POGO shutdown can attract good investments for PH – NEDA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the expulsion of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) will benefit the country in the long run.

"It’s an appreciation of what the long-term benefits are versus the cost," NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan told a press briefing on Thursday.

"So, I think that what we want to encourage are very legitimate investments, good investments, quality investments and those investments that will produce goods and services and not ones that promote negative externalities to society such as those alleged crimes or and related issues," he added.

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means earlier recommended permanent banning of POGOs in the country, citing the rampant crimes involving them.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the committee, previously cited a report by the National Bureau of Investigation which stated that 65 or 58% of the 113 POGO-related cases recorded from November 2019 to March 2023 were linked to human trafficking.

Aside from human trafficking cases, there are also cases of transnational crimes, fraud, and violence against women and children linked to POGOs.

Balisacan added that he is confident that the exit of POGOs can be replaced by other revenues.

"Look at Thailand, look at Indonesia, look at other countries around us, they don't depend on those kinds of businesses," he said.

The country's tax collection from POGOs reached ₱8.88 billion in 2022, higher than the ₱3.91 billion from the previous year.

According to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, there are currently 32 registered POGOs as of July 2023.

This is a huge decline from the 281 recorded in 2019.