John M. Lubuva
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Deconcentration of Services in Tanzania's Decentralization

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Prepared by: John M. Lubuva, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  February 2007 

Local Government Authorities (LGAs) in Tanzania as in all other countries provide essential public services, ensure safety and security and promote local economic development. LGAs have a comparative advantage over central government institutions on account that they operate within communities. The mandate of LGAs for decision-making and for the control of resources is expanding in Tanzania due to ongoing policy on ‘Decentralization by Devolution’ (DbyD). This presentation examines those areas of public service delivery that ostensibly should be the responsibility of LGAs but which Central Government (CG) Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) still retain and discharge, mainly through some exercise of “de-concentration” in parallel to DbyD. 

Tanzania’s Experience in Local Government Reforms 
Tanzania’s attempts to encourage local initiatives and participation of civil society in planning, implementation and evaluation of development programs dates back to the creation of the Region Development Fund in 1967 to support community self-help development initiatives. A new ministry for Regional Administration and Rural Development was created in 1969, which posted Regional Economic Secretaries to coordinate planning in selected regions. A decentralization program was initiated in 1972, which transferred planning, coordination and management of rural development functions from the ministries to the regions. Development Committees were formed at the regional, district and ward levels to create linkages between local organizations and the centre. Village councils were established in 1975 to strengthen grass-root participation and to enhance the decentralization process. Powers for decision-making and resource allocation, however, remained at the centre and the LGAs were abolished, which constrained effective public involvement in the development process. 

LGAs were reinstated in 1974 in urban areas and in 1984 in the whole territory, following enactment of the Local government laws of 1982. In 1984 the constitution was amended to entrench the system of Local Government with a purpose to facilitate transfer of authority to the people and their key function being to consolidate democracy and apply it to accelerate the development of the people. Drawing on lessons from past experiences, Tanzania initiated the ongoing decentralization and local government reforms in 1997. 

Tanzania’s local government reforms are part of broader social, political and economic changes that cut across all key sectors including the civil service, parastatal and legal sectors; public finance, planning and budgeting systems and regional administration. The primary aim is to re-focus central government functions away from direct implementation of development activities, or managing production enterprises or delivery of services to those of policy formulation, coordination and supervision. The primary role of CG in DbyD is supposed to be that of creating an enabling environment for the operation of free market economy, improved productivity, effective and efficient delivery of services in collaborative partnership with civil society by building capacity of the LGAs, private sector institutions and civil society. 

The main objective of Tanzania’s DbyD was to strengthen the LGAs through capacity building in order to improve access and quality of services and to ensure transparency and accountability of the LGAs to local communities. The Local Government Reform Agenda 1996 - 2000 and Policy Paper on Local Government Reform 1998 stipulate the guiding principles for the reform. These include greater freedom and authority of the LGAs to make policy and operational decisions consistent with government policies, including decisions on recruitment and motivation of staff exclusively on the basis of merit and autonomy in managing financial and material resources. This autonomy and greater freedom is, however, conditional to the LGAs’ fulfilling of conditions for transparency and accountability. The central government monitors LGAs to ensure good governance and compliance with the regulatory framework through financial, technical and physical performance audits and it has retained the right to intervene in cases of non-compliance. Justification for devolution of authority to the LGAs and for the existence of the local government system is, therefore conditional on them being able to efficiently deliver public services. There are six specific objectives in the LGRP and the expected key outputs are to include the following: 

1. Governance: Broad based community awareness and participation; principles of democracy, transparency and accountability of the local government staff and Councillors promoted; transfer of staff responsibilities to LGAs; codes of conduct for councillors and staff implemented; improved supervision of central government over financial management and service delivery performance of LGAs. 
2. Restructuring: Effective and efficient delivery of quality services by the LGAs based on parameters of national minimum standards for services in tandem with parallel sector reforms; A clear set of service delivery responsibilities and predictable resource flows to the LGAs by way of ‘conditional block grants’ to priority sectors. 
3. Finance: Increased resources availability to LGAs; improved intergovernmental fiscal relations by transfer of viable revenue sources to LGAs; improved system of intergovernmental transfers; enhanced efficient use of resources by LGAs; greater freedom of LGAS in budgetary and operational decisions including reallocation of expenditure. 
4. Human Resource Development: Improved staff accountability to LGAs; decentralized authority to hire and fire staff; efficient use of human resources in LGAs; Autonomy of LGAs to determine own staff levels; enhanced capacity of LGAs to attract and retain requisite personnel; Freedom of LGAs to determine own committees and organizational structures. 
5. Capacity Building: Skills development training for technical staff of LGAs in planning, budgeting, performance monitoring and financial management; efficient management of resource in LGAs; guidelines to assist LGAs improve revenue and resources management. 
6. Institutional and Legal Framework: An enabling regulatory environment to facilitate reforms, redefinition of the intergovernmental relations. 

