(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Restructuring of Municipal Services in India Awadesh Kumar Singh

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Restructuring of Municipal Services in India Awadesh Kumar Singh

Corruption in Municipal Services

The Indian corruption study 2005 by Transparency International, India is unique for its scope and sample size. It takes into account both perceptions and experience of actually paying a bribe to get attended to or serviced by public service providers. The study covered 11 public services, viz. Police, Judiciary; Municipal Services; Government Hospitals, Electricity, Public Distribution System, Income Tax, Water Supply, Schools and Rural Financial Institutions. As high as 62 per cent of citizens think that the corruption is not a hear- say, but they have had first hand experience of paying’ a bribe or using a contact to get a job done in a public office. Three fourths of the citizens think that the level of corruption in public services has increased during 2004·05. According to study, police stands out high on the corruption score. Judiciary arid land administration are rated next. Kerala stands out as the least corrupt state in India. Bihar is the most corrupt state, Jammu and Kashmir is the next to Bihar, The main factors of corruption in public services were reported to be: (I) lack of transparency and accountability in system; (ii) lack of an effective corruption reporting mechanism; (iii) lack of honesty among officials in government; (iv) acceptance of bribe as a way of life, custom and culture; (v) ineffective anti-corruption institutions, (vi) poor economic policies; (vii) inadequate training and orientation of government officials.

The study highlighted the following facts in the context of municipal services: (i) about 17 per cent households have interacted with municipalities to get one or the other service during 2004-05; (ii) nearly one-fourth of those interacted with the municipalities had actually paid bribes; (iii) more than one third had visited municipality more than four times in last one year; (iv) nearly three fourths opined that there was corruption in the municipality; (v) about three fifth believed that corruption had increased in last one year; (vi)two fifths had taken recourse to alternate methods like paying bribe or using influence to get their work done, The service providers have their own view that due to shortage of staff, finances, inadequate training and orientation to staff, and lack of coordination between various departments of municipalities and also centralised decision making authority, the municipality is finding it difficult to deliver services effectively. Organising training and orientation to staff and elected representatives, registration of complaints, computerization of departmental procedures, simplification of procedures and transparency in work, and also public private partnership initiatives have improved the efficiency in public service delivery system.

In order to improve the urban services, government now recognizes that greater accountability for service delivery performance is a pre-requisite for augmenting the coverage and quality of services. The urban governments are attempting to improve the urban services through public private partnership initiatives and introducing Report Card Systems.

Public Private Partnership

Public Private Partnership provides an opportunity for private sector participation in financing, designing, construction and operations and maintenance of public sector programmes and projects. This is high time to forge a greater interface between the public and private sector in a wide range of activities in the country. The overwhelming response of private sector, including civil societies in the Tsunami earthquake in India was an outstanding example of public-private partnership.

Most of the public services have been traditionally provided through in-house facilities of governments, financed, and managed directly by them. Public Private Partnership is an approach under which services are delivered by the private sector while the responsibility for providing the services rests with the government. This arrangement requires the government to either enter into a ‘contract’ with the private partner or pay for the services rendered by the private sector. Contracting prompts a new activity When neither the public sector nor the private sector existed to provide the service. Three things distinguished Public Private Partnership / from direct provision of services by governments are (i) a partnership based on well articulated contact; (ii) a long term relationship between the public and private sector; and (iii) flexibility and responsiveness in decision-making. The involvement of private sector participation for financing urban infrastructure and services, particularly water supply and environmental sanitation has not been very encouraging in India till recently. However some private sector initiatives for financing long term capital investments in urban basic services, particularly water supply and solid waste management in recent years have indicated the potential of public-private partnership in delivery of services in urban sector. However, the basic hindrance towards the successful private sector participation in financing urban basic services is mainly, the failure of the governance system to create the conducive atmosphere in this regard rather than the failure of the initiative itself. In order to derive the advantage inherent in public sector as well as private sector enterprises, the role of public-private partnership is considered to have great potential in some important areas in delivery of municipal services. The partnership falls into five main categories, viz., - (i) contract services, (ii) privatisation of services; (iii) designing, construction and operation of facilities; (iv) project financing and; (v) merchant facilities. The partnership in municipal services is expected to reduce cost of maintenance, increase efficiency and timely completion ‘of new projects while community participation in operation and maintenance of services is expected to be of great importance. Government of India is committed to remove the roadblocks in delivery of services and’ creating infrastructure in collaboration with private sector under Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission. The Mission will have two main components, focusing on infrastructure and governance and services to the urban poor respectively. The government now recognizes that greater accountability for service delivery performance is a pre-requisite for improvement in the coverage and quality of services.

Report Card System

Report Card System is an effective tool and is useful in evaluating various aspects like people’s participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, equity, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability and strategic vision etc. which may be utilized general to promote good urban governance.

A number of studies have been undertaken by various bodies to establish and monitor public opinion with respect to the delivery of public services. Report Cards are a method of measuring public opinion in a structured way. The main problems related to public services are (i) citizens have no effective voice to influence service delivery; (ii) the quality of service delivery by public services is very poor; and, (iii) public authorities have no effective way to assess public satisfaction. Thus, Report Card System provides a mechanism to measure public opinion on quality of public services. The methodology of Report Card includes random sample surveys of households, focus group discussions, brief case studies of selected respondents, documentation of information provided to the public by service providers and interviews with a sample of lower level staff of the agencies, The cards attempt to assess, rank and benchmark the following parameters: (i) overall satisfaction with service delivery (levels of service), (ii) the extent and coverage of services; (iii) patterns of emerging problems; (iv) the response of agencies to reported problems and grievances; (v) the effectiveness of bribes in rectifying reported problems. The studies in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Pune highlighted that (i) the administration of public services; is uniformly low across the cities: (ii) supply shortages are in many cases ‘man made’ and information is manipulated for personal gain; (iii) the popular belief that public services; are cheap is myth, Report Card system, under UNDP Project of “Capacity Development for Urban Governance” in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal states was applied in selected urban local bodies viz., Dehradun, and Nainital in Uttaranchal and Malihabad, Basti, Mirzapur and Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh during 2002-04. The analysis of research findings suggest that there has been marked improvement in governance of municipal services. The seven broad categories were made by Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (RCUES), Lucknow to measure the public opinion on municipal services. These include community awareness, community participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness. effectiveness and efficiency, and accountability, The two subsequent surveys conducted in local bodies demonstrated that there has been positive impact of project intervention on municipal governance. RCUES, Lucknow has introduced the report card system In selected cities and towns of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand states. The following implications of study findings are noteworthy: (i) improvements in service delivery and consumer satisfaction can be improved, at very reasonable cost; (ii) consumers are willing to pay more for: services; (iii) consumers have to play an active role in, the planning and monitoring public services; and (iv) the non-responsiveness of public services is directly linked to their monopolistic status.”

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