aligned to government’s development goals and strategies, with contractors opting to apply for the management of government contracts or investing in infrastructure projects on the basis of Lease-Operate-Develop (LOD), Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Build-Operate-Own, as well as any other PPP arrangement that may be prescribed by guidelines or policies supplementing the law on PPPs.
The law will govern different sectors, including transport, as well as various forms of energy, municipal infrastructure projects such as the provision of water, waste management and industrial parks.
Other sectors that it will govern include social infrastructure such as those related to education, culture, health, tourism, sports and leisure, as well as infrastructure related to prisons, forestry, public housing and land, oil and gas pipelines, mining, telecommunication, and information communication technology (ICT).
The law will also be scrutinised by the Senate before sending it to the President for assent.