(Left-Right) Antonio Maria Hernandez, Executive Director of the Institute of Federalism of the National. Academy of Law and Social Sciences of CÃ³rdoba, Argentina; Octavio Acosta, Coordinator, National Association of Municipalities, Mexico; Miguel Fernandez Iturriza, Pacto-Mexico; Pablo Rojo Calzada, CIDE Mexico
This international conference was organized by the Federal Senate Commission on Local Government, Latin American Parliament, the Latin American Federation of Cities, Municipalities and Local Government Associations, the National Institute of Federalism (Mexico), and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (Germany). The objective of the conference was to examine which political and fiscal policy reforms at the municipal level could best promote and motivate both economic productivity and citizen participation.
The Forum of Federations organized the participation of two local government experts from Argentina. Matias Bianchi, Executive Director of the Institute on Federalism of CÃ³rdoba, spoke on local government finance in Argentina, a situation characterized by heterogeneity of municipalities, insufficient own-source revenues, limited fiscal capacity and growing demand for resources. More than 50 percent of the population lives in only 54 of Argentina’s 2200 municipalities, while some municipalities have fewer than 50 residents. While there has not been a large increase in own-source revenue, there has been a dramatic increase in transfers to municipalities from the federal government, particularly in the areas of capital spending and infrastructure development.
Antonio MarÃa HernÃ¡ndez, Executive Director of the Institute of Federalism of the National. Academy of Law and Social Sciences of CÃ³rdoba, spoke to the issue of local government and constitutional law in Argentina. While Argentina’s constitution requires all provinces to include municipal autonomy in their constitutions, this has not happened in all cases. While the symbolism of this is very important, it is the practicality of limited fiscal capacity that has greater impact on the realization of municipal autonomy. Some cities have been more proactive in developing municipal constitutions/charters, and have used it as an opportunity for city officials to engage directly with citizens in the construction of these documents. Dr. Hernandez has participated in many of these exercises and considers municipal charters as true local constitutions, since they deal with the exercise of a constituent power.
The conference brought together over 300 federal, state and municipal officials, as well as participants from six countries in Latin America. A keynote address on local government and democracy was delivered by one Dr. Denise Dresser Guerra, one of Mexico’s most respected journalists.