Getting a winning team of athletes to the Rio, Brazil, Olympics this August and ensuring the Soca Warriors mount a successful campaign for the 21st FIFA World Cup in Russia, in 2018 remains the two clear priorities of the Keith Rowley-led administration, said Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Darryl Smith.
Even as finance minister Colm Imbert juggles the issues of lower than desired energy prices, which affected the amount of revenue government has collected to meet the needs of citizens, Smith said athletes preparing to represent T&T at these events should remain focused and allow government to address issues that arose.
Inside the final 100-day countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Smith told the T&T Guardian he to date he's still unable to produce a budget for both events.
"Like I have said before, it's the first time I am doing a budget in pencil, so nothing is etched in stone. We living in a country where we know our economy relies on oil and gas. We have become accustomed to that. From day one, we said Olympics and the World Cup qualifier are our two top priorities," he said.
Smith continued: "In gymnastics, it's the first time we get a spot there; in rowing Ms Chow (Felice Aisha); the super heavyweight (boxer) in Mr Paul (Nigel); in cycling we have Mr Phillip (Njisane); and we have Mr Gordon (Jehue) with the hurdles. Of course, we are anticipating that Bovell (George) is in, and we are anticipating the track team. Ato Boldon is doing fantastic work with the women. With his camp, we have Richard "Torpedo" Thompson. We have Cleopatra (Borel) and a number of others out there. We are hoping we'll have a big team going over. As much as we could possibly help, we will do our best to help the team."
He added that the Ministry has stepped in to assist Olympic sailor Andrew Lewis, who required major medical treatment following a freak accident in Rio, last year, while conducting pre-Olympic training.
In addition, getting Olympic swimmer Bovell to major championships around the world at which he did this country proud was a cost the ministry absorbed in the athletes continued pursuit and delivery of excellence.
"We had to assist him. Mr Bovell is doing very good. I want to congratulate him on winning two gold medals. That wasn't part of the budget. We assisted him. As you go through your seasons, things prop up. You qualify for things. We had to cut seven per cent from our budget. That represented $33 million dollars. We are watching the oil price.
"A lot of people are jumping up and saying the oil price up in the forties, but they don't understand that three months down the road we would benefit from that. Minister (Colm) Imbert is doing a juggling act.
"But I will tell you this. It's the earliest our Olympic athletes have ever got their cheques and they are very pleased about that."