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Sport, Arts and Culture budget reprioritised

Written by Allison Cooper

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has redirected R1 billion of its budget towards government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) relief efforts.

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says government has been forced to take drastic measures to mitigate COVID-19. “This means one thing, reprioritising the budget.”

The shift of funds has affected the department’s Annual Performance Plan delivery targets for 2020/21 financial year.

“The budget adjustments and prevention measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 – including restrictions on the number of people who can gather, limitations on inter-provincial and general travel and the need for social distancing – have led to the realistic reduction of planned targets,” the Minister says.

The department’s initial 2020/21 budget of R5.7 billion is now R4.7 billion.

Budget reductions

The department’s budget reductions include R10 million less for the filling of vacancies; R86.9 million less for goods and services; and R312.5 million less for community libraries, which will scale back on purchasing library materials, the construction of some new libraries and the upgrading of some existing libraries. 

From the remaining R1.1 billion budget, R10 million has been reallocated for the decontamination of community libraries and the purchasing of personal protective equipment for staff.

“The department, in cooperation with provincial departments, will continue to provide financial support towards the construction of 12 new libraries, through the Community Library Conditional Grant, instead of the planned 32, and 45 upgrades.

“The delivery of public library infrastructure provides a solid foundation for socially cohesive communities and life-long learning,” the Minister says.

Other changes include:

  • The Mass Participation and Sport Development Grant has been reduced by R224 million.
  • Provinces will utilise R58 million from cancelled competitions to compensate the sport sector for loss of earnings.
  • R95 million will be used to compensate the arts and culture sector for loss of income.
  • As the implementation of various infrastructure projects and some legacy projects have been delayed, the budget has been reduced by R152.7 million.
  • Operation transfer payments of R82.1 million to heritage institutions and others have been reprioritised.
  • Cultural and creative industries’ development transfers to households, non-profit institutions and private enterprises have been reduced by R28.1 million.
  • As various activities in the Recreation Development and Sport Promotion Programme were suspended, due to delays in infrastructure projects at community arts centres, and goods and services and other transfer payments were suspended, R72 million will be used to compensate the sport sector for loss of earnings. 
  • The National Archives building project budget has been cut to R30 million.
  • The Community Library Conditional Grant has been reduced by R312 million.