Kyiv, November 2, 2015. “The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should soon adopt a number of draft laws that will allow voluntarily united communities to make the most of new opportunities provided by decentralization reforms,” said experts and representatives of local governments at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the Ukraine Reforms Media Center project .
Anatoliy Tkachuk, Director of Civil Society Institute Science and Development Department, reported that elections to local councils have been held in 159 out of over a thousand voluntarily united communities. According to Mykola Fursenko, Head of the All-Ukrainian Association of Village and Settlement Councils, 35 percent of councils have changed their leaders. Staffing updates during the process of transforming local government is a challenge to the reform, so the government should provide assistance to new personnel. “New people have come and they do not know where to start. We should promptly involve them in the processes of decentralization, they need training., This is impossible to do without the state support,” said Fursenko.
Tkachuk also believes that advisory centers (Rapid Response Teams) to assist voluntarily united communities have to work in all regional centers. “A lot of pressing issues arise, so we suggest creating so-called anti-crisis centers in each region. They should employ experts, financial and registration authorities, so they can quickly and efficiently provide assistance to united communities. They will also provide quick feedback to the authorities in terms of certain legislative imperfections,” said the expert.
Tkachuk emphasized that throughout November and December voluntarily united communities should create new authorities to implement new functions (granted under the decentralization reform) and eliminate those that were in place before. Inventory of property, dismissing people, launching new executive bodies and their formation on a competitive basis – all of this should be implemented so that starting January 1, 2016 voluntarily united communities could have the same opportunities as cities of regional importance. In addition, the newly created community authorities have to solve a number of issues. Currently they do not have any guidelines how to do this. These must be determined by law. In particular, it is necessary to define the status of land, because now there is a legal conflict, when a united community cannot actually manage the land, located within its borders on one side, and outside on the other. “The basis for the existence of village communities is land. Most communities do not have master plans. Communities are actually removed from disposal of land, especially outside the settlements. This facilitates corruption. To improve the situation, it is necessary to amend the Land Code and enable the community to dispose of their property,” says Fursenko.
Separation of powers between local authorities (“old” communities and newly formed) also needs legislative regulation. “We have prepared draft laws for each of such challenges. The Parliament and the executive power should propose solutions as soon as possible,” summed up Tkachuk.