The government slashed the sports budget for the upcoming fiscal year heavily although it reiterated the overall development of the sector.

Presenting the fiscal budget of 2020-21 at the joint meeting of House of Representatives and the National Assembly, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada allocated Rs 2.36 billion for youth and sports sector.

The government had provided sports sector a budget of Rs 3.99 billion last year apart from additional amount of four billion rupees for the 13th South Asian Games.

Minister Khatiwada, however, said that the government would invest in the overall development of sports sector in coordination with sports associations, province and local governments. “We will coordinate with stakeholders to construct sports infrastructure, organise competitions and conduct training programmes,” said Khatiwada in his speech.

Without giving any name, Khatiwada said that the government has allocated necessary budget for under-construction international-standard cricket stadium and other cricketing facilities apart from international-standard sports complex and provincial-level stadiums. Also, Khatiwada said the government would continue its plan of constructing one sports complex in each local level. Minister Khatiwada said the government had also allocated necessary budget for the construction of infrastructure and organising the ninth National Games.

Likewise, the government also allocated budget for infrastructure to organise national-level tournaments in Karnali Province. “As Karnali Province lack sports infrastructure, I have allocated budget to construct infrastructure that could host at least national level tournaments,” said Khatiwada.

“And I have also set aside budget to establish high-altitude training centre and covered hall in the province,” he added.

National Sports Council Member Secretary Ramesh Kumar Silwal described the budget as a mixed bag. “In principal, the budget is exciting as it has addressed various aspects such as ninth National Games, construction of stadiums and high-altitude training centre apart from infrastructure in local levels. The allocated budget is inadequate in implementing the programmes announced by the government,” said Silwal.

“Out of the total budget of Rs 2.36 billion announced for the Ministry of Youth and Sports, which is already around 40 per cent less than the previous year, the NSC will get around Rs 1.80 billion and more than half of that amount will be spent in the salary and perks of the staff across the country. With the remaining amount, we will not be able to even think of being successful in our target of taking a huge stride in international arena,” he added.

But Silwal was hopeful of getting additional budget from the government like in the previous year. “The government had allocated extra budget upon our request to conduct various plans and programmes and we are hoping for the same this year as well,” said Silwal.

He also said that the NSC had initially submitted detailed plans and programmes including two international-standard stadiums with a demand of Rs 19 billion. “After the coronavirus pandemic episode, we had requested the government to at least continue with the previous year’s amount. But that did not happen in our case,” said Silwal.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 29, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.