business

ADB okays $1.5-B financing to Support PH Covid-19 response

April 26, 2020

THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $1.5-billion loan to help the Philippine government fund its coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response program and strengthen the country’s health care system in its fight against the pandemic.      “This assistance is our largest budget support loan to the Philippines ever and reflects our strong commitment to providing cornerstone assistance swiftly and effectively to help the country mitigate the pandemic’s devastating impact on Filipinos, particularly the poor and vulnerable, including women,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said in a statement Friday.     Asakawa said the most vulnerable are developing countries, especially those with densely populated cities such as the Philippines, amid the global pandemic.     “We commend the government for its leadership and clear actions in containing the spread of Covid-19, including scaling up its health response, enforcing an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon to save lives, and rolling out subsidy programs to affected segments of the population,” he said.     The Philippines was among the first set of countries to implement strict social distancing measures through its enhanced community quarantine when it temporarily shuttered schools, government, and private businesses, while closing the borders on the entire Luzon island, where the capital Manila is located, starting 16 March.      The Luzon region accounts for 50 percent of the Philippines’ total population and generates more than 70 percent of gross domestic product.      These measures have been effective in slowing the spread of the disease in the local community.     “We thank the ADB under the leadership of President Masatsugu Asakawa for swiftly responding to the Philippines’ call for funding support in this time of crisis. We thank the bank as well for streamlining its operations to quickly deliver its assistance and for tripling the size of its response package from $6.5 billion to $20 billion to help developing member countries combat Covid-19,” Philippine Finance Secretary and ADB Governor Carlos Dominguez said.     ADB’s Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) Program will support the government’s measures to help its citizens overcome the health, economic, and social costs of the pandemic by helping finance the country’s Covid-19 response programs.      Government actions include increased funding for social protection, especially for women who are primary household and family caregivers; small business relief assistance; and wider health measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the country.     The government’s Covid-19 relief package includes well-designed and targeted support to Filipino families, including a P205 billion (USD4 billion) emergency subsidy program covering 18 million families engaged in the informal sector and a P51-billion small business wage subsidy to provide a lifeline for 3.4 million workers in the formal sector.      These programs cover 85 percent of all Filipino families.     The CARES Program will establish a country engagement framework focused on supporting policy dialogue with the government as it implements its fiscal response program and bounce back strategy.      ADB coordinated with other development partners in preparing the CARES Program for the Philippines.     The new financing is part of ADB’s $20-billion expanded assistance for developing member countries’ Covid-19 response, which was announced on April 13.       It also builds on the $5-million grant approved on March 18 to deliver nutritious food baskets to up to 140,000 vulnerable households in Metro Manila and neighboring areas, in collaboration with the government and the private sector.   On March 13, ADB approved a $3-million grant to help the Philippine government purchase emergency medical supplies and set up a new laboratory that will increase the country’s Covid-19 testing capacity by 3,000 tests per day.    The new laboratory is expected to be fully functional by mid-May 2020. ADB is also preparing additional financing for social protection and health projects in April and May this year, respectively. (PR)  

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SMC to buy 4 million kilos of surplus corn from DA, to utilize its Petron stations as outlets for farm produce

April 26, 2020

San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to mass purchase agricultural produce, starting with four million kilos of surplus corn, to provide a lifeline to farmers and help secure the country’s food supply in the midst of COVID-19.     The surplus corn is enough to produce feeds for over 7 million live broilers that can eventually feed 4 million families in one day.     SMC is also in talks with the DA to utilize strategic Petron stations nationwide as outlets for government’s “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” rolling store program, to make farm produce such as fruits and vegetables accessible to consumers. The program is the market system project of the DA that links local farmers to consumers to ensure the sale of agricultural produce at reasonable prices.     “Through this program with the Agricultural department, we will be able to keep our farmers afloat as we navigate these uncertain times. At the same time, we also help people stay safe, healthy and nourished by providing them a convenient way to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from our local farmers,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said.     Petron stations that will be initially tapped as venues for Kadiwa stores are Filinvest, Dasmarinas/Edsa and Katipunan/La Vista. The company said that more gas stations will be added in the coming days. Currently, SMC’s Petron stations also serve as sites for SMC’s Manukang Bayan refrigerated vans, which bring fresh chicken and other refrigerated and canned meats closer to consumers.     He thanked the DA for offering its network of corn and cassava farmers to supply its San Miguel Foods, Inc. with raw materials for continuous food production.     “We thank the DA for helping us identify possible sources of corn and cassava and farmers who are in need of help. By helping them, we will also ensure that we get the needed raw material supplies for our various food products,” he said     Among these are some 25,000 hectares of corn farms in Cagayan, where much of the surplus corn will come from. The company is also looking to the DA to link it with cooperative heads in Tuguegarao for sourcing of cassava.     SMC said it will buy the produce at pre-agreed prices and volume, as part of a long-term partnership.     The company has also reiterated its call to farmers nationwide to supply rice, corn, cassava, sweet potato, coconut oil and other farm products that will be bought at guaranteed prices for the farmers benefit.      Ang emphasized the need to sustain economic activity in the food value chain, which includes agricultural products suppliers, processing, and shipping to retailers.      SMC has assured a stable food supply for at least six months even beyond the ECQ with the 24/7 operation of its food facilities. SMC’s food facilities can produce a daily output of 1.96 million kilograms of fresh meats (poultry, beef, and pork); 524,000 kilograms of processed meats (canned meat, nuggets, and hotdogs); and 2.11 million kilograms of flour/baked goods (flour, biscuits, pandesal, and nutribuns).     It also continues to donate food products, rice, and flour to vulnerable communities in support of the government’s Covid-19 relief efforts.

