In Buenos Aires on 23 March, the G20 Finance Ministers announced that infrastructure would remain a priority for at least the next three years—a very welcome announcement for those in the private sector who have long called for greater global coordination of efforts in this area.
When we as consumers decide to invest our money—whether through shares, bonds, or other instruments—we look at whether our investment will deliver a solid financial return. It makes sense then that the same risk-return principle is applied to investments in infrastructure.
Infrastructure can often be used as a pawn in the political chess game, not only at a federal level between political parties, but at a foreign policy level too. It’s crucial that a cross-border infrastructure project has political support and cooperation from all parties involved, and that it’s being supported not for political gain, but to further regional development. A lack of strong political leadership can be detrimental to a cross-border project, and weak capacity can be a deterrent to investors.
As outlined earlier in this blog series, private investors are looking for reliable returns to justify the risks that they are taking. Financing and procurement of cross-border projects will often be more complex than national projects due to the scale of the project and compounded risks, and the financial returns may be more uncertain than for national projects.
Risks can be hard to define, manage and mitigate. In infrastructure projects that cross regional or national borders and involve multiple parties from both the public and private sector, these risks may be amplified.
With a growing global focus on attracting private sector investment into infrastructure and utilising the public-private partnership (PPP) model, it is crucial that governments focus on the entire duration of a PPP contract. Efforts need to extend beyond ‘achieving financial close’ and beginning construction or ‘cutting the ribbon’ for commencement of services.
Contractual disagreements and disputes are common in PPPs during both construction and operational periods.