The main objectives of this assignment are to generate evidence-based information that will promote:
- greater visibility of children’s issues in the Government of Mongolia’s budget processes; and
- contribute to strengthening the effectiveness of public expenditure on children.
The aim was to assess the extent to which budgets and expenditures in the education, health, social protection and child protection sectors are aligned to child-focused policy commitments in these sectors. This will serve to demonstrate whether strategic planning is feeding through to effective expenditure.
Our review of Mongolia’s planning and budget arrangements and processes highlighted that:
- The country has robust framework legislation for managing the planning and budgeting processes. This legislation sets out principles to guide planning and budgeting. It is notable that these principles do not include “the best interests of children” or anything similar.
- The framework legislation identifies the stakeholders government needs to involve in the processes for developing plans and budgets. Children are not identified as stakeholders, and so there are no special arrangements in place to ensure children can make inputs.
- The arrangements for the assignment and delegation of functions make the capital city and the aimags the key implementing agents of services to children. They receive the majority of funds for these functions as special purpose transfers from the state budget, which leaves them little discretion in managing the allocation of funds for implementation.
- In the structuring of budgets, the use of budget programmes, budget activities and economic classifications needs to be aligned with good practice principles to ensure information is better structured for management and analytical purposes. See Annexure A in this regard.
Our review of Mongolia’s budgets and expenditures, as they related to children, found:
- Expenditures benefiting children amounted to MNT2 077 billion in 2019. This spending grew at an annual average rate of 18% between 2015 and 2019. It increased from 4.6% to 5.6% of GDP, and from 15% to 18% of consolidated government expenditures over the same timeframe. This bodes well for the realisation of many of the SDGs relating to children, though challenges remain in certain areas, such as nutrition.
- Local governments are primarily responsible for the delivery of social services to children. It is therefore encouraging that, over the period 2015 to 2020, special purpose transfers that fund these services grew at an average annual rate of 20.5%.
- The budget execution analysis indicates that if the government allocates funds to children’s services in the state and local government budgets, there is a very high probability that all the allocated funds will be used for the intended purposes.
- The government responded to the COVID-19 crisis rapidly, increasing the value of the Child Money Program, Food Stamp Program and social welfare pensions, as well as increasing employment in the sectors that deliver services to children, namely education, health and social welfare. However, the deficits the government incurred in responding will put downward pressure on future budgets, which may involve budget cuts to programmes that service children, unless the government can be persuaded not to cut these programmes.
Taking into account all that the Government of Mongolia is doing well, there are a number of areas where further improvements can be made:
- Ensure “the best interests of children” guides planning and budgeting.
- Recognise children as “stakeholders” in planning and budget processes.
- Facilitate children’s participation in planning and budget processes.
- Role-players should regularly reflect on their role regarding children.
- Review the structure of budget and expenditure information.
Further details on these recommendations are provided in the report, as well as details of advocacy opportunities for improving the delivery of child protection, social protection, education and health.