Thiruvananthapuram: Proceeds from the sale of lottery tickets in Kerala soared from Rs.557 crore to a staggering Rs.5,696 crore during the five-year tenure of the present Oommen Chandy government.
Addressing reporters here on Wednesday after the weekly cabinet meeting, Chandy said the targeted figure for the current fiscal was Rs.6,250 crore. On February 29, the sales figure touched Rs.5,696 crore.
Chandy said they "intend to take this figure to Rs.10,000 crore".
There were also two social objectives -- one aimed at providing a living to the thousands of lottery ticket sellers, and the other to set aside the profits for the Karunya Fund, set up to provide money for treatment of poor patients.
"So far, we have paid out Rs.1,200 crore through this fund as cost of health and medical care to the poor and weaker sections of the society," said Chandy.
Over the years, the state-run lotteries department has never made a loss since its inception. The various lottery tickets have a weekly draw.
In 1967, the total revenue from lottery sales was only Rs.20 lakh. This rose to a whopping Rs.3,793.72 crore in 2013-2014.
Currently, there are close to 40,000 authorised agents and over 100,000 retail sellers who sell tickets.
Chandy said there was a "needless controversy" recently, without knowing the facts, that printing of a portion of lottery tickets was handed over to the private sector.
"Currently, two state government units print lottery tickets which come to around 3.90 crore tickets every week. After printing of currency, the printing of lottery tickets has to be done under high security," he said.
"With ticket sales soaring and the two units at times unable to print on time, the state government appointed an expert committee to see if a portion of tickets can be printed in a press in which the state-owned SIDCO has a 26 percent stake."
"But later," Chandy said, "the two state units told us that they will be able to print another 40 lakh more tickets every week. There was no decision ever to hand over printing to the private sector."