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The paper examines local government capacity with respect to financial management and revenue enhancement, and analyses trends in financial accountability and efficiency for the period 2000–2006/07. The study covers six councils in Tanzania: Bagamoyo District Council, Ilala Municipal Council, Iringa DC, Kilosa DC, Moshi DC, and Mwanza City Council. Data were collected using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, including two rounds of a survey of citizens’ perceptions in the case councils in 2003 and 2006. The following themes are covered: (a) the degree of fiscal autonomy; (b) methods of revenue collection; (c) financial management, including budgeting, accounting and auditing; (d) transparency in fiscal and financial affairs; and (e) tax compliance and fiscal corruption. Based on the evidence collected, the study concludes that the process of decentralisation by devolution under the Local Government Reform Programme has contributed to improving local government capacity for financial management. However, the reforms have reduced the fiscal autonomy of local government authorities. The central government currently contributes to the bulk of local government revenues through transfers and still largely determines local budget priorities.

Odd-Helge Fjeldstad

Research Professor, Coordinator: Tax and Public Finance