Apart from the need to strengthen the 1038 municipalities of Lebanon, a major question is the creation of a regional decentralised tier between municipalities and the central government. Currently, municipalities can cooperate by forming municipal unions that take on specific tasks, such as infrastructure, strategic planning, economic development, solid waste management, and public safety. 75% of the municipalities are organised in such unions.
Reforming decentralisation could either focus on strengthening these unions (DRI’s survey showed that they need more capacity-building, guidance and resources to be effective) or on creating a new level of regional governance as proposed in the Decentralisation Bill that is currently debated in Administration and Justice parliamentary committee. The proponents of decentralisation – in either of the two ways – argue that introducing the new law will feed positively into the state-building process and contribute to a stronger foundation of both the central and the local governments.
These are the outcomes of the working session held on 7 October 2017 by the Idara bi-Mahalla consortium and DRI to discuss the results of DRI’s country-wide assessment of 66% of Lebanon’s municipal unions and the quality of the services they provide in the sectors of Solid Waste Management, Security and Municipal Police, and Citizen’s Participation.
Some 60 mayors and presidents of unions, civil society organisations and activists participated in the discussion as well as the former Minister of Interior, Ziyad Baroud, MP Ghassan Moukheiber and the Advisor to the Minister of the Interior and Municipalities, Khalil Gebara. Baroud stressed the importance of adopting the 2014 Bill which he championed in his function as the former Minister.
“As we have been struggling with decentralisation as both a law and a concept in the country, organisations like Democracy Reporting International can and will push towards solutions and efficient policy-making strategies to help us get there.”
– MP Ghassan Moukheiber
The working session took place on the 7th of October 2017 in Beirut and gave an overview over a formerly proposed legislation on decentralisation (Ziyad Baroud), the current work of the parliamentary committee on a decentralisation bill (Ghassan Moukheiber) and the suggestions to improve the implementation of the current municipal framework (Khalil Gebara).