UNICEF Myanmar calls for funding of social protection strategy in new budget

 A cash benefit of K8, 000 per month for children aged 3-15 is one of the main features of Myanmar’s first national social protection strategy. Some 11 million children are expected to be beneficiaries once the strategy is fully implemented.—Photo: Ye Myint
A cash benefit of K8, 000 per month for children aged 3-15 is one of the main features of Myanmar’s first national social protection strategy. Some 11 million children are expected to be beneficiaries once the strategy is fully implemented.—Photo: Ye Myint

Yangon, 4 March— UNICEF Myanmar has urged the country’s parliamentarians to ensure sufficient funding for the first national social protection strategy, approved by the government last December, including payments for children, people with disabilities and the elderly.
With the country’s new budget currently before parliament, the time is right to implement a social protection system for 2015-2016 FY, UNICEF Myanmar said.
At a briefing Saturday, a presentation of the strategy suggested cash benefits for early childhood and maternity, cash allowances for children aged between 3 and 15, disability allowances and social pensions for senior citizens.
The key features include the provision of K15, 000 per month for 30 months to expectant mothers and children to age 2, K8, 000 per month to children aged 3 to 15, K16, 000 per month for children and K30, 000 for adults with disabilities, and K25, 000 per month to those aged 65 and above.
Other goals include school meals, public employment and vocational educational training (VET), as well as the integration of social protection services.
UNICEF representative for Myanmar Bertrand Bainvel said it is vital to ensure “the most vulnerable families and children in Myanmar society are not by-passed by the current economic and social change.”
“For the past two years, we have been discussing the opportunities for Myanmar to invest a great part of its revenues into services for families and children, and in particular to the social protection strategy,” he said.
“It now all depends on policy makers, including the Parliamentarians, to make social protection a reality for millions
of children and their families, right now, from the 2015/2016 budget.”
Positioning itself with Thailand as the two countries in ASEAN with the most progressive vision on social protection for families and children, the Myanmar government adopted the country’s first national social protection strategy last December.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement developed the strategy in cooperation with UN agencies including UNICEF, development partners and NGOs. — GNLM

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