Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lotto operators worried over govt's silence

Monday, November 16, 2009 (Page 44)

THE Ghana Lotto Operators Association (GLOA) has expressed concern over the government’s silence over the outlawing of private lotto operations in the country.
According to the GLOA, President J. E. A. Mills had, prior to his election to the highest office of the land, assured the association that he would ensure that they were put back in business when he was voted into power.
At a press conference in Accra on Thursday, the General Secretary of GLOA, Mr Seth Amoani, said, “GLOA has observed with regret the failure of the Minister of Finance, Dr Kwabena Duffour, to mention the practical measures being taken by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government towards the liberalisation of the lottery industry in Ghana with a greater participation of the private sector.”
In apparent reference to media publications which quoted Dr Duffour as urging the National Lottery Authority (NLA) Board to fully implement the National Lotto Act (Act 722) which, in practicality, had banned private lotto in the country, the association said it was saddened by that development.
Mr Amoani reminded Dr Duffour that President Mills had made it categorically clear during his campaign in the Western Region that his government would allow the Ghanaian private sector to participate fully in the lottery business in Ghana.
He said in February 2009, at a meeting with the executives of the association at the Presidency, President Mills had re-affirmed his commitment to private sector participation in the lottery business in Ghana and assured the association that he would do so even if it required an amendment of the National Lotto Act.
“The GLOA is concerned about the current state of affairs where the government has abandoned its promises to private sector operators in the lottery business and is rather adopting a nonchalant attitude to the plight of Ghanaian operators,” Mr Amoani pointed out.
He further reminded Dr Duffour to make it his priority to engage with GLOA to find the “middle way” proposed at a meeting he had with GLOA executives in August 2009 “to ensure that Ghanaian businesses do not lose out completely on the altar of revenue mobilisation, as opposed to job-creation, which has served successive governments well”.
The GLOA, therefore, called for the amendment of the Lotto Act to pave the way for the reintegration of the association’s operations in the lotto industry.
It also called for the establishment of an independent regulator to regulate lottery operations in the country and called on the Ministry of Finance to work with GLOA to streamline its operations to make maximum contributions to revenue generation for the state to create employment at the district level to ease the burden on district assemblies.
The association further urged the government to break the NLA’s monopoly over lottery operations in order to promote private sector participation in the economy for the development of Ghana.
It pleaded with the government to reverse what it termed “injustices” perpetrated against some private Ghanaian businesses by the previous government.
Meanwhile, the GLOA has filed an application at the Supreme Court for a review of the court’s decision to quash a High Court order that empowered private lotto operators to function in the country.
According to the GLOA and six others, namely, Obiri Asare and Sons Limited, Rambel Enterprise Limited, Agrop Association Limited, Dan Multipurpose Trading Enterprise Limited and From-Home Enterprises, they were most likely to suffer greater hardship when the NLA was given the free hand to take over their equipment when no terms had been agreed upon or adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court, on July 22, 2009, quashed an order by the Accra Fast Track High Court which gave the nod to private lotto operators to operate in the country and maintained that the lower court exceeded its authority by allowing the applicants to operate private lotto business in the country.
According to the applicants, they did not enter into any form of negotiations with the NLA on the surrender of their equipment.
“Where there are no terms, much more terms determined through negotiations between the parties..., any order of this honourable court that allows the NLA to seize the property of the GLOA amounts to a fundamental or basic error on the part of this honourable court, which will occasion a miscarriage of justice,” the application for review pointed out.
According to the application, the ruling of the court amounted to allowing the NLA to carry out its threat against the GLOA.

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