Many developing countries are putting increased pressure on local governments to mobilize resources, especially to meet the recurrent costs of operating and maintaining locally sited capital projects. Local taxes, user charges and voluntary contributions are all possible mechanisms to carry out these efforts. Yet several important issues arise whenever these mobilization instruments are contemplated and evaluated.
Several, often competing, objectives must be considered when evaluating fiscal instruments including the ability of the mechanism to raise revenues, its effect on economic efficiency, its equity implications and its administrative feasibility. After discussing each of these objectives, we show how numerous constraints, including those imposed by the political/legal system, administrative structure, the economy and the culture of the country, must be recognized while searching for a workable set of reforms that will mobilize additional resources without doing great harm to the other objectives. The key to these reforms would seem to be incentives or disincentives inherent in the revenue structure. Without recognizing these incentives or attempting to alter them, resource mobilization efforts are likely to go astray.