What Would You Do If You Won the Lottery?By Miriam Bello | Wed, 01/29/2020 - 16:45
This week, what looked like a joke became a reality when President López Obrador released a sample of how the lottery ticket for the presidential plane’s raffle would look like. Even though the president claims there are several offers to buy the plane, the unit is still grounded and costing the government monthly payments in maintenance and repairs.
In a recent morning conference, the president even said that the plane had been offered to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after learning that his own plane had malfunctioned. However, what López Obrador sees as a more plausible solution is to give away the plane through a raffle organized by Lotería Nacional. What at first was taken with humor became a much serious subject when the president announced the plans he had for the money raised through the raffle. The money raised would be used to supply public hospitals with medical equipment to care for the poor, the raffle ticket reads. A good use of the money and an issue in dire need to be addressed but, is it possible to solve it like this?
According to López Obrador, there would be 6 million tickets, each one worth MX$500 (US$25), which means the country could raise up to MX$3 billion (US$150 million). Aside from the thousands of memes following the announcement, speculations of what could be bought with that money are already going around. Before releasing the design of the ticket, López Obrador had already presented a plan that he had sent to the US to pay for the plane in kind with medical equipment worth approximately MX$2.5 billion (US$134 million). However, needs in the public healthcare sector demand approximately MX$13 billion (US$695 million).
We must not forget, however, that the presidential plane is still being paid and most of the money coming from the raffle would have to be used to settle that debt and pay for the plane’s constant maintenance. According to Ana Paula Ordorica, Columnist at El Universal, the contract celebrated between Banobras and Boeing for the presidential plane was of MX$2.952 billion (US$157.9 million), of which approximately MX$2 billion (US$107 million) are still to be paid. Considering that all the tickets for the raffle are sold, this would leave only US$43 million for medical equipment, considering there are no more maintenance or repair payments overdue.
Now, the ugly truth is that no one could actually own a Boieng 787 Dreamliner and have it parked outside their home. Would the government still pay for maintenance should a regular citizen were to win the plane? According to Manuel de Jesús Hernández, Mexican Air Force Commander, the government paid approximately MX$15 million (US$800,000) for 13 months of hangar use at the airport in Victorville, California. Another issue is that Lotería Nacional’s regulations say prizes can only be in the form of cash, so giving away the plane is illegal at the moment. Does it mean then that the winner would not receive the plane but its worth in cash? How would that work if the intention is to use those resources in the public healthcare sector?
Taxes are another factor to consider. Mexican law states that lottery winners must pay a 7 percent tax on the prize offered by Lotería Nacional, 1 percent is paid to the federal government and 6 percent to the state government. Claudia Sheinbaum, Governor of Mexico City, said that as a commitment to help in the sale of the presidential plane, the state would excuse the winner from paying the 6 percent tax. However, the 1 percent due to the federal government would still have to be paid, which would be approximately MX$25 million (US$1.34 million).
Of course, we cannot help to think what would we do if we were the lucky (or unlucky) winner. The fate of the plane is still undecided although according to López Obrador, everything will be determined on February 15, since Lotería Nacional needs time to sell the tickets before the raffle on May 5. However, if we were to look at this legally, none of this is even possible because the government is not the owner of the plane, yet. The invoice is still in Boeing’s possession.