AS President Duterte indicated the government has no plans to abandon the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators sector, the government will still finalize a master list in a bid to properly collect income taxes from Pogo workers.
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said on Thursday the DOF estimates around P2 billion of personal income taxes are not being collected from Pogo workers monthly.
“What Finance Secretary [Carlos] Dominguez wants is for them to pay [their income taxes] correctly because this is just fair for those working in the Philippines who also pay their personal income taxes,” Lambino told the BusinessMirror Coffee Club forum on Thursday.
“Our estimate is that P2 billion a month are not being collected from personal income taxes and that is why an interagency task force has been formed by the Department of Finance in order to make sure who is here in the country working in the sector.”
“We will also issue TIN
[tax identification number]
to every Pogo worker so that we will be able to collect properly,” he added.
Moving forward, the government through the Department of Labor and Employment is setting up a digital database of all foreign workers.
While the Finance official said the initial estimate of Pogo workers reached 138,000, he said a review of the numbers showed a duplication in the count, as some workers work in more than one outfit.
“The initial estimate was 138,000 in the sector because others were working in two or three [Pogos]; so the estimate now is 120,000 workers,” he said.
Late Wednesday night, the President said in a press conference in Malacañang that he has decided that the country needs Pogos as he warned that there would be job losses.
“I decide that we need it. Maraming mawawalan ng hanap-buhay. [A lot of people will lose their livelihood]. Anyway, it’s government-controlled,” Duterte said.
Pogo workers in the country are mostly foreign nationals and Filipinos comprise only a small number of the Pogo workers.
The President also warned nonpaying operators to pay their dues correctly.
“Wala kasi masyadong trabaho. Kung sana progressed na tayo as a country, maraming trabaho then you do not have this stupid thing…activity of allowing gambling [There are not enough jobs. If we are a progressive country, then there would be a lot of jobs then you do not have this stupid thing…activity of allowing gambling],” he said.
“But at this time, wala talaga akong magawa. Maraming nagugutom…Huwag lang ninyong lokohin ang gobyerno. Huwag ninyo akong lokohin [But at this time, I cannot do anything. There are a lot of people getting hungry…Just don’t dupe the government. Just don’t fool me].”