Gaming service providers expressed dismay at lawmakers who shunned the likelihood of more offshore gaming operators closing shop in the country as a result of stringent tax rules imposed on the industry.
The Accredited Service Providers of Pagcor said the government needs revenues and the gaming service industry is one good source of it but tax rules have to be clear, according to ASPAP spokesman Margarita Gutierrez.
ASPAP said that lawmakers should carefully consider the economic repercussions of what they wish to happen considering the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The POGO Service Providers’ exit will do more harm than good for the country’s economy, especially during this time when the Government needs more revenues in order to address all the financial assistance necessary to help the less fortunate people of the society.
“If this continues, we will lose a lot more than what these lawmakers want the public to believe ,” said Gutierrez. “The economy will further suffer along with the government’s COVID-19 response programs as we will lose a significant revenue-generator. The property sector will take a hit and job losses from the industry will compound the unemployment problem,” she said.
ASPAP’s statement comes after some senators seemingly expressed glee over the looming exit of POGO and eventual demise of PSPs which provide thousands of jobs and billions of pesos in government revenue.
“That is what we cannot comprehend. At a time when we need to come together to get out of the devastation brought by the pandemic, some lawmakers are bent on pushing our country and fellow Filipinos to further despair by driving away what is considered a source of “free money” - but a fully legitimate industry” Gutierrez lamented.
The ASPAP spokesperson also rejected the senators’ statements that PSPs are not settling their tax obligations, adding that their members “dutifully pay” regulatory fees as well as the corporate and withholding tax of their workers.
“We pay our obligations to the government and to say that PSPs are not a loss is akin to saying that the government does not need any revenue-generating sector,” said Gutierrez. “The government is taking out foreign loans to raise revenues while some quarters are driving away a legitimate and regulated industry proven to generate billions of pesos in taxes. Aren’t we doomed with such a policy? Although we laud the government’s proactive approach as seen in the foreign loans being applied for, let us not discount the other sources of funds that are currently available, such as but not limited to the fees from the PSPs. which are more than willing to comply and pay its dues to the government”
Gutierrez explained that the PSPs are contributing around P94.7 billion to the local economy that could reach as high as P104 Billion this year. Income from PSPs showed steady growth through the years – from P73.72 Million in 2016, revenues from the sector increased significantly to P3.12 Billion in 2017, P6.11 Billion in 2018, and P5.73 Billion in 2019.
In the first quarter of 2020, PSPs have already contributed P1.8 billion in regulatory fees alone and from 2016 to March 2020; revenues collected from PSPs – including application, processing and regulatory fees – have amounted to P20.83 Billion. These figures are expected to increase dramatically due to the temporary shutdown in PSP operations, included in the requirements set forth by PAGCOR and BIR, the payment of taxes and other unpaid obligations, if any, are prerequisites to the resumption of operations. This is included in the cooperation between government agencies and ASPAP in the crackdown against the Non-registered Offshore Gaming Operators (NOGOs).
Gutierrez said that the PSPs also create ripples in economic activity, such as additional employment and in the real estate industry, which has earned approximately P25 Billion on leaseholds and rentals alone as the sector occupies one million square meters of office space.
“Currently, there are 31,556 Filipinos who are employed in PSP and this number does not include employees in the ancillary industries such as real estate, transportation and retail,” said Gutierrez. “The employment of Filipinos in PSPs will continue to rise as more and more Filipinos are able to learn and qualify for the jobs offered in the industry.”
“Also, over and above the mandatory fees, PSPs donated P150 Million worth of relief goods and medical supplies to augment government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gutierrez added. “So we hope that some of our lawmakers will rethink carefully about what they wish for the country,” the ASPAP spokesperson said.