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Fiscal decentralization in developing and transition economies: progress, problems, and the promise

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  • Shah, Anwar

Abstract

The author discusses the revolution in public sector thinking that is transforming the public sectors of developing and transition countries. Countries are reconsidering their fiscal systems and searching for the right balance between central government control and decentralized governance. Political decentralization has advanced in most countries. Subnational expenditures in developing countries as a percentage of total public expenditures have also increased over the past two decades. However, the process is far from complete. In many countries, the central government is still involved in the delivery of local services, local governments have few sources of own-revenues, local governments have limited access to borrowing for capital projects, and the design of intergovernmental transfers does neither address regional fiscal equity nor convey appropriate incentives for fiscal discipline, improved service delivery performance, and accountability to citizens. Decentralized public governance can help realign public sector incentives through greater accountability to citizens, and attenuate the"democracy deficit"caused by globalization and the role of supranational institutions and regimes. However, this requires careful examination of the entire fiscal system. Elements of a comprehensive package of fiscal system reforms would include: (a) Clarifying roles of various levels of government in public service delivery; (b) Reassigning taxing responsibilities to ensure local revenue autonomy, accountability, and efficiency without endangering an internal common market; (c) Designing fiscal transfers to ensure regional fiscal equity and to create an enabling environment for innovative and competitive service delivery; (d) Facilitating responsible credit market access to subnational governments; (e) Designing institutional arrangements for intergovernmental fiscal relations to better coordinate policies; and (f) Aligning operational capacity with the authorizing environment through the"accountability for results"framework of public management.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3282.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3282

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Related research

Keywords: National Governance; Banks&Banking Reform; Environmental Economics&Policies; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Municipal Financial Management; National Governance; Banks&Banking Reform; Public Sector Economics&Finance; Municipal Financial Management; Environmental Economics&Policies;

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  1. Tugrul Gurgur & Anwar Shah, 2008. "Localization and corruption: panacea or pandora's box?," CEMA Working Papers 581, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  2. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Pommerehne, Werner W., 1996. "Tax harmonization and tax competition in the European Union: Lessons from Switzerland," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 351-371, June.
  3. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
  4. Shah, Anwar & Thompson, Theresa, 2004. "Implementing decentralized local governance: a treacherous road with potholes, detours, and road closures," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3353, The World Bank.
  5. Anwar Shah, 2014. "Fiscal federalism and macroeconomic governance : for better or for worse?," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 15(1), pages 200-240, May.
  6. Sato, Motohiro & Yamashige, Shinji, 2000. "Decentralization and Economic Development in Asian Countries: An Overview," Hitotsubashi Journal of Economics, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 41(2), pages 77-84, December.
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