DURING the time that he served as the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Neville Wisdom implemented a subvention programme by the government to assist our elite athletes with their training expenses.
Since it was introduced following the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, the programme has been extended and Timothy Munnings, the director of sports in the ministry, has confirmed that there are over 100 athletes currently benefitting from a budget of about $1.4 million in the subvention programme.
Some of those who are receiving subventions are also enrolled in colleges in the United States of America. But Munnings said the programme needs to re-evaluated before they can continue to proceed in the manner that it is currently being operated.
“Athletics has the bulk of it,” Munnings said. “But the government assists athletes in basketball, golf, judo, bodybuilding, boxing, volleyball, cycling, tennis, swimming and track and field.
“All of those sports have athletes who are receiving funding from the government through the athletes’ subvention programme.”
The payment for the athletes range from $12,000 per year to $34,000 per year, but Munnings said his ministry is in the process of reviewing the whole process.
“There are many athletes who are past eligible to be getting the subvention,” Munnings said. “Until some athletes are removed or reduced, it kind of interferes with new persons coming on or those who are on getting an increase.
“We are relying on the various federations to give us some assistance in making their recommendations of who should be coming on and who should be reduced. To bring persons on, in some cases, some persons have to come off.”
Munnings said they are working to bring some clarity to the existing programme or come up with a new programme, which he said is fully subscribed.
“My aim is to have some conclusion by the end of September,” said Munnings, who declined to indicate who will make up the committee to oversee the new programme that the ministry intends to implement.
“There will probably still be a very broad consultative approach to it because we want to get some feedback from the federations and there will be some dialogue or open discussion on it before it is implemented or launched.”