business

PH, ADB sign $200-M loan pact for cash aid project

April 30, 2020

THE Philippines and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed Tuesday an agreement for a USD200-million loan on additional financing for the government’s efforts to provide unconditional emergency cash assistance to poor and vulnerable households that have been adversely affected by the quarantine measures imposed to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.     This loan accord is the second additional financing provided by the ADB under the Social Protection Support Project (SPSP), which supports the government's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).       Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III signed the loan agreement on behalf of the Philippine government, while ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird signed it on behalf of the bank.     “We thank the ADB for its swift and continuing support for the Duterte administration's efforts to blunt the impact of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak on our people and the economy,"  Dominguez said.     "This SPSP loan will help the government achieve the No. 1 priority set by President Duterte in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, which is to save lives and extend a lifeline to millions of poor and low-income Filipinos who lost their incomes and livelihoods following the pandemic-driven work stoppage," he added.   For his part, ADB Vice President Ahmed Saeed said, “We commend the Philippine government for rolling out the emergency subsidy program aimed at helping poor and vulnerable Filipinos get through this health and economic crisis, as the pandemic curve is flattened. This USD200 million loan to assist the government in financing Covid-19 cash grants to poor households under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) will help achieve this purpose.”   The SPSP aims to provide cash grants to beneficiary-families under the 4Ps covered by the emergency subsidies under Republic Act 11469 or the" Bayanihan To Heal As One Act".   This budget-support loan will help bridge the immediate financing requirements of the government's response to this coronavirus crisis through the distribution via cash cards of cash grants to beneficiaries of the 4Ps.     The loan for the project, which carries a maturity period of 29 years inclusive of an eight-year grace period, is expected to be disbursed by June this year.   Last April 24, the ADB and the Philippines signed another loan agreement that would let the Duterte administration access up to USD1.5 billion in budgetary support from the Manila-headquartered lender to augment funds for its stepped-up efforts to contain the global health crisis.    This loan for the Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support (CARES) program is the largest budget support ever extended to the Philippines by the ADB, according to ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa.   The CARES program loan is under the ADB’s Countercyclical Support Facility Pandemic Response Option, which is a quick-disbursing budget-support facility to aid countries like the Philippines in mitigating the severe economic shocks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and bankrolling measures to prevent the further spread of this highly contagious virus.   Asakawa said ADB’s financing for the CARES program loan “is part of a well-sequenced support package that will provide financial and technical advice to help the [Philippines] meet the challenges posed by a crisis that is wreaking havoc both globally and nationally.”   The ADB president has commended the Philippine government for “its strong leadership and decisive actions to halt the spread of Covid-19 and quickly implementing financial assistance packages to families and small businesses to address the economic downturn.”   The ADB was among the first multilateral development institutions to provide assistance to the Philippines’ Covid-19 response efforts with its delivery of a USD3-million grant for the government’s purchase of medical supplies for its front line health workers. (PR)    

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BSP waives fees to digital financial services apps

April 30, 2020

THE Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved the suspension of charging of filing, processing, and licensing/registration fees for applications to provide electronic payment and financial services (EPFS).      This is an additional relief to BSP Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFIs) affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the BSP said in a statement Tuesday.     The relief shall be effective for a period of six months from 8 March 2020, the date of declaration of the President of the state of public health emergency under Presidential Proclamation No. 922.    This period may be extended depending on the development of the Covid-19 situation.   Digital channels have enabled continued access to basic financial services, such as payments, fund transfers, and loan availment, and minimized the physical presence of clients at BSFI premises.    These channels include online banking facilities and electronic money platform that support critical payment use cases such as social benefit transfers, payments to merchants or billers, including the government, payments to suppliers, and remittances.    This effectively contributes to the physical distancing measures implemented by the government during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period to help curb the spread of Covid-19. (PR)

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Aboitiz businesses to strengthen ‘agile’ approach in 2020 amid COVID-19 woes

