Local units and decentralisation

Decentralisation refers to increasing the powers of local units. Egypt’s 1971 Constitution provided for the establishment of local popular councils whose members were directly elected. The Local Administration Law no. 43 for the year 1979, still effective, provides that another council be formed along with the Local Popular Council, which is the Executive Council. The latter should bear administrative responsibilities, while the role of elected popular councils is confined to oversight. While the law provides local units a role in the administration, enhancement and security of public and local services, the local councils were not granted the autonomy necessary to undertake this role. The central authority still holds the upper hand in the choice and appointment of governors and other local officials.

Proponents of decentralisation argue that it allows local authorities to provide public goods and services suited to the choices of individuals in each region or area. They also observe that the kind of decentralisation being implemented now is a bureaucratic one in which power is transferred from the central authority to the governor or the hospital manager or other role. Proponents call instead for community-based decentralisation, where governors are elected and popular participation in administration generally increases. This would provide greater room for accountability and eliminate corruption through local-level oversight.

Opponents of decentralisation argue that the centralised system is based on justice in the provision of services to all citizens of the state without discrimination based on region, be it town or city. They also criticise proponents of decentralisation of overlooking the fact that some public services, like defence and security, cannot be provided by local authorities.


Al-La Markazeya Al-Mogtama'eya Madkhal Al-Tamkeen wal Tanmeya Al-Mahaleya Al-Mostadama [Community-based Decentralisation is the Key to Sustainable Local Development and Empowerment], Dr. Samy Al-Tokhy (Instructor of Public and Local Administration and Vice President of the Consultations Center), Sadat Academy for Administrative Science. Participation between the Public and the Private Sector, and Provision of Public Services at the Local Level [Al-Mosharka Bayna Al-Qeta'ayen Al-'aam wal Khaas wa Taqdeem Al-Khadamaat Al-'aama 'ala Mostawa Al-Mahaleyat], Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University. http://www.dostor.org/politics/egypt/11/july/7/47553