Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal Systems

Capital cities are unique because they are the seat of the national government and they host national institutions such as legislative buildings, national museums and arts centres, and other institutions for which the federal government is responsible. Capital cities take on political, administrative, and cultural/symbolic roles that are different than other cities in the country. At the same time, they are cities where people live, use local services, and engage in local political activity. Although many of the political, cultural, and symbolic functions of capital cities in federal countries are similar, there is considerable variation in many of the other characteristics of these cities.

The purpose of this project was to examine federal policy towards its capital city in 11 federal countries with a particular emphasis on the funding arrangements and governance of capital cities. The Forum invited experts from 11 federations who contributed papers based on a common template which asked them to analyze (i) the local governing structure, (ii) their roles, responsibilities, and revenues, and (iii) their fiscal relationship with the federal government, as well as reflect on differences in national cultures, historical development, constitutions, political structures, and ideologies. An important issue which these papers addressed was also the extent to which the federal government compensates capital cities for their unique role. The capital cities in the following countries were examined as case studies: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Switzerland, and the United States. A publication resulting from this project titled “Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal Systems” edited by Enid Slack and Rupak Chattopadhyay was released in 2011.

Theme Coordinator: Enid Slack, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto

Country Experts:

Australia: Graham Samson, University of Technology, Sydney
Canada: Almos Tassonyi, Ministry of Finance, Government of Ontario
Ethiopia: Assefa Fiseha, Civil Service College
Germany: Horst Zimmermann, Philipps Universität Marburg
India: Om Prakash Mathur, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy
Mexico: Mario Delgado Carrillo, Secretary of Finance for Mexico City,
Nigeria:J. Isawa Elaigwu, Institute of Governance, Jos
Switzerland: Daniel Kuebler, University of Zurich
South Africa: Nico Steytler, University of Western Cape
United States: Natwar Gandhi, Chief Financial Officer, Washington D.C.

View Video from a Capital City event in Washington called “Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal Systems”, held on Sept 16 2010. There are 5 videos of the event.