Aleksandr Lukashenko hears out report on government funding for sports

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President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko heard out a report on government funding for sports on 9 April.

Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Tozik, First Vice President of the National Olympic Committee Igor Rachkovsky, Minister of Sport and Tourism Alexander Shamko and Aide to the President on Physical Training, Sport and Tourism Maxim Ryzhenkov reported to the head of state on two draft decrees on government funding for sport organizations and promising athletes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that these issues were discussed recently at a large meeting. Then the President gave instructions to fine-tune the new draft decree on government funding for physical education and sport organizations, which should ensure, as much as possible, fair conditions for their operation and efficient distribution of public funds. The instruction was given to reformulate the approach to the awarding of scholarships to athletes.

“I believe that at the last meeting with sports specialists and managers we agreed on government funding, defined the criteria, the conditions and the volume of government funding for sports. As I was reported by the Troika (Sports Minister, First Vice President of the National Olympic Committee and Aide) the issues of scholarships were sorted out too. Before I sign these decrees I would like to consult again, and analyze what is happening in our sport,” the head of state said.

“It is not that we are afraid to overpay someone or underestimate someone. I still would like to revisit this issue and review the draft decrees in terms of funding and particularly allocation of scholarships depending on the results. Let it be 5,000, not 500 or 250. The number of scholarships can be reduced to two if only two athletes meet the criteria we will agree on. We need to decide on what basis, for what results, and to whom we will give scholarships,” the President said.

“I oppose giving out a scholarship for a victory, even at the Olympics. An athlete gets a medal at the Olympic Games, and we pay him. In fact this is what we do now. There are also other ways we reward them. Olympians, winners and prize-holders always use it. We allocate land plots free of charge, provide other types of support, sponsors make good presents ranging from cars to prize money,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

“Scholarships should be given to promising athletes who will show results tomorrow and who (young people make the majority of them) lack money in general. A scholarship should not be too high. It is a good contribution to personal development of young athletes. It will make sense then,” the head of state believes.

“As for the support for sports clubs, we should revisit this issue. Today we should avoid financing the organizations that should and can earn themselves. People who work there are ambitious enough, let them earn,” the President stressed.

“Not long ago I was briefed on the situation with HC Dinamo Minsk: the club failed this season, they (public servants and functionaries) have already utilized hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars this year and say that they are doing well. And now we are expected to provide some state support to them….,” the head of state said.

“Yes, the club needs support, but only that part which targets athletes and sports development. Today let us have a look at this situation from this perspective and see how we are going to support our sports industry, in what volumes and whom, so that I could sign the relevant decrees. Time is ticking and there are a lot of people who need this support right now and who the state has hopes on” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The draft decrees submitted to the head of state comprise new approaches which were worked out following the previous meeting in January 2013.

The novelties concern stimuli for the clubs to reach self-sufficiency. The major goal in this respect is to reduce load on the budget by 2015. The support for athletes will be, first of all, aimed at future achievements.
After some refinement the documents will be signed by the President of Belarus in the near future.