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Friday, October 23, 2009

UNICEF praises Ecuador for increasing social investment

QUITO, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Friday praised the Ecuadorian government for its efforts to increase investment in social welfare in the first quarter of 2009 despite the global financial crisis.

In a report released Friday, Cristian Munduate, UNICEF representative in Ecuador, said among the around 14 billion U.S. dollars of central government budget, more than 3 billion went to social sectors, accounting for 24.5 percent of the total.

As of April, 46 percent of social budget had been allocated to such sectors as education, health, housing and social welfare, she said.

Investment in education, health, housing and social welfare increased 52.5 percent, 22.9 percent, 6.2 percent and 17.7 percent, respectively, compared with 2008, said the report.

The increased budget also went to programs which guaranteed the well-being of Ecuadorian children and teenagers, she added.

Ecuadorian Social Development Coordination Minister Jeannett Sanchez said she was satisfied with UNICEF's conclusion, but notedthere is still much room for improvement despite the positive results.

Ecuadorian Finance Minister Maria Viteri promised renewed efforts to increase social budget. "We are investing in hospitals, schools, infrastructure restoration despite the grave economic crisis," he said.

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