Indian sport gets Rs.11 bn, 2010 Games Rs.6.24 bn in budget

February 29th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Friday allocated Rs.1,111.81 crore (Rs.11.12 billion/$280 million) as the total sports budget for 2008-09, with a special provision of Rs.624 crore (Rs.6.24 billion/$156 million) for preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games. This year’s sports budget, which includes Rs.890 crore (Rs.8.90 billion) as plan outlay and Rs.221.81 crore (Rs.2.21 billion) as non-plan allocation, witnesses a raise of Rs.254.34 crore (Rs.2.54 billion) over last year.

“The Commonwealth Games are only 947 days away. As promised, we shall provide Rs.624 crore in 2008-09. I would urge the authorities concerned to adhere to the strict timelines and the quality standards,” Chidambaram said in his speech in parliament.

The Commonwealth Games will be held in Delhi Oct 3-14, 2010.

The provision is meant to upgrade/renovate the Sports Authority of India stadiums, tennis stadium, upgrade/create training venues and preparation of teams for the Games. A provision has also been made for the grant of loans to the organising committee for holding the Games.

In 2007-08, Rs.150 crore (Rs.1.5 billion) was sanctioned to the sports ministry and Rs.350 crore (Rs.3.5 billion) to the Delhi government for kick-starting the Commonwealth Games’ preparations.

The government has also realised the importance of having a dope control centre before the Games and sanctioned Rs.6.75 crore (Rs.67.5 million) - Rs.4.25 crore (Rs.42.5 million) more than last year.

The finance minister also provided some relief to the sports good manufacturers.

“To provide a fillip to the manufacturers of sports goods, I propose to reduce the duty on specified machinery from 7.5 percent to five percent. I also propose to exempt from duty specified raw materials for sports goods,” he said.

The finance minister has exempted from the purview of fringe benefit tax the expenditure on sponsorship of employee-sportspersons by the corporate houses.

Overall, sports and games have been earmarked Rs.781.83 crore (Rs.7.81 billion), a Rs.287.27 crore (Rs.2.87 billion) hike that works out to 37 percent more than the previous allocation.

Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s pet project, Panchayat Yuva Krida Aur Khel Abhiyan, has got Rs.110.5 crore (Rs.1.1 billion).

An amount of Rs.67.20 crore (Rs.672 million) has been earmarked for different projects/schemes of northeastern states, including Sikkim, for youth welfare scheme, sports and games.

The finance minister also allocated Rs.57 crore (Rs.570 million) to national sports federations under two heads. But some federation officials were not happy with it.

National Rifle Association of India secretary-general Baljeet Singh Sethi said the federations would hardly benefit from the move.

“The amount is not sufficient because a discipline will hardly get Rs.5 crore-Rs.7 crore (Rs.50-Rs.70 million), which is not good enough. This being an Olympic year we have to send out shooters abroad for training. Apart from that we also have to appoint a foreign coach,” Singh told IANS.

“If the government expect medals from athletes then they have to spend money too.”

The Olympic Games will be held in Beijing Aug 8-24.

“I am confident that shooting alone can get 22 gold medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games provided they are looked after well and all our demands are met. We still haven’t got the licenses to import ammunitions. If the shooters don’t have ammunition its not a good sign for the game.”

Shooting is the most improved Olympic sport in the country and many shooters have in the last few years won a number of medals at the international level, including a double trap silver by Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore at the 2004 Athens Games.

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