President Viktor Yushchenko on Wednesday suggested giving more powers to local self-governments and said it was impossible to introduce “rational and radical budget and tax reforms and develop the financial self-sufficiency of the regions” without this, according to president's press office.

“There is no alternative to strengthening local self-governments in Ukraine and giving them more powers with adequate resources. This is my principal position,” he said at a meeting with local officials.

Yushchenko outlined his plan to make local self-governments stronger. He said Ukraine needs multi-stage territorial reforms and insisted that local budgets must no longer be an “absolute hostage of the central budget.” Each local community should have its own budget to enable it to exercise its authority, he said. “There are sometimes a few communities within one locality and they all formtheir self-government. We need to correct this situation.”

Yushchenko also wants to reform the system of municipal elections and said the currentelectoral procedures “have not justified themselves” and “create excessive politicization where more practical doctrines should dominate.”

He expressed confidence Ukraine would be a “state of self-ruled councils” and said it was “unacceptable” to oppose local self-governments and regional administrations. He said he would allow “no illegal liquidation” of executive bodies in the regions and promised to resist any attempt to “strangle local governments with a financial rope.”

Local self-governments and local state administrations are not enemies and rivals, he said and added that they were the “co-authors of the development of their regions and districts and partners in making state policy integral.”

The President accused former Speaker Oleksandr Moroz of trying to destabilize the system of local self-governments. He said Moroz had registered his bill no. 3725 on June 26 in the “illegitimate” Verkhovna Rada, suggesting making the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada the country’s central political figure and creating a “matryoshka-like vertical hierarchy of councils.” Moroz also wants to make the Verkhovna Rada the highest state body, he said and called such plans an “obvious usurpation of power.”

Yushchenko said another destabilizing factor was plans by certain political forces to hold referendums to accept a proposal to elect governors. He said this would “weaken the unitary country and deepen its political chaos.”“I reject these plots by Oleksandr Moroz,” he said. “Ukraine needs a stable and effective executive system and wide powers for local councils.”


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