April 29, 2020

Capex adjusted to P47 billion; P1.8 billion of internal and external aid to-date The Aboitiz Group and its business units are carefully weighing opportunities and further embracing an agile strategy in the execution of its 2020 plans with the ongoing global threat of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), “Digital infrastructure investments in previous years and regular business continuity planning have allowed us to cope with the adverse impact of COVID-19. While it’s anyone’s guess how the future will unfold, we assure our stakeholders that we are fully equipped and prepared to guarantee the continuity of all business transactions,” said Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group President and Chief Executive Officer. This comes as the Aboitiz Group began adjusting to a work environment that has vastly changed since the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “One of the first steps we took was to protect our team members. We earmarked P900 million in assistance (early release of end-March salary and the 13th or 14th month pay) to help our team members cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. We did more online work, more work from home--preventive measures are going to be the name of the game until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed,” Aboitiz noted. Under the Department of Energy’s new Department Circular No. 2020-04-00080, communities that host power generation projects can now use their Energy Regulations 1-94 (ER 1-94) revenue shares from these facilities to combat the effects of COVID-19. About P500 million worth of ER 1-94 funds are currently available for AboitizPower’s host local government units for their COVID-19 response efforts. In addition, about P400 million in monetary and in-kind assistance were extended to serve affected communities as well as medical and government frontliners nationwide. To date, the Aboitiz Group has contributed P1.8 billion for its COVID-19 response efforts. This excludes various payments waived, reduced, extended, or restructured to help customers cope with the impact of COVID-19. For the most part, the Aboitiz Group is optimistic that it can weather potential headwinds.  “Most of our businesses are in industries that are vital to keeping the economy running. Filipinos need electricity, food products, and money, for example. And for our other businesses, we have been prudent in capital expenditure spending so this should not be much of a problem,” Aboitiz said. To keep the economy going, the Aboitiz Group is looking to spend P47 billion in 2020. Down by a third from the originally-set P73 billion capital expenditure (capex) figure, the new capex moves back some spending, considering the impact on the group’s and country’s future growth. Most of the capex reductions were from the infrastructure, power, and land units. These mostly covered operating, maintenance, and expansion costs. Power At present, Aboitiz Power Corporation’s power generation and power distribution facilities continue to operate 24/7 nationwide, delivering much-needed energy to areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).   “While the country’s total demand for power has dipped since the start of the ECQ, we are seeing an increase in consumption due to higher temperature. We also expect a gradual increase in demand as we adjust to the gradual easing of the quarantine,” said AboitizPower President and Chief Executive Officer Emmanuel V. Rubio. Unit 1 of GNPower Dinginin, an ongoing AboitizPower project considered to be of national significance, will synchronize by the fourth quarter of 2020 and will commence commercial operations by the first quarter of 2021. Unit 2 will synchronize by the first quarter of 2021 and will commence commercial operations by the second quarter of 2021.  Bank and Financial Services Union Bank of the Philippines has leveraged its successful digital transformation strategy in addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis with a large percentage of its branches remaining open. UnionBank’s balance sheet remains robust enough to withstand significant  financial impact, given its strong income results in 2019.  According to UnionBank President and CEO Edwin R. Bautista, the crisis has accelerated the coming of the digital world as the bank saw its digital customers increase tenfold during the ECQ. UnionBank had announced an upgrade of its existing UnionBank Online application to now enable users to directly transfer funds nationwide to remittance centers such as Cebuana Lhuillier, LBC, PeraHub, and soon, Palawan Express. This is very useful for clients who may need to transfer funds in areas under ECQ. Food Pilmico Foods Corporation’s plants in Tarlac and Iligan, as well as the company’s swine and poultry farms, continue to be operational since the start of local ECQs. Despite challenges, Pilmico continues with its operations and helps stakeholders meet their needs. Operating in an evolving retail landscape, Pilmico continues to address local demand for pork, meat, and eggs with “The Good Meat”, its food solutions brand and fulfillment center. An e-commerce platform has also been launched  in order to widen its reach and serve customers in Metro Manila.  For 2020, the Food group will continue the integration of Pilmico and Gold Coin, optimizing synergies in procurement, cross-selling across countries, and shared services in its corporate services units, and opening opportunities for the Aboitiz Group as a whole. Infrastructure Aboitiz InfraCapital, Inc. reiterated its support to the government’s ‘Build Build Build’ program as the private sector remains committed to collaborating with the country’s leaders to mitigate the crisis’ impact on the Philippine economy. The infrastructure business unit is closely reviewing the impact of COVID-19 on its projects, especially in the airport sector. For its bulk water supply unit Apo Agua Infrastructura, Inc., the company  is closely coordinating with its contractors on which specific work streams can be executed amid Davao City’s ECQ, recovery time, and any implications on obligations with Apo Agua’s partners. Land Aboitiz Land, Inc. continues to prepare for an expected upswing in commercial real estate demand with its continuous planning of integrated townships such as LIMA Estate in Lipa City, Batangas, where it plans to develop commercial buildings and sell commercial lots in its upcoming business district. AboitizLand’s industrial business unit also expects fresh demand for new distribution centers and warehouse-type logistics facilities, especially as e-commerce booms. Aside from the said opportunity in the logistics space, there is an emerging demand related to manufacturing companies planning to exit China. Expansion plans to create additional inventory are underway for LIMA Technology Center in Batangas, and West Cebu Industrial Park in Cebu, to take advantage of this demand. Overall, AboitizLand expects the local real estate market to be quite resilient, with the large unmet demand for housing a significant contributing factor. AboitizLand’s early investments in contactless residential sales and marketing continue for the year and are now paying early dividends. Construction The Aboitiz Group’s privately-held construction arm Aboitiz Construction, Inc. continues to operate and work on its projects in Balamban, Cebu, and Mindanao, albeit with stricter precautions. The company hopes to immediately resume work on all its first and second quarter projects in ECQ-affected areas.  This is in line with the Aboitiz Group’s goal of keeping the economy stimulated with the immediate implementation of the government’s infrastructure program, especially projects of national significance.

