Board 'goes too far' as monitor of sports bodies

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2002, 12:00am

The Sports Development Board has gone too far in its monitoring and control of funding to sports bodies, according to a probe by the Ombudsman.

The watchdog also criticised the board for failing to maintain proper communications with sporting bodies.

The probe was initiated by the Ombudsman's office in September last year after growing concerns over funding chaos at the board following the scandal surrounding disgraced former legislator Gary Cheng Kai-nam, in which the board engaged Cheng as a public relations consultant.

Cheng, who was jailed for 18 months on corruption and deception charges, spoke on behalf of the board at three Legco meetings without disclosing he was being paid by the board.

According to the Ombudsman's report, in the past financial year the board granted more than $75 million to 55 sports bodies.

The board received $195 million from the government in 2000-2001.

That sum fell to $190 million last year and $188 million in the current financial year.

The report found that sports bodies applying for funding were required to submit a range of proposals to the board, but many of them overlapped. For example, every year the applicant sports bodies needed to submit a four-year development plan and one annual development plan, which often resulted in duplication.

It was also found that the board required the submission of staff payrolls of subsidised sports bodies. Any late submissions would lead to the scrapping of funding.

Ombudsman Alice Tai Yuen-ying said: 'Their intention is good, but we feel that there's a certain degree of overdoing it.'

Ms Tai declined to comment on whether the red tape may have compromised the development of sports.

But she said the procedures, if streamlined, could free sports groups' time and resources to improve development.

The office proposed that the board should introduce more flexibility in funding and hold briefings with sports bodies.

In May, the government released a consultation paper urging an improvement in Hong Kong's sporting status. One suggestion was to scrap the board and replace it with a high-powered sports commission to take care of sports funding and development policy.