'Budget was silent on child protection issue'

Budget was silent on child protection issue: Save the Children

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The 2020-21 union budget was silent on the serious issue of child protection even as the country witnessed rise in cases of violence and crime against children, Save the Children, a global non-profit organisation observed.

The NGO, which works for children in 120 countries including 19 states in India said children needed a greater centrality in the union budget speech, while recognising the focus on women, SC, ST and OBC.

"Despite increasing cases of violence and rise in crime against children, the budget speech was silent on child protection issues, with no corresponding enhancement in the budget outlay for Integrated Child Protection Services. A lot more needs to be desired to meet the demand for increasing the public funding for Child Protection Services to 1.5% of GDP, for education to 6% of GDP and for health to 2.5% of GDP by 2021. This will ensure that adequate public investment for children is made so that we, as a nation, can meet 2030 Sustainable Development Goals," said a statement issued by the NGO on Tuesday.

Pointing out that allocation for the National Child Labour Project was not adequate, the NGO said the new budget allocated Rs. 120 crore compared to Rs 100 crore in 2019-20. It was Rs 120 crore in 2018-19. "This amount is too low for the country that has over one million children under 14 who face exploitation in the form of child labour," it said.

Although there is an enhancement in the education outlay and marginal increase in budget, greater focus on Early Childhood Care and Education and school education would have provided the required focus on children, especially for those in the age group of 3-6 years, it said.

On the health sector, the NGO said there was a slight increase in the spend on health care as percentage of total GDP. "It is now 1.6% in FY-20 budget estimate with a small rise from 1.5% in FY-19. Whereas, our National Health Policy mandates to spend 2.5% of GDP on health by 2025," it said.

The focus on children, especially the most vulnerable, is integral to ensuring that the Union budget contributes to building the desired Aspirational India and caring society, it said.