Special Correspondent

Vote on account passed

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Government would review the petition before a three-member Bench of the Supreme Court in the lottery case, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said in the Assembly on Monday.

Replying to the debate on the motion regarding demands for grants on account, the Minister said that Government would also seek to withdraw the affidavit filed by the Government when UDF was in power.

The Government wanted action to be taken against lotteries being run on behalf of Sikkim and Bhutan for violation of Section 4 of the Lotteries Act. However, the previous Government had given an undertaking in its affidavit that no action would be initiated. The Union Government had also filed a petition against the State taking action against the lotteries.

Dr. Isaac said the Government had filed an affidavit that it had no objection to inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation regarding irregularities in the conduct of online lotteries and all related issues.

He said that while opposing globalisation and proposing changes, the Government also sought interventions. The Budget had proposals for engaging globalisation.

After the Minister's reply, the House passed the motion authorising grant of Rs.8,067 crore for the first four months of the next financial year.

Earlier, replying to the criticisms raised by G. Sudhakaran (Congress) against the liquor policy, Excise Minister P.K. Gurudasan said the Government was committed to preventing sale of illicit liquor. The policy was aimed at ending monopolies in the sector and encouraging small-scale contractors.

Discussions sought

Referring to the criticism that the proposed compounding of `abkari' offences would encourage illicit distillation, the Minister said that the ceiling for compounding would be determined only after detailed discussions. The decision to introduce compounding had been taken by the previous Government.

He said that new toddy shops would be granted only if there were a minimum of 50 coconut trees for tapping. Only profit-making toddy cooperatives that had given all benefits to the workers would be allowed to take up new toddy shops. It was the demand of all the trade unions in the sector that the 1,610 closed toddy shops should be reopened.