What is the legacy of PPPs? What is yours?
WHAT is a legacy? What is or what should be the legacy of public-private partnerships (PPPs)? What is yours?
Merriam-Webster defines a legacy as something, such as property or money, that is received from someone who has died. Breaking down this definition, there is a material gift, not to oneself, and the giver must die. Impliedly, there is a beneficiary or recipient who has a relationship with the giver.
This columnist particularly likes the description of a legacy project by Susan Bosak. She describes a legacy as being “about life and living. It’s about learning from the past, living in the present and building for the future”, and there is an “interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before us and a responsibility to those who come after us”. She continues by saying that legacy “gives you a perspective on what’s important”, and that “it helps us decide the kind of life we want to live and the kind of world we want to live in.”
- The givers and beneficiaries. In a PPP arrangement, the government and the private sector, jointly, are the givers. They are contractually, legally and even morally bound to the consumers, end-users and us, the beneficiaries of PPP projects. The people are the true north of PPPs. Thus, all PPPs must be legacy projects.
- The interconnection. PPPs are inter-, even intra-, generational. PPP projects benefit not just the future, but also the present generation. For 50-year PPPs, the benefits of a project can already be felt and realized even before the contract expires. However, for a PPP project to be truly successful, the givers and the beneficiaries must be cochampions and co-owners, and parts of the gift.
- Not just material gifts. While PPP projects are tangible, PPP legacies are more than the gifts themselves. Beyond the roads, bridges, reclaimed land, new markets, water systems, health facilities, and other hand and soft PPP projects, PPP must bring about change, happiness, comfort and better quality of life. PPPs are about “life and the living”.
- No need to die. For those who issued the PPP policy, awarded the contract and cut the ribbon during the inauguration, they do not have to die first before the gifts are given and enjoyed by the people. Apologies, for being morbid. The preparation of the PPP gift happens after the notice to proceed is issued and the gift is bequeathed right after construction.
- “Learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future.” The country has a wealth of experience on PPPs, at the national and local government levels, even at the government corporation level. There is a need to document the many ups and downs of PPPs. These learnings are valuable in terms of the current journey of the new administration. In the future, we will see, hopefully, more legacy PPP projects.
Now may be a good time to reflect on your legacy. What is yours? What is important to you and the people you care and are responsible for? What do you want this world to be?