Government must sustain, expand investment in social sectors — UNICEF
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called on the government to sustain and expand investments in the social sectors to protect children and other vulnerable members of society.
It said while the government needed to rationalise expenditure because of the current state of the economy, the burden of fiscal adjustment must not affect children and the vulnerable.
The Deputy Representative, Fiachra McAsey, made the call at the launch of the UNICEF Budget Briefs and Roundtable discussion in Accra yesterday.
It was held on the theme: Investing in children — Accelerating SDGs through National Budgets.
The event provided the opportunity not only to launch this year’s Budget Briefs, but it also created the room to delve a little deeper into the overall progress made by Ghana to advance specific Sustainable Development Goals impacting children significantly.
Mr McAsey said Ghana had consistently articulated its commitment to achieve the SDGs by 2030 while the government had been working consistently over several years with development partners and stakeholders to accelerate efforts.
However, he said, across the world including Ghana, children lived in a world impacted by poly-crises, in which the multifaceted effects of global heating, destabilising conflicts and humanitarian situations, economic hardship and severe learning loss left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, continued to compound already difficult development the challenges which saw SDG attainment push further away.
“At the UN SDG Summit in September in New York, nations collectively called for substantial and urgent course correction to accelerate progress on SDGs for children, which are off-track,” he said.
He said course correction, required nations to identify and increase fiscal space to advance the SDGs for children, particularly in the social sector.
“In most cases, this involves difficult decisions, particularly in a time of economic stress, as in Ghana currently,” he said.
The Head of Budget Development and Reforms Unit, Ministry of Finance, Dr Alex Amankwah-Poku, said while there was a need to expand spending on children and the vulnerable, it was also prudent to examine the current fiscal space to know if such adjustments were possible.
He emphasised the significance of budget briefs in providing guidance to policy makers and stakeholders during budget hearings and the briefs inform decisions regarding allocation of resources for children and the vulnerable populations.
Dr Amankwah-Poku said the government would consider the suggestions made in the briefs during the preparation of the next budget.