Fiscal Decentralisation in Emerging Economies

Governance Issues

OECD Development Centre


This collection of experiences of fiscal decentralisation across a wide range of OECD-Member and non-member economies reveals lessons which are equally of relevance to both groups of countries. A major finding is that fiscal decentralisation is often confused in the latter group of countries with the removal of central-government control over subnational finances. This is a mistake; it may lead to fiscal irresponsibility on the part of local authorities, deteriorating fiscal positions at both levels, and high costs due to duplication of fiscal institutions. The book also finds that insufficient attention has been given to local revenue generation, as opposed to intergovernmental transfers.

The issue of fiscal decentralisation in emerging economies is particularly important, because it arises, in part, from a desire to enhance democracy and local accountability. However, the devolution of responsibilities must take place in an atmosphere of transparency, where the local expertise exists to manage budgeting. Serious consideration must be given to revenue sourcing and effective expenditure control. Finally, local spending must match available revenues without becoming an additional strain on central government resources.

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