The remarkable performance by Uganda’s national netball team, the She Cranes has re-ignited discussions on the prioritization of the sports sector with Parliament directing government to ensure funds allocated in the 2022/2023 financial year are released.
The She Cranes emerged fifth in the First Five Netball Series in New Zealand over the weekend. The team beat the No.1 ranked Australia 32-30.
Speaker Anita Among said that such performances are evidence that government should prioritise sports.
“I would like to congratulate our girls and as we go for budgeting, we need to make priority on sports. As women, we should support our girls,” Among said.
She tasked the Ministry of Finance to give a timeline in which the funds tor for the first and second quarters will be released.
“It is so disappointing that much as this House ring-fenced money for sports, the money was not released as per what was appropriated. Sports is a very good tool for mobilization,” she said adding that, ‘it is the best thing for tourism. When you have a sports team that is performing wonders, then the country is being sold’.
Solomon Silwany, Bukooli County Central MP asked the Speaker to direct the Minister of Finance to re-commit to release the funds.
“The Ministry of Finance has adamantly refused to support the sports fraternity. We need to invite the Minister for the fourth time to come and re-commit himself that he is going to give the Ministry of Sports all money appropriated as per the budget,” said Silwany.
The Minister of State for Privatisation and Investment, Evelyn Anite said that the Ministry of Finance will make a commitment towards release of funds on Wednesday, 09 November 2022.
“The reason why we were not able to release the money in totality was because in the first quarter, we did have challenges of resource mobilization owing to the fact that we had just come out of the aggressive Covid-19 and were not able to mobilise revenue from our taxpayers,” said Anite.
She added that ‘the good news is that this has gone to the past and we have been able to mobilise resources and we will release the money that was appropriated by Parliament in totality’.
Bugiri Municipality MP, Asuman Basalirwa linked challenges in the sports sector to what he described as, ‘archaic laws’
“Part of the problem relates to the law that governs sports in this country. That even explains why government delays to release money and some of the related confusion in the sports sector,” said Basalirwa.
He blamed government for frustrating the efforts of Budiope East MP, Moses Magogo to introduce the National Sports Bill.
“Was it deliberate for government to frustrate our Bill? Why are you not bringing the Bill now and why are we suffering?” Basalirwa wondered.
Parliament deferred the first reading of the Bill, with government arguing that there is a need for further consultations on the financial implications.
Magogo was scheduled to table the Bill on 09 March 2022, but the then Government Chief Whip, Thomas Tayebwa said that the Bill had several connotations of financial implications which require co-sponsorship.
Among however, directed Magogo to table the Bill for its first reading on Wednesday, 09 November 2022 saying that any harmonization should have been done during committee stage.
“The Bill was basically coming for the first reading. I don’t see a reason why somebody should be stopped from exercising his constitutional rights to bring a private members’ Bill,” said Among.
Government Chief Whip, Hamson Obua, formerly Minister of State for Sports explained that the Bill was halted pending review of the sports policy.