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Cox to speak at KPMG infrastructure conference

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Premier Paula Cox will be among the speakers at a first-of-its-kind infrastructure conference organised by KPMG.

The event, which will be held in Miami next month, focuses on the challenges faced by small islands when financing and building new infrastructure.

A major theme of the event entitled “Infrastructure Summit: An Island Perspective of a Global Challenge” will be the public-private partnerships (PPP) of the kind used by Bermuda in the project to build a new hospital, an example Ms Cox is sure to refer to at the event.

Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush and Gerrit Shotte, Prime Minister of Curacao, are other island leaders who will speak.

Additionally, KPMG will bring out some of its big guns, including its global head of infrastructure Nick Chism, and its Americas head of global infrastructure, Stephen Beatty.

Participants with expertise in PPP, including financiers, lawyers and government officials, will also take part in the panels and presentations in the event, at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel on September 22 and 23.

Malcolm Butterfield, a partner at KPMG in Bermuda, said the first day of the conference would focus on infrastructure from a current perspective while day two would focus on the future for PPP.

He added that the example of Bermuda's $247 million hospital project would get significant exposure at the conference.

“I'm very pleased that we have all the key players that were part of the hospital redevelopment project,” Mr Butterfield said. “Bermuda should be very proud of that project and we will tell that story.”

PPP offers an alternative to the traditional model for infrastructure building and can have particular benefits for small island economies, Mr Butterfield said.

“Effectively you can use someone else's money not the government's to finance an infrastructure project,” he said. “The winning bidder must provide the financing, so it doesn't strain a country's debt or capital capacity.

“Nobody gets paid until they deliver on the project and the developer assumes the risk.”

Given that the resources of many island governments are limited in these times of stretched budgets, the idea of transferring the financing burden and risk to the private sector, coupled with the fact that infrastructure projects provide stimulus to the economy, means that interest in PPPs is intensifying.

“I think we'll see a wave of PPP and that it could end up being a sector in itself,” Mr Butterfield said.

Mr Butterfield said islands should view PPPs from a global perspective, as often the capital, experience and expertise to manage such a project would need to come from overseas, while local subcontractors would likely be hired to carry out much of the work.

This set-up could lead to another benefit for small economies in the transference of knowledge and expertise from the project manager to the local participants, he added.

However, PPP projects involve significant risks and have sometimes ended badly in the past. Mr Butterfield said lessons had been learned over the years and there were many different PPP models that could be used to achieve the desired result.

“A few decades ago PPP did have some disasters,” he said. “PPP has evolved a long way since then and with the right planning, the right key components successfully accomplished, it can create many benefits for island jurisdictions.”

Registration for the conference is free of charge.

KPMG partner Malcolm Butterfield
Guest speakers: Premier Paula Cox with Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush, who will both speak at an infrastructure conference hosted by KPMG in Miami next month

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Published August 17, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated August 17, 2011 at 10:44 am)

Cox to speak at KPMG infrastructure conference

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