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Experts for more budgetary allocation for children-specific initiatives

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LAHORE: The Punjab Child Rights Movement (CRM) organised consultation on “Analysis of Budget with a Child Rights Perspective” at a hotel on Thursday.Speaking on the occasion, experts said that Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments have relatively allocated more funds than those allocated by the Punjab government for health, education and social welfare in 2013-14 budgets. Experts further said that in general, budgetary allocation for children specific programmes and projects in Punjab’s total budget was extremely low from 2010-11 to 2013-14. However, in health, education and social welfare sectors, the situation was little better. In 2013-14 alone, of the total education budget, 89.64 percent was allocated for children specific programmes, projects and activities, which in 2010-11 was 77.65 percent of the total education budget. Punjab had allocated extremely low for children specific health initiatives and programmes in 2010-11, which gradually increased in the subsequent years; it was 15.13 percent, 17.85 percent and 15.58 percent in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. In Punjab’s total budget, social welfare received scant attention and within the social welfare budget, children specific programmes and initiatives received extremely low attention. In 2010-11, children specific budget was 0.32 percent, which slightly improved in the subsequent years, and 9.67 percent of total budget was allocated for children specific programs and projects in 2013-14.Amer Eijaz from the CPDI said that the provincial government had to allocate more funds for children specific programmes and project activities such as establishment of high schools and dispensaries in every village/settlement of the province. He said that special consideration should be given to improve accounting and budgetary procedures by including children specific allocations. Also, he said, the government should encourage avoiding one-liner budgets, so that it could be assessed that funds have been allocated for which section and purpose. Child Rights Activist Iftikhar Mubarik said that the government should announce education emergency in the province and allocate maximum funds to bring 7 million out of school children to schools. He also urged the provincial government to ensure allocation of funds under separate heads, which would ultimately help understand priorities of the government towards ensuring the provisions of children’s rights in an organised and transparent manner.Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB) Chairperson Saba Sadiq called for formation of an independent commission on the rights of children in Punjab or creation of a separate department to address the issues of children with holistic approach. She emphasised strengthening the inter-departmental coordination in order to create a protective environment for children by taking all administrative and legislative measures.PML-N MPAs Dr Najma Afzal, Shamila Aslam and Surriya Naseem also spoke on the occasion. Representatives of civil society and non-government organisations, including HRCP, AGHS, SPO, SPARC, Plan International- Pakistan, ActionAid, DCHD, GODH, Pakistan Girl Guides Association, the Salvation Army and SOS Children’s Villages Pakistan attended the meeting.

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