" /> e-Learning Course “Local Budgets in the Context of the Budgetary Process Reform” has been completed

e-Learning Course “Local Budgets in the Context of the Budgetary Process Reform” has been completed

In late December 2014, the Verkhovna Rada introduced amendments to the Budget and Tax Codes of Ukraine in order to enhance the role of local budgets and to strengthen them through redistribution of incomes and expenditures between the budgets of different levels. To bring the information about these innovations to those interested, the Swiss-Ukrainian Decentralization Support Project DESPRO and the Ukrainian Association of Rayon and Oblast Councils have jointly organized a new e-course “Local Budgets in the Context of the Budgetary Process Reform”, which took place on the DESPRO web-platform Community of Practice: Innovations and Best Practices in LSG from March 4 to April 4, 2015.

The e-course was aimed at helping the representatives of local (self-government) authorities to understand the theoretical and practical innovation in the legislation regarding the formation and execution of local budgets, their Treasury servicing, execution of financial supervision, implementation of public-private partnership in terms of fiscal decentralization of the budgetary process.

The e-course “Local Budgets in the Context of the Budgetary Process Reform” consisted of five modules:

·         local budgets under decentralization of power;

·         programmed & target budgeting method for improving the performance of local government expenditures;

·         organization of the local budget implementation: specific issues of treasury servicing for local budgets;

·         state financial control in the context of the budgetary process reform of local budgets and decentralization of power;

·         public-private partnerships as a tool for meeting the interests of local communities related to the provision of public services and generation of additional revenues of local budgets.

Traditionally for the learning activities within the Community of Practice, there were Expert and Legal Advice Rooms operating during the period of the e-course running. The participants had an opportunity to get answers to their questions about local budget planning and forming relationships between the state budget and the local ones; remuneration of labour and labour relations in budgetary institutions; planning and use of the special fund costs from local budgets; filling in declarations of property, income, expenses and financial obligations for 2014; authorities of local governments in the area of land relations; separation of powers between local councils and their executive bodies. This is not the exhaustive list of issues discussed by experts, legal advisors and participants: although the forums stopped functioning with the end of the e-course their archives continue being accessible.

At the beginning of the course, the expected results defined by the course organizers and authors included the following: understanding the ideology of the budgetary process reforms and inter-budgetary relationships through decentralization of power and their implementation mechanisms; gaining proficiency in current regulatory framework related to the functioning of local budgets and their execution, implementing the state financial control; obtaining expert advice for making qualified and lawful managerial decisions on managing financial resources of local budgets etc. But the final feedback from the participants at the end of the course showed that the participants obtained much more from the course.

People from different regions, both from small villages and large cities, officials at various levels of government and local authorities, representatives of public enterprises and institutions, active representatives of local communities took part in the learning process according to the program and communication between each other. The e-course brought together practitioners trying not only to effectively carry out their work, but also to change the country for the better. Exchange of experience, discussions on the communities’ development, establishing cooperation and networking – this is just a tiny part of what the participants had the opportunity to get on the platform.

Each participant could choose the most convenient time to study theoretical materials, go through practical exercises, take tests, and communicate in forums. In the forums under the generic title “Are local authorities ready for budget reform?” the participants had an opportunity to discuss the issues they were interested in and initiated themselves. The e-course forums have become a kind of a platform for considering various aspects related to the decentralization of power and local self-government reform, amalgamation of territorial communities, cooperation of territorial communities, administrative and territorial reformation, innovation activities of servants during the reformation, the ‘availability status’ of local authorities to budget reform and others.

Overall 216 participants have completed the e-course successfully. Nazar Kosarevych, an e-course participant, mentioned that “...communication with participants in the forums was of greatest efficiency and usefulness, because people were discussing not only the issues within the course program, but they also shared their advices and ideas. No wonder they say: opinions differ”. Another feedback: "Thank you!!! It was very informative and helpful! I have received a lot of positive emotions and really necessary knowledge that I need in my work! I would never read the majority of those resolutions and laws myself! I wish there were more courses like that! My willingness to study is huge!!!” - writes Olena Ryzhyk.

Although the e-course “Local Budgets in the Context of the Budgetary Process Reform” has come to an end, the Community of Practice continues functioning, and everyone can learn from the best practices of experts and participants in the IdeaLab section: laboratory of best practices in local self-government! To do this, please visit http://mx.despro.org.ua:8081/, register on the web-platform Community of Practice and enrol in the e-course “IdeaLab” that is continuously operating. See you there!

Yuliya Lozyuk, e-Course Facilitator