Assessment and recommendations
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 reality14.
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 governorate and the municipal level so that a constructive dialogue can take place between key stakeholders
In this context, the local development units at the governorate and local levels can become key actors. Nevertheless, all of the actors involved in decentralisation, including communities, local governments, the central government 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 levels 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:
Reinforcing institutional arrangements to deliver effective decentralised governance
The framework for service delivery: Local Development Units
- • Local Development Units, in municipalities and governorates, should be enhanced by more clearly delineating their roles and activities. In addition to their development and data collection role, they have the potential to play a horizontal co-ordination function as the interface between the technical administration and the elected institutions both in Governorates and Municipalities. This would go hand in hand with a direct line of co-operation between LDUs in municipalities and governorates.
- • Promote a closer relationship between MoI and MoMa on decentralisation
matters. Better communication from the top could then easier be reflected across levels of government. A first step could be to establish common administrative procedures and a common system for data collection for LDUs at the governorate and municipal levels (such a focus could include shared IT tools, etc.).
• Consider reinforcing capacity in the administrative unit(s) supporting the governor to enable functions to be carried out effectively in governorates, and
reinforce interface capacity within governorates to engage effectively with local and central administrations.
- • Ensure that governorates and municipalities can contribute substantially to national strategy setting and implementation through effective multi-level governance.
- • Implement an outcomes-based performance monitoring system for decentralisation and subnational management and administration. This system should be aligned with an integrated centre of government (CoG) monitoring and evaluation system. Budgetary programmes should be aligned at the three levels of government.
An ambitious reform with scarce new resources at governorate and municipal level
- • Adapt and strengthen the financial arrangement of governorates according to their new competencies. It will be essential to build up expertise to deal with budgeting and financial responsibilities, taking into consideration the governorate’s situation regarding: population, area, poverty, geographical situation, and other vital indicators. Hiring professional staff and capacity building should also be considered.
- • Governorates could promote and support the creation of Joint Council Services once needs are identified.
• Strengthen the working relationship on decentralisation with the MoF to ensure that performance budgeting is implemented at the subnational level,
and that subnational expenditure performance information is fed back into biannual development programme planning.
- • Over time, consider creating a specific unit within the governorate that is dedicated to strategic planning. This unit could count on MoPIC’s expertise (and could even include officials from MoPIC) with operational responsibility to work with governorate and local governments to implement decentralisation in each governorate. This could include managing intergovernmental arrangements (such as contracts, see below) to deliver co-ordinated fiscal resources to subnational governments, and helping to monitor expenditure performance against the achievement of results for regional development, regional disparity reduction and improved outcomes for people in each governorate. The cases of Morocco or Turkey with regional development agencies could serve as inspiration for Jordan.
- • Mandate the MoF and MoMA to strengthen municipal government fiscal capacity and administrative capacity for fiscal management and collecting local taxes. Local governments could also raise citizens’ awareness for paying taxes on time so as to deliver better basic public services.
- • Improve municipal budgeting and accounting processes.
- • Promote accountability through improved management of municipal financial information