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Salceda reiterates call for ‘digital PCSO,’ says charity agency needs to offer digital services to maintain demand, adapt to mobility restrictions

October 29th, 2021

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) said that the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Offices (PCSO) needs to ‘fast-track its digitalization services’ in comments on the anniversary of the charity agency.

The agency celebrates its 87th anniversary today.

In comments addressed to the PCSO, Salceda said that “digital transformation is the future of PCSO. It has already been the future for many local lotteries across the world.”

“On their anniversary today, I hope the PCSO explores ways to adapt to this digital world. It’s inevitable that people’s habits will change. The walk to the lotto ticket office just does not seem worthwhile to many anymore. And the lack of ‘instant gratification’ is also a major reason for the shift to other games. I hope the PCSO can evolve,” Salceda said.

“Powerball, the world’s biggest lottery, is digitally accessible. General Manager Royina Garma has been very active and involved in cleaning up the bureaucracy and in fulfilling its charity mandate. I think PCSO is now ready to move on to the next stage by modernizing its service offerings,” Salceda said.

Salceda adds that he supports rationalizing the tax regime for the PCSO, which he says could be included in the Passive Income and Financial Intermediaries Taxation Act or PIFITA, which is package 4 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program.

This would include reducing the documentary stamp tax rates for lottery tickets and fixing the tax structure for PCSO sales, “provided they digitalize.”

“I can have it discussed in the bicameral conference proceedings. I think my counterparts in the Senate will also be happy to explore it.”

“I just want a digitalization plan. If we reduce their tax burden, I want something that assures Congress that their tax base will increase, so that the net fiscal impact will be a wash, while expanding PCSO’s funds for charity work.”

“I think GM Garma can deliver. In our meetings with her, she committed to digitalization,” Salceda added.

In 2020, PCSO reported a gaming operations income of P18.63 billion in 2020, a drop of 57.7% versus 2019, primarily due to restrictions in mobility due to COVID-19.

“All the while gaming income from playable-at-home services was up during the pandemic. I cited to the PCSO the example of online sabong, and I told them, PCSO does not have a profit motive, and all of its proceeds go to charity or the government’s health care programs, so it’s better if they grow their share of the market, too.”

“I even suggested during our hearings that they partner up with leading digital gaming providers so that they do not have to build the infrastructure from the ground up.”

“I wholeheartedly support their efforts to evolve, and I do hope they consider the suggestion I made in my committee, and the suggestions I continue to make.” #

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