UNICEF’s Public Finance for Children initiative seeks to make children visible in national budgets. This initiative is a response to the rapid decline in development assistance that middle-income countries are experiencing. The vast majority of investments in social services for children and their families are now funded by national governments. This emphasises the importance of how national resources are distributed and the central role of the Ministries of Finance.
UNICEF’s work on public finance strengthens the linkages of policy and planning to budget allocations and thus to long-term outcomes for children. UNICEF’s interest is in effective budgeting for the social sectors that serve children’s well-being, such as education, health and social welfare, at both central and subnational levels.
Social Policy teams in UNICEF Country Offices in East Asia and the Pacific are working closely with Ministries of Finance to improve both social sector and sub-national budgets. This involves joint activities like costing studies, training for social sectors and sub-national governments on child-responsive budgeting, and facilitating South-South exchange between countries in the region. Country updates are provided here.
Engagement with Ministries of Finance began at the 2009 conference in Singapore, where for the first time UNICEF convened Ministers of Finance and Social Sectors from around East Asia and Pacific to secure their commitment to protecting children from the oncoming economic crisis. This was followed by the 2012 Ha Noi conference in Viet Nam, where Ministries of Finance together with their colleagues from Ministries of Education, Health and Social Welfare discussed how to better link their work on public finance to social policies for children.
See below a short video on the 2012 Ha Noi conference: