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:
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.