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UNICEF and the Accounting Chamber of the Russian Federation Joint Research: More budget funds should be assigned to address children’s needs and they should be spent more effectively and openly

Results of the unique research "Analysis of the efficiency of public expenditures for children. The federal budget and budgets of Russian Federation constituent entities"

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, 24 November 2011 - On November 22, 2011, the State Duma of the Russian Federation approved in the final reading the Russian federal budget for the next three years. The approved budget envisages cuts in public spending on children. In other words, the regional authorities will be forced to increase expenditures under "children's" budget items only to be able to remain at the previous expenditure level. In the meantime, the proportion of children living below the poverty threshold in the country keeps growing. 

The worldwide celebrations are currently under way to mark the 22nd anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. According to Article 4 of the Convention, which is the principal international document on the rights of children, the States Parties to the Convention (including the Russian Federation) shall undertake all appropriate measures “to the maximum extent of their available resources” for the implementation of children’s economic, social and cultural rights.   

In many countries, including the Russian Federation, children continue to be one of the most vulnerable population groups. Orphans and children without parental care, children with disabilities, children in difficult circumstances and migrant children are at a higher risk of social exclusion, marginalization and falling through the cracks than their trouble-free peers. The child population in Russia constitutes 18 per cent of the general population. However, at the time when key decisions are being made concerning the allocation of government resources, they have no possibility to express their views and influence the decisions which will subsequently affect their prospects in life. 

As part of the research entitled “Analysis of the efficiency of public expenditures for children” carried out jointly by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Accounting Chamber of the Russian Federation, data concerning public spending on children at different levels of governance and over 280 indicators characterizing from different perspectives the quality of children’s lives (including health, education, living standards, etc.) have been closely examined.  The researchers took into account the results of the surveys of various government officials, NGO workers and different population groups participating in the budgeting process. The survey respondents were asked whether they considered the budgeting process to be transparent and comprehensible to professionals, community representatives and general public; to what extent the budget spending took into consideration the interests of children and families with children, including from vulnerable population groups, etc. An evaluation of the existing legal framework regulating the budgeting process at different levels has also been carried out.

Key research findings:

  • Notwithstanding some positive trends in individual indicators characterizing the situation of children, there remain numerous outstanding issues which have yet to be addressed and which interfere with full realization and harmonious development of every child’s potential.
  • The current policy for children in the Russian Federation needs to be amended using new methods and approaches, while the relevant public expenditures should be used more effectively and openly. 
  • Lack of a clearly defined conceptual framework required for the implementation of the public policy for children seriously complicates the process of determining the amount of funds needed for children and the efficiency evaluation of their use.
  • A comprehensive analysis of the composition and structure of public expenditures for children shows that the main burden of social obligations for children is borne by regional budgets. About 25 per cent of their total expenditures are related to financing this particular sphere, while the proportion of similar expenditures in the federal budget is less than 2 per cent. Altogether in 2010, the proportion of federal budget expenditures to support families, women and children in the Russian Federation was 0.79 per cent of  the GDP.
  • The evaluation of the efficiency of public expenditures for children at the regional level has revealed funding shortfall and inefficient use of funds assigned to address children’s needs. These findings are supported by a pilot study carried out in the Far East Federal District.
  • A sociological survey conducted at the regional level (which took into account views and opinions of both adults and children) demonstrated fragmentary public knowledge of the budgeting process and poor involvement of local communities in this process. Based on the survey results, only 26 per cent of the respondents believe that the government measures aiming to support families with children are efficient. An expert survey conducted as part of the research has revealed three major problems: persistent shortfalls in funding the social sphere, absence of a state-of-the-art system of professional service provision for children and families with children and inadequate awareness of both public service recipients and providers of their rights and obligations with regard to the government policy for children. 
  • The analysis of the efficiency of public expenditures for children has revealed the inconsistent and fragmentary nature of the current child welfare system in Russia. To improve the allocation efficiency of government resources for children and families with children, in-depth monitoring of the situation of children in the Russian Federation should be organized, and a special state program targeted at children and families with children should be developed.

The research findings allow UNICEF to make a conclusion that in order to improve the efficiency of a social policy and budget spending on children and families with children, the state should develop and adopt a national program aiming to improve the situation of children and families with children, particularly children in difficult circumstances, and a plan of action for its implementation, as well as to take measures to ensure the actual financing of such measures for children. 

As part of the research, a book for children aged 10-12 entitled "Adult secrets about money" was prepared for publication. The book is reader-friendly and has lots of color pictures. The publication of this book, which helps children understand the fundamentals of the budgeting process in the Russian Federation, is meant to promote higher financial competence of Russia’s residents.

For more information please contact:

Anna Kochineva, UNICEF Communication Officer
Tel: +7 495 937-4812, +7 916 238-0154
Email: akochineva@unicef.org
Website: www.unicef.ru

 

 

 

 

Resources

Download the Russian language resource "Adult secrets about money" 


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