Pogos’ annual contribution to economy accounts for 1% of GDP — Gatchalian
MANILA, Philippines — The annual contribution of Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) in the country accounts for 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said on Tuesday.
Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate ways and means panel, presented data that showed that the government collects P34.67 billion in direct and indirect contributions from Pogos.
During the committee’s hearing, Gatchalian asked Finance Undersecretary Bayani Agabin if 1 percent would be sufficient to justify Pogo operations in the country.
“From the [Department of Finance] perspective, is 1 percent a substantial amount to warrant the continued existence of Pogo in our country? Kasi ‘pag sinabing (Because when you say) 0.05 [percent], then obviously it’s minuscule compared to our total economy,” Gatchalian said.
While Agabin admitted that 1 percent is “quite big,” he said that the revenue could come from other industries.
“There is a cause for concern, but… if we can attract industries with more high-value-added, better higher technical requirements, higher professional employment rate, we can get tourists as well, then that should be more than enough to cover what we may potentially lose if Pogo exits the country,” he explained.
“The economic team has submitted a medium-term development plan. If we follow the roadmap, I believe we can replace that. Tourism for example… since we are blacklisted, tourist arrivals in the country [have] decreased,” Agabin continued.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, during the earlier part of the hearing, said that China blacklisted the Philippines over its continuous Pogo operations.
Based on Gatchalian’s data, a large chunk of Pogo’s contributions comes from taxes on real estate, followed by taxes on retail stores selling household items, communications devices, and other goods and franchise tax.
The Senate panel is looking into the presence of Pogos in the country amid an alleged spate of abduction incidents related to the industry.
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