By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Culture Youth and Sport Minister Dr. Frank Anthony was put through the mill by members of the parliamentary opposition on the management and uses of the $100M Sport & Art Development Fund as they voted and approved monies for his Ministry and other culture and youth projects and initiatives.
The fund came under intense scrutiny as Opposition members demanded answers in relation to how the fund was utilized in 2013, its intended use in 2014 and its management and disbursement.
Dr. Anthony explained that in 2014, the $100M will go towards the annual Drama Festival, Visual Arts Competition, an inaugural Dance Festival and indigenous song competition. The money will also be used to buy music instruments among other activities and upgrades.
It was made public that persons and groups were not being invited to apply to benefit from the fund, but according to the Minister, persons have been applying and monies disbursed following consideration.
It was proposed from the Opposition benches that the team of persons currently considering applications which comprise of the Minister, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary and the Sport Director to include an independent voice in the final determination.
Responding to hours of grueling questions over the transparency and accountability in the use of the fund, Dr. Anthony also noted that there was a policy guiding its use and that it is subject to audit by the Auditor General’s Office.
In relation to last year’s allocation, the Minister told the House that the money was spent to upgrade the 1823 Monument Site, fund the contingent to Inter-Guianas Festival, produce six short films dealing with Chinese History and pay the two local residing Cuban coaches, along with emergency works at the National Cultural Centre where some $56M was spent to replace the Air Condition system.
Another $45M is being asked for the National Cultural Centre to do other works, including rewiring of building, purchase of furniture and equipment.
The Ministry of Culture Youth and Sport received a total of $186M for administrative services under current expenditure and $854 under capital expenditures.
Culture received a total of $575M under current expenditure and another $89M under capital expenditure. Youth was allocated $534M under current expenditure and $30M under capital expenditure.
Meanwhile, the Minister told the House that the long awaited National Youth Policy will be completed soon.