Different strokes for different folks: Property consultancy firm says POGOs ain’t pricing out Pinoy renters

Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGOs) didn’t “price out” Filipino commercial and residential tenants when they started arriving in the country in droves in 2016, a property consultancy firm said.

At the Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on POGOs Monday (October 3), Leechiu Property Consultants Chief Executive Officer David Leechiu said property owners implemented different pricing schemes for foreign nationals.

He said the uptick in property demand affected renters more than the mere arrival of POGOs did.

“If you’re a POGO tenant you basically pay 2 times the rate, arbitrarily, and that’s because of all the complexities of taking on a POGO sector,” Leechiu explained.

“It’s not a function of market, the ones who are priced out are people in the residential sector are the ones who probably have been renting these properties for a very long time at a very low base because of the lack of demand for these properties,” he added. “The function of just the lack of demand is what’s depressing prices.”

Leechiu urged senators to consider the economic impact of banning POGOs, saying a shutdown “will hurt us more as a country than not.”

“Because it is opaque, it is very hard to appreciate on paper the real contribution of these industries to the economy,” he added, debunking the simplistic approach of the Department of Finance in saying that POGOs only add P4.2 billion or 0.03% of the national output based on revenue collections.

Leechiu said the next 12 months will be among the worst years for the global economy in the face of 15 risk drivers ahead, so adding another uncertainty in the form of shooing away POGOs, which are stable lessees and income streams for real estate, would cause more headaches.