Over the last few years, the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) sector has seen much scrutiny and allegations regarding ties to criminal activities. Despite that, the sector continues to bring tax revenue for the government. Now, one lawmaker recently showed support for the shutdown of the POGO industry, regardless of the benefits it brings.
Benjamin Diokno, the Philippines Finance Secretary, recently participated in a briefing, a report released by Philstar reveals. During the briefing on Wednesday, the Finance Secretary spoke against the POGO industry, urging for the shutdown of the sector. Additionally, he explained that the government can collect revenue from other sources, replacing the gap that would be created from the POGO sector.
“Let’s get rid of POGOs. We can get revenues from lots of other sources.“
Benjamin Diokno, Philippines Finance Secretary Diokno spoke about the impact of the shutdown of POGOs, acknowledging that it would reduce the tax revenue collected by the government. Yet, according to him, the elimination of POGOs is worth, considering that the sector carries “reputation risk to the Philippine government.”
Philippines Is Still on FATF’s Grey List The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is a global organization that fights against money laundering and terrorism financing on a global scale. It monitors the activities of countries around the globe and tracks their progress when it comes to combating the financing of terrorism and anti-money laundering. As a part of its obligations, FATF has identified countries that are under increased monitoring, a list also known as the grey list.
The Philippines is one of the countries that are a part of the grey list which means that it is under “increased monitoring are actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.”
In that line of thought, Diokno suggested POGOs might be one of the reasons why the Philippines remains part of FATF’s grey list. He did not rule out the option for those businesses to be used for money laundering, which is precisely one of FATF’s concerns.
“Maybe that’s the reason why we can’t get out of the FATF’s monitoring for anti-money laundering, because these are being used for money laundering purposes,“
suggested Diokno It is currently unknown what are the proceeds from POGOs since the start of the year. However, in 2022 alone, POGOs taxes brought some $80 million to the Philippine government. Despite the scrutiny of the sector, this marked an increase when compared to the taxes raised in 2021 which were $71 million. Still, whether or not the Philippines will take decisive actions that may eliminate POGOs remains to be confirmed.