InfraCompass 2020 highlights the following key, overarching insights:
- Performance across many drivers has improved since InfraCompass 2017, with Procurement seeing the largest improvement with almost 40% of countries recording improvements. The largest improvement has been in Sweden's procurement frameworks. Similar improvements have also been made in Japan, Korea, Mexico, Croatia and the Slovak Republic.
- Planning is the least improved driver since InfraCompass 2017. While some countries such as the Philippines have introduced new infrastructure plans and improved their rankings, InfraCompass found that 38% of countries still do not publish national infrastructure plans and 28% do not publish pipelines of projects. In some of these countries, while there is no national infrastructure plan, state and local governments have attempted to outline their own infrastructure plans.
- There has been limited movement in the Governance, Regulatory Frameworks and Funding Capacity drivers, and more need to be done. The rule of law, regulatory quality and credit rating represent the largest gaps in performance, with high income countries performing significantly better than low and middle income countries.
- Permits is the most varied driver across income groups. Some Lower Middle Income Countries have reformed their procedures to issue construction permits and start businesses, in line with recommendations from the World Bank Doing Business, and now outperform many High Income Countries that have longer legacy processes.
- Activity represents the level of infrastructure investment and value of deals closed in the last five years. It is measured as a percentage of GDP, so that large economies do not dominate the rankings. Low Income and Lower-Middle Income Countries are seen to be investing more as a percentage of their GDPs to address their infrastructure gaps. As Activity considers the last five years only, countries that have had large deals close in 2013-2015 but not 2017-19 have fallen in rankings, as they have not maintained a consistent level of investment.
- The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to reduce funding capacity across all countries as government borrowing increases and revenues decrease due to reduced economic activity. There is also likely to be a destabilising effect on financial markets. The Activity driver will also be impacted, but it is less clear how. Some governments may pursue policies to increase infrastructure activity as an economic stimulus in the recovery phase. Others may be too constrained by their debt positions and reduce infrastructure investment or direct it to more efficient utilisation of existing assets.