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Fiscal Decentralization in Colombia: A Work (Still) in Progress


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  • Richard M. Bird

    (University of Toronto)


The degree of fiscal decentralization in Colombia is impressive. In some respects, however, Colombian decentralization has hardly changed since the process first began over 40 years ago. This review of the experience of the last few decades and the challenges now facing the country shows that there have been some clear successes as a result of decentralization. However, many problems have also arisen as a result of both perverse incentives built into the system and the failure to build up central and especially local capacity to manage a more decentralized system. Unless these critical problems are resolved, fiscal decentralization in Colombia will remain a work in progress with, at best, only partially successful outcomes whether in terms of providing public services to the country’s growing population more effectively, efficiently, and equitably or in terms of improving subnational governance in general.

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Paper provided by International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU with number paper1223.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: 18 Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ays:ispwps:paper1223

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  1. Jean-Paul Faguet & Fabio Sanchez, 2006. "Decentralization’S Effects On Educational Outcomes In Bolivia And Colombia," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 47, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Ignacio Lozano & Jorge Ramos & Hernán Rincón, 2007. "Implicaciones Fiscales y Sectoriales de la Reforma a las transferencias Territoriales en Colombia," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002816, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  3. Agnese Sacchi, 2011. "Income inequality, regional disparities and fiscal decentralization in industrialized countries," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0142, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
  4. Roy Bahl & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2013. "Sequencing Fiscal Decentralization," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 641-687, November.
  5. Rafael Gómez R. & Mauricio Olivera & Mario A. Velasco R., 2009. "Implementing a subnational results-oriented management and budgeting system. Lessons from Medellín, Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009074, FEDESARROLLO.
  6. Jaime Bonet, 2006. "Desequilibrios regionales en la política de descentralización en Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO SOBRE ECONOMÍA REGIONAL 002293, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ECONOMÍA REGIONAL.
  7. William A. Doebele & Orville F. Grimes & Johannes F. Linn, 1979. "Participation of Beneficiaries in Financing Urban Services: Valorization Charges in Bogotá, Colombia," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 55(1), pages 73-92.
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