business

PH posts highest-ever foreign reserves of $89B in March

May 2, 2020

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Thursday reported the country’s highest foreign currency reserves amounting to $88.995 billion as of March 2020.      Data released by the central bank showed that the latest gross international reserves (GIR) figure is only preliminary, but this is already higher than the $88.187 billion as of last February.     In a statement, BSP’s Department of Economic Statistics (DES) said the final end of March GIR will be published as soon as the data becomes available.     “In terms of the final data on GIR, the highest level recorded was as of end-February at $88.2 billion,” it said.     GIR refers to all foreign assets that are available and controlled by the central bank to finance payment imbalances or manage the magnitude of such imbalances.     The BSP’s GIR target this year is $86 billion.     The BSP said the latest foreign reserves level of the country is enough to cover 7.9 months’ worth of imports of goods and services and payments of primary income, higher than the international standard of three months’ worth of cover.     It traced the rise in the GIR level to gains from the central bank’s foreign exchange operations and income from investments overseas, and the national government’s foreign currency deposits with the central bank.     It, however, said these inflows are partly countered by the national government payments of its foreign currency-denominated loans.     During the same month, the country’s net international reserves (NIR), which is the difference between the GIR and total short-term liabilities, increased to $88.99 billion in March from the previous month’s $88.18 billion. (PNA)  

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BSP eases credit weight of banks’ MSME loans

May 2, 2020

THE CENTRAL BANK will ease the weight of loans extended by banks to small businesses until end-2021 to free up capital which can be used for lending amid the pandemic.     In Memorandum No. M-2020-034 signed April 28, BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said banks’ exposure to qualified micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will only be assigned a credit risk weight of 50%, down from 75% previously.     “The foregoing provisions shall apply until Dec. 31, 2021,” Mr. Diokno said.     Under the Basel III Risk-Based Capital Adequacy Framework and the Basel 1.5 Risk-Based Capital Adequacy Framework, these loans include MSME exposures that meet the criteria of a qualified MSME portfolio as well as current MSME exposures that do not qualify as a highly diversified MSME portfolio.     “This move will free up some portion of banks’ capital which they can use for lending. This will also incentivize banks to lend to the MSME sector,” BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier said in a text message.     “[This] would further encourage banks to book more MSME loans with less worries about effects on capitalization in view of relatively higher credit risks involved in lending to smaller companies,” Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in an e-mail.     The move follows the BSP’s move to include lenders’ credit to MSMEs in computing banks’ compliance with reserve requirements. This is also effective until the end of 2021.     Republic Act No. 9501 or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) requires banks to allot 8% of their total loanable funds as credit to micro and small enterprises.     On the other hand, two percent should be set aside for medium-sized businesses as the central bank seeks to boost credit to the sector which they can use for production and expansion.     Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that MSMEs totaled almost one million in 2018, accounting for 99.52% of businesses. These MSMEs generate 63% of the country’s total employment and are mostly engaged in wholesale and retail trade as well as repair of motor vehicles and motorcycle industries. MSMEs are seen to be among those hardest hit as the coronavirus disease 2019 outbreak continues to disrupt economic activity.  

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VP Robredo Receives Suzuki Motorcycle Service Units for Healthcare Workers

May 2, 2020

Suzuki Philippines, Inc. - one of the country's top motorcycle manufacturers shares help to those fighting the COVID19 battle at the front - the nurses and medical personnel by lending motorcycles as their transport service. This is in partnership with the Office of the Vice President's (OVP) Angat Buhay Program which is a flagship anti-poverty campaign relying on private partnerships in implementing its activities seeking to help people from the marginalized sector and recently to support our frontliners in the fight against COVID19. The units were turned over and received by Vice President Leni Robredo herself on April 23, 2020.  Suzuki lends 10 units of the Raider J Crossover to serve Angat Buhay's Free Dorm for Healthcare Workers hospitals' staff. Two of these - the Teacher's Village Dorm and Holy Family School in Maginhawa; will benefit from this initiative from Suzuki. Tenants of these dorms are working at East Avenue Medical Center, Philippine Children's Medical Center, Philippine Lung Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute and Philippine Heart Center. The Raider J Crossover is Suzuki's latest bike launched in February and the brand believes that it is the fitting ride for the frontliners, it is efficient and economical. More than that, since social distancing is a top priority nowadays, a solo ride on a motorcycle now provides one of the best means of transportation. "We are one with the whole nation in this fight against COVID19. We hope that these motorcycles help our frontliners in their commute to their respective medical facilities efficiently and safely. We will heal and overcome this together as one team Suzuki," Mr. Akira Utsumi said in a statement. "Thank you so much Suzuki Philippines for lending these units to us. These motorcycles will go a long way in helping our medical dormers," said Vice President Leni Robredo.  

