Come next year’s budget, the government’s takings from the 24% of the proceeds of the Guyana Lotteries Fund will be included in the Consoli-dated Fund, Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman said yesterday.
According to the minister, who was speaking at the post-Cabinet brief briefing, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan is adamant and has the support of Cabinet that by the end of this year money from the fund would flow into the Consolidated Fund.
He said it was found that many agencies got money from the fund for various reasons such as trading and travels to attend conferences. The minister indicated that while this might not have been bad this administration believes that there should have been some streamlining and protocols put in place to determine how the money is spent and for what purposes.
The minister pointed out that spending should have been taking place in communities, building pools to ensure that boys and girls grow up to become champion swimmers or tennis players if they so desired. Now individual agencies would be making requests to the Consolidated Fund to benefit from the lotto money rather than assigning their expenses to the fund.
This particular issue had been highlighted in the Auditor General’s report for many years and had been stressed on many occasions by former auditor general Anand Goolsarran.
The past administration’s argument was that the funds were being held outside the Consolidated Fund as per the advice of a former attorney general Charles Ramson. The advice was given around 2005 but not agreed with by Goolsarran.
Present Auditor General Deodat Sharma, though he also flagged the practice as a problem in his 2010 report, had said that he was considering how to approach the matter since it was a former attorney general who advised that the proceeds to be kept separate from the Consolidated Fund.
In 2013, Justice Diana Insanally dismissed legal proceedings brought by Senior Counsel Miles Fitzpatrick and Attorney Christopher Ram on behalf of APNU MP Desmond Trotman which challenged the constitutionality and legality of government not placing of lotto earnings in the Consolidated Fund.
Then Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who represented government, had said, “The court, in dismissing the matter, found that the deposit of the monies in the Development Fund of Guyana [Lotto Fund] is in accordance with Article 216 of the Constitution, the provisions of the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act and the Lotteries Act, thereby vindicating the government’s position.”