The decentralisation reform, regarded by Ukrainians and international donors as one of the most successful reforms in the last years, gave rise to a new generation of local politicians in Ukraine. The heads of newly amalgamated hromadas, supported by the work of starostas, deliver quality public services and are directly accountable to their local taxpayers. Working very closely with citizens, exposed to their direct gratitude or anger, they have to be good servants of their people.
To honour the work of these frontrunners of an important reform, 24 heads of hromadas and 3 starostas, one per oblast were invited by U-LEAD with Europe, PLEDGE, DOBRE and DESPRO to join the 3rd Ukraine Reform Conference in Toronto:
At the ministerial day with more than 400 participants from Ukraine and the international donor community on 2 July, Oksana Pitsyk, head of the Smidynska AH in the Volyn Oblast, a small but successful amalgamated hromada, joined a panel on “Top Down Bottom Up: Integrity, Inclusivity and Governance” with Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, VPM Zubko, and Professor Georg Milbradt, Special Envoy of the German Government for decentralisation.
In her statement she stressed that decentralisation is an opportunity her hromada has benefited from. She hopes that the first phase of the decentralisation reform would be over very soon and the second phase, namely consolidation of rayons, will be launched. Oksana and her hromada residents are waiting for the fruitful work of a new parliament in implementation of draft laws relevant for decentralisation and sectoral reforms.
At the second day, within the Ukrainian House event, open to the public and with more than 500 representatives of Ukrainian politics, international donors, civil society, Canadian business and media, a special panel on the decentralisation reform was organised. Ms Tamara Kirian, starosta of the Pyrohy Village of the Hlobynska AH in the Poltava Oblast, Mr Denys Korotenko , head of the Shyrokivska rural AH in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Mr Oleksandr Korinnyi, head of the Novoukrayinska AH in Kirovohrad Oblast, Serhii Redchyk, mayor of Khmilnyk, Vinnytsia Oblast, Oleksandr Slobozhan, Director of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, and Vice Prime Minister Hennadii Zubko presented the reform achievements to the Canadian audience.
"Decentralisation destroys the jaws of totalitarian regimes and brings a new mentality," explained Ms Kirian, while Mr Korotenko stressed the importance of newly amalgamated hromadas as the new business hubs for Canadian investors: "Economic development is the future. Previously we didn’t think much about our budget. After amalgamation we began with an inventory and started to count money. That brought us new ideas how to use funds effectively and new opportunities to deliver better services for our citizens and local business".
VPM Hennadii Zubko praised the new political culture of the AH heads: "Heads of amalgamated hromadas are real leaders, future members of the parliament, our new faces of the reform!”
Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate NEAR of the European Commission, personally met with the 24 AH heads and stressed later in her address to the audience of the Ukrainian House that “Decentralisation is one of the reforms which fundamentally changes life for the better as this reform changes the mindset of people. Therefore, this essential reform is supported by the European Union, since many EU member states assist Ukraine on the reform path.
At the end of the conference, the heads of amalgamated communities will travel to municipalities in Ontario on 4-5 July. The study tour will let them share their views and learn from Canadian practices of post-amalgamation governance and city management.
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