Manila, Philippines-The Department of Finance admitted that they have no data to support their position on the “social costs” of allowing Philippine offshore gaming operators in the country.
This was revealed in the hearing of the Senate committee on ways and means after Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero asked Finance Assistant Secretary Valery Joy Brion to give a basis for their position that “the POGO’s modest contribution to the economy does not outweigh the social costs of its continued operations.”
Escudero asked Brion: “How did you calculate social cost?”
“At what point should we be earning, for example, from POGO for you to say the benefits will overcome the social costs; and how did you come up with the figure on social costs being far weightier than the income or revenue derived by government or the country? Can you put a figure to it?”
Brion admitted that they currently have no data for this.
After the confession, Escudero questioned the officer again. “Where did the decision or conclusion that the social costs outweigh.. where did that come from? How did you arrive at that?”
“If it were a mathematical computation or a list of things you considered, what would it be? Ano ba dapat ‘yung income para masabi n’yo na it outweighs the social costs and we should keep it,” sabi ni Escudero.
Although social costs were mentioned in the position paper of the DOF, Brion reiterated that they still do not have data currently.
Escudero further asked Brion if they conducted a study or survey to verify his claim.
“So where is it based? If it’s not based on figures, where is it based? Interviews? Surveys? Perception? Emotion? Fear? What data is it based on that it might affect the impression of foreign businessmen intending to put in foreign direct investments in the country?” ani Escudero.
“Because KFRs (kidnap for ransom) not related to casino or POGO is by far higher. With or without POGOs or casinos there would still be KFRs. So where is it based on, ma’am? Did you conduct a survey? That if POGOs continue it will have a social cost and effect insofar as FDI is concerned? Was a survey conducted?” dagdag na tanong nito.
After the DOF admitted that they did not tire of the survey, Brion emphasized that the agency considered many factors, including the report on the POGO industry, as well as the contribution to revenue collections. RNT
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