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ADMINISTRATIVE DECENTRALIZATION WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL CONTEXT .
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF DECENTRALIZATION1. Decentralization has increased the access of people in previously neglected rural regions and local communities to central government resources, if only incrementally, in most of the LDCs where it has been tried.2. Decentralization seems in some places to have improved participation and enlarged the capacity of local administration to put pressure on central government agencies, thus making available to them large quantities of national resources for local development.
3. The administrative and technical capacity of local organizations is said to be slowly improving, and new organizations have been established at the local level to plan and manage development.4. National development strategy now increasingly takes account of regional and local level planning.
UNINTENDED EFFECTS OF DECENTRALIZATION1. Decentralization and privatization of state activities has a tendency to create greater inequities among communities and regions with different levels of organizational capacity.2. This opens the door for local elites to play a disproportionate role in the planning and management of projects.
3. The absence of or weakness in supporting institutions (public or private) needed to complement the managerial capacity of local governments, as well as weaknesses in the linkages and interaction between local and central administrations, have led to disappointing results from decentralization in Africa and Asia.4. Programs are usually justified on grounds of efficiency and administrative effectiveness, but then judged on their political results. Where political aims are important, considerable deviation from best practice is tolerated.
DEFINITION OF DECENTRALIZATION IThe word "decentralization" is more a semantic umbrella beneath which are gathered many and different concepts than it is an analytically precise term
In general: The transfer of responsibility for planning, management, and resource-raising and allocation from the central government to:(a) field units of central government ministries or agencies;(b) subordinate units or levels of government; (c) semi-autonomous public authorities or corporations; (d) area-wide regional or functional authorities; or (e) NGOs/PVOs and private firmsDenis A Rondinely
Political decentralization aims to give citizens or their elected representatives more power in public decision-making.Decisions made with greater participation will be better informed and more relevant to diverse interests in society than those made only by national political authorities.
Economic decentralizationPrivatization and deregulation shift responsibility for functions from the public to the private sector and is another type of decentralization. Privatization and deregulation are usually, but not always, accompanied by economic liberalization and market development policies. They allow functions that had been primarily or exclusively the responsibility of government to be carried out by businesses, community groups, cooperatives, private voluntary associations, and other non-government organizations. Democratization however involves either state or private enterprises being transferred to employee-ownership and democratic control in the form of worker self-management, usually in the form of cooperatives and mutual businesses.
Deconcentration. Deconcentration --which is often considered to be the weakest form of decentralization and is used most frequently in unitary states-- redistributes decision making authority and financial and management responsibilities among different levels of the central government. It can merely shift responsibilities from central government officials in the capital city to those working in regions, provinces or districts, or it can create strong field administration or local administrative capacity under the supervision of central government ministries.
Delegation. Delegation is a more extensive form of decentralization. Through delegation central governments transfer responsibility for decision-making and administration of public functions to semi-autonomous organizations not wholly controlled by the central government, but ultimately accountable to it. Governments delegate responsibilities when they create public enterprises or corporations, housing authorities, transportation authorities, special service districts, semi-autonomous school districts, regional development corporations, or special project implementation units. Usually these organizations have a great deal of discretion in decision-making. They may be exempt from constraints on regular civil service personnel and may be able to charge users directly for services.
Devolution. A third type of administrative decentralization is devolution. When governments devolve functions, they transfer authority for decision-making, finance, and management to quasi-autonomous units of local government with corporate status. Devolution usually transfers responsibilities for services to municipalities that elect their own mayors and councils, raise their own revenues, and have independent authority to make investment decisions. In a devolved system, local governments have clear and legally recognized geographical boundaries over which they exercise authority and within which they perform public functions. It is this type of administrative decentralization that underlies most political decentralization.
DEFINITION OF DECENTRALIZATION IIDecentralization will be understood as the devolution by central (i.e. national) government of specific functions, with all of the administrative, political and economic attributes that these entail, to local (i.e. municipal) governments which are independent of the center and sovereign within a legally delimited geographic and functional domain.
We have an extraordinarily suitable case-study of the transition from highly centralized public service provision to one that is highly decentralized.This is the case of Bolivia
The Popular Participation Law promulgated by the Bolivian government in April, 1994, and implemented as of July of the same year, brought about an enormous change in the balance of power between local and central government.
First, the share of all national tax revenues devolved from central government to the municipalities was raised from 10 percent to 20 percent. More importantly, whereas before these funds were apportioned according to ad hoc, highly political criteria, after decentralization they are allocated strictly on a per capita basisWhereas before reform the three main cities in the country received 84 percent of all devolved funds, and the majority of communities received nothing, after reform the three cities' share fell to 29 percent and that of provincial and rural increased between 42 percent and over 3000 percent
Second, title to all local infrastructure related to health, education, culture, sports, local roads and irrigation was transferred to municipalities free of charge, along with the responsibility to administer, maintain and stock this with the necessary supplies, materials and equipment, as well as invest in new infrastructure
Thirdly, Vigilance Committees were established to oversee municipal spending of Popular Participation funds, and propose new projects. These are composed of representatives from local, grass-root groups within each municipality, and are legally distinct from municipal governments. Their power lies in the ability to suspend all disbursements from the central government to their respective municipal governments if they judge that such funds are being misused or stolen, as well as the natural moral authority which they command.
Fourthly, municipalities were expanded to include suburbs and surrounding rural areas, to the point where the 311 municipalities exhaustively comprise the entire national territory.
Minimum political and social conditions for functional and sustainable decentralizationan open and fair political systemtransparency in local political and economic affairssocial cohesion and organizationgovernmnet as an neutral administrator and referee
Bolivia is the poorest, most backward country in South America. It has dozens of spoken languages, a ruinous geography, and almost no infrastructure. If we can make decentralization work here, it can work anywhere.- Armando Godinez, anthropologist and social researcher