Monday, April 15, 2019

PPPs for social protection?

Killing off bad ideas is important. Uncharacteristically Ejaz Ghani gets this on the relevance of PPPs in social protection for India wrong big time.

The article's premise is just so plain wrong (empirically),
Targeted credit, livelihood interventions, crop insurance, new healthcare facilities, education, and low-income targeted public housing are examples where social protection can be scaled up through increased PPP.
This blog has several posts exploring each of these and showing why they would require public provisioning. This is perhaps one of the best illustrations of how narratives and reality diverge big time, 
The PPP model transfers operational risks from the state body to the private partner and forces the private sector to take a long-term social view of the project... There is a huge potential for maximising finance for social protection through increased public and private partnerships (PPPs), as it broadens the pool of potential financing to maximise social protection.
Really! Whether we like it or not, you cannot escape the reality of hard fiscal requirements and hoping that private sector can bear the burden is not supported by any evidence. In fact, the latter is equivalent to transferring certain basic welfare services, education and healthcare, and social safety nets to the citizens themselves. 

How many developed countries of today have any of these done through PPPs, much less successfully at that, during their early stage of development or even today? 

In fact, on social safety nets, I think the present government has done a decent job. The JDY and the three pension/insurance programs, Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan pension scheme for unorganized sector workers, Ayushman Bharat scheme, PMFBY etc are all very good steps in the direction of laying the foundations of a robust social safety net. Going forward the administration of these programs should be more integrated (using Aadhaar etc) and perhaps try to capture the set of benefits each household is drawing on education scholarships, health insurance, pensions, life insurance, NREGS, other DBT cash transfers etc. That would be the starting point for rationalising  these individual programs and making the social safety net more targeted and effective.

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