NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – After the withdrawal of betting firm SportPesa from sponsoring sports in the country, Deputy President William Ruto has announced that the Government will allocate Sh500m to fund sporting activities.
Ruto, who was speaking during the 2017 Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards, said there is no turning back on the Government’s decision of taxing betting and gamming firms 35 percent.
“The Government will allocate Sh500 million to fund sporting activities after betting firm SportPesa pulled out of sports sponsorship in the country protesting new regulations passed by Parliament to control gambling,” the Deputy President said.
He added, “The Government has stepped in to fill the gaps left by the firm, which has pulled out of the sports sponsorship over taxation issues, payment of taxes is not optional but a must and not negotiable. I want to encourage all the other sponsors to continue paying tax and continue supporting sports activities.”
Early this month, SportPesa, who supported major sports activities in the country, pulled out all local sports sponsorship following the implementation of the 35 percent taxation by the government.
SportPesa CEO, Ronald Karauri said they had to relinquish the sponsorship so as to stay afloat and continue operating in Kenya and in the process they will be saving Sh600m annually that catered for sponsorships.
However, Ruto assured Kenyans that the withdrawal of sponsorship by the firm will not interfere with sporting activities in the country.
The Kenya Sevens team is one of the sports that was heavily affected and has led to the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) deliberating on cutting their wages that will directly affect the players who are on contract.
KRU on Wednesday cancelled the announcement of the naming of the Kenya Sevens team that will do duty at the third and fourth legs of HSBC Sevens World series in Sydney and Hamilton.
Kenyan Premier League giants Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards are other teams that have been affected as they prepare to represent the country in the CAF assignments. The sponsorship was also used to pay players salaries.
SportPesa was also paying the salaries of Harambee Stars head coach Paul Put and Technical Director Andreas Spier.
Sports stakeholders will be waiting to see how the Sh500m the government has allocated will be distributed to the sporting activities.
At the same time, the Deputy President said that the government will hand over four new stadia in April and another five in June.