Kyiv, 8 April 2014 – “Federalization that is being forced upon us will lead to the collapse of our country”, said Volodymyr Groysman, Vice Prime-Minister of Ukraine, Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services, during a press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
He is convinced of the need to decentralize the power and believes that federalization as a way of development for Ukraine is unacceptable: “Federalization has become a widely discussed topic only because the previous government has built a tsarist system headed by one person with unlimited powers. People have begun to fear that one bad tsar will simply be replaced by another. Federalization will lead to local tsars appearing in the regions. Instead, we are talking about empowering the communities of each village, city and region to decide on the issues of their concern”.
According to Volodymyr Groysman, it is the decentralization idea that forms the basis of local self-governance reform. “The concept of local self-government development has already been adopted by the government as a political decision. In 2014 we are planning to complete all legislative work so that in 2015 we can implement all systemic changes to allow the local elections to be held in accordance with the new legislative framework”, said Mr. Groysman.
The approved concept envisages the creation of executive committees at the level of regions and districts (in addition to the city and village executive committees) and delegation of significant authority to local self-government bodies, including in the budget sphere. The Vice Prime-Minister says it is critical that part of the taxes stays in the regions, which will allow the local community to get involved in local economic development and independently determine the structure of spending on education, health care, infrastructure etc.
He noted that regional administrations will cease to exist the way they do now. “City state administrations or prefectures, as they are called in other countries, will be created. They will be headed by the people appointed by the central government. Basically, these will be lawyers who will make sure everyone complies with the law, including the local self-government bodies. They will also coordinate the work of governmental bodies (police, emergency services etc.), and take control of the territories in case of emergency”, the Vice Prime-Minister explained.
The Vice Prime-Minister for Regional Policy categorically condemned separatists’ provocations in the eastern regions of the country. “Separatism is a crime. We have a beautiful, united, integral, unitary state and no one has the right to stir division. The security and law enforcement authorities should react harshly to separatism. Everyone who calls for it should be brought to criminal responsibility”.
Answering a question about the improvement of housing and communal services, Volodymyr Groysman said that a way to overcome the overall discontent with the work of communal services would be to demonopolize the communal services market. Then every community in every house will be able to choose whose services to use by creating an apartment block co-owners association (OSBB) or self-government, or by transferring management functions to a third party.
Volodymyr Groysman is the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for Regional Policy, Minister of Regional Development, Construction and Housing and Communal Services. He has served as the mayor of Vinnytsya since 2006. He was also the Vice-President for Housing and Communal Services at the Association of Ukrainian Cities and Communities. He has a degree in law and public management.