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UK ducks damaging European PPP directive

BRITAIN HAS headed off European Union (EU) plans to outlaw the government's public private partnership programme (PPP) of privately funded infrastructure and public building upgrades.

Pressure from contractors and the Treasury has forced the European Commission to agree to change a new procurement directive said Elizabeth Hambley, legal advisor to PFI trouble shooting company Partnerships UK.

Unless amended, the new directive would have made it illegal for the government to appoint preferred bidders for PPP projects ahead of contract award.

The Major Contractors Group and Construction Federation are worried that, by forcing all bidders to stay in the race, the directive would make bid costs unacceptably high. They also warned that consortia would stop competing for PPP work.

But Hambley is confident the commission will change the directive.

'I am quietly confident we'll get a result this week and the amendment will be drafted later this year or early next, ' she said.

Under the revised directive, government clients will be allowed to select a preferred bidder on the basis of a best and final offer.

The client and remaining bidder would then hold a 'post-tender dialogue' before signing the contract.

There will be a high profile debate on private finance and transport infrastructure at the Civils 2002 exhibition next year. Details on how to find out more are on page 24.

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