business

Very big’ improvement in telco services by 2020: Rio

July 31, 2019

DEPARTMENT of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Undersecretary Eliseo Rio Jr. on Tuesday said Filipinos will feel a big improvement in telecommunications (telco) services nationwide come 2020.      “Our program for 2020 is that before the end of next year, our people will feel a very big improvement in our telecommunications services nationwide,” Rio said during ‘The Presser’ of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) attended by key clusters of the executive branch at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) building in Quezon City.      The DICT official said the improvements in telco services will stem from a high-speed internet infrastructure to be built in partnership with Facebook and Dito Telecommunity Corporation (Dito), the country's third major telco player.      “The most significant statement of the President during his SONA yesterday was that the selection process for the third telco, there is no corruption that was involved. And he was so serious in this statement, he even swore over the tomb of his father. The first time the President did that in a SONA,” Rio said.      Aside from faster internet services at home, the high-speed internet infrastructure project with Facebook will help provide Filipinos with better free Wi-Fi in public places and better e-government services.      “We will have then a very big bandwidth to be coming from Facebook. Two terabits per second that we can now use for free Wi-Fi and for our e-government to give basic services, online services, to our people even in the remotest area of our country,” Rio said.      “This is actually a program that is instructed by the President on the DICT,” he added.      On November 15, 2017, officials of from the DICT, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) and EDGE (Facebook) signed a landing party agreement for a high-speed internet infrastructure project called the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure that would produce an “ultra-high-speed information highway” connection in the country.      On July 8, 2019, Mislatel Consortium, now Dito Telecommunity, was awarded a permit to operate as the Philippines’ third telco provider by President Duterte in a ceremony at the Malacañang Palace. (PNA)

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SSS digitizing processes, services

July 31, 2019

STATE-RUN Social Security System (SSS) said it is in the process of digitizing its processes to improve transactions after President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his State of the Nation Address included the pension fund in agencies that need improvement.      In a press release on Thursday, SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said the pension fund has started acquiring new digital infrastructure “to fast track the full transition of SSS core and business processes to digitalization.”      “As mandated by our Social Security Commission ex-officio Chairperson Carlos G. Dominguez in his first order of business when he took office last March, he instructed to speed up the transition to the digitalization process. This is one of his priority policies under the new charter of the pension fund,” Ms. Ignacio said.      Mr. Duterte, in his SONA last Monday, said the SSS and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Land Registration Authority (LRA) and the Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG need to improve their services.      Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez said in a briefing on Tuesday that the slow service of SSS is “costing the public money” and ordered the agency to develop a system using technology instead.      “I told them (SSS), you know the way you’re doing your business, our estimate is it cost you seven pesos to deliver P100. Now, that is too expensive. Other countries…if I remember right…Japan, 50 centavos to deliver a hundred pesos worth of benefits. We [in the Philippines] cost seven pesos. I said you cannot continue like that. That is not government money, that is the money of the people,” Mr. Dominguez said.      “So if it cost me seven bucks to deliver you a hundred…that means to say that seven bucks less I can give to somebody else… Your inefficiency is costing the public money, directly. So I said the first thing you do, you digitize, you do it, you develop a system that you can communicate with your clientele through modern technology, use the cellphone, you know, the smart app,” he added.      “Other countries can do it, why can’t we? You do it through computer and then we can…actually expand the benefits and make it easier for them to get the benefits,” Mr. Dominguez said.      At present, SSS’ online services include online applications for social security number issuance, payment reference number inquiry and generation, employment report submission, submission of contribution and loan collection lists, salary loan applications, certification of salary loan applications and filing for maternity and sickness notification.      Other electronic channels of SSS are My.SSS, SSS Mobile App, Self-Service Express Terminal, Interactive Voice Response System and Text-SSS.      The pension fund said in the same statement that out of 6,609 SSS-related concerns referred by 8888 and the government’s Contact Center ng Bayan, it resolved 99.55% or 6,554 cases.

