Government to sell Pagcor casinos

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The government will sell casinos operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to raise funds to support the proposed P3.35-trillion 2017 national budget.

“Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has told us to privatize Pagcor-owned casinos,” Andrea Domingo, chair of the gaming agency and a former Pampanga congresswoman, has told a House budget hearing.

“We are now preparing the template for the planned privatization so we could maximize the benefits for the government,” she said.

She admitted though that selling state-run casinos would just bring in one-time revenue for the treasury, unlike operating them, which translates to billions in earnings every year.

Domingo did not say, nor was she asked, how much the government would earn from selling Pagcor-run casinos.

But she gave the appropriations committee chaired by Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles an idea of how much Pagcor is earning from its casinos.

She said of the P46 billion the state firm earned in 2015, half or P23 billion came from its gaming operations, while licensees contributed the other half.

Dominguez is eyeing all possible revenue-generating measures to raise money to support the proposed P3.35-trillion national budget

for next year and to offset losses expected from the plan to reduce income tax.

If the planned reduction pushes through, income tax rates would go down from 32-30 percent to 25 percent.

Dominguez estimates that the tax cuts would mean revenue losses of about P170 billion a year.

Aside from privatizing state-run casinos, Dominguez is proposing to impose a P6-per-liter excise tax on diesel and to increase a similar levy on gasoline from P4.35 to P10 per liter.

The proposal is feared to result in higher fares and the cost of transporting rice, vegetables and other consumer products, which will in turn increase selling prices for these products.

The finance chief is also recommending that rich senior citizens be stripped of their exemption from the 12-percent value added tax.

Domingo also told the Nograles committee that President Duterte’s directive for Pagcor not to renew its contract with billionaire businessman Roberto Ongpin’s PhilWeb on e-games would mean a revenue loss of P10 billion a year.

However, she said Pagcor would try to recoup the loss through other gaming projects, like offshore e-games, which would be strictly limited to foreigners. – With Marvin Sy




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