Budget for children behind the rise in GDP

Budget for children behind the rise in GDP

To obtain data from public offices is worse than getting blood out of a stone. Even the Head of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) Birol Aydemir was complaining about this matter in his latest press conference in Istanbul. Imagine what kind of troubles others have to overcome.

Professor Nurhan Yentürk, Director of NGO Training and Research Department of Bilgi University, has been involved for the last couple of years in this difficult task of obtaining information from government officials. She is sharing the information she has compiled in a series of publications by Bilgi University, titled, “Monitoring Government Expenditures Guide.”

I had read her previous books titled, “Guide to Monitoring Military and Interior Security Expenditures,” and “Guide to Monitoring Social Protection Expenditures” with great interest, and had shared them with you in my column. The other day I found her “Guide to Monitoring Government Spending on Children” on my desk at the office. It is a publication that provides the opportunity to see the other side of the medallion in those days where many activities are held within the framework of the April 23 Children’s Holiday.

From 2008 to end of 2011

A study conducted at Bilgi University has unfortunately revealed that in Turkey where one third of the population is under 18 the increase in the government spending on children was behind the rate of increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the same period. The study that covers the four-year period between 2008 and 2011 was conducted in these four fields: Social service and social aid, health, justice and prevention of child labor.

For the 22.6 million of children of ours under 18, the rate of spending in these four fields in 2011 is only 1.11 percent of the GDP. This ratio was 1.02 percent in 2008, while it jumped to 1.33 percent in 2009 to go down to 1.21 percent in 2010 and to 1.11 percent in 2011. These figures indicate that the increase in government expenditures for children has been behind the rate of increase of the GDP.

The breakdown of the 14.5 billion Turkish Liras of government spending for children in 2011 is as follows:

- Health expenditure 10.3 billion liras

- Social service and aid 3.8 billion liras

- Justice expenditure 342 million liras

- Expenditure on fighting child labor 629,000 liras

As you can see, the lion’s share of the spending is for health; but do not assume that this is in favor of children. Government expenditure in health for adults is also at satisfactory levels when compared to other fields.

Because the expenditures in those four fields were not detailed and categorized, the calculations in this study were made using indicators. Unless all the expenditures for children are monitored according to their size and effects, Professor Yentürk said, then developing policies about children would be unhealthy and very difficult.
Professor Yentürk and her team are warning us that we should be monitoring how much government spending is done for children. We should all exert efforts for the sharing of information with the public about the expenditures for children to be detailed and categorized by all public institutions.

And let’s force the government to produce suitable policies prioritizing the benefit of children in the light of these data.

Is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who advises our women to have at least three children aware of the fact that the increase in public spending for children is behind the increase in the rate of the GDP? I am very curious.

Meral Tamer is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on April 24. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.