Tag Archives: local governance

How Average Citizens are Helping Set Budget Priorities in Kenya

“There is no development that can be done if it’s not budgeted for.” These are the words of Edwin Kiprono, the president of Kerio Community Trust Fund, explaining the importance of citizen’s alternative budgets in Kenya.

In 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution, establishing a system of devolution in which more control and responsibility was shifted from the national government to newly-created county-level governments. These governments, which began operating in 2013, now oversee certain aspects of local health care, infrastructure, and education. For the first time, the counties are now expected to raise their own revenue through taxes and fees and establish their own budgets for spending that revenue.

Such a move provides great opportunity for local development to be taken into the hands of local citizens – but it also requires citizens to be engaged and provide input and feedback to their local governments.

Throughout Kenya, CIPE has been working with local partners to develop citizen’s alternative budgets – a system of participatory budgeting made possible through the devolved government system. One of the counties CIPE has been working in is Elgeyo Marakwet – a diverse county in which citizens have various and competing concerns and opinions on what the priorities of their county should be when developing a budget and spending its resources.

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Improving Local Level Governance in the Philippines

The Philippine National Police have used the Performance Governance System to improve governance.

Efficient, transparent and accountable governance continues to be a major driving force behind reform movements around the world. In partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) has implemented the Performance Governance System (PGS) initiative in the Philippines. The Performance Governance System is a highly rigorous accreditation program that requires participating organizations to reform and strengthen their governance practices with the goal of improving organizational performance, financial transparency and political accountability.

The recently published case study from Strategies for Policy Reform describes the Performance Governance System in detail. ISA has subsequently shared three case studies that illustrate how the adoption of the Performance Governance system has improved public governance in Talisay city, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Army.

Teodora Mihaylova is Research Coordinator at CIPE.

Enterprise Cities: The Way of the Future?


“Enterprise Cities” aim to emulate the success of places like Dubai.

With rates of urbanization increasing, the idea of “Enterprise Cities” is gaining ground as countries to rethink their approach to economic policy and the best strategies to promote broad-based job creation and growth.

Driven by industrialization and the search for better jobs, millions of people are moving from the countryside into cities. This is proving challenges for governments as it creates increased demand for public services and expensive infrastructure projects to meet the needs of citizens.  Globalization is also increasing competition among countries to attract multinational companies and foreign direct investment.

Widespread reluctance to implement comprehensive reforms, as well as burdensome legal and regulatory regimes, are impediments to economic growth and entrepreneurship, leaving developing countries in a difficult situation.

Special zones with autonomous regulatory systems that bolster competition and foster the growth of competitive markets are one way to cut through the gridlock and bring prosperity to the burgeoning cities of the developing world.

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Four Key Ingredients for Accountable Decentralized Government in Lebanon

Under the new law, each village would have representation proportional to its size.

Under the new law, each village would have representation proportional to its size.

Sami Atallah is the Executive Director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, a CIPE partner. This post also appeared on LCPS’s Featured Analysis Section.

Lebanon’s new decentralization draft law may not solve all the country’s ills but, if implemented, could provide the answer to many of the country’s development challenges. The importance of the draft law lies in its ability to strengthen decentralization by transforming the Qadas, the administrative districts, into key developmental actors.

Instead of being headed by central government appointed Qaimmaqams (governor), Qadas will now have a council directly elected by the people. In addition, the Qadas will be endowed with a mandate to provide a wide range of services as well as the fiscal resources to do so.

The Qadas will now be responsible for developing their regions. This will include launching development projects in the sectors of infrastructure, transportation, environment, and tourism, among others. Many of these functions have been re-assigned from the central government because they are more compatible with the geographical area of the Qadas, and because the latter can better realize the economies of scale in the provision of services.

This does not mean that the central government becomes irrelevant, but that it merely shares these functions with other tiers of government. The central government’s role is now focused on policy making and regulation, while regional administrations take charge of service delivery.

