By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
LIKE a mother with three children, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle said her triple portfolios will be treated the same in the allocation of funds.
Rolle, the Member of Parliament for Sea Breeze, was making her contribution to the Free National Movement government’s 2020/2021 budget report in the House of Assembly yesterday as she indicated that none of her portfolios will be treated any different, although she claimed there are persons who believe that she favours one over the others.
In her address, Rolle constantly dubbed it an “unprecedented budget in an unprecedented time for budget for the people” whom she said she intends to spend equally on youth, sports and culture. “I’m just not the type of mother that has favourites,” Rolle said. “They’re all going to share and share alike.”
The three-headed ministry is budgeted at $18,938,186.00, which represents a reduction of $5,143,194.00 or 21 per cent from the last fiscal budget.
“This simply means, given the changing circumstances and limited financial resources, a portion of the ministry’s funds had to be reallocated,” Rolle said. “This cut ensures that in the given circumstances, there are adequate provisions to help with public health expenses, social safety net programmes, job creation and sustenance, food security initiatives and tourism rejuvenation.”
Rolle noted that although her ministry has suffered necessary deductions, the differences are not below actual expenditure.
She said expenditure are in accordance without below the approved budget estimates for the last budget cycle, hence the following allocations:
Ministry’s general programmes, including summer programmes - $2,300,000.00 or 12.14%.
Personal emoluments, minus summer employment staff - $5,331,280,.00 or 28.15%.
Youth - $1,518,280.00 or 8.01%.
Sports - $2,839,829.00 or 14.99%.
Rolle drew reference to the fact that Athletes’ Subventions were approved at $1,346,150.00 last budget period. A difference of $338,562.00 was not spent based on the date of this record.
“This position would inform any reasonable adjustment or rationale for new budgetary spending,” she said. “I hasten to add for the benefit of our athletes of whom we continue to be immensely proud, that in accordance with the existing sports policy, no active athlete approved for subvention would be affected by the item adjustments.
“However, where an athlete is not performing in accordance with standard policy, the usual adjustments will be applied as recommended by the Department of Sports and our standard consultation with the respective federation sporting bodies.”
Rolle revealed that the ministry, in the last fiscal period, provided direct and indirect financial assistance to 93 elite athletes in 11 sporting disciplines at an approximate cost of $1 million.
“We will not waiver in that commitment,”: said Rolle, adding that a committee, headed by the University of the Bahamas’ Athletic Director Kim Rolle, has been established to recommend policies for enhanced accountability of the subvention system.
And Rolle disclosed that while organization fixed grants (to member associations and federations) were reduced by 20 percent, they will continue to provide assistance to the athletes through their federations to successfully compete in regional and international meets.
Rolle also took the time out to commend men’s 400 meters gold medalist Steven Gardiner and women’s 200m silver medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo and the World Championships for their performance in Doha, Qatar last year.
“All medal athletes, in addition to Ms Tynia Gaither, who qualified for the final at the championships, were rewarded the customary prize monies for their performances in the amounts of $40,000.00, $30,000.00 and $5,000.00 respectively in accordance with the established sports policy,” Rolle said.
She also singled out Grand Bahamian Chavano ‘Buddy’ Hield, who won the National Basketball Association (NBA) three-point shooting contest during the All-Star weekend and subsequently earned a $86 million dollar contract over the next four years with the Sacramento Kings.
“Buddy continues to make us proud and certainly he makes me proud to serve as the Minister of Sports during a time when he and as many of our athletes are breaking glass ceilings,” said Rolle, adding that each year, Hield has hosted the 27 Elite Basketball Clinic at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium and Day Sessions at neighborhood parks.
“His sports acumen and community mindedness speaks to the example of a sports superstar that our youngsters and athletes can emulate,” she stressed. “We must invest more in sports to identify and groom more ‘Buddys’, who are value adders to the public purse.”
She also mentioned that there are at least 20 Bahamian players playing professional baseball in the minor leagues and another group who are befitting through athletic scholarships at various colleges throughout the United States.
And she praised Grand Bahamian Nathan Bain, who in his senior year at Stephen F. Austin University led the Lumberjacks men’s basketball team to a huge upset win over No.1 ranked Duke and sparked a relief effort that yielded more than $100,000.00 to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
However, Stephen F. Austin were subsequently suspended by the NCAA and their fantastic performance was erased from the history books.
“Buddy, Nathan, Shaunae, Steven are all testaments to the fact that the money will come if we invest in the people, and this budget and this government has been and will continue to do just that,” Rolle stated.
Faculties repairs and construction
Rolle revealed that the facilities of the National Sports Authority are in the process of being renovated.
She noted that the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium suffered considerable damage due to its use and a long term shelter for the evacuees of Hurricane Dorian. She commended the NSA and its General Manager Quinton Brennen for their exceptional hospitality provided to those in need.
And in case you’re wondering about the construction of the baseball stadium, Rolle said work is steadily progressing with a proposed completion date set for December 2020.
“The cost of the project to date is $27,486.658.00,” she said. “I want to thank this government for its substantial investment in sports and in this facility that will help to save our youth. An unprecedented $27,486,658.00 invested in sports.”
The ministry under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, is expected to host its summer youth programme from July 27 to August 21.
“We also continue to monitor guidance by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for best practices of reopening youth, sports and culture sectors and activities,” she stated. “In this Covid-19 environment, our programmes will be guided by and subject to the advice of the Ministry of Health.”
The ministry announced on March 12 during the first day of competition at the National High School Track and Field Championships at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium that all sporting activities with large gatherings will be postponed until further notice.
All sporting activities in the country ceased as the coronavirus pandemic started to spread. No date has been given for the resumption of sporting activities, even though the Bahamas government is moving towards a full reopening of the economy by July 1.
To date, the Bahamas has been affected by 103 cases of the virus, which claimed the lives of 11 persons. There are more than 7 million cases worldwide with over 400,000 deaths. The United States has recorded more than 2,000,000 cases and over 100,000 deaths.