Article | Last updated: 2012-02-15 | Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation
There is ongoing contact between the central government and the local government authorities, represented by The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), on a number of issues at both administrative and political levels. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (in Norwegian: Kommunesektorens interesse- og arbeidsgiverorganisasjon - KS) is a national member association for municipalities, counties and public enterprises under municipal or county ownership.
An agreement on regular consultative meetings between the central government and the local authorities was reached in 2000, and consists inter alia of four political meetings per year. These consultations provide an arena to discuss the framework for the distribution of revenues in relation to the tasks carried out by the local governments, the financial situation of the local governments and efficiency measures. The themes of cost estimations and reciprocal agreements constitute newer parts of the consultations, and are further detailed below.
Central goals for the consultations:
- A mutual and realistic understanding between central government and local government on the tasks it is possible to realise within the financial framework and financial situation.
- Dialogue about priorities for local government expenditures can contribute to reducing strict central governing through law and regulations and by the use of earmarked funding.
- An increase in local autonomy regarding service provision will strengthen effective use and allocation of resources and strengthen local democracy.
- Consultations can contribute to a more stable and predictable framework for local authorities, both legal and financial.
- A better foundation for Central Government decision-making and framing of rules and regulations aimed at municipalities and counties.
- Understandable and transparent expositions and calculations.
Cost estimate of single issues or reforms
Routines for involving KS in cost estimates of Central Government proposals of single issues or reforms were added to the consultations with effect from 2007. The rationale of this arrangement is both to improve the grounds for Central Government decision-making and to provide for broad local support by making it evident that the consultation parties are agreed on the cost components. The challenges are adequate involvement of KS without giving access to confidential information and priority discussions in the budget process of the Central Government.
A central element of the consultations is to conclude agreements between KS and Central Government through one or several ministries. These agreements are established to achieve political measures on important areas of welfare, and are alternatives to harder (stricter) state supervision and control such as earmarked transfers and strict regulation by law. Reciprocal agreements can also be a good political instrument to solve cooperation problems between the levels of government. Development of quality in public service provision is a main objective of several of the agreements.