The law on accession of hromadas to cities of oblast significance, adopted on 3 April 2018, opens up new opportunities for the development of territories and decentralisation in general, said Vyacheslav Nehoda, First Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services, on the air of the Ukrainian Radio.
"Why should cities and neighbouring villages amalgamate? Residents of the villages, surrounding cities, work mainly in the city. They use educational, healthcare and other services there, as well as transport and infrastructure. At the same time, the city and villages are different legal entities. Thus, there is a question of financing joint infrastructure, services, roads, transport, and so on. Amalgamation into a single powerful hromada, on the one hand, will bring suburban areas to the living standards and quality of services, provided in the city, and on the other hand, will give cities additional resources, territories to develop business, tourism, other services. Therefore, there is a mutual benefit," believes Vyacheslav Nehoda.
The main objective of this draft law is to enable cities and neighbouring villages and urban-type settlements to develop together, become economically strong, able to effectively solve all the problems that arise on their territory, provide high-quality accessible services to the residents.
"The law envisages a simplified procedure of amalgamation of cities with the surrounding hromadas – without holding early elections. This is both politically and economically feasible. We understand that large cities are not very interested in going to the early elections in the inter-election period. Therefore, of course, they are not motivated to complete amalgamation procedure. The accession law removes this obstacle," said Vyacheslav Nehoda.
At the same time, he emphasised the voluntary nature of the accession process. "Someone starts to speculate on this, but it's important to understand that the decision to join is made voluntarily by both the city and the hromada accessing it. Noone has the right to force to amalgamation. That should be a conscious, economically grounded decision of all the participants," said the First Deputy Minister.
In his opinion, amalgamation cannot be unprofitable in a financial sense. All amalgamated hroamdas receive more opportunities, more resources, as well as state support, investors' attention and international projects. But in the sense of retaining the positions of officials, some people may really dislike it.
"All heads of hromadas have already understood the benefits of amalgamation. We have the experience of the first urban AHs established, where both rural and urban residents receive better services, have better infrastructure, roads etc. The trust in local government is much higher. Therefore, for hromada leaders, who are really concerned about the development of their territories, this law is a chance to make their hromadas successful. Where they think only about positions, they will lose time and opportunity," said Vyacheslav Nehoda.
He also emphasised that the residents of cities and villages are most interested in amalgamation, because they will receive better services and efficient management of their hromadas. "Therefore, residents must also push local authorities to such a solution. They have to think about the hromada they will live in, and not whether the head and deputies are comfortable in their positions," said the First Deputy Minister.
It should be noted that on 3 April 2018, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted draft law No 6466 on the voluntary accession of hromadas to cities of oblast significance, allowing hromadas to simplify the procedure of joining cities of oblast significance, in the second reading and as a whole.
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