Saturday, May 11, 2013

Parliament endorses Community development, gender and children ministry budget estimates

THE National Assembly on Friday evening approved at least Sh.23.9bn/- for the ministry of Community Development, Gender and Children’s budget for the fiscal year 2013/2014, with some legislators claimed that it is the smallest budget estimate for the ministry in the in the country.  Earlier, the Minister for Community  Development, gender and Children Sofia Simba  tabled her ministry’s budget requesting Parliament’s  endorsement on his estimates that would cater for both recurrent and development expenditure. According to the minister Sofia, out of the estimated funds, at least Sh. 14.0bn/- would furnish the recurrent expenditure, whereas Sh. 9.9bn/- would be used for the ministry’s development expenditure. Out of these Sh. 4.5 bn/- to be obtained from internal sources and Sh. 5.4bn to be obtained from outside donors. The minister further detailed Sh. 5.3 bn/- has been allocated for other charges (OC) whereas a reasonable amount has been allocated with at least 8.6 bn/- for the workers’ salaries of the ministry.  Earlier, when commenting on the budget, before it was approved by the house, the Minister Sofia Simba answered some queries earlier questioned by legislators who wanted to know various issues pertaining to the development of the ministry and what steps has the government taken so far in part of their implementation.  However, while answering such queries, the minister came under fire when legislators demanded the whereabouts of the Sh. 2 billion earlier issued by the donors for the women development through their special fund known as Women Development Fund (WDF) which was taken away by the government. In putting it clear, the house committee on expenditure had suggested that the money should be brought to the women development fund so that it will help women and used for the purpose it was intended for their development in all the country. Initially the money had been issued to women for borrowing. However, the Minister further elaborated that, through this fund a total of Sh. 168 million had been issued to women as loans to small entrepreneurs from 21 district councils in the country.  She also noted that, an economic empowerment was done to women through their Women Development Bank whereby a total of Sh. 12.1bn/ was issued as loans given to entrepreneurs among them 11,931 are women and 3,097 are men Winding up, her speech in response to various queries raised by legislators, she said that the ministry through the national security committee has been following a notorious issue of female genital mutilation and has been working closely with the ministry to eradicate the growing phenomenon which is being practiced in few regions in the country.  However, she also noted of the various steps the government has taken as part of the control of acts of violence against women and children which are growing at alarming rate in various parts of the country, either the government has instituted a national strategy which has been prepared to fight all forms of gender violence in the country. Her ministry has established an education program to be coordinated with all district councils and other stakeholders in the country with a view to put awareness to people who are fond of practicing acts of violence against their spouses or children and killings of old people and albinos as related to superstitious beliefs. The pilot projects of the program have been introduced to notorious regions famous of conducting the malpractices like Mwanza, Mara, Manyara and Shinyanga. The trainings provided many with skills and experience which to some extent has helped to reduce the intensity of the problem of gender violence in these regions. Despite of all these successes, still the ministry has been faced with numerous challenges which include the increased acts of violence against children and women, coupled by poor education environment in community development colleges in the country and lack of transparency among the non governmental organizations and low budget allocation to run with important issues in the ministry. However, the minister noted that, gender issues in the country continue to grow at a considerable level in the country. To support her point, the minister noted that, there has been an increase of the number of women ministers in the cabinet from 15 percent in 2005 to 30 percent in 2012. In judiciary, she noted that, there has been an increase of women judges who have increased from 33 percent to 61 percent respectively within the same year.  Either she said that, there has been an increase of awareness in issues related to gender problems in the community and this has been successful owing to the introduction of gender issues in the national policy that facilitate the strategic planning of the different civil society’s budget programs. Despite of all these successes, still there are some forms of challenges such as the traditional customs which are still oppressive to the development of women in the c country.  However, she said adding that her ministry is in the forefront to educate the community, the work which it does in collaboration with the main stakeholders over the issue. The main idea is to ensure that perpetrators should desist from embracing the outdated tribal rules which are growing at an alarming rate and continues to harm women and children in the country. She further noted in her budget speech that, her ministry has laid down strategic plans which will enable to stop or if possible to eradicate notorious acts of gender violence being committed against old people in some regions in the country. However, she added that, these would be coordinated by help of the security committee groups at district and national levels where the majority of old people are. The regions she mentioned are Tabora, Iringa, Mbeya , Mwanza and Kagera.

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