FIRB plans to rationalize POGO fees, says Ministry of Finance

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MANILA — The Tax Incentives and Review Board will explore streamlining “enormous” and variable fees charged by investment promotion agencies from registered Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators (POGOs), the Ministry of Finance announced on Thursday.

Based on FIRB data, 32 POGOs and their service providers are registered with the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), 3 under the Bataan Free Zone Authority (AFAB), 5 under the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and 1 service provider under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).

POGOs registered with CEZA must pay $200,000 for application and processing fees and $500,000 to qualify for a master license application for interactive games and land-based casinos, the DOF said.

For application, process and renewal fees for online casinos and sportsbooks, investment promotion agencies (IPAs) charge fees ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, he added.

POGO service providers, on the other hand, are required to pay application, processing, and renewal fees that range from $10,000 to $50,000.

“Obviously, there is no uniformity in the fees charged by APIs to their registered POGO companies when in fact they are all under the same type of project,” said Juvy Danofrata, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF) and Head of FIRB Secretariat.

“The FIRB Secretariat has been instructed by Secretary and Chairman of the Board Dominguez to review the inconsistent fees set by IPAs, which likely do not apply only to POGOs registered under them, with the aim of streamlining the collection and use of those fees charged to investors or locators,” she added.

Under Philippine law, the FIRB has the authority to perform policy-making and oversight functions in the administration and granting of tax incentives, the DOF said.

Based on the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises or CREATE, the FIRB can review and rationalize the fees imposed by APIs on registered locators.

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