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Is cost recovery a feasible objective for water and electricity ? The Latin American experience

  • Foster, Vivien
  • Yepes, Tito
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    Given the relatively small segment of the population that faces genuine affordability problems in Latin America, there appears to be a promising case for using targeted subsidies to reconcile the cost recovery objective with social protection concerns. Social tariff schemes of various kinds are already widespread in Latin America, but they suffer from a number of design flaws. Increasing block tariff (IBT) structures are the most prevalent form of social tariffs in the region. These are likely to be more successful in the electricity sector than in the water sector because the correlation between consumption and income is much stronger in the case of electricity than water. Moreover, IBT structures in electricity tend to be much better designed than in the case of water, with lower fixed charges, lower subsistence blocks, and steeper gradients. A number of more sophisticated social tariff schemes are also being applied that combine consumption criteria with some form of socioeconomic screening. These are generally found to perform better than IBTs, although they also present significant room for improvement.

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    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3943.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jun 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3943
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    1. Prema-Chandra Athukorala & Sarath Rajapatirana, 2003. "Capital Inflows and the Real Exchange Rate: A Comparative Study of Asia and Latin America," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 613-637, 04.
    2. Pablo Mejia-Reyes & Denise Osborn & Marianne Sensier, 2010. "Modelling real exchange rate effects on output performance in Latin America," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(19), pages 2491-2503.
    3. Vivien Foster & Maria Caridad Araujo, 2004. "Does infrastructure reform work for the poor? A case study from Guatemala," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3185, The World Bank.
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