Business

NLB seeks assistance from Indian credit line to print lottery tickets

  • Suspension of paper imports brings several lotteries to a halt

By Imesh Ranasinghe

The National Lotteries Board (NLB) is seeking assistance from the proposed Indian credit line through the Treasury to import paper for lottery tickets, the printing of which has been suspended at the moment, NLB Chairman Lalith Piyum Perera said.

The NLB has already stopped printing four lotteries – namely, Govisetha, Handahana, Sevana, and Vasana Sampatha – due to the shortage of paper. 

Among the lotteries, Sevana and Vasana Sampatha directly contribute to the Consolidated Fund at the Finance Ministry, while Govisetha, which is among the lotteries with the highest cash prizes, contributes to the Farmers’ Trust Fund at the Ministry of Agriculture and Consolidated Funds.

In 2020, the NLB had contributed Rs. 1.3 billion to the Consolidated Fund up to August that year while Sevana and Vasana Sampatha contributed nearly Rs. 60 million. The total contribution of Govisetha to the Fund was Rs. 336 million.

Perera said that the Department of Government Printing and two other printers which had undertaken the printing of lotteries for NLB were facing a shortage of paper due to the dollar crisis which had resulted in the current suspension of the lotteries.

“The Treasury is working hard to do something about it through the Indian credit line,” he said.

Sri Lanka is currently in discussions with India for a $ 1.5 billion credit line, out of which $ 1 billion will be used to import food, essential items, and medicines, while the other $ 500 million will be used to import fuel.

Reflecting on the revenue loss from the lotteries not being printed, Perera said that it was a direct loss to the Treasury as direct sales were sent to it.

Another official from the NLB stated that if the required paper for lotteries were not supplied, they would have to temporarily move into an alternative paper option.

According to sources, the quantities of other lotteries that are printed have also reduced over time due to the paper shortage.

Officials stated that 10 average size lotteries could be printed on a single A4 sheet of the special paper that is used to print lotteries.

However, Perera noted that to use alternative paper for lottery printing, they would have to seek advice from the Government Printer, as there were security features that needed to be added to the lotteries.

About 21% of the population buys lotteries in Sri Lanka while about 20,000 sellers and agents depend on lottery sales.

According to the Finance Ministry, the National Lotteries Board has spent Rs. 503 million, Rs. 530 million, and Rs. 433 million in 2018, 2019, and 2020 respectively for printing lotteries while the income from lottery sales in 2020 was at Rs. 18 billion.