Never mind the balance sheet - the dangers posed by public-private partnerships in central and eastern Europe

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In recent years public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been heavily promoted in central and eastern Europe (CEE), often giving the impression that where infrastructure is concerned, PPPs are the only game in town. Yet behind the plethora of conferences, workshops and publications, few CEE countries have implemented more than two or three PPP projects, and even fewer truly successful projects.

As George Monbiot, UK author and investigative journalist, says of the Private Finance Initiative, the British variant on PPP: "The reality is that PFI, or public private partnership as the government now prefers to call it, is a scam. (...) Far from introducing market disciplines, it has become an official licence to fleece the taxpayer. Far from reducing the public sector borrowing requirement, PFI is, as the Accounting Standards Board has noted, simply an an off-balance sheet fiddle. Most alarmingly, the ministers I have spoken to simply do not understand how it works."

The study is available in a shorter version and in the following languages:

English | Bulgarian | Croatian | Hungarian | Macedonian | Polish | Russian | Serbian | Slovak