Women, Girls Displeased with the 2013 Budget of the Republic of Kosovo

Following the first reading of the budget in the Assembly of Kosovo, KWN issued a statement, delivered to all parliamentarians, key government officials and media, which read:

“We, as citizens of Kosovo, deplore the government’s and Parliament’s recent initial passing of the Budget of the Republic of Kosovo for 2013. We disagree with the ways in which our elected officials have decided to spend our tax monies. We do not believe that this budget represents the best interests of the citizens of Kosovo. Additionally, it largely fails to meet the specific needs of women and girls, despite Minister Kusari-Lila’s recent public commitments to gender responsive budgeting.

“We are gravely concerned that capital expenditures comprise 41% of Kosovo’s central budget. Do we need so many more government buildings? How does a one million-euro White House for the Presidency benefit average Kosovar citizens? Further, we are outraged that more than 22% of our budget has been allocated to roads (€267,700,000). Are roads more important than the wellbeing of Kosovars? And how will these investments sustainably contribute to human development – for both women and men? We do not believe that the implications of these investments on short- and long-term human development in Kosovo have been adequately assessed.

“Meanwhile, departments that hold real potential for investing in economic development and social welfare for the many Kosovars trying to make a living in rural areas remain under-funded (e.g., Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Development, €23,359,230; Department of Rural Development, €109,050).

“While education is crucial for ensuring that Kosovars can compete for jobs in local and global markets (e.g. towards continued remittances on which many Kosovars depend for survival), we do not believe the government has invested sufficiently in ensuring access to quality education. Half of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s €44,679,592 budget will be spent on capital expenditures (€22,650,000), which will not necessarily enhance the quality of education available.

“Expenditures related to the rule of law receive a meagrely 10% of the 2013 central budget, threatening the ability of police and judiciary to ensure the rule of law. Meanwhile human development and social welfare arguably remain under-funded. Healthcare receives only 8.85% of the budget and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare 18.4%.

“The budgetary choices you have made do not set aside sufficient resources for crucial programs towards furthering the wellbeing of women and girls, as well as citizens in general. The Agency for Gender Equality, at €185,770, remains under-funded, which impacts its ability to ensure that gender is mainstreamed at all levels in Kosovo as per the Law on Gender Equality. Other laws and programs towards gender equality, including the Kosovo Program against Domestic Violence and Action Plan, remain just as under-funded as they were in 2012, despite recommendations made by the Kosova Women’s Network, among others.

“In sum, we believe that this budget does not sufficiently address the priorities of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework, which commits to economic development, rule of law, human development, and social welfare. We call on you to take immediate action to re-examine and revise the 2013 budget so that it better addresses the real, priority needs of women and men in Kosovo towards human development – not only towards the personal pet projects of a few government officials.”