Title

Assessment of decentralization policy: Case of Venezuela

Date of Completion

January 2005

Keywords

Political Science, General

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

This research focuses on the relationship between decentralization policy in Venezuelan and the process of democratization. Critical factors here are local government development and performance. The significance of the present analysis is located in the fact that it goes deeper, it addresses the policy of decentralization by approaching local government fiscal decentralization including: main sources of municipal revenue and expenditures; it also examines the policy from the perspectives of three sets of actors: mayors, clients of municipal services, and general public opinion and understanding of the policy. These sources will allow me to develop a wider perspective in the analysis and to have a more complete idea about the state of the policy in the country. ^ One of the main conclusions of this research is to some degree decentralization policy has been useful in furthering fiscal autonomy at local level of government in Venezuela. Nevertheless, until now local government has not accomplished development due to the fact that fiscal autonomy is restricted to municipalities where economic resources are not scarce and human development is high. ^ There exist factors affecting local government generation of their own sources of revenue in Venezuela and playing a role in predicting the local government fiscal autonomy and levels of decentralization: transfers from federal government, population's lack of economic resources, levels of human development, and population size. Decentralization policy was supposed to get power closer to the citizens; however this evaluation did not find overwhelmingly positive results in this sense. It has not been successful in all the municipalities, in many cases because it has not been fully implemented. The policy is having positive impacts only in those sectors of the society that have learned they are entitled to participate and influence local government decisions. ^ There is not sufficient evidence in this case to support the hypothesis that the public opinion and understanding about decentralization policy contribute to satisfaction with the democratic system. The crisis the country is facing right now seems to not be easy to solve because the population is not satisfied with the functioning of the democratic system. Such a situation necessarily conveys political instability. ^