Critical infrastructure must remain operational

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt around the world, not least on the critical national infrastructure that societies depend on to function. Along with the absolutely vital efforts of health professionals working tirelessly to protect life, thousands of employees of critical national infrastructure such as energy, water, and internet networks are working to maintain these essential services for all. However, as with other areas of our national economies, parts of our infrastructure are now under intense pressure.

In these unprecedented times it is now more important than ever that our critical national infrastructure remains operational.

Because it is this infrastructure that will be crucial in forming the policy-based solutions to tackling the virus over coming months. Airports, in particular, are feeling the strain of travel bans and an unprecedented decline in air traffic, with Airports Council International estimating that, in Europe alone, airports could lose upwards of €2bn in the first quarter of the year at a time when their ability to facilitate trade and repatriate families will be essential. Our seaports, too, will be tested like never before but have an indispensable role to play in keeping trade flowing, which includes much needed food and medical supplies. Similarly, national water, energy and digital networks will be called upon to cope with increased demand as we battle the effects of COVID-19.

We know that governments around the world are grappling with how to respond in the face of such a devastating outbreak that has reached into every corner of the globe. And we have seen them respond with a variety of economic packages aimed at stimulating economies and staving off the worst-case modelling. But governments are unable to respond to a challenge of this magnitude alone.

A strategic dialogue between governments and the private sector can ensure that private capital is deployed where it is most needed to aid in the recovery efforts. Government’s immediate priority must be to respond to the health crisis by ensuring our hospitals and hard-working staff are provided the necessary equipment needed to save lives while simultaneously stabilising financial markets and maintaining an attractive investment environment. But at the same time, the private sector can begin the important job of delivering the infrastructure needed to propel countries’ economic recoveries. Private investors stand ready with the capital to deploy to support these public sector-led initiatives as well as offering unrivalled expertise in project management and delivery.

GIIA urges governments to work closely with their partners in the private sector who have the expertise to help respond to the short-term challenges and work to ensure we emerge with clear long-term plans to deliver the critical national infrastructure needed for the clean, zero carbon future we all want for future generations.

Global Infrastructure Investor Association (GIIA) members operate in 55 countries across 6 continents and are responsible for more than $780bn worth of assets under management. They bring much needed innovation, efficient management, customer-focused service, responsible stewardship and sustained investment to the infrastructure our communities depend upon. 

COVID-19 Update

Following the recent advice from the Government on COVID-19, GIIA colleagues are working remotely for the foreseeable future and are contactable by phone and email in the usual way. Physical meetings will be replaced by webinars and phone calls where possible.

We understand that the current situation will inevitably have a significant impact on global infrastructure investors and as such GIIA’s work on behalf of our members continues unabated.

If you have any queries please contact us at info@giia.net

Op-Ed: People want to see the community benefits of infrastructure

GIIA CEO Lawrence Slade, writing for The Times says that ‘people are less concerned about who owns and operates infrastructure as long as they can see the wider community benefits’.

“Around the world billions of people rely on infrastructure, to get them to work, to get food to market, to power their homes and businesses, and to support and provide access to the internet and connect families over thousands of miles.

But infrastructure is under pressure like never before. In every jurisdiction the Global Infrastructure Investor Association (GIIA) is engaged, infrastructure investment and renewal is high on the agenda. In the United States, the National Governors’ Association (NGA), under the chairmanship of Maryland governor Larry Hogan, is leading an initiative to support infrastructure investment at state level. As advisory council members to the NGA, GIIA is pleased to be playing its part in bringing the right players to the table to explore ways to unlock more private-sector investment in US roads, airports, telecoms, water and renewable energy.

European Union president Ursula von der Leyen has set out a vision for a new Green Deal for the EU bloc. This assumes that the private sector will play a significant role in supporting the transition to a carbon-free economy through greenfield and brownfield investment. GIIA looks forward to continued dialogue in Brussels as the details of the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan are developed.

