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Reforming Infrastructure: Privatization, Regulation, and Competition

This report was published in June, 2004.

Recognizing infrastructure’s importance, many countries over the past two decades have implemented far-reaching infrastructure reforms—restructuring, privatizing, and establishing new approaches to regulation. Reforming Infrastructure identifies the challenges involved in this massive policy redirection within the historical, economic, and institutional context of developing and transition economies. It also assesses the outcomes of these policy changes, as well as their distributional consequences—especially for poor households and other disadvantaged groups. And, drawing on a range of international experiences and empirical studies, it recommends directions for future reforms and research to improve infrastructure performance—identifying pricing policies that strike a balance between economic efficiency and social equity, suggesting rules governing access to bottleneck infrastructure facilities, and proposing ways to increase poor people’s access to these crucial services.  Transcript  of the Washington DC press conference on June 14, 2004.

Getting infrastructure reform right is essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals on reducing child mortality and empowering women. While there was probably some 'irrational exuberance' in recent years on the potential benefits of privatization, the fact is that utilities in developing countries need private financing to maintain and expand services to the poor.

François Bourguignon, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, The World Bank

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