Decentralisation can create extra savings and optimize decision-making procedures
On November 26-27, 2020, CASE together with the Analytical Centre on Globalization and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC, Yerevan, Armenia) and the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP, Tbilisi, Georgia) conducted two online conferences devoted to the Polish experience of decentralisation and modernisation. The conferences were organised as part of the project “Direction: an efficient state” co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland.
Participants from Armenia, Georgia, Poland, and other countries discussed five topics during the conferences: the empowerment of local communities, financing of local government units, providing public services, absorption of external funds by local government, and crisis response. After the presentation of the project insights and findings, open discussions were held on the needs and main blocking points in decentralisation in Armenia and Georgia. Special attention was paid to essential practices and tools that can be transferred from Poland.
Experts agreed that based on the Polish experience, decentralisation and delegation of responsibilities from central authorities to local government units can increase administrative productivity and create an opportunity for extra savings, and optimisation of decision-making procedures.
In order to support the empowerment of local communities, local authorities should introduce appropriate traditional and electronic communication tools based on the citizens’ needs and expectations. The engagement of non-governmental organisations can also be beneficial for all stakeholders involved in consultation and co-decision processes. In terms of the financial aspects, it was recommended to ensure the proper financial autonomy of local government units, including their control over their own income.
Apart from that, Armenia and Georgia should also develop tailored analytical tools for monitoring and evaluation of the provision of public services by self-government units. Participants of conferences confirmed that the diversification of local governments’ activities and the appropriate use of external funds can directly contribute to the improvement of the operational capacity of local government units and local prosperity in various dimensions.
In 2020, Poland celebrated 30 years of the reconstitution of local government. Its re-introduction – initiated in 1990 – was enabled by a process of political transformation, which began in 1989. Poland has been a leader in introducing local self-government in Central and Eastern Europe and is now one of the countries with the highest level of local self-government in the whole of Europe.
For more details on project findings and recommendations please read a Guidebook, available at the project web page: http://localgov.pl/.