The process of hromadas’ amalgamation now reaches the next deadline: those who will not be able to complete public discussions and amalgamation sessions by the beginning of August, will be late for the first elections in October.
Oleh Levchenko, director of the Vinnytsia Local Government Development Centre, established with the support of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme and MinRegion, told the Ukrinform who and why opposes the AH formation and what risks such opposition creates for the hromadas and the state as a whole.
- Why are we talking now about deadlines and why is it so important for AHs?
In order to ensure that the 2019 State Budget assigns financing of AHs in a separate line, the budgeting schedule must be taken into account – it is implemented only from the beginning of the new year. In order to make use of this opportunity, hromadas have to complete amalgamation process and reach the finish line by 1 August.
- Mr Levchenko, who is interested in delaying the reform? What is the reason for their opposition to AH formation?
- For example, at the rayon level, this may be a local administration or rayon council willing to preserve the rayon.
The second problem concerns the preservation of the situation around agrarian economic relations, and the Vinnytsia Oblast as a specialised region is a hostage to this situation.
The third part of the problem concerns village heads. My father was a village head for seven years, and I had been observing his work since childhood. Therefore, I understand well that every village head considers him/herself a master. But the village head has to think not only about the present but also about the future, to look at least 5-6 years forward!
- So what is waiting for us in the near future? What factors will work for hromadas’ amalgamation and what will prevent it?
- We have currently 8 rayons of the oblast with no AH established. Now we see the prospects of AH establishment in three of them. In general, the perspective plan of the Vinnytsia Oblast previews formation of 64-67 AHs, and 35 AHs have been formed in the oblast so far.
- Is it possible to improve the situation with hromadas’ amalgamation by new normative acts or discretionary decisions at the state level?
- Many village heads, even realising that amalgamation is inevitable, say: “We'll wait when they force us.” They hope that this will happen after the presidential or parliamentary elections.
We clearly admitted two important points. Where there is a smaller hromada and, consequently, less resources are concentrated, most funds in the shared basket are consumed by the costs of maintaining the apparatus and related issues. Accordingly, there are no visible changes in development. Where the hromada is larger in terms of population, territory and resources, successes are more prominent. Therefore, small hromadas, as experience shows, have to become large and wise, otherwise they will be forced to become part of a new hromada.
The U-LEAD with Europe Programme is co-funded by the European Union and its member countries Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Poland and Sweden, and supports the reform of decentralisation and its sectoral directions.
By Antonina Mnikh, Vinnytsia
Photo: Oleksandr Lapin
The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE
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