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KPMG’s Butterfield promotes 3P model to fund critical infrastructure needs

Major projects could be built in partnership with the private sector — and might help kick-start the economy, a top accountant said yesterday.

And Malcolm Butterfield, a managing director at KPMG, added the public/private partnership (3P) model could transfer the risk of major building projects from Government and the taxpayer to the private sector.

Mr Butterfield said: “There are benefits to the 3P model and there are challenges. It's an alternative source of building infrastructure and if you select the right delivery model you can transfer a lot of the risk to the developers and away from Government and the taxpayer.

“It can also bring the required global experts to the project and have a transfer of knowledge to local providers.”

Mr Butterfield was speaking after a major conference on Island Infrastructure run by KPMG kicked off in Miami last Friday.

KPMG estimates there is around $17 billion in infrastructure projects in the pipeline across a variety of islands over the next few years.

Premier Craig Cannonier was among the four heads of government at the conference, together with government ministers from at least 13 island jurisdictions.

Banks, major developers and investors are also among the 240 attendees at the Miami event.

Announcing the start of the conference on Friday, Mr Butterfield warned: “Island economies cannot turn a blind eye to the resilience of ageing infrastructure.

“Simply maintaining the status quo is a recipe for certain disaster and regardless of a jurisdiction's capital, inaction is simply not an option.

“The 2013 Island Infrastructure Summit is intended to be a strategic forum for facilitating discussion around bringing these important projects to fruition.”

KPMG partner and the chairman of global infrastructure James Stewart added: “We must now face the fact that banks are no longer the natural long-term lenders for infrastructure.”

He added that in the months following the first summit meeting on the subject last year, 3P arrangements had proved “very effective” in delivering building and major works needed by the public sector, but without them having to shoulder the financing themselves.

Mr Butterfield explained: “Financing can come from two streams — it can come from investment or capital from the private developer or contractor or it can also come in the form of debt.

“That could be syndicated debt, depending on the size of the project and how many banks and contractors are working on the project.”

Mr Butterfield added that 3P developments were only effective if a development programme was properly developed and stuck to, avoiding “investor nervousness”.

And he said that there also had to be a market for any given project in order to attract the right levels of investment.

Mr Butterfield added: “The other challenge is projecting these developments into real deals. It's critical that governments start to make decisions on infrastructure projects — but don't strangle themselves.”

He warned that governments had to ensure projects were affordable “because you have to pay the money back”.

Mr Butterfield said that early 3P projects elsewhere had “a lot of challenges and negative stories”.

But he added: “Nowadays the 3P model is much more complex but positive.”

But Opposition leader Marc Bean said that the former PLP Government had already selected PwC - at a cost of $500,000 - in the run-up to last December's General Election.

He added that the creation of an infrastructure development strategy was already underway by election day.

Mr Bean said: “The OBA has ignored our request for a status update to the point that the public can be forgiven for thinking that such a strategy does not exist.

“We're disappointed to now see the Premier, three Minister and four civil servants, including the permanent secretary who participated in the original request for proposal process, now spending thousands of dollars on an unnecessary trip to Miami.”

Mr Bean said the Government trip was taken against a backdrop of pay cuts for Government workers.

He added: “The other governments attending the KPMG summit are there to begin a process Bermuda began two years ago and completed several months ago.”

Malcolm Butterfield

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Published September 24, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm)

KPMG’s Butterfield promotes 3P model to fund critical infrastructure needs

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