Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Local government finance

Resourcing local government remains a central challenge to effective decentralisation. This section has content relating to different models of fiscal decentralisation, options for identifying new sources of local revenue, such as local property tax; and strategies for improving collection and deployment of own-source revenue. It also offers information about improving the borrowing potential of local government, innovative financing models such as municipal bonds, shared services, and public private partnerships.



The Mobilisation of Sub-National Revenues Is a Decisive Factor in the Realisation of the 2030 Agenda

2015 the global community committed itself to an ambitious programme of reform. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and implementing the resolutions of the Paris climate conference require that great efforts are made – including those of a financial nature. Many states will have to ensure that untapped or barely used sources of income are developed. Sub-national units such as provinces, departments, districts, and cities will play an increasing role in the mobilisation of public revenues. They are also in the forefront with regard to realisation of the global reform agenda, as many of the objectives concern classic areas of activity of local government: schools, basic medical care, local road construction, public transport, construction of social housing, the supply of drinking water and disposal of waste water, refuse collection etc. These services are already the responsibility or co-responsibility of subnational units. The mobilisation of revenues at sub-national level is therefore not only a financial necessity, it is also prudent from a development policy perspective: if the users and funders of a good match, there is a greater likelihood that the preferences of citizens will be observed and the use of funds monitored. In addition, local taxes and levies are often paid by a broad circle of citizens and companies. This serves to strengthen the relationship between governments and the governed. One thing should be clear in this: although many countries will exploit the scope for collecting local taxes and levies in the future, this potential is nevertheless limited. Many sub-national units will remain dependent on transfer payments from the central state. Cities, districts and the middle tier cannot solve the funding problem of the states on their own. However, they can help to place the provision of public services on a broader foundation of legitimacy and, in co-operation with the national level – for example via the exchange of information – improve fiscal policy as a whole. Consequently, they also contribute to overcoming problems of fragile statehood.

Author: Christian von Haldenwang and Armin von Schiller Publisher: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) Publication year: 2017

Mining in Africa : Are Local Communities Better Off?

his study focuses on the local and regional impact of large-scale gold mining in Africa in the context of a mineral boom in the region since 2000. It contributes to filling a gap in the literature on the welfare effects of mineral resources, which, until now, has concentrated more on the national or macroeconomic impacts. Economists have long been intrigued by the paradox that a rich endowment of natural resources may retard economic performance, particularly in the case of mineral-exporting developing countries. Studies of this phenomenon, known as the “resource curse,” examine the economy-wide consequences of mineral exports. Africa’s resource boom has lifted growth, but has been less successful in improving people’s welfare. Yet much of the focus in academic and policy circles has been on appropriate management of the macro-fiscal and governance risks that have historically undermined development outcomes. This study focuses instead on the fortune of local communities where resources are located. It aims to better inform public policy and corporate behavior on the welfare of communities in Africa in which the extraction of resources takes place.

Author: Punam Chuhan-Pole, Andrew L Dabalen, Bryan Christopher Land Publisher: World Bank Publication year: 2017

The impact of smart technologies in the municipal budget: increased revenue and Reduced expenses for better services

This document is the result of the discussions held during the 2016 Uraía Workshop which took place in Nicosia, Cyprus on April 19 and 20th, 2016. It is a working paper made in collaboration with the participants who attended the workshop including representatives of local governments, city networks, service and technology providers, civil society, international organizations and research institutes from all around the world. It gathers general recommendations on the use of SMART technologies to improve municipal finances and it is based on the participants’ experiences.

Author: Mariana Nascimento Collin Publisher: Uraía Platform Publication year: 2017

Subnational governments around the world: Structure and finance

This study presents the main organisational and financial indicators related to subnational governments in 101 federal and unitary countries worldwide. It provides, through country profiles and a synthesis analysis, qualitative information on subnational government structure and responsibilities, as well as macro financial data assessing subnational government spending, investment, revenue and debt. Financial indicators of the country profiles are accompanied by short comments on the structure of expenditure and investment (by type and economic function), revenue (tax, grants, user fees and property income, etc.) and the main characteristics of the debt and fiscal rules.

Author: UCLG Publisher: UCLG Publication year: 2016

Paying for Stormwater Management: What are the Options?

On the afternoon and evening of July 8, 2013, heavy rains flooded parts of Mississauga, disrupting the lives of residents and damaging public and private property. The stormwater management system in the city proved inadequate to meet the levels of runoff experienced on that day. Mississauga is not the only city in this situation. In 2007, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimated that the stormwater management infrastructure deficit across Canada stood at approximately $31 billion. The Ontario Ministry of Public Infrastructure Renewal (now the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure) estimated in 2005 that between 2005 and 2020, water infrastructure needs in the province would require investments of $28 billion for capital renewals, $12.4 billion to reduce asset and project backlogs, and $10.1 billion for growth. Stormwater management infrastructure controls the quality and quantity of stormwater that reaches water bodies and protects the health, safety, and sustainability of public and natural environments. The July 8 storm highlighted the need to direct significant amounts of financial and political capital towards municipal infrastructure management. This paper evaluates the financial tools available to fund stormwater infrastructure (property taxes, development charges or cash-in-lieu payments, grants, borrowing, and user charges), and proposes user charges as the most appropriate. User charges are fees earmarked to specific projects or services. They are based on a benefits-received principle, and are considered a fair form of revenue, because the beneficiaries of a service are directly charged for their consumption of that service. Further, user charges are a dedicated and stable funding source based on clear objectives related to the city’s stormwater infrastructure needs. None of the alternative funding tools offers the same combination of stable and predictable revenues and fair pricing. The paper also describes how the City of Mississauga is currently implementing a user charge dedicated to stormwater management, with billing introduced in early 2016.


Author: Daniella Dávila Aquije Publisher: University of Toronto Publication year: 2016

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