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Soft Budgets and Renegotiations in Public-Private Partnerships

  • Eduardo Engel
  • Ronald Fischer
  • Alexander Galetovic

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly used to provide infrastructure services. Even though PPPs have the potential to increase efficiency and improve resource allocation, contract renegotiations have been pervasive. We show that existing accounting standards allow governments to renegotiate PPP contracts and elude spending limits. Our model of renegotiations leads to observable predictions: (i) in a competitive market, firms lowball their offers, expecting to break even through renegotiation, (ii) renegotiations compensate lowballing and pay for additional expenditure, (iii) governments use renegotiation to increase spending and shift the burden of payments to future administrations, and (iv) there are significant renegotiations in the early stages of the contract, e.g. during construction. We use data on Chilean renegotiations of PPP contracts to examine these predictions and find that the evidence is consistent with the predictions of our model. Finally, we show that if PPP investments are counted as current government spending, the incentives to renegotiate contracts to increase spending disappear.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15300.

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Date of creation: Aug 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15300
Note: IO PE
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  1. John Bennett & Elisabetta Iossa, 2004. "Building and Managing Facilities for Public Services," Public Policy Discussion Papers 02-08, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  2. Olivier Cadot & Lars-Hendrik Röller & Andreas Stephan, 2004. "Contribution to Productivity or Pork Barrel?: The Two Faces of Infrastructure Investment," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 458, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Martimort, David & Pouyet, Jerome, 2008. "To build or not to build: Normative and positive theories of public-private partnerships," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 393-411, March.
  4. Guasch, J. Luis & Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Straub, Stephane, 2003. "Renegotiation of concession contracts in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3011, The World Bank.
  5. Eduardo Engel & Ronald Fischer & Alexander Galetovic, 2013. "The Basic Public Finance Of Public–Private Partnerships," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 83-111, 02.
  6. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Public-private Partnerships and Government Spending Limits," Economics Working Papers 0075, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  7. J. Luis Guasch & Stéphane Straub, 2006. "Renegotiation Of Infrastructure Concessions: An Overview," Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 77(4), pages 479-493, December.
  8. Blanc-Brude, Frederic & Goldsmith, Hugh & Valila, Timo, 2007. "Public-Private Partnerships In Europe: An Update," Economic and Financial Reports 2007/3, European Investment Bank, Economics Department.
  9. J. Guasch & Jean-Jacques Laffont & Stéphane Straub, 2006. "Renegotiation of Concession Contracts: A Theoretical Approach," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 55-73, September.
  10. Janos Kornai & Eric Maskin & Gerard Roland, 2002. "Understanding the Soft Budget Constraint," Economics Working Papers 0019, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  11. Eduardo Engel & Ronald Fischer & Alexander Galetovic, 2007. "The Basic Public Finance of Public-Private Partnerships," Working Papers 957, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  12. Guasch, Jose Luis & Laffont, Jean-Jacques & Straub, Stéphane, 2005. "Concessions of Infrastructure in Latin America: Goverment-Led Renegotiation," IDEI Working Papers 372, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  13. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-87, December.
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