An institutional approach to service-provision partnerships in South Asia

Radical approaches to introduce public-private partnerships (PPPs) for infrastructure provision in South Asia have been largely unsuccessful. Yet the region is home to a thriving informal private sector and several regional NGOs have become engaged in efforts to involve communities in improved infrastructure provision. Many line agencies and local authorities have devolved some responsibilities for service delivery to the private sector through small-scale service and management contracts. This paper explores the possibilities for expanding and building on these activities, bearing in mind institutional factors, including both organisational structures and the attitudes and assumptions of the various stakeholders. Particular attention is paid to the options for regulating the private sector and the balance to be struck between encouraging competition and promoting improved stakeholder cooperation. Options for moving to `higher' forms of PPP are considered, and brief concluding remarks summarise key findings and suggest some possible directions for the future.