Kyiv, August 14, 2015. As of the 14th of August, almost eighty new communities have been established in Ukraine, each capable of holding elections for local self-governing authorities; elections which will take place on October 25, as governed by the decisions of regional councils, informed Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Utilities Hennadiy Zubko during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in conjunction with the center’s project, Ukrainian Media Center of Reforms.
“In general, we expect that more than 200 communities will hold these local elections this year. Despite all the skepticism surrounding decentralization reforms and attempts to postpone it for 2-3 years, the high engagement amongst the populace is evident. Issues like the budget, property management, impending changes in educational and health care institutions, as well as public safety at the local level are of interest to them,” said Hennadiy Zubko.
The unification of territorial communities is taking place within the context of decentralization reform and is regulated by Ukrainian law regarding the voluntary association of territorial communities, and is expected to take two years. The unification aims at creating capable and self-sufficient communities.
Local elections will be held on October 25, 2015. To ensure that they take place in unified communities, according to law the regional councils should adopt the necessary decisions regarding elections by August 15, 2015. Therefore, as of now, on October 25th local elections will be held for the first time in nearly eighty newly- formed unified communities, including those which are located on the front-line area of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“It is very important for us that the new communities should begin the new year with both new executive bodies and new opportunities, and should demonstrate a new quality of life for their citizens. This will be the main catalyst for the rest of the communities who are in no hurry to unite. As for the elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, they should be held with regards for public safety. If we can find an appropriate solution to ensure safety, elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions – in the areas controlled by Ukraine – will be held,” stated Hennadiy Zubko.
The impetus for association, first and foremost, is a number of financial priorities that the unified and self-sufficient communities obtain. Among other things, the budgets of unified communities will be changed to direct budgetary relations from allocation from the state budget. In general, these communities will receive powers similar to those that regionally important cities have. “Additionally, we transfer the functions from state architectural and building inspection to the local level. Today, according to the conclusions of the governmental committee, we have prepared seven draft resolutions and one order on this issue. This enables services rendered by these inspections to be provided for citizens at their locations – at local administrative service centers as of September 1st. We are also preparing a draft law regulating land disposal within the boundaries of new unified communities,” informed Hennadiy Zubko.
The Vice Prime Minister noted that after the association and approval of future development plans, the territorial communities will have access to financing by both the Fund for Regional Development (3 billion hryvnias at its disposal in 2015) and by the Energy Efficiency Fund, which will become active as of 2016.