Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bhutan - Third time lucky?

Bhutan Lucky Gift 27 February, 2011 - After much controversy and public criticism on the postponement of lottery draw dates, Bhutan Lucky Gift says they will draw, for sure, on March 27 this year.

With A-star and copyright of Bhutanese feature film Lay Namkoe as first prize, Alto car as second prize and numerous other attractive prizes and a low ticket cost of Nu 25, those buying the tickets were excited.

But the organiser didn’t draw the raffle on December 17 as indicated in the ticket. Announcements were made that it would be drawn on February 23, but no results were declared again.

Those, who’d bought the tickets, were getting restless by the day.

According to organiser Cewang Dorji, the failure to draw the raffle was because the committee couldn’t collect the tickets on time, especially those, which were sent to remote areas.

“Moreover, many tickets were given to school students and, since they were on vacation, they couldn’t be contacted,” he said. “I tried collecting the tickets, but time was limited and strikes in northern India made it difficult.”

Despite the low price the sales were slow. “I couldn’t even sell a whole booklet,” said Cewang Dorji. Only 25 percent of the 8,000 booklets with 50 tickets were sold.

“If we’d drawn the lottery then and, if the winning numbers appeared on the unsold part of the booklets, it would have been unfair to the buyers,” he said. “The prizes are all ready, including five televisions.”

The organiser also said bureaucratic process involved in getting approval to sell lottery also affected the draw date. Cewang Dorji said he got approval from home ministry to sell lottery on June 17.

Later he found out he had to seek approval from finance and not home ministry. The home ministry asked him to suspend sale of lottery. He sought approval from the finance ministry, but was refused, and home ministry granted him the approval again on August 13.

“Finance ministry refused saying that home ministry had already approved it” Cewang Dorji said.

Keeping in mind the Bhutan raffle rules, 2004, Cewang Dorji said, the committee decided to draw on February 23. “If it was approved on June 17, I could have drawn on December 17, but my sale was stopped,” he said, adding he started selling again only after August. “And since I could resume only from August, the February 23 draw date would actually be the real draw date.”

According to officials from the directorate of lottery in Phuentsholing, lottery organisers can postpone only once, and for a duration of six months, and only after approval from the finance ministry. “The organiser postponed without asking anyone,” an official said.

“Home ministry’s involvement in approval of lottery sale given to Bhutan Lucky Gift should be looked at,” said another official. “The sale of such raffle was also banned in Bhutan, but still it was approved.”

By Yangchen C Rinzin

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