PHILIPPINE Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Royina Garma on Friday, August 23, floated the suggestion to exempt her office from paying taxes during the hearing on the agency's proposed 2020 budget.
Garma told the House committee on appropriations that in 2018, PCSO paid P16.7 billion in taxes but released only P9 billion for various charity programs.
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, reacting to the disparity in the amounts, asked how Congress can help PCSO rationalize its tax obligations vis-a-vis its charity functions and mandate.
"In what manner should we make that rationalization are we going to decrease your tax obligations or exempt you from taxes? What is your proposal?" Lagman said.
Garma chose the latter.
"I think, sir, it would be best if we would be exempted from taxes, your honor," Garma said.
"I could agree with you that there is a need to rationalize. Because your charity is the main function of your agency, which is much lower than your tax obligations," Lagman said.
The PCSO conducts charity sweepstakes, races, and lotteries to raise funds for various charity programs.
The Individual Medical Assistance Program (IMAP) is considered the flagship program of the PCSO which was institutionalized in 1995 to provide timely and responsive financial assistance to individuals with health-related problems.
From January to June 2019, the PCSO allocated 20.64 percent or P2.81 billion of its P12.66 billion in revenue to the charity fund.
In contrast, a bigger amount of P6.9 billion was paid by the PCSO to the national government in various taxes from January to June 2019.
Aside from the IMAP, the PCSO’s other charity programs include the Endowment Fund Program, Institutional Partnership Program, Procurement of Medical Equipment, AFP/PNP Health Facilities Capability Building Project, Calamity Assistance Program, Milk Feeding Program, Integrated Health for Overall Productivity and Empowerment (I-HOPE), and Out-Patient Services Program (Medical and Dental Services), among others. (Ryniel Berlanga/SunStar Philippines)