Progress of Child Budget Advocacy to Ensure Fair Finance for Children
The government of Bangladesh, for the first time, introduced a Child Budget report as part of the budget making process in the fiscal year 2015-16. The report highlights resource allocations that are targeted to be spent directly or indirectly on child-focused activities in an attempt to facilitate tracking of investment in children. Following this commendable initiative, the Child Budget report for FY2016-17 was published as part of the national budget, considering allocations for seven ministries who are closely linked to children’s welfare. Total size of the Child Budget for FY2016-17 has been reported to be of Tk. 496 billion.
Save the Children in Bangladesh, as a Steering Committee member along with the Ministry of Finance and UNICEF, participated in preparing a guideline for the Child Budget report for 2016-17, seeking to overcome some limitations of the first Child Budget. Subsequently a Child Budget reporting framework was finalized. Following the guideline, the government developed the Child Budget report for 2016-17 as part of the National Budget.
Recently, we have developed a policy brief analyzing the Child Budget as a basis for dialogue with stakeholders. Following a brief look into the general trends in resource allocations, the analysis undertaken in the policy brief evaluated the implementation status of the last year’s child budget. The analysis then explored the child budget report for 2016-17 and contextualized the discussion against the core promises for children as manifested in the SDGs.
The recommendations of the policy brief were shared with the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights (PCCR) to facilitate the advocacy on fair financing for children through the parliamentarians. Based on the findings of the policy brief, the PCCR members discussed the major concerns related to the child budget in the budget session of the national parliament.
Observations on the child budget report for 2016-17 outlined in the policy brief include:
- Child Budget report indicates significantly higher resource allocation for children in the fiscal year 2016-17 compared to last year, which marks our positive step into the SDG era from a children’s welfare perspective.
- Most of the allocations are marked for the education sector, whereas child health and social protection remain largely underinvested.
- Implementation of the Child Budget remains a major concern in ensuring fair finance for the children.
- Geographic deprivation of children is a missing concern in targeting, programming and allocating resources.
- There is a lack of transparency in the Child Budget report for 2016-17, as individual cost heads included in the estimates are not reported. This will make implementation tracking of the Child Budget difficult.
Policy, Rights and Governance team of Save the Children in Bangladesh highlights the need for the child budget to gradually evolve as a forward looking lens for equity and exclusion, and not just remain as a reporting format for allocations and spending.