Decentralized Local Governance And Development Of Islands In Democratic System At Republic Of Maldives

Problem of the Statement According to the Decentralization Act (2010) of Maldives the main objectives of decentralization was to ‘allow the island communities to make their own decisions in a democratic and accountable manner; to improve people’s living standards through social, economic and cultural development; to empower the people; to an increased scope bring the services closer to the people; and to create an environment conducive for peace and prosperity’. With the establishment of Decentralization of local governance, people of Maldives were expecting that wide range of public services will be available at local level at a reasonable and flexible way. Better health care facilities, higher education, increase employment opportunities, affordable utility bills, easy access to pure drinking water, rain water harvesting, enhanced sewerage systems and sustainable environment-friendly waste management system, reasonable housing, bearable transportation within the islands and atolls were highly expected by the people when the decentralized system was implemented. The overall objectives of the Decentralization program were to facilitate people oriented development by empowering citizens and passing democratization at local levels. The strategies identified to achieve the objectives were as follows: 1. Developing representative local institutions at island/atoll level, whereby the people living in the islands and atolls will have a chance to decide on their own affairs. 2. Bringing the Government closer to the people by devolving centrally controlled functions including service delivery functions to the island, atoll and regional levels through an elected Atoll Council in each region (province), and an elected City council in the Capital island Male’. 3. Introducing new strategies for financing and sustaining development at all levels through community empowerment 4. Developing local administrations and strengthening links between local functionaries and national authorities as a way to seek coordinated national development throughout the seven regions. 5. Developing an operational framework and a process for planning and managing local development, based on the inspiration of the people in the localities. However, the public claims that although it has been a decade since then, decentralization through local governments seemingly has not yet worked effectively as hoped by the communities. As no noticeable results of this have been seen yet, the most concerned questions from the communities are as follows: 1- What complications do the National government and the local governments are facing to the current situation? 2- Will decentralization though democracy be possible in this complicated situation? 3- What are the barriers for this? 4- Is there any gaps lacking in the Acts and regulations? 5- Is it the system which is not suitable? 6- Is it due to political pressures or conflicts? 7- Could it be administrative issues, fiscal and monetary issues? 8- Will decentralization though democracy is possible in this complicated situation? 9- Has the decentralization obtained a better balance between national responsibility and local choice of delivering service? 10- Are the development plans driven by the real needs and desires of the people? These are legitimate questions because Maldives has scarce resources to meet their many development challenges and it is only ideal that limited resources are used prudently by engaging project beneficiaries in determining their needs. Maldives is a small nation with nothing more to offer than its beauty. The main source of national revenue is tourism which depends on resorts which the nation cannot afford to perform without it. Since the Economic resources are scares in the Maldives, decentralization can lead to the shifting of resources and rooting of inequalities and district gaps. Sufficient revenues are needed to meet funding requirements for service delivery. It shall be noted that by decentralizing revenue raising powers, the amount of resources available in the country will not increase. Government of Maldives highly depends on imports due to lack of resources. To fulfil the very basic needs items such as flour, rice, sugar has to be imported. Almost everything needed to survive in a daily life has to be imported. Lack of human capacity, Maldives had to depend on foreign teachers and doctors to provide education and health facilities. The materials needed to deliver these services are also imported. Result the National budget highly deficiency. As Maldives islands naturally dispersed, the major form of transportation used sea boats within the regions. Cost of travelling is extremely high. These are very basic cost which one cannot ignore without spending. Given these practical challenges of decentralization and democracy at the district level, it is important to investigate the dynamics that are at play at the local level with regard to projects planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of development interventions.
Research Question There are so many questions for which answers are needed in order to study the Decentralization of local governance and Development of islands in a democratic system at Republic of Maldives. Hence; the worrying question is about the development that could bring from decentralization through democracy. Compared to the cost spend on their election process and amount spend on recurrent expenditures to maintain their office and the salary paid, to what degree has the development seen? Is it necessary to have elected representatives in order to have effective decentralization? Does the current decentralization system brought ease to deliver municipal service? To what extent local councils are involved in planning the national development plan?
