By Wezzie Gausi:
The NGO Coalition on Child Rights (NGO-CCR) has warned that the growing levels of public debt are likely to burden the survival of children in future.
The warning comes at a time the country’s public debt is now hovering at around K4.1 trillion.
In the 2020/21 National Budget, the country is expected to spend about K376 billion or 17 percent of the financial plan on interest repayment only.
NGO-CCR Chairperson, Desmond Mhango, said although the children would be the ones to square enormous public debt stock when the adults doing the borrowing are gone, it is unfortunate that authorities are not allocating enough resources to help the children develop into responsible citizens.
Mhango emphasised the need to invest in children and the youth to achieve inclusive, equitable and sustainable development for present and future generations.
“We are very concerned with the amount of money that is usually allocated to the wellbeing of children. But the debt that this generation will bear is increasing every financial year.
“As of June 2020, the country’s debts are hovering at around K4.1 trillion with a debt- GDP ratio of about 65 percent. This definitely will trigger financial panic in the domestic economy and a heavy burden for children,” Mhango said.
Save the Children Programme Quality Director, Matt Croucher, said the child-centred organisation decided to engage the Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs to share with them their concerns.
Croucher said it is important to promote and protect the rights of all children in the country.
“But for the country to reach that stage there is a need for joint efforts. So today we want the committee to hear our worries and that they should lobby Parliament for an increase in the budget towards children’s work,” he said.
Chairperson of the Social and Community Affairs Committee, Savel Kafwafwa, said they will take the issue to Parliament when the lawmakers start scrutinising the 2020/21 national budget in the chamber next week.
Kafwafwa, however, said there was need to harmonise child related laws if some of the challenges are to be dealt with.
Meanwhile, NGO-CCR has identified seven priority areas of child protection, social protection, early childhood development, basic education, nutrition, child labour and birth registration that it says need to be looked into with urgency.
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