Volume 6, Issue 2, 2014
Authors: Suman PAUL
FINANCES AND GOVERNANCE OF URBAN LOCAL BODIES: AN APPROACH OF URBAN DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE FROM A DEVELOPING COUNTRY (INDIA)
With rapid urbanisation and the pressure on urban areas for service delivery, the role of urban local governments is undoubtedly becoming important and, here, their financial capacity can hold the key. At the same time, there are several issues in urban governance that need to be addressed yet. Delegation of decision making powers to urban local bodies (ULBs), which are traditionally considered as a part of the system of State government and acting on behalf of it, is one of them. The constitutional mechanisms like inter-governmental fiscal transfers were an attempt to reduce the gap of ULBs, but they were not effective in implementation at ground. It has become imperative now to understand the financial position of ULBs in order to move forward with the new means of fund flow. This paper presents a cross sectional analysis of the finance of 27 ULBs in North 24 Parganas District of West Bengal, India in terms of their financial base and its adequacy vis-à-vis norms, and their revenue and expenditure performance. Using certain ratios, the relative performance of municipalities on dependency measures was also assessed. The implications of finances of ULBs, in terms of raising resources, improving inter-governmental transfers and charting new mechanisms are also discussed. Lastly, an approach has been made to develop an index, i.e. Urban Governance Index (UGI) to a better understanding of the per-capita expenditure scenario of ULBs.Key words: urban local bodies, municipal finance, inter-governmental transfers, revenue and expenditure, governance.