The role of infrastructure investment in economic growth and poverty reduction is widely recognised. However, the infrastructure sector is susceptible to corruption and rent seeking because of its complexity, long life, large capital outlays and natural monopoly characteristics. Favouritism, fraud, cash bribes or state capture are concepts commonly associated with the delivery of infrastructure services in many countries of the world. Increasing the levels of transparency can minimise some of these shortcomings often associated with infrastructure sectors.
Transparency has emerged as an important theme for policy making of late, and the benefits of transparency in public procurement and other areas have been commonly accepted. Since the mid-1990s many developing countries have implemented various reforms measures such as competition, regulation, and private sector participation, in an attempt to increase investment in infrastructure. Apart from addressing structural inefficiencies, these measures also lead to an increase in the levels of transparency. In addition to such sector-specific interventions, transparency levels are also influenced by the overall macro environment and project-specific micro-level interventions.
While transparency has also increasingly been a focus area for research scholars, many recognise that it is difficult to measure transparency in any substantive way. Measures of transparency have traditionally been proxies like rule of law, good governance, corruption, etc. In this review, different macro, sector- and micro-level interventions have been used as proxies to study the impact of changes in transparency. This review synthesises the evidence on the impact of such interventions on outcomes in the electricity, telecom, transport and water supply sectors.
There is a protocol for a systematic review
Annamalai, T.R.; Rajan, S.C.; Akash Deep; Gómez-Ibáñez, J.A. Impact of changes in the transparency of infrastructure procurement and delivery on infrastructure access, costs, efficiency, price and quality. A systematic review of the evidence in developing countries. EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK (2012) 262 pp. ISBN 978-1-907345-31-9