Philippines revisiting plans to privatize state-owned casino estate

In the Philippines and the government of President Rodrigo Duterte is reportedly revisiting plans that would compel the state-owned Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) to sell off its 47-strong estate of casinos.

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the country’s National Economic and Development Authority is studying a proposal that would see Pagcor forced to offload its casino and lottery operations to the private sector so as to leave the state-run organization to focus solely on fulfilling its role as a regulator.

Reaping revenues:

Inside Asian Gaming reported that the nation’s Department of Finance first floated the idea that Pagcor be obliged to get out of the business of running casinos in 2016 owing to possible conflict of interest concerns. The government branch then purportedly promised two weeks ago that it would be revisiting this suggestion with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez declaring that such a move could see the Philippines’ public purse annually benefit to the tune of as much as $5.78 million.

Current clash:
This was reportedly followed by a revelation from Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia that the current structures of several government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) such as Pagcor were in conflict. The nation’s chief economist subsequently purportedly stated that the National Economic and Development Authority would be playing a key role in any privatization decision and that the prospect of doing away with state-run casinos was ‘still under consideration and discussion.’

Pernia stated…
“GOCCs should adopt structural measures to address any identified anti-competitive behavior relating to their mandate and operations since the private sector may be in a better position to carry out some of their commercial pursuits. Transparency must be observed in procurement processes and procurement laws [while] rules and regulations should be applied equally and equitably to GOCCs and firms in the private sector.”

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