James Magayi @magayijim
The government owes athletes Sh235 million in cash awards for the numerous feats achieved across the globe. Department of Sports in the ministry of Sports and Culture has consequently included the arrears in the budget submitted to National Assembly for allocation and subsequent settlement.
The government pays Sh1 million for every gold medal won with silver and bronze medallists respectively assigned Sh750,000 and Sh500,000. However, athletes who triumphed in championships dating back to 2010 are yet to get their rewards.
Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia attributed the huge accrued figure to Department of Sports being starved of funds during budget-making over the years. Kaberia also warned that the figure will increase to unmanageable level if not checked sooner because Kenyans are serial winners.
“We have not paid our athletes for quite a while and that is why the figure is high. “They give the country global recognition every time they win out there and so we should duly reward them what is due.
“The amount should also be reviewed because it has been a long time since. Actually the figures were last reviewed in 2006 and a new scheme is necessary,” Kaberia said
The department is equally waiting for an allocation of Sh 244 million earlier requested for national football team Harambee Stars preparation and participation in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Football Kenya Federation (FKF) had furnished the ministry with the budget and gone further to organise for a training camp in Germany in the lead up to the country’s appearance at the continental premier football bonanza in 15 years.
Department of Sports is confident of getting the allocations requested owing to a high absorption rate averaging 95 percent of funds. Seven regional stadiums are also set to benefit from significant face-lifts if Sh500 million sought by the department are granted.
After failing to host Africa’s second tier football competition two years ago, the government devised a plan to elevate several sporting facilities around the country to levels acceptable.
The Sh500 million is expected to complete renovation of the facilities that are in various stages of work. “Some of these projects are very close to completion. Nyayo stadium for instance needs very little work remaining while others are equally in progress,” Kaberia added.
The department also wants Sh66 million this year as it embarks on early preparation for the Under 20 IAAF World Championships in 2020.