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Broad roads in a thin country : infrastructure concessions in Chile
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  • Abstract:
    Chile has experienced rapid economic growth for more than a decade. Demand for basic infrastructure services has grown in tandem with the economic expansion, quickly outstripping the supply capacity of existing assets. In the early 90's a policy decision was made to introduce private capital in the transport infrastructure sector, covering roads and highways, bridges, tunnels and airports. The chosen mechanism was a concession scheme, whereby a private firm would finance and build a given project and then operate the infrastructure for a set number of years. The concessionaire would recover its investment by the collection of tolls from users. The purpose of this paper is to review the Chilean private infrastructure program and to present some lessons for other countries embarking on a similar route. The focus is mainly on roads and highways, although a tunnel and some airport facilities have also been privatized. The paper is organized as follows. First, some background information concerning the magnitude of the infrastructure deficit is presented. It shows the urgency that confronted the Chilean authorities to increase infrastructure investment, which eventually led to the implementation of the concession program. Second, a description of the main characteristics of the Chilean toll road program is presented, followed by a summary of the projects tendered so far. The following sections focus on some special issues related to road concessions and its application in Chile. Finally, the paper ends with some conclusions and lessons that can be extracted from the Chilean experience. References, figures, tables, 55p.

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