JDInt’l director Dr. Glenn Jenkins was invited to Santiago, Chile, from January 22-23, 2015, to speak at a symposium sponsored by Chile’s Ministry of Social Development and the Inter-American Development Bank.
The symposium examined the coordination and evaluation of urban transportation projects. With respect to implementing large public investment initiatives, ensuring that Chileans have access to urban amenities were among the challenges discussed. Given that Chile’s system for public investment management is one of the best internationally, the discussion centered around methodologies to evaluate these complex projects so to address these concerns.
Dr. Jenkins’s keynote presentation was on integrated economic appraisal of multi sectoral urban transportation projects. Known for championing the integrated methodology, Dr. Jenkins demonstrated how costs and benefits, even of complex urban transportation projects (including road improvements, parks, and bike paths), could be evaluated in an integrated manner, thus increasing the quality and efficiency of decision making. While a number of issues were discussed, the take home point was that the differences between financial and economic values of both benefits and costs of a project, change the economic welfare of particular stakeholders in society. An example on the cost side is waiting times for bus services; this would not be included in the financial cost of the project, but does have an economic cost which has an implication for economic welfare of the project, and ought to be considered. Likewise a single intervention might affect a mixed set of beneficiaries, and the impact on each should be considered. For example, benefits of a bicycle path result in reduced expenditures on health care, and additional number of Quality Adjusted Life Years realized for those using the path. Such a bike path will also remove some of the traffic congestion from the road and hence generate an economic welfare benefit to users of cars.
Other speakers included the Minister of Social Development, María Fernanda Villegas, Undersecretary of Transportation, Cristián Bowen, Undersecretary of Social Evaluation, Heidi Berner, and Luis Estanislao, Inter-American Development Bank representative in Chile.