The Economy and Finance Ministry said yesterday it plans to increase tenders regarding public-private partnerships (PPPs) this year to 1.7-2 billion euros, above the 1.3 billion euros last year, in contracts that are seen as helping to offset a large drop in investment activity in the private sector. «In 2009, at least one project every month will be announced and total projects of between 1.7 and 2 billion euros will be tendered,» the ministry said in a statement. PPPs are deals in which the private sector provides infrastructure or services that traditionally are provided by the government, such as hospitals, schools, prisons, roads and tunnels. The ministry added that it has signed PPP projects worth 25.4 million euros for the construction of six fire stations across Greece as well as an additional building to be used by the fire brigade. Their construction is expected to be complete by the start of 2011 when the state will begin to pay the private operator, which will also take care of maintenance and technical management, the ministry added.