Sierra Leone’s fastest growing gambling house, Mercury International, yesterday awarded a Le84 million Union Trust Bank cheque to the lucky winner of the 5/90 lottery, Mohamed Conteh, who won Le 93 million but received Le 9 million prior to the presentation.
In his statement before the presentation at the Siaka Steven Street betting office, the Minister of Information Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo said, “I was taken aback when called upon to grace this occasion, I really never knew that Mercury was this established. This is my very first time of coming here.”
“Our government”, he said, “believes in the free market enterprise system and President Ernest Bai Koroma insists that the private sector must play a major role in the development of the country, because we as a government has accepted the fact that government can not do everything, therefore we want to put in place these modalities that would make the private sector strive in this country.” The Information Minister continued, “Mercury can serve as an ambassador to tell other investors that Sierra Leone is a beautiful place where you can invest your money and gets positive results.” Alhaji Kargbo maintained that, “we have said it clearly that our government would promote the concept of the market economy, the concept of free trade and free market system and therefore we believe in competition in the market place.” He explained that this was one of the experiments after so many years “whereby we remove the monopoly that allow Mercury to operate in this country and today they have proven that competition can pay very good dividend.” The Information Minister maintained that they had not only employed Sierra Leoneans, “now other Sierra Leoneans are benefiting from their operations like the lucky winner here Mr Conteh.” Speaking about how he felt after receiving the cheque, Mr Conteh said “today is one of the happiest days in my life. I would take my time to do my best with this money.”