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Broad roads in a thin country - infrastructure concessions in Chile


  • Hinojosa, Sergio
  • Gomez-Lobo, Andres


To increase investment in infrastructure, in the early 1990s Chile's government introduced private capital into the transport infrastructure sector, covering roads and highways, bridges, tunnels, and airports. The chosen mechanism: a concession scheme through which private firms would finance and build a given project and then operate the infrastructure for a set of number of years, recovering their investment by collecting tolls from users. Among the lessons learned from the experience: 1) As much as possible, avoid concessioning roads for which there are convenient alternative freeways nearby. 2) Choose the right variable for awarding a concession. Avoid mechanisms that (by promoting large payments to the state or short-term concession periods) encourage high tolls, and if you choose to award a concession to the firm charging the lowest tolls, place a floor and ceiling on possible bids. The floor is to guarantee the concession's financial viability; the ceiling is to prevent inefficient traffic diversions. Ties at either end should be resolved by a second variable, such as the level of transfers between the state and the firm. 3) Allow downward toll flexibility so that the concessionaire can react to unexpectedly low traffic flows, especially for certain types of vehicles. 4) Pay special attention to the tendering mechanism and to the general incentive structure. There are limits to the pure least-present-value-of-revenue (LPVR) auction, but income guarantees do enhance liquidity. In fact, a minimum-income guarantee through an LPVR auction is an instrument for credit enhancement, not income support. Alternatively, some form of financial innovation should be encouraged to make debt service commitments more flexible. 5) If concessions are tendered by traditional methods and income guarantees will be given, cover only a fraction of the concessionaire's expected income stream, to reduce the state's financial exposure and to improve the incentives to the concessionaire. 6) Make the contracts as complete as possible but allow for later modifications or renegotiations, and include a well-designed dispute resolution mechanism.

Suggested Citation

  • Hinojosa, Sergio & Gomez-Lobo, Andres, 2000. "Broad roads in a thin country - infrastructure concessions in Chile," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2279, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2279

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & Ronald D. Fischer & Alexander Galetovic, 2001. "Least-Present-Value-of-Revenue Auctions and Highway Franchising," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 993-1020, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. de Rus, Gines & Nombela, Gustavo, 2000. "Least Present Value of Net Revenue: a new auction-mechanism for highway concessions," MPRA Paper 12203, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Michel Bellier & Yue Maggie Zhou, 2003. "Private Participation in Infrastructure in China : Issues and Recommendations for the Road, Water, and Power Sectors," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15156, March.
    3. Nombela, Gustavo & de Rus, Gines, 2001. "Auctions for Infrastructure Concessions with Demand Uncertainty and Unknown Costs," MPRA Paper 12023, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Rodrigo Gutierrez & Pablo Serra & Ronald Fischer, 2003. "The Effects of Privatization on Firms and on Social Welfare: The Chilean Case," Research Department Publications 3150, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. Albalate, Daniel & Bel, Germà, 2009. "Regulating concessions of toll motorways: An empirical study on fixed vs. variable term contracts," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 219-229, February.
    6. Nombela, Gustavo & de Rus, Ginés, 2004. "Flexible-term contracts for road franchising," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 163-179, March.
    7. Ronald Fischer & Rodrigo Gutiérrez & Pablo Serra, 2002. "The Effects of Privatization on Firms and on Social Welfare," Documentos de Trabajo 131, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    8. Ehrhardt, David & Irwin Timothy, 2004. "Avoiding customer and taxpayer bailouts in private infrastructure projects : Policy toward leverage, risk allocation, and bankruptcy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3274, The World Bank.
    9. de Rus, Gines & Nombela, Gustavo, 2003. "Concesiones de plazo variable para la construcción y explotación de autopistas
      [Variable-term concessions for road construction and operation]
      ," MPRA Paper 12653, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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