KARACHI: A sum of Rs200 million was allocated by the Sindh government for child protection in the budget for fiscal year 2015-2016 under the Child Protection Authority Act 2011 through the social welfare department. Sadly, the budget was not utilised by the end of December 2016.
This was revealed by the coordinator of Child Rights Movement (CRM), Sindh, Zahid Thebo, during the launch of a study report, titled 'Child Specific Resource Allocation in Sindh Budget (2015-2016 and 2016-2017)'. The report was inaugurated by CRM Sindh and Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc), in collaboration with the social welfare, women development and labour development departments of the Sindh government.
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Speaking on the occasion, Sparc regional head Kashif Bajeer said that the percentage of allocation from the annual development programme (ADP) for child-specific schemes by the education and literacy department has fallen from 60.48% in 2015-2016 to 40.05% in 2016-2017. According to him, the total ADP allocation for the social welfare department in 2016-2017 is Rs290 million while the percentage of allocation in the department for child-specific schemes has fallen from 58.02% in 2015-2016 to 54.48% in 2016-2017.
Addressing the event, Sindh Assembly MPA Soorath Thebo appreciated the efforts of Sparc in bringing to the fore the detail of budget utilisation of the provincial government specifically regarding the child-specific schemes.
"[The] Sindh Government is not willing to spend the budget on the protection and promotion of child rights in [the province]," she said, adding that the allocated budget under the Child Protection Authority Act 2011 remains unutilised, which shows the lack of willingness on part of the government regarding measures needed to address children's rights.
Social welfare department secretary Sheeren Mustafa agreed that the spending of the government was very low as compared to the designated budget. "[The] social welfare department is in [the] process [of] adopting the rules for Child Protection Authority Act 2011 soon for [the] year, 2017," she said, adding that the government has established Child Protection Units in almost 15 districts of Sindh, which will soon be set up across all the districts of the province.
Labour secretary Abdul Rasheed Solangi said that his department is in the process of conducting the Child Labour Survey, which will probably be conducted in 2017. The survey has not been conducted for the past 20 years. "[The] government has been working to eradicate child labour from Sindh," he said. "We have successfully established Jamshoro as a child labour-free model district in Sindh".
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City SSP Faizullah Korejo emphasised that establishment of Child Protection Units in all the districts of Sindh is very important to safeguard the children from street danger, especially those children who are out of school and on the streets.
Sharing recommendations at the study launch, Sparc executive director Sadia Hussain said that the social welfare department should adopt the rules of business of the Child Protection Authority for its true implementation in Sindh and establish Child Rights Units in all the 29 districts of the province along with budgetary allocation and utilisation.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2016.