An initiative aimed at enticing the private sector into the construction of public works projects – to which the government has attached many hopes – was finalized during a Cabinet meeting yesterday and was opened to public debate. The public-private partnership (PPP) bill was heralded as helping «the country’s development and investment prospects enter a new era» by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas after the Cabinet meeting. The draft law is likely to be approved by Parliament over the next few months. By then, public bodies that want to cooperate with the public sector are expected to have made their interests known. The bill concerns projects costing up to 200 million euros. Larger projects will require separate legislative acts. Private firms will have to contribute part of the funding of the projects, as well as providing their services, for which they will receive compensation either in a lump sum or installments or will have rights to the revenues from the use of the project, e.g. highway tolls. «It will allow, at a much lower cost to Greek taxpayers and with better quality of works and services, Greece to enter into an era that many EU countries have been experiencing for many years,» said Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, making specific reference to the UK where some 600 PPP projects have been completed in the last 10 years. Alogoskoufis said his bill was based on the British model. The government unveiled a plan in March to expand the country’s highway network by 50 percent through partnerships with the private sector. Greece so far has completed three major PPP projects: the Athens International Airport, the Attiki Odos highway in the capital, and the Rio-Antirio bridge in western Greece.