One of the main challenges faced by public infrastructure policy is to improve coherence and co-ordination —vertical and horizontal— among stakeholders. Despite the close links between infrastructure and its users, a disassociation is often observed between policies on design and infrastructure provision and policies on the operation and promotion of transport. This seems to be the result of a duplicity of functions and in some cases direct competition between public agencies, affecting the efficiency of the proposed public or private intervention. Latin American governments should therefore strengthen their institutions, increasing co-ordination and policy coherence. There is also a need to reinforce the relationship with the private sector through modern regulatory frameworks that provide balance between planning, evaluation, capacity and the maturing of investments. 

According to a survey conducted on the region’s policy makers,5 these challenges are more important than the stability, adaptability and effectiveness of policies and also more important than public-interest considerations. These qualitative results corroborate the opinions of different institutions, stakeholders and public-policy experts, who emphasise that problems of coherence, co-ordination and multimodal strategy in public policies are factors that reduce the efficiency and productivity of economies (Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.1

Policy-Makers Perception Compared to Experts, Regarding Infrastructure Policy In Latin America:

“What are the Characteristics of the Principal Aspects of Public Policy in Infrastructure Sectors?”

Proper policy coherence and co-ordination requires an institutional and incentive framework that is appropriate for each individual country’s structure. A greater connection between ministries and public administrations is essential. It is also necessary to strengthen infrastructure planning in accordance with a national development plan created by technicians of the different agencies in charge of infrastructure development. This must be done with a focus on the long term, independently of political cycles and coordinated with sub-national policies. The main obstacles to proper co-ordination between public infrastructure institutions and the transport sector are a lack of incentives for co-operation and an inadequate institutional architecture. According to the policy makers’ survey these aspects are more important than lack of clarity in assigning responsibilities, competition between ministries and a lack of political commitments in the area of infrastructure. The lack of incentives for co-operation is a key factor behind the problems in the relations between the transport, telecommunications, electricity and social infrastructure (such as education and health care) sectors. The countries where this obstacle is greatest are Colombia, El Salvador, Paraguay and Peru. These countries therefore must prioritise integrated policy for the different infrastructure sectors.