Budget Needs to be More Child-Friendly, Say Child Rights Organisations

Chennai March 1, 2016: While hailing the largely positive budget for the nation as a whole, the allocation for children still remain way below requirements, said child rights organisations in Chennai today. The representatives from over 10 organisations were discussing how the needs of children fared in the union budget, in a meeting convened today by World Vision India. 

The budget for children had witnessed a steady decline in terms of share of the total budget in the last few years, and had seen a marginal increase for the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) this year. Key areas like health, education, and protection of children continue to be ignored in this year's budget.

Health was one of the primary concerns. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare received a share of only 1.9% of the total expenditure, of which the National Health Mission has a share of less than 1%. "The government is deviating from the core strategies of the National Health Mission;  there is no increase in allocation for the health sector. It appears to move towards a public-private partnership mode of operation," said Ameer Khan from Sochara. 

Protection of children was another key issue that was raised by the experts, as children exposed to violence have a higher vulnerability to poverty. "There is a huge public outcry when it comes to issues of violence against children and children in conflict with law.  However, the outcry has not been reflected in the budgetary allocation for child protection. As a proportion of Union Budget it has declined from 0.05% in 2015-16 to 0.03% in 2016-17," said Reni Jacob from World Vision India. 

Other issues such as the needs of children from migrant families and implementation challenges were also looked at with concern by the organisations. "With interstate migration increasing, education needs of children from migrant families is a pressing issue. Needs specific to these children ought to be budgeted appropriately," said K Shanthi from Indian Council for Child Welfare - TN (ICCW).  

The centre-state dynamics when it comes to spending had also come in for scrutiny. "Timely and responsible implementation is the key," said Dr K Shanmughavelayudham from For You Child. "Based on the fourteenth finance commission recommendations, the states have more autonomy over their spending, which is principally good. However, it is not uniform and some states might not be able to adequately fund their social sector needs," he said. 

"As always, we strongly recommend the government to allot the sectors of Health and Education their basic need of 3% and 6% of GDP," added Reni Jacob, stressing on the need for a higher share for children in the country's blueprint for economic growth. 

For media queries, please contact: 

Teresa Sahaya, World Vision India
+91 9840232138; 
teresa_sahaya@wvi.org

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