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Suzuki Philippines Deploys Vehicles to Aid Frontline Workers in the Fight Against Covid-19

April 26, 2020

    Suzuki Philippines Inc. (SPH), the country’s pioneer in compact car distribution has taken the opportunity to extend assistance, reaching out to participate in the Free Bus Ride for Medical Workers Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) that will be an avenue to lend All-New Carry UV units to transport frontliners from different location points, helping ease the burden of their day-to-day commute     Last April 15, 2020, SPH turned over ten (10) Commercial Vehicles to the DOTr, nine of which are Carry Utility Vans (UV) for the use of frontline health workers, and one Super Carry CV will be allocated for logistics and delivery use. The pick-up and drop-off points cover a considerable area in Metro Manila in an effort to accommodate frontline health workers from different communities. The eight routes include: SM City San Jose Del Monte to Centris Station (EDSA, Quezon Avenue), SM City Masinag to The Medical City, Ortigas, Ortigas Hospital and Healthcare Center to Rizal Medical Center, Centris Station (EDSA, Quezon Avenue) to Cubao-Arenta Center MRT 3 Station, SM City Taytay to De Los Santos Medical Center and St. Luke’s Medical Center along E. Rodriguez Avenue, SM City San Mateo to Robinsons Galleria and lastly, SM City San Jose Del Monte to SM Fairview and Commonwealth Avenue.     “During these challenging times, we in Suzuki Philippines Inc. understand the impact that we can make as part of the automobile industry. We are more than willing to provide assistance to our frontline health workers for their unwavering commitment to continue serving the Filipino people especially at the current time. We are grateful for their solid dedication and we thank the DOTr as well for opening up a window for us to be of help,” says Suzuki Philippines Inc. President, Akira Utsumi. Suzuki Philippines specifically selected the All-New Carry as the perfect reliable workhorse for these times that look for truly efficient and agile solutions. With this, SPH will continue to strive and take part in the community as we are currently experiencing a major speed bump worldwide. As Team Suzuki, their participation goes beyond not just by producing reliable products but being able to assist in continuing the way of life of our people.  

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Manufacturers asked to slash canned goods prices

April 23, 2020

LABAN Konsyumer, Inc. (LKI) has urged canned goods manufacturers to lower the prices of their products as world oil prices continue to stumble.      During the virtual presser of Tapatan sa Aristocrat on Wednesday, LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba said they should implement at least a 5-percent price cut on their canned goods products.     “Five percent at the minimum, but let the manufacturers decide if they can do it higher,” said Dimagiba, who is also the former undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry-Consumer Protection Group.     Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce Henry Lim Bon Liong also agreed that manufacturers should look into lowering prices of canned goods amid the falling crude prices in the world market.     As of this writing, World Texas Intermediate crude is trading at $12.67 per barrel while Brent crude at $18.63 per barrel.     Data from the DTI show that suggested retail prices (SRPs) of 155-gram canned sardines range from P13.25 to P17.25.     SRP of 150-gram corned beef is between P18.50 and P32, while for 170-gram ranges between P29 to P37.     Other canned goods considered as basic necessities and prime commodities include condensed and evaporated milk, luncheon meat, meatloaf, and beef loaf. (PNA)  

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SEC tracks down 4 additional unauthorized investment schemes

