Gov't shortchanged? PCSO imposes up to P300M monthly bond on STL operators

MANILA, Philippines – To counter the alleged practice of small-time lottery (STL) operators of withholding full remittances from government, the Palace-created task force will require them to deposit up to P300 million monthly starting February.

There are 18 agent corporations across the country authorized by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to operate STL. (READ: Gov't to look into small town lottery operations)

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Tuesday, January 17, the amount of the money guarantee would depend on the area of operation.

He cited Laguna operations as candidate for the maximum bond of P300 million a month, saying that STL income in the province ranges from P10 million to P30 million a day.

The bond covers the P50,000 filing fee and the P15 million authorization fee that the PCSO imposes.

The PCSO starts collecting bonds February 1.

Aguirre is part of the task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte to probe into the non-payment or under-payment of STL remittances nationwide, with government losing billions of pesos.

This was after the President learned that, during the Aquino administration, STL operators only remitted 10-15% of their earnings.

The DOJ has been task to go after the liable operators. Other members of the task force are Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

Quota computed

"What we did was to set a minimum PMRR or Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts. That's the quota that an operator has to remit to the PCSO," Aguirre said in Filipino. 

He explained the case of Laguna: "STL earns P10 million to P30 million a day. So if we go by at least P10 million, you are supposed to remit P300 million for the 30 days [of the month]. So the bond required of you is P300.

"If in a month you remit only P250 million to the PCSO, that means you pulled P50 million. PCSO will deduct that from your bond."

Is this like killing STL? Aguirre says no.

"They earn too much. They are billionaires. We factored the amounts in the computation," he said in Filipino.

New rules

Before the decision to collect bonds, Aguirre said the government had implemented a new set of rules, increasing the minimum remittance required of STL operators.

The new rules, he said, "has so far resulted to unprecedented high collections in the first few months of operations under Duterte administration."

Past administrations came up with STL to combat jueteng, an illegal numbers game. The idea was to have lottery operations that are registered with government, so taxes are collected and bribes to authorities are avoider.

There are reports, however, indicating that in some areas it is the jueteng lords who also bagged the STL franchises. – Rappler.com