MANILA, November 2, 2004 (STAR) By Des Ferriols - Finance officials admitted yesterday they have no authority to regulate or even supervise the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) despite the issuance of the executive order transferring jurisdiction from the Office of the President to the Department of Finance.

Finance Secretary Juanita Amatong said that, as previously planned, the DOF would conduct a comparative study between Pagcor and similar agencies in other countries.

The idea, Amatong said, was to be able to determine whether Pagcor was maximizing its revenue potential based on its functions and mandate.

However, Amatong also admitted there was little else the DOF can do to supervise Pagcorís operations even after its transfer from the OP to the DOF.

"Pagcor has its own charter and its expenditures are specifically allocated and defined in the provisions of this charter so we canít really touch it," Amatong said.

Originally, the DOF had planned to examine Pagcorís financials from its revenue-generating operations to its expenditures and remittances to the national government.

"It turned out that we can monitor revenue generation and compare that with other similar agencies elsewhere to be able to do benchmarking," Amatong said.

The DOF had originally planned to require Pagcor to come up with a medium-term plan that would set its revenue trajectory over the next five or so years.

According to Amatong, this could still be done but Pagcorís financials and expenditures would remain beyond the mandate of the DOF.

Pagcor was among the revenue-generating agencies that have been transferred to the DOF but sources said the department has slammed into what officials described as a brick wall in its first attempts to review the financials of all three agencies.

Sources said DOF officials have met resistance specifically from Pagcor as they initiated proceedings for the review of its financials and revenue targets.

DOF had immediately ordered a review of the financial accounts of all three agencies to determine how much they have been remitting to the National Government.

According to the DOF, the transfer was ordered by President Arroyo because Pagcor and PEA have always been considered revenue-generating agencies while CDA was administering a myriad of tax incentives to various cooperatives.

Amatong explained earlier that under the Office of the President, neither Pagcor nor the PEA were under any pressure to meet revenue targets.

Under the DOF, they would be forced to peg their target revenues on an annual basis.

After the transfer of Pagcor from the Office of the President to the DOF, Amatong said the evaluation would start from the Malaysian-run casino at the Subic Bay Freeport.

According to Amatong, Pagcor has always set its own target and no other government agencies counter-checked its self-evaluation and projections.

Pagcor currently employs 11,000 people and reported a record-setting P5.41 billion income for the first quarter of this year, increasing by 7.13 percent compared to the same period last year.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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