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The Ford Ranger: Built To Last During Tough Times

May 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines, 28 April 2020 – In times of uncertainties during natural calamities and pandemic crises, Filipinos are known for their resilience, strength and unwavering toughness even in the most trying times, rising above all odds and challenges.     This is why pickup trucks such as the Ford Ranger have become a popular choice among Filipinos who look for a tough and reliable vehicle for their needs. Built purposeful, the Ford Ranger has a durable design, proven performance, and segment-leading technologies to help get the job done.      Time-tested utilitarian characteristics give the Ford Ranger the ultimate edge as your daily workhorse. Its generous cargo space tied with 1.3 tons maximum payload capacity and impressive 800mm water wading capability with 230mm high ground clearance enable you to carry numerous back-breaking loads while effortlessly carving through obstacles both on and off-road. It features a Tailgate Lift Assist that makes lifting and lowering the tailgate easier when loading and unloading cargo.      A truck bed full of supplies and equipment demands a tremendous amount of power to effectively reach its destination. The Ford Ranger is equipped with the 2.0L Bi-Turbo Diesel engine capable of generating 213PS and 500Nm of torque coupled with 10-speed automatic transmission, delivering more than enough power to move heavy loads while remaining exceptionally fuel-efficient.     The Ford Ranger is also packed with advanced features to ensure maximum safety and convenience for drivers and passengers on-board. With the Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, pedestrians and vehicles near you are detected and alerts you with an audible and visual warning. The Ford Ranger also features Active Park Assist and rearview camera and sensors to ease your worries away during parking.     Enhanced Ranger lineup      At the start of the year, Ford Philippines introduced a series of enhancements to its entire Ford Ranger lineup to give customers more value in their pickup truck without any price increase.     The Ford Ranger XLS and XLT variants now come with a new 8-inch LCD touchscreen radio with Apple Carplay and Android Auto Capability. Perfect for customers with workhorse and utility needs, the Ranger XLS and XLT variants are equipped with a selection of features that combine powerful performance with work-ready capability.     Meanwhile, Ranger Wildtrak 4x2 variants now have a new wheel design and LED headlamps. The Wildtrak 4x4 also has a new wheel design and LED headlamps with the addition of a high-mount USB feature to support various dashcam models. The Ranger Wildtrak combines iconic Ranger design qualities, powerful performance, and advanced technologies to suit work and play needs.      Finally, the Ranger Raptor now comes with a camera-based Autonomous Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, lane keeping aid, high-mount USB, and LED headlamps, enhancing the Raptor’s driver-assist technologies that make it a high-performance but safe and reliable pickup truck.     The new Ford Ranger FX4 is the latest addition to the Ranger portfolio, boasting of a bold design inside out and features that help widen the appeal of the Ranger among customers seeking for a versatile and capable pickup truck.       To know more about the Ford Ranger, visit www.ford.com.ph/trucks/ranger.

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AboitizPowerPeople Spreading Positive Energy: WILFRED – Finding Meaning in Our Mission

