August 14, 2019
THE country’s offshore gaming industry has secured the support of the Department of Finance (DoF) for the creation of information technology (IT) hubs that would act as one-stop shops for workers and regulators in the sector.
According to state-owned Philippine Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), these hubs are intended to host service providers that cater to Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) with the ultimate goal of enhancing the government’s monitoring capabilities and the industry’s regulatory compliance.
In a recent interview, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said he welcomed the move, adding that it would “easier to collect [taxes from them] because they are all in one place.”
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) targets to collect P2 billion a month from the withholding taxes of POGO workers. With this amount, taxes to be collected from the industry would hit P24 billion a year — a revenue source that was non-existent four or five years ago, before President Rodrigo Duterte handed over control of these POGO companies to Pagcor.
The BIR reported earlier that it had collected from foreign workers P200 million in withholding taxes.
In the meantime, Dominguez said the government would continue to collect taxes from Chinese workers in the POGO sector, even if China declared that all online gambling firms employing its citizens were illegal.
“The DoF and the BIR are focused on enforcing the Tax Code by requiring all foreigners with Philippine sources of income to register and to fully meet their tax obligations,” he said.
China, through its embassy in Manila, has called for the Philippine government’s help in cracking down on illegal online gambling operations. It also said POGO hubs might violate the basic human rights of its citizens working in the industry.
But Dominguez said the Office of the President, the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies “are addressing the issues raised in the statement of the Embassy of China in Manila.”
For her part, Pagcor Chairman Andrea Domingo said POGO hubs are not meant to limit the freedom of the workers, but offer convenience and protection.
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