National Lotteries Board Reneges On Commitment to Open Funding Applications [press release]

Correspondence from the chairman of the National Lotteries Board, Professor Ntshengedzeni Nevhutanda, has revealed that the National Lotteries Board will not be opening up funding applications for any new applicants before the end of 2014, as it promised to do just a few months ago.

In a meeting of the portfolio committee on Trade and Industry on 11 March 2014, the NLB gave me an unequivocal commitment to open applications for charities and non-profit organisations before the end of 2014. This would be the first call for new applications since 2012, and thousands of charities and non-profit organisations have been eagerly awaiting the new call for applications since the NLB’s public commitment. Many have spent countless hours already preparing their applications, in anticipation of the call being made.

However, Professor Nevhutanda has now conceded that these applications will likely only open in April 2015, citing the current “backlog” and “difficulties with the current legislation” as the reason for the delay. The NLB has also revealed that there is still a backlog of over 800 applications that are still to be considered before a new call for applications can be made. This is sad news for the non-profit community, and for those who depend on the services that these charities deliver.

The core function of the National Lotteries Board is the funding of non-profit organisations. At the moment, the Board is not fulfilling this mandate.

Professor Nevhutanda has cited difficulties in establishing a quorum in the Distributing Agency that is tasked with considering applications and deciding on grants, as the core reason why his commitment earlier this year will not be met. There are vacancies on the distributing agency which reportedly have not been filled by Minister Rob Davies. If this is true, it is of great concern that the NLB is being hamstrung by not being able to have quorate meetings of its distributing agencies.

I will today write to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, to inform him of this development, and to request that he fills any vacancies on the distributing agency as a matter of urgency. Furthermore, I will request that the Minister personally ensures that the call for applications is made as early as possible in the New Year.

I will also be conducting an oversight visit to National Lotteries Board offices in January next year to try to get to the bottom of why this failure has occurred and what can be done to open applications as soon as possible.

Geordin Hill-Lewis

Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry

Source : Democratic Alliance