Legarda: Gov’t has started privatizing Pagcor-operated casinos
The government has started privatizing the casinos being operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and the process is expected to be completed by September next year.
The Department of Finance (DOF) disclosed this on Wednesday through Senate Loren Legarda, who, as chair of the Senate committee on finance, defended in the plenary the agency’s proposed budget for 2017.
It was Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, who inquired about the government’s stand on the proposal to remove Pagcor’s operating function and to just limit its role to regulation only.
Responding to Drilon’s query, Legarda said the DOF was not only in favor of limiting Pagcor’s role to “mere” regulation but it also on the proposal to privatize the operations of the gaming sector.
“Again I would advise the DOF that you don’t need legislation of Congress on this. Again this is delegated to the President and if the policy is to remove the operating function of Pagcor and just limit Pagcor to licensing because this is the better policy and this is actually the situation in many countries where there is a gaming industry,” Drilon said.
At this point, Legarda informed the chamber that the government has already started the process of privatizing the state casinos.
“I understand Mr. President that not only is the Finance Department in favor of your statement but they have already started it, the process of privatization and agreed that the regulatory function will only be retained with Pagcor,” she said.
Asked about the government’s timeline on this, Legarda said the target completion would be by the third quarter next year.
“[In] 2017, by the third quarter, Mr. President, it is projected based on the timeline, I’m told that the process can be consummated,” she said.
Asked about the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Legarda said the government has no plans to privatize it.
Instead, she said there will be “strict monitoring” and an audit of the agency’s small town lottery or STL.
“Because it’s the belief of the DOF that not all earnings from STL are actually being remitted to the PCSO. They have not been totally transparent and therefore an audit is in order, which is going to be done soon,” Legarda said.
Through the audit, the senator said the PSCO could generate more revenues. TVJ
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