Developing social infrastructure using private-sector funds and expertise has been slowly gaining acceptance among local governments, a survey has found.

The survey by the Japan Productivity Center for Socioeconomic Development found that 82 out of 330 respondents have either been carrying out Private Finance Initiative projects or plan to do so soon in the near future.

The number of ongoing PFI projects is 34, while 143 are in the planning stage, the private business and economic think tank said.

The remaining 248 local governments said they have no plans to carry out PFI projects in the near future.

“Use of PFIs has been spreading steadily, but acceptance seems to be still limited to relatively large local governments and private companies,” a researcher at the think tank said, noting new ways to further encourage PFI projects among smaller local governments and firms must be considered.

With the central and local governments financially strained, the nation decided to introduce PFIs in 1999 for the construction and management of toll roads, bridges and other public facilities.

The government’s key panel, the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy, headed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in June pointed to the need for further utilizing the method in its sweeping reform program for the nation.

Ongoing projects under the PFI include 41 for constructing education and sports facilities, 28 for building local government offices and accommodations, as well as 20 for setting up incineration and power generation facilities, according to the survey.

The think tank separately conducted a survey on PFI projects among construction companies, banks and trading houses. The survey found that 53 out of 161 respondents were either already participating in such projects or planning to do so in the near future.

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