Norway has its way? The latest in the sweepstakes
By Our Political Editor
Is peace a lottery? Well, we certainly hope not, but from the looks
of what is being pushed for the National Lotteries Board, it appears
that certainly if not peace, at least peace-makers are in the lottery.
This is how
it happened. Minister Milinda Moragoda, has been pushing very hard
in Cabinet for the management of the National Lotteries Board to
be turned over to a Norwegian Company for five years -- with this
Norwegian Company being paid by way of investment for the transaction
while sharing a percentage of the profits at that.
Why is the
Norwegian government pushing for a lottery, and where is the credibility
of the Norwegian government if it is pushing for business with the
Sri Lankan government while ostensibly being a detached peacemaker
and head of the Ceasefire Monitoring committee? Now, somebody might
turn around and say that a Norwegian company's bidding for a lottery
is not exactly out of turn -- but then if Norwegian officials as
high as those at Ambassadorial level have been involved in pushing
the bid, what would you say then?
The bid, pushed
in Cabinet on behalf of the Norwegians by Milinda Moragoda, is for
a Norwegian Company Norsk Tipping to operate and manage the National
Lotteries Board, while the NLB holds total equity. The NLB will
be required to invest a maximum of 5 million USD in the project.
What's more, it will be a Swedish company that will be providing
the software and hardware for what will be an on-line lottery.
company will be required to pay an on line licence fee of 3 million
USD, which is minimal considering for instance that an off line
licence fee is ten times that much. But apart from the guaranteed
management fee of 6.5 of turnover plus ten per cent of the profits
will be paid to the Norwegian operator! This offer has been made
exclusively to the Norwegians who have made their bid through the
Minister -- and there has been no tender process.
could stand to lose millions upon millions as a result of the loss
that is bound to accrue to offline operators of lotteries. In other
words all established and legally required tender procedures are
being by-passed to give an online lottery operation to the Norwegian
company, the NLB is putting money into it - and is being given a
share of the turnover as well as the profits. This as opposed to
a a straightforward privatisation in which the government will be
This is also
in contrast to the million or so that can be brought in if there
is open bidding for management for offline operations - - for which
offers have already been made.
dollar question then is - - why are the Norwegians bidding for a
Norwegian company to be given the running of a lottery operation,
contrary to all established tender procedures, and which will in
the long run cause millions of dollars (or billions of rupees) loss
of Revenue to the government? Moneymaking - umph, peacemaking, or
decision, each time it is deferred comes up in Cabinet and at the
moment it is said that the Prime Minister may even sail with the
idea. Peace is not a lottery but there are a lot of peacemakers
to please, eh what?
The UNP had a May Day tamasha and gave up the rally and all
that - - but not so the SLFP. There was a massive rally that
began in Kotte and ended in Campbell Park. What's significant
was that there was a tacit agreement that there wouldn't be
any red on show at this May Day. Now, a May Day rally of any
sort without the colour red would be like rice and curry without
parripu and pol sambol - - but that was what it was , a May
Day rally at which blue was the colour agreed and on display.
Apparently, this was at the bidding of those who thought the
JVP and the extreme left was getting too much of an upper
hand in the affairs of the People's Alliance. So, they thought
'send them a message.' No red at this party -- just blue.
A statement if ever there was one.
In the background of all this Thilina Bandara Tennakoon threw
another tamasha for the party leadership, and Anura Bandaranaike
was there in all his regalia. But soon, he was to imbibe what
was certainly not plain tea. And in that state, he tried to
have his dinner, and when he couldn't push his food beyond
his face, other MPs had to come and clean up for him. Some
female MPs wives we have to say were heard to say something
about being the joker in a pack of cards-- but surely the
quip could not have been about Anura Bandaranaike?
Tail-piece: Minister Choksy made a statement that not one
cent will be coming into government coffers on account of
the forthcoming aid meeting in Washington.
What? Is Choksy a Tiger? Mercy, no. Apparently it is just
that Choksy has been miffed blue and black because others
were going to the Washington aid meeting, and not him.
saw this as an affront, and he has told people so - particularly
because this is the first time a Finance Minister was left
out of an aid meeting.
Finally things were explained to him that this was only a
preliminary meeting, the real donor conference was in Japan.
Besides, they might have added, wasn't it Minister Choksy
who said he doesn't like foreign trips?
stories and the occult
After the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission ended up with a good
deal of egg in its face claming that a 'third party' may have
been responsible for opening fire on a Chinese boat, a new
theory being floated (no pun intended) that the boat may have
been hit by pirates.
is strictly coming down the grapevine, but we offer no prizes
for guessing who put it there. Recently a team of parties
boarded the Leviathan of the Galesa Straits in Malaysia, and
beat up the crew and looted the ship. There was another incident
of an oil tanker being chased off the coast of Sumatra.
a case of the pirates taking the Captain of the ship hostage,
with machine guns etc, Now, the experts say that since merchant
vessels cannot carry weapons, there should be an alternative,
which is the erection of electric 'sea fences.' The case of
the Chinese vessel off our coasts took place after a Ukrainian
ship was hit of the coast of Brazil , but the difference here
is that rocket propelled grenades were used on the attack
on the Chinese ship - - and which pirate has been known to
use rocket propelled grenades?
of the sea has become one of major import in which the Norwegian
monitors have got inextricably involved, as our Defense Correspondent
has pointed out in his recent columns including today's. It
is the political fallout that the Norwegians are finding difficult
to tackle - - hence the story of pirates attacking the ship
it is of a tall order the story remains on the grapevine,
and small wonder the Defense Minister Thilak Marapana is seeking
the occult for blessing in this atmosphere of angst in the
department of Defense.