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Working Paper

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The subnational dimension of infrastructure emerges as one of the greatest challenges in contemporary public finance policy and management. Given the localized nature of most infrastructures, ensuring its efficient provision represents a challenge for all countries irrespective of their level of centralization or decentralization. This paper introduces the fundamental questions surrounding the provision of infrastructure in decentralized settings and summarizes the findings from a collection of original essays prepared for this volume by a set of worldwide experts on this subject with the objective of advancing our understanding of the interplay between decentralization and infrastructure. More specifically, the paper discusses the extent of infrastructure gaps and the quality of subnational spending; inquires how functional responsibilities, financing and equalization can be designed; discusses sector-specific arrangements; drills down to the key steps of the public investment cycle and management aspects; and analyzes the political economy and corruption challenges that typically accompany decentralized infrastructure projects. The paper also presents avenues for the strengthening of decentralized public investment and infrastructure provision processes, concluding that they need to be country-, sector- and place-specific. While it is clear that institutional arrangements for infrastructure management will vary across countries, in all cases several decision-making steps need to be coordinated across levels of government in order to ensure efficiency in delivery, equity in spending, and accountability over final results.


International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series #1405, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

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