中國大陸於2005年全面取消農業稅之後，鄉鎮政府的預算收入來源出現重大變化。本計畫所探討的「鄉財縣管」，即是在農村稅費改革基礎上進行的縣鄉財政管理體制調整。調整的主要原因略可分為以下三個方面：一是農業稅的取消和鄉鎮政府職能的調整，使沿襲多年的鄉鎮財政管理方式需要變革。二是鄉鎮財政支出管理制度仍待完善。取消農業稅後，有些鄉鎮政府仍向農民亂收費，規範鄉鎮財政支出管理，成為鄉鎮財政面臨的主要問題。三是鄉鎮財政債務負擔沉重。 「鄉財縣管」改革，屬於不同層級政府間財政管理許可權分配的改革，縣鄉兩級的總財力並沒有增加，通過加強對鄉鎮財政支出的管理，能夠相對減少政府運行成本和資金浪費現象，卻不能從根本上緩解縣鄉財政的困難。大陸高層試圖以垂直管理的方式解決目前的問題，但是受限於傳統的「條塊關係」影響，依靠上級單位的監督能否持續仍待觀察。若以外部監控的「鄉財公開」的方式建立財政的透明度，可能是更為長期的治本之道。基層財政訊息的公開，在預算編列上亦可使資源配置透明化，鄉鎮人民代表大會更應進行預算的實質審查與監督，並且與群眾的參政議政意識相互聯繫，以公民及輿論的監督配合制度的變革或許更為趨近法治國家的一般作為。 本計畫所設定的議題不僅限於財政制度，而擴及財政民主化改革的討論，鄉鎮人民代表大會的預算權亦為研究的重點之一。做為基層政權改革的初探性研究，並可對於城市化過程中的地方政府之間關係進行分析。 The elimination of the agricultural tax in China in 2005 plunged the grass-roots governments at the xiang/zheng level into great financial ordeal. One of the ingenious ways to deal with this sudden blow is the policy of “xiang finance being managed by its superior, the xian government”. Three reasons have contributed to the reform: First, the cancellation of the agricultural tax and the adjustment of the functions of the governmental structure at the grass-roots level have forced change on the financial management system maintained by the xiang/zheng governments since the reform and open-door policies were adopted in the late 1970’s. Second, the practice of levying taxes on the impoverished farmers still continues in some parts of China despite the termination of the bad policy by the central authorities. Third, xiang/zheng governments have difficulties making ends meet because of the new policy. The reform on the “xiang finance being managed by the xian government” concerns the issue of financial redistribution in various levels of government even though the aggregate finance of both xian and the xiang governments remains unchanged. While the reform will be able to reduce unnecessary waste by the xiang governments through coordination of finance at different levels it is unable to resolve the chronic problem of shortage of funds for the local governments in China. Given the rigid tradition of vertical/horizontal relationship (tiao/kuai guanxi) whether the goal to alleviate financial burden to the local governments via vertical management can be realized remains to be seen. A more lasting solution lies in the increase of transparency in local governance. If the budgetary process can be made more transparent, local governance will be improved accordingly. Transparency will also give local people’s congress an opportunity to enhance it duties as a watchdog to check the powers and malfeasance done by the party-state structure. Enthusiasm for popular participation will also be rekindled. If oversight by the civil society and the mass media can be enhanced, the spirit of rules of law will then be better incorporated into the local governance. The study’s focus goes beyond the mere reform of China’s local finance; it also touches upon the concept of rationalization of local governance. The role played by the people’s congress at the xiang/zheng level will also be examined. It is a pioneering study on China’s local political reform. It will also analyze vertical relations in China’s local government structure at a time when urbanization is sweeping the country.