Philippines 'can earn P300B yearly' if gaming industry privatized
MANILA, Philippines – Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Wednesday, September 25, that the government can earn a conservative amount of P300 billion yearly if the gaming industry is privatized.
Dominguez gave the figure at the Senate hearing on the proposed P18.72-billion budget of the Department of Finance (DOF) for 2020.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked the DOF if the government would earn more with that proposal, rather than imposing additional tax on e-cigarettes and liquor which would raise some P37 billion in revenues.
"It is a rich source of revenue which I strongly feel is not being tapped properly. Do not let go of the low-hanging fruit that can generate huge revenues," Drilon said.
"All over the world, in all jurisdictions where there is a gaming industry, the government only limits its role to regulatory. The state is never involved in gambling itself, because of the basic conflict of interest since you are regulating yourself."
Dominguez said a DOF study conducted 3 years ago found that at least P220 billion would be earned if casinos under the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) are privatized.
Another P40 to P50 billion in revenues would be earned if operations of lottery games are removed from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
With this setup, Dominguez said Pagcor and the PCSO would regulate and collect money from those who hold the franchises, instead of operating the games themselves.
Drilon then asked: "If we privatize the gaming industry and bid out through a fixed fee the private operations of Pagcor and [PCSO] games including small town lottery, would P300 billion in additional revenues be a conservative and fair estimate?"
Dominguez replied that he believes so, adding: "We would achieve that with no effort. And you correct the situation where you're watching yourself and regulating yourself."
The finance chief said one-time privatization would yield P300 billion "easily" and generate the same amount every year after.
Drilon also backed the move as loopholes and corruption may be addressed with the proposal.
"With this privatization, you will be able to check on many of the income leakages all over the place.... This is something that can put order and correct a lot of things that had gone wrong because of the current setup," the Senate minority leader said.
As early as 2017, Dominguez had already expressed interest in the matter, but the Governance Commission for GOCCs said back then that it was still up for the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com