A PFI agreement, also known as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), is a type of contract between the government and private companies to finance, build, and manage public infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals, and schools. This partnership allows the public sector to access private sector resources and expertise, which in turn can expedite the delivery of the project and potentially lower costs.

Under a PFI agreement, the private sector company, known as the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle), assumes the financial risk of the project, while the public sector pays the SPV a fee for the use of the infrastructure over a specified period (usually 20-30 years). During this time, the SPV is responsible for maintaining and operating the infrastructure, ensuring it remains in good working order for the duration of the agreement.

PFI agreements can be advantageous for both the public and private sectors. For the public sector, they provide an alternative method of financing infrastructure projects that may not have been possible through traditional methods, such as government borrowing. Additionally, PFI agreements can help the public sector manage risk and deal with cost overruns, as these are typically the responsibility of the private sector partner.

For the private sector, PFI agreements offer an opportunity to develop long-term relationships with the public sector, as well as access to a potentially lucrative market. Additionally, the risk profile of PFI agreements can be attractive to investors who are looking for long-term, stable returns.

However, PFI agreements have not been without controversy. Critics argue that they can be more expensive than traditional methods of financing infrastructure projects, due to the higher cost of borrowing for the private sector partner. Additionally, some have raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability in PFI agreements, as the private sector partner often has a significant amount of control over the project.

Despite these criticisms, PFI agreements continue to be used to finance public infrastructure projects in many countries around the world. While they may not be suitable for every project, PFI agreements can offer a valuable alternative to traditional methods of financing and delivering public infrastructure.