Socialism, social media, social capital and public-private partnerships


We need to be innovative at this particular time and look at the potential of PPPs that have strong elements of the shared economy concept









That we can no longer borrow for infrastructure development is inevitable; which leaves us with the opportunity to take a closer look at the possibility of PPPs in this area. That said, we also need to consider how we should support existing PPPs to enable their success. For example, it could be assumed that ring roads and highways connecting the city of Colombo, which would certainly benefit the port of Colombo and the port city, must occur. Additionally, upgrading the refinery and setting up solar farms are projects that can be potential PPPs. A system should be developed with a formula where transparent and open bidding is put in place for such projects, in accordance with the necessary good governance practices



When we look at the state of our economy and the headlines it’s making these days, there’s one thing that becomes clear, and that is that we have failed badly on the business model. of State (SOE). This formula, which was seen as the panacea to our post-independence economic ills, was based on an incestuous formula that carried the banner “everything that belongs to the state can support economic growth”. Today, due to the failure of this same system, vital parts of the country’s economy are threatened and the sustainable lives of citizens thrown under the bus. Some prominent politicians have now become accustomed to being at the forefront of reforms, which point to one thing — the old model born out of a socialist ideology must step aside to make way for a more inclusive one.

Although Reformers are looking for a clear path out of the mess, the subject requires careful thought, because if privatization is what we are looking at as the next step, we are probably not going in the direction the world is going.



Share capital


Currently, there is a lot of talk about social capital and how it relates to everything. Which brings us to the question, what is this social capital? Is it a bit like social networks? It’s not like that anymore; social capital is about accessing the benefits of social relationships. It has been described both as the glue that holds the network structure together and as a lubricant to facilitate “getting things done”.

For individuals, it is a source of power and influence. We can see it mainly in social media. However, when it comes to harnessing the efficiency of groups and organizations or even the state, it is all about collaboration and cooperation.


Social capital helps create networks of relationships that enable societies to operate effectively. This is made possible by the improved performance of various groups, business growth, infrastructure that improves performance and supply chains, and the value derived from strategic alliances to make all of this happen. And therein lies the progression of public enterprises towards public-private partnerships.



Today’s PPPs


Modern public-private partnerships, unlike the old traditional model, should help form synergies between the public sector and private capital, which must connect to the social capital element. Governments can create alliances for large projects that have a high positive impact on the social capital factor. However, it is essential that governments properly assess social capital indicators to choose the most appropriate one for a PPP project to ensure its success and benefit to communities.

In Sri Lanka, there have been some successful PPPs in recent times, such as Lanka IOC, Colombo Port South Asia Gateway Terminal, Colombo International Container Terminal, Colombo Port City and Port Hambantota International.

Some potential SOEs that can benefit from the PPP concept in the future are SriLankan Airlines which is seeking partnership with the private sector, oil refinery and CEB. As for the CEB, by unbundling it, there is potential for PPPs not only in electricity production but also in its distribution and transmission.



It’s time to be innovative


Some development projects that have encountered a stumbling block due to the current economic conditions in the country are in the area of ​​road infrastructure, which is directly related to one of our main sources of foreign exchange – tourism, leaving aside the logistical factors of our export industries and the lifelines of the local consumer economy. Therefore, one must start thinking about how some of the planned projects can start or end.

That we can no longer borrow for infrastructure development is inevitable; which leaves us with the opportunity to take a closer look at the possibility of PPPs in this area. That said, we also need to consider how we should support existing PPPs to enable their success. For example, it could be assumed that ring roads and highways connecting the city of Colombo, which would certainly benefit the port of Colombo and the port city, must occur. Additionally, upgrading the refinery and setting up solar farms are projects that can be potential PPPs. A system should be developed with a formula where transparent and open bidding is put in place for such projects, in accordance with the necessary good governance practices.

It goes without saying that we need to be innovative at this particular time and examine the potential of PPPs that have strong elements of the shared economy concept. The government, as the main actor in this field, must consider the appropriate social capital elements for the respective projects and develop the appropriate playbook for public-private partnerships.









Socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. At the time of its implementation of Sri Lanka’s policies over 70 years ago, there was a firm belief that governments and the state would act for the common good of all people. But time erodes good ideas and good intentions, and as state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have morphed into gigantic institutions, the original intentions have become diluted and derailed. Be that as it may, acting for the common good of society remains a very good idea. It is from this maxim that the concepts of good governance, transparency and a level playing field came into play. If state-owned enterprises become a redundant formula, the next best option would be public-private partnerships



Next best concept to socialism


Socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. At the time of its implementation of Sri Lanka’s policies over 70 years ago, there was a firm belief that governments and the state would act for the common good of all people. But time erodes good ideas and good intentions, and as state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have morphed into gigantic institutions, the original intentions have become diluted and derailed. Be that as it may, acting for the common good of society remains a very good idea. It is from this maxim that the concepts of good governance, transparency and a level playing field came into play. If state-owned enterprises become a redundant formula, the next best option would be public-private partnerships.

PPPs may not have a single common formula set in stone, but each country can take into account its partners and those who collaborate with them, local norms and conditions, cultural similarities and differences, etc., to formulate guidelines. guidelines that attract investment. Today, it is not the countries or the governments that have the big money but the mega multinationals. Given this, how to attract investment from this sector? Finding the answer to this should be the next brainstorming session for our local policy makers.



Everything is possible


Can we make it big with just one idea? It is best to look at some case studies like Airbnb and Uber which were just startups that have now become unicorn companies. We already have examples of local digital organizations that have emulated some of these big companies and are currently on the path to great success. What this proves is that anything is possible, if the good idea is backed by the will to follow it. However, timing is everything, and we need our legislators and policymakers to do a quick study to understand the new terrain in which we operate. They can then create appropriate laws and regulations to protect and open the Sri Lankan system to do business with the right partners.



(The writer has worked as a journalist in print, radio and television. He is currently a public relations specialist and influencer for policy change.)