National sports funding limited, as decreed by finance minister

Much has been made about the government (through the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture) falling far short of the request of $100,000-plus dollars made by the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) to fund the team to the recent International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The BAAA reportedly got $50,000 instead. Track and field personnel, and their supporters, expressed bitterness and Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle was the target. Her critics missed the big picture. The Minister of Finance, Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, is a prudent one and his spending practices are tight.

His national budget limited sports funding, and, accordingly, it is no easy task for Minister Rolle and her associates in the ministry’s finance department to find excess funds to give the BAAA or any other sports federation, on top of grants already approved and meted out. Any government minister, at present, can only work with what has been allocated and approved.

Prior to killer Hurricane Dorian, finance minister Turnquest had tightened the country’s treasury belt. The sports ministry can only utilize that which is available and as in a home with a good bit of children, she has many sports organizations to deal with, core ones and those of lesser affluence.

Post-Hurricane Dorian, Turnquest is hinting at a 10 percent budget slash across the board. There is the priority of addressing what is necessary, nationally, in the aftermath of the disastrous hurricane. According to a Guardian Business report, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis “has asked for an austerity measure to be put in place.”

This is so because “in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, worries over rising budget deficits began to emerge as it became apparent that damage from the hurricane could be in the billions of dollars.”

Then, there is the Moody Rating Agency to come to grips with. The agency, according to reports, has marked the country’s deficit to go to almost $100 million higher for 2019/2020 than our government projected. The finance minister recognizes Moody’s alarming figure and thinks the outlook is sort of fair.

He has spoken to the country’s bad record when it comes to being on pace with deficit projections. In short, budgets in all government agencies, are seriously challenged.

It’s not as if Minister Rolle has a great deal of funds stashed away and is being a scrooge. The funds for sports, like everywhere else, is limited. It’s as simple as that.

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

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