By Gifty Arthur
The National Lottery Authority (NLA) has described as unfortunate and highly erroneous, claims by some private lotto operators that, the Authority was working to get them out of business.
It says accusation by the Executive Secretary of Concerned Lotto Agents Association of Ghana (CLAAG) Kwaku Duah-Tawiah that, the NLA, is demanding One Million Ghana Cedis from every private lotto operator as registration fees was “Highly erroneous and mischievous”.
According to the Director of Sales at the NLA, George Addo-Yobo, the One Million Ghana Cedis fee being demanded, was not from every private operator, but those who want to operate the business nationwide.
“He is throwing dust into the eyes of the public that every lotto operator in the country is being called upon to pay the One Million. With the explanation I have given, you can see that it is not everybody who is being called upon to pay.
We have classes and categories; we have room for everyone, if you want to do nationwide, then you pay the one million”, he told The Herald in an interview.
The 10 regions according to him, were divided into three classes. The Greater Accra, Ashanti, Western and Brong Ahafo Regions, fall within class A, and they are expected to pay GH¢250, 000, while the Class B, being Volta and Northern Regions, are to pay GH¢150, 000. The Upper West and Upper East Regions which form Class C are to pay GH¢100, 000.
He said, there was a provision for those who fall within the One Million category, to pay in installment in the event that they cannot pay in bulk.
Mr Addo-Yobo, revealed that the decision to charge the said amount, was not taken unilaterally by the NLA board and management, but with the consent of the private lotto operators which includes; CLAAG members. This came after meeting with all the industry players at different levels and at different times before a decision was made.
NLA’s response, comes on the heels of claims by the CLAAG that, the NLA, was plotting to frustrate private lotto operators.
The group, which commended government and the NLA for allowing private participation in the Lotto business with an amendment to the National Lottery Act 722, 2006, said it was “appalled by the obnoxious and outrageous demand of One Million Ghana Cedis for registration as a private lotto operator and another Five Million Cedis insurance guarantee for operators who want to operate nationwide”.
In a statement sent to The Herald, CLAAG stated that “the demands of NLA that lotto agents should make a down payment of five thousand Cedis as insurance guarantee was absurd and unreasonable and needs to be further looked at”.
But in a reaction Mr. Addo-Yobo said, he was surprised some of the operators are kicking against the fees because; their leadership sat with the Board and management of the NLA many times and agreed on the license fees.
He said even before agreeing, their leadership seek permission to go back and discuss with their members before coming back to give their consent and so it was worrying others from the same group, will come out and say that they do not agree with what their leadership has consented to.
Mr. Addo-Yobo added a good number of their members nationwide, are paying the One Million and the other fees contrary to claims that they are not paying because, the fees is on the higher side.
“People are paying, those who want to operate nationwide are paying the one million, those who want to operate one region too are paying, the agents and the writers, are also paying, so who is sitting outside there without any discussion or looking at out files and claiming that, no one is paying or only three people have paid”, he queried?
He said so far, a total of 23 banker to banker operators, have paid from across the country and continue to pay, disputing allegation that only three people have paid so far.
“I don’t have the list of operators here, but over 23 have paid, various categories have paid. As at when I was leaving Accra to Kumasi, 23 of their leaders, had paid so what is he talking about”, he said.
He said, if this claim continues, they would be forced to publish names of people who have paid so far. He advised, if the operators, have issues with the current decision by the Board, then they must rather revert to their leadership for dialogue to see the way forward.
He said, the NLA, has an open door policy to listen to all grievances, but won’t be forced to undo what the law has asked them to do.
“Lottery in Ghana today is regulated by one law Act 722 so if you want to do lottery, you have to subject yourself to the relevance provision. So far as the law has not been amended or repelled, the law stands and it prevails”, he said.
According to the NLA, it is implementing this stringent measure because it does not want to have a situation where customers of these operators, after staking and winning they would not have the needed funds to pay them.
“The law is to ensure that customers are secure”. He clarified it was not true that the license fees to be paid is not refundable.
He said “There is nowhere in our publications that we said if you pay any of these fees and we decline your license, your money will not be refunded to you. If someone says that, it is never true
Again he said it was also not true that licensing application forms were made available three weeks ago.
He said they made the forms available more than seven months ago in their regional offices nationwide and even when the deadline elapsed and an extension was asked by the operators, it was extended to this May ending.