Paper/Speech Details of Conference Program for the 24th NISPAcee Annual Conference Program Overview VIII. Local Services and Infrastructure Author(s) Tatjana Jovanic Belgrade University Belgrade Serbia Title Local Administration in National Economic Development and Competitiveness Strategies - Searching for the Appropriate Institutional Framework for Private Infrastructure Development in Western Balkan Countries File Paper files are available only for conference participants, please login first. Presenter Tatjana Jovanic Abstract National economic development and competitiveness can not only be planned, coordinated and enforced centrally. Even big national infrastructure projects have their local component. Fiscal deficit and constraints on central budget shifted the responsibility for economic development and investment climate from central level to local level, in line with modern tendencies towards administrative devolution. Cities and municipalities may drive country’s economic growth, and therefore it is important to empower local governments in their institutional capacities to become conductive to investments and operationalise local economic development strategies. This relates to all forms of instruments for economic development policies. The paper would not be exclusively focused on any particular type of supporting measures, such are subsidies, arrangements for greenfield investments and Public-Private-Partnerships. The main idea is to explain what would be the appropriate framework of administrative decentralisation where regions, cities and municipalities would be able to actively influence the agenda. As a player in a complex interplay of central to local, public to private arrangements, local government has the incentive to develop new institutional environment, notably in Western Balkan countries where privatization of public utilities is under way or has failed. Therefore, the Paper would argue that local government has to develop its intermediary role as a facilitator, or better to say “transductor” between central level and stakeholders aiming to realise capital investments. From the institutional side, the organizational capacity of local governments has to be strengthened in terms of allocating roles and institutionalizing relationships with central bodies. On the functional level, local economic development initiatives have to mirror and operationalize national economic development plans and strategies, they should be able to translate national plans into local level and adjust it to local specificities. Such an upgrade of the role of local authorities would require developing functional relationships between central planners and local level. In terms of the facilitatory role of local administration the two dimensions would be scrutinized. First one is twofold: decentralisation as administrative deconcentration or delegation; deconcentration as the weakest form of redistributing the decision making, financial and management authorities among different levels of central government, or some local administrative capacity under the supervision of central units. Administrative delegation is the delegation of capacities to semi-autonomous organizations not entirely controlled by the central government, but accountable to it (such as regional development agencies etc.). Second dimension is known as devolution, which means the transfer of governmental authority to quasi-autonomous units of local governments. The role of local administration in economic development in Western Balkans is mostly embedded in the framework of administrative delegation, as collaborators within the network of regional branches of semi-independent development agencies. Among other, the purpose of this Paper would be to point to some comparative experiences from developed countries, the models of institutional settings where the focus has shifted from delegation towards devolution. In this sense, steps undertaken in some countries such as Croatia and Serbia which are alligning towards delegation would be contrasted to experiences where municipalities are more active stakeholders in regional economic development such is the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina.