December 7, 2009

Regional Conference on Concessions/Public Private Partnerships Zagreb, 3-4 December 2009, Regent Esplanade Hotel

OECD/SIGMA organized jointly with the Ministry of Economy, Labour and Entrepreneurship and the Agency for Public Private Partnership the Regional Conference on Concessions/Public Private Partnerships in the IPA countries in Zagreb, Regent Esplanade Hotel, 3-4 December 2009.

Over the course of the last few years, the subject of concessions and PPPs has become a highly topical and sometimes controversial area of government. It now has the capacity to attract media attention and public debate.

It is often thought of by some as a creative accounting trick to defer government borrowing liabilities. Equally there are others who think of it as a sensible means of procuring good value for money projects and services on behalf of taxpayers and a successful method of reforming the delivery of public services in a wide variety of public sectors, but in particular related to infrastructure projects.

What is beyond dispute is the capacity of private finance and the management of public services to bring forward infrastructure projects and improvements to public services much sooner than would be the case using a conventional budget funding methodology.

The current financial climate has raised issues about the availability of finance, but has also seen increased interest in PPP and concession projects in the context of constraints in public budgets. The long-term affordability of such projects, however, still needs to be given careful consideration.

In many of the candidate and future candidate countries, there is an acknowledgement that the private sector has a part to play in the construction or reconstruction including management and operation of public assets that will be essential for European integration and economic growth. Indeed, there is already Concession and PPP activity in many of these countries.

The objective of the conference was to discuss the above mentioned reform needs in the concessions/PPPs sectors, with particular reference to the Stabilisation & Association process (SAp) and EU harmonisation. The speakers referred to the importance and the perspectives of the regional cooperation, the impact of the financial crisis to the PPP market and the European Court of Justice case law related to the PPP and concessions. The representatives of the IPA countries presented their countries profile highlighting the deficiencies in the current national system in respect to the further developments of these models.

The conference was attended by a hundred participants from beneficiary countries of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), representatives of relevant ministries, cities and counties from Croatia and European Commission representatives.