Children and UNICEF join hands to advocate for a child-centric budget at the National Parliament

UNICEF organized the budget briefing with children, members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights,Standing Committees on the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health,and Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum on Health & Wellbeing.

04 June 2024
National budget advocacy campaign
UNICEF Bangladesh/2024/Satu

Dhaka, 03 June 2024 – UNICEF and children representatives from the Bangladesh Generation Parliament initiative highlighted today the critical need for enhanced allocation and effective utilization of the national budget in key child welfare sectors during a parliamentary pre-briefing held at the Bangladesh National Parliament today. 

This year, the “Safeguarding Children’s Interest in the National Budget: Pre-Budget Briefing” is jointly organized by UNICEF with the members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights, Standing Committees on the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health and the Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum on Health & Wellbeing. 

This briefing follows the comprehensive analysis of the national budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 conducted by UNICEF and presented it to the parliamentarians, revealing concerning trends in budget allocation and utilization for key sectors, particularly education, health, and social protection. The presentation also sheds light on the investment needs in the three key sectors for the upcoming budget and recommendations going forward. 

Children representing eight divisions of Bangladesh were present at the event and voiced their concerns and aspirations of their peers at the briefing. "If we can participate in budget discussions, it will help us express our opinions, the obstacles that we face in our everyday life and the needs related to our education, health and other areas”, said 11-year-old child journalist Owaiz Abtee from Kurigram. 

“Engaging children in pre-budget analysis is a powerful step towards fostering active citizenship and ensuring their voices are heard in shaping our nation's future. UNICEF's support in this initiative underscores our commitment to inclusive and participatory governance”, said the Chief Guest, Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury, Chief Whip in the Bangladesh National Parliament.

Among other key issues, the briefing referred to the need of highlighting the underutilization of funds in critical sectors, which is complemented by the lack of allocation in other critical areas. 

In the 2023-2024 fiscal year, despite an increase in the total budget size by 12.3 per cent compared to the previous year, the allocation for crucial sectors like health, education, and social protection has proportionally declined, posing a significant risk to the well-being of children and in achieving the country's development goals. 

"Investing in our children is not just a moral obligation—it is a smart economic strategy that would bring high returns. Ensuring full utilization of the allocated budget for children is essential for sustaining the remarkable developmental strides Bangladesh has made," said Mr. Stanley Gwavuya, OIC Representative to UNICEF in Bangladesh, emphasising the importance of strategic investments in children. 

"It is our duty as policymakers to ensure that the allocation and execution of budgets reflect our commitment to the well-being and rights of every child in Bangladesh. Today’s discussion reiterates our collective responsibility to enhance the mechanisms of budget utilization,” said Mr. Shamsul Hoque Tuku, MP, the Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament, and the Chair of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights echoing the need for legislative support. 

In the Health sector, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in reducing maternal mortality and under-five mortality. However, the upcoming national budget needs to ensure 2 per cent of GDP investment in health with a special focus on access to universal health services for all, increasing the health workforce, medicines and equipment in primary healthcare facilities and increasing immunization financing. 

In Education, Bangladesh has achieved nearly 100% enrolment in primary education with gender parity. It is crucial to ensure 3 per cent of GDP investment in education and focus on increasing students’ competencies in the primary and secondary levels, curriculum reform, strengthening the student assessment system, training teachers, and making schools heatproof. 

In social protection, Mother and Child Benefit Programme is a critical intervention to ensure children’s nutrition in their early years. Though Bangladesh invests reasonable resources in social protection, benefits need to reach those in need. 

Additionally, UNICEF conducted a U-report poll involving over 28,000 young voices, to incorporate broader youth opinions. 84 per cent of the participants responded that it is important for the Government to spend more on health, education and social protection directly impacting children. This initiative is a testament to UNICEF's commitment to incorporating children's voices in policy dialogues that affect their lives directly. 

Media contacts

Miguel Mateos Muñoz
UNICEF Bangladesh
Tel: +88801713043478
Faria Selim
UNICEF Bangladesh
Tel: +8801817586096

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