In the Graduate School of Management St Petersburg University (GSOM SPBU) the VII “Public-Private Partnership in Transport Sector: Models and Experience” Research Conference took place. Maxim Sokolov, Vice Governor, Head of the Department of Public Management of St. Petersburg University, made a keynote speech on the current practice of St. Petersburg development of public-private partnership projects in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting the conference, Executive Director of the Business School Konstantin Krotov said that the pandemic has changed the sphere of education radically - and the representatives of GSOM SPbU are ready to claim that the educational institutions have become better as the best practices and distance working technologies are mastered. “The more interesting thing is to get to know the expert opinion about how the pandemic has influenced the transport industry and the sphere of PPP — and, primarily, to understand what they will look like in the post-covid age”, — Konstantin Krotov noted.
Maxim Sokolov, Vice Governor, Head of the Department of Public Management of St. Petersburg University, made a speech on the preliminary results of the implementation of PPP projects. He mentioned that the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 spread could not but affect the change in both the activity of investors in the preparation of new and the implementation of already launched partnership projects. They are especially noticeable at transport infrastructure facilities. The measures that were taken made it possible to minimize the negative consequences: the city provided investors with the necessary consulting support, a search for compromise solutions was carried out that would allow the projects to be implemented as efficiently as possible. As a result, none of the concluded PPP agreements were terminated.
The preparation for new conclusions of agreements on public-private partnership had a slower pace due to waiting for a more stable state of the economy and a wish to determine how popular and profitable the initiative will be. This approach made it possible to avoid negative consequences. In order to get through the hard times with minimal losses, an active interaction with entrepreneurs and the Petersburg business support measures system development will be proposed. Today we can talk about a gradual recovery of the PPP market in the city, and an increase in the number of projects is expected.
Svetlana Maslova, Head of the PPP Research Center of GSOM SPbU, noted in her speech that from a legal point of view, the negative impact of COVID-19 on partnership projects can be viewed through the prism of several legal mechanisms: exemption from liability for the improper performance of obligations due to force majeure; changes and termination of the PPP agreement due to a significant change in circumstances; termination of obligations by the impossibility of performance; termination of obligations on the basis of an act of a public authority. The terms of PPP agreements on "special circumstances" can be provided through the distribution of risks (exactly), which most adequately ensure the protection of the rights and interests of the rights of the parties to public-private partnership agreements.
As for PPPs for the benefit of people — a special type of such projects, an additional protective mechanism can be the exercise by the public partner of its right to intervene, based on the “step-in concept” - “to intervene to save the situation”, justifying its right temporarily and under certain, as a rule, emergency, circumstances "to replace", "to stand in place" of the private partner in order to resolve the current emergency situation and continue the project without termination of contractual relations as a part of the PPP project.
The VII research conference "PPP in the field of the transport sector: models and experience", organized by the Center for PPP Research GSOM SPbU, was held in a mixed format. The reports presented by the conference participants in the Grand Hall of the GSOM SPbU were alternated with remote presentations by representatives of the transport and other universities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yekaterinburg.
Nina Sirina and Svetlana Rachek (Ural State Transport University), Natalya Volykhina (Petersburg State Transport University), Irina Kurilchenko (GUMRF named after Admiral S.O. Makarova), Natalia Dyatlova (“Maxima Legal” LLC). The results of their research were presented for the second time by representatives of St. Petersburg State University Alexandra Lvova and Dmitry Davydov, Maxim Vekin (Ural State Transport University), and Elizaveta Kharchistova (NRU HSE) made reports on the problems of implementing PPP projects in the context of a pandemic.
Based on the results of the conference, it is planned to release an electronic collection of abstracts of the participants' reports.