The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs will have a budget of an estimated $392 million for the fiscal year 2019-2020, representing an almost $119 million variance from the budget which was revised for 2019.
Although the 2019 draft estimates for expenditure identified a budget of $396 million for the Sports Ministry, the Ministry actually received $272.4 million for 2019.
With the biggest sporting event, the Olympic Games carded for next year, Minister of Finance Colm Imbert assured that all necessary support will be provided to national athletes.
"We will ensure that the expansion of disciplines is appropriately supported with facilities and with appropriate training. We are in no doubt that our progress in the wider range of discipline would be showcased in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan," he said in presenting the 2019-2020 national budget in Parliament yesterday.
However, although the largest portion of the allocation which has over the years consistently gone to national teams under the sub-head, current transfers and subsidies, amounting to $186,651,694, it is a $2 million decrease from last year.
Chairman of the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) Douglas Camacho was relatively unenthusiastic about the allocation for sports in the annual budget.
"We will be seriously challenged, it is woefully inadequate," said Camacho. "The Olympics Games is recurrent expenditure and renovations of facilities like the Jean Pierre Sports Complex and Hasely Crawford Stadium is capital expenditure, it is not enough to cover either.
The Minister of Finance has outlined an estimated $90,576.000 for development programme expenditure funded from the infrastructure development fund. According to Camacho, "We will be challenged. Our best option may be to take a loan."
On the impact on the sporting disciplines under the SporTT company, he said, "It's never enough to meet the demands of NGOs, most got nothing last year. This will certainly affect their operations as it was inadequate in the fiscal year 18/19."
With 2020 being an Olympic year, Camacho is wary and thinks the best course of action will be to borrow.
"Unfortunately, sports is not viewed as sportspeople view it. In summary, it's not enough but we will have to do with what we have," said a solemn Camacho.
In the Minister's address, he made reference to T&T's participation at the August 18th Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, the IAAF World Relays and the Paralympics which took place in September, commending all athletes who received medals and also recognising the athletes who competed at the recently concluded World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Minister Imbert went on to express his keenness on T&T's future endeavours in hosting international events saying: "We look forward to hosting the upcoming 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games and the 2022 Pan American Aquatic Championships which will utilise most of our sporting infrastructure and provide an avenue to showcase the talent of our young citizens."