Appeals for increased sports sector funding in the 2016/17 National Budget hit a snag after the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development on Tuesday insisted there was no money to make amendments prompting Parliament to approve the initial K2 billion (about $2.8million) towards the Ministry of Sports and Culture.
The funds are for the ministry’s operations and the finalisation of the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe among other programmes.
Speaking during deliberations in Parliament, Dedza East legislator Juliana Lunguzi (Malawi Congress Party—MCP) argued that the funds allocated to the ministry will not help uplift sports standards.
Another MCP member for Dowa East, Richard Chimwendo Banda also expressed dissatisfaction over the allocation, further stating that sports standards will go down as the ministry will not be able to implement its activities.
But Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said there was nothing he could do because there was no money available for adjustments.
“Unless members can justify that the ministry has more pressing needs than the current issues on the ground, I am afraid there’s nothing we can do. We have other pressing issues such as buying maize. Even if we defer this vote it will come back the way it is and that’s the reality,” he said.
The lobbying took more than 40 minutes prompting the chairperson of the committee of supply Esther Chilenje to ask the house to consider time factor.
Ministry of Sports and Culture spokesperson Christopher Mbukwa on Tuesday predicted doom for the Malawi National Council of Sports’ (MNCS) budget as Treasury has also not adjusted its K1 billion (about $1.4million) allocation which falls K300 million (about $432 000) shorter than what it received in the previous budget.
“The council’s budget is not part of the K2 billion which was approved today. But what I can confirm is that even the budget towards the council, whose vote was expected to be discussed at some point, has not been adjusted despite our lobbying,” he said.
The development means that all the sports associations that receive annual government grants—through Sports Council—for local and international engagements, will get the same amounts which were in the K1.1 trillion proposed budget which Gondwe recently presented.
As it stands, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) will each get K34 million which is about 67 percent less than what they got last financial year.
Reacting to the development in an interview yesterday, MNCS executive secretary George Jana said it was a wake-up call for sports institutions to be self-reliant.n