Friday, April 3, 2020

Gambling Authority yet to set up Levy Fund

Despite the desire and need to set up a levy Fund by the Gambling Authority such is yet to see the light of the day, thanks largely to the absence of legislation that establishes a levy Fund order.

Information reaching Sunday Standard however confirms that the Authority has long started collecting gambling levy from players in the concerned industry.

In 2018 the Authority admitted to the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on the need to set up a fund order before the Authority could collect levy from casino license holders. However, it has since emerged that the Authority’s efforts to engage its parent ministry – Trade and Iindustry on establishment of the much-needed Levy Fund has hot a snag.

Gambling Authority Chief Executive – Thulisizwe Johnson confirmed recently that they have not complied with the requirement to establish the levy fund.

“We still do not have a levy fund order, we have not complied with the requirement for a fund order. We have received a draft for a fund order from the attorney general chambers that we are commenting on and returning to parliament. So I expect that we will close the issue around fund order very soon.”

Though the Authority is collecting fees without a proper fund order, Johnson no law is being broken as it is part of the Gambling Act. He revealed “there is a requirement by the operators to pay 10 percent of their revenue as a levy to then fund. So that requirement is in the Act it has to be done, the second part is relayed in part to the recipient that is the Gambling Authority and that we must set up a fund that the money must go into.”

“The first part of compliance has been met, as operators are making their contributions. Those monies are kept in an account and that account is an interest bearing account and separate from operations of the Gambling Authority. So from a governance point of view is yes we do not have a levy fund order in place but we have secured the funds.”

Revealing what use the accumulated fees would be put to, Johnson continued “so once the fund order is in place those funds will be transferred to the fund order. When we do our audit on an annual basis those funds are audited to give assurance that in fact we are going to use the funds for operations and those funds have not been touched.”

“The challenge surrounding establishment of a fund order is fundamentally a disagreement between ourselves and government on how to put together the fund order not implementation but the content itself is where the difference was. So we think we are closer to ending negotiations for that,” Johnson assured.

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