Unformatted text preview: by side”,
autonomous in their respective fields of jurisdiction. The principles of federalism, such as the principles of autonomy,
participation and separation, have to be taken into account. In fact, in federal countries, these principles have in practice
precedence over the more analytical concepts of decentralisation and subsidiarity since they follow from explicit political
agreements and are constitutionalized7.
In what follows, we begin by sketching out a general picture of certain broad principles raised by the authors before
describing their presentation of the current situation in their country concerning the financing of the federated states’
competencies and the intergovernmental fiscal arrangements. This is followed by a general conclusion. 2. GENERAL PRINCIPLES 2.1. Subsidiarity and Efficiency in the Delivery of Public Services
According to Bernard Dafflon, the subsidiarity principle (or decentralization principle) “recommends that competencies in
the provision of public services should be vested to the lowest possible level in the fiscal hierarchy” (see p. 63 of the
present document). David Collins uses a virtually identical definition: under the subsidiarity principle, “public activities
should be carried out at the lowest government level consistent with efficiency considerations” (p. 134).
Many of the authors give various reasons in favour of decentralization of jurisdictions over spending: preferences
regarding public services differ from one community to another; proximity between citizens and elected officials
encourages the expression of preferences and accountability; the variety of suppliers of public services offers more
choice to citizens, promotes more efficient management of public finances and encourages innovation in the public
sector. Bill Fox, for instance, makes this case strongly:
Some have expressed concern that greater decentralization will result in less uniformity across the
U.S. […]. It is true that greater diversity in service delivery is a likely outcome of decentralization, but
this is the intent. Decentralization is not only expected to allow advantages in terms of administering
programs at the sub-national level, but to allow sub-national control over the types of services offered
and to permit experimentation on the best ways to deliver services. These advantages can only be
realized if the potential for diversity across states is permitted, and indeed, expected (p. 24).
In the same vein, Robert Ebel suggests:
8 The key element underlying the interest in fiscal decentralization is to achieve these objectives by
increasing efficiency, transparency, and accountability in the public sector. In a fiscally decentralized
system, the policies of subnational branches of governments are permitted to differ in order to reflect
the preferences of their residents. Furthermore, fiscal decentralization brings government closer to the
people and a representative government works best when it is closer to the people (p. 14...
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