Select Committee Queries Accountability for Sports Funding

A select committee of Parliament has directed officials from the National Council of Sports (NCS) to avail accountability for funds disbursed to federations for major international games this year.

The seven-member committee constituted by the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among started its investigations into activities of the National Council of Sports (NCS) on Tuesday.

The decision to form the committee followed a heated debate in which MPs reported inconsistencies in appropriated figures by Parliament and releases to the sports sub-sector. The MPs also questioned the inconsistencies in money given to different sports federations without clear criteria.

Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel, the National Council of Sports General Secretary told the committee this morning that the Council was allocated 47.81 billion Shillings for the current financial year. Out of this, 18.03 billion Shillings was expected in quarter One and another 18.48 billion in quarter two.

However, Ogwel said that the Ministry of Finance released partial funding of 7.8 billion Shillings in the first Quarter of the year and of this, 7.15 billion Shillings was earmarked for major outings like the Olympic and Paralympic games, Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games, East Africa Community Games, and Islamic Solidarity Games.

Of the remainder, 402.2 million Shillings were earmarked for Contract Staff salaries, 71.5 million Shillings for gratuity expenses, and 173.6 million Shillings for Non-Wage expenditures. Ogwel explained that an additional 1.5 billion Shillings was released on September 20 2022, five days before the end of the quarter to cover non-wage recurrent expenses, leaving them with a deficit of 8.66 billion Shillings.

The committee also learnt that for the second quarter, the Ministry released an initial 4.14 billion Shillings and an additional 4.1 billion Shillings out of the expected 18.48 billion Shillings, leaving a shortfall of 10.237 billion Shillings for the two quarters.

Ogwel further told the committee that the Council apportions funding through resolutions on prioritization of ‘niche or priority sports’ which have a comparative advantage for Uganda.

The country currently has a total of 51 registered sports federations. They include, among others, the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA), Uganda Athletics Federation, Uganda Netball Federation, Federation of Uganda Basketball Association, Uganda Boxing Federation, Uganda Rugby Union, Uganda Paralympic Committee, Association of Uganda University Sports, Uganda Woodball Federation, Federation of Uganda Motor Sports and Uganda Cricket Association which have been listed as the priority funding areas.

“The National Council of Sports formulated funding guidelines to streamline support extended to the different federations or associations. Whereas some preliminary work has been done, the conclusion of the funding guidelines is awaiting the input of the Attorney General since 2019,” Ogwel said.

He further explained that the Council on February 10, 2021, formulated interim funding guidelines to strengthen the criteria currently used for the allocation of funds under a scale of preference that ranks major games as first priority, followed by qualifiers, ranking of a particular sports federation, compliance to statutory provisions and requirements like accounting and others.

Documents before the committee indicate that the Council spent 4.86 billion Shillings on Uganda’s participation in the Commonwealth Games that took place from July 28 to August 8 in Birmingham and 1.16 billion Shillings to facilitate Uganda’s participation in the 5th World Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey from August 9 to 18 2022.

Under qualifier events, the council disbursed 332.2 million Shillings for the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association (FIBA) World Cup qualifiers in Rwanda, 100 million Shillings for the Madagascar FIBA Africa U18 Women Associations, 458.2 million Shillings for the Rugby 7s World Cup Finals in Cape Town, South Africa and 288.5 million Shillings for the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.

Another 156.4 million Shillings was spent on the Uganda U20 Athletics Team that travelled to Colombia for the World Athletics Championships in August and an additional 550 million Shillings to National Federations or Associations for different activities.

The Select Committee Chairperson Laura Kanushu questioned how the Council qualifies the federations that get money. She also demanded that her committee is furnished with specific accountability for the money given to the different federations saying that the figures so far provided are generic. The commitee also asked for a list of all people employed by the National Council of Sports.

Peter Ogwang, the Minister of State for Sports acknowledged that there are weaknesses in the Council and that his Ministry is working towards streamlining its activities. He asked the select committee to accord him time to avail more information in camera regarding a section of federations he has so far visited.

Ogwang says that some of the federations are not fit to be federations and their leadership is wanting.

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