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|Natíl Lotteries Near Collapse -Owes L$40m; Winners Threaten Management |
|Published on August 29, 2006||Email To Friend Print Version
Report gathered by The Informer indicates that the Liberia National Lotteries is nearing collapse due to huge indebtedness and the entity’s inability to raise revenue to keep it running.
The Managing Director of the institution, Fassue Kelleh, told what he called an ‘impromptu press conference’ yesterday that the National Lotteries is indebted in the tone of L$40 million (approximately US$800,000).
Mr. Kelleh said the huge debts which his administration met at the entity were posing a very serious problem to the successful running of the institution which caters to the disabled citizens.
He said the indebtedness was money due to banking institutions, winners of lotto, business partners as well as sale commission. The Managing Director told newsmen that a status report of the entity indicates that management owes winners in the tone of L$3.3m and banking institutions, especially the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment and Global Bank more than L$4m.
Mr. Kelleh disclosed that despite a written report to the appropriate government authority for action, nothing has been done to address the plight. He said the National Lotteries has continued to appeal to banking institutions and potential investors to collaborate in running the entity on a partnership basis.
He said due to its indebtedness, the Lotto Agency could not at the current stage run single handedly unless it was sustainably funded or run on a partnership basis. Mr. Kelleh averred that US$1.5m was needed to put his institution back on its feet. This he said would handle the issue of debt, training of staff and equipping the entity to start afresh.
“We have asked that we be given funds to resuscitate and jump start, but it is not forthcoming, the Lotto Managing Director lamented, noting that his entity was viable for investment. He said if the debts are not cleared, the institution may be en route to failure, something he said may also reflect on national government.
Mr. Kelleh blamed the issue of the debt on past management, citing managerial, financial and administrative problems, but noted that his administration takes the responsibility under what he called debt management procedures.
Meanwhile, winners of lotto have begun threatening the agency to pay their money or they would take the law into their own hands.
Several of them stormed the Lotto head office on Carey Street yesterday demanding the management to pay them money they have won from playing lotto or they would hold all employees of the entity hostage. They claimed that management has enough money but did not want to pay them.
One of them speaking harshly told The Informer that if the Lotto agency had no money to pay winners, it would not continue the game, but Mr. Kelleh said Lotto would continue to be played while management mobilizes funds to clear its debts burden. He said halting the game would cause even more problem as employees of the institution have not been paid for three months.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kelleh has clarified that the L$4m said to be missing from the entity did not occur during his administration. He said the information was discovered in a recent audit report of the entity that was submitted to the office of the Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai.