Sports Hub case need not spell the end of PPPs
The Straits Times, page A16
The Government announced that it will take control of the Singapore Sports Hub in December, after terminating its collaboration with a private consortium 12 years ahead of time. Some ask: Could Singapore have done it differently, and should PPPs (public-private partnerships) still be used to fund its infrastructure such as stadiums?
To say that the problem is about public welfare versus maximising profits is to over-simplify things. But there is some truth to it, according to NTU Asst Prof Soojin Kim. In a 2020 article, she observed that the problems which plagued the Sports Hub, including its faulty grass pitch and leaking roof, were indicative of SportsHub Pte Ltd's (SHPL) possibly misplaced commitment to short-term cost-efficiency gains to meet construction deadlines, instead of better quality services that would meet key performance criteria and user demands.
NTU lecturer Kwa Kai Xiang, who co-authored the paper with her, thinks that a key project structuring issue with the Sports Hub PPP could have been the lack of a "more responsive project management mechanism". He says such a mechanism can comprise clear operating procedures and channels, for project members to identify and mitigate challenges and risks in a timely and effective way.
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