On July 28 and 29 panel discussions “Decentralization Reforms: Steps, Prospects, and Expected Results” took place in the cities of Sumy and Kharkiv under initiative and organizational support of the Swiss-Ukrainian project “Decentralization support in Ukraine” (DESPRO).

" /> Sumy and Kharkiv joined the series of public discussions on decentralization reforms
28.07.2015

Sumy and Kharkiv joined the series of public discussions on decentralization reforms

On July 28 and 29 panel discussions “Decentralization Reforms: Steps, Prospects, and Expected Results” took place in the cities of Sumy and Kharkiv under initiative and organizational support of the Swiss-Ukrainian project “Decentralization support in Ukraine” (DESPRO).

Participants of the discussion “Decentralization Reforms: Steps, Prospects, and Expected Results” included representatives of local self-government bodies, state authorities, non-governmental organizations, analytical centres, international organizations, as well as public opinion leaders and media from Sumy and Kharkiv oblasts. Both discussions were moderated by an honoured journalist of Ukraine, Anna Bezulyk.

The activities were targeted at discussion of constitutional changes in the context of decentralization and reformation of local self-government, impact of administrative and territorial reform upon development of local self-government, processes of adoption of prospective development plans, and involvement of all local authority levels in the process of territorial community amalgamation. Another task of the discussion was to consider opinions and proposals of local self-government representatives in the process of reform implementation, and include proposals coming from different authority levels.

 The most frequent questions, posed simultaneously by representatives of both Sumy and Kharkiv discussions concerned the role of prefects, their responsibility, and the procedures of their appointment, as well as problems, emerging on the way of territorial community amalgamation, and ways of their solution. “A prefect will be appointed by the President of Ukraine, candidacies will be presented by the Government. It is provided, that prefects shall be highly professional lawyers, selected on competitive basis, performing controlling and monitoring functions, and efficiently responding to decisions and acts, adopted by a local self-government body”, explained Igor Kolishko, the head of the Centre for political and legal reforms.

An opinion on the process of prospective plan adoption was given by Diana Barynova, head of the regional reform Office in Kharkiv oblast: “If strong initiative comes from communities, higher authorities must make compromises and introduce corrections into prospective plans”. Igor Kolishko responded: “True, a lawmaker cannot keep up with some communities, due to lack of legislative base. Nevertheless, the stronger the initiative “from below” is, the sooner we are able to implement an effective organization of the state”.

One of important achievements of the discussions was the definition of risks on for implementation of reforms on decentralization and administrative and territorial organization, as well as factors, which could facilitate this process. “The main risk is our inability to communicate to people, WHAT they are going to gain or lose as a result of amalgamation”, said Sergiy Chernov, head of Kharkiv oblast council. As for the factors, the experts’ opinion is unanimous: the basic factors, which can influence the process of reform implementation, are provision of legal support to unifying communities, and ensuring of effective informational follow-up by the statе, in order to raise awareness of the reforms among representatives of authorities, local self-government bodies, and citizens.

 “I advise all local self-government representatives not to sit and wait for someone to do everything for them, but to go to people and tell, explain, propose – that is how effective self-government works”, said Lyudmyla Damentsova, deputy director of the department of local self-government and territorial organization of authority of the Ministry of regional development, construction, and housing and communal services of Ukraine.