As it Appears, Decentralization isn’t Real!

Authorities Through the Eyes of an Honest Official
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Tue.Oct. 2018
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As it Appears, Decentralization isn’t Real!

In this country, since its independence, nothing has been done in the interests of the state and people. All decisions and laws have been made under a specious pretext in the interests of specific individuals or a group of individuals that have been in power.

When it was necessary to tear the post-Soviet property apart, they split the land and collective farms, conducted privatization, issued vouchers by buying them on the cheap, the right people became property owners. Now, when it’s necessary to sell the land to the Chinese or transnational agricultural holdings, they say the opposite – let’s create a state land bank and consolidate “unused shares” and heritage, buy the land back to the state ownership.

And, of course, let’s create a free land market, so that any farmer could freely dispose of their property and get a decent price for it. Do you remember vouchers and how freely the majority of citizens disposed of its shares in companies and what the decent price was? A bottle of vodka in most cases.

When they needed accountability and control over local councils, they conducted unbundling of village councils and districts (divide and rule). And now, when the prospect of new loans failed miserably, they sang the opposite – a song about “unification and consolidation of communities”. Not for the people’s sake, just because they ran out of money. Because the state simply ran out of money. And the state is no longer capable of maintaining the old infrastructure. And thus, instead of 4 clinics there should be left just one, instead of 3 schools and kindergartens – one of each, with similar actions to be taken regarding other utility companies and its personnel. And pass it all on the balance sheets of local councils. Can’t maintain something? Shut it down!

That is the meaning of the “medical reform” that has destroyed networks of primary health care facilities in several regions and exacerbated the health care problem in Ukraine. And then it gradually turned into a flawed concept of “decentralization” on a nationwide scale.

Decentralization is good. We are for decentralization. At last, there will be effective managers that will be motivated to do a resource inventory and direct their efforts towards break-even, no subsidies, towards making money for development (maintaining schools and hospitals, and perhaps building new ones). We will attract investment or create conditions for new businesses, in order to collect more taxes for the development of our regions. Earn it yourself – spend it yourself. Live within your means! Right?
— No, no! Continue to credit taxes to Kyiv! That’s where decentralization doesn’t apply. We know best how to allocate them correctly! Why do you even say such nonsense?

That includes the hyped environmental tax (“most of which shall remain in the local budgets”), of which the village council will only receive 25%.
And the rest of the money the regional council, just like last year, will spend on “garbage trucks, snowplows and tree trimming equipment”. That means Yelizovetovka (and other villages) will be littered, and at this expense, for instance, Dnepropertovsk will solve its housing and utility problems that are in no way related to environment in general and environment of our village in particular.

On the environmental tax
The new Law “On amendments to the Budget Code of Ukraine concerning the earmarking of environmental tax”, which came into force on 1 January 2016, resumes the effect of the old regulations. That means the revenues from environmental taxes will be credited not to the general, but to the special fund of the state and local budgets. And the proportions of these revenues remain the same. In particular:
20% of the environmental tax is credited to the special fund of the state budget of Ukraine (except for the environmental tax which is charged for the creation of radioactive waste or its temporary storage in excess of the period established by license and is credited to the special fund of the state budget in its entirety);
80% of the environmental tax is credited to the special fund of local budgets (except for the environmental tax which is charged for the creation of radioactive waste or its temporary storage in excess of the period established by license and is credited to the special fund of the state budget in its entirety), including 25% — to the rural, town and city budgets, the budgets of united territorial communities;
55% — to the regional budgets (and the budget of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea);
80% — to the budget of Kyiv (and Sevastopol).
The funds of local and state environmental protection funds can be used only for financial support of the implementation of environmental protection measures. As well as measures for complying with the environmental safety standards, reducing the effects of pollution on human health, — as stated in the Law.

The state is no longer capable of maintaining the aging housing fund, putting all further expenses on the shoulders of its owners by establishing the Law “On peculiarities of ownership realization in apartment buildings”.

One can give many more examples, the sense of which is one — it’s a statement of the fact that the bankrupt state simply ran out of money. However, as in the joke about the alcoholic dad and his son, it stubbornly refuses to “drink less”. It is you, the state tells us, who will eat less.

I have always said and keep saying that true independence and genuine decentralization starts with budgets! And what is happening now is fake: all the income goes to Kyiv, all the expenses go to local governments.

голосной1And the authorities solve another “problem”. Self-awareness and civic engagement of the people is increasing. Deputies and mayors are not nearly as controllable as before. Some of them even allow themselves to have a personal opinion! In order to tame the obstinate, the resources tap must be in the same hands: it can be closed if necessary — for some it will be a budget tap, for others – a gas one.

By the way, energy decentralization is still to come. And it would be better if we started it ourselves…

Maxim Golosnoy

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