business

Economists forecast at least 25 bps cut in BSP rates

August 9, 2019

ECONOMISTS are expecting at least a 25 basis point cut in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) key rates on Thursday on the back of slower inflation in July 2019.      The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Tuesday reported that rate of price increases decelerated anew to 2.4 percent, reminiscent of the July 2017 figure, from last June’s 2.7 percent, thanks to the lower annual rate registered by the heavily-weighted food index.      Average inflation to date is 3.3 percent while inflation rate in July 2018 is higher at 5.7 percent.      Also, core inflation, which excludes volatiles food and oil items registered slower rate of 3.2 percent from month-ago’s 3.3 percent, resulting to an average of 3.6 percent to date.      Standard Chartered Bank Asia economist Chidu Narayanan, in a report, said the slowdown of domestic inflation rate provides the BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB) a leeway to slash the central bank’s key policy rates when it meets on Thursday, August 8.      “Today’s lower inflation, combined with a likely lower Q2 GDP growth of 5.9 percent, may cause BSP to deliver a 25bps rate cut when it meets on Thursday. We expect another 50bps from BSP this year, following the likely 25bps cut later this week,” he said.       The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to report the domestic economy’s second quarter performance, as measured by gross domestic product (GPD), on Thursday.      In the first three months this year, the domestic economy posted a slowdown to 5.6 percent from quarter-ago’s 6.3 percent, which economic managers pointed to the impact of the delay in the approval of this year’s national budget.      Authorities said the government was not able to spend as programmed because spending was hampered by the limitations under the re-enacted budget.      Economic managers, however, assured the public that a spending catch-up plan has been put in place to lift government spending and, in turn, help boost domestic growth.      With regards to the inflation rate, Narayanan forecasts this to fall below two percent in August to September and this, he said, is seen to bring average inflation this year to about 2.7 percent.      “A combination of lower food prices, lower oil prices, and a high base effect will help contain inflation,” he said.      The slowdown in inflation rate, which peaked at 6.7 percent in September and October last year, was the driving force behind the 25 basis points reduction the BSP rates last May.      The MB also boosted domestic liquidity through the total of 200 basis points slash in major banks’ reserve requirement ratio (RRR) from May to July this year.      Authorities said a 100 basis points cut in RRR releases about PHP90 billion into the system.      Despite these cuts, Narayanan said “monetary conditions in the Philippines continue to remain tight.”      He said the bank’s Monetary Conditions Index (MCI) for the Philippines “indicates conditions are still at their tightest in three years on a stronger REER (real effective exchange rate), higher real interest rates and softer credit growth.”      “The likely further drop in inflation below 2 percent is likely to cause conditions to tighten much further,” he added.      Relatively, ING Bank Manila senior economist Nicholas Mapa, in a report, said deceleration of inflation last July increased expectations for a rate cut on Thursday, especially following the cut in the Federal Reserve’s key rates last week.      He cited Philippine monetary officials’ statement that they remain data-dependent vis-à-vis their policy decisions but also noted that BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno has hinted of additional 50 basis rate cut for the remaining months of the year after last May’s reduction.      “We believe we will see at least a 25 bps rate cut (with door open for 50 bps) all the more given that 2Q GDP is likely to settle below the six percent handle,” he added.      ANZ Research, in its report, said effects of elevated inflation rate last year along with weaker demand pressures may result in the decline of inflation below two percent in the next few months.      “Today’s data support the view that inflation remains on a clear downtrend and so we expect the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to cut its policy rate by 25bps at its meeting this Thursday,” it added.      Also, UnionBank chief economist Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, in his report, said the inflation outturn last July is a big factor in the possible cut in the BSP’s key rates this week.      “This, however, will also depend on Q2 output results,” he said, projecting second quarter GDP to be around 5.9 percent. (PNA)

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SSS sickness benefits climb

August 9, 2019

THE SOCIAL Security System’s (SSS) disbursements of sickness benefits reached P984.42 million in the first four months, higher than the P875.42 million released in the same period in 2018.      In a statement on Sunday, the state pension fund said it saw a P109-million year-on-year climb in sickness benefit disbursements in the January-April period.      Meanwhile, the number of beneficiaries of sickness benefit in the four months ended April climbed to 155,856 members from the 145,370 beneficiaries recorded in the same period in 2018.      SSS released P913.88 million in sickness benefits under the social security program between January and April, up 9.5% from P834.22 million disbursed in the same period in 2018.      Some P70.54 million was also paid out for sickness benefits for work-related sickness and injuries under the Employee’s Compensation Program, 71.3% higher than P41.19 million released year-on-year.      “A qualified member under the sickness benefit program receives a daily cash allowance for the number of days he is unable to work due to sickness or injury,” SSS said.      To qualify for sickness benefit, a member must have been unable to work due to an illness for at least four days, whether confined at home or in a hospital. The member must have at least three monthly contributions within the 12-month period before the semester of illness.      A member can receive a maximum of 120 days in sickness benefit in one calendar year. If the member is still not capable of working after this period, the worker must report to the SSS to determine qualification for disability benefit.      “SSS aims to provide meaningful social protection to its members through the benefits that we provide and the programs that we continuously develop,” SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Aurora C. Ignacio said in the statement.      “We hope that our members view the contribution rate increase as bigger savings for their future, especially in times of need,” she added.

