Kyiv, June 25, 2015. Eastern regions of Ukraine are spearheading the process of introducing decentralization reform, said Hennadiy Zubko, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister and the Minister for Regional Development, Construction and Housing, at the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Mr. Zubko quoted the numbers of approved prospective plans for the territorial development – the document testifying that community as a basic self-sufficient decentralization reform unit was created. Almost all eastern regions are about to finalize the process, while the western regions are lagging behind. “We expected that western Ukraine would lead decentralization, which is the key reform on our pathway to Europe. But the leaders in the decentralization reform are eastern and southern regions of Ukraine,” Zubko noted.
Currently self-sufficient communities are formed on the voluntary basis according to the Law “On voluntary unification of local communities”. Local communities have to compile their prospective plans for territorial development and then adopt the strategy for the regional development; twelve Ukrainians regions have reached this point already.
Hennadiy Zubko noted the two documents – the prospective development plan and the regional development strategy – opens new opportunities for the local communities to fulfill the set targets at the cost of the State Fund for Regional Development that has 3 billion hryvnias. The funds are intended to support investments in the social infrastructure at the regional level.
Four regions are ready to be financed from the State Fund for Regional Development. “The mechanism of financing has been devised with the European experts to be as transparent and open as possible. Regional competitive commissions defined the list of objects that comply with all the criteria to apply for funding. The list was submitted for the parliamentary approval,” Vice Prime Minister Hennadiy Zubko said.
To illustrate the positive experience of such mechanism for funds distribution at work Hennadiy Zubko cited the example of the Rivne region: the region defined 40 projects to be implemented according to the prospective development plan and the strategy for regional development. The State Fund for Regional Development is going to provide 110 million hryvnias for these purposes.
Hennadiy Zubko noted that the decentralization reform was implemented by 46% as of June 2015. However, its further progress requires amendments to the Constitution, first of all in the part pertinent to powers of local authorities. Drafts of these changes are ready and reviewed by the Venice Commission. Zubko reassured that constitutional changes are going to be introduced to the Parliament soon.