Development director of the recently established Association explains the agency’s priorities and speaks on how amalgamated territorial communities will benefit from joining it.
The idea behind the Association of amalgamated territorial communities stems from the need of the newly established communities to have their own platform where peer efforts can be consolidated. The changes come as part of the local self-government reform. “The needs and the problems of amalgamated communities very often differ from those of the ‘old school’ local self-governance. Interaction in the framework of the Association of amalgamated territorial communities (ATC) will help them coordinate their position as well as set a single dialogue with central authorities. Not speaking in one voice local self-governance is unlikely to get a strong position in the dialogue with central-level authorities,” said Ihor Abramiuk, development director, board member of the Association of amalgamated territorial communities during a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Abramiuk called upon the ATCs to join the Association.
Association was created in the end of November 2016. According to the statute it consists of local self-government bodies only. They exercise full control over the Association, it is them that it reports to. Association’s task is to interact with local self-government bodies at local and national level, to defend the interests of Association members as well as to render services to them. Association intends to establish partnership and unite efforts with all interested parties to accomplish reforms and form the single policy of Ukraine’s new local self-government. Currently the Association of amalgamated territorial communities includes 62 bodies of local self-government from 20 regions. Their membership was approved by the decision of Association’s board, decision as to the membership of three more ATCs is awaiting approval. About 30 communities are about to adopt respective decisions as to joining the Association.
Association has local status but may act all across Ukraine including in the regions that are not represented by Association members. Membership in the Association does not contradict the ATC membership in any other nationwide and local associations like the Association of cities or the Association of village- and town-level councils. Association’s basic principle is free will of its members, Ihor Abramiuk said.
Each region has a minimum of one representative in the Board, regardless of the fact how many communities from this region are Association members. The statute prohibits alliance based on political preferences within the Association. “Association members include heads of the ATCs whose political views are different, but when we speak on behalf of the Association, we leave all political differences behind,” Abramiuk said. The statute will stipulate the requirement on management rotation (it concerns the head and board members) as well as qualification requirements: the head and deputy heads have to be on their second term within the local self-governance bodies.
In its activities at the national level the Association will focus on legislation, prospects of communities’ amalgamation as well as on financial instruments pertaining to ATCs (the State Fund for Regional Development and subventions). At the regional level the focus will be on regional- and district-level budgets, development strategy for the region as well as on prospects of amalgamation. “According to the law local self-government bodies – regional- and local-level administration – are not authorized to adopt a single decision that has an impact on regional and local development without prior consultations with local self-government associations,” emphasized the development director of the Association of amalgamated territorial communities. The center that will service communities is planned to be established within the Association. In some of the communities the centers will also serve as pivotal points for exchange of experience between the ATCs.
Membership fee for a community under five thousand persons of population will be 1,000 hryvnias per year; 2,000 hryvnias for communities with population under 10 thousand persons; 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000 hryvnias fees will be applied to the communities comprising up to 15, 20 and 25 thousand persons respectively.
Ihor Abramiuk said that the Association has already signed a memorandum of cooperation with three regional associations of amalgamated territorial communities. “They are Zaporizhia-, Bukovyna- and Odesa-based. We start moving towards a multilateral agreement between associations of local self-governance bodies and of ATCs in the form of a congress. When the reform will reach the district and regional level, we will possibly expand the agreement to regional self-governance,” Abramiuk said.
The development director of the Association of amalgamated territorial communities said that the Association’s board had a meeting with Ukraine’s prime-minister Volodymyr Groysman on April 5. The Association and the government agreed to cooperate. Abramiuk mentioned that they reached agreement easily as the ATCs come as a result of reforms and are in line with the government’s reform strategy. “Prime-minister said that he supports the idea of local self-governance bodies uniting into associations. We hope that our communication with the government will be ongoing and fruitful. […] Association of ATCs may help increase efficiency of the local self-governance reform as well as help territorially arrange governance at the regional and local levels. It is for the benefit of both ATCs and the government,” he said.
Ihor Abramiuk noted that the Association is open for communication and cooperation with all who are working to make the reform advance and to the benefit of ATCs. The Association does not have a web site yet, all relevant information is available at its Facebook page.