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General News Thu, 5 Apr 2001

National Lotteries Has Not Been Sold -Minister

Finance Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo said on Wednesday that government has not sold the Department of National Lotteries (DNL) to a foreign company.

"What I said in the budget was that all agreements with the DNL relating to lotteries business which were not yet operational should be suspended until further notice to enable the Ministry of Finance study their revenue implications."

Mr Osafo-Maafo said the directive was mainly in connection with a technical management and consultancy agreement between the DNL and SIMNET Ghana limited, a subsidiary of an English company headed by an Indian, contracted to assist DNL in its computerisation process.

In an interview with the GNA, the Minister said the agreement between the two institutions was reached in June 1999 under the previous government.

He explained that SIMNET petitioned the Ministry after he presented the budget to enable them to install the rest of the computers to forestall any technical problem.

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He said he realised after studying the document that the program would eliminate fraud, increase volume and raise revenue, which is in the prime interest of the government.

"In order not to jeopardise the life-span of the computers, air-conditioners and other technical equipment that were left to be installed, I gave the go ahead for work to continue to preserve the relevant equipment."

Mr Osafo-Maafo observed that perhaps the workers' fear is over the possibility that they would lose their jobs but "as with any such programme, some workers are bound to lose their jobs and they will be dully compensated."

The programme would, however, not affect agents and writers.He said government would soon create a Games Commission to regulate especially, betting to bring sanity into the operation of lotteries.

This would require a complete change in the law relating to lotteries for the enhancement of revenue in the country.

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On demand for increase in commissions, the Minister said commissions are pegged at 10 per cent all over the world.

Ghana, however, pays up to 25 per cent and this, Mr Osafo-Maafo said does not augur well for the nation's economy considering the overhead cost of production, payment of workers' salaries among other responsibilities.

Workers of the DNL have in the past two days agitated for the abrogation of the contract between their outfit and SIMNET due to allegations that government has sold DNL to the latter.

They have subsequently locked out SIMNET staff despite a letter to the Acting Director General, Mr J. B. Danquah requesting that SIMNET should be allowed to install their equipment.

Source: GNA