A Public Private Partnership (PPP) by default is a political project, and has associated political challenges. This kind of challenge does not exist only in developing countries, but it still shows its presence in most developed countries as well. In fact in terms of number of projects that are being built in most advanced countries on PPP Model, are much more than what group of newly developing countries might have been planned.
Thus, way of dealing with such challenges might be different but one thing is certain that corporate companies associated with implementation of PPP Projects have to study the ways to address the political challenges if any. On many occasions these kinds of challenges are imaginary and do not exist as we think of them to be.
We spoke to Mr. Arun Lakhani, one of the key PPP experts with the BJP government to understand political influence on PPP projects. He explained his point of view with a small example illustrated below-
Once the Regional Manager of a nationalized bank in INDIA was directed by its head office that the Hon Chief Minister, in whose native village they said bank was going to open new branch especially for agricultural financing, should be invited for inauguration. Earlier that village was being serviced by same bank for almost a decade, from another nearby branch having adopted that village. The entire infrastructure like building, interior decoration of proposed branch with all required installation was in place. Even the entire staff was posted and joined the proposed new branch aviating to commence functioning. The Regional manager of the bank had a friend who was quite close with the CM and promised him that he will fix time to meet HON CM. Accordingly; he arranged the meeting between HON CM and the Regional Manager of the said bank to give personal invitation for inaugurating proposed branch. The Regional manager went as per appointment given by HON CM. Just as the Regional manager of bank and his friend were called in CM chamber, formal talks and introduction session took few minutes.
There after the real business started. Hon CM asked the purpose for which duo had come. The regional Manager of the bank explained the purpose and wished that HOM CM should suggest date and time for the inaugural function depending on availability of the time for HON CM. In fraction of seconds HON CM sent message to his PA to check on which day the function can be fixed. Until the PA could verify appointment schedules of HON CM, some casual discussion went on for few more minutes. Suddenly HON CM remembered ‘something’ and re-enquired the name of the Bank. He then said that, few years back there was an incidence when he had forwarded a few [about ten numbers] tractor loan proposals to the bank by the applicant farmers which expressed little dissatisfaction. The Regional Manager had recently taken charge and was unaware and became all most panicky suspecting that he might not have privilege of opening new branch at the hands of HON CM. HON CM immediately read what was being thought in the mind of the Regional manager as also read his face that may have been like—"shabda vachuni kalale sare shabdancha palikadale" [[English spelt Marathi words]]. HON CM broke the ice. He said that he could have understood if few proposals earlier recommended by him might have been Non Viable. He had concern that perfectly viable proposals also were rudely rejected by then the bank management and all proposals then were brushed aside which had hurt him.
HON CM suggested to the Regional manager that if he can promise to review proposals freshly and arrange to disburse only viable proposals, HON CM would come and be the chief guest function. The function was smoothly conducted and the common friend who also came had told the Regional manager that HON CM had told him to convey to the bank that persons in politics have to do things like recommending loans etc but it is never intended to imply that authorities should over rule the set norms. Political masters have to show concern to general public at large when they are approached in group by public. What executive wings or for that matter anybody coming in their association, should understand that even Political person be understood in non political fashion.
The moral of the story
"Political challenges can be at gram sabha level, nagar palika level, maha nagar palika level, state level or at national level, there are ways to understand political minds at all these levels. The chemistry would be similar no political person wants to be inimical" says Lakhani.