Citizens in Charge: Managing Local Budgets in East Asia and Latin America
This book presents the papers discussed during the seminar "Citizen Participation in the Context of Fiscal Decentralization", which took place in Tokyo and Kobe in September 2002. The seminar was carried out through the support of the Japan Program of the Inter-American Development Bank in coordination with the Inter-American Institute for Social Development (INDES). The papers present case studies at the municipal level in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru in Latin America, and Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines in East Asia. The seminar brought together Asian and Latin American researchers and practitioners to discuss experiences of citizen participation in local government decisions during the 1990s. As the chapters in this volume show, decentralization is a vibrant process. It is taking place in Latin America and East Asia under conditions, scope, and speed that vary widely between countries within each region and certainly between the two regions. Nevertheless, in both Latin America and East Asia, decentralization has increased citizen participation at the local government level. Participation is accompanied by challenges and opportunities for governments and civil society alike to reap the best possible results of this strong phenomenon. Income inequality is an important element that appears to influence the type of participation in which citizens engage at the local level. In Latin America, where inequality is high, citizen participation often focuses on the process of fiscal resource allocation; the effort is to reverse inequality through influence on spending. In East Asia, where inequality is lower and seems to be declining, the sector priorities of civil society groups tend to drive citizen participation. An important conclusion of the seminar participants from both regions is that fiscal decentralization and citizen participation in the affairs of local governments are strong processes that are probably irreversible, as citizens look for means of expanding democratic spaces. It is therefore important to understand these movements and to try to facilitate them in a manner that enhances development and the effectiveness of governments in increasing the wellbeing of all citizens. INDES is pleased to be able to present the results of another joint venture with the Japan Program in this series of comparative explorations of key social and economic issues and their impact on development. These studies contribute to an interesting and productive transfer of knowledge between Asia and Latin America.