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No CHASE Funds adjustment for sport - Heaven

Published:Wednesday | October 21, 2015 | 4:50 PMAndre Lowe

Chief executive officer of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, William 'Billy' Heaven, said calls to increase the fund's 40 per cent allotment to the sports industry deserves consideration, but thinks an increase is unlikely at this point.

Of the approximately $1.5 billion received and distributed by the CHASE Fund last year, almost $600 million was handed over to the Sports Development Foundation.

The CHASE Fund is responsible for the distribution and management of monetary contributions from lottery companies to the various sectors, with sports development already securing the lion's share with 40 per cent; early childhood education - 25 per cent; health - 20 per cent; and arts and culture - 15 per cent.

However, there have been constant calls by members of the sporting fraternity for an increase in the percentage reserved for sport.

"From where I sit, it will require a lot of thought and the dynamics would have to be considered in a very serious way," Heaven told The Gleaner in a recent interview. "All the calls are reasonable. The point is, the pie is only 100 per cent and in my view, it would be difficult to, at this point, change the percentage relationship because some sectors will suffer as a consequence."

"We have to create a delicate balance in the areas that we provide funding for," added Heaven.

"The 25 per cent for early-childhood education is significant to us and there are people who are calling for more money in early-childhood education. There are people who are calling for more money than the 20 per cent for health and there are significant more persons calling for more money for arts and culture," Heaven said. "The 86.5 per cent literacy rate this year at the grade-4 level did not just happen overnight."

Fennell's call

The latest calls for a greater increase in the percentage allotment for sports development were made at a recent function by president of the Jamaica Olympic Association Mike Fennell, who underscored the importance of sport to the country and demanded greater funding through the fund.

"Sports has had to depend on 40 per cent of the money from the CHASE Fund and I can argue that the dividends from sports on that investment have been more than paid back and, therefore, there must be an argument for a review of that 40 per cent if we want to get more," Fennell said. "That must be looked at because sport cannot be debated any longer in terms of its success and what it does for this country and we need to put more resources in it."

Heaven, however, highlighted that greater funding can only be granted if the fund increases its revenue stream.

"What we can do is to make sure that the pie gets bigger in whatever way we can do that. Whenever another income stream in the gaming industry springs up we need to make sure that the CHASE Fund is a part of that, so that the pie gets bigger and each of the sectors get more money," Heaven said.

The CHASE Fund was incorporated in November 2002.