Fiscal decentralization as efficiency tool for supply chain management at Emfuleni Local Municipality
Mahloko, Maainini Annette
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Decentralization is a buzzword in current discussions on Public Management and its debate has always been a contentious one. The concept involves the restructuring or reorganization of authority so that there is a system of co-responsibility between institutions of governance at the central, provincial, regional and local levels according to the principle of subsidiary, thus increasing the overall quality and effectiveness of the system of governance, while increasing the authority and capacities of sub-national levels. The dispersal of financial responsibility is a core component of decentralization. Similarly, fiscal aspect is one of the decentralization programs. Moreover, fiscal as a tool is to change from inefficient to efficient public sector functioning and to improve relations between local governments for more efficient in public service. Importantly, decentralization of fiscal responsibilities is envisaged to increase efficiency in service delivery and reduce information and transaction costs associated with the provision of public services. By implication, efficiency in this context means how a country’s public finances are structured and how nation-state that is fragmented holds its finances together in the first place. The concept of “Supply Chain Management” (SCM) is the network of organizations that are involved, through upstream and downstream linkages, in the different processes and activities that produce value in the form of products and services delivered to the ultimate customer. Public sector SCM is seen as an acquisition of goods and service which has broader social, economic and political implications. Effective public sector SCM has potential benefits such as inventory reduction, improved service delivery and cost reduction across supply chain. Despite these benefits, South African (SA) public sector encounters challenges of SCM. In Emfuleni Local Municipality (ELM), these challenges range from a paucity of human resources due to lack of skills and capacity in the implementation and execution of SCM functions, poor implementation of SCM practices, quality of service in the SCM and to poor collaborative planning. Other barriers are lack of fiscal accountability, tight budget constraints and conflict of interest in the awarding of tenders which leads to political elite and bureaucratic corruption which cascades into unethical and unfair procurement dealings. These costly burdens result in ELM’s failure to meet community needs. Due to these challenges, the Fiscal Decentralization of SCM functions currently occupies a centre stage in the financial management reform process at ELM. Evaluating the efficiency of fiscal decentralization within the Supply Chain Management Department of Emfuleni Local Municipality requires an in-depth understanding of criteria. The concepts and principles from an examination of documentary data and analysed by the researcher were applied. In addition, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussion and observation methods were conducted to solicit comments from senior managers, employees and service providers This study reports the results of a full survey among a sample of the municipality-wide customers in the study area. It was found amongst other that: • Fiscal Decentralization as SCM efficiency tool has had only marginal positive effect at ELM • Effective implementation of fiscal decentralization is a function of well trained, qualified personnel crop, an attribute which is only beginning to get at ELM • Fiscal decentralization is best promoted wish performance management, a strategy which is well performed at ELM The study ends with recommendations for management action in committing themselves to take strategic fiscal decisions and actions that hold the key to the success of decentralized decision making.