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Sport, Arts and Culture redirects R1 billion to fight COVID-19

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With the cancellation of most sports and heritage events, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has redirected R1 billion of its budget towards COVID-19 relief efforts.

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said this when he led a debate on the department’s budget vote to the National Assembly’s virtual sitting on Tuesday.  

He said this as government, as a whole, was forced to take drastic measures to mitigate the circumstances brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing Members of Parliament (MPs), Mthethwa said that for the department, this has meant that R1 billion of the department’s original budget of R5.7 billion had to be reprioritised.

“Because this was an unprecedented and unplanned global crisis, it meant that a significant amount of sport, arts and culture’s budget was reprioritised to contribute to the COVID-19 Relief Fund.

“This shift of funds has affected the annual performance plan delivery targets of the department for the 2020/21 financial year,” he said.

This he said was due to budget adjustments, as well as measures to prevent the spread of the COVOID-19 pandemic.

“This is because of the budget adjustments, as well as because of the measures of prevention of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. These measures of restrictions on numbers of people that can gather, the limits on inter-provincial and general travel and the need for social distancing, have led to realistic reduction of planned targets,” he said.

Mthethwa said in setting aside the R1 billion Relief Fund, several budget reprioritisation shifts had to be implemented, including:

  • An amount of 10 million has been deducted out of R408 million compensation of employees budget;
  • R312.5 million being reprioritised from the community libraries budget of R1.4 billion. In the remaining R1.1 billion, a further R10 million has been reallocated for the decontamination of community libraries and purchasing of personal protective equipment for staff to resume library activities.
  • A budget reduction of R224 million out of R596 million participation and sports development programme was implemented. Provinces will utilise an amount of R58 million for cancelled competitions to compensate the sport sector for the loss of earnings due to the restrictions on economic activity.
  • An allocation of R95 million will compensate the arts and culture sector for loss of income due to the restrictions on economic activity;
 

“Circumstances imposed by the outbreak forces us to further tighten our belts in the effort to save lives and create conditions for the sustainability of livelihoods beyond the pandemic. All hands on deck,” Mthethwa said.

Mthethwa said while many athletes have resumed with their training for non-contact sport which has taken place under strict health protocols and procedures.

“For contact sport, we have engaged in a staggered process of first resuming with training. The next phase will be that of engaging in competitive activities. The above outlined find expression in the detailed manner which we have gazetted thus far,"  he said. 

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