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September 30, 2015

Punjab plans to outsource 856 playgrounds, 61 sports complexes


September 30, 2015

LAHORE: At long last the Punjab government has realized that the huge infrastructure of sports being controlled by the Punjab Sports Board hasn’t been delivering to an optimum level and as such, it has decided to hand over almost all the major facilities under its control to the private sector through the innovative concept of Public-Private Participation (PPP) for the benefit of general public.
The Punjab government’s experiments with transport company, garbage lifting and some other sectors have proved to be better performing and on the basis of its experience it has brought the PPP concept to sports. According to the plan, the Punjab Sports Board will “outsource” 856 playgrounds and 61 sports complexes/facilities in two phases throughout the province for Operation and Maintenance through an open bidding process.
According to a working paper, for the first phase, nine facilities (8 gyms and a swimming pool) in various districts and 76 playgrounds in Lahore district (to start with) have been selected. The remaining 750 playgrounds and 52 gyms/pools will be outsourced in the second phase.
“Running sports activities efficiently, without incurring huge costs and rendering them to the best advantage of young people isn’t the business that a government can perform best”, conceded Secretary, Sports Department, Humayun Mazhar Sheikh, talking to The News.
He assured that the whole exercise would be conducted in a transparent manner, private parties/institutions/registered companies would be invited through advertisements and offers would be studied, keeping in view their credentials. The parties thus shortlisted on merit would have to sign Terms of Reference (TORs) for their smooth functioning, he said, adding that the Punjab Sports Board (PSB) would be left with the role of supervision. For the whole exercise to be conducted in a legal and systematic way, the Punjab Sports Board has hired a consultant to work as Contract Advisor.

According to the paper, the PSB will be upgrading the facilities and playgrounds, incurring a roughly estimated cost of Rs 2 billion. It is hoped that the on-going ‘schemes’ would be readied during the financial year 2015-16.
According to the working paper, almost all outdoor games including cricket, hockey, kabbadi, martial arts, football, basketball, open badminton, open swimming pools, skating, judo and karate, ladies sports facilities will be included in playgrounds to be handed over in order to provide healthy environments to all segments of society and opportunities for the talent players.
Earlier this year, the PSB prepared a concept paper for which it consulted various groups of society. Public sector group including 15 MNAs and MPAs; Education sector group included eight heads of institutions; community group, business sector and sports sectors were also involved, all of which spoke by and large in favor of the Public-Private Participation concept.
The participants debated four different models and rejected the first three. In the Private Model, already experimented by the Board, it was found that contractors were only interested in generating revenue, didn’t maintain the facility in proper condition and also leased out for more gains. The Public model has also failed to deliver due to lethargy and inefficiency and huge financial burden. Laborious work in maintaining the facilities and intricate financial procedures hindered their smooth functioning.
It was therefore found that outsourcing services through regulatory Public-Private Partnership through legal agreements is the best option to push sports activity in the whole province.

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