BLOG: Abolishment of Sports Fund is harmful to Kenya’s sport
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich presented the budget outlining the country’s spending plans for the 2019/20 fiscal year. Treasury allocated Sh5.3 billion from the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund (Fund) to support the youth, women and persons living with disabilities in areas like sports and arts.
The Fund replaced the National Sports Fund (NSF), which was abolished following the repeal of certain sections of the Sports Act in November 2018.
The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, which gives the National Government the responsibility of promoting sports and sports education, supports treasury’s establishment of the Fund.
A critical look at the architecture and design of the Fund shows Kenya’s sports is the ultimate loser. The Fund is administered by a board consisting of among other appointees, the principal secretaries in charge of various ministries including finance, sports, arts, health, and education.
Involving several ministries in a purely sport related issue such as funding a sports organization will reduce efficiency and enhance bureaucracy in the decision-making process.
For instance, the IAAF World Athletics Championships is set for Doha, Qatar, in September 2019. Athletics Kenya (AK) will submit its budgetary proposal to the board. Involving the principal secretaries of other ministries in this process will diminish the autonomy of the sports ministry in the decision making process.
Further, the composition of the board does not represent the various stakeholders of the sports industry. The athletes and sportspersons who proudly act as Kenya’s ambassadors during regional and global sports events are not represented. The various national sports organizations, including the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK), have no representation in the board.
Sports industry employs thousands of Kenyans and acts as source of revenue for both the national and county governments. The establishment of the NSF created hope and gave the country an opportunity to invest in sports in a specialized manner. The development of sports in the country took several steps backwards following the abolishment and replacement of the NSF.
Ben Akech is an attorney at Kirui & Akech LLP, a law firm in Washington, DC