The official presentation of the project “Governance and Local Accountability (Hoverla) Activity” with a budget of $74 million, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), took place in Kyiv.
“After the successful local elections in 2020, when Ukrainians elected representatives of their newly united regions and communities, now is the time to start a new phase in decentralization. Decentralization reform can ensure that all levels of Ukraine’s leadership represent the best modern democratic practices,” U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien said at the project presentation in Kyiv on Monday.
She said that one of the key next steps in decentralization is to adopt an amendment to the Ukrainian Constitution. “This is a long debated step and I encourage you all to work together to complete it,” Kvien said.
In turn, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal confirmed that for the irreversibility of the reform, it is important to introduce and consolidate in the Constitution of Ukraine the appropriate changes regarding a new model of local government, the territorial organization of power, built on the principles of decentralization and subsidiarity.
“Regarding the government’s action program in decentralization, I want to say that in order to complete the reform, the government is introducing a number of important measures to decentralize power and reform local government. Relevant bills for their implementation are already being developed,” he said.
According to the head of government, we are talking about the delineation of powers and the creation of appropriate material financial conditions for their implementation, reformatting local government administrations into prefectural-type agencies, improving the forms of inter-municipal cooperation as an effective mechanism for cooperation of territorial communities, introducing a new municipal service, improving the forms of attracting residents to making managerial decisions and determining the procedure for resolving issues of the administrative territorial structure.
“The government focuses on strengthening the institutional and financial capacity of communities and their development,” Shmyhal said. The prime minister said the pilot areas of the project have already been selected, Volyn, Lviv, Poltava, and also add there is a need to expand the geography of the project to other regions and other communities.
Chief of the Hoverla project Gabriel Abraham said the project has already identified the first 25 partner communities from Lviv, Poltava and Volyn regions.
“During the implementation of the project, Hoverla plans to use replicable models and mechanisms to increase support for two more communities with the involvement of partners, associations of local government, other civil society actors and government agencies,” he said.
Abraham said the project is designed for five years, until 2026. “The activities of Hoverla are based on three principal goals. The first goal is to support policies and laws. The second goal is to support local officials. The third goal is to support the interaction of citizens with their officials,” the project manager said.
The German authorities intend to support bilateral energy projects with Ukraine and will dedicate the funding of $70 million for this, according to a joint statement by Washington and Berlin on the Nord Stream 2.
“Germany will continue to support bilateral energy projects with Ukraine, especially in the field of renewables and energy efficiency, as well as coal transition support,” the document says.
Germany, among other things, “will appoint a special envoy with dedicated funding of $70 million.”
In addition, Germany is also ready to launch a Ukraine Resilience Package to support Ukraine’s energy security. Berlin will provide assistance for Ukraine’s integration into the European electricity grid, support efforts to reform Ukraine’s energy sector, and assist with identifying options to modernize Ukraine’s gas transmission systems.
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (Democratic Party), Chris Murphy (Democratic Party) and Rob Portman (Republican Party) have pledged bipartisan support to Ukraine.
At a briefing following a meeting with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Wednesday, Shaheen said the senators paid this visit to express their bipartisan support to the people of Ukraine, independence and the progress that Ukraine has made in reforms, and they had a very effective meeting with the President of Ukraine.
According to her, their meeting with the president started with a briefing from people from the area of combat operation about the current situation there.
Shaheen said the senators have a very clear picture of the challenges that Ukraine’s troops and everyone on the front face. This will help them so that when the senators return to the United States, they talk about the continuing need to support Ukraine’s efforts.
Senator Rob Portman said they discussed with the president the importance of strengthening relations between Ukraine and the United States, providing even more effective military assistance so that Ukraine can defend itself.
Portman said they also talked about other assistance that the United States can provide, namely, in the area of economy, reform and countering Russian disinformation.
Senator Chris Murphy (Democratic Party, Conneticut) said that many have been done in Ukraine in a short period of time, but many serious challenges are still facing Ukraine. He said that the three senators will persuade colleagues in the Senate of the need to continue providing security assistance to Ukraine.
Murphy also said that ongoing reforms are also important to the U.S.-Ukrainian partnership. The senators spoke with President Zelensky about some specific reforms, namely reforming the SBU, guaranteeing NABU independence and continuing corporate governance reform.
Senator Shaheen said that Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran briefed the senators about Ukraine’s needs for weapons, and assured that she would inform Congress and the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden about them.
She also said that today the senators met with the Ukrainian defense minister, he was very specific about Ukraine’s weapons needs. The senators will convey this message to Congress and the administration in Washington, and they promised to continue supporting Ukraine’s security.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today $100 million in Additional Financing for the country’s COVID-19 response under the Ukraine Access to Long Term Finance Project, the funds of which will be used to support export-oriented small and medium-sized businesses.
“The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today $100 million in Additional Financing for the country’s COVID-19 response under the Ukraine Access to Long Term Finance Project,” the WB said on Saturday.
The Ukrainian state-owned Ukreximbank (UEB) is a borrower and implementing agency of the ongoing Bank project, the message reads.
“Bank project, Access to Long Term Finance, and the additional funds will be used by the UEB to provide loans to export-oriented small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is focused on providing sub-loans of longer maturity than are currently present on the market,” the WB said.
“These new loans from Ukreximbank will create jobs, stimulate competitiveness, help Ukrainian companies find new customers abroad, increase revenues, and contribute to poverty reduction as Ukraine recovers from the pandemic,” the bank’s press service quoted Arup Banerji, World Bank Regional Country Director for Eastern Europe, as saying.
Implemented since the summer of 2018, the ongoing $150 million Access to Long Term Finance Project has already had a positive effect on Ukraine’s SME sector. More than 50 entrepreneurs from all over Ukraine had already received financial support as part of the project. The majority of SMEs supported by the project work in agriculture and food processing industries, where Ukraine’s exporters hold natural comparative advantages and where SMEs traditionally dominate. The project also provided loans to firms in various production industries: manufacturing of mining equipment and refrigerators, dental and electric equipment, plastic packaging, wood processing, carpet-weaving, etc.
The World Bank’s current investment project portfolio in Ukraine amounts to about $3.3 billion, in 11 ongoing investment projects and one Program for Results operation.
The government is doing everything to support the Ukrainian film business, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ukraine has gained a good reputation as a partner of international film companies, Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko has said.
“Even during the difficult period of the pandemic, we are doing everything so that the Ukrainian film business has support from the state, and Ukraine gains a good reputation as a partner of international film companies. We have cool locations and equally cool productions for this. This has already been proven by the film The Last Mercenary from Netflix with Jean-Claude Van Damme in the title role, of which the lion’s share of the shooting took place in Kyiv,” Tkachenko wrote in his Telegram channel.
He also said that Ukraine presents its films and a national stand at the European Film Market of the Berlin Film Festival. There are such domestic films as “Stop-Zemlia” and “Ursus”, animation “Gulliver Returns”, documentary “Puzzles”.
According to Tkachenko, the stand is “a guarantee for the future. Both for promoting our films abroad, and for advertising the system of cash rebates and other benefits from filming in Ukraine.” In particular, the Locations.com.ua service was presented – an online catalog for finding the best locations in our country.