Business Council advises governments to sell assetts

SELLING off public assets and putting the funds into new infrastructure projects is a key area of change if governments want to keep the investment fires burning.

The suggestions, from the Business Council of Australia, come from a PricewaterhouseCoopers report highlighting the need for funding for the next 10 years of road, rail, port and utility development.

As the nation confronts a forecast of population growth to 38 million and cities that will double in size by 2050, council chief Jennifer Westacott said new funding options would need to be considered.

She said the combination of budget deficits and debt had reduced governments' ability to pay for large infrastructure projects, and private industry should take over.

"Policy settings must also continue to support the shift to a market-based approach to infrastructure provision where infrastructure businesses, rather than governments, undertake long-term planning and investment and charge the users an efficient price," she said.

"With Prime Minister (Tony) Abbott wanting to be an infrastructure prime minister, and with governments, business, unions and the community all agreed we need better infrastructure, we must focus on how to make that investment happen."

The BCA proposed a sell up of public assets and putting the money into new projects; ensure a steady pipeline of "projects initiated by government"; and a need for state and federal government to reduce risks for private investors.

"This might require governments to provide a stream of funding, or share in the early stage risks, with government's optimal role decided on a case-by-case basis," Ms Westacott said.

"Governments should increase their capacity to fund new projects by prioritising the sale of public assets, with the proceeds reinvested into new projects, which will leave the community better off."

Topics:  business council of australia

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