Gender responsive budget: good effort, but result still elusive
KATHMANDU, July 25: Even though Nepal has been practicing gender responsive budget (GRB) since 2005, making categorical allocations for programs that exclusively target women, effectiveness of such budget, however, remains under serious doubt.
The doubt surfaces mainly because there is a huge gap between commitment and implementation, admitted Finance Secretary Krishna Hari Baskota. Still more, the real impact assessments of the gender-responsive programs have never been done, he added.
Records show, government´s allocation for gender responsive programs jumped to Rs 73.33 billion, that is 19 percent of the total budget, in 2011/12, whereas it was meager Rs 19.09 billion (11.3 percent of the total budget) in 2007/08.
Through this allocation, the government every year has been committing of implementing programs that fundamentally raises capacity of women, enable them to enjoy dividend, rights over property, access jobs and income opportunities, improve quality of their living, enhance their role in social and political sphere and empower them by enabling them to participate in policy formulation and implementation.
“The overall endeavor has drawn such a huge international applause that today policymakers, activists and other civil society members of numerous countries take Nepal´s GRB as a role model,” said Sangeeta Thapa, deputy chief of UN Women.
But despite such success, top officials whose efforts made GRB possible themselves raised number of concerns over its sustainability. The foremost challenge of GRB, according to them is: it is presently designed on an ad hoc basis.
“We have not yet translated the long-term vision document on gender equity into periodic plans and medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) that guides the annual budget. The very fact that gender equity occupies just 3 percent weight on MTEF speaks volume of this gap,” said Balananda Paudel, secretary of Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare.
Officials also noted that even though the MoF adopted the GRB, other ministries are still to be sensitive on the issue. Also the country continues to lack high-powered focal agency to own, lead, coordinate, implement and monitor the gender sensitive programs, even though such programs are largely multi-sectoral.
“Besides, we have been receiving insignificant funding even from donors that are supporting us in the gender issues. And worse for us; there remains a thereat of discontinuity of fund flow due to shifting priority of donors,” said Baskota.
While officials attributed such threats to changing and contradictory international commitments, they, nonetheless, stressed on the need to legally and financially equip the respective government agencies and develop mechanism for linking impact with policy reforms to ensure better results out of the GRB.
“Efforts we have put in so far are in right direction, but we cannot remain content with that because we are yet to reap the strikingly positive results out of the GRB,” said Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun.
He also stressed the need to intensify GRB in the public financing system and prepare GRB annual plan with target and act accordingly. “We must also critically assess allocation against expenditure,” said he.