Fiscal Decentralization and Municipal Budget Policy in Countries with Economies in Transition: Comparing Local Revenue Systems

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Virginia Tech

The thesis explores the effect of fiscal decentralization on local governments budgeting and fiscal autonomy in selected transition countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The implications of legislative changes on local budgets and revenue authority are analyzed. Discrepancies between legal provisions and actual fiscal practices are identified on the basis of case studies of four countries: Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, and Lithuania. The study explores some specific approaches to dealing with local finances based on the respective countries' fiscal legislation. An attempt is made to evaluate local revenue authority based on both comparable statistical data and legal provisions of the selected countries. Following a comparative conceptual framework, the thesis reveals both unique and common patterns of budget policy and local revenue raising authority in each of the four countries.

The results of the inquiry indicate that despite the greater fiscal authority and independence which local authorities gained during the transition, local governments in many CEE countries continue to operate within old centralized fiscal structures and budget policies. The right balance between the need for decentralization of governance and the ability and desire of local authorities to control and steer the local revenue policies is still to be found.

municipal budgets, local self-government, fiscal decentralization, revenue systems, transition countries