MEMBERS of the Concerned Lotto Agent Association of Ghana (CLAAG) are demanding from the National Lottery Authority (NLA) the whereabouts of their lotto license certificates which would give them a legal backing to be recognised as legitimate private lotto business operators popularly called Banker-to-Banker operators.
According to them, their request stems from the fact that for the past one year that they had dully paid the required GH¢1 million to NLA as registration and license fees, the authority was deliberately hesitating to give their lotto license operating certificates to them.
“Most of these private lotto operators have indeed paid the said GH¢1 million as registration and license fees since April 2018 but are yet to be licensed.
“All attempts by the private lotto operators to get the NLA to act as promised has failed, so we have realised that this is a “deliberate attempt by the National Lottery Authority to render us jobless,” they revealed.
Consequently, they warned that they will stage a massive nationwide demonstration to make public their current grievances and frustrations.
According to them, the “unfair treatment and gross disrespect” meted out to private lotto writers, agents and operators by NLA under the influence of the Veteran Association of Ghana (VAG) was having a great toll on their commercial lotto operating business, thereby making life difficult for many lotto agents and writers in the country.
“Worse of all, we understand that the NLA has deliberately twisted the hands of VAG to cancel agreements the VAG had with some private lotto operators who opposed VAG lottery which had a legal backing to mobilise funds to support retired army men and war veterans,” they alleged.
They disclosed that the NLA has now turned the ownership of the VAG lottery and demanding that deprived private lotto operators register with them on terms of conditions yet to be disclosed.
They added that the NLA was contemplating midday draws exclusively for private lotto operators, which has been discussed with the private lotto operators and that was also not part of the reasons for collecting monies from the private lotto operators, agents and writers.
They asserted that the huge sums of monies were collected to allow the private lotto operators use the products of the NLA and thus anything shot of this will amount to deceit.
Following this development, members of the CLAAG have resolved to embark on a massive demonstration in all the ten regions to drum home their demands for the government to allow private participation in the lotto industry.
“It is with deep regret that we the members of the association have arrived at a decision to stage a protest to register our displeasure against the government because we think that it is the only way to put pressure on the NLA to find a solution to resolve the impasse in Ghana’s lotto Industry,” they stressed.
According to them, they have duly notified the Ghana Police Service (GPS) of their intended demonstration, adding that the only thing that will bar them from their intended action was to get the government to work towards restoring the livelihoods of their members.
Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Executive Secretary of CLAAG, Mr Kwaku Duah-Tawiah stressed the urgent need for the central government to commission enquiry into the current operations of the NLA.
He pointed out that the current attempt by the NLA has the propensity to render them jobless which will further worsen the employment menace and wreak economic havoc in Ghana.
He stated that there were over one million people engaged in private lotto nationwide and the unemployment situation in Ghana was not hidden from any one.
Sadly, according to him, under the current administration despite the pre-election promise by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to regulate the National Lottery Authority and allow private sector space, the government with the support of its regulator were using some bizarre tactics to ensure that private participation in lotto business was completely extinct.
First, Mr Duah-Tawiah stated that the government through the NLA has registered the private lotto operations and charged huge amount of monies but nothing happened.
The association, he stressed, has vehemently opposed the registration of the private lotto operators, but succumbed, because they were at the receiving end.
“Again, the NLA had teamed up with Veteran Association of Ghana convincing the NLA to cede the private lotto operators working with VAG as an attempt to stifle them,” he said.
He added that “We have shockingly be informed that the NLA without recourse to the national procurement guidelines has imported into the country e-kiosks and accompanying gadgets to be sold to private lotto operators, agents and writers at exorbitant prices ranging from GH¢15,00 to GH¢20,000.
He noted that with an estimated lotto sector dependent of over one million five hundred, this attempt by the NLA would be economic disaster in the country.
He asked: why can’t we produce lotto kiosks in Ghana using our local carpenters and local materials?
“We sincerely believe that the NLA management if not checked and probed will earn a central government a bad image given the anger and frustration of private lotto operators, agents and writers whose livelihoods were currently under serious threats,” he told journalists.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU
Writer’s email: email@example.com