PAGCOR offer ‘lucrative’

PNS — THE government must set conditions in privatizing the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation since its lucrative franchise can be likened to a license “to print money,” Sen. Edgardo Angara said as he welcomed the offer of business tycoon Ramon Ang to buy PAGCOR for $10 billion.

Angara noted that PAGCOR’s gross income in 2009 had reached P29.78 billion. It is a regular contributor to the social fund of the Office of the President. Since January this year, the gaming agency turned over P5.04 billion to the government.

“Before we agree to privatize it, the contribution to government should not only be maintained but must be increased. They must also guarantee the share of local government,” he said.

“Finally, at least 20 percent of its net income should go to public hospitals and public schools. We should set conditions like those, otherwise it would be as if we just gave it away. It’s a very good franchise, almost like a franchise to print money,” Angara said.

PAGCOR is required under Republic Act 7656 or the Dividend Law to remit at least 50 percent of its annual earnings to the government.

Sen. Serge Osmena III is also in favor of the proposed privatization but after an audit of its assets so that the government can determine its “true” market value. “This could be done after its charter is amended to retain and redefine its regulatory function and the spin off of its commercial operations,” he said.