Test on how to fight coronavirus: only regional have passed it
Roman Lozynskyy, Ukrainian MP, “Golos” faction
Each crisis demonstrates how strong we are. The crisis showed us the real capacity of the government trying to “come up with the people”. The people had come outdoors – the quarantine was softened. The business had started to protest – and was permitted to work.
Present authorities are not the ones we deserve. They should analyze the situation and act in advance, they should lead the people. But I have also some good news. The authorities we need, do exist. They exist in Ukrainian oblasts. See it for yourself.
Who pays for the fight with coronavirus?
Recently the government has published a combined report on the expenditures on the prevention of the spread of coronavirus for March-April. More than 1.8 bln UAH was spent, local budgets gave ¾ of this sum.
Firstly, local budgets lose 9.65 bln UAH due to the state budget cuts. In particular, the State Fund of Regional Development and the subventions for the support of the amalgamated territorial communities development had been cut. And immediately after this, the government put on local communities the greatest burden of the fight with coronavirus.
For instance, since the beginning of the lockdown, more than 640 mln UAH has been spent on the purchase of medications. Local communities constitute 76% of this sum (495 mln UAH comparing to 145 mln UAH spent by the government). The purchase of masks, antiseptics, and express-test was more “fair”: 0.5 bln UAH expenditures were almost equally divided between state and local budgets.
Obviously, these numbers do not include hundreds of thousands of masks, protective screens, and robes and “floods” of antiseptics from volunteers. As in 2014, they covered the task that the state failed. But I will get into this issue later.
We all share the common goal - rich local communities. In perfect Ukraine, they should be capable to manage any challenge. But the current lockdown situation is different. It showed that in case of a crisis the government washes its hands in innocence, slipping it to the local level.
So how do communities manage the problem on the local level? Their examples are truly inspiring.
First story: talk is cheap
On the first day of the quarantine, the government stated that in a week it would solve all the problems of antiseptics producers and there would be no lack of disinfectors. However, there was an extreme lack of antiseptic, and its prices remarkably rose. A joke even appeared in social networks: it is better to save money in liters of antiseptic than in Ukrainian currency (which was speedily depreciating in March).
Who managed this problem best of all? Regions. In Kotykivka village (Ivano-Frankivsk region), the village chief Ivan Verezhak did not seek for an expensive antiseptic but produced it… directly at the village council building. The village chief and locals consulted doctors on how to do it and, by blending spirit, peroxide of hydrogen and glycerin produced more than 20 liters of antiseptic. By doing so, they have saved dozens of thousands of hryvnias. Just recall what the price of antiseptic was in March!
Second story: buy if you need
The saga of centralized state purchases for the fight with coronavirus has lasted for more than a month and a half. At first, the past minister of health Ilya Yemets was blocking it, as he wanted his own person to control the money flows. The current minister Maksym Stepanov supported Yemets' approached: he blocked the purchase of protective robes produced in Ukraine in order to buy Chinese ones with the same sum of money. Chinese robes appeared twice more expensive and its quantity was significantly less. Consequently, Ukrainian doctors did not receive 50 thousand robes and Ukrainian robe producers - order for dozens of millions of hryvnias.
In the Volyn region, community chiefs of 3 neighboring communities did not divide money and discuss who will gain the biggest cut. Boratynska, Lypynska, and Pidhaytsivska amalgamated territorial communities spent 500 thousand hryvnias each for the purchase of lung ventilators, individual protection means, and express-tests. Only a week has passed since the expenditure of money to the moment when doctors obtained the equipment. Do you know why it happened in such a prompt manner? The answer is that exactly community chiefs will be the first to be asked by the locals what they did to provide the hospitals with means necessary to treat coronavirus.
Third story: Protect the most vulnerable
Today there are more than 17 thousand coronavirus-patients. Every fifth of them is a medic. It proves that the government has failed to protect those who are on the frontline of the war on disease. Although planes with individual protection means and express-tests have regularly came from China to Ukraine, we do not know what was their final destination.
Doctors neither knew it. Instead, they asked volunteers to buy masks and robes, to raise money for lung ventilators. In response to it, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the leader of “Golos” established the initiative #ActTogether and donated 1 mln UAH of his personal savings for the needs of hospitals in Lviv and Odesa regions. Lviv businessmen and benefactors had raised money, bought tissue, and the fabrics, founded by our MP Yaroslav Rushchyshyn sewed thousands of protective robes. They were transferred to the hospital of Lviv and Lviv region.
It could be a story about the cooperation of local authorities, activists, and the government. But Prime Minister Shmyhal and his team appeared to be a weak link in the matter of rescue of the country. They do not want to learn. They want to rule. That is why successful local mayors and chiefs are under threat.
The governing party which does not have the team has clearly understood, who really is able to govern. As a result, it began to prepare new local elections rules for them, which are unfair and unjust. Its aim is to make all these people to bow and scrape before it, to make them take on t-shirts with some party symbolics. Hence, our common task is to protect them. They are the authorities worth of being protected.