The expanded mandate proposed for regional administrations is unworkable if it is not complemented with the required fiscal resources. Since several of the central government functions have been transferred to the Qada, it is natural that a portion of central government resources are transferred to the Qada level as well. To address this, the draft law has re-allocated property tax, a portion of the income tax, real estate registration fees, and other taxes and fees to the Qada in a way that provides the latter with an appropriate level of fiscal resources and autonomy.

The draft law goes further to provide a new source of revenues for the Qada, mainly the Decentralization Fund which replaces the Independent Municipal Fund. This created fund enjoys a new governance structure, more resources and equitable distributional criteria to both Qadas and municipalities.

Qadas with wide mandates and fiscal resources are a necessary but not sufficient criterion for delivering effective development. A key condition is political accountability. The draft law attempts to put in place the appropriate incentives and constraints in order to shape the behavior of local politicians and compel them to deliver more and better services. To this end, the main ingredients of the draft law that aim to achieve political accountability are as follows:

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How the Lack of Accountable Local Government Holds Back Democracy and Development in Pakistan


Some of Pakistan’s districts — where administrative power is concentrated — contain more than a million people.

Fayyaz Bhidal is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Atlantic Council

If one were to number the challenges Pakistan faces today, one may end up with an exhaustive list of issues ranging from poor security to faltering economic growth, rising crimes to social unrest, corruption to political instability, among others. A closer look at these problems, however, will reveal that a great deal of these issues stem from poor governance and the centralization of political and administrative powers on the part of both provinces and federal government.

Take Punjab for example. A province that is spread over 79,284 square miles and houses of over 100 million individuals, it is divided into 36 administrative units called districts. Despite having a democratically elected political establishment in the provincial center, Lahore, the districts are governed and administered by senior bureaucrats known as Deputy Commissioners (DCs). This position is a legacy of the colonial era and emulates a system with highly concentrated power, allowing no say to the local communities in decision making process.

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Can Decentralization Solve Political Gridlock in Lebanon?


LCPS President Sami Atallah (second from left) presenting at a roundtable discussion on decentralization draft law in Beirut on April 16, 2014.

Municipalities are an important engine for economic and social development at the local level. City, town, and village governments are closer to their constituencies, and thus have a better understanding of citizens’ needs and concerns. Despite their importance, Lebanon’s central government only allocates 6 percent of its budget for local governments, while most countries spend on average around 27 percent.

While the idea of decentralization was first introduced in Lebanon with the 1989 Taif Accord, which ended the country’s brutal civil war, no government has successfully introduced or passed a decentralization law.  But this is finally changing. CIPE’s partner, the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), is addressing the challenge of local governance at a crucial moment in the nation’s history.

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Kenya’s Democratic Experiment in Devolution

A member of one of Kenya's new county assemblies sets up an office in an open-air market outside of Nairobi. (Photo: VOA News)

A member of one of Kenya’s new county assemblies sets up an office in an open-air market outside of Nairobi. (Photo: VOA News)

One way to improve democratic governance is to devolve more responsibilities to local and regional governments — but only if those governments have the capacity take on such responsibilities and a willingness to listen to input from their constituents. This is the challenge Kenya faces as it implements the devolution outlined in its new constitution.

On April 9th, Chief Executive Officer of CIPE partner in Kenya Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) Kwame Owino gave a presentation at the National Endowment for Democracy on the status of the country’s constitutional reforms. Owino explained the contentious transition that has been occurring in Kenya since the March 2013 elections, which transferred some key powers from the central government to 47 newly-created counties.

Owino cited many roadblocks in the way of quick, successful decentralization, including power struggles between newly-established governors and county senators, a highly centralized government bureaucracy reluctant in some cases to relinquish power after an institutional life of 50 years, and an economy weakened by poor policies and widespread corruption.

To address the uncertainty regarding the strength of the devolution movement, Owino stated that accountability was the answer, arguing that Kenyan civil society organizations had a place as “protectors of devolution,” and that they must put pressure on the government to stay the course of decentralization. For devolution to succeed, the constitution needs to be followed exactly, and not be avoided or ignored as it is in many instances to maintain some of the employment and power institutionalized in the old bureaucracy.  

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