Dominguez eyes POGOs as key funding source of P130B COVID spending under Bayanihan 2

Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez is reportedly eyeing the multi-billion peso revenues from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to bankroll the proposed P130 billion spending for the second phase of the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act.”

Based on documents obtained by BILYONARYO, Dominguez did not give a target figure for POGOs that would be levied a five percent franchise tax on all gross gaming revenues (GGR) or the minimum amount of gaming tax imposable for a month (dubbed the minimum guarantee fee) for each license type (operators, agents, service and support providers) whichever is higher.

The five percent franchise tax will be on top of the two percent charged by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) on POGOs’ GGR.

Related story: Binarat! Senate approves minuscule P140B stimulus fund as Dominguez balks at massive spending even if PH economy collapses

Dominguez has required Pagcor to furnish the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to certify the monthly GGR or gaming taxes to be paid by each POGO licensee and operator, both based in the Philippines and overseas (contrary to the Office of the Solicitor General’s stand that POGOs operating outside the country, 50 of 60 licensees, were not subject to Philippine taxes).

Dominguez also wants Pagcor to ensure that POGOs pay income tax, value added tax and withholding taxes on their income from non-gaming operations.

Aside from POGOs, Dominguez plans to bankroll Bayanihan 2 from government savings or unspent funds in the 2019 and 2020 budgets, excess revenue collections, money from new taxes, and money from any government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs).

Dominguez is also insisting that the Bayanihan 2 budget should be trimmed down to P130 billion:

1) P10 billion for the procurement of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing machines

2) P15 billion cash-for-work programs for jobless Filipinos

3) P17 billion cash or wage subsidies

4) P50 billion capital infusion to government financial institutions (GFIs) – P30 billion for Land Bank of the Philippines, P15 billion for Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and P5 billion for Philippine Guarantee Corp.,

5) P17 billion to the Department of Agriculture for direct cash or loan subsidies to the agriculture sector

6) P17 billion to the Department of Transportation’s subsidy plan for displaced public utility vehicle owners and drivers, and promotion of bicycle use

7) P10 billion to Department of Tourism’s subsidized lending for affected industry players

8) P3 billion to state universities and colleges (SUCs) to build “smart campuses”, implement flexible learning, and loan interest subsidies

9) P1 billion to Technical Education and Skills for work scholarship programs and special training for employment program or (STEP) for the unemployed and returning overseas workers.

Related story: Dominguez denies he’s a miserly, stimulus-killer: It’s unconstitutional to borrow to fund supplemental budget

These proposals were contained in the draft bill being prepared by the Senate committees on finance, ways and means, economic affairs, and health and demography chaired by Senators Imee Marcos, Sonny Angara, Ralph Recto, Tito Sotto, Migz Zubiri, Pia Cayetano and Cynthia Villar

Dominguez had trimmed down his original budget for support for displaced PUVs, unemployed, and GFIs to accommodate agriculture, tourism and education. Dominguez has rejected the P1.3 trillion rescue package approved by the House, claiming the government has no funds to bankroll this huge amount and force it break its covenant to keep its debt to gross domestic product ratio below 10 percent.

Related story: Marcos decree ignored: Dominguez seeks to divert P100B of auto debt payments to Bayanihan-COVID funds

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