Unicef: Billions spent on SA govt debt will hurt children’s programmes

Unicef’s South African representatives on Friday made submissions to Parliament, which held public hearings on the 2019 Adjustments Appropriation Bill and Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement.

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CAPE TOWN - The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has raised serious concerns about how the Adjustments Appropriation Bill and government’s spending priorities going forward would affect South African children.

Unicef’s South African representatives on Friday made submissions to the Standing and Select Committees on Appropriation, which held public hearings on the 2019 Adjustments Appropriation Bill and Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement.

The bill was to effect adjustments on how money is allocated from the National Revenue Fund to be used by government in the current financial year.

The country’s struggling economy and the billions to be spent to service government debt would have a negative impact on social programmes for children, according to Unicef.

Social policy specialist at Unicef Russell Wildeman told MPs that the redirecting of funds to other areas would eat away at programmes supporting children.

“The fact that expenditure will continue to be reduced for programmes and services that benefit children directly is of concern to us, this is foundational spending. We remember the difficult time after 2008/2009 when the government made a conscious deliberate decision to pump in more money, especially into local government,” Wildeman said.

The organisation recommended that the National Treasury publish a report of work done by government to arrest growing spending arrears in the social sector departments.