Thursday March 20,2014 : SRI LANKAN POLITICIANS CLASH OVER ONLINE LOTTERY PROPOSAL
Sri Lanka's Marxist party wants more information proposed new online lottery scheme.
A political debate on taking the national lottery online is shaping up in Sri Lanka as the Marxist-leaning Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party seeks more open access to information on the ruling party's project.
In parliament this week MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the JVP called on the government to disclose details of the new scheme, pointing out that a similar initiative in 2003 led to the National Lotteries Board incurring a loss of Rs. 8 billion.
Dissanayake is concerned at the lack of transparency from government, particularly regarding the permission given by government to a company called Oceanic Games Ltd. to handle an online lottery scheme branded Ogame.
The JVP politician has demanded full disclosure on the directorate and local partners of the company; the approval and due diligence carried out by Cabinet; the initial investment and subsequent plans; and the regulatory measures being applied…all essential information which has not been provided so far.
Recently Internal Trade Minister Johnston Fernando commented that Oceanic Games Ltd will pay Rs. 500 million per annum to the Mahapola Education Fund in coming years for the approval to run the lottery.
The Minister told the media that the company had already paid Rs. 100 million and would increase the contribution to Rs. 1 billion in the fifth year of operation.
Fernando revealed that Oceanic Games did not have a licence to operate the online lottery but had been awarded the management of the project by Cabinet after open tenders were called a year ago.
He added that the government had not in fact given a lottery licence to anyone in the private sector, but had issued a licence for the Mahapola Fund. He additionally noted that the government has given the management of the Education Fund to that private company.
The main opposition United National Party (UNP) has also raised questions on Oceanic Games (Private) Limited, which it says will operate the lottery in collaboration with eGame Solutions, a Hong Kong-based company.