banking finance

DOF studying impact of gaming ban on UHC funds

July 31, 2019

THE Finance Department is studying President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s directive for the closure of all Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-regulated gaming activities vis-à-vis its impact on financing the Universal Health Care (UHC) program.      “We are evaluating the immediate effects of the ban,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a message to journalists Saturday.      Dominguez explained that they are “re-checking” how much the share of PCSO is on the over-all financing of UHC.      He also has no idea until when the ban would be in place.      The ban on all PCSO-regulated gaming activities was announced by the President in a televised message Friday night.      He attributed his decision to ban gambling activities such as lotto, small time lotto (STL), and "Peryahan ng Bayan" to “massive corruption”.      He said his directive is based on “the preservation of the resources of the nation”.      Earlier, health officials said about P257 billion is needed in the first year of implementation of UHC, which will be funded primarily by revenues from sin taxes. (PNA)

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Loan growth buoys Metrobank earnings

July 31, 2019

METROPOLITAN Bank & Trust Co.’s (Metrobank) net income in the second quarter rose 15.5% to P6.48 billion from a year earlier, buoyed by sustained loan and margin growth as well as fee-based profit, the lender said in a statement to the stock exchange on Friday.      This brings the bank’s second-quarter earnings to P13 billion, 18% higher than a year earlier. Metrobank shares fell five centavos to P75 each at Friday’s close.      “We anticipate that the second half will bring even better opportunities as government spending on infrastructure projects continues to accelerate,” Metrobank President Fabian S. Dee said in the statement. “We will continue to make strategic investments in key areas of people and technology so we can deliver more meaningful banking experiences to all our customers.”      Metrobank traced higher earnings to double-digit growth in operating income. Net interest income grew 10% to P36.5 billion, accounting for almost three-quarters of the banks P50.2 billion revenue.      Net interest margin improved six points to 3.83%. Loans and receivables reached P1.4 trillion, 6% higher year on year, while its nonperforming loan ratio was at 1.5%.      Metro bank said credit demand was broad-based, with both the commercial and consumer segments posting mid- single-digit growth from a year earlier.      Metrobank’s deposits rose to P1.62 trillion as of end-June from P1.56 trilion a year earlier. The lender’s consolidated assets stood at P2.3 trillion as of end-June from P2.2 trillion a year ago.

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GSIS bent on selling Manila North Harbor property

July 1, 2019

The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has reiterated its plan to sell its 672,645-square meter property at the Manila North Harbor, which the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) is currently occupying.      “As a government entity that exists to ensure the integrity of the funds of its members, GSIS is determined to sell it through public bidding upon the approval of the Board,” GSIS President and General Manager (PGM) Jesus Clint Aranas said.      According to him, the market value of the property is approximately Php33.632 billion based on the zonal valuation as of 9 May 2019 and as reflected in the GSIS books as of 20 May 2019.      Enrique Razon, president and chairman of ICTSI, reportedly said earlier that GSIS has only a “naked title” with no right to use the property.      “That does not preclude GSIS from disposing of the property,” Aranas asserted.      Meanwhile, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) has committed to donate a five-hectare resettlement site under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Housing Authority (NHA), LGU Manila, ICTSI, and Manila North Harbor Port, Inc. However, the ocular inspection report of NHA reveals that the proposed relocation site infringes on another GSIS property occupied by informal settlers and allocated for socialized housing pursuant to E.O. 108, series of 2002 with an area of 1.2 hectares of which belongs to GSIS.      For its part, GSIS emphasized that “no entity can commit, offer, or convey any property which it does not own.”      GSIS was never consulted and neither did it approve or consent to such donation or commitment on the overlapping portion which is registered and owned by GSIS.      GSIS likewise demanded that the MOU be rescinded, modified, or revised to exclude the overlapping portion of GSIS-owned property from the five hectares that is committed by PPA under the MOU.      The PPA (under its present General Manager Jay Daniel Santiago) and through its Legal Department, in a reply to GSIS’s demand to PPA to rescind, modify, or revise the MOU last 4 March 2019, did not directly address GSIS’s demand but instead questioned the validity of the 43-year-old title and asserted that PPA owns the North Harbor Property, despite the property being registered under the name of GSIS.      PGM Aranas cited, however, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, which ruled in 2015 that the validity of the title registered under the name of GSIS may only be questioned in a direct attack filed before a regular court.      Meanwhile, GSIS has invited ICTSI to discuss the use and rental of the disputed property.  But ICTSI referred GSIS’s letter to PPA and deemed that “it may not be useful to sit down with GSIS without the participation of PPA.”      As to the issue of the overlapping GSIS property under the MOU, despite efforts to obtain a certified true copy of the proposed MOU and the 26 February 2019 Minutes of the Congressional Hearing and signing ceremony of the MOU, GSIS has not received such copy to this day.      PPA has also begged off from attending a meeting called by the Inter-Agency Committee for the Disposition of the Parola Estate and instead requested the Committee that a separate meeting be scheduled with PPA, NHA, LGU Manila, and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) only to discuss the MOU, without any mention of GSIS.       The GSIS was also informed by the Inter-Agency Committee that it will now be excluded from subsequent committee meetings since the Inter-Agency Committee no longer has jurisdiction over the disposition of lands owned by GSIS and other Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) citing Section 5 II (d) of R.A. 11201 (Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development Act).       Notwithstanding, PGM Aranas maintains that the state pension fund will take appropriate legal measures to protect the interest of GSIS and its members.

