Resentment against the use of the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund has started building up, with a section of Members of Parliament expressing concern that the monies accrued may not be used in priority areas.
Nation Sport has learnt that most legislators are unhappy with the decision by the government to give the motorsport governing body Sh420 million to support the country’s bid for the much anticipated return of the Safari Rally to the World Rally Championship (WRC) series.
The Sh420 million was presented to the motorsport authorities by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he flagged off this year’s Safari Rally edition of the Kenya National Rally Championship at Moi Sports Centre last week.
While the MPs are not exactly opposed to the allocation, they are, however, unhappy with the machine-gun rapidity with which the government disbursed the funds to a sport they argue is “elitist” and “has nothing to do with the poor people.”
The government has never had a tradition of funding rallying championships as it has lately done and the legislators believe that there are powerful people directing the allocation of money from the fund.
Two top leaders in the National Assembly from the ruling Party have quietly expressed their disapproval with the state of affairs and have vowed to seek the intervention of the House to redress the imbalance.
The two, who didn’t want go on record out of fear of reprisals by virtue of their positions, argue that they will petition the House to ensure the overall administration of the Fund is relooked into.
Senators Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay) and Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) also expressed surprise at the one-off disbursement and noted that money from the Fund must be directed at priority because that was the purpose and insisted that stakeholders must be involved in its allocation if it has to serve the purpose.
“Allocating this kind of money to Safari Rally suggests that we are doing budget for the elite. This is a misplaced investment,” Kajwang said in his reaction to the disbursement that have left a bitter test in the mouth
Mutula says the stakeholders must not only be brought on board but they must have a say on how the Fund should be expended if the money have to achieve its intended purpose.
Machakos Town MP Victor Munyaka, who chairs the Sports Committee which is mandated to oversight the Sports Ministry, confirmed that committee has received complaints over the focus of the fund, saying it was looking into the issue.
“The committee is equally concerned that money from the funds will go towards sports that have nothing to do with the youths and other vulnerable sectors of our country,” he said, noting that much as the committee is not opposed to the government support Safari Rally’s global bid the allocation was on the higher side.
The committee is expected to meet next week to discuss the issue and invite managers of the Fund to understand the situation.
Among the proposals the committee is mulling over is to have a pre-disbursement scrutiny of the monies from the Fund before they are finally given to the beneficiaries.
“Unless the committee intervenes, worthy causes in sport will be ignored. We want the committee to have a pre-disbursement scrutiny to secure public interest,” Mr Munyaka said.
This year’s Safari Rally which ended last week was a World rally Championship candidate event and, in order to placate the world governing body on the need to promote the rally to global series, the government allocated Sh450 million in the 2019/20 budget.
The Fund, which was created after the government abolished the National Sports Fund through an amendment to the Sports Act, receives funding from taxes levied under the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act.
According to the law, 35 per cent of all proceeds to the Fund are to go to Sports development.
Total annual projections for the Fund stands at Sh13.2 billion. But according to records submitted to the Committee on Sports on Tourism of National Assembly, a total of Sh8.5 billion was collected by the Fund between January and June 2019.
Out of the Sh8.5 billion, Sports received Sh2.9 billion from the Fund.
The huge allocation to rallying was delivered even though that the National Sports Academy is not complete and stands at 80 per cent completion.
The Ministry has pending Bills running estimated to be in excess of Sh500 million.
However, it is the status of the stadia in the country that has left the MPs reeling in anger.
It is not just the Jubilee Party promise for five international level stadiums, but also the state of most stadiums across the country can only be described as deplorable.
For example, Ruringu stadium in Nyeri is under construction by the state at a cost of Sh320 million, but Treasury has only allocated it Sh64 million over the last three years.
Kamariny in Elgeyo Marakwet is being upgraded at a cost of Sh575 million, but for the last three years, the government has given a paltry Sh58 million.
Chuka Stadium cost of construction is Sh274 million (Sh119 allocated), Wote Stadium cost of construction is Sh299 million (Sh76 million given) Marsabit stadium is Sh324 but only Sh88 million given and Karatu Stadium in Gatundu South estimated cost is Sh259 million but only Sh39 million has been given.
The committee has toured the stadia and ascertained that their completion rate stands at between 10 per cent to 30 per cent.