Fiscal federalism and prospects for metropolitan transportation authorities in Portugal

Fiscal federalism refers to the attribution of public finance functions among different levels of government. The authors examine Portugal's metropolitan transportation sector through the fiscal federalist lens, in light of the country's decentralization efforts and new relevant legislation. They clarify basic principles of fiscal federalism and adapt them to the finance of metropolitan transportation systems – typically characterized by multiple jurisdictions, numerous externalities and equity concerns – showing the inadequacy of general practice. Portugal's overall public finance system partially adheres to fiscal federalist principles; the transportation sector less so. Metropolitan transportation faces particular troubles, with few direct user fees, prices inadequately reflecting costs, and heavy reliance on central government subsidies for public transportation investments and operations. A new law creating metropolitan transportation authorities is only modestly consistent with fiscal federalist principles, since it inadequately details financial responsibilities and remains under heavy central government control. Absent additional reforms, the new metropolitan authorities should aim to make the transportation finance system explicit and test incentive grants to induce inter-municipal cooperation.


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  • Accession Number: 01499453
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 21 2013 9:21AM