Thursday, July 9, 2020

Civil society guns for a children’s budget

For the first, hot on the heels of the 2020/21 National Budget, civil society organisations will engage Members of Parliament on the findings of a detailed analysis of the national budget from a children’s rights perspective.

Following the presentation of the 2020/21 National Budget, The Botswana Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (BOCONGO) together with the Botswana Child Rights Network and Childline Botswana have launched a statement in which they announce an event on the 12th February 2020 themed around the budget speech.

It seeks to establish whether or not the budget is inclusive of children’s rights. The event will be held under the theme: “Harnessing an invaluable youth demographic dividend – critical reflections on the 2020 national budget and beyond,” with focus on key areas of nutrition, education, health and child protection.

“This engagement was prompted by Civil Society’s realisation of the inadequacy of budgetary allocations to meet children’s needs over the years,” the statement said.

The analytical presentation of the budget speech from a children’s perspective is the first of its kind. Director of Childline Botswana, Olebile Machete, said, “this is the beginning of our engagement for the budget set aside, but it will not just end with the budget it will also go on in terms of monitoring expenditure.”

According to Machete, “there is nothing more powerful than the budget and providing for your people. Ultimately it must go down to whether you provide the needed resources for the people.” Hence why the analysis is intended to be a resource and advocacy tool that will inform legislators when debating and ultimately passing the budget as indicated in the released statement.

Civil Society is concerned that children in Botswana continue to face a myriad of challenges due to inadequate resource allocations to the health, education, and social services sectors. All these challenges are reflected in t

According to the statement, “Increases in allocations have in most cases remained nominal and hardly beneficial to children in real terms.” Because of this, Civil Society organizations have identified engagement with Members of Parliament as key to infusing children’s rights perspectives in budget debates.

The question of how children in Botswana are collectively considered in the country’s National budget is a critical one, as the answer may either derail Government’s efforts to transform the economy or ensures that it benefits from the youth demographic dividend.

The whole intention of the presentation is to try and bring out issues of concern from a child’s perspective so when legislators engage with the budget and its allocation to specific ministries, they ought to have children at the back of their mind. “The objective is to increase Members of Parliament’s understanding of issues affecting children in Botswana and how the national budget can respond to them,” the statement said. “This will also incorporate children’s rights perspectives into the national budget and empower members of Parliament to pass a child-friendly budget.”

Of the event, economist and Managing Consultant at SPECK Dynamics, Sennye Obuseng will be the consulting economist. Significant projects undertaken by SPECK Dynamics include the Preparation of Botswana’s Human Resource Development Plan 2019-2028. The event will be held at Tlotlo Hotel & Conference Centre and will commence at 0900 hrs.

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