Guidelines on Local Government Borrowing and Recent Developments in South East Europe
8. How local government associations can help improve the local debt legislation and credit market

8.3. In relation to central Parliaments

Local government lobbying for better regulation on local public debt must not stop once the draft piece of legislation is developed and endorsed. In the case of laws, local government associations should continue to their work within the parliaments. Although parliaments do not practically draft much of the legislation they approve all laws and emergency ordinances put forward by central governments. In effect, members of parliament (MPs) have the last word on any draft which is set to become law. Hence, local governments associations must devote time and appropriate expertise in lobbying parliaments to ensure that approved legislation meets their objective.

Parliaments work in special committees and general assemblies. Most debates take place in committees; in this context, stakeholders can be invited to take part. Committee debates do not usually have a detailed technical content; MPs are more concerned with political objectives of the draft laws and particular situations arising from their constituencies. The central government representatives take part in the committee hearings by default. Local governments should also make sure their voice is heard especially if they are seeking specific aims. If invited, the associations should not send only technical staff, but also local elected officials wielding political influence in their parties, such as mayors of big municipalities. They are more likely than central governments to convince the MPs because they are credible representatives of local communities.

In parallel, local government associations must seek to develop a permanent relationship with the MPs and technical staff from specialist parliamentary committees in a similar way to that with central government experts and decision-makers. Such a relationship greatly enhances the associations’ powers of persuasion and also allows them to by-pass the central government if needed.

As regards the legislation on local public debt, local government associations should pursue the same specific goals outlined above making sure the content of draft laws is not altered against their wishes.