During a study visit to Poland, organised by the U-LEAD with Europe Programme, representatives of AHs of the Zaporizhzhia and Kirovohrad Oblasts were able to communicate with Krzysztof Łątka, director of the non-investment projects’ fund of the Lublin City Council, on the Polish decentralisation experience. In particular, the discussion included the issues of the reform of the educational and healthcare systems, migration of the population, and territory development mainstays. The AH representatives also learned about the achievements of decentralisation in Poland, where the reform has been on for 27 years, and useful tips for Ukrainian hromadas.
“The goal of decentralisation is to transfer powers to the local level. When you have the powers in your hands, no politician can frighten you.”
“Principles of European donors’ work:
Bigger can do more. Large hromadas are more effective, therefore, it's worth using growth opportunities, moreover, they are foreseen by the Ukrainian legislation – accession, amalgamation, inter-municipal cooperation. Donors choose a larger hromada, because it provides more advantages, more people will benefit and get involved.
Therefore, in Poland, joint projects of several gminas, supported by the European Union programmes, are actively developing. Thus, 15 gminas have joined their efforts to construct a waste processing plant. In Jastkow, a fire safety centre with firefigters-volunteers was set upbringing together the efforts of the three gminas.
More for more. The European Commission is more interested in working with local self-government, and less with politics, wishing to invest in real change.”
“Schools are not premises, but human potential. In Poland, schools became managed by gminas eight years after decentralisation began. But it's better to do it right away.”
School closure is also possible. But there are companies that obtain licenses and take up the teaching of children in those schools that gmina is not able to maintain. Given that funding for the educational system is based on “money following a child” principle, the gmina allocates the fixed PLN 5200 per year per each pupil, further search for funds is the responsibility of the company.
“As part of the healthcare reform, an insurance fund was created in Poland. Unlike education, gmina bears no responsibility for provision of healthcare services. No hospital is financed from the local budget, only through an insurance fund. All family doctors are entrepreneurs. The gmina’s funds in this area go only for preventive measures (for example, dentists in schools), specialised group inspections (medical examinations) and vaccinations.”
“Migration of the population from village to city, from city to the capital, from country to country is widespread. But migration creates competition among employers not only at the level of salaries, but also in terms of work conditions.”
“The four mainstays of the gmina development strategy, which are closely interconnected with each component giving impulses to other areas, are as follows:
1) accessibility (transport and informational).
2) culture and education.
4) effective management, which implies the work of the administration, provision of high-quality and accessible administrative services, investment attraction, and introduction of innovative methods.
In the gmina sustainable development strategy priorities should be set forth exactly for development.
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