Social Cost-Benefit Analysis for infrastructure projects: a case study in the war affected reas of Croatia
The paper presents a simplified social cost-benefit analysis approach tested on around thirty projects of small infrastructure in Croatia, and deals with some of the specific issues encountered in this field work. In Zadar and Sibenik– Knin counties, Croatia, a Sustainable Development Project funded by CARDS -Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation- was active from 2003 to 2006 for the war-affected areas. The project aimed to support the two administrations in managing local development programs through CARDS and to prepare for the pre-accession Funds. The assistance consisted in training in EU procedures, preparing grant scheme, updating the Regional Operational Program, implementing an infrastructure project pipeline. The paper focuses on the last activity, more precisely on the project appraisal for the preparation of the pipeline, and describes the experience developed in this context through a methodology commonly used for the management and evaluation of infrastructures funded by Cohesion and Structural Funds. The methodology applied for the evaluation was social cost-benefit analysis. The challenge of this experience is represented by the reference context, where either Public Administration than local actors started only recently to cope with the EU program procedures and principles, and by the chosen operative methods, made of a cooperation of International experts and professional evaluators with local personnel. Given the financial dimension of the concerned projects (from a few hundred thousands EUR to a maximum of five millions EUR, with one exception) a simplified yet rigorous version of the standard methodology has been applied. For the data collection the input came from the contribution of local actors, either the personnel of the company appointed for the management of this program than the Public Administration and the projects promoters. Surveys, personal interviews through well-structured questionnaires, printouts' desk analysis and presentation of the main results were the activities of the involved personnel. The application of a standard methodology allows a certain degree of comparability among the projects and makes it easy to horizontally read the interventions' performance. The message of the paper is that even for small infrastructure projects CBA is a tool by means of which project analysts and decision-makers could have a useful dialogue for the planning exercise.
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