The Minister of Social Inclusion, Esteban Bernal, who is also the one who presides over the Social Welfare sector (education, health, work, housing and social inclusion), says that for President Guillermo Lasso, social policy is a priority. The budgetary execution of a total budget assigned up to December of $1,633 million should be at 67.22% by this date, but they are at 62.68% ($1,032 million have been executed). The difference has its explanations.
Of this total $1,633 million, the bulk, about $1,237 million, goes to bonds for the various vulnerable sectors. They are the human development bonds for people with disabilities, pensions for the elderly, among others. There are also new bonuses such as those called “future childhood”, which benefits pregnant mothers and is part of the campaign to combat child malnutrition. To date, $828 million in bonds have been delivered, a figure that represents 65.2% in execution. The figure reveals that these resources are paid with extreme punctuality.
Minister Bernal assures that the amount for bonds has been growing significantly. While in 2020 $937 million were delivered, already in 2021, with a little more than seven months of management by this Government, $1,194 million were reached. Finally, this year $1,232 million will be delivered. This last figure benefits 1,458,000 family nuclei in Ecuador. The number of beneficiaries is also higher than 1,237,000 that existed in May 2021, when the Government began. The new “future childhood” bonus for expectant mothers benefits 69,000 families.
Meanwhile, some $281 million, a second segment of current spending, covers a series of items related to personnel expenses, between administrative and territory (those who work in the protection centers), goods and services, but also expenses that they have to do with child development centers, for the elderly, people with disabilities and special protection. It is that in this segment of social protection there are 17 different services provided by the ministry.
In the 2017 child development centers serving 85,000 children. In addition, attention is given to 210,000 children through the Growing with Our Children centers, which have 4,700 educators deployed in the territory. Bernal recalls that the CDIs were opened 100% by presidential order, which has represented an effort of $42 million. ANDThis has precisely allowed the care of boys and girls from 12 months to 36 months, who can thus count on playful and educational care, as well as nutritional care. “In the CDIs, four of the five most important meals of the day are delivered: breakfast, mid-morning, lunch and mid-afternoon,” she says.
A third item of $95.8 million is devoted to investment, which is also related to new projects and payments related to the various social protection centers.
The budget execution for current expenses is at 63.68%, that is, at the moment $979 million have been delivered out of a total of $1,538 million. However, the investment item is at 41.72%, of the $95.8 million, $39.9 million have been accrued.
Though the Social Welfare numbers are within the expected range, he explains that there are always certain problems at the time of execution and gives examples. The program for expectant mothers that began in July planned to serve 20,509 mothers, but in the first months it was not possible to contact all those identified. At the moment there are already about 18,700 contacted and it is expected to continue increasing the number of beneficiaries. There is another that must be evaluated and they are the problems that they are generated by the lack of liquidation of programs that cooperators must comply with. These are third parties that can help expand care, but often delay the issue of liquidation of resources. Now a mechanism has been achieved to speed up disbursements, but he warns that there is a shared responsibility of donors (public or private) on this issue.
On the other hand, the minister says that in terms of education, the annual allocation has been increased by $534 million.
On the issue of execution in the health area, he assures that President Guillermo Lasso and the Health Ministers who have occupied that portfolio have done an unimaginable job to break up the entrenched mafias that did not allow control by the authority, but that “You can’t just snap your fingers and fix that years-old problem.” He considers that at this moment the process of “medicine is close” and believes that this will improve conditions.
But he also assures that in Social Welfare similar problems are also experienced with the aid workers. It ensures that they receive $214 million from the State to serve 460,000 beneficiaries. But control had been precarious. That reports were made via Excel or by hand, so it became almost impossible to verify the accuracy of the reports. Now a technological system has been created, made by the ministry, which has already been massified by 25% and which allows a technologized and day-to-day report. (YO)