Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019. 1:02 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Prime Minister Dean Barrow has told activist Giovannie Brackett that Cabinet, reviewing the matter of renewal of a contract for management of the national lottery currently held by Brad’s Gaming Company Limited, agreed it would not be automatically renewed, and once it expires, would be put out to tender.
Businessman Kim Jen Chee’s Brads’ won the original tender in 2009, but there have been hiccups in the system for which boledo and lottery fans have complained.
Brads’ system was hacked in 2017, disrupting lottery sales, and in 2013 the multi-pick machine failed twice during the Sunday Lottery Draw.
The company has rarely commented publicly and has yet to do so on this matter.
Brackett drew comparison to the City Council under Mayor Darrell Bradley extending the contract of now-former City Administrator Candice Miller before it left office. The succeeding Council ending up firing Miller, a decision a court ruled last week was wrongful.
Brackett has called for disclosure of what each side is making and an audit of the system, and he has a few other questions.
“When exactly does this contract end and what are the plans if any to continue the private management as status quo? We currently…I don’t know when is the expiration date and I think the Belizean public needs to know that. Number two; will the contract we put out to tender as before or will it be automatic renewal and why? And what are the criteria for tendering? Will the government test any equipment by the gaming company for future malfunction and if it is up to par? One of the things that concern me is that I would like the public to ask and I would like the government to disclose who are the shareholders in this lottery company, gaming company. I know we hear the term Brads and we think a Chinese Belizean man, but I was informed and that needs to be investigated that he is a minority shareholder and we need to check if there is a foreign company that is in there because if the government gave this contract out to what we thought was a fully owned Belizean company and it turns out to be that there is majority or a wide amount of shareholding by a foreign company, then that is not in the best interest of the Belizean people.”
Business Senator Mark Lizarraga concurred after Wednesday’s Senate meeting: “we cannot have a situation where government continues to pick winners and losers in a less than transparent manner. And I am not saying that that happened in this case; I am saying that’s what Mister Brackett has claimed. And again, I have not looked at it fully, but in principle, we always stand for having a process clearly defined so that you could participate in it and I could participate in it and you could participate in it and not just have members of cabinet pick the winners and losers in whatever we have going on.”
The original contract was granted in November of 2009, but there was a grace period before it started in April of 2010.
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