Public Private Partnerships Help Cut Puerto Rico Budget 20%

Private funding behind public infrastructure relieves budget pressure in aspiring state

Sun, sand and 80-degree temperatures distract most winter visitors to this U.S. island territory from the visible signs of aging at the 57-year-old Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, a critical hub to the Caribbean, but increasingly expensive to run and maintain.

That’s not good enough for Kenneth McClintock, the secretary of state for Puerto Rico, who says the airport is about to undergo world-class upgrades made possible through a long-term lease with a private company that will finance, design, build and operate the facility.

“It’s a showcase project that will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues,” says McClintock, who’s been a key player in the island’s aggressive use of public-private partnerships (P3) to modernize public infrastructure. Act No. 29, passed by the Legislature in 2009, created the Public-Private Partnerships Authority that, in consultation with investment banking firm Macquarie Capital, developed the commonwealth’s ambitious P3 program. So far, the growing portfolio includes 100 K-12 schools, road improvements and public transit.

(More on P3s in Puerto Rico . . . )