Fiscal decentralisation and the Autonomy of the local Governmants in Italy - 2002

Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao Full Version (PDF)
(Quaderni del Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Matematico-Statistiche dell'Università del Salento - Collana di Economia, 16/08 / 2002)
In the last decade Italy has experienced a gradual process of fiscal decentralization. The reforms implemented in past years changed the structure of the Italian system of public finance substantially. Until the beginning of the '90s the local governments were responsible for important sectors of public expenditure (e.g. health) but they were financially dependent on grants from the central government. The system suffered serious inefficiencies:
  1. the local governments had low incentives to control expenditure as they could rely on ex-post financing of their deficits from the central government;
  2. the local governments could not adjust the mix of taxes and services to the preferences of the local communities;
  3. citizens could not judge their local politicians by comparing the policies carried out in different communities due to the low degree of autonomy enjoyed by local governments.
The reforms implemented in the '90s increase the autonomy of local governments on both the expenditure and the revenue side. The central government devolves to local governments a large share of its tax revenue and new local taxes are introduced. A new system of equalizing grants is designed to support regions with small tax bases. We provide an evaluation of the Italian experience by focusing on the following critical issues:
  1. the consistency between the objective of enhancing efficiency through fiscal decentralization and the objective of ensuring reasonable uniform standards for essential public services (e.g. health) in every local community;
  2. the trade-off between inter regional redistribution and the incentives of local governments to pursue active tax policies;
  3. the effects of local governments fiscal autonomy on the North-South dualism.

Table of Contents

Introduction and summary     PDF
Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao 3-3

Central and local Governmants in Italy     PDF
Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao 3-4

Reasons for a reform     PDF
Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao 5-9

Decentralisation and devolution in the Nineties     PDF
Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao 9-15

Open issues and perspectives     PDF
Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao 15-23

Concluding remarks     PDF
Giampaolo Arachi , Carlo Filippini Isesao 23-23

Bibliography     PDF

Figures and Tables     PDF

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