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Inflation seen to settle back to target levels

June 7, 2019

THE Philippines’ inflation rate is expected to return to its deceleration mode in the coming months after an uptick to 3.2 percent last May from only three percent last April.  In a report, Michael L. Ricafort, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Economics & Industry Research Division head, attributed the rise of domestic inflation rate to the impact of a weaker peso on imports in the early part of May, higher global oil prices and the dry season, which affected some agricultural products and the operations of hydropower plants. “However, these were offset/mitigated by increased rice imports with the Rice Tariffication Law and other non-monetary measures to increase food/rice supply to lower prices and better manage inflation since the latter part of 2018,” he said. Ricafort expects the resumption of slowdown of inflation rates in the coming months, with the decline forecast to be faster due to elevated inflation rate last year. He said that a one-percent level inflation rate in the third quarter or early fourth quarter is even possible. Last year, inflation peaked at 6.7 percent in September and October. Ricafort said adequate rice supply due to larger imports and higher harvest during the summer is expected to further ease inflation rate in the coming months since rice accounts for around 10 percent of the inflation index. “Further easing in local monetary policy by way of another cut in policy rates remains possible as early as the next rate-setting meeting in June 20, 2019 (or in subsequent months),” he said. He added that possible reduction in the Federal Reserve’s key rates this year is also a plus on the BSP policy rates. Also, ANZ Research forecasts average inflation in the Philippines this 2019 to be at the mid-point of the government’s two to four percent target band despite the marginal uptick last May. The economic research firm traced the higher inflation rate last month partly to the El Niño but pointed out that “weaker demand pressures and a high base effect will likely keep annual inflation in check.” “As such, we continue to expect headline inflation around the mid-point of the target band,” it said but added that “impact of the El Niño poses a key risk to the inflation outlook." Relatively, ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa said food inflation will be a key factor in the country’ headline inflation for the remainder of the year, but believes the final numbers will still remain within government's target. He added that this development will be closely monitored by the BSP vis-à-vis their decisions on the policy rates. (PNA)

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BSP forecasts May inflation at 2.8%-3.6%

June 5, 2019

HIGHER jeepney fare in the Visayas, as well as upticks on selected food items are seen as risks to the May inflation, which the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) projected to stay between 2.8 percent and 3.6 percent. “Positive base effects” may also contribute to the “temporary price pressures” in the fifth month of the year, the central bank said in a statement released Friday. This as the rate of price increases continues to decline after peaking at 6.7 percent in September and October last year. Domestic inflation rate in May 2018 rose to 4.5 percent from 4.3 percent in the previous month. Average inflation last year exceeded the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band from 2018 to 2020 after it hit 5.2 percent. Amid the upside risks seen for the month, the BSP said lower prices of rice and domestic oil, along with the cut in power rates, are seen to counter price pressures. “Looking ahead, the BSP will continue to be watchful of evolving price trends to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with remaining price stability,” it said. The continued deceleration of inflation has led the BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board to slash the central bank’s key policy rates by 25 basis points early last month and analysts project more cuts in the coming months as inflation is seen to continue its downtrend. (PNA)

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Never Stop Learning: How Mr. John Stays Ahead of the Curve, Even at 92.