ideally, DbyD has five pre-conditions: First there must be a serious intent about the granting of autonomy and independence from the Center as well as having local unit outside the control of CG. Local Authorities in Tanzania are still over-dependent (80%) on CG grants in providing services. Second the LGAs ought to have legally recognized geographical boundaries over which they exercise authority and within which they perform public functions. Thirdly the Local Units have to be given corporate status and the power to mobilize sufficient resources to carry out specified functions. The Central Government still holds power in LGAs revenue and determines what kind of revenue sources Local Government has to tap. LGAs continue to face the problem of insufficient funds which directly affect service provision. Fourth, devolution implies the need to develop LGAs as autonomous Institutions perceived by the people as belonging to them. LGAs should provide services that satisfy people’s needs and remain subject to the people’s control, direction and influence. Fifth, devolution does not imply federation of the local units in the political system through arrangements of mutual support and reciprocity. 

Conceptually, the local government and sector reforms should complement each other. Thus while the LGAs prepare and execute participatory service delivery plans, the MDAs define sector-wide national minimum standards of service delivery in key priority areas, to which the service delivery plans of LGAs must conform and adapt to local conditions and to the felt needs and priorities of communities. In practice, however, that is not always the case. Other reforms in Tanzania’s public sector began much earlier than the LG reforms and created national and sub-national institutions that resulted in de-concentrating public administration, social and economic service delivery in parallel to DbyD through Service Regulatory Authorities, Government Executive Agencies or Service Delivery Boards, including the following examples: 

District Administration
The legal framework was changed to redefine the role of the central government to focus on policy, legislation and facilitation of the LGAs. The regional administration system has been restructured and the Regional Secretariats were substantially downsized vide Act No. 19 of 1997 and assigned a role of backstopping to the LGAs. However the District Administrations which have their areas of jurisdiction overlapping those of the LGAs appears to be a parallel de-concentration of the public administrative functions of CG. 

Law and Order
Even though the maintenance of peace and security and enforcement of law is one of the key functions of LGAs, Tanzania’s Police Force is still highly centralized within the CG Ministry Civil Security. Recently a law was passed to allow LGAs to form Auxiliary Police (AP) Units and until now only the four LGAs in Dar es Salaam have been able to form such units. This approach has not been very successful even in the case of Dar es Salaam where the few APs are unable to adequately and effectively discharge their duties because of a generally negative public perception on them being less qualified that their national police counterparts. In some countries such as the US, UK and the Republic of South Africa police services are fully integrated within the LGAs. 

Education Services
Primary and lower education services are fully decentralized to the LGAs and to Lower Level LGAs through autonomous School Committees. Secondary, tertiary and higher education delivery, however, remains both centralized and de-concentrated within the CG MDAs. Secondary education delivery in particular is strangled from over-centralization. The LGAs for example are directed to build secondary school facilities which they hand over to the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training after completion for operation and management. Vocational training is de-concentrated in the National Vocational Training Authority which has braches in nearly all regions of Tanzania. Attempts are on hand to de-concentrate secondary education service delivery to the Regional Administrative Secretariats in parallel to DbyD. 

Water Supply
LGAs are responsible for water service delivery to rural areas. Water Committees are formed around specific schemes which have enabled DbyD to penetrate to the level of communities in water delivery. However, the creation of Service Delivery Boards at the Regional and District level introduces control by CG MDAs and in the urban areas there is a parallel de-concentration of water services delivery through Urban Water Authorities which are also responsible for delivery of water-borne sanitation service. 

Construction and Maintenance of Roads
LGAs can use their own source revenue and funds obtained from the Local Government Capital Development Grant for the construction and maintenance of roads. The funding levels from both these sources is however very low. The bulk of funds for road-works in Tanzania is centrally collected from a fuel levy that is collected by the Tanzania Road Fund Authority which then redistributes the funds to the LGAs through the Prime Minister’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government (25%) and to the Tanzania Road Agency (TANROADS – 75%) which is a CG agency. TANROADS is in all essence a de-concentration of road services of the CG in parallel with DbyD. 

Other De-concentrated Services
Other services that are de-concentrated through MDAs in parallel to DbyD include weights and measures inspection services, business registration and licensing and transport services licensing. Electricity power supply has always been centralized in public corporation the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO).

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