|Domingo.- Dominican Republic’s National Lottery has earned the ominous title of being the first such agency to go broke, and forcing president Leonel Fernandez to transfer its administration to the Internal Taxes Agency, ironically considered the most official of all government entities.
Since 1997 the Lottery lost its credibility when a ring headed by the now fugitive Frederick Marzouka scammed it out of more than RD$90 million by manipulating drawings, among others irregularities.
Most of its administrators have been involved in scandals, including the most recent, Enrique Martinez, whose wife, La Romana senator Amarilis Santana, was given Lottery funds even while campaigning for the congressional seat.
Its fate was sealed early last week when Fernandez signed into law a repeal of the Lottery’s function of collecting the taxes from the country’s thousands of betting parlors.
Martinez, who until Friday was its administrator, affirms that the agency should receive more than RD$100 million per month, gets only RD$30 million for expenses such as payroll, and notes that it operates with a RD$14 million deficit.
But adding insult to injury, Fernandez named as its new administrator, Jose Francisco Peña Tavárez, son of Jose Francisco Peña Guaba, whose tenure as Lottery chief was marked with scandal.
DR1.com posted this version:
Faced with the current problems plaguing the National Lottery, where income is far below expenditure, the government should consider the need for reforming the agency in order to put it up to date with the market, or close it down, according to economist and business consultant Francisco Rojas. He believes it should not continue to operate in the current conditions.
"The right thing is that the Lottery should not continue to cost the people what it costs, because it constitutes a sacrifice, instead of being an institution that transfers resources to the treasury through its earnings."
Rojas believes, nonetheless, that the government should not get out of the games market, where demand is sufficiently high and where more than RD$40 million is played every day, according to his estimate.
Rojas said that the National Lottery should be maintained as a competent enterprise, and it should not be seen as an institution used to cater for political patronage.
"What has contributed to the financial downfall of this institution has been corruption, because traditionally it has been the source that the people, the administrators, the politicians, have for corrupt actions and what must be eliminated is that this should not be an enterprise that is given to politicians so that they can transfer money," he said.
Rojas said that the Lottery is an entity created to respond to demands of the poorest, whose needs are still there. Therefore, it should be kept open and working as an enterprise that continues to transfer assets to the state.
He advised the government to invest the necessary resources in order to bring it up to date with cutting edge technology, and make the necessary organizational and management changes that will allow it to survive in the face of the competition.
Political patronage has marked the management at the National Lottery for years. Last week, President Leonel Fernandez appointed the grandson of late PRD leader Jose Francisco Pena Gomez and son of Bloque Institucional Socialista (BIS) political party leader Jose Francisco Pena Guaba new administrator of the National Lottery. The new Lottery director, Jose Francisco Pena Tavarez replaces Enrique Martinez who was appointed to the State Sugar Council (CEA). Pena Guaba had two days prior to the appointment threatened to break with the ruling PLD and return to support the PRD and its candidate Hipolito Mejia, the frontrunner into the 2012 presidential election.
Dominican Watchdog Note: Its hard to imagine a government so useless and incompetent that they can't run a state lottery. The lottery is yet another example of the rampant corruption of Leonel Fernandez's government. How did Leonel make his millions?