Lawyer of LCC Lyudmyla Zagorovska (left) and Chairman of Youth center for regional development Ella Petrenko
For the first time the fiscal policy of Bilozerka village council was the subject of a comprehensive and integrated assessment by public experts of the public partnership "For transparent local budgets” coordinated by the Odessa regional organization "Committee of Voters of Ukraine and the Open Society Foundations.
On 7 June a press-conference on "The fiscal policy of Belozerka: index of transparency, participation and integrity" was held in Kherson. Representatives of Bilozerka district organization "Youth center for regional development" Ella Petrenko and Ludmyla Zagorovska presented the results of the 8-month survey to the public.
Bilozerka became one of 17 cities of Ukraine, including small towns and cities of regional importance, where the degree of transparency for citizens of information on local public finances, practice and possibilities of citizen participation in the budget process at all stages was evaluated.
The index of transparency, participation and integrity (hereinafter - the TPI index) showed the strengths and weaknesses of fiscal policy in the village of Bilozerka. Local authorities provided more than 200 proposals. They all relate to how to increase transparency, citizen participation in the budget process and to introduce best international and Ukrainian practices of integrity.
Strengths and weaknesses of fiscal policy of Bilozerka village council
The results of evaluation of budget policy of Bilozerka village council are estimated at 24.5 points out of possible 173 – the lowest figure in the ranking of cities. It should be noted that the village council does not have an official website to publish budget documents. This influenced the fact that the criterion of transparency was estimated at only 5.4%.
Publication, discussion and approval of the draft decision on the budget and the Program of socially-economic development received the highest scores. In the absence of the website, these documents were first published on the website of Bilozerka district council and made available to citizens, which contributed to their active participation in activities, discussion and approval by the relevant Committee at the session of the local Council. The release of these important documents became possible due to the written appeal of the Youth center for regional development.
Intermediate estimates were obtained for the condition and possibility of citizen participation in the session of the village council and the meetings of the relevant Committee. Despite the fact that citizens are free to participate in the sessions and meetings, but finding out the date and time of their conduct demands considerable efforts — information about the session is published exclusively on the information board in the premises of the Council and the Commission meeting is known only to the deputies.
Due to the lack of the web site and partial provision of information on requests, the lowest rating was received by the publication of information about planning activities of the main managers of budgetary funds, projects and reports on the implementation of all budget documents, annual procurement plans, meetings of competitive bidding committees and reports on the procurement procedures, the protocols and transcripts of meeting sessions.
The need to create the website for Bilozerka village council is obvious, where it is necessary to provide for the establishment of a separate section of the Budget. It is also necessary to disseminate information from the website through social networks and to develop and make budget information publicly available on the website in formats that facilitate its perception for ordinary citizens (visualization of the budget of the village). One of the key recommendations of the village council is already under implementatiob – work started on the creation of the official website of the local government: www.bsr.bilozerka-rada.ks.ua
Another recommendation is to develop and adopt budget regulations, which clearly regulate the budget process at all its stages, certain requirements for transparency of the budget process and budget documents, for consultations with citizens, the provided opportunities and forms of participation of citizens in the budget process.
The results of the study of fiscal policy in the village of Bilozerka allowed to make an independent comprehensive expert assessment of local authorities. Fiscal decentralization, which began in late 2014, not only opened to local communities new opportunities, but also increased the responsibility of local authorities for the quality management of public finances.
The evaluation was carried out in the public partnership "For transparent local budgets coordinated by the Odessa regional organization "Committee of Voters of Ukraine and the Open Society Foundations, with the financial support of the European Union and the Embassy of Finland in Ukraine.