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PPP list open to foreign bidders with more than 1,000 projects on offer

China's top economic planner has revealed detailed information on more than 1,000 proposed infrastructure projects, open to both private and foreign investors.

The proposed public-private partnerships list is expected to spark cooperation between government and private interests across a range of sectors including water conservation, [Hong Kong Company Formation]transport, public services, natural resources and the environment.

The projects are expected to be worth a total of 1.97 trillion yuan ($317.75 billion), said officials from the National Development and Reform Commission.

The publication of the proposed list of PPP projects, in 29 areas of the country, should help accelerate the shift of economic model and guide social capital into the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, said the commission.

Previous PPP projects have involved franchising, government procurement, and equity partnership agreements.

The NDRC website also confirmed Xu Kunlin's appointment as head of the fixed-asset investment department, also called the department of investment, within the NDRC.

Xu told China Daily on Monday that foreign investors will be welcomed, "as long as they belong to categories that are encouraged or permitted in the Catalog for the Guidance of Foreign Investment".

Policymakers are pinning their hopes on PPP investment to boost slowing economic growth as exports and consumption performance remain flat, due to weak global and domestic demand.

Investment growth has also declined, with urban fixed-asset investment rising 12 percent year-on-year to 12 trillion yuan in the first four months, a 5.3 percent fall from a year earlier.

The China News Service, citing an industrial observer, said under such complex economic conditions, "Xu's appointment was down to his ability to achieve results in previous positions, which will help him promote reforms in the infrastructure investment sector".

The NDRC launched a number of high-profile antitrust probes into leading multinational companies when Xu headed its bureau of price supervision and anti-monopoly, including the investigation into US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.

More than 34 local governments have proposed PPP projects, worth a total 1.6 trillion yuan, since August 2014.

However, only around one-eighth have so far signed contracts, because of fears over low returns and long payback periods, according to a report from Minsheng Securities Co Ltd.

The list includes a 51.9 billion yuan project to build two subway lines in Hangzhou and a 49.5 billion yuan project to build a subway line linking Haidian and Fengtai district, in Beijing.

The NDRC said it had designated 12 of the total 1,043 projects as pilot schemes, to perfect policies over the next two years.

Confronted with mounting local government debt and a pressing need to fund urbanization and cope with a rapidly aging population, China released two PPP guidelines last year.

Earlier this month, [Offshore Company Incorporation]the State Council, China's cabinet, said the government will streamline approval procedures for PPPs and that PPPs in public services will enjoy tax breaks and other financial rewards.

PPP project operators are encouraged to directly raise money from the capital market, and social security funds and insurance premiums are allowed to invest in these projects, according to the cabinet.


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