Lobbying and potatoes: why hromadas sometimes do not amalgamate
The DESPRO debates on “Why should hromadas amalgamate?” were held in the village of Kelmentsi, administrative centre of the rayon with no AH established so far. Decentralisation.gov.ua tried to find out why the rayon is at the tail-end of the reform.
By Dmytro Synyak
The debates in Kelmentsi, held by the Swiss-Ukrainian project “Decentralisation Support in Ukraine” (DESPRO) were remembered by a few moments.
Firstly, there were no people in the hall who would oppose amalgamation as such. All those present assured that they needed to amalgamate and they expressed their support of the process, but they always found some nuances, why it should not be done right now. “Let's wait until the Verkhovna Rada accepts all the necessary laws!”, “Let the government amalgamate hromadas!”, “Let us think for a few years, because in no country the reform was so fast!” Human imagination knows no bounds, and the debates in the Kelmentsi completely confirmed this statement.
Secondly, in no other place (and DESPRO has already conducted similar debates in the urban-type settlement of Krasnokutsk in the Kharkiv Oblast, as well as the cities of Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast, and Ivano-Frankivsk) did the participants refer to the central government so persistently, saying that it has to give everything to hromadas, provide laws, information, money, consultants, and only then those hromadas may consider whether or not to amalgamate. Sometimes these appeals sounded like jokes.
The lobbying of “respectable people”, of course, remains behind the scenes. And those, who defend their interests, have to invent the problems that “terrible decentralisation” allegedly brings to people. At the same time opponents of the reform traditionally differ by catastrophic ignorance in the subject.
It is not a secret that people are generally passive, and it's easy for a village head to convince them of one or another way. He, however, may not be in a hurry to persuade people, complaining about their weakness and passivity. Especially if he was requested by “respectable people”.
“When the rayon purchases potato for all schools, this is one story,” Anatoliy Tkachuk tried to explain the benefits of amalgamation. “And when the hromada buys potato for the school, where children from this hromada study, then it is a completely different situation. If a farmer sells rotten potato to the hromada, he will not get away with it. And if the rayon acts like this, everyone will lift hands in dismay: “Well, this is just a kind of potato sent to us, what can we do?”
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