October 30, 2018

Fourteen years after the University of San Carlos bestowed an honorary doctorate in Business and Enterprise Development on John L. Gokongwei Jr., the Cebu-based institution has  again honored JG Summit Holdings’ founder and chairman emeritus.    University officials led by USC President Fr. Dionisio Miranda, SVD, and USC Alumni Association Chairman Ronald Po presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. John at the first Grand Reunion for Alumni Champions of the University of San Carlos held on October 18, 2018, at the Summit Galleria Cebu hotel, .   What a life it's been for Mr. John, now 92 years old!    His arc has been described as a twist on the classic rags to riches tale, as Mr. John began his life born to privilege.    However, a variety of circumstances pushed his family to lose everything, forcing the then-13-year old John Gokongwei, Jr. to rely on his wits, intelligence, hard work, and perseverance to pull himself and his family out of despair, molding him into the man that he is today.   After the university presented Mr. John with the Lifetime Achievement Award, given “For a lifetime, fully lived, of invaluable contributions that addressed the needs of local, national, regional, and global communities, and for having deeply touched, empowered, and transformed the lives of others through a legacy of entrepreneurship and education,” a commissioned portrait of Mr. John was unveiled. Then, it was time for the man of the hour to speak.        Addressing school officials, fellow alumni, close friends and family members, Mr. John began his brief yet inspiring acceptance speech by showing his deep appreciation for his hometown and his alma mater.  “I flew this morning on the airline I named after the city I love, Cebu Pacific. I went to school here at the University of San Carlos for my primary and high school. I was valedictorian in grade school and I was number one in high school and because of that, I received free tuition in school. I thank the school for that,” he said with gratitude.   Displaying his still sharp memory, Mr. John then shared a recollection from his younger academic years, back when the school was still known as Colegio de San Carlos, drawing chuckles from the crowd.    I especially remember Fr. Smith, who was the disciplinarian, because one day he caught me running in front of his office, and I had to stand in the corner for one hour,” said Mr John, providing a rare glimpse of his mischievous side.   Mirroring his own life, the speech then grew serious.    “When I was 13 years old, my father died, leaving me to take care of my mother, my brother and my sister. At the time, my youngest brother James was only nine months old. I took care of them all because the family has always been my priority,” he said.    As life’s twists forced him to drop out of school, Mr John honed his entrepreneurial skills, first by selling peanuts from his backyard, then by becoming a peddler at the market. Along the way, he also developed his legendary toughness and resilience.    “It was here in Cebu that I earned my first few pesos. I always used to wake up before dawn to ride my bicycle to the public market many kilometers away. I set up a little table in the market to sell spools of thread, bars of soap, and candles,” he said. “I earned about 20 pesos a day by working longer and harder than everyone else, but it didn’t matter because I really loved my work. I loved being an entrepreneur.”   Using himself as an example, he proved that it’s never too late to learn and that you are never too old to be working—as long as you have the passion for it.    “Today, I am 92 years old. I still wake up early and I still love what I am doing. I still know everything that is going on in my company,” said Mr John. “I still love to learn and I’m always reading books, and now, online stories in this digital age. I always tell my children, my grandchildren, and my colleagues: Love your work, Work hard at it. Love your family. Love your country, never stop learning, and always look back and be grateful to where you came from.”   From a precocious, intelligent child to one of Asia’s most admired businessmen, it’s a lifetime achievement definitely worth celebrating.   SPEECH OF JOHN GOKONGWEI, JR. AT UNIVERSITY OF SAN CARLOS, CEBU. OCTOBER 17, 2018 FR. DIONISIO MIRANAD, DR. JESUS ALCORDO   "It’s always special to be back here in Cebu, my hometown. And it is extra special to be here at my Alma Mater, University of San Carlos. I flew here this morning on the airline I named after this city I love, Cebu Pacific. I went to school here at the University of San Carlos for my primary school and my high school. I was valedictorian in grade school, and I was number one in my class in high school. Because of that, I received free tuition at school. I remember Fr. GRIES who taught us English Literature, and Mr. Quibilan, the principal. I especially remember Fr. Smith, who was the disciplinarian, because one day he caught me running in front of his office, and I had to stand in the corner for one hour. When I was 13 years old, my father died, leaving me to take care of my mother, my four brothers, and my sister. At the time, my youngest brother, James, was only nine months old. I took care of them all. Because the family has always been my priority. It was here in Cebu that I first earned my first few pesos. I used to wake up way before dawn to ride my bicycle to the public market many kilometers away. I set up a little table at the market to sell spools of thread, bars of soap, and candles. I earned about twenty pesos a day by working longer and harder than everybody else. But it didn’t matter since I really loved my work. I loved being an ENTREPRENEUR. And so all through the years, I stayed as an entrepreneur, loving what I did and working hard. And always learning from the school of life. Years later, when I was married to my lovely wife Bia, and had six children of my own, I finally had the means to go back to school. I went to De La Salle University to get my MBA. It took me four years since I was a working student. When I got my diploma it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Then I went to Harvard in 1972 for 14 weeks to take the advance management program. Today, I am 92 years old. I still wake up early and I still love to do what I’m doing. I still know everything what is going on in my company. I still love to learn and am always reading books, and now, online stories in this new digital age. I always tell my children, my grandchildren, and my colleagues: Love your work. Work hard for it. Love your family. Love your country. Never stop learning. And always look back and be grateful to where you came from. Thank you, University of San Carlos, for being a large part of who I am today. Thank you for this lifetime achievement award."

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