Unformatted text preview: -makers and the public
can often be implemented more quickly and easily locally than centrally. It should be recognized that in many countries
local governments use a wide variety of techniques in determining people's preferences and having them involved in
decision-making and application process. For example, a survey of water supply users in Baku, Azerbaijan revealed that
users are willing to pay more for better quality of services (World Bank, 1995). In Bangalore and several other Indian
districts, local governments use report cards to evaluate effectiveness of service delivery. In Colombia, municipalities
have formed public-private councils to obtain technical assistance from the private sector.
Together with shortening the distance between people and elected representatives and widening the scope for greater
transparency about how and where money is spent locally, decentralization makes accountability a more tangible issue.
Therefore, the debate about decentralization of government should not be limited only to considerations of economic
factors and efficiency. Political accountability of elected officials to voters ensures that government services are
responsive to people's needs. If officials are not responsive, the citizen has the choice of either voting out the offending
officials and/or migrating to other jurisdictions (to "vote with one's feet").
In democratic societies, public servants are responsible to elected officials and the latter are in turn responsible to the
public that elected them in the first place. In this process, political accountability should increase the pressure for more
transparent local governance that is more responsive to people's needs. The democratic local governance initiatives
currently under way in many countries hold much promise for developing effective systems of public accountability that
will ensure that public resources are used efficiently and services are delivered effectively. Studies have shown that
citizens' participation and control over government's actions can increase the quality of public management system and
that participation of citizens in decision-making process can lead to some identifiable improvements in the allocation of
resources (Putnam, 1993; Fiszbein, 1997; Huther and Shah, 1998; Inter-American Development Bank, 1997). 3. DIFFERENCES IN THE DEGREE OF DECENTRALIZATION
It is likely that the average divergence of individual preferences from the tax and service package adopted by the
community through its government will be less in small communities of relatively like-minded individuals than it will be in
larger, more heterogeneous areas. Therefore, the differences in the degree of decentralization across nations are in part
explained by different size variables, such as population (Oates, 1972; Pommerehne, 1977; Bahl and Nath, 1986), land
area (Oates, 1972), and GDP (Pommerehne, 1977). Figures 3 and 4 present the variation in expenditure and revenue
shares of subnational governments across regions. As presented in figures 3 and 4, high-income countries are relatively
more decentralized than others. Subnational governments in sub-Sahara...
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