18 April 2009
East Timor: Devolution or Delegation: Eight Ministries Discuss how to Transfer Functions to Municipalities
Local Governance Monthly Bulletin Volume II, Edition III March 2009 - Devolution or Delegation: Eight Ministries Discuss how to Transfer Functions to Municipalities
During March the Ministry of State Administration and Territorial Management (MSATM) continued to prepare to establish Municipalities through a technical mission with four advisers that came to assist the process. The objective of this technical mission was to begin the discussion with the eight Ministerial Technical Working Groups (MTWG) and their members about what functions the Ministries intend to give to the municipalities and plan for the required municipal budget needed to execute these functions.
Mr. Miguel de Carvalho, the Director for the National Directorate of Local Development and Territorial Management, said that this mission was the fist step for these Ministries to prepare for subsidiary laws that will be needed to define the role of the future municipalities. Now these Ministries have begun to engage with the question of what functions will be given to the municipal level in the future, the Ministries are beginning to understand that there are three options for how the Municipalities can work at the local level. One option is devolution – or handing over the responsibility and decision-making ability for this particular work to the municipalities. Another option is delegation – which keeps the decision-making power at the central level, but hands over to the municipalities the authority to execute service delivery at the local level through representatives of the central government stationed at the local level – like a deconcentrated system. And the third option is to continue working at the central level,” said Director Carvalho.
Based on the MSATM plan, municipal elections will begin before the end of 2009 in four districts: Bobonaro, Baucau, Dili and Oecusse, which will begin working for their communities by 2010. The work which municipalities will undertake will start in a phased manner, but will slowly receive responsibility for service delivery in local areas. However, in order to prepare for this process, all Ministries will need a plan for the work they will hand over to municipalities and determine a budget for the municipalities to conduct this work.
The subsidiary laws are being prepared before the legislation on local governance is approved by National Parliament because the Ministry is aware that this process requires excellent preparation before municipalities can be established. This mission is the first step in the process to prepare these subsidiary laws, and will be followed by the Ministries continuing their discussion and preparing for the next mission which will happen in May or June.
Workshop with Civil Society on Decentralization
The Ministry of State Administration and Territorial Management (MSATM) has taken the initiative to increase public outreach on the decentralization process through community workshops held in conjunction with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) from February 24 to March 4. Workshops were facilitated by the National Directorate of Local Development and Territorial Management (DNDLOT) and organized by CRS in Bobonaro, Baucau, Liquiçá and Viqueque as a method to share information with local citizens and increase participation in the process.
Workshops were conducted with the theme, What is the Function of Local Leaders, Community Leaders and Civil Society in the Decentralization Process’ and covered information about government plans and current activities to establish local government.
Mr. Gaspar H. da Silva, a Department Head in DNDLOT, represented the Government in the meetings. “The objectives of these workshops were to share information about the decentralization process, and describe to civic society and leaders of political parties their role both before and after the Municipalities are established to help them better contribute to development in their district,” said Mr. da Silva.
In the Liquiçá District, a local political party representative, Mr. Cesar Valente de Jesus, said the workshop was important for him to gain perspective about decentralization. “This workshop is a good way to explain to people and increase understanding about the government’s plan and work, so that people can contribute to the process,” said Mr. Jesus. He hopes that when local government is established and decentralization already implemented, everyone will learn from the work done by the Municipalities.
During the meeting, the team from DNDLOT also explained about the function of the Ministry both during and after the decentralization process. When the Municipalities are already established, they explained, MSATM will not just leave the Municipalities to their own devices. MSATM will continue to provide support through increasing capacities through training and advising of municipal authorities, to ensure that municipalities function according to the established legal framework, effectively manage their own budget and develop their municipality.