11 June 2003

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Lotto representatives to meet finance minister this afternoon

By David Lindsay
Representatives from the Lotto Receivers’ Union and the Union Haddiema Maghqudin are to meet with Finance and Economic Services Minister John Dalli this afternoon with a view to smoothing out a number of hurdles set in the way of the Lotto Department’s privatisation, UHM Secretary General Gejtu Vella told The Malta Financial and Business Times yesterday.
"If we manage to overcome these problems then I believe we will be able to continue with meaningful discussions. From Maltco’s side (the Greek-Maltese consortium bidding for the privatisation of the Lotto Department) we expect that both unions (the UHM and the Lotto Receivers’ Union) are to enjoy full recognition as the receivers’ representatives and that they act as their sole bargaining agents."
The fact that the consortium might deem certain lotto receiving booths as unsuitable for their operations has also become a sticking point, with Vella suggesting that if this does, indeed, become the case the government should intervene.
He insists this should be done by means of supplying new booths or funding for new booths for the locations in question.
Other obstacles presenting themselves include the failure to reach a collective guarantee in the case of hold-ups, receivers’ commission rates and the institution of a safety net in the event that lotto sales suffer as a result of the Lotto Department’s privatisation.
Once these obstacles are overcome, Vella adds, meaningful discussions will be able to continue on a number of other points, including the contentious issue of the Lm18,000 sales target being set by the consortium and the fact that operators not reaching the target would be asked to close their doors permanently.
The Finance and Economic Services Ministry, meanwhile, appears to be keeping tight-lipped on the issue.

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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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