Pechenizhyn unified territorial community of Ivano-Frankivsk region is the first community that united under the auspices of decentralization in Ukraine. After this the community’s income increased from UAH 4 million to UAH 8.6 million, and including subventions it is 12 times as much, up to UAH 60 million. An average of UAH 850,000 was spent on the development of each village in the unified community. Igor Dovirak, head of the Pechenizhyn unified territorial community of Ivano-Frankivsk region, reported on the balanced money distribution and the community’s plans to attract investment at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center under UCMC project “Spokespersons of communities”.
The community’s fixed assets were used to “patch holes”. “As a manager, I’m not satisfied. But I have to be a politician as well. I have 26 deputies, communities of all villages, and every opinion should be taken into account. As a manager, I would have acted differently, but I have to listen to the actual needs and think how to apportion the money,” he said. Now the community is working to attract extra-budgetary money.
Last year, the community submitted 15 projects to the State Fund for Reconstruction and Development, but they did not pass, and the local “people’s representatives” were also involved in this failure. This year, another six projects are being prepared, including a project to create jobs. “This year we have submitted six projects, and I hope that there will be a transparent pattern for the selection of these projects. The Ministry of Regional Development wants to take care of community development, we should work to raise the quality, and for this purpose we have created a department of economy and investments,” said Mr. Dovirak.
The unique location of the region makes it possible to get the most out of cross-border cooperation. The contracts Ukraine signed with the Western neighbors in this area have powerful EU funding. Pechenizhyn community has both experience of managing local budget and their own developments: the approved community development strategy to 2025 and the study of the quality of life and public cooperation with the authorities. “We have submitted to the European Commission our Conceptual application for a huge funding equal to our annual budget. I am aware of the level of competition; however, we will try. By March, we will have known whether they choose us or not,” said Mr. Dovirak.
It is at the stage of investment search and writing applications that the community faced the lack of personnel. Although the mountain areas provide higher salaries and other bonuses, it is not that easy to find specialists. “There is a lack of specialists in this area, there are very few of them at the regional level. […] I believe that we should not be afraid to train personnel, engage good university students. If there is will, they can get well trained in a couple of months. At the same time, an experienced lawyer has the skills and has to be convinced all the time to change the working style he is used to,” explained Mr. Dovirak.