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Peter J. Morgan and Long Q. Trinh

Sustainable and inclusive growth in emerging Asian economies requires continued high levels of public sector investment in areas such as infrastructure, education, health, and social services. These responsibilities, especially with regard to infrastructure investment, need to be devolved increasingly to the regional government level. However, growth of sources of revenue and financing for local governments has not necessarily kept pace, forcing them, in some cases, to increase borrowing or cut spending below needed levels. This chapter reviews alternative models of the relationship between central and local governments, and provides an overview and assessment of different financing mechanisms for local governments, including tax revenues, central government transfers, bank loans, and bond issuance, with a focus on the context of emerging Asian economies. The chapter also reviews financing mechanisms for local governments and mechanisms for maintaining fiscal stability and sustainability at both the central and local government levels. Based upon the evidence on the decentralization process in Asia, it proposes some policy implications for improving central–local government relations and fiscal sustainability.

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Peter J. Morgan and Long Q. Trinh

Since 1975, Viet Nam has gradually decentralized more fiscal responsibilities to local authorities. This chapter has two objectives: (i) to take stock of the current institutional framework for intergovernmental fiscal relations in Viet Nam, and (ii) to empirically assess the debt sustainability of local governments in Viet Nam. The empirical analysis uses two estimation methods: (i) fully modified ordinary least squares (OLS) to estimate the long-term correlations between co-integration equations, including vectors of co-integration variables, and stochastic regressor innovations; and (ii) fiscal reaction equations at the provincial level, based upon the Bohn (2008) model. The empirical results suggest that deficit levels are generally sustainable at the local level.