So it is official now! Sports entities and activities entrusted to the care of the National Council of Sports will split a little over Shs 26 billion in the new financial year. While Sports minister Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi insists that this represents measurable strides made from the Shs 500 million received 14 years ago, a biting mix of pessimism and despondency continues to percolate the atmosphere.
It doesn’t help matters that actors in the sub sector have always been robust in their objection to how the funds are appropriated. The smart money is on a messy plot unravelling fast once the appropriation process takes centre stage on June 28. A torrent of dark forecasts greeted last financial year’s Shs 17 billion budget. The predictions came to be chillingly accurate after one of the 48 sports federations overseen by National Council of Sports (NCS) gobbled up to 59 per cent (Shs 10 billion) of the budget. That federation was, you’ve guessed right, Fufa. A further Shs 1.5 billion was ring-fenced for the netball federation to prepare for the 2019 World Cup.
With NCS earmarking Shs 3 billion for its operating costs, 46 federations were forced to make do with Shs 2.5 billion. This stoked a chorus for a more equitable distribution of the pie with boxing and table tennis bosses hitting incredibly high decibel levels. NCS has been quick to argue that activity plans submitted by respective federations dictate how the money is appropriated.
Council, though, could be more worried about this sticking issue than it cares to admit. A number of observers strongly believe that NCS should admit to the hollowness of relying principally on the presentation of activity plans. The framework brought to the thinking should be one that factors in performance. Anything short of that will merely produce a haunting subtext that frustrates efforts to detoxify NCS’s image.
With Shs 6.2 billion and Shs 1.5 billion set aside for development and sports department programmes, NCS will have Shs 18.5 billion at its disposal this time round. Expect the sports fraternity to be diametrically opposed to any form of appropriation that isn’t well thought out. Especially since the word on the grapevine is that Fufa will not only gobble Shs 10 billion, but council’s operating costs are expected to increase three fold.