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Philex completes feasibility study on Silangan project

August 5, 2019

PHILEX Mining Corporation on Thursday said the definitive feasibility study for the first phase of the Silangan Project is finally complete.      The Silangan mine is a large-scale, high-grade copper-gold development, with a number of greenfield and brownfield components, located in Surigao del Norte, Mindanao.      Its tenements are composed of three deposits -- Boyongan, Bayugo and Kalayaan, with the latter being held by the company through a joint-venture with Manila Mining Corporation.      Silangan has been branded as one of three big-ticket mining projects seen to propel the Philippines as a major regional copper producer.      Based on the development timeline, the Silangan Project will be developed in phases. The Boyongan deposit, which is planned as the maiden phase, will be fully developed within 2.5 years and is expected to commence commercial production by the second half of 2022.      The first phase of the Boyongan deposit has an initial estimated mine life of 22 years. For this initial stage, Silangan is expected to yield high grade mineable ore grades of 0.63 percent for copper and 1.20 grams per tonne of gold.      The second phase, which will be comprised of the Bayugo deposit, is scheduled to undergo preliminary feasibility study for underground sub-level cave mining within the year.      Bayugo is expected to be mine-ready as early as the fifth year from the start of Boyongan’s commercial operations. The remaining substantial mineral resource and inventory including Kalayaan and the remnants of Boyongan will be subjected to future studies.      In terms of methodology, Philex said it will be adopting underground sub-level cave mining for ore extraction which will feature a state-of-the-art milling facility that will utilize modern convention technologies for ore processing.      “We are thrilled with the outcome of the study which reaffirms the immense potential and magnitude of the project.      Over the next few months, we will be focusing our efforts on raising equity and financing for mine development,” said Eulalio B. Austin Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of Philex Mining Corporation, in a statement.      The mining firm is set to earmark around USD750 million for the development of the Boyongan ore body.      For its fund-raising exercise, Philex has appointed reputable financial institutions J.P. Morgan for equity investment and Mizuho for project financing.      It has also engaged international law firm White & Case and Philippine law firm Sycip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan as legal consultants.      Meanwhile, Philex Board of Directors reported a net income of PHP391 million for the first half of 2019 while core net loss narrowed to PHP19 million or almost break- even.      For the second quarter alone, the company registered a core net income of PHP93 million, marking a sharp rebound after a challenging start.      Total tonnes milled was at 3.805 million from 4.388 million in the first half of 2018. Metal production was slowed down by programmed maintenance and other unscheduled repair works of aging mining equipment as well as uncontrollable power interruptions that resulted in lesser operating days.      Consequently, gold and copper production were at 23,675 ounces and 12.007 million pounds versus previous year’s haul of 34,583 ounces and 14.149 million pounds, respectively.      Gross revenues recorded at PHP3.365 billion from PHP4.646 billion while smelting charges decreased to PHP276 million from PHP377 million for the first half of 2018. Net revenues stood at PHP3.089 billion from PHP4.269 billion for the first half of 2018.      Average realized prices for gold and copper were at USD1,316 per ounce and USD2.75 per pound against USD1,314 per ounce and USD3.11 per pound year-on-year.      Following a core operating loss in the first quarter, Philex has swung back to profitability in the subsequent period after realizing the impact of improved operational efficiencies and cost containment measures that were carried out in the first three months of 2019.      As a result, metal output increased by 8 percent to 1.973 million tonnes for the second quarter of 2019 from 1.832 million tonnes for the first quarter of 2019.      Gold and copper production came in at 13,182 ounces and 6.280 million pounds for the second quarter of 2019 compared to 10,493 ounces and 5.727 million pounds for the first quarter of 2019, respectively.      Philex is optimistic that global interest for mineral products will stay robust in the long- term with consistent growth from Asia particularly from China, led by its power and infrastructure sectors.      Also, notable advancements in electric vehicle technology and renewable energy will also serve as demand catalysts to drive usage for copper materials.      On the domestic front, Silangan is envisioned as a key economic and social contributor for the development of Mindanao in particular and for the country in general, through substantial tax payments and the creation of more than 3,000 new jobs in Mindanao, where the project is located, to be supported by an expansive corporate social responsibility agenda. (PNA)

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DOLE-X accredits 166 PhilJobNet private companies; boosts net job search

