Liberia: 20 Percent Annual Income Claims Refuted

The Liberian National Lotteries Corporation (LNLC) has refuted claims that it remits 20% of its annual income to support education in Liberia.

David A. Towalid, chairman of the Board of the Liberia Education Technical Committee (LETCOM)had alleged that the entity is remitting 20% to the Ministry of Education in order to sustain the sector.

"LETCOM has over the years advocated for 25% budgetary increment in the fiscal budget to support education," he said at the time.

The advocacy group said it succeeded in advocating for budgetary increment for the education sector during the regime of former President Charles Taylor from 8% to a double-digit of 14% in the fiscal budget of 2013/2014.

But responding to the allegation yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberian National Lotteries Corporation, Martin S. Kollie said he was not aware of his Corporation being informed about or approached on providing support to sustain the education sector. "While it is true that LNLC has the mandate to engage lottery and other gambling businesses to generate funds for government, more needs to done to regulate and supervise the lottery sector because the law that created the establishment of lottery in the country currently does reflect present day realities," he said.

"As far as I am concerned, I haven't been informed, approached and I have not seen the law obligating the LNLC with 20% to exclusively to be remitted to the Ministry of Education to support education programs."

He quoted the LNLC Act as saying that it aims to help the needy and provide support for education program, cultural and scientific organizations and other social services.

"Funds raised by this institution should be able to buttress government's effort in meeting these basic needs and we have been doing that, but the question of apportioning 20% exclusively has not been brought to our attention," he added.

According to the LNLC boss, no official of the Ministry of Education has in no way contacted anyone in his Institution about the issue raised by the education advocacy group.

He pointed out that in 2012 Mercury, a British lottery company, and owner of Premium Sports, reached an agreement with the Liberian Government to invest US$2.5 million in the Liberia National Lottery.

Mr. Kollie added that Mercury, on the Agreement signed with the Liberian government, to enable the Liberia National Lottery to spread its operations throughout the 15 political sub-divisions of the country.

He also pointed out that the investment has given legal right to Mercury to operate the betting or gaming aspect on behalf of the National Lottery, and that quarterly fees will be paid into the government's coffers.

"In the agreement signed between the government and the management, Mercury will remit 4% of its annual income to the Liberian National Lotteries, and 1.5% of that amount is used exclusively for charity and that foundation has been established with an account of L$1.2 million at the GT Bank," he said.

The Liberia National Lottery boss also said the Corporation receives US$42,000 annually from the Government of Liberia, but this amount is insufficient for its operations.

Mr. Kollie used the occasion to appeal to the members of the 53rd Legislature to consider revising the law creating the establishment of lottery so as enable the Corporation vibrantly serve the public.

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