Andrei Lubenski: Constitution hinders the development of local self-government

If the constitution had not been passed, local self-government in Ukraine would have had more chances for development. This paradoxical statement has been made in the city of Cherkassy by Valeri Asadchev, the head of local budgets sub-committee of the Supreme Rada’s Budget Committee. According to him, a law about local self-government of 1991 gave more chances in this sense. This law was the subject of a regional conference in Cherkassy “Attainments and Perspectives of Local Self-government: Aspects of International Co-operation," organized by “Ukraine-USA” fund and by Ukraine-USA program “Partnership of Communities." At the conference, representatives of regional communities and of local self-governments from 28 cities took part, as well as officials of the President Administration, of the Supreme Rada and of Association of Ukrainian Cities. The aim of such an impressive meeting was, according to the participants, the exchange of experience and the detailed discussion of local self-government’s issues. At the press-conference that took place the first day of the conference, the question was namely about the issues. It turned out that there are much more troubles than gains. As for the perspectives, they do not inspire the participants with optimism. According to executive director of Association of Ukrainian Cities, Viktor Kravchenko, the legislation is not perfect, so only a third of the 30 thousand local communities try to realize their rights by registering de jure. And only one-tenth of them can really do something de facto. The main reason for this situation is that there is no financial base for local communities to realize their congizance. As a matter of fact, there is no money today even to pay salary to local self-government’s workers, which is a result a kind of decoration in Ukraine. Conflicts between local administrations and councils have become usual, and the situation will remain the same as long as we have this power dualism. Valeri Assadchev stressed that a fatal blow for self-government was the constitutional fixing of state administrations, which practically became executive bodies of local councils, while that is nonsense. A chance to change the situation appeared after Budget Code was passed, on whose base a reform of inter-budget relations must be carried out. The budget pyramid, which exists now, will be ruined, while self-government will become financially independent and will realize its duties (the main of them is servicing to people’s interests). As a matter of fact, state administrations have only the right to create programs and allot subventions, so they finally will be out of the business. However, this is only a dream. According to the deputy, when even the best laws simply are not kept, “usurpers” will not give up their positions. Hopefully, the Ukrainian people will demonstrate “political will” and will manage to protect their legal interests.

Andrei Lubenski PRAVDA.Ru Ukraine

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