Roman Semenukha: Financial decentralization must be continued, otherwise we will be in trouble

When it comes to financial decentralization in the draft state budget for 2018, prepared by the government, all we can see is an actual robbery of local communities. Samopomich MP Roman Semenukha believes that such a policy throws Ukraine several years back and jeopardizes almost the only real reform of the current parliament – the financial decentralization adopted in 2014.

“Perhaps for the first time in the history of Ukraine’s independence, many cities and communities finally had the money to repair their schools, kindergartens, roads, medical institutions,” Roman Semenukha says. “However, the draft budget for the next year transfers additional and irrelevant costs to cities and communities. While the tax base of local communities does not increase in any way.”

Thus, for example, it will cost local governments 8 billion hryvnias to cover the total debt of the population for housing and communal services, and they will have to spend about 7 billion on payment of benefits for housing and communal services to the appropriate categories of citizens.

Also, local budgets will have to find means to cover the underfunding of the medical subvention in the amount of 7 billion hryvnias and an educational subvention of about 4.5 billion hryvnias.

Roman Semenukha adds, “Every city in Ukraine will be surviving this budget terror, offered by the government for us, in a different way. For example, in 2018, Kharkiv will be forced to reduce its development budget by almost 2 billion hryvnias, Dnipro – by 700 million, Lviv – by almost 0.5 billion, Zaporizhia – by almost a billion, Odesa – 670 million, Mykolayiv – slightly less than 0,5 billion, Zhytomyr – 300 million, Bila Tserkva – 350 million.”

The MP is convinced there has never been such a total robbery of the communities’ budgets and, respectively, of people in the entire history of modern Ukraine. Given this, the Samopomich faction has appealed to the councils of big and small cities. In their responses, local officials protest against the government’s suggested policy and say that budgetary decentralization must not be curtailed.

“The truth is one and only: if Ukraine has powerful cities and communities, there will be a strong country. Any robbery of people and local budgets by the central authorities results in a disaster. Therefore, we must prevent this, and financial decentralization must go on,” Roman Semenukha concludes.

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