During the Friday Meet-the-Press session with the government, a question was raised on the issue on the sustainability of football and other sports in the country due to lack of policy support from the government.
Though the Under- 23 football team has recently made history for Bhutan by winning silver medal in South Asian games, the team shared that the biggest problem for sustainability of football and sports in Bhutan is the lack of financial support, to the extent that the national team players are paid only around Nu 10,000 in a month, and that too is paid by the Bhutan Football Federation.
It was pointed out that though the government is not expected to pay the salary to the football players directly, what the government could do is help by way of policy support, as expressed by the football team during an earlier interview with The Bhutanese.
According to the article by The Bhutanese dated 21 December, Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) said that currently, there is a tax-deductible ceiling that includes all Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, and if a company has given money to a Lhakhang, it does not get any more deduction when it wants to support football.
Finance Minister, Namgay Tshering, said that the present government is giving lots of emphasis on sports in general.
He said, “The Financial institutions like Bhutan National Bank Limited (BNBL) has specified budget allotted for CSR activities, and we have talked with the Royal Monetary Authority to relook into this. CSR activities should be diversified.”
He said that in the current scenario, financial institution are investing the CSR funding more into improving the financial literacy and developing the capacity of private sector by investing in them.
“From now, what we have requested them is to diversify, and at the same time from the government’s side, we are looking to promote sport activities in the country. In the corporate sector, major tax reform is coming up and that will directly or indirectly take care of the concern that we are raising,” he said.
Prime Minister said that in the past, people were discouraged to give more time for sports but within just few decades, we have reached to professional level, and the need that government must support such sports was also felt.
He said, “At present, we are performing in regional level and we hope that in next few years, we will be performing in international level.”
“At our economy level, we have done a lot. If we compare ourselves with countries whose population size and living standards are similar to us, I feel that Bhutan is spending so much in sports,” Lyonchhen said.
We haven’t reached to a place where we can make a living out of football, but we should try to reach that level someday, he added.
He said that monetary rewards for those winning medals have been revised and given though it may not come out in the media.