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Fiscal Decentralization and Local Finance in Developing Countries

Development from Below

Roy Bahl and Richard M. Bird

This book draws on experiences in developing countries to bridge the gap between the conventional textbook treatment of fiscal decentralization and the actual practice of subnational government finance. The extensive literature about the theory and practice is surveyed and longstanding problems and new questions are addressed. It focuses on the key choices that must be made in decentralizing, on how economic and political factors shape the choices that countries make, and on how, by paying more attention to the need for a more comprehensive approach and the critical connections between different components of decentralization reform, everyone involved might get more for their money.
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Chapter 3: Expenditure assignment and management

Development from Below

Roy Bahl and Richard M. Bird

Extract

This chapter focuses on expenditure assignment – the determination of the functions for which local governments are responsible, and the level of discretion they should have in deciding on their expenditure budgets. The analysis reviews both theory and practice with respect to ensuring that public expenditures are adequately controlled, accountable and efficient, and concludes that no country ever seems to get expenditure assignments completely right. While the reasons vary from country to country, they generally arise from the complex way economic concerns, public management and politics interact. The chapter concludes by setting out some principles that might guide how local governments can organize and manage the expenditures with which they are charged in ways more likely to realize the potential benefits of fiscal decentralization.

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