May 1, 2020

Energy can be considered a country’s lifeblood. It nourishes, empowers, connects, and moves us. Without power, critical infrastructure like hospitals, food and drug manufacturing, and banks would have difficulty operating.  Our team members in the power sector may not be in the front lines, but they have a mission of their own in this pandemic — spreading the positive energy that will help the country heal. This has become their “why” in the mission to keep the lights on.  “Whenever I used to ask my colleagues how they felt about their work, they usually give the generic answer. ‘It’s the usual business. This is the work we do as technicians'— and then here comes the pandemic.”  A great many people walk through life in search of their “why”. The reason they wake up every morning. The reason they do the work that they do. To the Japanese, this is ikigai (reason for being) - anything that gives a deep sense of purpose to someone’s life.  Wilfred Manatad had always found himself pondering on his “why” and while the Aboitiz Group has the noble “why” of driving change for a better world, it wasn’t until the pandemic that he was able to translate this into his own purpose.  “It was late in the night, I just read the announcement that we were preparing to activate business continuity plans. I reached out to my teammates and told them, ‘I think we’re going on lockdown. We need to gear up,’” Wilfred recounted.  “I didn’t expect the answer they gave, because they were all enthusiastic. They said that this time the time we get to do our part and support the frontliners. I was initially expecting resistance, but the answer I got instead was of compassion,” Wilfred said. “It’s time to help our community.”  From the resounding positive feedback from his peers, Wilfred found a deeper sense of meaning to the work that they do as part of the Electrical team of Therma South, Inc.’s (TSI) Maintenance department.  “There’s more meaning in the work we do. It’s not just the usual business. Though we’re rarely in the spotlight, we play a vital role in helping the country. We’re the ones in the backstage. We keep the show running,” Wilfred said.  Rendering duty to keep the lights on is not an easy task. Apart from being away from family for almost a month, the team has also been stripped down to a skeletal workforce during the facility quarantine. The usual work for four or five people now falls onto the shoulders of two.  “We only have two people on the electrical team on duty for each batch. That means we have to be smart with our time and conserve our energy, because you never know if you’ll be called to do small fixes or bigger ones that consume more energy,” Wilfred shared.  As part of the Maintenance team, Wilfred’s duty entails keeping the power plant in tiptop condition. This means the regular field work for the conduct of preventive and corrective maintenance.  A deeper sense of meaning is not the only thing Wilfred discovered during the pandemic. People often discover things about themselves in times of crisis, and for Wilfred, he discovered a brand of resilience he didn’t know he was capable of.  “Technicians have different specializations. For example, one can be good at protective relaying and another is good at partial discharge monitoring, but since we’re separated into three skeletal teams, sometimes the expert won’t be there in your shift. We can call and seek for guidance, but we’d still need to do the work on the ground. More than anything, this experience has made us step up and strengthen teamwork,” Wilfred shared. “We’re able to do work that’s usually out of our comfort zone.”  Wilfred enjoins his fellow team members to adopt the same kind of resilience and spread positive energy.  “Nothing will happen if you always worry. Instead of worrying, focus on and enjoy what you do. Above all, look for the purpose why you’re doing what you do. Because if you find meaning, you’ll be fulfilled.”  “You will enjoy what you do compared to working without knowing the essence of what you’re doing. Know your purpose and meaning. Make it your own,” Wilfred said.  Wholly-owned AboitizPower subsidiary Therma South, Inc. (TSI) owns and operates the 300-Megawatt Davao Baseload Power Plant located in Binugao, Toril, Davao City. TSI is certified in four ISO standards: Quality Management (ISO 9001:2015), Environmental Management (ISO 14001:2015), Occupational Health and Safety Management (OHSAS 45001:2018), and Asset Management System (ISO 55001:2014). Along with Therma Luzon, Inc. and Therma Visayas, Inc., the three primarily compose the Coal Business Unit of AboitizPower. (PR)

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DOST invites local designers to develop ventilators for COVID19 treatment

May 1, 2020

With the spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines, the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) together with the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) is looking for designs of ventilators and respirators to augment the health care system cope with COVID-19 patients needing these medical devices. “As a leader in enabling scientific solutions through R&D, the DOST-PCIEERD together with PCHRD opens its doors to our innovators and researchers to share their innovations that will ultimately aid our government respond better to the pandemic and contribute to the healing of our nation,” said DOST-PCIEERD executive director Dr. Enrico Paringit. Paringit said the prototype must be made from medical-grade materials and components and should have an assist control (AC) mode, tidal volume, back-up or respiratory rate (RR), inspiration: expiration (I:E) ratio, fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2), alarms, and humidifier. DOST-PCIEERD will support activities related to design and development, prototyping, fabrication and assembly of the prototype, simulation, pre-accreditation testing and calibration in collaboration with the Electronics Product Development Center (EPDC) of the DOST-Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) and testing by an accredited inspection body of the government. Concept proposals, including preliminary works done, description of design, workplan, deliverables, with a letter of intent from the medical expert or hospital, and the budget should be sent through email at pcieerd@pcieerd.dost.gov.ph on or before 28 April 2020. For projects/prototypes that passed industrial standards, DOST-PCHRD will support the conduct of the clinical trials and other clinical acceptance protocols. DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Dr. Jaime C. Montoya stressed the importance of evaluating the safety and efficacy of the ventilators. He said, “Ventilators are vital in ensuring that our patients, especially those confined in the ICU, are given the maximum care and support they need to recover. Aside from addressing the need to secure more ventilator units, we also have to make sure that the equipment we produce or procure are reliable and efficient.” Upon submission of proposal to DOST-PCHRD, the proponent must have partnered with medical experts, secured an ethics clearance from an institution capable of conducting clinical trials, and identified industry partner/s with a License-to-Operate (LTO) certificate from the Food and Drugs Administration – Philippines for mass production.  (S&T Media Service/Source:PCIEERD)y Information Institute

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