April 23, 2020

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has identified four more unauthorized investment schemes, including rackets possibly operated by previously flagged groups under new names.      In separate advisories issued on April 21, the commission warned the public against dealing with Viceem Help Worldwide/Viceem Help by Millionaire Maker Team, Nexus P Capital by GK Marketing Limited, and My Profit Robot (MPR).     In an earlier advisory dated April 15, the SEC likewise flagged the unauthorized investment-taking activities of Norway International OPC.     Viceem Help Worldwide/ Viceem Help, Nexus P Capital and its operator GK Marketing, MPR, and Norway International have not secured from the Commission the necessary licenses to solicit, accept or take investments from the public, as required under Republic Act 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code.     Based on reports from the public and as posted on its Facebook Messenger Group, Viceem Help Worldwide/ Viceem Help is simply the new name of Azenzo-Online whose unauthorized investment-taking activities have been flagged earlier.     The investment scheme of Viceem Help Worldwide/ Viceem Help resembles that of Azenso-Online, which promises a 30 percent to 100 percent return on investment within five to 20 days under a scheme similar to that of Kapa-Community Ministry International.     Nexus P Capital also operates an investment scheme that the SEC has warned the public about earlier this month. Like Cryptec, the scheme operated by a company purportedly incorporated in the United States offers cryptocurrency and foreign exchange trading accounts promising lucrative returns.     Its online trading platforms are supposedly tailored to minimize the chances of an unsuccessful trade, offering a 1:2 to 1:20 leverage for cryptocurrency trading and 1:100 to 1:400 for forex trading.     The leverage system essentially allows investors to cover a fraction of the value necessary for the trade or transaction, as the rest of the amount is provided or lent by their brokers or agents subject to certain fees and/or commissions.       Nexus P Capital also uses a trading bonus system in its credit token scheme to discourage investors from withdrawing their investments until they have complied with the minimum trade volume requirement. In case of non-fulfillment, credit tokens are forfeited and losses incurred are deducted from the investors’ deposits, which shall then be subject to a 20-percent withdrawal fee.   MPR, meanwhile, claims to be a unique trading robot that trades cryptocurrencies around the clock using BXTCoins and Property Arbitrage. It further claims that it buys and sells cryptocurrencies over several markets in order to make a profit from small to massive price differences across different markets.   As posted online, MPR touts an average daily profit of 1 percent per day or 365 percent per annum. To earn, one will need to purchase a six-month license for $200 and deposit bitcoins in his or her BXT wallet.   An initial investment of P5,000 will supposedly yield a profit of P1,739 in 30 days, or a 1 percent daily profit, to as much as P20,022 in six months. In addition, an investor may earn from referral fees and receive up to 35 percent commission on sales.   On the other hand, the investment scheme of Norway International involves beauty products and food supplements. One may purchase starter packages worth P1,500 to P4,500 to earn retail profits, cash rewards, direct referral bonuses, pairing bonuses, direct match bonuses, and car and travel incentives, among others.   The investor may earn even without selling any of the products under the so-called Norway International Binary System. For instance, a member or future investor availing of the P1,500 starter package is promised P90,000 to P270,000, an equivalent to a 6,000 percent to 18,000 percent return on investment, within a month.    Those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of fraudulent investment schemes may be held criminally liable and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years or both under the Securities Regulation Code.   Republic Act 11469, or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, further penalizes those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts with two-month imprisonment or a maximum fine of P1 million or both. (PR)  

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PSALM provides grace period, staggered fees for energy sector

April 23, 2020

THE GOVERNMENT-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) is providing power stakeholders with a grace period of paying their fees which due dates fall during the period of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), as well as it is allowing them to pay their dues in installments in the next four billing months.     On Tuesday, PSALM released its latest advisory adhering to the recent orders by the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission on the payments of dues and obligations within the energy sector, as the ECQ, which was originally set to end on April 14, was extended up to the end of April.     Payments of PSALM’s fees on power billings and ancillary services that fall within the quarantine period from March 15 to April 30 were put on hold.     The order covers payments of distribution utilities, industries, ecozones and government entities of regular power bills, deferred accounting adjustments (DAA) on GRAM (generation rate adjustment mechanism) and ICERA (incremental currency exchange rate adjustment), ACRM (automatic cost recovery mechanism) true-up adjustments, remittances entitled to prompt payment discount (PPD), restructured accounts on power, and ancillary services payments due from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP). Also, a deadline extension is given to independent power producers (IPP) administrators for their capacity and energy payments to PSALM. They are also allowed to pay their deferred dues in installments, provided that IPPs and fuel suppliers adopt the same due date extension and payment scheme. Entities collecting universal charges are expected to provide a grace period and a staggered bills payment scheme to electricity consumers, while PSALM also grants the collecting entities (CE) with the same extension for their remittances of universal charges to the agency. These universal charges include missionary electrification charge, environmental charge for watershed rehabilitation and management and stranded debts. The agency tasked to privatize the government’s power assets has been given a grace period to disburse funds from these payments to its beneficiaries. “PSALM strongly reiterates its requirement to power customers, CEs, NGCP and IPPAs to immediately remit to PSALM any proportionate amounts that they may have already collected from their own customers, if any, without awaiting the extended due dates,” it said in the advisory. “Customers who have the ability to pay are encouraged to continue to timely settle their bills with PSALM within the original due dates,” it added. In a separate statement, PSALM said on Tuesday that it had again moved the deadline for the submission of bids for the third round of public bidding for the Malaya thermal power plant and its underlying land. It set the new deadline at 12:00 noon on June 30 from May 30, citing the extension of the enhanced community quarantine. PSALM said the dates of the other bidding activities were also adjusted. The new deadline for the filing of a request to bid as a consortium is on May 11. The submission of documentary deliverables is rescheduled to May 15, while the release of asset purchase agreement to qualified bidders is set to happen on June 16 or not later than seven days before the bid submission deadline. PSALM said it would disclose the minimum bid price to qualified bidders immediately after it had secured the board’s decision on the matter. Its board is awaiting feedback from the Commission on Audit on the request of PSALM to allow a discounting mechanism that would lower the minimum bid price. The agency said it was monitoring the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and that it would issue appropriate supplemental bid bulletins to modify the dates of the bidding process should these are needed.  

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