The time is now for Myanmar to dramatically increase social budgeting for children, says UNICEF
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“While UNICEF strongly supports the current Myanmar reform process, the time for enhanced spending on children is now,” said Mr Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative in Yangon. “Reform presents real opportunities for a successful transition from a heavily natural resource-reliant economy to an economy that leverages the skills and expertise of its human capital. It also represents a new opportunity to re-commit to children, and to the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),” he continued. As a state party to the CRC, Myanmar is required to take all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights of the child including by undertaking such measures to the maximum extent of its available resources in accordance with CRC Article 4.
UNICEF today released a report From Natural Resources to Human Capital: Practical, Feasible, Immediate Resourcing Solutions for Myanmar’s Children. Key findings of the report include:
· Almost 0.9% of revenues from new natural gas projects would provide for the purchase of all the vaccines needed annually across Myanmar.
UNICEF’s extensive experience on social budgeting globally suggests that investing in the social sector also builds human capital and generates employment. It reduces distributional conflict, enhances social cohesion, and lessens gender, ethnic and regional disparities. “Myanmar is blessed with an abundance of natural resources which can be turned into meaningful, sustainable, impactful social investments right now, starting with children,” said Mr Bainvel. One of the key lessons learnt globally when transitioning from a lower to a middle income country and upwards to an advanced economy is that successful countries do not first become wealthy then decide to invest in human capital. Rather, they become wealthy by investing in both physical and human capital simultaneously. “Equitable access to quality social services is both good for people and for the economy,” said Mr Bainvel. “For mineral-rich countries, investing natural resource revenues in expanded health and education services and social transfers - like pensions, family allowances and social assistance - is fundamental at this juncture because return on investment is very high. The time for investing in children is now,” he concluded. [ends]
The second – Social Sector Public Budget Allocations and Spending in Myanmar – is the first analysis ever published on how budget is allocated to the three social sectors mainly responding to children - health, education and social welfare. Taking advantage of the decision of the Myanmar Government to disclose information on the budget law for the first time in 2012, UNICEF engaged national and international experts to conduct the study The report analyses data related to the Budget Law 2012-2103 noting that more data will be shared soon by other agencies conducting more in-depth analyses. This includes through the upcoming Public Expenditure Review that the World Bank is completing with the Myanmar Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
These two reports are grounded in evidence which suggests that to accelerate results for its children, Myanmar must continue to significantly increase its allocation of resources to the social sector. Even if efforts to improve efficiency in allocations are important, at this particular stage of Myanmar’s development, it is increasing resources that will generate quick and important wins for children. Both reports are available at: www.unicef.org/myanmar.
For more information please contact:
Kirsten Sjolander, Interim-in-Charge, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95 9 421 177 294 (m), email@example.com.
Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 511 3295 (m).