Reps vow to recover N1.4 trillion unremitted lottery proceeds
The House of Representatives yesterday said that it would leave no stone unturned to ensure the recovery of about N1.4 trillion unremitted lottery revenue to the federation account.
The House Committee on Governmental Affairs led by Mr. Hussaini Sulaiman probing into the problem associated with revenue losses in the sector from 2005 to date noted that it was unfortunate that lottery operators have been unfair to the country by their unpatriotic conduct.
Hussaini particularly remarked that it was disheartening that government realised about N7. 6 billion from some of the 21 licensed lottery operators in the country within the past 11 years even when less populated and endowed countries like Morocco, Cote ‘d Voire, and Togo remitted N58 billion, N2.7 billion, and N1.8 billion on yearly basis.
He said: “With this fact at out disposal, we wonder why Nigeria with a population of over 180 million will be earning far less from these operators. We are not going to allow this unpatriotic act to continue. Any licensed operator owing government would be made to remit whatever amount such person is owing. We would make sure the licenses of those operating illegally are revoked as well.”
The Acting Executive Secretary of the National lottery Trust Fund, Mr. Bello Maigari while testifying before the lawmakers confirmed that the nation’s lottery market was worth N1.5 trillion adding the absence of regulatory framework and the non-challant attitude of operators were among the challenges faced in the sector.
Describing the N7.6 billion revenue that accrued from operators to his outfit as grossly inadequate, he enjoined the lawmakers to put in place measures to bring those who default in the payment to book.
The Director General of the Nigeria lottery Commission, Mr. Larne Gbajabiamila, who was grilled over the issue disclosed that the issuance of licenses for the 21 lottery operators were granted by the presidency between 2004 to date. Acknowledging that there is room for improvement on the issue of revenue generation, he argued that the goal could be achieved with the review of the legislation that established his outfit.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, disclosed that it was unfortunate that the lottery sector, which is ranked fourth after oil and gas, agriculture, and solid mineral in terms of potentialities to generate revenue, is yet to be exploited for the benefit of Nigerians.
Represented by the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Relations, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, he said it behooves the authorities to emulate advanced countries like the United States of America (USA), China and South Africa that utilised proceeds from the sector to build critical infrastructure for their respective citizens.
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