Decentralisation efforts under way and gaining momentum in Peru

 

Following in the wake of the Alberto Kenya Fujimori presidency – which ran from 1990 to 2000 and was characterised by strong centralism – the Peruvian Congress was, for the first time, composed of representatives with previous political experience in regional institutions throughout the country.

In this context, the Organic Law for Regional Governments established the geopolitical structure of the country in 2002, dividing it into 25 regional governments, 195 provincial municipalities and 1639 district municipalities. The law grants political, economic and administrative autonomy within a united, but decentralised, Peruvian state, and establishes the transfer of exclusive competencies from the central government to regional governments.

Areas Of Coverage

Since the law became effective, regional governments have had the responsibility of developing, implementing and executing socioeconomic development plans that are in line with the National Development Plan; formulating and approving the Concerted Regional Development Plan with municipalities and civil society; approving the internal structure and budget; and promoting and executing public investments at a regional level in energy, road infrastructure, telecommunications and basic services through strategies that are sustainable, competitive, involve the private sector, strengthen markets and prove to be profitable.

Furthermore, it is the duty of each regional government to design and implement programmes for river basins, economic corridors and intermediate cities, as well as promote the formation of companies and regional economic units to create production and services systems. Regions are also in charge of facilitating processes oriented towards international markets for agriculture, agro-industry, craftwork, forestry and other productive sectors; developing tourism corridors that can become catalysts for advancement; and establishing agreements with other regions for the enhancement of economic, social and environmental progress.

Other exclusive competencies include administrating and awarding public urban land under their jurisdiction – with the exception of municipal land; organising and approving technical case files regarding territorial demarcation under their jurisdiction; promoting the modernisation of small and medium-sized entities in the region through education, employment, modernisation and technological innovation; and dictating the norms and legislation for issues and matters that concern each region’s responsibility. Finally, it is also the responsibility of regional governments to promote the sustainable use of forestry and biodiversity resources.

Shared Responsibilities

In addition to exclusive responsibilities, regional governments share competencies with local and national government authorities. These competencies, also outlined in the Organic Law for Regional Governments, include the management of primary, secondary and non-university tertiary education services; public health; and the promotion, management and regulation of economic and productive activities within each region’s scope and level, such as agriculture, fisheries, industry, commerce, tourism, energy, hydrocarbons, mines, communications and the environment.

Furthermore, sustainable management of natural resources and efforts to enhance environmental quality, the preservation and administration of reserves and of protected regional natural areas, the promotion of culture and the strengthening of all artistic and cultural institutions are tasks shared between regional governments and national and federal public institutions.

Lastly, the country’s regions also share the responsibility to ensure regional competitiveness, to create jobs at all levels with public and private funds and enhance citizen involvement in public activities.

Landmark Meetings

Since taking office in July 2016, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has demonstrated the political will to expedite the process of decentralisation and establish a common agenda with regional governments towards this goal. Known as GORE Ejecutivos, the Council of Ministers gathers with the governors of Peru’s 25 regions on a bi-monthly basis. As of May 2017 four of these meetings had taken place. Following the first GORE meeting, Prime Minister Fernando Zavala expressed the government’s intention of “listening and working hand in hand with regional and local governments”.

During the 98 meetings that took place at the first event, 411 commitments to the regions were made by the central government to prioritise investment projects, their viability, their stage of completion and their public and private financial needs. Around 60% of these commitments were completed by the time the next GORE meeting took place. The meetings proved effective in determining the need to simplify processes and enhancing the communication channels between the central and regional authorities. Furthermore, they helped to identify which projects ought to be prioritised in health, education, irrigation and rural electrification.

In regards to health, the central government and regional governors agreed to prioritise Peru’s human capital shortage, while also bridging the health infrastructure deficit. In education, it was established that the priority would be the construction of more High Performance Schools, the provision of teachers in remote areas, and the improvement of school infrastructure and functioning.

Second Forum

Following the institutionalisation of decentralisation efforts marked by the first GORE Ejecutivo, the second gathering between the central government and regional governors took place in November 2016, with the attendance of representatives from the Association of Municipalities of Peru and the Network of Urban and Rural Municipalities of Peru. For Prime Minister Zavala, “the modern state that we want requires further decentralisation”, in which the government seeks to increase cooperation with regional and local administrations across the country. The second meeting proved effective once again in enhancing decentralisation. National, regional and local leaders agreed to define the tasks of every level of public administration, as well as accelerate the transfer of competencies from the central government to the regions. A majority of the agreements focused on reducing the resource gap in order to guarantee the sustainability of the Integrated Health System, increase rapid distribution of school material and establish monthly attendance of all regional governors to the Council of Ministers.

Third Gathering

By the time the third GORE Ejecutivo took place in February 2017, some 889 agreements had been achieved, of which 630 were completed successfully. The third meeting determined even more specific areas of cooperation between public institutions at different levels. Significantly, the government and regions signed the National Pact to Tackle Anaemia and Chronic Child Malnutrition, which aims to reduce chronic malnutrition to 6% in children under the age of five years and reduce anaemia to 19% in those aged between six months and three years by 2021. The rate of children with anaemia currently stands at 43%.

Other significant achievements of the third GORE meeting include the agreements between the regions of Ica and Huancavelica to share their water resources and design combined management plans, while the Cusco and Apurímac regions agreed to develop projects for the joint management of the Choquequirao archaeological park.

Recent Developments

In May 2017 the cabinet and regional governors met for a fourth time since President Kuczynski got the momentum rolling in July 2016. More than 600 additional agreements were achieved at this instalment. In an effort to further enhance and improve the process of decentralisation, Zavala announced the creation of a commission composed of three ministers and three regional governors, with the involvement of representatives of local town halls. The commission is in charge of evaluating the success of the process and suggest ways in which it can be improved. Actions to be taken in the areas of transport and communications, housing, construction, sanitation, finance, agriculture, health and education were also agreed upon.

Moreover, the Kuczynski government and the regional governments agreed to work on designing strategies that can support the president’s administration in achieving its goal of increasing public investments by 15% and attracting greater private investment in multiple areas. For Prime Minister Zavala, the meetings between the different layers of public administration are key to increasing investment levels and serve “to find better conditions to attract investments into all the different regions”.

 

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Cover of The Report: Peru 2017

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This article is from the Country Profile chapter of The Report: Peru 2017. Explore other chapters from this report.