WILKS... it has always been known that anything in the vicinity of this budget was never going to be adequate to meet the demands (Photo: Observer file)

THE Sports Development Foundation (SDF) is seeing an increase in its expenditure for the 2022 fiscal year. However, this increase is in some part due to the inactivity in local sports during the period of 2020 and 2021 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Although it has a budget of just over $696 million dollars for 2022, SDF General Manager Denzil Wilks said earlier this year that the body projected the figure to be stretched to its limit because of requests expected from various associations as sports return to normal operations this year.

This return to normalcy means that as competitions resume, so too do training camps, and leagues for athletes and teams across various sporting disciplines. It also means more regional and international tournaments have resumed in 2022, and the SDF said that the majority of the requests are expected to be for assistance with travel.

Wilks says that those anticipated requests did materialise as expected, with less traditional sports such as table tennis, power lifting, lacrosse, rugby union, and rugby league seeking assistance, but says that this is normal given Jamaica's sporting prowess.

"The sporting fraternity in Jamaica has been extremely powerful throughout the years," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"It has always been known that anything in the vicinity of this budget was never going to be adequate to meet the demands."

The Observer sought information on expenditure for the first and second quarters of 2022, which were between January 1 and March 31, and April 1 and June 30, (SDF was allowed by the Ministry of Finance to run its quarters based on the calendar year because of the nature of its operations) but was told those figures cannot be shared, as an official audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers is not complete. However, in its annual report for 2021 dated at April 27, 2022, the SDF projected that roughly $254 million would have been spent in its first quarter, and around $174 million in the second, while $143 million is expected in expenditure in the third, and just under $125 million in the fourth.

Spending throughout each quarter would concern the development and rehabilitation of infrastructure across the island, grants to national sporting associations, tickets for sporting events, grants to government agencies, special projects, summer camps, Zones of Special Operations Interventions, Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), athletes' welfare, and special allocations which would assist other organisations in funding sport related activities.

The 2022 budget represents a 55.76 per cent increase on the budget of $441 million for 2021, and a 53.56 per cent increase on 2020, when the pandemic started.

National associations are expected to receive a total of $199.4 million from the 2022 budget, which is an increase on the $196.6 million received in the 2021 fiscal year, and an even larger increase on the $158 million received in 2020.

With the hosting of the Carifta Games last April, and the Jamaica Football Federation's FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign, a combined figure of $153.2 million has been given for those endeavours.

Infrastructural projects was expected to cost the SDF $183 million in 2022, a significant increase from the $137.2 million spent in 2021, but not significantly more than the $180.5 million spent in 2020. However, Wilks says that this expenditure has surpassed its budget.

"This is, the first time since I've been here, and probably the history of the SDF that our expenditure on infrastructure is ahead of what was budgeted," he said. "It is good that we are able to respond in the way that we are, but it is leaving us in an extremely tight situation, and we would love if we could receive additional funding."

The SDF gave $7.8 million to PFJL for the Jamaica Premier League for 2022, a $200,000 increase on funding given in 2021, and a $2.6 million increase on that budget for 2020.

Ten million dollars each was earmarked for JIIM and Racers for 2022, $2.8 million but neither meets, which are normally staged in the summer, have taken place so far this year. The figure is however less than what was received by JIIM in 2019, and $8 million less than what was received by Racers that year, the last time both meets were staged.

The Institute of Sports received $21 million this year, the same figure it received in 2020, but an increase on the $12 million given in 2021. The Social Development Commission was given $5 million for 2022, the same figure received in 2019. Independence Park Limited is the other government agency to receive funding this year. The $17.1 million given remains unchanged from previous years. However, the G C Foster College of Physical Education and Sport receives no funding this year, like in 2021. Its last allocation was $336,000 given in 2020.

Athletes' welfare, indigent grants, and special projects saw a decline in their budget for 2022, as a figure of $19.2 million has been earmarked. These were given $22.5 million in 2021 and $19.1 million in 2020.

Another significant increase in expenditure for 2022 goes to tickets for sporting events. A sum of $15.6 million has been granted for 2022, as opposed to $269,000 for 2021, and $1.5 million for 2020.

One area that received less funding for 2022 however, is special allocations. It received $20 million in 2022, $8.4 million less than in 2021, and $3.3 million less than in 2020.

Wilks describes this as business as usual for the SDF.

"We are used to being strapped for funds," he said. "We certainly would like to get some more [funds] but we are trying our best to make do with what we have. The effect of it all is that we are not able to provide what is being requested, but we have done pretty well in terms of at least being able to provide some level of support."

Although COVID-19 may have meant a decline in sporting activity in Jamaica for over two years, and caused a reduction in overall spend by the SDF, it says that the pandemic has not had a significant impact on its financial performance.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Sports digital coordinator parchmentr@jamaicaobserver.com

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