On 6 November, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, alongside the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), held a training seminar on "Infrastructure Development through Public-Private Partnership Projects (PPPs)". UNOPS is highly experienced in promoting infrastructure development through PPPs and providing technical assistance in the field, having implemented over 900 projects around the world last year alone. Within the framework of these activities, the United Nations Office offered its assistance in the fields of procurement and contracts management, public works and physical infrastructure development.
During the seminar, experts and advisers from UNOPS for Latin America addressed the convenience analysis of PPP scheme designs, risk assessment, funding mechanisms and alternatives, as well as renegotiations. The seminar was also attended by María Sol Ivaszkow, from the Undersecretariat for PPP of the Ministry of Finance, who presented the state of the implementation process in Argentina, against the backdrop of the country's regulatory framework.
The theme choice for the seminar reflected the boost being given by the Argentine Government to infrastructure investment. Argentina has recently launched one of the most ambitious infrastructure plans in its history, which provides for 50% growth in infrastructure works for next year in real terms. To this end, various actors are strongly promoting PPPs for infrastructure plans in the fields of energy, mining, transport, communications, technology, water, sanitation, housing, justice and education at the national level.
The Public-Private Partnership model gains importance in this scenario, as an effective funding tool to enable the completion of the necessary works with private investment contributions. PPPs are long-term contracts between a private party and a government agency for the provision of public services and/or the development of public infrastructure, in which responsibilities and benefits are shared and risks are efficiently allocated.
Although the Undersecretariat for PPPs of the Ministry of Finance centralizes the application of the regulatory framework for the development of these projects, it is the various federal and provincial government agencies that will be in charge of conceiving and implementing the respective projects. There is consequently growing demand for technical assistance in the creation of PPP units and the organization of project development teams.
In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship makes available to the various public actors, especially to Argentine provinces, the assistance that international organizations such as UNOPS can offer in this task; whether through lessons learned from other countries, technical advice or implementation models adapted to the situation in Argentina. UNOPS' mandate is to serve as "a central resource for the United Nations system in procurement and contracts management as well as in civil works and physical infrastructure development, including the related capacity development activities"; in this regard, promoting infrastructure development through PPPs and providing technical assistance in the field is naturally within the purview of UNOPS' duties, as established by the General Assembly, in compliance with international rules and standards and upholding values such as impartiality, transparency and efficiency in all projects.
The Secretariat for Foreign Coordination and Planning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship is the coordination body in charge of the implementation of UNDP and UNOPS projects in Argentina. UNOPS is currently implementing 7 projects in Argentina, under a memorandum of understanding in which the International Agency, the Government Executing Agency and the Secretariat for Foreign Coordination and Planning participate. Through its Directorate for Projects, the Argentine Foreign Ministry oversees the planning, implementation and assessment of projects carried out in the country.
The seminar aroused considerable interest and was attended by over one hundred officials from various ministries and organizations, including representatives from the provinces of Buenos Aires, Chaco, Catamarca, Córdoba, Misiones, Neuquén, Santa Fé, Salta and Tucumán. Following the seminar, twelve meetings between UNOPS and various interested organizations were coordinated in order to enhance technical assistance possibilities for specific initiatives.