Senator backs bill on taxing POGOs

MANILA The chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development on Thursday threw his support to a proposal seeking to tax operators and workers engaged in Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGOs).

In a statement, Senator Joel Villanueva said the poor regulation of this sector of the gaming industry has contributed to mounting social ills, such as rising property prices, as well as an increase in criminality and illegal activity.

"Halos tatlong taon po ang lumipas bago napapayag ng ating pamahalaan na magbayad ng tamang buwis ang mga POGO. Hindi na po natin mababalik ang nawalang pagkakataon para kumulekta ng buwis (Three years have passed before our government was able to convince POGOs to pay taxes. We could no longer turn back time to collect these taxes)," Villanueva said.

"Kaya po suportado natin ang hakbang na magpasa ng batas na maglalagay na malinaw na panuntunan sa pagpataw ng buwis sa mga POGO upang maging klaro ang interpretasyon sa ating tax code (That's why, I fully support the move to pass a law that would define a clear regime in imposing taxes to these POGOs so that the interpretation of the tax code would be clearer), he added.

Villanueva said the POGO sector only contributes minimal benefits since it has shown preference to hire foreigners over locals and has affected the real estate sector for its brisk demand for office space and residential lease.

"If the property boom is the only economic benefit we can cite attribute to POGOs, then it is only right that we should impose more taxes on it. It is not only making our workers worse off by making rent prices higher and office space more expensive, but it is also driving the cost of business operations higher as well, to the detriment of local entrepreneurs," he added.

Without any strict regulation, the sector could also be a breeding ground for illegal activity such as money laundering, the senator noted.

He called on the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to exercise its regulatory mandate to keep POGO firms in check, instead of being "passive as the case has been in the past years." (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency