Treasury has ordered the Malawi National Council of Sports (MNCS) to frame its programmes for the upcoming financial year within K2 billion, a figure that falls short of demands by associations of different sports codes.
The government is expected to table the proposed National Budget in Parliament next month but before that, government departments were given maximum financial limit within which to plan their activities.
The Sports Council’s K2 billion limit has triggered fears that there might be a yawning shortfall for the sports industry, if all the programmes that were postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic are fixed in the 2020/21 fiscal year. They include football and netball national team matches.
Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning spokesperson Williams Banda also confirmed the ceiling and ruled out any chance of increasing the funding as the ceiling was set when the Covid-19 had not disrupted sports programmes.
Instead, Banda said associations must set priorities where it can channel the funding.
“We must appreciate that the economy has been knocked down by the Covid-19 as well. So, even though the budget has not been passed, sports industry should not count on upward adjustments,” he said.
Banda pointed out that the focus of government in as far as the budget is concerned is improving the health sector and food security.
He therefore urged sports associations not to rely on government grants but rather “raise additional funds elsewhere so that they fulfil their set goals.”
Sports Council acting executive secretary Henry Mereka said though the ceiling of around K2 billion is almost the same as last year, this time it will be tough.
There are over 40 associations that benefit from the funds allocated to the council which, on average, uses around K600 million for its operations, according to financial statements.
“The annual subventions we get can never be enough. This time, however, it is going to be tougher because we will have to counter the effects of coronavirus. That would consume more funds,” said Mereka.
However, the K2 billion ceiling means it fails to meet the needs of the Netball Association of Malawi (NAM) and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) which jointly need nearly around K2.5 billion.
On her part, NAM general secretary Carol Bapu said they expect the new fiscal year to be more demanding financially considering that they might fulfil the programmes that failed to take place due to Covid-19 pandemic.
“In the current financial year, we were expected to play the Under-21 World Cup qualifiers and in the Africa championship. If this competitions are rescheduled later this year, it will mean we shall spend significant amount,” she said.
NAM is already on the verge of losing K100 million from the current budgetary grants because those competitions were postponed.
Confirming their K950 million proposed budget, Babu said it meant to carter for national team games among other assignments.
“The funds, if given, will be used for developmental programmes, Presidential Cup, international competition and capacity building,” she said.
Last year NAM received K200 million, a major trim to their near a billion Kwacha proposal.
FAM is targeting to use the proposed funds on the youth, women and senior national teams’ participation in international tournaments.
According to information we have sourced, FAM has applied for K350 million to host the Under-17 Cosafa Cup, K650 million for the Flames’ games, K100 million for the Under-20 and K400 million for women football.
But having not played three World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers due to coronavirus, FAM is expected to spend more.
“The proposed programme was presented in January this year. It was not know by then that Covid-19 will affect our calendar,” said FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka.
“What it means now is that we might have more games in the next financial year once the disease is contained.”
The Malawi Amatuer Boxing Association (Maba) said it pegged its proposal at around K50 million. It is targeting to use the funds to purchase rings at improve grassroots boxing.
“We have asked for two rings each budgeted at K6 million. The other funds are for hosting tournaments and capacity building,” said Maba president Pyson Likagwa.
Malawi Paralympic Committee president James Chiutsi said they need more funds to promote its newly introduced sports codes.
“There are a number of programmes we have listed down this year. For several years we have only been involved in athletics. Recently, we introduced powerlifting, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
“We really want to ensure that they are played nationally because they are currently just been done in either the south and central,” he said.
Chiutsi said they have also asked for K25 million from the council.
“We will also use the funds to have each sports code have it’s own association. This will ensure that we are more effective,” he said.
On Covid-19 potential threat to cause funding programmes, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning has said the suspended programmes due to the pandemic could be funded once fixed.