This trend has been driven in part by the desire on the part of both the government and private organisations to improve their services and to make the best possible use of citizen- and customer-oriented opportunities.In addition, the limited public resources along with the desire by private investors for long-term contracts that go beyond service provision or infrastructure building necessitate an additional point of contact between the public and the private sectors.
However, being successful demands more than simply common objectives. In practice, the force of a constructive public-private partnership lies partly in a professional approach. With its expert advice, the KPMG network puts public authorities and private organizations more efficiently in contact with each other, and thus helps them achieve their objectives.
Expert advice, however, is not the only requirement. The KPMG network also points out that the public sector must continue to strive to create a more advantageous PPP environment. The pipeline for PPP projects may be well stocked, but increasingly, we will be evolving towards a situation in which Belgian banks will no longer be able to provide for all the financing. Foreign banks will most likely make their entry on the scene. In order to allow this to happen smoothly and to lower the threshold for potential financiers and bidders, it is advisable to work towards standardized contracts that reduce the transaction costs for all parties and reduce the timeframe for the tendering process.
It is not only the administrative and private law aspects that demand attention, but the tax implications of a PPP must be addressed as well. In comparison with the front runners in this area such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands, the number of PPP projects in Belgium is still quite limited. That means that there are no firm tax rules yet, either on the regional or on the federal level. Thus, the tax authorities are applying their own tax system for each component of the PPP project – design and construction, financing and maintenance. It would be more efficient if the tax administration drew up a number of general principles regarding PPPs, instead of having to issue an individual ruling for each project.
Now that not only foreign banks but other private partners, such as pension funds, are also targeting the Belgian PPP market, we suggest that the creation of a favorable climate for PPPs should be at the top of the agenda of Belgian policymakers.
This article includes elements of an interview on PPPs given by Jorn De Neve, Koen Maerevoet and Thomas Eggermont to Mediaplanet (February 2011).