Finance Minister T.M.Thomas Isaac has said that the government is not considering the Kerala State lottery as a means to earn revenue to the State. The lottery is supporting the livelihood of about two lakh workers, among whom many are disabled. The government will initiate measures to ensure the welfare of the workers and their families, he said while inaugurating a convention organized by the Kerala Lottery Samrakshana Samithi here on Friday.
The minister said that with the lottery having been restricted to once-in-a-week set-up, the workers’ earnings have dwindled. In a bid to face such a crisis, the government will provide Rs.1,000 as ex-gratia to the workers. The gesture will continue till the present crisis in the lottery segment is over. The workers will be given rice at Rs.2 per kg. They will also be brought under health insurance cover upto Rs.70,000. The workers will be allowed to borrow tickets worth Rs.1,000.
The commission to the agents will be raised from 30 per cent to 35 per cent. The demand for extending commission to sub-agents will be considered. The contribution towards welfare fund will be increased from 1 per cent to 2 per cent which will be raised further, if required. A special scheme will be announced within a week to extend help to the disabled workers engaged in lottery ticket sales.
The specification on the minimum number of lottery tickets to be sold to enable the worker to join the welfare fund will be reduced from 10,000 tickets to 5,000. Special relief measures will also be considered to help those who are not able to meet the minimum requirement due to non-availability of tickets.
He also asked the agents to take up the sales of a new book on lottery written by him which will ensure over 40 per cent commission. The book was written with a view to countering the allegations raised by the Opposition in the controversy over the lottery issue.
Mr.Isaac said the union government should change the rules pertaining to the sale of other State lotteries. The present rule implies a ban on the State’s own lottery in order to ban other State lotteries. He said it was the UDF government which had given permission to the so-called kingpin of other State lotteries for distribution in Kerala. He also said that it was the Congress led government which had invited tenders for operating online lotteries which were banned later.
M.V.Jayarajan, Convenor of the Samithi, Uzhavoor Vijayan, Pradip Kumar and C.K.Nanu, were among the other leaders who spoke.