WASHINGTON, D.C. — A finance official from Mutare, Zimbabwe plans to make municipal finances more transparent and accountable to citizens.
A government official responsible for district development in Dominica will be able to give better advice to local authorities regarding revenue projection and managing expenditures.
An IT specialist from Kampala, Uganda organized a working group to increase revenue sources, including from user charges on water and electricity.
These are some of the early actions that participants of the World Bank’s e-course “Municipal Finances – A Learning Program for Local Governments” are taking to improve financial management in their home cities. The course was conducted over eight weeks between October and December 2014, the fourth delivery since the pilot launch in May 2013.
This time, more than 507 applied, bringing together hundreds of finance professionals from municipalities and ministries, international organizations, consulting firms and academia. Institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank encouraged senior finance executives, senior finance and development officers, accountants, and tax auditors to participate.
Reconciling two imperatives: transparency and efficiency
The e-course’s popularity underscores just how urgent the issue is for practitioners around the world: with bulging urban populations, city leaders are working to deliver services and make investments under tight fiscal constraints, and they need to develop technical capacity on the ground to improve financial management practices. “Local governments are under pressure to do more with less, so they have to be creative about finding sources of revenue and judicious in rationalizing their expenditures,” said World Bank lead urban specialist Catherine D. Farvacque-Vitkovic, co-author of the book “Municipal Finances: A Handbook for Local Governments”— a companion to the e-course.