Decentralisation (local self-government reform) began in Ukraine four years ago. Its objective is to transfer powers from the central authorities to local councils, as it was once done in Poland. Along with powers, small towns and villages also received funds. More information can be found in the report of the “Nastoyashsheye Vremia”.
In order to gain independence and receive more funds for development, villages and small towns located in the neighborhood should amalgamate and form a hromada.
One hromada may contain three, ten or any other number of settlements – since there are no legislative restrictions. People elect hromada head, the state fixes it and gives the hromada the right to independently decide where and what to spend money for.
Finances increase at the expense of taxpayers. If earlier the enterprises, located on the territory of these villages and cities, paid the income tax to the state budget, now 60% of these funds remain on the ground. The more enterprises the hromada has, the larger its budget is. Non-amalgamated villages do not receive the tax.
One year ago, there was no water, no toilet, and no centralised heating in a rural school, located 170 km from Kyiv, in the Zhytomyr Oblast. Each classroom had a stove, where children warmed themselves by in turn.
“In course of one lesson some kids were sitting at the desks to warm their backs next to the stove, and then changed with their classmates. That’s how we warmed ourselves up. And the other wall was covered with frost mist,” says the teacher Nataliya Hrynevych.
Now the school has radiators, toilet and tap water. The village head said that renovation became possible due to decentralisation. For the first time in Ukraine’s independence years the village had money for this.
159 hromadas amalgamated during the first year of the reform. Soon villages and small towns began to observe the development of their neighbours, and by 2018 there had been already more than four hundred of AHs. Now there are 876 of them.
According to Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, already 68% of Ukrainians live within the conditions of amalgamation. “The goal of decentralisation is to make small cities and villages completely financially independent of the central budget, so that local authorities are responsible for the development of the region and so that people do not accuse the President and the Government of all the misfortunes,” the Prime Minister said.
“If your territory does not develop, there are incidental people working on the ground”
Yuriy Bova, head of the Trostyanetska AH, has already taken over 6 kindergartens, 7 schools, a stadium, a library and a hospital on hromada’s balance. For the first time in 30 years they started full renovation of the premises there. He observes only advantages of decentralisation.
“There are some hromadas with a very large staff: they have an AH head, three deputies, plus there are 80 or 100 people working in the administrative structure, and this is per 12,000 residents of the hromada! Of course, under such conditions, large amount of money is spent on salaries, and not on development,” gives an example Anatoliy Tkachuk, Director on Science and Development of the Civil Society Institute.
According to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, 70% of all AHs are subsidised – the state covers maintenance of social facilities or gives money to form the administrative structure of the new AH. Last year, more than $ 44 million were allocated for this purpose from the country’s state budget.
The Government plans to cover the entire territory of Ukraine with amalgamated hromadas by 2020.
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