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    Belgium’s national lottery dreams of privatisation

    Deciding on the National Lottery was called "interesting but not urgent" Credit: creative commons

    Privatising the National Lottery of Belgium would be a “beautiful opportunity for Belgian investors” at a time when savings accounts yield next to nothing, according to the company’s CEO.

    Speaking on Friday, Jannie Haek said that he would like to see his company partially quoted on the Stock Exchange, like its French counterpart, ‘la Française des Jeux’, reported L’Echo and De Tijd.

    However, outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) has stressed that the decision was not in the hands of Haek, but the Belgian Government.

    “The CEO can wish it, but we, the Government, are the owners,” De Croo said as he arrived at Friday’s Council of Ministers meeting. “It’s for the owners to decide what they do with the company,” he stressed, referring the discussion on the public enterprise’s future to the next government. “I do not wish to prejudge the facts,” De Croo said. “A new government will soon be formed, I hope.”

    He explained further that “a caretaker government does what is necessary and urgent,” adding that “reflecting on the National Lottery is interesting but not urgent.”

    Union Outrage

    The remarks by Haek also irked the socialist union, ACOD/CGSP, which said it was outraged at hearing them through the press. “When la Française des Jeux announced that it was going to be quoted on the Stock Exchange, we presented the project at a workers’ committee meeting,” Kurt Sissau of the union’s Flemish wing, ACOD, said on Friday. “We were told then that this was not on the agenda at the National Lottery.”

    The union said it was opposed to such privatisation and that it would study the possible consequences of such a move for the staff. In any event, it said, this was still just an idea and was currently not feasible without a full-fledged government.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times