Like health and education, sport must be prioritised – Ekandjo

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Otniel Hembapu
Windhoek

In his 2017/18 budget motivation speech, Minister of Sport, Youth and National Services Jerry Ekandjo again reiterated that – just like the health and education sectors – it is high time for government to prioritise the sport sector and treat it as equally important as other social sectors.
Delivering his budget motivation speech in the National Assembly recently, Ekandjo expressed serious concerns with the ever-declining resource allocation to his ministry in almost every financial year, saying the current budget constraints severely compromise his ministry’s ability to fulfill its mandate and operational obligations.
While fully recognising the financial and economical difficulties faced by the country, Ekandjo assured that his ministry remains committed and ready to compliment government in implementing policies and programmes aimed at uplifting Namibians, but was quick to remind that fully living up to their mandate remained a major challenge due to continuous budget cuts and the meagre allocation of resources.
For the 2017/18 financial year, the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service received N$385 million from the N$62.5 billion national budget tabled last month by Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein. The latest allocation is N$100 million less than the N$491 million the ministry got in the last financial year.
As a result, Ekandjo was forced to slash down on his allocation to various enterprises resorting under his ministry, with the Namibia Sport Commission (NSC) experiencing one of its worse budget cuts when it got only N$21,6 million for the 2017/18 financial year – a 17-million cut compared to the N$38.7-million the NSC got in the last financial year.
“During the tabling of the 2016/17 budget, I highlighted the fears of the ministry, particularly with regard to our international obligations. In this regard I appealed that if nothing is done, we may face sanctions that will hit our participation internationally. I want to sound the same warning that if we continue the way we are going, our country will end up reversing all the gains of the past 27 years.
“It is easy to destroy what took an eternity to build. I know we have many challenges before us, but I also know that they can be managed without destroying the foundation already laid,” Ekandjo cautioned during his budget motivation speech.
“With such funding and the pressure being exerted on our ministry by the youth and sportsmen and women, it has become a nightmare to respond and satisfy multiple requests for funding.
“Young people and sport men and women whenever they have events, which do not fall within or cannot be catered for by the budget of our ministry, will approach different government ministries and agencies and yet they end up being referred back to our ministry,” he remarked.
When it comes to international participation, Ekandjo said it was becoming difficult for his ministry to satisfactorily fund the participation of various national sport codes when they compete internationally, considering the fact that they often have to pay athletes’ accommodation, air tickets and participation fees in foreign currency and that can effectively drain the ministry’s budget.

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