08/32. The EuroMillions lottery to fund a new ‘charity commission’

08/32. The EuroMillions lottery to fund a new ‘charity commission’

8.1 The EuroMillions lottery, initially for online play only

  • It will initially only be played online from a selected lottery operator abroad (subject to tender), without the need for ticket terminals other than at airports and near the UN crossings. I will work with stakeholders including OPAP as it currently has exclusivity for physical lottery sales.
  • EuroMillions will provide incentives for those reticent to embrace technology such as some pensioners, to learn the basics of using a laptop or tablet, empowering more citizens to participate in Cyprus’ digital transformation. Winnings over €100,000, which can be as high as €250,000,000, will be subject to a 5% tax and a 5% mandatory donation to any Cyprus-registered charities the lucky winners will select. It could be for hospice care, drug addiction, cancer support, helplines for emotionally distressed persons, or the church. Alternatively, winners may start their own charities within 12 months to help our community, e.g., to help train our future Olympic (including paralympic) medal winners. [Personal experience: I won the EuroMillions lottery the previous time I visited England. Unfortunately, it was only £3.]
  • Non-Cyprus residents who buy physical tickets at airports or UN crossing points will be subject to a 10% withholding tax on winnings over €100,000; however, they too can choose which Cyprus charities will benefit from half the 10% withheld. 
  • The state will also earn 20% duty on all ticket sales to help fund a new charity commission. The full list of every Cyprus non-profit will be displayed on its website.

1.2  Our new Cyprus’ charity commission

Many Cypriots and permanent residents are generous when it comes to good causes and philanthropy. However, current charity laws are based on the 1960s when it was assumed a charity collected spare coins in buckets by unpaid volunteers for a local cause. Or when the church coordinated charity for the poor. It has never dawned on any government since then that some non-profits e.g., for medical research, employ highly skilled staff such as doctors and professionals.

Current laws and the four types of charity that can be started today are ridiculously bureaucratic. It can take years to open a charity. 

  • This new charity commission will be a one-stop shop to help in the formation and running of charities, grant applications, volunteer requests, and enforcement.
  • The non-profit sector, known internationally as the third sector, will create many research and administrative jobs in Cyprus. At present, international charities and NGOs are faced with dire hurdles to open branches in Cyprus. The volunteerism commissioner will report to the head of the charity commission.
  • A new species of company will also become available for incorporation similar to the UK, known as a community interest company (CIC). These limited liability companies can still pay management, staff, and directors’ salaries; however, their aim will be to help the community based on their specific objectives. For example, training pensioners how to use technology. 
  • For hundreds of years the church was the centre for helping widows, orphans, the sick, and village poor. The charity commission via its website will be a central hub for philanthropy in Cyprus. It will help the church and all registered charities with grants, direct donations, volunteerism requests, best-practice, and recruitment if applicable. It will be funded by the EuroMillions lottery and create many jobs in the third sector.  

[My personal experiences trying to open a ‘company’ charity since 2019: It took 3 months for the registrar of companies just to get the name approved. Our lawyers followed the registrar’s guidelines and even changed the articles of association as it requested. The ministry of finance rejected the articles because of changes to charity governance it had implemented which it did not convey to the registrar. For example, a recent badly thought-out interpretation of charity (non-profit) governance states that a company charity must spend 85% of its income in the year it is earned. This is ridiculous. Do political parties have to? How can a church be funded this way? How can cancer research doctors be paid if a Cyprus-based international charity must spend most of its money and not enough donations materialise in the 4th quarter? How can its staff be paid in January?]       


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