By Ben Rosario
Acknowledging that the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators remains the goose that lays golden eggs for Philippine economy, the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means urged colleagues on Wednesday to thread carefully in conducting a congressional inquiry into the POGO industry.
Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, also the senior vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, disclosed that POGO “returns reach one percent” of the gross domestic products (GNP).
He cited the industry for providing employment to more Filipinos compared to what the business processing outsourcing (BPO) has contributed since it was launched a few years ago.
Reacting to China’s insinuations for the government to stop POGO, Salceda admitted that considering its huge contributions to the country’s economy, the balance is tilted in favor of POGO.
“POGO is legal in the Philippines. China can’t dictate on another sovereign country,” Salceda said.
According to Salceda, the Lower House will conduct a congressional inquiry into the operations of POGO, particularly in relation to the “unprecedented entry of foreign workers.”
Minority Leader and Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. said the opposition-initiated inquiry will also take up allegations of non-payment of income tax by POGO operators.
“It is a high risk, high return for the Philippines,” Salceda stated.
Earlier, state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) revealed that it expects a P75.1-billion income next year, including earnings from the flourishing POGO industry.
During a recent budget hearing, Pagcor officials told House members that POGO operators have contributed huge amounts of revenues used by the state gaming firm to finance infrastructure projects of the government, including the construction of evacuation centers as temporary shelter for calamity victims.
Pagcor Vice President James Patrick Bondoc told lawmakers that the projected revenue for 2020 is higher than this year’s P73.8 billion estimated revenue.
Bondoc said of the P75.1 billion projected revenue for 2020, P73.6 billion will come from gaming operations, while P1.5 billion will come from other related-services and other income of Pagcor.