State Capacity to Implement Public-Private Partnerships for Transport Infrastructure in Costa Rica between 1994-2013. A Case Study of the National Council of Concessions
Perez, Irvin Alberto
In 2013, the World Economic Forum placed Costa Rica in the position 131 out of 144 economies for the category of “quality of roads”. The following year, Costa Rica showed an improvement in the same study ranking 119; yet, still was the lowest rated country in Latin America under this category. Costa Rica´s backlog in road infrastructure has been related to the economic crisis of 1982 when the country was severely affected by the external debt crisis making public investment in new road infrastructure virtually impossible ever since. Nonetheless, right after the crisis, Costa Rica started a large economic and administrative reform that included laws to allow public-private partnerships for road infrastructure to cover the lack of public funding. Thus, in 1998, the National Council of Concessions was created. The main objective of this new public agency was to attract investors and to represent the State in each PPP contract. However, fifteen years later the NCC has worked in thirteen projects but completed only two of them. Furthermore, the road situation has not improve at all and some experts say it is even worse due to the lack of maintenance. The relationship between a good infrastructure system and an economic growth has been proof in many studies. If it is so important for Costa Rica´s development, why the State has not been able to correct the situation in over thirty years? Why the PPP public policy is not working? What are the main factors that affect the NCC performance?There many possible answers to these questions, yet the concept of State capacity seems to be part of most of them. The following thesis addresses these questions using the concept of “capacity components” proposed by Bertranou (2012) applied to a detailed case study of the performance of the NCC and the PPP public policy from 1994 until 2013. The study concludes that there are at least five factors affecting the impact of the PPP policy in Costa Rica. First, a limited use and comprehension of the concept of PPP. Second, the lack of clarity in the functions and responsibilities of the NCC. Third, a high level of disarticulation between all participating actors involved in the implementation of the PPP policy. Fourth, a strong political interference in the NCC´s major decisions. Fifth, a lag of consistency between the NCC´s objectives and the resources assigned to the institution.
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