Monday, Jul 22, 2019
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NSA’s spending should be investigated, prime minister challenged to act

• Fred Sturrup is currently out of the country and during this time, Nassau Guardian Sports will feature a few of his columns from the past. Sturrup’s regular columns will return on July 5, 2019.

On a number of occasions in recent years, in this space, I focused on the ineptitude of the National Sports Authority (NSA); the inconsistent manner in which it has been operated; and how in glaring instances, it has seemingly gone away from the tenets of the act of 2011 which is supposed to govern the quasi-government organization.

Each column was a red flag that the government of The Bahamas, under various political controls and several different sports ministers (Progressive Liberal Party and Free National Movement), either ignored or didn’t recognize. From the very outset, there were discrepancies regarding the way the NSA functioned.

It was autocratic and ran afoul quite early of sporting federations. The NSA’s focus was single-minded, New Providence-centric, with no obvious interest in paying attention to sporting facilities outside of the capital island.

Quite frankly, when one examined the National Sports Authority Act of 2011 and observed the organization, it was easy to conclude that the entity had become a farce. It was absurd. The intent was always for the NSA to be fortified, subsidized by the government, but also for it to build revenue through the marketing of an extremely fine product, the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, and other facilities.

The NSA has fallen down badly in maximizing what it has at its disposal. It should have, in a meaningful way, reached out to universities, similar foreign organizations and promoters for events and training programs to take place at the national stadium, the Betty Kelly-Kenning National Swim Complex, the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium, the Grand Bahama Sports Complex and several other facilities in the Family Islands.

The NSA should have been focusing on marketing to bring in international events for the facilities in New Providence and Grand Bahama; plus driving major domestic sports programs for the islands. There was very little success in this regard and certainly nowhere to the point whereby the NSA evolved to operating without needing a subsidy from the Treasury.

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars went into the NSA for salaries, maintenance expenses and refurbishment, and the return was really poor management.

Now, the country’s main policing department for funds spent by the government has exposed the NSA in a way that calls into question the credibility of all those connected to strange contracts and other spending.

The Auditor General’s report which was tabled in the House of Assembly is just another red flag about the NSA, those who managed and the ones who sat on the board. A full investigation is essential.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis should move quickly on this one. His government is often strapped for funding. He has been a proponent of transparent governance. This is yet another opportunity for him to demonstrate the sincerity of his often-stated commitment to transparency.

This situation ought not be swept under the rug. There are quasi-government organizations that the government is far behind in due and entitled funding. Yet the NSA, according to the Auditor General’s report, paid a consultancy firm over one million dollars for work “never done”.

It’s incredible! All this went on under the noses of sports ministers who, according to the act, were the bottom line factors.

When I questioned the workings of the NSA nothing was done. Let’s see what happens now.

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at e-mail address sturrup1504@gmail.com or on WhatsApp at (242) 727-6363.

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