The Bangladesh Public-Private Partnership Act, 2015 (“PPP Act”) was enacted and gazetted on 16 September, 2015.
The PPP Act has been enacted with the objective of facilitating the development of core sector public infrastructure and services vital for the people of Bangladesh. The law prioritizes increased investment in infrastructure which is essential for sustainable economic growth. It further provides a robust legal framework to attract the interest of national and international private sector investors to join in partnership with the government in building and upgrading core infrastructure assets. The goal of the Government is to ensure a more rapid, inclusive growth trajectory, and to better meet the need for enhanced, high quality public services in a fiscally sustainable manner.
The PPP Act has been structured over 7 (seven) chapters. After the initial chapter on preliminaries and definitions, Chapter 2 provides for the establishment of a Public Private Partnership Authority (“PPP Authority”). The PPP Authority shall be neutral and independent in relation to all financial, administrative matters and in carrying out its functions. The activities of the PPP Authority will be overseen by a Board of Governors, which will be chaired by the Honourable Prime Minister. The Honourable Finance Minister will be the Vice Chairperson of the Board of Governors with the Principal Secretary to the Honourable Prime Minister acting as the Member Secretary.
A wide range of powers have been provided to the PPP Authority to ensure an efficient and comprehensive development of the PPP program. This includes development of policy, regulations and guidelines, development of standard documentation, appointment of consultants and advisors, providing consents and opinions in relation to PPP projects, organizing seminars and training sessions, etc.
Chapter 3 sets out the provisions for the identification and approval of PPP projects. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (“CCEA”) is mandated to provide the in-principal and final approval for PPP projects. This chapter also provides for national priority projects and incentives for PPP projects including the basis on which public sector can financially participate in PPP projects.
Chapter 4 broadly covers the selection of a private partner to develop and execute PPP projects, with provision for the detailed process to be specified in subsequent regulations. Chapter 5 of the PPP Act emphasizes the importance of transparency in the implementation of the PPP program by setting out provisions to deal with issues of corruption and conflict of interest.
Chapter 6 identifies some of the key issues that should be covered in a PPP contract. It also provides for land access rights and the right of the private partner to impose levy on users for accessing public services or purchasing public goods. Further, in order to enhance investor protection, it provides a clear dispute resolution process which includes amicable settlement, mediation and arbitration.
The final chapter sets out a number of miscellaneous measures covering issues such as grievance procedures, confidentiality, etc. The chapter also provides that the Policy and Strategy for Public-Private Partnership (PPP), 2010 (PPP Policy), is to be treated as repealed following the enactment of the PPP Act. However, it also provides exceptions in which cases the PPP Policy will continue to be applicable.
Development of the PPP Law
The PPP Office with the support of the Asian Development Bank initiated the process for drafting the PPP law in late 2011. The draft law was developed taking into account examples of PPP laws and regulations enacted in other PPP practicing countries as well as a series of stakeholder consultations with representatives from the public and private sector and multilateral partners. The final draft of the PPP bill was approved by the Cabinet in November 2014 and tabled in Parliament in February 2015. The Standing Committee scrutinized the bill and submitted its final report and recommendations to the Parliament on 2 September 2015. The PPP bill was passed in the National Parliament on 7 September 2015. His Excellency Mr Mohammad Abdul Hamid, President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, signed the PPP bill 2015 on 16 September 2015 to provide his assent to turn the bill into law.