by DAILY GRAPHIC
Civil Society Organisation, SEND Ghana has faulted the government over its inability to clearly state its targets for social protections issues, especially child protection and welfare in the 2017 budget.
The group explained that although expenditure allocation to the sector Ministry - the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection- increased by about 416 per cent over the 2016 figure, the absence of a programme budget for the ministry would make it difficult to assess the proportion that goes into child rights promotion and protection.
A review of the budget presented in a statement on March 12 said the budget failed to provide details on targets achieved on key policies pursued in 2016 and targets for 2017 in most cases and statements such as “government will continue or collaborate with …” were commonly used.
“This style of budgeting does not give room for interested civil society organisations and citizens in particular to track the use of public resources meant for specific purposes. Again, it makes it impossible to hold government account to specific targets,” the statement said.
Expenditure allocation to the ministry in 2017 increased by 416 per cent from GH¢49,520,377.00 to GH¢255,481,323.00, a move the group commended looking at the important role the ministry plays.
Silence on policy implementation
The statement explained that the adoption of policies was a means to an end and not the end in itself, and ,therefore, the budget should have mentioned how it intends to implement policies for the sector.
“The budget, as a national cost plan, is to facilitate the implementation of policies. Unfortunately, the 2017 Budget Statement is silent on how it will fully implement policies such as the Child and Family Welfare Policy and Justice for Children Policy which were approved in 2015 and 2016 respectively,” it said.
A cost implementation plan for the Child and Family Welfare Policy estimates the annual cost to around GH¢20 million. It said an appraisal of the 2017 Budget Statement generally reveals a mention of some of these initiatives. However, it failed to provide the expected detailed information.
The statement also explained that abuse, violence and exploitation of children in Ghana are prevalent in various forms. A recent study by the sector Ministry with support from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) does not only underscore this phenomenon but concluded that aside violating children’s right to protection from harm, these come with high economic cost. It is for these reasons that key stakeholders have commended government’s policy initiatives in recent years.
SEND Ghana also commended the government for the huge increase of the capitation grant but urged it to ensure the timely disbursement of the funds to schools and in their entirety.
“We call on the government to ensure the free uniforms programme which appears to be encountering teething problems is addressed. We wish to remind the government that increasing access to education through free policies such as the Senior High School (SHS) policy, is important. However, we must be guided by lessons from that of the capitation grant,” the statement said.
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