Dec 21, 2011

Untapped potential of Public Infrastructure

By- Anoop Jha

Public Infrastructure – from Liability to Asset

In the majority of cities and towns of developing countries like India, developing and maintaining public infrastructure are perceived responsibility of governing authorities and it is usually a major source of expenditure in municipal finance. Though to make any infrastructure sustainable in the long run, whether public or private it has to be a source of constant or recurring revenue generation to at least partially meet its operation and maintenance expenditure or to reach the breakeven point. Collective public infrastructure in any city should ideally pay for its own operation and maintenance requirement to make it sustainable. There might be varying dynamics of income expenditure for individual public infrastructure but collectively they should take care of themselves in not immediately may be in long term.

Public asset for alternative revenue stream 
It’s high time that public infrastructure should acquire the status of asset rather than liability or a financial burden to state, that does not necessarily mean it has to become private venture or property. Governing authorities like states, municipal corporations and municipalities have to be little aware towards what precious assets they own and have to find out the innovative mechanisms to exploit the previously untapped revenue potential of these assets, for example they own the most precious chunks of properties in the strategic locations which are spatially scattered throughout the city and beyond, with no or negligible income from them.

There are enough resources within any given region, need of the time is to recognize the potential, identify the resources and formulise a mechanism for revenue generation. If governing authorities or anyone else thinks that this is a difficult task or vague assumption, they should approach any random businessman- small or large, any developer, any architectural, planning or consultancy firm, any resource management firm, any thinker or business guru or even any common citizen with that asset and they will find innumerous ideas, proposals, business plans and even willing investors. 

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