Ad­vo­cates to push hlut­taw for more spend­ing on chil­dren

The Myanmar Times - - News - PYAE THET PHYO pyae­thet­phyo@mm­times.com

THE Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare is eye­ing a spe­cial fund for chil­dren, with a re­quest set to go be­fore the hlut­taw as bud­gets for the 2017-18 fi­nan­cial year go up for as­sess­ment.

Min­istry of So­cial Wel­fare, Re­lief and Re­set­tle­ment sec­re­tary Daw Naw Hla Hla Soe, who is also a mem­ber of the Amyotha Hlut­taw’s Women’s and Chil­dren’s Rights Com­mit­tee, con­firmed the plan at a Novem­ber 20 con­fer­ence.

“The most [re­al­is­tic] and log­i­cal thing is a bud­get for im­prov­ing ser­vices for chil­dren. We will re­quest it of MPs … We have to get funds for im­prove­ments in­stead of cut­ting the bud­get,” she told a na­tional-level con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw.

“The min­istry will sub­mit its bud­get, which we will scru­ti­nise based on whether [it makes ad­e­quate pro­vi­sions] for chil­dren or not. We will not stand for cuts to chil­dren’s pro­grams’ bud­gets,” she said.

Youth rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Myan­mar’s 14 states and re­gions de­scended on Nay Pyi Taw for the Novem­ber 20 sum­mit, with MPs, civil so­ci­ety and in­ter­na­tional non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives hear­ing the griev­ances of young peo­ple around the coun­try.

The five key is­sues raised re­peat­edly by child del­e­gates were ed­u­ca­tion for mi­grant chil­dren; anti-nar­cotics sup­port and ed­u­ca­tion; the need for peace in con­flict-af­flicted ar­eas; access to ba­sic health­care for those in ru­ral ar­eas; and the need to de­velop a prag­matic ap­proach to deal­ing with the prob­lem of sex­ual ex­ploita­tion and traf­fick­ing.

The is­sue of doc­u­men­ta­tion was also a hot topic.

“The chil­dren who have no birth cer­tifi­cate yet and were born on the bor­ders: We will con­tinue to stand for our coun­try’s chil­dren, for them not to be state­less and to get equal rights and hold birth cer­tifi­cates,” said Daw Naw Hla Hla Soe.

“The govern­ment must sup­port not only the youth, but also the el­derly. There­fore, the more bud­get we get, the more so­cial sup­port we can pro­vide,” Pyithu Hlut­taw rep­re­sen­ta­tive U Htay Win Aung (NLD; Daw­bon) told The Myan­mar Times.

The UN has sug­gested ef­fec­tive, trans­par­ent and firm bud­gets will work to the benefit of the coun­try’s chil­dren.

“The [so­cial] bud­get is the low­est in South­east Asia. [Myan­mar] is very weak in the sec­tors of health, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial af­fairs,” said Daw Ni Ni Hla, head of the child rights ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­gram.

An­drew Nilsen, com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Save the Chil­dren and a mem­ber of the Child Rights Work­ing Group, sug­gested that the govern­ment should en­sure child ser­vices are kept in mind while de­cid­ing on bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions.

“Chil­dren’s thoughts are very soft and they use their imag­i­na­tions. See­ing the in­ner mind of chil­dren is very im­por­tant. I want to urge all the rep­re­sen­ta­tives to lis­ten to the voices of chil­dren and to co­op­er­ate to­gether to en­sure child rights and pro­tec­tions,” said Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw Speaker Mahn Win Khaing Than.

For child rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ma Thet Thet Zaw from Kayah State, im­prove­ments to ed­u­ca­tion, rights guar­an­tees, reach­ing a solid peace deal and in­creas­ing bud­get al­lo­ca­tions are all high on her wish list. She also sug­gested the govern­ment might con­sider cre­at­ing a tai­lor­ing course for chil­dren un­able to at­tend school. – Trans­la­tion by Emoon and Khine Thazin Han

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