Why cut in Sports Ministry budget could leave gaps in development

The budget for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, has been cut by 30 percent from GH47millon this year to GH33 million in 2018, representing a reduction of GH14,110,775, figures from next year’s budget allocation to various ministries and government agencies show.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Attah, who presented the 2018 Budget statement on the floor of Parliament last Wednesday, gave very little attention to the sector. This paints a dingy picture for sports, given the number of jobs the sector can create if well harnessed.

Instead, the government says it plans to make the sports sector self-sufficient by exploring other sources of funding to fill in the gap, which is a very laudable idea.

“The government wants to create a National Sports Fund, which will be dedicated to the development of all sporting disciplines in the country.

In 2018, the Ministry of Youth and Sports will continue the process of passing the Legislative Instrument of the National Youth and Sports Act, pursue the enactment of the draft National Sports College Bill and the create a Sports Fund to improve sports development,” Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Attah said during the budget presentation.

In furtherance of this, sports minister Isaac Asiamah inaugurated a 13-member Technical Committee earlier this year,  to oversee the creation of the proposed National Sports Fund.

“Inadequate funds to provide the necessary infrastructure, build the capacity of sports personnel, attract and maintain highly qualified personnel, provide support services to elite and up-and-coming sports persons, provide adequate sports equipment as well as organise national and international sports events, have been the major reasons for our under-achievements in sports,” the minister said in May this year, during the inauguration of the committee.

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The committee, which is headed by deputy Youth and Sports Minister, Pius Enam Hadzide, is tasked with reviewing and putting in place institutional framework that will explore alternative revenue sources, apart from annual budget allocation from central government.

The idea of making it self-sufficient is very achievable. However, to make ensure that dream becomes reality, there is the need for the various stakeholders, including associations, to be professionally and transparently managed, and be made to account to the tax payer.

The creation of the fund, if realised, will free up scare resources for development in critical sectors of the economy, like education, health and sanitation.

However, the question now is, why slice the ministry’s budget when the said fund has not been established?

Whereas there are no immediate answers to this question, the fear is that the decision to cut funding by some 30 percent could seriously throw a spanner in the works of the ministry and its agencies. The ministry is already inadequately resourced, and the cut would make the situation even more appalling.

For instance, there is dire lack of sporting infrastructure, with majority of the regions and assemblies still without training facilities to hone the burgeoning athletes across the country.

Sadly, the few available facilities, like the Accra, Tamale, Kumasi and Essipong Sports stadiums, are all in bad shape. These facilities are in desperate need of funds to renovate them so as to prevent them from deteriorating beyond maintenance.

In spite of the fact that the Black Stars will not be participating at next year’s World Cup, having failed to qualify, the country will be participating other international competitions in 2018 – the Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina from the 6th to the 18th of October, as well as, the African Youth Games in Algeria and the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

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Also, the Black Stars, the Black Princesses, the Black Starlets and Black Satellites will be involved in various qualifiers for various competitions in the course of next year.

Therefore, the GH32 million budgeted for the 2018 fiscal year will certainly not be enough to support the successful participation of the Ghanaian teams in these competitions, and also fund much-needed infrastructure projects across the country.

More worryingly, the planned expenditure for this year, which stood at GH45.8 million – a 218 percent increase over the GH21 million in 2016, is not even enough to fund activities of the ministry and all of its agencies.  And now that figure has been further sliced for reasons not known.

This could hold severe consequences for the development of sports, as it could mare the gains the country has made in its effort to spread infrastructure to all the ten regions.

Meanwhile, if the government is able to successfully establish the proposed fund, as early as possible, the funding gap which has created by the budgetary allocation might not be felt

On a sporting side, the budget paints a grim picture for sports. Or perhaps, the government is telling Ghanaians that the sector is not important and cannot be used to create jobs, which has been the anthem of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led administration, and for which, the teeming youth of this country are so desperately in need of.

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