Hromadas of eastern Ukraine anticipating changes

Success of decentralisation in the east of the country was discussed within the Topic of the Day programme on UA ​​Donbass TV channel.

Guests in the studio:

  • Igor Agibalov, director of the Luhansk Local Government Development Centre, and
  • Maksym Tkach, decentralisation advisor of the Donetsk Local Government Development Centre, established with the support of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme.

First elections in June: eight AHs in Luhansk Oblast, none in Donetsk

For three years in a row, elections have been scheduled in spring and autumn, and this time – in summer. Eight of 13 hromadas were given the opportunity to hold these elections, said Igor Agibalov commenting on the situation in the Luhansk Oblast. No elections were announced in five hromadas located on the demarcation line.

Until July of this year, there were only nine AHs in the Luhansk Oblast, almost the same number went to the first elections in June. In six of them people voted for those who initiated amalgamation and worked on it systematically.

According to Maksym Tkach, the first elections were not announced in the Donetsk Oblast in June. In total, 18 hromadas were legally established in the region, ten of which had already held their first elections, and another one, the Bahmutska AH, has recently been established through rural territory accession.

Therefore, seven hromadas that have legally undergone amalgamation process are waiting for the first elections to be held, but there are problems that the Parliament has to address: a complex administrative and territorial structure, hromadas on the demarcation line, where elections are not scheduled for security reasons and legal subtleties.

Demotivation for all hromadas

The lack of legislative regulation is considered by Maksym Tkach one of the reasons why the Central Election Commission does not appoint the first elections on a certain territory of the eastern oblasts.

“Such uncertainty undermines the reform and people's trust, as well as their desire to get involved,” commented Maksym Tkach. “People have solved many organisational issues, held public hearings, sessions, amalgamated, and cannot reap the benefits because they did not have elections. This is an element of demotivation for the others.”

What are the prospects of hromadas’ amalgamation?

Changes in hromadas start even before the first elections, says Igor Agibalov. The Kolomychivska, Shulhinska, Markovska hromadas started elaboration of their development strategies, and formulated joint action plans. They lacked only the final stage – holding of the first elections.

The priority is to approve own budgets, develop strategies, and make a plan of priority actions to restore the infrastructure needed to provide basic services in the AH. Hromadas can receive infrastructure subvention from the next year.

Is it possible to reduce the cost of products in the hromada?

During the telecast, the presenter asked the guests of the programme whether it is possible to reduce the cost of products such as bread in the amalgamated hromada.

Maksym Tkach emphasised that the logic of the reform is not to set up AH’s own enterpises, but to provide the best possible infrastructure and services to the population and business. In this case, it will be easier for entrepreneurs to work in the hromada, and healthy competition as a process will do the business.

Igor Agibalov added that immediately after amalgamation hromadas think about ways to raise money for the restoration of vital infrastructure. In parallel, they think about reviving or launching a business.

Ideal step, but not yet practiced in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast, is to create an agricultural cooperative with fractional participation, when the authorities and business unite efforts, the LSG bodies provide premises and partial procurement, while an entrepreneur receives a grant from donors. Milk can be bought from the population as raw material at a price more favourable for people, and the final cost of production will be cheaper.

The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE

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