UNICEF in Parliament

Ensuring that children remain a priority in the State budget

Sudeshan Reddy
UNICEF South Africa/2018/Reddy
23 November 2018

Cape Town - A few days after the commemoration of World Children’s Day, UNICEF was invited to address the Appropriations Committee of Parliament. This was in the context of the government’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), an annual exercise and an example of democracy in action as key civil society actors provide perspective and analysis on how the budget is likely to affect ordinary citizens.

In her welcome address, the Chairperson of the Committee, Ms. Pinky Phosa, commended UNICEF for its presence and noted that “we appreciate you coming to us.”

In his presentation, UNICEF South Africa Country Representative Sanjay Wijesekera presented an evidence-driven case for ensuring that the support given to children by Government is maintained. He highlighted the long-term damaging effects that a potential reduction in budget allocations will lead to and commended the Government of South Africa for its commitment to safeguarding children through, among other efforts, meaningful budgetary commitments. From ensuring that all eligible young children receive the Child Support Grant, service providers are paid on time to avoid disruptions to services, and commending the government for its continued support of children’s programmes, the UNICEF presentation made a case for there to be no reductions in governmental budgetary support for children.

UNICEF South Africa/2018/Reddy
UNICEF South Africa Country Representative Sanjay Wijeskera addresses the Budget Appropriations Committee in Parliament

UNICEF was thanked by the parliamentarians present for providing tangible recommendations which will be shared with all the necessary parliamentary stakeholders. In the committee’s official report, it adopted one of the key UNICEF recommendations requiring the National Treasury and line departments to prevent and eliminate non-payment of service providers that deliver critical services for children.

Both Mr Wijesekera and UNICEF South Africa Social Policy Specialist, Russell Wildeman addressed the questions posed by the Committee with regard to the priority areas of UNICEF and where the organization can add the most value.

Parliament is a powerful symbol of the vibrancy and accountability that characterize South Africa’s democratic process and UNICEF will continue to engage with this key institution in a collective effort to give all children the best start in life.