Ruslan Syvyi, director of the Rivne Local Government Development Centre, told about decentralisation in the Rivne Oblast.
Mr. Ruslan, you are one of those who started the process of decentralisation in the Rivne Oblast. Was it frightful?
It was responsible. It is necessary to tell people what you believe in. People feel false. We are pioneers and nobody will give a guarantee that it will be so or otherwise. By the way, today, I see these fears in a slightly different light. The first newly established hromadas did not follow any pattern or rules - they created these rules by themselves. There were situations where nothing was written in the law, nor in the decisions, but it was necessary to work. Then we gathered meetings, consulted, made decisions and showed others that we did in such a way ... And others went this way.
How did you convince pioneers?
Amalgamation is a voluntary deed. At least, it is so far. It was not necessary to persuade, because the grain fell into the fertile soil. And I am always grateful to managers of the first five AHs of the Rivne Oblast: Serhii Pylypchuk (Buhrynska AH), Oleh Hrechych (Babynska AH), Fedor Khlebovych (Myliatska AH), Vasyl Hrynyk (Klesivska AH), and Mykola Kostiukevych (Pidloztsivska AH) for their courage, enthusiasm and the tremendous work they have done and are further doing. Others went their way, so it was a bit easier. The support of the authorities was also important. The Rivne Oblast State Administration and the Oblast Council always helped and continue to help hromadas.
What is the success of the reform?
Hromadas have got real levers of influence and real funds that they can dispose by themselves. As people in Kyiv or Rivne can not know better than residents of Bokiyma or Kornyn, what they should do in the first place, and what to plan for tomorrow ...
How much have budgets grown? I have read that most of the hromadas are subsidised ...
The Rivne Oblast is generally subsidised. Hromadas are also different, depending on their geographical position, resources, etc. But each hromada is interesting in its own way and has its own features.
But I have heard that funds in many hromadas are not used rationally. For example, much money is spent on management, is it true?
Well, if you are talking about big expenses and counting money, then it means that the money is present (laughs).
What are LGDCs doing for hromadas’ development?
The Local Government Development Centres are unique structures. Experts from different fields, selected by the U-LEAD with Europe Programme (tests, interviews), are working here, and their main task is to assist local authorities. For example, our Centre has advisers on decentralisation, local budgets, regional development, communications, spatial planning and provision of administrative services. Only last year, we held nearly 200 different events (seminars, conferences, round tables, etc.), in which more than 4,000 participants took part. And we conducted the same amount of consultations (most of them were outdoors) for oblasts’s hromadas.
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