By Tabora Bojang
The Minister of Youth and Sports yesterday explained that his ministry has little access to funds generated under the Sports Levy, funds raised from call termination fees by GSM companies to support development initiatives of his ministry.
The Government introduced the levy in 2019 and is expected to raise hundreds of millions from the telecommunications sector to finance the least funded sector of the economy, youth and sports.
The sports ministry was allocated D113.397 million in the 2020 budget with the understanding that sports levy would pump more funds to support its programmes.
However, appearing before the National Assembly select committee on tourism, arts, culture, youths and sports as part of its engagement with the government ministries for further legislative works on estimates of the 2021 budget, Bakary Badjie said even though the sports development levy was earmarked to support many programmes and projects in the sector, money has not been forthcoming from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.
“The ministry is in dire need to access funds from the levy. There has been money but accessibility is the problem and we cannot tell how much was accrued. This ministry is considered an underdog and 60% of the population are youths and they have a lot of hope in us. But under funding makes our work very difficult and most of the young people do not know this,” minister Badjie added.
He further lamented that his ministry struggles to access funds, especially for international matches where occasionally a budget would be sent to the finance ministry but funds would take a lot of time to be accessed.
“We would have to ask the GFF on most occasions to come in and we would later go back to the ministry to negotiate accessing the funds,” Badjie charged.
The permanent secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Saikou Sanyang said the ministry’s inadequate allocations for the 2019 and 2020 budgets were based on the revenue earmarked from the levy “but things did not work the way they should.”
He said the ministry is not the least pleased with the way Finance has been controlling the funds, describing it as “inappropriate.”
Several NAMs, including chairman of the committee and members for Brikama North Alhagie S Darboe and Upper Fulladu West Sanna Jawara all expressed shock over the non-accessibility of sports levy funds despite several assurances by the minister of finance.
Darboe said his committee is considering engaging stakeholders for the setting up of a committee to oversee the sports levy.
For NAM Jawara, the allocations to the ministry which is one of the most important pillars in the government, are grossly inadequate hence little impact is realised in the advancement of the youth.