Total POGO ban to short Philippine economy by P952 million a day

An aerial view shows the Ortigas business district in Pasig City, Philippines, June 10, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. An analyst warned that shutting down what is left of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry would cost the Philippines P200 billion per year. REUTERS/Adrian Portugal
An aerial view shows the Ortigas business district in Pasig City, Philippines, June 10, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. An analyst warned that shutting down what is left of the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry would cost the Philippines P200 billion per year. REUTERS/Adrian Portugal

The Philippine economy will lose P952 million a day should the entire Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) industry shut down, based on the spending average of P4,000 per person in the industry, in light of political pressure from the executive and legislative branches. This was according to David Leechiu, property analyst and CEO of Leechiu Property Consultants.

According to him, shutting down POGOs will not only forego billions in tax revenues for the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), it will also cost the economy billions every year in terms of office and residential rentals, utilities, among other expenses, especially with 347,000 workers’ jobs on the line.

Estimated losses include P18.9 billion for office rentals, P28.6 billion for residential spaces rented by workers, P9.5 billion in utilities, P54.3 billion in income taxes, P52.5 billion in fit-out costs, and P11.4 billion in meals. This is on top of the estimated P5.8 billion in taxes that lawmakers are willing to forego.

Leechiu urged the government to merely shut down illegal POGOs, saying that it was an “economic driver.” These are firms that have failed to renew their licenses to the government.

“There are social ills, but the bigger social ills are unemployment, underemployment and underpaid workers,” Leechiu said.

Over the past week, lawmakers and officials from the executive department have expressed willingness over the shutdown of POGOs, considering the diminishing collections and social costs of maintaining its industry.

While Leechiu calculated P5.8 billion in foregone taxes, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno mentioned that recent collections for 2022 have only amounted to P3 billion. The government projected a supposed P32 billion in revenues. The amount of collections has been shrinking since 2020.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also revealed that 15 out of 29 kidnappings this year were related to POGOs, making lawmakers concerned over the “reputational risk” brought upon by the industry.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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