The Ministry will only be allowed to spend 15 per cent of their entire budget, according to a memorandum.

With the world already at a standstill due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic, repercussion are only a matter of time. The economy is all but likely to take a hit and therefore the Indian Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is set to deduct 10% of their expenditure in the first quarter of this financial year.

However, it was also assured that allowances, stipend and training and competition expenditure will not be affected by the Ministry’s decision.

“The budget allocation and quarterly ceiling would suffice for the needs of the Sports Department. We would have enough funds to ensure all possible ongoing activities, including payment of monthly allowance to players, salaries, pension and other committed liabilities,” Sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya told Indian Express.

However, he feels that the events will pick up pace in the second quarter of the year especially with the focus remaining on Olympic-bound athletes, weightlifters and hockey teams.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and other international events, as well as the lockdown, our expenditure is going to be around 14-15 per cent of the budget in the first quarter of this fiscal year. We hope to pick up sports activities, training, infrastructure works, etc from the second quarter only. The expenditure is expected to pick up in the third quarter,” he added.

The Budget Division of the Department of Economic Affairs issued an office memorandum on Wednesday to all its ministries as they fear stress in the economy mainly due to the nation-wide lockdown.

The division has asked the ministries not to spend their entire proportion of their budget in this quarter. The ministries have been categorised as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ – with Sports Ministry categorised in ‘C’ group, it means that it will only be allowed to spend 15 per cent of the Rs 2,100 crore allotted to them, which is 10 per cent less than what they have normally utilised.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is likely to halt infrastructural work but will not allow this to affect the athletes and their allowances. With the focus solely on Olympic-bound athletes as on March 18, there are a total of 94 athletes who belong to the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme. These athletes receive special allowances ranging around Rs 50,000 per month while those in the Khelo India Scheme get allowances around 10,000 per month.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports had a meeting on Thursday with officials from 15 various sports federations via video conference – which also had officials from the Indian Olympics Association (IOA).

Amid the pandemic and nation-wide lockdown scenario IOA general secretary Rajiv Mehta has raised concern over athletes using performance-enhancing drugs in this period and while out of tournament testing has come to a half, Mehta demands mass testing of athletes once the lockdown period is over.

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