DEVELOPMENT – The essential decentralization

The National Plan for Emerging Decentralization will be validated at the end of the national meetings at the CCI Ivato. It will now be necessary to apply itself to its concretization with a view to the harmonious development of the country.

“Decentralization is not an option, it is an obligation”. This option was said by Christian Ntsay, Prime Minister, at the Carlton Anosy, on December 17, 2019. An expression set up as a motto for the implementation of the decentralization process in Madagascar. This December 2019 event marks the official relaunch of the decentralization process in Madagascar. Since then, there have been a series of consultations and multi-stakeholder workshops across the country. The first act resulting from this is the development of the Letter of Emerging Decentralization Policy (LPDE), translated into law in 2021. Then the preparation of the National Plan for Emerging Decentralization (PNDE). The two days of national conferences held at the International Conference Center (CCI), Ivato, are precisely aimed at validating this PNDE. In yesterday’s opening speeches, and the reactions on the sidelines of the ceremony, everyone agrees that decentralization is the basis for balanced development throughout the territory. That she is unavoidable. The example of the municipality of Beloha, supported by a program of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), for the improvement of resources and empowerment was raised yesterday. Likewise for one hundred and ten other municipalities supported by German cooperation. Decentralized territorial communities (CTD), whose own resources would experience a non-negligible increase. “Also, imagine the economic trajectory of Madagascar if the 1,695 municipalities and all the regions of the Big Island had the means to strengthen their local capacity and to act on local and territorial development”, pleads Natasha Van Rijn, resident representative of the UNDP .

Horizon 2030

The PNDE relies on “the empowerment and accountability of CTDs”. Two objectives that correspond to point 12 of the presidential Velirano. The document presented to the ICC will, unsurprisingly, be validated. Now, everyone is projecting on its realization. As Natasha Van Rijn notes, “it has been thirty years since Madagascar embarked on the implementation of decentralization (…)”. For thirty years, however, the discourse has always been about the implementation of effective decentralization. The subject has become a political marketing argument to seduce voters. For the past thirty years, the Plan submitted for validation to the ICC is the second of its kind. “We hope that the establishment of effective decentralization in the country will no longer remain an unfinished process,” adds Natasha Van Rijn. “Decentralization should not just be a rhetoric, but must be experienced and made concrete”, maintains Andry Rajoelina, President of the Republic. During his speech, the Head of State defended the translation into action of his commitments for the empowerment and accountability of RLAs by increasing subsidies, or even the provision of machinery for the rehabilitation of roads. “No more districts will be forgotten”, is the presidential leitmotif.

It is with this in mind that the State has embarked on public infrastructure projects throughout the country. A way of affirming the presence of the State and which he also presents as a form of decentralization. Next to the administrative buildings, there are schools, health centers or hospitals, as well as the construction of municipal roads. However, Andry Rajoelina recognizes this himself. There is still a lot to do. The LPDE that translates into action the PNDE shows the 2030 horizon for the full effectiveness of decentralization. As the technicians explain, the accountability of RLAs first passes through the territorialisation of public policies. That is to say, leave it to each community to draw up a local development policy based on a national state policy, but taking into account local issues and needs. Leave it to them to lead local development projects and actions. The empowerment aspect, moreover, involves the provision of resources and means to the CTDs. Contrary to what some are trumpeting, decentralization is not about handing out money to the winds. It also involves supporting local authorities to improve their own resources and knowing how to allocate them to development investments. For 2030, the PNDE aims for the state budget transfer rate to the CTDs to reach 20%. That the average rate of tax collection by RLAs reaches 50%. That the percentage of decentralized CTDs be 90%. That the own resources of RLAs allocated to investment projects rise to 2.5%. A point that was not mentioned yesterday is that, in terms of form, decentralization requires that all CTDs be administered by local elected officials. Political will, technicality, but also probity are necessary virtues to achieve effective decentralization. The road to effective decentralization is obviously still long. “These two days of assizes testify for us to a great sign that Madagascar is staying the course”, rejoices, nevertheless, the resident representative of the UNDP. Converting the essay is, however, an obligation.

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