In short, the major questions of this research are: what are the causes for the poor
performance of poor performance of decentralized local governance in Maldives? And to
what extent the decentralization has brought development? There could be several reasons and causes poor performance development through decentralization of local governance in the Maldives. The factors suspected by the locals are 1- Instability of the political situation in the country. 2- The regime’s inability to properly manage the mechanism 3- The concept being new for the country, proper planning, administering and financing is a significant need prior to implementing 4- The fiscal policy could be the major reason for the malfunction, because it is important and relevant to many other activities and functions. 5- The unavailability of proper budget to carry out its activities 6- The central government having the full control over the budget and its allocation to its bodies including the councils. 7- Strict control of fiscal and monetary policies by central government 8- Central government withholding the allocated budget for the councils.
Statement of purpose My purpose for this research is to deliberate on ways in which islands can be developed and set out ways in which local councils can support the process of achieving stronger democratic decentralized local governance. For this purpose I will try to – Measure the degree to which reformation of decentralization has impacted the municipal service provided to the island communities in the Maldives. – Analyses the major changes in policy and legislation as a result of decentralization and point out the impact that these changes have had on municipal services and development of islands. – analysis of the gaps and barriers that exist in the current decentralization laws, policies and their implementation in relation to municipal services and development – provides policy recommendations that are relevant to services
Research Objective Decentralization was imposed to Maldives to speed up the development of local islands, empower citizens and to promote democracy at local levels. Local governance reforms have been characterized by serious attempts to empower local councils to take control of planning, service delivery and revenue collection. The main objective of this study is to investigate whether decentralization has contributed to strengthen democracy and therefore meet the expected benefits in relation to service delivery and development planning and execution local governments. My duty is to deliver a synopsis of current Local governance structures and the status of local island development. In this synopsis I am going to 1- Study what decentralization and local governance is about and especially in Maldives. 2- The opportunities and challenges to effective decentralization: 3- The extent to which decentralization has taken place. 4- To find the successes and failures of decentralization in Maldives. 5- The nature and the effectiveness of local governments and good governance in the neighboring countries (the best practices carried out by neighboring countries by adopting the system of decentralization) 6- The extent to which local islands is participatory in regard with development plan. 7- The effectiveness of service delivery at the local level 8- Initiatives in Capacity needs and capacity building at local level sector 9- With regard of the experience of other countries who are successful in implementing and maintaining effective decentralized local governance, will try to recommend better methods and procedure to make the local governance more successful and resultsorientated
Significant of the Study The research of decentralization of local governance and democracy has inspired me as I have been working in the President Office of Maldives at Public Administration and Reform Department as an Assistant Director of Monitoring and Review Unit. One of the major task allocated me was to Monitor and Review the performance of Local Councils. During my tenure at work I have not seen the concept of decentralization of local governance work in Maldives since the adaptation of the system until now. However, according to some of the research I have done, I found that this concept has been successfully working in many other countries including China, India, Pakistan and many other African and Western countries as well. As decentralization of local governance is in its very early stage in Maldives, and the concept itself is very new for the country, only a countable study have been done, regarding the successes and failures of the mechanism. This study is one of the very limited studies done on the system of decentralization of local governance of Maldives. Today Maldives stands at the cross road of democracy where the people are taking their initial steps to develop liberal democracy. Decentralization was brought to speed up the development of local communities, empower citizens and promote democracy. As you can see, it is an ambitious agenda; I have a hope that I have made a useful start and the research findings are extremely supportive for concerned authorities, civil society groups and development partners who would want to explore appropriate ways of improving island development in decentralized governance in particular island and the country as a whole. Also I hope it will be beneficial for future researchers, academics and students who might want to study on the development of Maldives through decentralization of local governance and democracy. I also have an aim to set out ways to support the process of achieving stronger democratic decentralized local governance.

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