UNICEF holds child-friendly budget forum in Kazakh Parliament
ASTANA, 10 April 2007 – A UNICEF-initiated conference on “Increasing social orientation of budgets and efficiency of public expenditures at national and local levels in the best interests of children and families in Kazakhstan” was held in the Senate of Kazakh Parliament in the country’s capital Astana on 9-10 April.
The Senate of Kazakh Parliament, the National Commission for Family and Gender Policy under the auspices of the President of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning of Kazakhstan were co-organizers of the international conference, the first of this kind to be held in Kazakhstan.
Around 200 participants representing legislative and executive local authorities, educational and research institutes, public associations, international organizations, embassies, as well as leading foreign experts in social and economic policies, gathered in the Senate to discuss issues of budget planning in the best interests of children and families.
Opening the conference, Chairman of the Senate Kassim-Jomart Tokaev said: “I would like to emphasize the role of UNICEF who not only initiated the conference but also mobilized considerable intellectual resources from its offices around the world and leading international research centres.” Tokaev expressed his hope that the conference’s recommendations will contribute to the realization of Kazakhstan’s social policy aimed at improving the situation of the children and families in the country.
“UNICEF strongly believes that the best investments any society can make should be in the protection and development of children. This is the strongest and the most viable political agenda, and one which always enjoys broad public support,” said UNICEF Regional Director for CEE/CIS Maria Calivis in her opening speech to the Senate. “In the meantime, in our view, this is the most cost-effective way of using public resources and guaranteeing future economic growth, human development and, as a consequence, social stability and prosperity,” Calivis continued.
The aim of the conference was to review the methodologies and practices of programme budget planning and the implementation of state programmes in the social sectors of healthcare, education and social protection for children and families.
International experts in social and economic policies from Italy, United Kingdom and Russia as well as the UNICEF Representatives in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Columbia, Russia and Uzbekistan took part in the conference. One result was the adoption of recommendations by the participants which focused on ways to improve the legislation in budget planning in the best interests of children and families of Kazakhstan.
During the conference, Kassim-Jomart Tokaev met separately with Maria Calivis and UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan Alexandre Zouev to discuss continued partnership between Kazakhstan and UNICEF. Tokaev praised the UN Children’s Fund activities in Kazakhstan and expressed the hope that the mutual cooperation will deepen and be even more fruitful.
On 10 April Maria Calivis and the Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Erzhan Kazykhanov inaugurated the new premises of the UNICEF Country Office in Kazakhstan.
“Today is not just a happy but a significant occasion. In 1992, UNICEF and the WHO launched their first mission to Kazakhstan to asses the situation for delivering first humanitarian aid to the young republic. Fifteen years later, today, we concluded the budget conference in the Senate of Parliament and today we are also opening a new country office in Kazakhstan’s new capital Astana which shows that cooperation between UNICEF and Kazakhstan is deepening and, in particular, contributing to the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the country,” said Maria Calivis at the opening ceremony.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.