In the developed European countries, living standards in the mountainous and highland territories are often quite high. These territories are a source of considerable revenues to local and national budgets through all possible types of tourism and production of eco-friendly agricultural products.
The complex and balanced development of mountainous areas, which is the standard of the European Union, has finally become a benchmark for national regional policy in Ukraine.
In April this year, the Government of Ukraine approved the Concept for Development of the Mountainous Territories of the Ukrainian Carpathians. And in July, the President of Ukraine instructed the Government to elaborate, by the end of September, a State Programme for the Development of the Ukrainian Carpathian Region for 2020-2022 that would take into account the provisions of the Concept.
The mountainous territories of the Carpathian Region include the Zakarpattia, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Chernivtsi Oblasts with a total area of 56.6 thousand km2, 715 settlements and a population of 978 thousand people.
On 12 August in Uzhgorod, representatives of the central, regional, local authorities, experts and the public had a roundtable meeting on the prospects for the development of the mountainous areas of the Ukrainian Carpathians, and discussed whether the Zakarpattia Oblast is ready to actively participate in the preparation and implementation of this Programme.
Alla Kinshchak, head of the Main Directorate for Regional Development of the Regional Development Directorate at MinRegion, said that during the last three years, state support for the development of the four regions of the Carpathian Region has increased. The funding of mountainous areas’ projects has increased annually at the expense of the state budget, infrastructure subvention to AHs, EU sectoral support: in 2016 this support amounted to UAH 83 million, in 2017 – UAH 136 million, in 2018 – UAH 395 million.
“However, despite the increasing amount of state support, the vast majority of projects implemented in mountainous areas have a pointwise effect and are not aimed at the comprehensive development of the region. Therefore, it became necessary to develop a state programme that would provide financing for development projects,” said Alla Kinshchak.
According to her, the structure of the programme offered by MinRegion includes 4 priority areas:
Denys Man, director of the Department of Economic Development and Trade at the Zakarpattia Oblast State Administration, said: “In the development of mountainous areas, we are not focused on state subsidies and subventions to the region, we are talking about incentive policy. Our stance is that the state aid should not be spent on additional payments to salaries of the mountainous dwellers, but on the development of infrastructure in the mountains, especially road infrastructure. We are also working on developing a business incentive package to bring it in line with the governmental programme.”
According to him, the region also expects that traditional and folk types of economy of the mountainous areas will be supported at the state level. In addition, access to services – educational, medical, administrative – and waste management are important for the region.
45% of the Zakarpattia Oblast’s territory is mountainous.
215 settlements have the mountainous status.
Mountainous territories are concentrated in 10 rayons and two amalgamated hromadas.
49 settlements in the Zakarpattia Oblast are highland ones, i.e. located at an altitude of 600 m and above.
Also, according to Denys Man, the region expects to implement a comprehensive programme “Conservation of the ecosystem of the Tysa River valley in the border areas of Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia”.
According to him, the general plans, detailed plans of the territories in the Zakarpattia Oblast need updating and already part of the funds of the national public budget will be directed for these purposes.
The oblast is currently implementing the Zakarpattia Oblast Development Strategy for 2020. It has three tasks related to the mountainous areas:
Three EU-funded projects are planned to be implemented in mountainous territories of the Zakarpattia Oblast within the framework of Sector Policy Support Programme of Ukraine:
The oblast state administration is already working on creating a strategy for the development of the Zakarpattia Oblast until 2027, where the issue of mountainous areas is one of the priorities: one of the strategic goals of the future strategy will include the task of support to the mountainous territories or eliminating the disparities between the mountainous and lowland areas.
Summing up, the OSA representative expressed his expectations that as a result of the implementation of the State Programme for Support of the Mountainous Areas in the Zakarpattia Oblast, flood protection projects will be financed, the amount of road financing in the mountains will increase, additional trains will be provided to support the tourism industry, additional points will be opened, unique architectural monuments will be preserved, hub schools and hospital districts in the mountainous territories will have their own characteristics...
The material was prepared in the framework of Sustainable Development of the Ukrainian Carpathians project, following the results of the roundtable meeting, held on 12 August 2019 in Uzhgorod and organised by the Ukrainian Association of Rayon and Oblast Councils within the activity of the Resource Centre for Sustainable Local Development.
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