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MPs block Treasury bid to wrestle Sports Fund

Sports Cabinet Secretary Echesa Rashid

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 24 – The National Assembly shot down an attempt by the National Treasury to strip the Sports Ministry of control of billions of money accruing from betting taxes after it annulled the Public Finance Management (Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund) Regulations.

MPs led by Committee on Delegated Legislation Gladys Shollei (Uasin Gishu, County Woman Rep) and Leader of Majority Aden Duale (Garissa Township) told National Treasury to fast-track the stakeholder discussions before re-submitting the regulations in the House.

They said a procedural error meant the National Treasury had failed to substantially comply with the law-making process.

“I am urging the ministries and other state agencies to consult parliament and its committees before they publish any of these regulations so that we don’t use the committees of the House to annul these laws. Consultation will allow us to have a better consensus,” Duale stated.

The Shollei led Committee went further, saying some proposed amendments were duplicated existing regulations in the National Sports Fund.

Sports Principal Secretary Ambasador Peter Kaberia and SportPesa CEO Ronald Karauri address the press at the Sports Ministry Headquarters on April 23, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

“This is something that needs to be dealt with urgently and I will be urging the National Treasury to ensure that they rectify the errors and immediately bring it back to the House so that we don’t have any of our sports people or people involved in arts suffering for lack of funds yet there is a mechanism in the Finance Act, 2018 for them to have access to funding,” Shollei stated.

The regulations are contained in the Finance Bill in which the National Treasury proposes to lay framework that will allow the ‘Commissioner shall pay the tax deducted from winnings into the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund established under Section 24 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.’

The executive summary of the Committee’s report recommended the National Assembly disallow the amendment.

Duale and Public Accounts Committee Chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) faulted the management of the sports industry by corrupt and self-seeking officials as the reason where the fund was being taken to Treasury.

“Because on the amount of money that will be allocated to this Fund and because this Fund will primarily deal with three aspects namely; sports, arts and social development and the social development aspect of it will deal mainly with the Universal Health Care for all for the next five year. We would like to pass the message to the Ministry of Sports that based on the amendment that was passed in the Finance Act, it will now be managed,” regulated by the National Treasury, said the Leader of the Majority.

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Harambee Starlets players line up before their African Women’s Cup of Nations qualifier against Equatorial Guinea at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on June 6, 2018. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

“For a long time, we have had serious challenges in funding sports, and therefore it is important that regulations meant to guide the funding of sports must be enacted. It is also unfortunate that when we talk about sports in this country, what comes to mind is corruption,” Wandanyi stated.

“It has been proven that a lot of people actually get involved in sports with a specific agenda to reap unfairly. I think in the fullness of time, this Parliament needs to guide this country in terms of putting in place mechanisms and systems to ensure that sports in general is not misused by a few connected people for their own benefit at the expense of the youth of the country,” Wandayi added.

Sports federations have opposed the move by the National Treasury to set up the parallel kitty because it will compromise the Sports Act, oversight roles and sports management in the country if passed into law.

They say the Ministry of Sports will have no control of the sports fund since the administrator will be appointed by the Treasury CS. The stakeholders say the Sports Fund Bill is supposed to be under the Sports Ministry as indicated in the Sports Act.

House Sports, Culture and Arts Committee chairman Victor Munyaka (Machakos Town) and Nominated MP Jennifer Shamala said the funds which are raised from raise funds through sports lottery, investments and any other means and disburse the funds for the development of sports and recreation.

“Our sports personalities in the rugby, athletics and now football who are on the verge to qualify for next year’s AFCON, are really excelling so much when Kenya has very few sports modern facilities. This Fund is going to help the youth of our country so that if we will be able to create sport academies across the country we would be able to nurture the talents and we will be able to make Kenya shine across the globe in the field of sports,” Munyaka added.

“We talk about the national character of countries like the UK, but what is the national character of this country, what are our values, what are our believes, what are our aspirations. It is through this Fund – once it is set up properly – that we will have a more vigorous social development programme in place and we as Kenyan we will be able to better define our national character and then move collectively,” Shamalla noted.

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