STATE company SporTT recorded a $114 million deficit for 2019, $36 million more than 2018. Included in that total, published on Wednesday, was $60.7 million for infrastructure development, $40.5 million for equipment and storage rental, $11 million for salaries and staff benefits and $9 million to write off the LifeSport balance.
This effectively puts an end the $400 million LifeSport scandal, nearly five and half years after former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar ended the programme because of fraud, theft, and allegations that the programme, which was supposed to empower at-risk youths away from crime through sport, was linked to people involved in criminal activity.
In his report, chairman Douglas Camacho said, "SporTT has experienced a difficult and challenging period, but since being appointed chairman on July 4, 2018, the board has continued to focus on rebuilding discipline and good corporate governance to redefine how we operate and do business. We have met with each of the National Governing Bodies under our purview, ensuring that there is a clear understanding on requirements to be met so that requests for funding can be processed. Our present target for achievement has been made very clear – Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games."
In a brief interview with Newsday, Camacho added, "It (Life Sport debt) has been around a long time and the write off is because the probability of collecting on the debt is remote at best...that is written off, that is no longer a debt, that is gone."
SporTT received most of its money through a $127.9 million government grant, $11 million less than the subvention in 2018. Its other income was $375,362, for a total income of $128.2 million. Its total expenditure was $164.3 million and its deficit for the year was $36 million. The accumulated deficit brought forward from 2018 was $77.7 million, bringing its total deficit to $113.8 million.
Camacho said despite the debt the Government has been making a priority in assisting athletes as the games approach.
"Is two dimensions to look at there. One is the preparation and the process of qualification. The Government of TT had indicated since 2018 the focus of this Government would be to assist national athletes and teams aspiring to get to the Olympic Games as a priority and to be honest, as a matter of fact, they have honoured that commitment for the last year and a half."
Funds don't come to SporTT, he noted. Instead, when a party, for example, Machel Monday, rents the Hasely Crawford Stadium, that money goes to the State's Consolidated Fund. "From that perspective, there is very little directly that we could do to advent that debt."
Camacho suggested a couple of options to help reduce the debt, including capital injections to help eliminate the debt.