At the “Start of New Partnership: Mid-Term Results and Memorandums Signing Ceremony” conference, held on 5 March in Kyiv, 122 hromadas from 24 regions of Ukraine signed Memorandums of Understanding with the U-LEAD with Europe implementers – NIRAS Sweden AB and SKL International – on creating and modernizing Administrative Service Centres (ASCs).
According to Memorandums, 122 well-functioning* ASCs are to be created or modernized in hromadas during the next nine months. Over 2 million Ukrainians will receive access to quality administrative services after efficient Centres will be opened in hromadas.
Hennadii Zubko, Vice Prime Minister – Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Utilities of Ukraine congratulated the Heads of hromadas with the start of partnership: «The ASC network development is a marker of the decentralization reform success, which brings a quality service closer to people. Last year more than 15 million Ukrainians used the services of modern ASCs which brought an additional UAH 2.9 billion to local budgets. If you count the money and services, it brings power closer to the people and changes the face of power. I would like to thank our partners from the U-LEAD with Europe Programme for supporting the reform and providing comprehensive assistance to development of the ASCs network in the hromadas».
Lev Partskhaladze, Deputy Minister of Regional Development, Construction, Housing and Communal Services of Ukraine participated in the Memorandum Signing Ceremony on behalf of the Ministry.
Stefan Schleuning, Head of Cooperation Programmes at the EU Delegation to Ukraine, also greeted hromadas on behalf of the European Union and stated: ‘The European Union comprehensively supports Ukraine in implementing decentralization reform, strengthening the hromadas’ capabilities in various areas of governance. The decentralisation reform is a key reform, because it is about a core principle of the European Union, namely subsidiarity. It means the commitment to solve social and political issues as close to citizens as possible. The way people receive administrative services in hromadas is an extremely important criterion for development of local self-government. The accessibility and quality of administrative services in hromadas is one of the key factors of the success and capacity of local authorities’.
All 122 hromadas will receive comprehensive support from the Programme: its experts will help the hromadas both institutionally and physically. In addition, over 3,000 future ASCs’ employees and hromadas’ leaders will undergo training specifically developed by the Programme’s Swedish and Ukrainian experts for specialists providing services to the residents.
Martin Hagström, Swedish Ambassador to Ukraine, highlighted that up to 600 well-functioning ASCs will be established during the Roll-Out Phase, 26 of which have already been opened during the Programme’s Inception Phase: ‘I am proud that Sweden is part of this endeavour. As one of the most decentralized countries in the world, with a well-established tradition of strong and independent municipalities, we are happy to share our experiences and to see the development of stronger and more confident hromadas in Ukraine. Better and more transparently delivered administrative services is one very important way for these new hromadas to demonstrate this ongoing change to their citizens and to the Ukrainian society at largest’.
Six out of the 122 ASCs will be mobile centres, i.e. specially equipped vehicles with two fully operational workplaces for the staff and two seats for visitors. All ASCs established in Ukraine with the support of U-LEAD with Europe provide the most popular administrative services, are accessible for people with disabilities, and have a children’s corner.
According to Anna Liljelund Hedqvist, Country Director at NIRAS Sweden AB: «Our skilful and carefully assembled team have been working diligently since the beginning of this year. The team is currently engaged in taking stock of the progress and state of affairs in the hromadas and carefully plan the best way forward to both efficiently and effectively deliver on our commitments to establish ASCs in hromadas. By the end of March, we will be able to give a clear picture of the time frame of our service delivery, tailored to the unique needs of each specific hromada».
Alexandra Fehlinger, Deputy GIZ Programme Director of U-LEAD with Europe, welcomed the event and said: "In the decentralisation reform, better service provision is embedded in an administrative culture that is oriented towards its clients, the citizens. In addition to the support to ASCs, all U-LEAD with Europe Programme is actively supporting this administrative transformation aiming towards a new relationship that is built on transparency, accountability and trust. U-LEAD has supported already almost 900 hromadas, be it through the ongoing training initiatives enabling hromadas to become effective, helping them in designing and delivering high quality municipal services, or facilitating local and regional development."
"I want to thank everyone who has joined such a large-scale project and helps us to confidently reach the goal: our partners - hromadas and small cities of Ukraine, representatives of the Government, regional and district state administrations, international partners, representatives of profile associations and public organizations. Together, we will make provision of high-quality public services accessible and comfortable to the residents of hromadas", - summed up Susanna Dellans, project manager of the U-LEAD with Europe Programme’s Support to Improved Administrative Service Delivery.
The “Start of New Partnership: Mid-Term Results and Memorandums Signing Ceremony” conference was attended by more than 400 representatives of hromadas, regional state administrations, specialized associations, etc. Besides the Memorandums Signing Ceremony and presentations of mid-term results and mechanisms of delivering assistance, the conference’s agenda included discussions of key challenges in establishing well-functioning ASCs in hromadas, such as lack of staff, liquidation of district ASCs, local budget revenues generated by administrative services.
* Well-functioning ASC is an integrated office that provides the most necessary administrative services for citizens in comfortable conditions. More details is available in the Programme’s Manual on Institutional Establishment of ASC.