Decentralization in regional fiscal systems in Russia - trends and links to economic performance
To shed light on decentralization in Russia, the authors examine intergovernmental fiscal relations within regions. To analyze trends, they review channels of fiscal allocation within regions - tax sharing and local transfer schemes. To evaluate the potential impact of various fiscal decentralization patterns on regional economic performance (including growth and the budget deficit), the authors study data on the structure of 89 Russian consolidated regional budgets for 1992-96. They find that local governments'relative share of Russia's consolidated budget, although substantive (roughly a quarter of the total budget), did not expand after 1994. The federal government's relative role in financing public goods and services declined as the relative role of local governments increased substantially. Local governments collected more revenues in 1996 (6.4 percent of GDP) and spent more than regional governments. They also substantially increased social financing (including health, education, and social protection). Russia made no progress toward a more transparent system for tax assignments. The average level of expenditure decentralization is similar for ethnically Russian regions and national republics and"okrugs"but revenue arrangements differ greatly."True"decentralization has taken place in"oblasts"and"krais"where local authorities are provided with a bigger share of sub-national tax revenues. A redistribution model applies in republics and autonomous okrugs, where greater local outlays have been financed through larger transfers from regional governments. Regions near each other tend to have similar budget arrangements - the result of intensive interactions between neighbors and probably supported by the activities of regional associations. The size of a region's territory does not influence decentralization outcomes. Fiscal decentralization seems positively related to the share of education spending in regional budgets. And regions with more decentralized finances tend to experience less economic decline. But budget control is weaker in more decentralized regions. Instability and lack of transparency in intergovernmental fiscal relations provide sub-national governments little incentive for responsible fiscal policy. Further decentralization without greater transparency could bring greater debt and deficits.
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