Tunnel of Love attracts investment in hromada
The Klevanska amalgamated hromada in the Rivne Oblast was recognised by experts as one of the most financially self-sufficient in Ukraine
“We certainly have weighed all the pros and cons, calculated in detail how and at the expense of which funds we will live in the new status of an amalgamated hromada. Since we understood well our, so to speak, uniqueness: for example, infrastructure subvention is calculated by a formula in which a key component is the rural population number. So we knew that we will live at the expense of our own funds, almost without a “carrot” from the state, that already amounted to several million a year in other newly established AHs,” reminds Dmytro Zhovtyanskyi, head of the Klevanska amalgamated hromada. “Instead, our main “carrot” was 60 percent of personal income tax, which early last year, since our transfer to direct relations with the state budget, have remained in the local treasury. And it surely beats what we had before.”
It is clear that the main current task for the hromada leaders is to intensify business environment by creating favourable conditions for investors.
And then suddenly ... the Tunnel of Love – already a world known natural phenomenon – helped.
The matter is that the Klevan village council (even without the AH status) submitted the Tunnel of Love infrastructure improvement project to the competition of the State Fund for Regional Development: the number of tourists who came to the most romantic place in Ukraine, popularised over the Internet, grew exponentially. And the project won, receiving 550 thousand from the state budget. The council added another 150 000 from its own budget. They arranged parking near the tunnel, a playground and shopping stalls.
Romance the tourists come for, revealed the talents of local residents. The visitors saw the work of the tourist information office, recently opened in Klevan. There are 7 such offices in the Rivne Oblast, since it stakes on tourism.
“Over a month our Tunnel of Love, which is among the ten prominent tourist destinations of the area, is visited by 20 to 40 thousand tourists,” says Yaroslava Havrylova, deputy head of the Culture and Tourism Department of the Oblast State Administration. “These are travellers from different countries, but most are Chinese, so the locals reorient the cuisine and even learn Chinese, I'm not kidding.”
Therefore, having analysed tourist flow, local authorities have established paid parking in the hromada since August. Two hryvnias – little money, but penny and penny laid up will be many.
These funds are spent also on garbage removal and maintenance of the Tunnel of Love, since an extremely colorful business card should be presentable whatever the weather.
“We received an effect when one plus one equals three,” says Dmytro Zhovtyanskyi.
The Klevanska AH has recently welcomed participants of the Ukpol international project, implemented together with partners from a well-known Wydminy gmina, having received the European grant.
Now with Polish partners they are developing a plan to revive the castle of Princes Chartoryiski that is among a hundred wonders of Ukraine.
“Klevan is a settlement where you want to live,” says Nati, local resident, who kindly shows me around the settlement. “Just look how many shops we have – for every taste and budget. There is enough work for the youth as well. For example, I work as a seamstress – sew bags at a private entrepreneur, my husband produces furniture. What’s the reason to move abroad?”
Hromada residents were offered to participate in the public budget of 600 thousand. Winning projects are selected by the AH residents through direct voting: by the end of the year they will be funded (with 50 thousand per each) and implemented.
The hromada reduced a single tax rate for entrepreneurs of the largest second group from 20 to 15 percent. So their number in the AH increased to five hundred over the year.
This is recognised in the expert community: in the 2018 the Klevanska AH was among the ten most financially capable in Ukraine in the second group.
However, they are not going to stop and see their tomorrow in the hromada extension, for example, by amalgamating with with Zhobryn village council, that has a “Chervona Kalyna” sanatorium on its territory.
By the way
The Klevanska AH was formed on 29 October 2017, and switched to direct interbudgetary relations at the beginning of 2018. It has a population of 11.6 thousand people and an area of 63.5 square kilometres. The most powerful local budget donors include Orzhiv woodworking plant, which employs 2.5 thousand specialists, Klevan forestry, LLC Color 7, Olisma company, military unit, feed mill, 500 private entrepreneurs.
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