Enablers for an effective and efficient public service delivery at the local level in Jordan
Jordan has developed an ambitious discourse on decentralisation that does not seem to be fully aligned with the current arrangements on the ground. Several challenges inhibit Jordan’s ability to ensure policymaking and service delivery at the local level from a bottom-up perspective, including: a mismatch between municipal and governorates’ fiscal capacities and allocation of competences; fragmentation and low levels of coordination and co-operation both vertically among levels of government and horizontally within the two subnational levels.
For the decentralisation reform to be effective and for subnational governments to be able to deliver public services, Jordan needs to strengthen existing structures and institutional co-ordination mechanisms to ensure effective and efficient administrative management. In this sense, the decentralisation reform is at a delicate stage. On the one hand, newly elected bodies maybe with no previous experience on local politics will start working while, on the other hand, the administrative machinery to support decentralisation needs to be reinforced to comply with the new competences and achieve the established objectives. Decentralisation reform is much more than an objective in itself as it is a mean to get services and policies more adapted to citizens’ and businesses ‘needs and should be gradually implemented and adapted to the country’s reality.
Successful implementation of the reform also requires clear leadership, a roadmap and a regular follow-up and monitoring performance of the expected outcomes from the central level. In so doing, Jordan needs to reinforce a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder dialogue approach where the central government not only the leading ministries MoI and
MoMA but also line ministries on the ground- co-ordinate with the govemorate and the municipal levels so that a constructive dialogue can take place between key stakeholders
In this context, the local development units at the govemorate and municipal levels can become key actors. Nevertheless, all of the actors involved in decentralisation, including communities, local governments, the central governments and international donors, should make an effort to learn from experiences to date. The Jordanian central government needs to be aware of the importance of seizing the “momentum” that is conducive to good governance and that supports lower levels of government and civil society as they move forward with the reform. At the same time, governorates and municipalities need to realise that they can take important actions autonomously to improve local governance. While subnational level of government do not have to stand by until the centre moves forward, they nevertheless need to ensure they work with an accurately represent, communities. Donors also need to be aware that decentralisation is a long-term process and requires a great deal of national consensus building. All actors should recognise that they must work together in creative and mutually supportive ways to make local governments more effective.
To address these issues, the Government of Jordan could consider the following recommendations: