An Interview of Director General, PSB


Performing federations to get special grants

An exclusive Interview,
The News International with
Syed Amir Hamza Gilani, Director General, PSB

The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has got fatherly role in development of sports in the country. It acts as a bridge between government and all other bodies working for the uplift of recognized games.

Releasing grant (annual as well as special) to different sports federations, helping athletes to provide the best training-coaching atmosphere and development of infrastructure are a few of the important functions that the board performs.

In an exclusive interview with the sitting Director General, PSB Syed Amir Hamza Gilani, ‘The News’ looks into the role of the board plays in fulfilling their basic duties and at the same time to problems it faces to evolve an effective strategy in the promotion of games at all level.

A former national record holder in shot put Gilani took over the PSB reign a year back. Being an international athlete himself, he knows about the hurdles being faced by athletes better than most of his predecessors.

Giving youngsters their just right, introducing the element of account-ability and spreading sports infrastructure all around is said to be the cornerstones of his history.

The News: There have been rumours that PSB financial position is not all that sound. What is the reality and what is being done to help employees get the salary and federations get the grant in time?

Amir Hamza Gilani: We have got all resources to meet our expenditures. Though there has been delay but that is timely. The government now desires to maintain the accounts in treasury called assignment accounts. The transaction only results in delay. Every section has separate accounts and the adjustments results in delay. But as such there has been no regular delay and stakeholders are getting benefits regularly.

The News: PSB was established under the Ministry of Education through the Sports (Development and Control) Ordinance, 1962 as a corporate body for the purposes of promoting and developing uniform standards of competition in sports in Pakistan comparable to the standards prevailing internationally. Do you think the board has achieved this?

Amir Hamza Gilani: The PSB, I think has achieved that goal to some extent. Since the board alone cannot achieve the set targets, we need support and help from others. We cannot move alone towards achieving that the ultimate. We need support and help of those units who are the direct beneficiaries. They benefit from the PSB with the promise to produce results. But so far these results are not been consistent. The main objective of different sports federations is to hunt talent, to establish nurseries. However, most of these federations are not following the basic idea.

The News: The greatest health benefits of regular physical activity in the country are achieved by providing opportunities for physical activity for all citizens from early childhood to old age, and by motivating them to participate.

Emphasis should be placed on those activities, which foster sustained, moderate levels of activity over extended period of time for the largest number of citizens as part of their daily activity. How has the PSB contributed to the improvement of physical fitness of the populations?

Amir Hamza Gilani: Since the inception, the PSB is trying to engage masses in sports . We have set open our facilities where they are available to public on nominal fee. Efforts are being made to provide more facilities to all youngsters who adopt sports as profession. We are providing such facilities at provincial headquarters. However, responsibility of going down to tehsil and town level rest with provinces. It is the provincial subject and it is up to the provincial bodies to monitor such progress at grassroots level. Overall PSB has raised 85 basic sports infrastructure in different towns and cities during last five years.

The News: Schools are the nurseries for sports. Should sports therefore not be under the Ministry of Education? What are you doing to promote schools sports?

Amir Hamza Gilani: I think sports should be made part of education policy. Things have changed over the years. To give more emphasis on sports in educational institutions, leading games yet again should be made compulsory. But again the school system comes directly under provinces, it is more a provincial subject. These provinces have to keep an eye on the implantation of all policies being finalized by the federal government.

The News: After your last inter-provincial ministers meeting at Islamabad you had announced the National School Games. Nothing has materialized so far?

Amir Hamza Gilani: Basically, School Games were the idea of Pakistan Sports Trust. They floated it in the last meeting and sought PSB help and cooperation. We in response contacted Inter Board Committee of Chairman to give their input about it. But they have so far failed to respond with majority of the provinces. We are ready to provide every kind of assistance available but since the idea has come from PST, we wait for their initiative in this regard.

The News: What has been your budget for the last two years? Please give the breakdown?

Amir Hamza Gilani: In 2008-2009, Rs.345 million we have been allocated under the segment of non-development budget. However, the actual amount we received Rs.300 million. The total development budget in that year was Rs350.419 million.

This year we requested for Rs.688,420,000 as non-development budget. The Centre allocated only Rs.340,431,000. The development budget stands at Rs.535.161 million.

The News: What proportion is the administrative budget to the grants given to the federations? How much is kept for discretionary grant?

Amir Hamza Gilani: Most of our administrative expenditures cover the demands of athletes and national federations. We provide every facility ready for the use of players and thus have to pay the utility bills of all facilities. We alone have to pay Rs.1 million as electricity bill in case the national camps are in progress here at Liaquat Gymnasium. Other bills are not included in this.

There is no discretionary amount as such for the PSB. However, like other ministers, Sports Minister has got some financial discretion but that is very limited and only for the sports purpose.

The News: There seems to be no basis in allocating funds to different federations? What is your system for formulation of the budget? What factors/principles do you keep in mind while allocating the budget to federations? Why is it that every year irrespective of the requirements the same budget is allocated?

Amir Hamza Gilani: I am not talking about previous years. But now we have evolved a system which is totally performance based. Only those federations would be backed  and encouraged for normal and special grants who would produce results. The PSB does extend favour to the different federations depending on their performance and achievements in international tournaments. Last year we gave special grants to volleyball, handball, rifle shooting and tennis federations. We had got Rs.1.773 million in the special grant segment. We redirect the amount to different federation considering the performance and urgency of the request.

The News: It has been seen that quite a few times the budget of certain federations is withheld to pressurise them. Should not their performance and potential be the key factor?

Amir Hamza Gilani: We have set a certain criteria for the release of grants for federations and only withheld with amount if they fail to submit their accounts in time. Rowing federation had got some problems regarding the validity of election. Once we discuss it in the Executive Committee, the matter would be resolved. We have been given the authority by the ministry to provide them with the NOC for team’s foreign trips. However, till the time dispute resolves we would not release them any grant. All other federations are getting their share of grant regularly.

The News: Your budget is supposed to be passed by your general body, but this has never been done. Isn’t this a violation of your constitution? In case the general body has passed it could I have a copy of the minutes under which it was passed?

Amir Hamza Gilani: That was past practice. Now even the executive body can pass the budget. Federal Sports Minister took personal interest to make sure that the smooth working of the system. Since he is taking keen interest in sports promotion. He feels quick decision making can help a lot. The minister thus in consultation with the Ministry of Law has made necessary changes in the constitution relating functions of general body and executive committee of the PSB in order to make these more practical.

The News: PSB does not seem to have a long-term plan for development of sports in the country. Infrastructure development is based on political expediency rather then requirements. You have not catered for any sports academies. Development of coaches does not seem to be a priority. Hiring of foreign coaches is being avoided. The federations are grossly short of equipment?

Amir Hamza Gilani: When I took over as the PSB head, I sent a letter to each of 37 federations, asking them to submit a sports development plan for the next four years. You would be surprised to know that non of the federation has come up with any pragmatic plan. I wanted to help them out in their programme but if no federation is interested in evolving a comprehensive plan, it is the federation that has to execute the plan, the PSB is there to accommodate and facilitate them.

We never have objected to any genuine demand of federation for foreign coaches. We have been regularly providing them with coaching facilities but doing so we make sure that the federation needs that expertise.

As far as equipment is concerned we do provide all available equipments at the site of training and also cater for the needs of deserving athletes.

The News: What happened to your recent adventure where you with the help of Ministry of Sports announced formation of model constitution for federations?

Amir Hamza Gilani: Secretary Sports Anisul Hussnain Mosvi is taking keen interest in the formulation of model constitution and is very much in contact with the stakeholders. A meeting is set to be convened shortly to discuss the issue and reach a consensus on the subject.

The News: Some of the sports federations have lost their effectiveness. Are you monitoring their activities in order to make them more result oriented?

Amir Hamza Gilani: Yes, it is one of basic responsibility of the PSB. We are monitoring every move of federation including their elections. This year alone election of seven federation are due.