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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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DMCI Homes launches QC project to meet rising demand

July 26, 2019

Premier Quadruple A developer DMCI Homes has launched Cameron Residences to add to its growing portfolio in the country’s biggest city in terms of population.      "Quezon City more than ever is shaping up to be a real estate hotspot with the government's aggressive infrastructure push in the area. We hope to help address the increasing demand by launching more projects in the city in the coming months," assistant vice president for project development Dennis Yap said in a statement on Tuesday.      Stretched out along Mapalad Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Quezon City, the Modern Tropical-themed development is a few minutes from the Skyway extension project, which is on its way to completion.      With this new development, going from Cameron Residences to Makati will soon take just 30 minutes --a big leap from the current two-hour travel from Quezon City to the country’s financial capital.      Also anticipated to contribute ease to daily commute is the Metro Manila Subway Project which reportedly has seven stations in Quezon City -- Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora, North Avenue, Quezon Avenue, East Avenue, Anonas, and Katipunan.      Likewise, the MRT-7 railway system, which will take passengers from San Jose del Monte, Bulacan to North Avenue, Quezon City is another significant infrastructure project that will promote convenient travel in the area.      Restaurants, leisure zones, shopping malls, hospitals, universities, government institutions, and business districts located near the area make the 45-level residential tower an ideal investment for end-users, upgraders, and investors looking for living spaces in the heart of Quezon City.      “We will aim to maximize the property’s excellent proximity to future infrastructure projects to create a working resident’s haven in Northern Metro Manila,” Yap said.      Known for its resort-inspired condominium communities, DMCI Homes intended the single-tower development to give residents a good balance of exquisite living spaces and areas for fun and leisure.      Included in the outdoor amenities are the following: garden area, lap and leisure pools, kiddie pool, kids’ play area, gazebo and sky promenade.      Indoor amenities, meanwhile, include snack bars, game area, lounge area, fitness gym, sky lounge. Facilities such as eight high-speed elevators, laundry station, convenience store, water refilling station, and mailroom are also provided for the convenience of the residents. (PR)

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Cebu Pacific interested in Cebu-Mati flights

July 22, 2019

MATI City — Budget airline Cebu Pacific is interested in launching flights between Cebu and Mati City once the latter’s airport opens for commercial operations, according to Mati Mayor Michelle N. Rabat.      “Cebu Pacific ang nakakita ng (has seen the) potential ng ating (of our) Mati as a tourist destination,” she told the media on Thursday, noting that the carrier has expressed intent to serve the Cebu-Mati route.      Negotiations over land ownership issues on the airport’s site has started, said the mayor, whose clan is among those involved in the talks.      “We have yet to settle the issue of the land where the airport is built. I don’t want it to sound biased but it is owned by the Rabat-Rocamora, our families,” said Ms. Rabat, adding that “some documents” have gone missing.      The airport was built in the early 1980s under then Davao Oriental governor Francisco G. Rabat, the incumbent mayor’s father.      “We will try to settle that, to pacify the families (and tell them that there is a) commitment that eventually bibilhin yan (it will be paid for), but for now, allow us to develop so we can open it,” Ms. Rabat said.      She further explained that the national government, specifically the Department of Transportation, could not step in for rehabilitation if they do not have the pertinent documents on the project.      One of the main improvement works needed is an expansion of the existing 1,625-meter runway to accommodate bigger aircraft.      A P200-million fund from the national budget, through the Department of Tourism, has already been allocated for the runway.      Ms. Rabat said they are aiming to reach a settlement within the year, with support from the Davao Oriental provincial government.      “Hopefully we will be able to hit the target,at nakatutok din ang gobernador dito sa project na ito (the governor is also focusing on this project),” she said.      Gov. Nelson L. Dayanghirang earlier said the airport’s opening is one of his priorities to boost, not just tourism but the overall investment climate in the province.      “Both the provincial and the (Mati) city government believe that the reopening of the airport will bring more opportunities for the growth,” said Mr. Dayanghirang said earlier this month.      Davao Oriental’s popular tourist destinations include the Dahican Beach in Mati, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mt. Hamiguitan, and Aliwagwag Falls, among others.      Mr. Dayanghirang said the provincial government is also working on the construction of an inland resort as well as an 800-person capacity convention center.

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