Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the government’s expenditure of $344.47 million on sports during the last 12 months, is demonstrative of the administration’s recognition that the sector is essential to advancing sustainable growth and development in Jamaica.
Making her presentation in the 2013/14 Budget Debate in Gordon House on April 30, Mrs. Simpson Miller said of the sum, $172.8 million was channelled through the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) as grant support to the country’s 42 national sporting associations.
She said an additional $45.62 million was allocated to government entities to fund sports programmes and provide operational support, while some $44.14 million was spent on infrastructure development projects.
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The Prime Minister informed that assistance, in the form of grants totalling $14.05 million, was also provided to the Athletes Welfare Fund, with a further $8.82 million expended for sports scholarships. Further, she said, that over $59 million was allocated to other organisations and events involved in sports development.
Noting that successive administrations have implemented plans, processes, policies, and programmes supporting the sector, the Prime Minister said this is indicative that “we see sport not only as a recreational activity…sport is big business.”
“These expenditures are not enough to meet the needs. It is my hope that despite the difficulties it faces, the private sector will be able to do as much as it can to support sport in Jamaica,” she said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller also highlighted several notable achievements by Jamaican sportsmen and women and administrators at the local and international levels.
These include: the senior track and field team’s 12-medal haul in the London 2012 Olympics, inclusive of four Gold, four Silver, and four Bronze; the junior team’s table topping 68 medals at the 2013 CARIFTA Games in the Bahamas, comprising 28 Gold, 25 Silver and 15 Bronze; and an unprecedented 30 records broken at the Boys and Girls Athletics Championships in March.
She also noted business executive, Dave Cameron’s election as West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President and Michael Muirhead’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer; Wavel Hinds election as West Indies Players Association (WIPA) President; the outstanding unbeaten knock of 175 runs of 66 balls by Chris Gayle in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 20-20 cricket tournament; and Marlon Samuels’ selection as one of Wisden’s Players of the Year for 2012.
The Prime Minister also highlighted Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President, Captain Horace Burrell’s election as a Confederation of North and Central American and Caribbean Football Association (CONCACAF) Vice President; and the Sunshine Girls impressive performances in netball.
“Our country continues to excel in sport. Our individual sportsmen and women and our outstanding sport administrators and support teams continue to demonstrate that, given the right environment, we can match, if not do better than, anyone else in the world,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.
The Prime Minister made her presentation on the theme: ‘Jamaica: Going for Growth and Development – Unleashing Our Potential’.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter