In the previous blogs in this series, we looked at the initial CESE report, detailed its major findings and procedures, discussed the roles of various stakeholders, and probed for likely priorities in preparing Morocco for regionalization. With the anticipated final report due before the end of the year, it is a good time to reflect on what is involved in regionalization, once it is defined in law.
There are at least four intersecting lines of authority involved in the devolution of power from the central government to locally elected officials:
he division of political/administrative decision-making among the central government, the regional authorities (currently 16 regions and 61/62 provinces), and local governments.
Prioritizing and managing the country’s economic investments, including infrastructure, economic development projects, tourism, agriculture, economic growth, entrepreneurship, and higher education.
Coordinating the provision of citizen services, including health, education (at all levels, including technical and vocational training), retirement, disability, and environmental services and monitoring.
Supporting all of these lines are mechanisms dealing with taxation, human and natural resources, accounting and reporting, and coordinated monitoring and evaluation of government performance.
Managing the transition to regionalization
This brief list gives a flavor of the complexity of moving ahead with regionalization. It is important to recognize that given this complexity, it may take up to a decade before full regionalization in any one area of Morocco is completely implemented.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of international experience that can help Morocco to meet the challenges of devolving authority and building the institutional and human capacity needed.
A good place to start to gather experience on the road ahead is at the 2nd World Summit of Local Leaders and the 4th Congress of United Cities and Local Government (UCLG) being hosted in Rabat this week. With delegates attending from more than 100 countries, “The Summit is envisaged to be a unique opportunity to present and discuss concrete local solutions to world challenges. It will also be the occasion to define policy, shape action and set future strategic goals for the new international development agenda.”
Local governments throughout the world, and in places such as Morocco where the urban population now exceeds 70 percent of the population, are increasingly tasked with spearheading new delivery systems for social services, reducing congestion and pollution, balancing budgets through creating new and more efficient revenue sources, and integrating their initiatives and responsibilities within a larger, national fabric.
King Mohammed VI made Morocco’s commitment to this vision clear. Addressing the UCLG Congress leaders, he acknowledged the “tremendous responsibility incumbent upon local and regional actors” for “building good governance within their territorial boundaries.”
He declared “It is no longer acceptable today that central governments should have exclusive authority in defining development strategies for local communities.”
Ensuring “local authorities have the necessary legal, financial and human resources” to “fulfill their mission,” the King said, “needs to be placed at the heart of local public policy.”
The Rabat meetings will enable local and regional leaders, multilateral partners, analysts and researchers, and specialists in the complexities of urban society to review and make recommendations regarding the next set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) within the framework of Habitat III, set to begin in 2016.
It is a prime opportunity for Moroccans to discuss the opportunities and challenges of moving forward with decentralization while ensuring quality of life for its citizens.
Jean R. AbiNader