Public-Private Partnerships (PPP): Definition, functioning and examples (2023)

What are public-private partnerships?

Public-private partnerships involve collaborations between a government agency and a private sector company that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects such as public transportation networks, parks, and convention centers. Financing a project through a public-private partnership can result in a project being completed sooner or possible in the first place.

Public-private partnerships typically involve grants of tax or other operating revenue, liability protection, or fractional ownership rights in nominally public land and services to for-profit private sector corporations.

Main Conclusions

  • Through public-private partnerships, large state projects, such as roads, bridges or hospitals, can be completed with private funds.
  • These partnerships work well when private sector technology and innovation are combined with public sector incentives to get the job done on time and on budget.
  • Risks for the private sector include cost overruns, technical deficiencies and failure to meet quality standards, while agreed usage fees for public partners may not be supported by demand, for example for a toll road or bridge .
  • Despite their advantages, public-private partnerships are often criticized for blurring the lines between legitimate public purposes and private for-profit activities and for drawing public attention to self-dealing and profit-making.


Private financing initiatives and public-private partnerships

(Video) What is Public Private Partnerships Definition | 9 Types Of PPPs You Need To Know | PPP Explained

How public-private partnerships work

For example, a local government may be heavily in debt and unable to complete a capital-intensive construction project, but a private company may be interested in financing its construction in exchange for financing.the operating resultonce the project is finished.

Public-private partnerships typically have contract terms of 20 to 30 years or more. Funding comes in part from the private sector, but requires public sector and/or user payments over the life of the project. The private partner participates in the design, execution, implementation and financing of the project, while the public partner focuses on the definition and monitoring of compliance with the objectives. Risks are shared between public and private partners through a negotiation process, ideally, but not always, according to each individual's ability to assess, control and manage them.

While public works and services, such as hospital projects, may be paid for through a fee from the government revenue budget, concessions may include the right of users to be paid directly, for example, with highway tolls. In cases such as parallel highway tolls, payments are based on actual use of the service. For wastewater treatment, billing is based on usage fees.

(Video) A quick introduction to Public-Private Partnership

Public-private partnerships are typically found in transportation and municipal or environmental infrastructure and public housing.

Pros and cons of public-private partnerships


Partnerships between private companies and governments offer mutual benefits. For example, private sector technology and innovation can help improve the operational efficiency of public service delivery. The public sector, in turn, provides incentives for the private sector to deliver projects on time and on budget. In addition, creating economic diversification makes the country more competitive by facilitating its infrastructure base and encouraging construction, equipment, support services, and other related businesses.


There are also disadvantages.The private partner may face particular risks when participating in a public-private partnership. Physical infrastructure, such as roads or railways, harbors construction risks. If the product is not delivered on time, is over budget, or has technical defects, the private partner usually bears the cost.

In addition, there is an availability risk for the private partner if they cannot deliver the promised service. A company cannot meet safety or other relevant quality standards, for example if it runs a prison, hospital or school. Demand risk occurs when there are fewer users than expected for the service or infrastructure, such as B. Highways, bridges, or tunnels. However, this risk can be transferred to the public partner if the public partner agrees to pay a minimal fee independent of the claim.

(Video) Public-Private Partnerships

Public-private partnerships also pose risks from a public and taxpayer perspective. The association of private operators with the government can insulate them from liability to users of public services for taking too many shortcuts, providing inferior service, or even violating people's civil or constitutional rights. At the same time, the private partner may collect tolls, fees, and charges from captive consumers who may be required by law or by a geographic natural monopoly to pay for its services.

Finally, as in any situation where ownership and decision-making rights are separated, public-private partnerships can become complex.Lead Agent Issues. This can facilitate corrupt dealings, bribing political cronies, andlooking for rentActivity by softening the link between individuals making important decisions about a project from which they can benefit, and accountability to taxpayers, who bear at least part of the bill and who may ultimately take responsibility for the project. result of that project.

Examples of public-private partnerships

Public-private partnerships are often found in transportation infrastructure, such as highways, airports, railways, bridges, and tunnels.Examples of municipal and ecological infrastructure are water and sewage systems. Public service facilities include school buildings, prisons, college dormitories, and sports or entertainment facilities.

What is an example of a public-private partnership?

Public-private collaborations can be found in infrastructure projects such as highway and expressway construction. An example is Canada's 407 Express Toll Route (407 ETR). This 67-mile stretch of road was a PPP between the Ontario provincial government and a private consortium responsible for the design, construction, financing and maintenance of the road with a 99-year lease term during which users can collect tolls. the way. However, the traffic volume and toll revenues were not guaranteed by the government).

What is the revenue risk in a public-private partnership?

Revenue risk is the possibility that the private part of a PPP will not be able to cover its ongoing costs or expenses of operating part of the infrastructure. On a toll road, this could be due to less traffic than expected or toll caps. Extensive studies must be done in advance to avoid this risk and to plan for contingencies.

(Video) Module 1: Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Concept, Benefits and Limitations

What types of public-private partnerships exist?

Public-private partnerships can be organized in different ways. Here are a few:

  • Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT): A government subcontracts all construction and operation to a private entity for a specified number of years (often several decades or more). After this time it is transferred to the government.
  • Build Operate Own (BOO):Like a BOT, but the private entity is not required to delegate the project to the government.
  • Project Construction (DB):A government contracts a private entity to design and build a project for a fee. The government retains ownership and can operate it itself or outsource operations.
  • Buy, Build, Operate (BBO):A government sells a pre-existing project that has already been completed and may have been run by the government for some time to a private individual who takes full control of it. The private part may need to invest in the remodeling or expansion of the project.


Governments use public-private partnerships to work with private sector companies to finance projects. While these types of partnerships have advantages and disadvantages, they are still commonly used by governments to finance transportation, community, environmental, and utility infrastructure projects.


1. What is a Public Private Partnership (PPP)?
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2. MasterClass | Introduction to public-private partnerships (PPPs) and project finance
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3. Public Private Partnerships - A Review
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4. Evaluating Public-Private Partnerships
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5. Public Private Partnership Explained - PPP Overview in Financial Crime
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6. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs): Opportunities and Challenges | Dubai | Meirc
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