GSP/Taqadum has worked with 15 targeted provinces (Anbar, Babil, Baghdad, Basrah, Dhi Qar, Diwaniyah, Diyala Karbala, Kirkuk, Maysan, Muthanna, Najaf, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, and Wasit) and three targeted ministries (Municipalities and Public Works, Health, and Education) to develop and implement plans for administrative decentralization, based on Law 21, as amended, consisting of two major components:
These two elements combined – the transfer of functions and the delivery of citizen-centered community services – are agents of stability and security that will help to foster the sustainable, peaceful coexistence of all Iraqis.
Thanks to the project’s successes, developments in Iraq’s political situation, and Government of Iraq appeals for GSP/Taqadum to expand and extend its efforts, last quarter saw Chemonics’ GSP/Taqadum respond to a request the previous quarter from USAID to further expand its work plan by increasing the number of supported ministries from three (Ministries of Education, Health, and Municipalities and Public Works) to seven (the four newly added Ministries of Agriculture, Youth and Sport, Construction and Housing, and Labor and Social Affairs) over the course of an additional year, until September 2017. The project responded by: 1) deepening its interventions in sectors where it had worked previously; and 2) widening its scope to accommodate a greater number of sectors and services within the four newly added ministries: a) initiating work with the 15 provinces (including Anbar, Ninawa, and Salah ad Din) to develop and implement Decentralization Mapping and Analysis Plans (DMAPs); and b) working with the 12 (excluding Anbar, Ninawa, and Salah ad Din) provinces to develop and implement short-term, high-impact Service Delivery Implementation Plans (SDIPs) in transferred (ministerial to provincial) directorates. In Anbar, Ninawa, and Salah ad Din, SDIP implementation focused on post-disaster capacity building for service delivery.
Decentralization is happening in Iraq, despite all the obstacles it faces because Law 21, as amended, calls for a decentralized system of government. Historically, the impact of decentralization has been demonstrated by improvements in the quantity and quality of citizen-centered services, as well as the ease by which citizens can access those services. Despite the country’s current security, political, and economic upheaval, local governments are waking to and welcoming the reality of decentralization. Local governments, and even more so, their constituents, see decentralization as a remedy to many of the ills they suffer from: corruption; economic instability; and inadequate, hard to access, and in some cases, an absolute lack of much needed, life-stabilizing services.
Decentralization is currently happening thanks to the cooperative work the provincial governments as well as HCCPSEC have been doing with GSP/Taqadum. Project specialists have worked closely in all the provinces, providing them with performance measurement tools and approaches from which they themselves developed, in cooperation with the project: performance standards, indicators, and SDIPs that contain short- and long-term solutions that once implemented work to improve services in their communities. These plans are supported by legal, financial, and administrative supports and structures that local governments have been actively developing, enhancing, and using to enhance the lives of citizens in their communities by increasing the quality, quantity, and accessibility to services.
This enormous paradigm shift toward decentralization and its focus on improving service delivery is highlighted this quarter by the Ministry of Finance’s (MOF’s) approving the establishment of the Administrative and Financial Affairs Directorates or AFADs in the provinces. To this end, the MOF issued letter No. 22266 (November 14) ordering the opening of the required Investment and Operational bank accounts by January 2, 2017. These two accounts will be used to finance the transferred directorates of the seven decentralized ministries. The accounts for Maysan were officially opened on November 26, 2016. The MOF has also authorized the opening of the required Revenue Generation bank accounts, in accordance with Article 25 of the 2017 National Budget Law. Revenue generated by the service directorates (other than the items that are already in existence) will be used to finance the service directorates’ operation and maintenance needs. By quarter’s end, the following four provinces had opened their Revenue Generation bank accounts: Basrah, Dhi Qar, Najaf, and Wasit.
Citizens and local governments are also beginning to realize that the local government alone is responsible for the delivery of services. The blaming finger can no longer be pointed at the centrally located, Baghdad-based Federal Ministries as the cause of the lack or gaps in services. The responsibility for identifying and appropriately delivering services that will improve citizen’s lives is now in the hands of local government officials. As soon as the Ministry of Finance collects and transfers to the local governments the devolved directorates’ staff, competencies, properties, and allocated funds currently in the hands of the Ministries, the local governments, despite the lack of investment funds and operation funds except for salaries from the federal government, will have much more discretion to improve services and increase provincial development.