Philippines finance secretary says PAGCOR role must be made clear

PAGCOR reported net income of PHP2.16bn (US$38.8m) for the first half of the year.
PAGCOR reported net income of PHP2.16bn (US$38.8m) for the first half of the year.

Benjamin E. Diokno says the gaming regulator/operator needs to resolve its conflicting functions amid speculation about the privatisation of its gaming operations.

The Philippines.- Benjamin E. Diokno, the Philippines’ finance secretary, has insisted that the issue of PAGCOR’s potential conflict of interest still needs to be resolved. He made the comments when asked after a meeting with members of the House Committee on Appropriations whether PAGCOR could be privatised.

Diokno said: “Pagcor’s new leadership will have to make their own plans moving forward. They should resolve the seemingly conflicting roles as an operator and regulator.”

He added: “We would like the economy to grow to recover. If there are additional resources available to us either through new loans or additional revenues coming from the privatization of some corporations, we will be willing to support a supplemental budget.

“I think we have not done that for the longest time. If they are ready to implement projects and we have the money, then we better spend it now or a year from now.”

According to Philstar, based on the Budget of Expenditures and Sources of Financing, the government expects to generate PHP500m a year from privatisations between now and 2025. Government estimates have suggested that privatising gaming generate P300bn a year. Former finance chief Carlos Dominguez had previously raised the idea of privatising PAGCOR’s gaming operations but the Duterte administration didn’t go ahead.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has named Alejandro H. Tengco as PAGCOR’s new chairman and CEO. Tengco is a former vice mayor of Malolos, Bulacan. He also worked as a special assistant of businessman Anthony “Tonyboy” Cojuangco, Tiger Resort Leisure Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) board’s chairman. Cojuangco is part of Kazuo Okada’s team that took control of Okada Manila in May.

Meanwhile, Juanito LSanosaJr has been named president and chief operating officer of the regulator. Gilbert Cesar C. Remulla, Engr. Francis Democrito C. Concordia and Jose Maria C. Ortega have been appointed as members of the board of directors.

PAGCOR reported net income of PHP2.16bn (US$38.8m) for the first half of the year, up 2,600 per cent when compared to last year. The regulator reported income from gaming operations of PHP24.72bn (US$443m), up 67.3 per cent year-on-year. Total income was PHP26.70bn, up 68.1 per cent.

It attributed the increase in revenue to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions as many casinos in the Philippines resumed full operations in March. PAGCOR’s spending rose 62.5 per cent year-on-year to PHP10.54bn. The regulator paid an additional PHP14bn in taxes and contributions in the first half. 

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