By Chamodi Gunawardana
The National Lottery Board (NLB) yesterday said that it would replace any agents who refused to comply with the price revisions set in motion.
The proposed price change from Rs. 20 to Rs. 30 came into effect from 1 January this year.
NLB General Manager A.H. Sunil Gunawarena told Daily FT that the NLB had no plans to conduct discussions with lottery agents who were opposed to the price hike.
“We met some sales agents and we explained to them why we needed to increase the price. Some agents admitted the facts but others are making false arguments that they want a commission hike if the lottery price is increased,” he said.
Gunawardena said that the existing commission for selling agents of 14.2% per lottery would remain the same after the increment in lottery price.
“This means that the commission of Rs. 3.25 they got when it was priced at Rs. 20 will be increased to Rs. 4.30 after the price hike.”
Accordingly, nine lottery tickets including Mahajana Sampatha, Govi Setha, Wasana Sampatha and Jathika Sampatha under the NLB will be increased to Rs. 30 with the enactment from 1 January.
Explaining the reasons behind the hike of lottery prices, Gunawardena said that it was done following a budget proposal to impose a special tax on one lottery. He said they should pay Valued Added Tax (VAT) and National Development Tax for each selling lottery. He added that the NLB should pay a total of Rs. 5.74 per ticket to the Treasury.
“We could not maintain our profits after paying Rs. 5.74 to the Government and we must increase the price to keep it in line with the current market situation,” he expressed.
Meanwhile, the All Island Lottery Agents Association is set to stage a protest near the railway against the proposed changes today in the morning hours.
All Island Lottery Agents Association Secretary Suresh Madarasinghe alleged that the Government has failed to even grant an appointment to discuss their issues regarding the commission and the hike demanded for years.
“We requested the Government to maintain the lottery price at Rs. 20 and we demand them to continuously pay us the commission of Rs. 3.50. But the Government has ignored our requests therefore we expect to hold a protest in Colombo,” he said.
Madarasinghe added that when the price of the lottery is increased to Rs. 30, they will get an extra 50 cents as a commission. He added that the sales agent would have Rs. 4 commission which was Rs. 3.50 earlier.
However, he is concerned about the adverse effect the price hike will have on sales.
“People will not buy a lottery for that price and it will reduce sales. Further, the majority of people will not be able to afford it,” he claimed.
Madarasinghe further stated that their protest would continue until the Government revised the move.