Peace and Economic Development in Donbass (Rehabilitation plan for Donbass)

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On July 9, 2014 the Institute for Strategic Studies "New Ukraine" presented the study "Peace and Economic Development in Donbass (rehabilitation plan)". The objective of the study is to determine a set of measures for a post-conflict settlement in Donbass according to a scenario, which includes the restoration of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as part of the unitary state.

For the successful settlement of the situation in the East of the country the adoption of an active, purposeful state policy towards the region is required. It needs to be shaped by a corresponding institution, in the form of an operational and strategic plan that will be gradually implemented in practice.

The study presents the approaches to the institutionalization of government policies and the content of the aforementioned plan.

The common decision-making center is to be represented by a special parliamentary-governmental committee on the issues of the post-conflict settlement in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (hereinafter - the Committee). The mission of the parliamentary-governmental committee is to initiate the development process of a State-run program of the rehabilitation and socio-economic revival of Donbass. The Committee is to be headed by a specially appointed Vice Prime Minister. The approximate composition of the body has been determined, as well as a number of priorities, which include - monitoring the current state of territories, creating a "map of problems." An important part of the Committee's work is to be the establishment of a State and Interregional programs on the problems of the revival of Donbass, providing aid to its residents, creating a number of public infrastructure projects, bringing in international financial, technical and humanitarian assistance, etc.

To restore the system of power in the region the implementation of a combined model of governance is proposed. This is a management model of a transition phase, with the use of the zonal principle (depending on the state of territory control). There is to be an implementation of a set of measures and procedures that define the territory, depending on the consequences of the conflict,  as a victim of an emergency of social origin. Temporary administration of such areas and local police forces are to be set up, the functioning of law enforcement agencies is to be recovered and economic activity is to be resumed. Local elections are to be held.

Measures to restore public safety and provide peaceful life envisage: demining of the territory, decontamination of the areas, disarming the population, restoration of the rule of law, improving the sanitary and epidemiological situation; pension payments, targeted assistance to victims, rebuilding of destroyed living quarters, setting up of the transportation system, electricity, gas, water supplies, carrying out preparations for the winter. These measures will be undertaken in conjunction with constant monitoring of the living conditions of citizens, the state of critical infrastructure, technologically dangerous objects.

Much of the research is devoted to the issues of economic rehabilitation of Donbass - revival of the industrial capacity and infrastructure. First of all - rebuilding roads, railways, power grids; the establishment of rehabilitation programs for basic industries (metallurgy, coal mining, energy, chemical industry, machinery). A significant component of the plan is to attract donors and investors, the issue of recovery of the financial and banking sector; improving administrative procedures.

It is important for the region to revive small and medium businesses, which is to be achieved through maximal deregulation and liberalization of regulatory policies, the introduction of tax holidays, credit privileges, a moratorium on inspections, etc.

The study lists the social problems of the region's residents and IDPs that require to be addressed urgently.  Among them — providing for the needs of socially vulnerable groups; ensuring emergency medical care; creating conditions for the education of children, social adaptation and rehabilitation of victims. It is a proposed to introduce a moratorium on raising utility bills for the vulnerable groups of society,   tax holidays for the poor and victims; solve the problems of housing.

To stabilize the humanitarian environment it is proposed to implement a program of social and cultural rehabilitation of the region, where “anti-terrorist operations” are still taking place. It is advisable to pay attention to the creation of a single center of information policy coordination and a permanent active system of social communications in the region. The latter is to include the mechanism of tripartite consultations (government + business + NGOs) as to the development policy of Donbass, as well as put into action the pilot media project "Dialogue on the future of Donbass". The study suggests a number of other measures that will aim at building a new regional identity of Donbass, neutralizing its negative image, dealing with the acute problem of the status of the Russian language, providing for the social and cultural needs of the citizens in the region.

The study recommends establishing a number of supporting institutions, including private ones, to accelerate the rehabilitation and development of the region, outlining their objectives. These include the State Fund for Reconstruction of Donbass (accumulation of financial resources for the needs of reconstruction and development projects), the Regional Development Agency (organization and evaluation of project selection); Mayors' Council of Donetsk and Lugansk regions; Public Council on Public Security and Anti-Corruption Issues; Public Council on the Issues of Reconciliation and Development of Social Trust.

The complete text of the study is available on the website of the Institute for Strategic Studies "New Ukraine".