Same old plans and limited budget for sports

Published On: May 31, 2023 08:30 AM NPT By: Anil Malla Thakuri

KATHMANDU, May 31: If we look back at the budget allocated for the last seven years, the investment in sports is decreasing. The budget, which once reached about four billion, is constantly decreasing. On Monday, Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat presented a budget of Rs 1.75 trillion for the fiscal year 2023/24. However, in the budget submitted by him, he did not mention the budget size of sports.

However, the game plans were made public. Most of them are unorganized schemes that have not been implemented since the last 6/7 years. Although Finance Minister Mahat included various schemes for youth and sports in the budget, the total size of the budget was not made public in the federal parliament. There are huge piles of haphazard planning out of which it is mentioned in the budget to build four cricket stadiums at once.

The government's decision to invest in other cricket stadiums is not right when the Mulpani Cricket Stadium, which has been prepared for more than a decade, is not being completed. It has been mentioned in the budget that the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground will be made of international standard and four more stadiums will be built for cricket. However, it is wrong to focus the budget on building more cricket stadiums when Nepal is criticized at the international level because the construction of a single stadium has not been completed since the last one and a half decades.

In the budget speech on Monday, it was mentioned that Girija Prasad Koirala Cricket Stadium in Biratnagar, Dasharath Chand Cricket Stadium in Baitadi, Fapla Cricket Stadium in Kailali and Subarna Shumsher Cricket Stadium in Kathmandu will be constructed.

It is wrong to shelve these plans for years without completing a single stadium. The National Sports Council, the executive body of Nepali sports, has been mentioning that in accordance with the plan to develop sports from the grassroots, sports should be included in the curriculum from classes 6 to 12 and sports should be included in some percent of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in line with the objective of increasing private sector investment in sports. However, those aspects were not mentioned in the budget. Nepal has a proud history in Asian and South Asian sports in martial arts. However, programs to encourage them as well as construction of a covered hall are not mentioned in the budget.

National Sports Council member secretary Tanka Lal Ghising says that the budget size is not included in addition to the fact that Council's priority plan is not included as well.

“Some new topics have come in the budget. That's the good part. However, if the current plan is not implemented, the new plans may not be effective," Ghising said. In the fiscal year 2018, a budget of Rs 3.35 billion was allocated for sports. Next year, it was increased to Rs 3.99 billion.

However, since 2021, the sports budget has been decreasing. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic around the world, the size of the sports budget has been reduced. Every year the budget has been reduced in sports under various pretexts. In the current fiscal year, the sports budget is Rs 2.09 billion. The budget is expected to be less than this in the upcoming FY,.

This year, when the policies and programs came, the ceiling was set to prepare a budget of Rs 1 billion and capital spending of Rs 500 million for sports. As the budget will be prepared according to this ceiling, it is certain that the investment in sports will decrease as well. 

This year, Nepal is participating in the 19th Asian Games in China. The government has also mentioned this in the budget. However, Nepal's preparations at the Asian level may not be effective if the budget is allocated within the ceiling. Like every government, this time too, there is no concrete plan for that program. 

For the last ten years, the government has copied and pasted the sentences in the budget that states that infrastructure for adventure sports including high-altitude training center, rafting, canoeing, paragliding, rock climbing and ultra-marathon will be built.

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