DOF to push for privatization of Pagcor, STL operations anew
MANILA, Philippines — On Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s prodding, the Department of Finance (DOF) agreed Wednesday to revive the proposed privatization of the gaming industry in the country.
Drilon brought up the issue during the Senate committee on finance’s hearing on DOF’s budget for 2020.
Instead of imposing additional taxes on cigarettes and liquors, the senator said privatizing the gaming industry particularly the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), and small-town lottery (STL) operations, would be a “rich source” of revenue.
Drilon then asked how much revenue would the government generate if the proposal pushes through.
Responding to the query, DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez told the committee that based on their analyses three years ago, the government could generate around P220 billion from the privatization of Pagcor alone.
For STL privatization, Dominguez said the government could raise another P40 billion to P50 billion a year.
“If we privatize our gaming industry and bid out through a fixed fee the privilege of operating Pagcor, the gaming industry, including STL, would P300 billion annually in additional revenues be a conservative and fair estimate today?” Drilon then asked.
“ I believe so. We could achieve that with no effort,” the DOF chief said.
The senator then asked why the government did not push for the privatization even through an executive order.
Dominguez said they submitted a proposal three years ago “but we haven’t progressed from there.”
“I feel that we’re failing to tap a sweet source of revenue for the government and not only that, this is something that can put order and correct a lot of things that had gone wrong because of the setup,” Drilon said.
The setup he was referring to was the situation where the government through Pagcor regulates and at the same time operates its own gaming operations.
“I’d put on record, I’d urge the Secretary of Finance to take a serious look at this…” said the senator.
“Yes, we will push it again,” Dominguez answered. /kga