JPLG engages in debates on decentralization because clarification of the issues is essential to provide a sound rationale and basis for local government activities. Current policies and legislation governing decentralization are defined and complete in Somaliland and Puntland, and need to be clarified and updated in new Federal Member States (Jubbaland, Southwest, Galmudug). JPLG I started the process of clarifying the concept among key decision makers, and this is continued under JPLG II given the large number of stakeholders who need to participate in debates on the subject, including elected representatives, government officials and numerous organizations of civil society.
JPLG II addresses three main components of decentralization with the aim of clarifying the legal framework for local government efforts to improve the delivery of public services. First and foremost is the question of who does what, or more precisely what is the appropriate division of responsibilities, functions and tasks between central govern¬ment, regional offices of central line ministries, and local authorities. The second question, which follows directly from the first, concerns who pays for what, and this is something existing legislation largely ignores. A third aspect of decentralization, also following from the first, has to do with the appropriate administrative structure, organization and staffing of central, regional and district authorities in order to undertake the responsibilities and functions assigned to them. In addition, JPLG II l also contributes to two other related issues, which need attention in order to strengthen the capacity of district government. One concerns the status of local authority employees, which is not covered under existing regulations. The second has to do with land governance, which is an important responsibility of local government, but also a common source of local conflict. The process of promoting better policy and legislation on decentralization involves many line ministries of central government, local authorities and many other stakeholders. It also involves many complex issues that require widespread discussion. The process requires support and commitment from the highest levels of government, including the presidents and vice presidents. JPLG has succeeded in securing the appointment of the vice presidents of Somaliland and Puntland as champions to move the process forward.
In Somaliland, the starting point is its own Constitution and laws derived from this, among them Law 23/2002 and amendments in 2007. As a member state of the Federation of Somalia, the reforms in Puntland take into account the terms of the Provisional Constitution adopted 1 August 2012 and subsequent decisions to be reached by the federal parliament. Article 50 of the Provisional Constitution states:
- Power is given to the level of government where it is likely to be most effectively exercised; and,
- The responsibility for the raising of revenue shall be given to the level of government where it is likely to be most effectively exercised.
The interpretation of these clauses remains to be codified in supporting laws and regulations, which may be expected to take some time to resolve. However, the Puntland government was an active partici¬pant in formulating the Provisional Constitution, and drafted their own Charter and laws with a federal govern¬ment in mind, including Law 7/2003. This allowed them to proceed promptly with debates on decentralization within their own state, which now serve as a model for other states of the federation.
Progress on decentralization in the New Federal Member States, however, advance more slowly given the need to resolve many other issues. Only a few ministries are currently in place, while others have yet to be established, and the scope of their authority has to be clarified. Agreement has to be reached on the demarcation of other states within the federation, which is likely to be a protracted process.