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Dealing with Politics for Money and Power in Infrastructure


  • Daniel Benitez
  • Antonio Estache
  • Tina Soreide


Policy recommendations for infrastructure provision usually build on a well-established understanding of best practice for sector governance. Too rarely are they adapted to the country-specific political environment even if this is an area where policy choices are likely to be subject to private agendas in politics. The fact that such private agendas are often ignored goes a long way toward explaining why infrastructure policies fail and why best practice can be counterproductive. While non-benevolence and rent-seeking are well described in the literature and anecdotes abound, there is only limited consideration of how the different incentive problems in politics impede policy improvements in infrastructure. This paper addresses why politics in infrastructure cannot be ignored, drawing on theoretical results and a systematic review of experiences. It reviews how different private agendas in politics will have different impact for sector-governance decisions – and hence service delivery. The concept of best practice in policy recommendations should be reconsidered in a wide perspective and allow for tailored solutions based on an understanding of the given incentive problems. Policy recommendations should take into account how coordination trade-offs may complicate efforts to reduce the possible impact of private agendas on infrastructure policy decisions. While more transparency linked to service delivery indicators is a “safe” recommendation, it is also clear that the demand for good governance will not be sufficient to secure political accountability in a sector with huge vested interests combined with complicated funding schemes and complex contracts.

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  • Daniel Benitez & Antonio Estache & Tina Soreide, 2010. "Dealing with Politics for Money and Power in Infrastructure," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2010-031, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/62778

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dal Bo, Ernesto & Rossi, Martin A., 2007. "Corruption and inefficiency: Theory and evidence from electric utilities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 939-962, June.
    2. Junaid Ahmad & Shantayanan Devarajan & Stuti Khemani & Shekhar Shah, 2006. "Decentralization and Service Delivery," Chapters,in: Handbook of Fiscal Federalism, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Monica Beuran & Marie Gachassin & Gaël Raballand, 2015. "Are There Myths on Road Impact and Transport in Sub-Saharan Africa?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 33(5), pages 673-700, September.
    2. Frédéric Boehm, 2011. "Is There an Anti-corruption Agenda in Regulation? Insights from Colombian and Zambian Water Regulation," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, Volume Two, chapter 10 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. repec:eee:hepoli:v:121:y:2017:i:5:p:515-524 is not listed on IDEAS

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