"Two Years, Ten Months, and One Day - That is the Period over which Your Reforms are being Carried out, and the Results are Very Significant". The Results of Decentralisation in Ukraine were Acknowledged in Strasbourg

"Decentralisation is the basis of stability and peaceful future. Therefore, we will help Ukraine to complete this process", Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 2 February 2017.

"Dozens of member states of the Council of Europe have carried out or attempted to carry out reforms with complete decentralisation. It would be fair to say that Ukraine is doing many things faster than other countries did. Two years, ten months, and one day - that is the period over which your reforms are being carried out, and the results are very significant," Daniel Popescu, Special Adviser to the Government of Ukraine on Decentralisation, Strasbourg, 2 February 2017.

This day, 2 February, the "Decentralisation in Ukraine: Achievements and Prospects" event took place at the Headquarters of the Council of Europe. The Ukrainian delegation headed by Vice-Prime Minister - Minister of Regional Development, Construction, and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine Hennadii Zubko presented the results of the reform achieved from the beginning of its implementation and shared the plans regarding further steps in that area with representatives of the Council of Europe member states.

participated in the event Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Daniel Popescu, Special Adviser to the Government of Ukraine on Decentralisation, delegations of the Council of Europe member states.

As it was stated during the event, the Council of Europe's Action Plan for Ukraine for 2015-2017 is very important for the country, in which plan the "Decentralisation and Local Self-Government Reform" is determined as one of the priorities. That area of focus is implemented through the Council of Europe's "Decentralisation and Territorial Consolidation in Ukraine" programme and the Programme of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

According to First Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Construction, and Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine Viacheslav Nehoda, due to the support lent by international community within a rather short time and under complicated conditions, Ukraine achieved visible results in terms of enhancement of the local self-government capacity. He noted that the state began the reforming process by the enhancement of financial independence and capacity of local self-government - in December 2014, stable sources of revenue for local budgets were formalised in legislation, the income basis of local budgets was extended, horizontal alignment of taxpaying capacity of territories was introduced depending on the tax collection rate per capita.

He referred to the data on the results of financial decentralisation: if in 2014, the local budget amounts totalled UAH 68.6 billion, already in 2015, when there became effective the provisions whereby the financial decentralisation was introduced, that indicator totalled UAH 98.2 billion. Still higher the local budget amounts became in 2016 - UAH 146.6 billion. In the current year, according to the First Deputy Minister, they are expected to total UAH 170.7 billion.

The government support for the development of communities and their infrastructure increased significantly. By comparison, if in 2014 the state allocated only UAH 0.5 billion governmental grant for social and economic development, in 2015 the government support totalled UAH 3.7 billion, most of those funds were allocated to the State Fund for Regional Development. Twice as much, the state granted financial support to communities in 2016 - UAH 7.3 billion. In this year - UAH 9 billion.  

Viacheslav Nehoda underlined that the decentralisation of power would not have any sense without an entity to which the state might have passed the required scope of powers. Therefore, according to him, the process of formation of capable communities have been formalised in legislation, which communities are able to take over both power and responsibility for the decisions made. The formation of such communities in Ukraine takes place in accordance with the principle of voluntary amalgamation, unlike in many countries where such process was introduced by administrative methods.

He informed that, in a comparatively short period of time, there had been established 366 amalgamated territorial communities in Ukraine, in 40 more communities the first elections will be held in spring.

"The process is going on. Many other communities are currently considering the possibility of their amalgamation," Viacheslav Nehoda said.

The results of the implementation of budgets by the amalgamated territorial communities for the preceding year showed the enhancement of their financial capacity. By comparison, the budget revenues of 159 amalgamated territorial communities (those which as of 1 January 2016 transferred to direct inter-budgetary relations with the state budget) totalled more than UAH 7 billion in 2016, whereas, prior to their amalgamation, that indicator totalled only UAH 1.1 billion in 2015.

The First Deputy Minister also provided some data of a sociologic survey carried out in 2015 and 2016 with the support from the Council of Europe. The survey proved that, in 2015, 19% of the population and, in 2016, 46% of the population experienced changes for the better as the result of decentralisation.

Also, Daniel Popescu, Special Adviser to the Government of Ukraine on Decentralisation, noted the success of the reform.

"Dozens of member states of the Council of Europe have carried out or attempted to carry out reforms with complete decentralisation. It would be fair to say that Ukraine is doing many things faster than other countries did. Two years, ten months, and one day - that is the period over which your reforms are being carried out, and the results are very significant," Daniel Popescu noted.

Securing the principle of ubiquity of local self-government is one of the important steps to be made in the framework of decentralisation, as it was outlined at the event. And that can be achieved through the transfer by the state of lands located outside the boundaries of the amalgamated territorial communities to the amalgamated territorial communities under their management. A respective draft law is being considered by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine. Also, there is a number of important draft laws to be passed by the Parliament, which laws will facilitate the fulfilment of targets of the reform and the development of territories of communities.

Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, emphasised in his speech that the process of reforms in Ukraine should be accelerated, and he underlined that the legislation adopted for the purposes of reforming local self-government should be in compliance with the European Charter of Local Self-Government. 

"Decentralisation is the basis of stability and peaceful future. Therefore, we will help Ukraine to complete this process", the Secretary General of the Council of Europe emphasised.  

It is a reminder that the "Decentralisation in Ukraine: Achievements and Prospects" event was initiated by Ukraine and it was arranged for in cooperation with the Ministry of Regional Development of Ukraine, the Council of Europe Secretariat, the Permanent Representative Office of Ukraine at the Council of Europe, and the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine.

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