Central and Local Government Relations in Asia
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Central and Local Government Relations in Asia

Achieving Fiscal Sustainability

Edited by Naoyuki Yoshino and Peter J. Morgan

Sustainable and inclusive growth in emerging Asian economies requires high levels of public investment in areas such as infrastructure, education, health, and social services. The increasing complexity and regional diversity of these investment needs, together with the trend of democratization, has led to fiscal decentralization being implemented in many Asian economies. This book takes stock of some major issues regarding fiscal decentralization, including expenditure and revenue assignments, transfer programs, and sustainability of local government finances, and develops important findings and policy recommendations.
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Chapter 2: Looking beyond conventional intergovernmental fiscal frameworks: principles, realities, and neglected issues

Paul Smoke


Fiscal decentralization and intergovernmental fiscal relations reform have become nearly ubiquitous in developing countries. Performance, however, has often been disappointing in terms of both policy formulation and outcomes. The dynamics underlying these results have been poorly researched. Available literature focuses heavily on policy and institutional design concerns framed by public finance, fiscal federalism, and public management principles. The literature tends to explain unsatisfactory outcomes largely as a result of some combination of flawed design and management of intergovernmental fiscal systems, insufficient capacity, and lack of political will. These factors are important, but there is room to broaden the analysis in at least two potentially valuable ways. First, much can be learned by more robustly examining how national and local political and bureaucratic forces shape the policy space, providing opportunities for and placing constraints on effective and sustainable reform. Second, the analysis would benefit from moving beyond design to considering how to implement reform more strategically.

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