Coronavirus Bowls Out Sports Budgets in Nepal

After the Nepal federal government cut the sports budget, the attention of sports workers has been focused on the budget to be formulated by the state and local level. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the new coronavirus, the sports budget seems unlikely to be a priority.

The first case of COVID-19 pandemic was confirmed in Nepal on 23 January 2020 when a 31-year-old student, who had returned to Kathmandu from Wuhan on 9 January, tested positive for the disease. As of June 12, there are 4,614 cases of COVID-19 and 16 deaths in Nepal.

Representatives of the state and local levels have already indicated that. According to the federal structure, the state governments must submit their state level budgets by June 22, and local level budgets by June 23.

Sport a Possibility

The ninth national sports competition is being organized in Gandaki in the coming fiscal year. However, the policy and program presented by the state last week did not prioritize the issue of the Ninth National Games. It does have the support of Gandaki Chief Minister Prithvi Subba Gurung, who is considered a sports fan.

The situation is similar in Karnali, where coronavirus infection is on the rise. The federal government has allocated Rs 2.36 billion ($31,000,000) for sports for the coming fiscal year. The Ministry of Youth and Sports has allocated Rs 374.6 million for all the seven states, and Rs 151.9 million for 753 local levels.

In addition, the state will get Rs 5.5 million and Rs 9 million for villages and municipalities in the budget of spending only on infrastructure. Minister for Social Development of the Far Western Province Krishna Raj Subedi says that sports will be included in the budget as much as possible. He says that the Far West has allocated Rs 150 million for sports last year, and next year’s sports budget will be around the same.

It is said that the problem is seen due to a lack of coordination between the budget allocated from the center and the budget allocation at the state and local level. The center allocates budget only for certain programs. As the Ninth National Sports Center in Gandaki will do, but that may not be a priority in the budget allocated by Gandaki.

The Nepalese play many sports at national as well as at international level. The most common sport played in Nepal is cricket followed by football. Nepal’s national sport is Volleyball – officially declared on 23 May 2017.

Chief Minister Gurung says that there has been a lot of thinking in the past by the state on one side and the union on the other. There has been a lot of work to be done. The government’s sports policy includes stadium construction programs in each state.

Similarly, there is a program to build a playground at each local level and a separate budget has been allocated for conducting the Presidential Running Shield competition.

Coordination

The federal government has stated in the budget:

“Sports infrastructure development, competition, organizing and training programs will be conducted in collaboration with the federal, state and local levels for the development of discipline culture in sports, physical fitness and mental development and overall development of sports sector for the country’s identity and prestige through sports.”

Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ram Prasad Thapaliya, says that the state and local levels also need to join hands in sports as the central budget alone is not enough.

As the sports sector has been well reflected in the local level budget in the current fiscal year and sports has been included in the list of common rights, there is little hope among the sportspersons to give priority to this sector.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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