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What has trust got to do with it? Non-payment of service charges in local authorities in South Africa

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  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Abstract

A major financial problem in many municipalities in South Africa is the inadequate collection of service charges due to widespread non-payment. The prevailing view is that non-compliance is caused by poverty and the existence of an 'entitlement culture'. However, huge variations in compliance exist both within poor communities and between communities with similar socio-economic characteristics. How can these differences be explained? Moreover, what factors determine citizens' compliance? This paper argues that non-payment is not only related to inability to pay and 'a culture of entitlement', but also to whether citizens perceive the local government to act in their interest. In particular, three dimensions of trust may affect citizens' compliance: (1) trust in the local government to use revenues to provide expected services; (2) trust in the authorities to establish fair procedures for revenue collection and distribution of services; and (3) trust in other citizens to pay their share.

Suggested Citation

  • Odd-Helge Fjeldstad, 2003. "What has trust got to do with it? Non-payment of service charges in local authorities in South Africa," CMI Working Papers WP 2003:12, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  • Handle: RePEc:chm:wpaper:wp2003-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christian von Soest, 2006. "Measuring the Capability to Raise Revenue Process and Output Dimensions and Their Application to the Zambia Revenue Authority," GIGA Working Paper Series 35, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    2. Odd-Helge Fjeldstad & Florida Henjewele & Geoffrey Mwambe & Erasto Ngalewa & Knut Nygaard, 2004. "Local government finances and financial management in Tanzania," CMI Working Papers WP 2004: 7, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    3. Never, Babette, 2015. "Social norms, trust and control of power theft in Uganda: Does bulk metering work for MSEs?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 197-206.
    4. Kirchler, Erich & Hoelzl, Erik & Wahl, Ingrid, 2008. "Enforced versus voluntary tax compliance: The "slippery slope" framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 210-225, April.
    5. Susan Steiner, 2005. "Decentralisation and Poverty Reduction: A Conceptual Framework for the Economic Impact," Public Economics 0508006, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. repec:zbw:gigawp:03 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Kogler, Christoph & Batrancea, Larissa & Nichita, Anca & Pantya, Jozsef & Belianin, Alexis & Kirchler, Erich, 2013. "Trust and power as determinants of tax compliance: Testing the assumptions of the slippery slope framework in Austria, Hungary, Romania and Russia," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 169-180.
    8. Espen Villanger, 2004. "Powerful donors and foreign policy: The role of multilateral financial institutions," CMI Working Papers WP 2004: 12, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    9. Christoph Kogler & Stephan Muehlbacher & Erich Kirchler, 2015. "Testing the “slippery slope framework” among self-employed taxpayers," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 16(2), pages 125-142, May.
    10. von Soest, Christian, 2006. "Measuring the Capability to Raise Revenue: Process and Output Dimensions and Their Application to the Zambia Revenue Authority," GIGA Working Papers 35, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
    11. Verena Kroth & Valentino Larcinese & Joachim Wehner, 2016. "A Better Life for All? Democratization and Electrification in Post-Apartheid South Africa," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 60, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    12. Paul Smoke, 2014. "Why theory and practice are different: The gap between principles and reality in subnational revenue systems," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 9, pages 287-325 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Fjeldstad, Odd-Helge, 2013. "Taxation and Development: a Review of Donor Support to Strengthen Tax Systems in Developing Countries," Working Papers 13683, Institute of Development Studies, International Centre for Tax and Development.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public finance Service charges Trust Local government South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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