Why not a PPP model for the Games
Posted on September 26, 2010 | Author: V Raghunathan | View 583 | Comment : 1
In India,the problem is that there is virtually no accountability for results.Corruption remains an end in itself.A private-public partnership would have spared the country much of the corruption and cost escalation The lesson here is that the government should limit its role to creating systems and processes for delivery
THE Commonwealth Games (CWG) screw-up is so gigantic in scale and so thorough in scope from concept to commissioning that it is difficult to say much in mitigation of the government.The criticism and the blame game piling on from every quarter make it very evident that our collective feathers have been seriously ruffled at the loss of the national face,honour and pride.But what explains why things went wrong at such a colossal scale in the first place Surely corruption alone cant explain it all China is at least as corrupt as India;so how come the state machinery of China put up a spectacle worthy of the world for the Olympics,while the Indian counterpart is licking its wounds from its mighty fall from the world stage,even before the games are on their way if they are going to be on their way,that is
Corruption and greed do not respect national honour or pride,or even national boundaries or patriotism,for that matter.Whether it is the corruption in the CWG or the corruption that led to some SIM-cards being sold surreptitiously to the 26/11 attackers,these points have been amply made from time to time.But the question that remains unanswered is why corruption does not impact Chinas efficiency as much as it impacts ours.The answer perhaps lies in the association between corruption and accountability.In China,government officials remain accountable for results,while in India,there is virtually no accountability for results.Corruption remains an end by itself in our government projects.In India,we facetiously chalk up Chinas successes to their being unburdened with the weight of democracy,as if democracy can be an excuse for all the worlds ills.The fact is that a corrupt China has chosen its systems such that they deliver where it counts most,and we have not.
What could the country have done to avert what threatens to be a loss of gloss on India shining Surely,not bidding for CWG would not have been an answer,as some aver In a country without a culture and hence infrastructure of sports and athletics,surely winning the CWG bid could have been the excuse to build the necessary infrastructure But at what cost Surely not at.60,000 crore to the exchequer So,what should have the governments strategy been
While hindsight always has a 20/20 vision,this could have been seen even in foresight that the only way the government could have made money from CWG,rather than spend money,would have been through the good old private-public partnership,in which we have already garnered some experience in recent years.While the government could have done the overall planning,each segment of the project,whether it pertained to developing stadia,flyovers or living apartments,should have been transparently auctioned away to private players.For example,once the games are over,exactly what will the government do with the stadiums or the apartments On the other hand,inviting private players could have ensured that the bidders would have factored in the post-games use of these assets and bid accordingly and operated them even after the games,ensuring the ongoing health of the assets.Similarly,the government could have compensated the private players for the overbridges and flyovers with annuity payments,which the private players could have securitised and encashed.
The cost of the games would have been only a fraction of what it has turned out to be,because no private sector player would allow the costs to escalate on account of corruption.The government could have escaped criticism on spending colossal amounts of public money,when the money could have been spent on education or development of sports themselves.
The experience might well have encouraged private players to develop even more sports infrastructure in the country,and create a more enabling environment for sports facilities.Let us face it;the government has a million other serious demands on its time without its Union ministers spending their time on cricket,Olympics,Commonwealth,boxing or shooting sports.The governments job must be restricted to creating systems and processes for efficiency and efficacy of its policies,to be delivered through the best possible delivery vehicles.
Even within a corrupt environment,it is possible to establish systems and processes which are not themselves corrupt.IIMs and IITs are an example,which thrive within the same overall corrupt society,but their admission processes are about as clean as any system can be.These have been achieved through systems and mechanisms where it is difficult for any corrupt individual to make any difference even if he or she wants to.It is the government itself which created these institutions ! So,maybe it is worth revisiting these and rediscovering the principles,if it has a genuine intent to tackle corruption.
All the current brouhaha will be worthless if it is going to be business-as-usual after the CWG.If at least some lessons are learnt,the entire sorry experience may still be called enriching.