PREM Notes

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This note series is intended to summarize good practices and key policy findings on poverty reduction and economic management (PREM) topics.

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    Decentralization and Governance : Does Decentralization Improve Public Service Delivery?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2001-06) Kahkonen, Satu ; Lanyi, Anthony
    Decentralization holds a lot of promise, but whether it improves public service delivery depends on the institutional arrangements governing its implementation. Several conditions must be met before the full benefits of decentralization can be reaped. First, for decentralization to increase allocative and productive efficiency, local governments need to have the authority to respond to local demand as well as adequate mechanisms for accountability. Because granting authority without accountability can lead to corruption and lower productive efficiency, decentralization needs to be accompanied by reforms that increase the transparency and accountability of local government. Second, functions need to be devolved to a low enough level of government for allocative efficiency to increase as a result of decentralization. Low-level governments are likely to be aware of local preferences and, if able to do so, are likely to adjust service delivery accordingly. Third, citizens should have channels to communicate their preferences and get their voices heard in local governments. But the existence of such channels is not enough. To effectively influence public policies and oversee local governments, citizens need to have information about government policies and activities. The media play a crucial role in this area.
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    Computerizing Tax and Customs Administrations
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2000-10) Engelschalk, Michael ; Melhem, Samia ; Weist, Dana
    Computerization is an important part of World Bank tax and customs projects. Revenue administration computerization projects should be seen in the broader context of public sector reforms. They touch on issues such as the government's overall strategy for information technology, the revenue agency's autonomy in maintaining information technology systems, civil service laws and procurement policies, and communication and cooperation among government agencies. Drawing on completed and ongoing projects -- especially the Philippines Tax Computerization Project -- this note offers recommendations for project design and implementation.