August 5, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City--The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-X) through its Cagayan de Oro City Field Office (CDO FO) accredited 166 companies in the private sector during the first half of the year under the PhilJobnet - the official job-search portal of the government.      This move will boost increased job vacancies through net search.      DOLE-X CDO FO Chief Ebba B. Acosta said the realization is in collaboration with various establishments’ human resource development agenda and provision of platforms that would promote effective matching of the available jobs with the right people.       Acosta said the FO made sure that partner companies registered under the Department’s Rule 1020 or the Registration of Establishment shall also join the PhilJobNet. Likewise, the same rule was applied to companies joining the DOLE’s job facilitation program or the Job Fair.      Registration at PhilJobNet is free for both job seekers and employers.  In order for an employer to be accredited, they only need to submit/upload their BIR Registration Certificate (2303), SEC/DTI Registration Certificate, POEA License (for Overseas Recruitment Agency), DOLE License (for Local Recruitment Agency and Department Order No. 174 for Contractors/Subcontractors).      As an accredited establishment, they are free to upload at least ten job posts monthly; top banner for every job post; office location map; report pages; and synced interview calendar.        Premium services like unlimited job posting; email information and SMS/text blast to all registered job seekers; resume search; and priority jobs;  company name display at the topmost page are available for a fee.        PhilJobNet is an internet-based job and applicant matching system which aims to fast track jobseekers’ search job and employers for manpower requirements.  It provides job seekers with a listing of job vacancies posted by accredited government and private employers as well as by local and overseas manpower recruitment.      For mobile services, PhilJobnet application is available at Google Play Store for free. (DOLE10/PIA10)

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Toyota Hilux Continues to Lead Philippine Pickup Segment

August 5, 2019

Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) closes the first half of 2019 topping key market categories including the pickup segment, having sold a total of 10,554 units of its long-running top seller Toyota Hilux.      Based on sales figures from January to June this year, the Hilux bested its competitors in the pickup segment, gaining 35% increase in sales versus the first half of 2018 numbers, illustrating the growing demand for Commercial Vehicles (CV).      Toyota Hilux sales are highest in Metro Manila with 4,261 units sold year-to-date, followed by Region III with 1,219 units sold year-to-date in the Central Luzon area.      “Hilux is synonymous with Toyota. The model has been in our lineup for more than five decades, and proves itself time and again to be the prime example of Toyota’s strength as a manufacturer,” said TMP Vice President for Marketing Elijah Marcial.      “Through the years, the Hilux garnered a global reputation for its sturdiness. Its overall utility as a pickup truck, combined with high ground clearance and excellent towing power, makes for a reliable daily hauler for business and family use,” she added.      The Toyota Hilux is currently offered in 12 variants across all dealerships nationwide. Price starts at PHP 829,000.      TMP remains to be the top automotive manufacturer and distributor in the country with a total of 73,454 units sold nationwide in the first half of 2019. For the month of June 2019, TMP sold 14,568 units, a 27.8% increase from June 2018’s numbers. Toyota’s top five best-selling models from January to June 2019 are as follows: Vios, Hilux, Innova, Fortuner, and Wigo.

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Hino Leads PUV Modernization Forum at Biggest Gathering of PH Transport Cooperatives

August 5, 2019

Hino Motors Philippines (HMP), one of the pioneer supporters of the government’s Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) Modernization Program, shares insights on modernizing the country’s transport system and its efforts as a modern jeepney provider at the 4th Transport Cooperative National Congress held during Philbus and Truck 2019.      The congress, which caps off the three-day expo happening at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, serves as a platform to further discuss the PUVM program. It gathers together suppliers, transport cooperatives, drivers, related government agencies and other stakeholders.      The leading exhibition of the movers and shakers in the transportation and commercial vehicles industry, Philbus and Truck 2019 encourages modern jeepney manufacturers nationwide to support the government’s call for a better transportation system in the country.      Senator Win Gatchalian expressed his optimism about the implementation and impact of the PUVM program during this talk. He noted how modernizing the Philippine transport system can lower the health risks of both commuters and drivers, normalize driver work hours, increase the drivers’ guaranteed take-home pay and reduce overall travel time by about 20 percent.      Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III echoes the same, highlighting that the PUVM program will not only ensure safer and more convenient public transport but will also provide employment opportunities. One of the things he stressed is the importance of the standardization and consolidation aspects of the program. According to him, the regulation, monitoring and engagement of transport operators will result in a more efficient system.      This month officially marks the second year of Hino as a local provider of modern jeepney units. In addition to being an exclusive distributor of premium trucks and buses, Hino has expanded into modern jeepneys, manufacturing one of the first batches of PUV units in compliance with the requirements set by the Bureau of Philippine Standards. This first set of PUV units from Hino incorporates a speed limiter, safety features, GPS, CCTV, dashboard-mounted camera and Beep card system to offer both driver and passengers a more comfortable and safer riding experience. HMP Chairman Vicente Mills, Jr. shares, “We at Hino stay committed to our promise of total support by bringing modern jeepneys closer to the Filipino people. We have been working hard in our plant to address the growing need for modern PUV units. Our modern jeepneys guarantee the same quality that Hino is known for worldwide. We take pride as the only local truck and bus one-stop shop that not only provides commercial vehicles but also assembles chassis and engine using our body-building capabilities.”

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