The government will spend around Rs500 million on events organised as part of the Punjab Youth festival, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The events began in the last week of December and will continue till the first week of April. The festival includes 16 sectors and 196 categories of events and competitions that will be conducted at six levels, from rural areas to the provincial level. The funds will be used to purchase prizes, make arrangements for the events and hosts guests throughout the duration of the festival.
There are two types of competitions: sports and general. The sports include arm-wrestling, athletics, badminton, basketball, chess, cricket, football, hockey, table tennis, tug of war, volleyball, kabaddi, karate, billiard, bodybuilding, gymnastics, mat wrestling, mud wrestling, swimming, weightlifting, fun race and tent pegging.
Contests in the general category include naat khwani, qirat, cooking, horticulture, painting, pets, photography, poetry-mushaira, singing, calligraphy, dress designing and stitching, handicrafts, family dressing, healthy baby, kitchen gardening, debate, essay writing, science models, cultural models and dress show. Bull, dog, donkey cart and horse races, tippling-pigeon flying, and agriculture and livestock produce competitions will be held in the rural sector.
An officer of the Finance Department privy to the information said that the government had initially provided Rs35 million on the request of the Sports Board’s director general. Rs180 million would be released later, he said.
He said around Rs35 million had been earmarked for a kite flying event to be held at Changa Manga forest as part of the festival. The funds will be used to facilitate the participants and arrange other activities at the event. He said the Tourism Department had also invited expressions of interest for the Basant Gala.
The Sports Board’s mission statement states that the aim was to provide the youth opportunities “to envision their bright future”. The festival would ignite passion, bring communities together and provide citizens of all ages to participate in community building exercises, an official of the Sports Board said.
Previously, the Finance Department had provided the Sports Board Rs4.88 million as a supplementary grant for the chief minister’s tour to watch a kabaddi match in India.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhry said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party were wasting funds on games.
The events might appear to be promoting culture and sports but they are just publicity stunts, he said. “The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf will raise the issue of massive spending on the Punjab Youth Festival at the next session of the provincial Assembly,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2014.