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November 23, 2017 Local Elections : harbingers of an uncertain future ?

A presidential decree to call for the elections of the Municipalities and Governorates assemblies scheduled it to take place on Thursday, November 23, 2017. We propose well in advance of these local elections to review the New Missions of Local Authorities amidst budget pressures.
The crisis linked to the fall in the price of oil and its impact on the country’s budget must bring the authorities to change their discourse on the economic role of both the central State and Local Authorities.
The pursued policies in recent years regarding the Local Authorities management need to be reviewed, because the era of transfers of the State budgets to overcome deficits of management is over. Sources of funding because of budget restrictions would have to move in the direction of a rationalisation of expenditure; management in Local Authorities remains imprinted with a strong tendency to spending.

Local Authorities’ welfare of local business/citizens

The Department of Municipal Affairs made up of 48 Local Authorities (Wilayas or provincial councils as shown in the map below) and 1541 towns and cities (APC) that must have other missions than to be limited to one stop shop windows for support of certain basic public services other than by relying mainly on the State budget.

Reports prepared by the services of this Department show a negative record of boosting the local economy, taxes being insufficiently recovered, some goods are exploited without compensation and others diverted from their vocation. Local officials in the future must have a vision and visibility for the development of their municipalities, considering the specific features and potential of each and the aspirations of its citizens, officials of governorates and elected officials looking for interest restricted to patronage, and populist discourse without projection into the future.

The collection of local taxes, not being a priority, local authorities have not directed significant funds allocated by the State to the valorisation and the case of multiple resources available to them. For the efficient management of the spaces, it comes to have a snapshot of the current situation. In the Algerian system, as recalled earlier, local authorities are essentially constituted of entities assisted by a State which, in addition to its own prerogatives, was intended to be the single manager of the economy.

Local officials were then only performers of policies and decisions taken at central level and which were reflected at the municipal level by the completion of actions and programmes in arbitration hearing by the central organ of the planning, annual plans and budgets. For example, in addition to highly directional guidance involved already allocated programs, municipalities and governorates were under the close supervision of the central State through the Ministry of the Interior.

The State supported virtually all social policy and management of land and urban planning. Guidelines were thus given at one time to the governorates, for the transfer of land for building and all the housing policy was almost entirely entrusted to the governorates. This situation resulted in a disempowerment of the central authority whilst de-responsibilise governors whom with their sub governors and head of cities were directly confronted with all citizens’ grumbling, which is driven by the needs of housing, quality of life, employment and other.

Anarchy as currently evidenced by growth and disorderly extensions of our cities, and especially the largest of them, can only increase, if we continue to accept that local authorities are still left to themselves to meet, under duress, all social demand for space to build. Because, excessive centralization, promotes an mod-operandi of authoritarian management of public affairs, governance by Decree, i.e. a governance that is needed by the force and authority away from the real needs of the populations and produces the blocking of society.

History clearly shows that if centralization was necessary in a first phase, it quickly reaches its limits and the countries that have developed real decentralisation and not de concentration only, synchronizing local and central governance are those to have succeeded best in their development. A reorganization of local authorities whose base is the city, for a more participative and citizen oriented society would assuming other ways of managing departments in the central State be best in the current entanglement.

It is in this context that local authorities should appear as unifying all initiatives that contribute to the improvement of the territorial space and make the transition from welfare fed communities to locally committed companies and citizens responsible for their own development and marketing of their respective territory. More generally, the implementation of effective decentralization involving the local players, must lead to better real Government as felt as such by the population, the argument of base residing in geographic proximity.

This would mean that there is a local solution to a local problem and that this is necessarily better than a national solution.

The structure that seems most appropriate to create such dynamism, is that of regional Chambers of Commerce that bring together State, public and private enterprise, banks, professional training centres, and universities.

Decentralization means not de concentration

The process of decentralization, a modern State must allow local communities, to take all prerogatives and all means enabling them to ensure full responsibility for management of their respective territories, while preserving the uniqueness of the national policies and strategies which, generally, must transcend local conditions. In addition to the redesign of the status of the local administration, it goes without saying that new prerogatives resulting for the local authority can be exercised only if they are accompanied by a reform of local finances.

Thus, every local Governorate must have a separate budget and a certain autonomy of its use, so that the citizen can judge the capacity of the local administration to manage its territory of residence and to improve their living conditions. At the same time, the State must safeguard its fundamental missions of guarantor of everything that makes the interests of the national community (cohesion and social justice, preservation of public heritage, equal opportunities for the development of all citizens).

Autonomy of the local management may be exercised in respect of policies and strategies that the State implements, both to adjust and guide the economic and social development of the country, to help and organize the equitable development and management of all components of the national space. The full success of this eminently political complex process involves querying the role of the State and its articulation with the market in the future socio – economic strategy, which refers to both local and international mode of governance.

All the mentioned previously actions would involve a reappraisal of the current political, social and economic arrangements that must be based on good governance, on the knowledge economy and on entrepreneurs of wealth creation within a context of the rule of law. The goal is to foster a participatory and citizen society through the restructuring of the party system as well as civil society as a powerful network of mobilization to avoid confrontation direct citizens/security forces.  ademmebtoul@gmail.com   

 

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