By JACQUELINE NELSON
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
The Canada Infrastructure Bank's inaugural chair said the organization's structure is taking shape and stressed that it will seek out deals with the private sector that might not otherwise get done.
In one of her first public remarks since taking on the role, Janice Fukakusa spoke about the goal to keep the new $35-billion institution, known as the CIB, transparent and accountable as it advises the government and generates infrastructure deals with institutional investors.
The bank will launch by the end of the year.
"We aim to attract private investment and expertise to priority, revenue-generating projects that might not otherwise be commercially viable," said Ms. Fukakusa, in a speech at the annual Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships conference in Toronto. "It's also important to note that we will not compete for private-sector investment where it already exists."
In early July, the federal Liberals appointed Ms. Fukakusa, former chief financial officer of Royal Bank of Canada. A chief executive officer and between 8 and 11 other board members are expected to be in place soon. Ms. Fukakusa said in her remarks that the board members will have backgrounds in areas such as infrastructure, portfolio management, finance and corporate governance from across the country and around the world.
These comments are the latest in a slow stream of details about how the bank plans to attract major private investors, such as pension funds, to back billions of dollars' worth of new building. The bank will be run as an arm's-length Crown corporation, but will focus on areas of government priority such as public transit, green energy and transportation.
Ms. Fukakusa outlined the CIB's three key mandates in her remarks.
The first is to make and manage investments in revenue-generating infrastructure in the public interest.
Revenue could come in a variety of forms such as fees, tolls, fares and tariffs and appreciating land values.
"These investors will take on additional risk related to demand or revenue. This will provide extra incentive for private sector partners to ensure a project is well managed," she said.
The second role is to develop expertise to help various levels of government plan their projects. And the third is to collect and share data, in part to ensure building decisions are being based on sound reasoning.
The bank is one part of a multiyear spending strategy to fix and build new Canadian infrastructure that Ottawa is calling "the $186-billion long-term infrastructure plan." Some other major projects, such as the Champlain Bridge in Quebec, will be built, financed and operated through provincially-led government contracts with companies, called publicprivate partnerships.
Some new details were revealed in a corporate plan and budget document recently tabled in Parliament.
That plan set out expectations for costs and staffing requirements for the bank's first fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to March 31, 2018.
The CIB will have as many as 25 employees when it launches, with plans to double its staff to 50 people by the start of its second year.
Estimated operating expenses of $13.9-million, and capital spending of $2.3-million, have been forecast, with an extra contingency budget in place.