On 2 June 2017, Poltava hosted the Regional Inter-Municipal Cooperation Forum organised by the Subcommittee on Regional Policy, Local Budgets and Communal Ownership of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government jointly with Poltava Oblast State Administration, Poltava Oblast Council, All-Ukrainian Association of Village and Settlement Councils and Inter-Municipal Cooperation Resource Centre. The Forum was held with the support of the Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Forum participants included the Head of Poltava Oblast State Administration Valerii Golovko, Head of Poltava Oblast Council Oleksandr Bilenkyi, Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Subcommittee on Regional Policy, Local Budgets and Communal Ownership Andrii Reka, Member of Parliament Yurii Bublyk, Head of Division for Cooperation with Local Self-Government Bodies at the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine Liliia Popova, Team Leader of the Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project Taras Zhuravel, heads of rayon councils, cities, villages and amalgamated communities of Poltava Oblast, researchers, experts, journalists and representatives of NGOs.
The main objective of the Forum was to promote the best inter-municipal cooperation (IMC) practices and facilitate further development of IMC as a substantial part of local self-government and decentralisation reform in Ukraine.
‘We acquired some experience in this sphere as Poltava Oblast is implementing 35 IMC projects from 83 IMC projects in Ukraine. We are pleased that the Verkhovna Rada Committee on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government chose Poltava for the third year in a raw as a venue for IMC event. I would like to thank our partners – international technical assistance projects, namely the Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project implemented by GIZ and the Swiss-Ukrainian Project ‘Decentralisation Support in Ukraine’ (DESPRO). Your support was a crucial building block for Poltava Oblast in taking a leading position in inter-municipal cooperation,’ Valerii Golovko said.
‘I am very pleased that Poltava Oblast is a driving force in many spheres and working processes including inter-municipal cooperation. The Oblast Council is not standing still, we achieve positive results in providing assistance to local communities and implementing various projects,’ Oleksandr Bilenkyi pointed out.
Team Leader of the Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project Taras Zhuravel noted that since the adoption of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Cooperation of Territorial Communities’ in June 2014 the Project has been providing comprehensive support to its implementation at the national and regional levels, as well as facilitating IMC initiatives locally. In Poltava Oblast, the Project supported the implementation of eight IMC initiatives including innovation IMC project on providing Reshetylivka Rayon rural communities with high-speed internet access. Inter alia, the reorganisation of local fire-rescue stations is under way in two amalgamated communities in Poltava Oblast.
Liliia Popova, Head of Division for Cooperation with Local Self-Government Bodies, greeted the participants on behalf of the Ministry of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine. She highlighted the importance of using the efficient mechanisms of local self-government reforming envisaged by the Laws of Ukraine ‘On Voluntary Amalgamation of Territorial Communities’ and ‘On Cooperation of Territorial Communities’. She reminded that within 2015-2017 years 413 amalgamated communities have been established in Ukraine comprising overall 1971 local councils. In particular, 75 local councils have amalgamated in 20 communities in Poltava Oblast. Currently the best results show such amalgamated communities as Omelnyk headed by Oleksandra Sheremetyeva, Pyriatyn headed by Oleksiy Ryabokon, Bilotserkivka headed by Ivan Leshchenko and Reshetylivka headed by Volodymyr Kuzmenko. These communities have advanced achievements in education, health care and public utilities spheres. As Poltava Regional IMC Forum focused on inter-municipal cooperation topics belonging to the Ministry’s sphere of responsibility (Minregion is providing methodological and awareness-raising support and maintains the State Registry of Inter-Municipal Cooperation Agreements), Liliia Popova encouraged the participants to adopt the valuable IMC experience of Poltava Oblast, especially the experience of the leading Novi Sanzhary, Poltava and Reshetylivka Rayons.
Stefan Draeger, international GIZ expert, told about 60-year German experience in inter-municipal cooperation. He emphasised that money is not a key success factor in the implementation of IMC projects. In his opinion, the main factors are mutual trust of partners, adequate communication, thorough planning and transparency. Besides, there must be proper support at the regional level, availability of relevant legal acts and regulatory documents, as well as there must be created conditions for dissemination and obtaining the required information. Stefan Draeger informed that the motivation of community also plays an important role. People should be fully aware of all the benefits of inter-municipal cooperation, including cost-saving and strengthening the local economy.
The Advisor to the Verkhovna Rada Committee on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government Vyacheslav Tolkovanov presented the detailed analysis of the implementation of the Law of Ukraine ‘On Cooperation of Territorial Communities’ and outlined the main elements of information, financial, resource and institutional support of IMC development in Ukraine (please see the presentation below).
Then Inna Ishchenko, Director of Department for Economic Development at Poltava Oblast State Administration, presented the Poltava Oblast experience in local development projects implementation and featured current developments in local self-government reform realisation.
Serhii Firsov, representative of the Main Department of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) in Poltava Oblast, Head of Association for Civil Protection, focused on the development options of local fire-rescue services. According to Mr. Firsov, the reforming of civil protection system at the local level is a complex challenge as due to delegation of certain powers on emergency response from state authorities to local self-government bodies, many new tasks require effective solutions.
Director of Poltava Oblast Centre for Professional Improvement of Public Employees Nataliia Osypenko told the participants about launching a comprehensive distance learning course ‘Inter-Municipal Cooperation (IMC)’. Overall, 107 persons have completed the course in 2017. The most active participants were the representatives of Orzhytsia, Novi Sanzhary and Myrhorod Rayons of Poltava Oblast. In the course of the Forum the distance learning course participants received the completion certificates.
Following the end of the plenary session, two parallel sections took place – ‘Experience in the Implementation of Inter-Municipal Cooperation Projects related to Improvement of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Communal Services’ and ‘Experience in the Implementation of Inter-Municipal Cooperation Projects related to the issues of Social and Humanitarian Development and the Improvement of Administrative Service Delivery’.
The Final Declaration of the Forum as well as the relevant recommendations and comments will be considered by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government.
Presentations of Forum speakers (Ukrainian versions):
Implementation of Inter-Municipal Cooperation Projects in Ukraine
Poltava Oblast Experience
Development Options of Local Fire-Rescue Services in Poltava Oblast
German IMC Experience
Organisation of Trainings on IMC Topics
IMC Project initiated by Kovalivka Village Council
Map of IMC Projects registered at the State Registry of Inter-Municipal Cooperation Agreements as of May 2017
Final Declaration of Poltava Regional Inter-Municipal Cooperation Forum
The Reform of Municipal Services in Eastern Ukraine Project
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