‘The decentralisation process will strengthen democracy.’

Interview with Georg Milbradt and Hennadii Zubko.

Mr Zubko, Mr Milbradt, why is decentralisation so important for Ukraine?
Hennadii Zubko: We want to transform our centralised, Soviet-style administration into a Western system. This will bring about a change in the mindset of public servants. It is also important to ensure that citizens can exert greater influence over local policy-making in future.

Georg Milbradt: The decentralisation process will firstly serve to strengthen democracy, which is easier to achieve at local level. Secondly, municipal services will improve, as citizens will be looking very carefully at what their tax money is being spent on.  

Where do the main problems lie in the decentralisation process?
Zubko: To enable very small local authorities to take on tasks such as the construction and maintenance of schools, health centres and fire stations, they need to merge with other communities. This is a voluntary process. Nonetheless, as with every change, there are always some people who object. That’s why things are not progressing that fast.

Milbradt: People are creatures of habit. Added to this is the fact that Ukrainians generally mistrust their government. Many of them always assume the worst.

To what extent is decentralisation also helping in the fight against corruption?
Zubko: The reforms are making financial flows at local level far more transparent than they were under the old centralised random distribution principle. Residents are integrated into the decision-making process and feel a greater sense of ownership of their community.

Milbradt: Decentralisation always involves decentralisation of corruption as well. Of course, corruption will not disappear of its own accord, but the most sensitive part of a person’s body is his or her wallet. If people’s wallets take a direct hit, then more rational decisions will be taken in future. —

Interview: Paul Flückiger

 

  Hennadii Zubko 

(photo, on the right) is Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister of Regional Development.

 

  Georg Milbradt 

is the Special Envoy of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Ukrainian reform in the areas of good governance, decentralisation and public administration. Milbradt served as Minister President of Saxony from 2002 to 2008.

published in akzente 3/18

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