Sunday, 25 June 2017

Private-Sector Entities Should Self-Finance Infrastructure Projects In Return For Long Tax Holidays Operating Them

According to recent news reports in the Ghanaian media, most of the so-called eastern corridor road projects that traverse parts of the landmass of the Volta Region, have been abandoned by the contractors working on them - because they haven't been paid.

The problem of road projects being abandoned across the nation because of the failure by the authorities to pay contractors in timeous fashion, ought to make us think of more innovative ways to fund the building of roads and other infrastructure projects in Ghana.

Perhaps it might be in the long-term interest of Ghanaian society for governments of the day to get private-sector entities to self-finance such projects by competitive bidding - as win-win public private partnerships in which private entities  finance, build, operate and maintain such roads for 25-30 years, and collect tax-free toll fees in return during that period.

That way a network of well-maintained tolled roads will criss-cross the nation from north to south and from east to west - all at no cost to taxpayers.

If that were to happen, we will find that road contractors building and  operating tolled roads in Ghana  will quickly adopt the simple technology of mixing melted plastic waste with bitumen to build plastic roads - because they need very little maintenance: an important factor that  will enable them generate more profits and maximize returns on their investments.

It so happens that plastic roads last three times longer than conventional roads; bear heavier loads, remain pothole-free throughout their long lifespan and are never washed away by flash floods because plastic is impermeable to water- literally meaning they have climate-change-resilience built into them at no extra cost. Cool.

We should adopt the same funding  idea to finance the 1-district-1-factory policy of the government.

Instead of the nation borrowing money from Chinese and other foreign banks  for that purpose, the government should rather   invite private Chinese entrepreneurs to partner Ghanaian enrepreneurs -  the two parties self-financing (by borrowing money in China) the building of those factories and operating them  on a tax-free basis  for 15 years to recoup  their investments.

As we speak, the French infrastructure company, Bollore, is self-financing the building of a railway line from Cotonou through Niamey to Ougadougu. Surely, we could do same too and build a network of railway lines from Accra to all the regional capitals, using the same funding method? 

One hopes that those who now govern our homeland Ghana will take this simple 1-district-1-factory, as well as roads and railway sectors' private-sector funding  idea on board - for the sake of hapless taxpayers: who worry endlessly about the mountain of debt present and  future generations are being saddled with.
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