NLB procurement influenced by then Foreign Minister - COPE

The then Foreign Minister had influenced the procurement process of the National Lotteries Board (NLB) which was under the purview of Foreign Ministry in 2017.  This was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) in Parliament on Friday. 

 A tender which had completed the procurement process for the printing of scratch lotteries in 2017 has been suspended by a Cabinet decision at the request of the then Foreign Minister.  

Even though the then Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera had given an observation stating that suspending the tender was not the right decision, the Cabinet had decided to withdraw the above tender. 

Accordingly, the tender for the printing of scratch lottery tickets which was due to be awarded to Aqua Flex Lanka (Pvt) Ltd had been stopped. The COPE has also observed that this Cabinet decision has been made under the influence of Print Care Secure (Pvt) Ltd.

The Cabinet decision has caused a huge financial loss to National Lotteries Board and, it is still not possible to call for a new tender for the printing of relevant lottery tickets until 2020. This was revealed at the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) which met in Parliament on  December 4 under the chairmanship of Prof. Charitha Herath to look into matters relating to the Procurement on the Print and Delivery of Lottery Tickets of National Lotteries Board.

In addition, it was revealed that the annual reports of the National Lotteries Board for the years 2017, 2018, 2019 have not been submitted to Parliament. Accordingly, the COPE has instructed to look into the matter and submit the relevant reports to Parliament as soon as possible. 

The COPE has also observed that there were a large number of vacancies in the executive posts of the National Lotteries Board over the years and COPE chairman directed the relevant officials to fill them expeditiously as per the proper manner. 

The committee has also observed that the requirement of “must have at least 3 years’ experience in lottery printing” had been removed from the 2016 procurement and the “must have some experience” condition had been reintroduced in 2018. In addition, it was revealed that the condition removed in the procurement in 2016, “If lottery tickets are printed and supplied to a competitive institution, such institutions should not be selected for printing lottery tickets to the National Lotteries Board” has been re-introduced in 2018 and 2020.

The Committee pointed out that the National Lotteries Board had spent Rs. 609 million in 2016, Rs. 453 million in 2017, Rs. 506 million in 2018 and Rs. 530 million in 2019 for the printing of lottery tickets. Therefore, the Committee recommended that the procurement process of the institution should be carried out in a more systematic and planned manner and that the process of printing lottery tickets should be properly regulated.

It was revealed that the company has not yet received the amount of US $ 26,000 due from the “Colombo Airport Super draw’’ and the lottery draw process of ‘’Dollar Fortune’’ was not transparent. Therefore, the committee also recommended that the process be streamlined. 

Ministers Mahinda Amaraweera, Sarath Weerasekara, State Ministers Ajith Cabraal, Susil Premajayantha, MPs Jagath Pushpakumara, Eran Wickramaratne, Nalin Bandara, Patali Champika Ranawaka, S.M Marikkar, Premnath C.Dolawatta, the Secretary to the Treasury and Ministry of Finance S.R Attygalle, National Lotteries Board Chairman Attorney at Law Lalith Piyum Perera and a number of officials were present at this meeting.



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