In the Sejm, there are ongoing works on the governmental draft Act amending the Act on Public-Private Partnership and certain other acts. On 12 April, the Sejm referred the draft for examination by the Committee for Economy and Development, and on 8 May within that Committee a special extraordinary subcommittee was appointed – whose last meeting took place on 6 and 7 June this year. Upon analysis of the course of the meeting, especially statements by the designers, it can be safely ascertained that they are very anxious to efficiently conclude the legislative works and put the designed solutions in place as soon as possible. This is evidenced, for example, by the ambitious goals adopted by the government in the development of the Public-Private Partnership market.
Ambitious goals of the government
Witold Słowik, Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Investment and Development announced, at the meeting of the said Committee, four principal goals to be achieved in relation to PPP. The first one is to sign by 2020 one hundred new Public-Private Partnership contracts (currently, in the entire country there are 117 undertakings of such type). Further assumptions also revolve around intensification of PPP. The government plans to launch at least 10 such procedures in which the public party is going to be the governmental party, to improve the effectiveness of pending procedures so that at least 40% of them end with conclusion of a contract for the performance of an investment. However, the most ambitious goal – taking into consideration the present state of development of the Public-Private Partnership market – is to achieve a situation in which 5% of public investments are carried out in that form. This is a very important assumption for the development of Polish economy – especially in the context of decreasing external subsidies. It is Public-Private Partnership that may serve as a very good alternative, both for governmental and self-governmental units, to, e.g., EU funding.
Announcement of amendments
The draft amendment to the Act on Public-Private Partnership contains many interesting and, above all, beneficial legislative solutions. This does not mean that they have been accepted uncritically in the legislative work so far. Apart from technical comments, it is worthwhile to point to the discussion of the planned introduction in the Act of an institution enabling application by a public entity to the Minister responsible for regional development for an opinion concerning legitimacy of an undertaking to be carried out in the form of public-private partnership. It is assumed to be an option addressed primarily to territorial self-government units. However, during the legislative process, certain members of the Sejm imputed that the designers had not sufficiently specified the evaluation criteria, and possible provision of such evaluation could be received as providing an “alibi” for territorial self-government. In response to those allegations, the government stressed that the provision had been inserted in the draft at the request of self-government units, which often face the problem of insufficient experience in PPP projects and significant prejudice against long-term cooperation between the public and private sector among the society. It must be stressed that the argumentation was confirmed by the Association of Polish Cities, which, at the same time, declared widespread use of that institution.
Finally, the Committee recommended to add to the draft Act a separate chapter on the opinion-making related to a project. It is one of the most interesting proposals in the entire draft. The designers justly pointed to problems that, in the opinion of territorial self-government units, relate to the use of Public-Private Partnership, which, combined with a relatively low number of specialists capable of providing professional consultancy services in that area, pose a huge barrier to PPP development. Preparation of guidelines, as announced by the Ministry of Investment and Development, on the applications for an opinion or professional consultation at the preparatory stage of a project may significantly contribute to more successful choice of the private partner.