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Head of Omelnyk UTC: Decentralization is not a panacea, it is an opportunity to work and develop 

Kyiv, June 22, 2017.

Decentralization is not a panacea at all. But it is a way for self-realization of a community and its members. In 2016, Omelnyk United Territorial Community of Poltava region implemented 34 projects with the total value of UAH 13 million. And each hryvnia of community budget attracted six times more investment funds. Today, the community has a new purpose – the creation of industrial parks, said Oleksandra Sheremetieva, head of Omelnyk UTC, at a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center within the framework of UCMC project “Spokespersons of communities”. “You should not think that we expect the state to give us a candy and we will be enriching at its expense. We saw a way to self-realization for every community member. We need industrial parks in our community. It is necessary to create bifurcation points for community economic development. Our children, who are studying abroad, helped us write a draft project for EU funds,” said Ms. Sheremetieva.

The land issue remains the most painful. The community allocated 90 hectares of land for an industrial park, but its head is not sure that the land will not disappear when it comes to implementing the project. “We wrote a letter to the State Service of Ukraine for Geodesy, Cartography & Cadastre informing that these 90 hectares will go to an industrial park, but I cannot guarantee that we will reach the shore, that Europe will give us funds and the State Service will not give this land to anyone,” stressed Ms. Sheremetieva. The only solution is to pass a law so that communities can dispose of land outside of settlements. “Communities should dispose of land not only within settlements but also outside their borders, within the administrative territory of the community. But land is a very ‘delicate issue’, and it will be difficult to solve it. We hope only for common sense,” noted Ms. Sheremetieva.

Another star project launched by Omelnyk united territorial community is the Lyceum of the future. “The State Fund for Reconstruction and Development has allocated funds to this project. The total allocated budget amounts to UAH 26 million. It is designed for three years,” she added. Of 13 million 967 thousand hryvnias spent in 2016, the community invested only 970 thousand from its budget. “Each invested hryvnia yielded six extra-budgetary hryvnias. We were cooperating not only with the state but also with DESPRO, GIZ, UNDP, major Ukrainian enterprises such as Ukrnafta, which built us a water main. The community invested its money, and then we won UAH 234 thousand for our projects from the regional budget,” explained Oleksandra Sheremetieva.

The villages in the community receive funding in accordance with the projects they have submitted. “On January 1, 2016, we announced that if no projects are submitted as of June 1, instead of losing public funds, we will launch the projects available in the community. The following picture emerged in the end of the year: UAH 6.2 million was used by Omelnyk, UAH 2.7 million – by Rokytne and UAH 1.6 million – by Demydiv village councils. We got as much as we projected. This year we have already planned everything, everyone has already prepared their projects “, – said the head of the UTC. Ms. Sheremetieva urges all the settlements that want to join Omelnyk community “to work, work and work again to achieve the result”. “Many people do not want decentralization to take place. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that we, the authorities, do not explain it properly. We say that this is a panacea, and it will save Ukraine. Instead, we should say that it is a concentration of resources allowing the communities to develop. Now we are controlling how money is spent, for example, in the healthcare sector. That is why not everyone welcomes this. […] The dogs can bark, but the caravan keeps going. If we do not stumble over some political factor, rural communities will develop in two or three years,” stressed Ms. Sheremetieva.

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