September 27, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Commissioner for National Commission for Children (NCC) has stressed the need for more resources to be allocated to issues affecting children in the country, stating that more investment would create a better future.
Olayinka Laggah was speaking yesterday at the commission’s conference room while informing newsmen about an initiative to get children directly involved in the process of preparing the country’s 2017 budget.
“We are making strides in the areas of child wellbeing but I still think more needs to be done. The children are our future. We want to see on a yearly basis more resources are put into children’s issues,” she said and noted that the more investment in children, the better they would become in the future.
She stated that as the commission responsible to monitor children’s issues, they were eager to know the amount of resources government would be putting into children’s issues.
She disclosed they have engaged the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to make available the amount government has put into children’s issues from 2013 to 2015.
She lauded the ministry for being ‘transparent’ in developing a draft which has given the commission an idea of how much government puts into children’s issues.
“Government is doing well in the areas of education and health but we want more to be put into children’s issues, especially disability. We still have a number of children with disabilities that we need more resources to be allocated to,” she noted.
With regards the move to have children fully involved in the budgetary process, Madam Laggah said for the first time children would be part of the preparation of the country’s budget from its inception stage.
She opined that last year, children were only allowed to witness the reading of the budget in the House of Parliament, denying them the opportunity of being part of the entire process to advocate for more resources.
“We have decided that children should also be part of the budgetary process. This year the budgetary process will be opened to children. Children will have the time to advocate for more resources to be put into their issues,” the NCC Commissioner said.
She revealed that they have succeeded in training a total of ten children from each district using a training manual that deals with issues on budgeting, advocacy, monitoring and child participation.
These children, she said, were now ready to commence discussions with officials from the different councils across the country on budgetary issues.
“We are starting with Moyamba, Kambia and Makeni for this week. At the end of the day, we want their voices to be heard. Two of the children from each district will be in Freetown to engage with the government at the national level,” she revealed.
Also, Deputy Director of Budget in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Tasima Jah, lauded the child friendly budget initiative, which according to him was an innovation in West Africa.