The School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) hosted a seminar - presented by lecturer Mr Glen Robbins of Development and Population Studies - on decentralisation, governance and municipal budgeting in Brazil, South Africa, India and Peru.
The School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS)
hosted a seminar - presented by lecturer Mr Glen Robbins of Development
and Population Studies - on decentralisation, governance and municipal
budgeting in Brazil, South Africa, India and Peru.
‘In the past few decades there has been an ongoing process of reform
in local government systems across the developing world,’ said Robbins.
‘This has been influenced by parallel processes of citizen pressures for
greater influence in governance processes alongside the ever-present
influences on governance reform originating from dominant agendas in
globally influential policy organisations.
‘Around the world, such political and administrative decentralisation
processes have been accompanied by varying degrees of engagement with
spatialised data and knowledge.’
Robbins said research in the Chance2Sustain project had provided
insights into the potential and pitfalls, for both administrators and
citizens, associated with enhancing connections between forms of
spatialised knowledge and municipal fiscal processes, particularly in
the realm of property taxes.
He suggested that the cultivation of connections between budgetary
processes in cities and a variety of spatialised knowledge and
information systems could offer some potential in terms of a range of
issues such as a way of record-keeping, as a decision-making tool and
even for transparency and accountability.
‘The potential for spatialised data to be used in enhancing
development outcomes has been widely argued. Geographic information
Systems (GIS) systems have been increasingly taken on board as
administrative and management tools in supporting property tax systems
in cities,’ said Robbins.
There were two features of these trends that needed ongoing attention
among policy makers when considering the scope for these systems of
spatial knowledge production to support improved governance outcomes.
According to Robbins, in the first instance the data used in such
property tax systems does need to enhance transparency and citizen
access to ensure the systems are exposed to sufficient external scrutiny
in that they avoid a bias towards the powerful land-owning groups.
Secondly, the GIS systems had considerable potential to be used in a
wider municipal budget and fiscal processes.
‘Not only can technical production of spatial knowledge help inform
budgets but such systems can also contribute to citizen participation
platforms where needs are captured for budget discussions and ultimate
‘For these potentials to be realised it is important that actors
within and outside municipal structures be equipped to work with these
systems and the related tools to avoid them becoming another layer of
complexity which ends up excluding people,’ said Robbins.