Government sued over failure to pay lottery money into Consolidated Fund

Political activist Desmond Trotman has sued the government over its failure to pay monies obtained from the Guyana Lottery Company into the Consolidated Fund saying the current practice including disbursements without parliamentary approval is illegal.

In court papers filed last week by his attorneys, Christopher Ram and Miles Fitzpatrick SC, Trotman pointed to the authorities, citing Article 126 of the Constitution and sections 21 and 38 of the Fiscal Management and Account-ability Act 2003.

He is seeking several declarations from the court including a declaration that government’s action (over the past years) with respect to the lottery funds has been unconstitutional and illegal.

Trotman, who is a member of the Working People’s Alliance, noted an agreement exists between government and the Canadian Bank Note Limited and/ or the Guyana Lottery Company for the conduct of a lottery in Guyana to be paid into the Consolidated Fund.

He said a ten-year agreement dated April 26, 1999 and subsequently extended to February 28, 2009 between government and the lottery company states that the company would pay government a licence fee of 24% of gross revenue decreased by the amounts of additional fees and taxes.

Trotman referred to the Audit Reports of the Auditor General for the years 1998-2008, noting that statements in those reports point to government’s failure to pay over to the Consolidated Fund monies received from the lotto company.

He also made mention of the bank account which government pays the monies into. Quoting from the Audit Report on the Public Accounts for the country for 2003, he highlighted the recommendation from the Audit Office, which was that the Ministry of Finance should take the appropriate measures to close bank account No. 3119 and transfer the balance to the Consolidated Fund. He noted that the ministry had previously indicated that a policy decision was required on the matter.

Further, he also noted the 2007 Audit Report which disclosed that during the period 1996-2007, amounts totalling $3.107B were received from the lottery company. The report said the balance on this account as at  December 31, 2007 was $52.120M. Therefore, payments totalling $3.055 billion were made during the period 1996-2007 to meet expenditure.

The court matter is expected to be served on the Attorney General and will come up for hearing shortly.

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