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lisa muthoni

Senior Banking Loan Consultant, Bank / Financial Services

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Devolution or Central Government?

In Kenya we are moving from a Central to a Devolved Government. However, from most of the county budgets presented, a lot of the funds have been allocated to individual and not to public good.
Priority being given to luxurious vehicles, homes, entertainment for the county officials and little being allocated to the development of the counties.

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  • Aug 15 2013: It very much depends on the country you're dealing with. Geography, ethnicity, culture, economics, and a host of other factors play a role in deciding which is best.
    I won't pretend to know Kenya well enough to give you an estimate.

    It is however, easy to point out some bad examples: what should not be done.
    Take Syria, who is currently in the process of fragmenting in one of the worst civil wars in living memory: that's what happens when you try to centralize power in an ethnically, religiously and culturally mixed region in a completely artificial fashion. The same happened to Yugoslavia in its time, for much the same reasons.

    On the other hand, the more centralized your power, the more impact your nation can have on the world stage, which comes with its own host of advantages.
    There is a balance to strike here, though no one knows exactly where it lies.
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    Aug 15 2013: Thank you Nadav, would you have some good examples of Nations which have done very well on the same?
    • Aug 15 2013: Depends on how you measure success.
      It hardly helps that I can't tell you from the top of my head just how centralized power is in most countries around the world--that sort of subtle politics is usually lost to an outsider unless something truly horrific happens (like a civil war bursting out because power wasn't quite as centralized as it looked on a map).

      Going for positive examples of centralizing power, I'd say the most obvious is the unification of Italy and Germany in the late 19th century is the best modern example I can think of. Neglecting how they turned fascist 50 years later (as the two processes aren't related), the unification resulted in powerful, stable countries.

      Nations have mostly been fragmenting in the modern age as the old colonial empires fell apart, and the economics of war turned conquest non-profitable unless you were taking over a region with a mountain of fossil fuels. There are less examples of the opposite process where power is centralized, which is why I had to resort to an example from the 1800s.
      What goes on inside an existing country though... again, the subtle politics are lost on an outsider, I wouldn't know where to look, as such a process hasn't happened lately anywhere I've lived.