The future of the districts of Ukraine: experience of Polish self-government at the powiat (county) level


Reform of the administrative-territorial structure and local self-government, which began in 2015 in Ukraine has already begun and will continue with radical redistribution of power and financial resources between the districts and the basic administrative-territorial units – unified territorial communities in the favor of the latter. This process will significantly change the role of districts, as part of the administrative-territorial structure. Reducing the powers of district councils and district state administrations and the reduction of district budget receipts calls for optimization of the structure of district state administrations and executive bodies of district councils.

During these transformations, experience of Polish self-government at the powiat level (analogue to Ukrainian region) becomes useful.

It is important to note that, in Poland, at the powiat level, there are no state authorities with supervisory authority, such as district state administrations in Ukraine.

The legislative body of the powiat is the powiat council and the executive body – the board of the powiat, which performs its functions through organizational units of the powiat – starostwa (district governor office) and other organizational units that work in the field of education, medicine, social welfare, culture and infrastructure. Starostwo is headed by a starosta (mayor) who is elected among the members of the powiat council.

The system of local self-government in Poland, works on the principle of subsidiarity. This means that the basic unit of local self-government is the gmina (municipality), which solves all the problems of inner life in the community. Powiat performs only those functions that cannot be undertaken by a gmina.

Grants and subsidies from the state budget constitute 71% of the revenue of the powiat budget, 29% – its own revenues. The largest share of expenditures of powiat is directed to the education (33%) and social assistance (13%).

In the analytical note the following issues were analysed:

  • place of the powiat in the Polish system of local self-government, the division of functions between the province, powiat and gmina;
  • the legal basis of powiat activity;
  • the management structure in the powiat;
  • powiat budgets, their revenues and expenditures, main sources of revenues and directions of expenditures.

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