The UK has traditionally been seen as one of the most attractive markets for infrastructure investors – more than one third of all our members’ stakes are in the UK – but the signals from the last government and opposition during 2019 undermined investor confidence. If the new Johnson government wants to leverage the private sector to help deliver its infrastructure ambitions, including meeting net-zero targets, climate resilience and addressing digital connectivity, then that confidence could quickly return. But there is need for clarity around the mechanisms to achieve that.

Although the political and economic context for infrastructure investment varies considerably across the world, there is much commonality around the issues to be addressed. People expect timely, good-quality infrastructure at affordable prices. They are less concerned about who owns and operates infrastructure as long as they are treated fairly and can see the wider community benefits.

In research we published with Ipsos MORI last year, the Global Infrastructure Index questioned 20,000 people from 28 countries on public attitudes to infrastructure; the biggest survey of its kind. The results were clear. Three quarters (76 per cent) of citizens see investment in infrastructure as vital to economic growth, but 60 per cent don’t believe their country is doing enough. Some 64 per cent were comfortable with private investment in infrastructure, if it means the country gets what it needs. While those supportive of foreign investment outnumbered those opposed by 3:1, if it leads to better quality infrastructure. Meanwhile, 59 per cent would prefer technical experts to take decisions on new infrastructure compared to only 21 per cent who believe politicians should mostly take these decisions.

These results reinforce the view that the debate over ownership of our infrastructure distracts from what really matters to the public, which is getting the environmentally friendly, quality and resilient infrastructure countries and communities need.

It is the role of government to champion the mechanisms it chooses to deliver infrastructure renewal and investment, and to create the right framework that works for investors, customers and communities. It is for the private sector to respond by bringing innovation, efficient management, customer-focused service, responsible stewardship and sustained investment. Where those ingredients are in place, countries will make the best progress in tackling the many complex infrastructure challenges ahead.

As the membership body for the leading investors in infrastructure, we will make sure we, and our members, are at the heart of our infrastructure renewal.

 

Budget infra focus welcomed, but more clarity needed around role for private capital

GIIA CEO Lawrence Slade has today welcomed UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget that heralds a new dawn for publicly financed infrastructure across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.  The Budget is set to raise net investment to three times the average seen over the past 40 years with £600 billion committed in this parliamentary term.

“Understandably, today’s Budget has a considerable focus on the efforts of the UK Government in supporting those individuals and industries affected by the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus. However, the infrastructure commitments laid out in the Chancellor’s Budget are unprecedented in their scale and will drive economic growth across all the UK’s regions,” said Slade.

“The Government has promised an enormous investment of public funds into UK infrastructure and this is to be welcomed. What is still required, however, is a clear roadmap for the role that the private sector should play in this infrastructure revolution.”

GIIA members are making significant, and ongoing, investment today in the infrastructure today that families and communities rely on across the length and breadth of the UK. These include:

  • Major investments in 17 of the UK’s 20 airports which account for 94.4% of total passengers
  • Supporting almost 120,000 jobs in the nation’s privately owned ports
  • Supplying 2/3rds of UK households water needs
  • Providing an additional 14 million households with full fibre internet while continuing to invest in 5G technology

“Only through strong collaboration between Government and the private sector can we ensure delivery of the modern, innovative and environmentally responsible infrastructure that the UK needs for future generations.”

“GIIA will continue our engagement with the UK Government on the development of a policy and regulatory framework which encourages the role of private investors in delivering such an ambitious infrastructure strategy that benefits all of the UK.”

Infrastructure Investor Global Summit postponed

As members may have seen, PEI have announced the postponement of the upcoming Infrastructure Investor Global Summit in Berlin due to ongoing concern around the Coronavirus (Covid-19). As such, GIIA has made the decision to postpone our Berlin Reception which was due to be held on March 18th.

Please note an email will be sent to Members shortly with further information about the GIIA Annual General Meeting.