For a better tomorrow: Set higher budgets for children, say activists

Discuss report which looks at federal and provincial budgets of the last four years.


Our Correspondent May 21, 2014
The minister for women development and special education, Rubina Qaimkhani, lamented that sometimes the budget allocation is not utilized because of wrongdoing of some employees. DESIGN-FAIZAN DAWOOD/FILE

KARACHI:


The good news is that out of all the provinces, Sindh, has been investing the most on children out of its budget. The bad news is that these children are getting the least attention in the health sector.


This was revealed in a report titled ‘National and Provincial Budget Analysis from a Child Rights Perspective’ launched at an event held at a hotel on Tuesday. The report was launched by the Child Rights Movement, Sindh, a coalition of over 40 NGOs working for child rights.

The coordinator of the organisation, Madni Memon, explained that the report analyzed the federal and provincial budgets of the last four years and highlighted how much amount was allocated for children related projects.

According to the report, children comprise 48% of the country’s population and face issues such as poverty, malnutrition and child labour.

The report stated that in the federal budget, allocation for children projects has remained around 0.74%, and less than one percent of Gross Domestic Product in the last four years.

In 2010 to 2011, there was 1.71% budget allocation for children projects which increased over in the current fiscal year to 14.45%.

Most of the funds in the federal budget have been spent on social welfare of children, while in the provincial budget, it was spent on education.

Social activist Ameer Aijaz, who worked on the report, said that the budget is not child specific but they had to dig out the projects related to it, and added that it focused on education, health and social protection of children.

Activists demanded a 5% increase in budget for children and said that the provincial budget should have more money allocated for health facilities for children.

Iqbal Detho of Save the Children said that the province was progressive when it came to making child-related laws and initiating development projects for children.

“There are several children laws introduced after 18th Amendment including the Child Marriage Restraint Act,” he said. “However there has been no financial allocation in budgets for the implementation of these laws. We bring in bills but there is no annual allocation in the budget to oversee the recommendations and projects proposed in the law.” He added that universal children laws called for a children-specific budget.

The minister for women development and special education, Rubina Qaimkhani, lamented that sometimes the budget allocation is not utilized because of wrongdoing of some employees. “It is not only the head that has to be held accountable,” she said. “But some officers are involved in mishandling these funds. How many officers will I terminate? In the end I have to work with them.”

The president of the Karachi Bar Association, Salauddin Ahmed, said that issue was not about budget allocation but of effective utilisation of the budget. He pointed out that the last government had hired thousands of teachers, and in this government the same political party, had their contracts terminated. “A hundred of these teachers have contested the decision and went to court,” he said. “It’s a huge mess. They are only agricultural workers.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2014.

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