Prime Minister: We must protect and continue decentralisation
Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman outlined an action plan for protection and continuation of the decentralisation process, as indicated on the official Facebook page of the Head of Government.
"I came to work in the Government in 2014. Then we embarked on the course of major repair and restoration of Ukraine, one of these changes is the reform of decentralisation of power, the main goal of which is to give hromadas a chance to succeed. When we started decentralisation in 2014, there were a lot of skeptics. Many people wanted to stop us. Why was I supporting this reform so much? As a practicing mayor, I understood that without a successful local self-government system, there could be no change in Ukraine. We cannot do anything, if local hromadas are “squeezed” and if they do not have financial resources, powers. And most importantly, not even the amount of funds, but instruments,” wrote the Prime Minister.
He also noted that the country has established a system of partnership of central and local budgets. “The lion's share of the personal income tax, 75%, stays at the hromada and oblast level. This enables local authorities to better understand the problems and differences of regions, to plan their expenditures, since somewhere it is necessary to repair kindergartens and somewhere – to build more roads. This is the fundamental approach enabling hromadas to open their potential,” said Volodymyr Groysman.
He reminded that local budgets are directly dependent on the economy growth. "Therefore, we are constantly emphasising the importance of creating a high-quality business climate, simplifying procedures, and introducing smart regulations, that will allow local authorities to attract more companies, create more jobs, and legalise salaries. People have the right to retire and receive a decent well-earned pension. We need to make the economy strong. The victory here cannot be gained alone. It is very important to build an investment-friendly system from a basic hromada to the highest state level. It will mean that the economy will grow not only by more than 3%, as it is now, but by 5-7% or more. It is possible, everything produced by the economy will be reinvested by us in the quality of life of the citizens. All this is interconnected. The growth of the economy means welfare of Ukrainian hromadas. Hromadas’ welfare is the welfare and success of Ukraine,” the Prime Minister stressed.
The governor stressed that decentralisation should not be slowed down. "Today, we see that the system resists those willing to amalgamate. Somebody creates obstacles at the local level – either the rayon administration, or the rayon council. No one gave the right to stop people on their path to success. I address these rayons: why are you hampering the process of hromadas’ amalgamation, why do not you let people become wealthier, solve the problems of kindergartens, schools, hospitals, outpatient clinics? We have hundreds of examples of changes in quality of life in amalgamated hromadas. We work to accumulate resources, and not for them to be stored on the account, but to reinvest them in a new quality of people’s life,” said Volodymyr Groysman.
He emphasised that it is high time to update regional strategies and protect decentralisation in the Constitution. “In 2014-2015, we formed the entire legal framework for the establishment of regional development strategies, but in most cases the expenditures that are to be directed towards their implementation are directed at other goals. Strategies remain on paper, though they have clearly defined tasks the hromada is facing. Therefore, the issue of strategies’ updating is extremely important,” the Head of Government stressed.
He informed that he had recently set up a working group to work on updating the Concept of Local Self-Government Reform, not revised since 1 April 2014.
"Today we have to systematically approach the renewal of the plan of action. In course of 4 years we have obtained our own experience of success and mistakes. We have to take it into account so that for the next 5 years we do not just struggle for this reform, but make it more successful. And every Ukrainian citizen should benefit from it. Definitely, we cannot avoid amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine. We must ensure power distribution from the oblast to the hromada level based on the principle of subsidiarity. The amendments to the Constitution are the very protection of the reform for decades or, probably, even centuries to come. The time has come to implement these changes to make them irreversible. And all those who will prevent decentralisation must leave their state service and not hinder people’s success,” stressed the Prime Minister.
He noted that it is important for the future of Ukraine to continue to make changes. "For any reform, we face tremendous threats. These threats, both at the local and at the central level, are caused by the absolute populism and irresponsible rhetoric of politicians, who promise, but are not going to do anything. We not only carry out reforms, but also protect them. Everything positive done today in Ukraine is not an achievement of a certain politician. Every representative of local authorities, starting with hromada up to the regional level, makes his/her contribution every day. There are more successful examples and those we cannot be proud of – institutional weakness at the local level has its impact. However, I am deeply convinced that we are able to protect the changes and implement them further. We face complex challenges within difficult circumstances. Understanding this, we should clearly focus on the present and future of Ukraine. And the future of Ukraine is precisely that we have a chance and an opportunity to make the country really strong and developed. It depends on each of us,” said Volodymyr Groysman.
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