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Politicians should get wings clipped on infrastructure

Zafar Bhat. Dated: 12/4/2017 10:49:51 AM

Zafar Bhat
Jammu, Dec 3
Ironically, the more our ever-more "professional" politicians put political tactics ahead of economic strategy – put staying in government ahead of governing well – the more pressure they come under to cede more of their power to independent authorities.
However, government is accused of funding costly infrastructure projects that aren't economically important, but popular with local voters, according to our analysis.
Whereas, another issue on which voters don't trust politicians to make good decisions – mainly because of the risk of collusion between them – is their own remuneration.
Particularly promises to build particular projects in a state, or even an electorate, are a key device all parties use to buy votes ... You can see an acknowledgment that "something needs to be done" in the establishment of Infrastructure J&K by the government.
Trouble is, the authority has little authority. Its role is to create the illusion of independent evaluation and reformed behavior, while the reality continues unchanged.
Notably, there's no obligation for even the government to have all major projects evaluated, for them to be evaluated before a government commits to them and begins work, nor for those evaluations to be made public as soon as they're completed, so voters can debate the merits of particular projects with hard evidence. Promises to build particular projects in a state, or even an electorate, are a key device all parties use to buy votes in election campaigns. However, See the problem? Government infrastructure spending does wonders for the economy only if the money's spent on much-needed projects. So it's little wonder that cities and infrastructure are the third big item, after healthcare and education, on the Government's new agenda for micro-economic reform.
Pertinently, it’s the first recommendation? It is essential that governments ensure that proposed projects are subject to benefit-cost evaluations and that these, as well as evaluations of alternative proposals for meeting objectives, are available for public scrutiny before decisions are made. This is something the professed believers in Smaller Government, and those professing to be terribly worried about lifting our productivity should be making much more noise about.

 

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