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Lotto Policy Review

Lotto Policy Review

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Published by Jacky Thomas

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Published by: Jacky Thomas on Oct 19, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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FOR ONCE A BREATH OF FRESH AIRComment byPhiroshaw Camay, Director, Co-operative for Research and EducationThe Lotteries Board has succumbed to public criticism of its operations and produced aLotteries Policy Review a Discussion Document for public comment. Whilst belated,the document must be welcomed by all stakeholders as a coherent approach to on-going re-assessment and refinement of the operation of the Lotteries Board. Thevexed operations of the Distribution Agencies associated with the allocation of funds,also comes under scrutiny in the Review.The discussion document is not a defensive document. It appears to have taken toheart the many legitimate complaints, the finding of two major research reports, variousadvocacy activities, in and out of Parliament, as well as the scathing criticism by thecourts. It is an honest appraisal which requires engagement and debate. It alsorequires vigilant advocacy through the legislative process to ensure that the originalaims of establishing a national lottery remain intact. As this Review attempts to resolvesome of the structural faults, it should not be frustrated by bureaucrats or governmentlegal advisors, though well meaning, which may negatively impact on this reformprocess.The discussion document presents 14 key recommendations for consideration, most if not all, should be a welcome breath of fresh air to boards and management of civilsociety organisations engaged with the Lotteries Boards.
1. The Distributing Agencies (DA) must be professionalised and appointed ona full-time basis.
The frustrating experience of various civil society organisations has been that DAshave taken too long to make decisions. This has often threatened the very existence of organisations applying for funds and so jeopardising their operations and infrastructure.
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This proposal must be enforced by the Board through a search process which willensure that the most sensitive, experienced and professional appointments are madeto serve the interests of the millions of beneficiaries of the lotto funding.These appointees should have no conflicting interests and should resign any conflictingpositions they perceive might prejudice their decisions or open them to criticism. Thisis key to restoring faith in the Lotto system and to build confidence amongst South Africans, that this is a worthwhile form of giving in our country.
2. The DA should continue being appointed by the Minister.
This proposal will no doubt require consultation and debate and further legislationrefinement. The appointments should be made by the Minister but on therecommendation of the Lotto Board. The Board has to retain structural operationalauthority as well as governance powers over the DA. If this concern is not resolved,the Lotto will once again experience two centres of power, in its operations, withoutresolving a key fault line in its present operations.Governance and sound governance requires a clear line of authority and responsibility. Any other approach will only lead to mischief and manipulation, fraud and corruption,which the sector does not need.
3. An Internal Review Mechanism should be introduced to deal with aggrievedapplicants.
This recommendation is long overdue. It will assist in fast-tracking the appeals andresolve grievances and avoid costly legal actions. It will also assist in resolvingdisputes in a conciliatory manner with every side being able to acknowledge errorswithout subjecting itself to public embarrassment. The Internal Review Mechanism canbe constituted through a volunteer tripartite body composed of government officials,corporate donors as well as senior civil society representatives. It should be able tomeet at least ten times a year and deal with any disputes referred to it. It may alsomeet electronically through using skype and other evolving technologies, in wellorganised and structured meetings. It should be managed by a senior staff membereporting directly to the CEO of the Lotto. The person may also be empowered in the
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amendments envisaged to the Act, to be provided with a direct independent reportingfunction to the Board, similar to that of an ombudsperson.
4. The process of receiving funds from the NLB must be simplified to improveservice delivery.
Whilst this proposal of a three tiered funding hierarchy of small, medium and largegrants is to be welcomed, some caution needs to be expressed. It is not the expressaim of the NLB to improve service delivery. The notion of service delivery as appliedcurrently in South Africa is to provide local authority services to the public. The Lotto Act envisages distribution of funds to deserving causes. The 2010 Regulationsenvisages distribution in three specific priority areas: the Charitable Sector, the Arts,Culture and National Heritage, and Sports and Recreation. The intention of the newregulations was to :Get the processes of the NLB to reinforce government efforts to relieve poverty,to develop our least developed areas, and to build a more equal society.[http://www.nlb.org.za/2010html]
5. The distribution of funds involves steps from application to final paymentwith adjudication being part of the process.
The intention to set turnaround times for each stage of the application is a sound onewhich will find support in civil society. An electronic tracking system could be easily putin place to facilitate the grant making process. It will assist in measuring theperformance of the Distribution Agencies and the Board. But grant managementprocess should not be the only aim. The review of the NLB should also have an inbuiltmonitoring and evaluation process. This process should on a random basis evaluateprojects funded and impact achieved. This is intrinsic to the work of the civil societyand development, ethics throughout the world.Whilst considering these aspects, the policy review should also spend some criticaltime on debating and resolving longer term grants for vulnerable sectors of South African society such as children, the youth and the aged. Such groups should be ableto access budget set asides from the NLB for on-going funding and essential welfarework.

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