During a working trip to the Khmelnytskyi region, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in a session of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities under the President.
He noted that the Congress is an important platform for cooperation between central authorities and local communities, which should help solve the pressing problems of the regions.
The President noted that the first stage of the reform of the basic level of local self-government has been completed in Ukraine.
"A large-scale work at the regional and subregional levels is ahead. A difficult process of changes to the Constitution of Ukraine regarding the administrative-territorial structure, changes to the Ukrainian legislation on local self-government, as well as to the Budget Code of Ukraine, is ahead," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
He stressed that he is closely monitoring the process of transferring communal property to communities. The President stressed the importance of financial independence of local budgets and the capacity of local communities.
In this context, the Head of State announced his intention to initiate, together with the government and parliament, bills to optimize the revenue of local budgets, in particular to improve the payment of land fees, real estate tax, personal income tax, single and transport taxes.
"It's not about increasing these taxes, but about increasing the share that remains on the ground," said Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In addition, according to him, it is important to improve the mechanism of distribution of interbudgetary transfers on the basis of formulas enshrined in the Budget Code.
Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak announced that next week the Head of State will also take part in a meeting of the Chamber of Regions of the Congress, and the presidium of the Congress will work as an active body on a monthly basis.
Deputy Head of the Office of the President Kyrylo Tymoshenko, who chaired the session, added that from now on the Office of the President will have a permanent Congress office to which any community leader can apply.
Minister of Development of Communities and Territories of Ukraine Oleksiy Chernyshov noted that the government has prepared several bills that provide for an increase in the funds of the State Fund for Regional Development.
Work is also under way to pass draft laws that provide conditions for the development of industrial parks and attract private investment. According to Oleksiy Chernyshov, this year the Regional Development Fund is financing the creation of four industrial parks that will create new jobs and increase revenues of local budgets.
One of the main topics during the meeting was the preparation of the regions for the heating season. Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke in support of the proposal to write off the debts of the communal heating companies to Naftogaz of Ukraine. At the same time, the Head of State noted that, in accordance with Ukrainian legislation, gas prices must correspond to the market.
"However, the state, as a shareholder, appealed to Naftogaz, and Naftogaz will introduce energy packages that would be the best in the whole of Europe," the President added.
The participants of the meeting also touched upon the issue of transferring vocational schools to communal ownership. The President stressed the need to provide a more flexible system of vocational specialties taking into account the needs of the labor market and to assist local communities in issuing educational licenses for the required number of vocational students.
The participants of the meeting also supported the main conceptual provisions of the reform of the system of architectural and construction control provided by the relevant bill, which is being considered by the Verkhovna Rada.
In addition, a number of organizational issues were addressed. The participants of the meeting elected Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi chairman of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Zhytomyr Mayor Serhiy Sukhomlyn and Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov were elected his deputies.
Andriy Sadovyi offered to introduce the rotation principle and the probationary period, which was set for him for six months.
The participants of the meeting also included Oleksandr Slobozhan, Executive Director of the Association of Ukrainian Cities, in the presidium of the Congress, approved the composition of the counting commission and the secretariat of the Chamber meeting and approved the Rules of Procedure of the Chamber.