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Jamaica Explores Public Private Partnerships

Doctor in front of a Jamaican Flag.

Jamaica, like many countries, has a problem when it comes to housing for healthcare workers and other critical emergency personnel. The problem is that these careers generally offer a reasonable salary, but remains difficult to attract workers to regions that are very expensive, or very poor. And because of the front-line nature of emergency preparedness, there is a need for healthcare workers in every town, neighborhood and rural community.

The United States was ranked 16th when it comes to the infrastructure competitiveness.

Even Jamaica is also having issues with affordable housing for healthcare workers. Dr. Christopher Tufton, the Health Minister of Jamaica, is now studying a public-private partnership proposal. This will therefore involve establishing accommodations for health workers. It will be beneficial not just for health care providers but also for the community.

Understanding Public-Private Partnerships Better

A public-private partnership, PPP, is a long-term contract between a private corporation and a governmental body. The PPP will supply public benefits, such as a service or an asset; in this case, housing for a particular group of employees.

Dr. Tufton explained during a tour at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Morant Bay, that the PPP needs an investor who will inject funds to build housing facilities.

“We would secure private participation in the financing and building of the accommodations,” he said. “[With] a long-term financing arrangement that would see the lease payments by the tenants occupying the facility”.

Dr. Cecil Batchelor, a Senior Medical Officer at Princess Margaret Hospital, is therefore concerned about the high turnover rate of hospital staff. He attributes this to the lack of housing or decent lodging.

Healthcare worker with a patient.
Jamaica turns to PPP as a solution to provide healthcare workers accommodations.

Public-private partnerships may be the best solution on the table and create a win-win for the hospital, employees, and community. It is the hope that PPP can bring these to the table:

  • Better infrastructure solutions
  • Faster project completions
  • Greater Return-on-investment
  • Full appraisal of risks early on.
  • The project execution and operational risk is transferred.
  • PPP can include early completion bonuses.
  • Government funds will be re-directed to other important socio-economic areas.
  • The greater efficiency of PPP reduces the budget deficit.
  • High-quality standards
  • PPP allows lower taxes.

Additionally, the Princess Margaret Hospital, which sits on 26-acres of land, is an ideal location that could benefit from the PPP arrangement.

Countries that Practice Public- Private Partnership

Jamaica is not the only country that is seriously looking at PPP, there are other countries as well. The World Bank Group additionally mentions these are some of the public-private partnerships from different countries:

  • Ghana – PPP Advisory Unit
  • Nigeria – Foundation for PPP Association and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission
  • Uganda – PPP Unit (Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development)
  • Kuwait – Partnerships Technical Bureau
  • Israel – PPP Unit at MF
  • Egypt – PPP Central Unit
  • Australia – Infrastructure Australia
  • China – Public-Private Partnerships Center
  • Hong Kong – Hong Kong Efficiency Unit
  • Indonesia – PPP Directorate of Bappenas and the Indonesia Infrastructure
  • Philippines – PPP Center
  • Belgium – Flemish PPP Knowledge Center
  • Croatia – Agency for Public-Private Partnership
  • Denmark – Danish Business Authority
  • Chile – Ministerio de Obras
  • Peru – ProInversion

So why is the United States of America lagging?

As one of the most powerful countries, it should therefore be a leader in PPPs. The spending of the United States on PPP infrastructure projects accounted for only nine percent of the global total. The reason somehow for this is the municipal bond market in the country.

The United States is number 16 when it comes to the infrastructure competitiveness. PPP units like the Federal Highway Administration, National Council of PPP, and Department of State; Global Partnership Initiative exist; but they are not enough for America to be hailed as a global leader in infrastructure.

Other Public-Private Partnership Plans for Jamaica

Aside from developing accommodations for health workers, Dr. Tufton also has other plans. He is going to study the need of the Princess Margaret Hospital for additional incubators. Dr. Tufton will also examine the reasons why the completion in the $143 million expansion of the Accident and Emergency Building of the hospital was delayed.

He expects that the construction of the new 220-bed facility on the grounds of Cornwall Regional Hospital which will be torn down before the end of the 2017 financial year.

Dr. Tufton also explained that this year, Mandeville Regional Hospital, Spanish Town Hospital, and St Ann’s Bay Hospital are just a few to be upgraded from being Type B to becoming Type A hospitals. Many of these projects may benefit from PPP.

Developing accommodations for health workers has become the way for PPP to enter Jamaica’s economy. Public-private partnerships undoubtedly have the capacity to build a cycle of mutual advantages for all the parties involved. With the introduction of PPP to Jamaica, it may be possible for the Caribbean island nation to emerge as a leader in the region.

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