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AboitizPower ER 1-94 remittances boost Davao City’s fight vs. COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower) continues to spread positive energy in Mindanao as the company has recently remitted its share of Energy Regulations 1-94 (ER 1-94) Program funds to the government of Davao City in support of its efforts to combat the effects of COVID-19. Davao City is one of the host beneficiaries of AboitizPower generation units Hedcor and Therma South, Inc. (TSI). Through ER 1-94, these two AboitizPower units have now remitted P14 million to the city’s local government. As the Department of Energy (DOE) also prepares to remit its share of funds through the program, the local government of Davao City is slated to receive a grand total of P26 million. In a statement, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio expressed her profound gratitude to AboitizPower on behalf of the city. “This funding relief couldn’t have come at a more opportune time when resources are badly needed by local governments to battle COVID-19. We thank DOE, as well as Hedcor and Therma South of AboitizPower for making this proactive move and providing us with additional resources to help step up our anti-COVID campaign,” she said. On April 6, the DOE issued Department Circular 2020-004-00080, dictating that the ER 1-94 funds received by host communities of power generation companies may now be used in full for efforts towards managing the effects of COVID-19. AboitizPower has since shown its full support for its beneficiaries nationwide, as local government units throughout the country continue their battle against the new coronavirus. About half a billion pesos worth of ER 1-94 funds are currently available for AboitizPower’s host LGUs across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao for their COVID-19 response efforts. The ER 1-94 Program is a policy under the DOE Act of 1992 and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), which stipulates that host communities receive one centavo share for every kilowatt-hour (P0.01/kWh) generated by power plants operating in its area. With COVID-19 greatly affecting our communities and livelihood, AboitizPower remains steadfast in its commitment to extending every possible form of assistance where it is needed.  

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To mitigate low farm gate prices due to Rice Tariffication Law: Bukidnon rice farmers receive cash assistance from DA

April 29, 2020

The Department of Agriculture - Regional Field Office 10 (DA-10) concluded its cash assistance to rice farmers in the province of Bukidnon who were adversely affected by the low buying price of palay due to the Rice Tariffication Law.  DA-10 executive Carlene C. Collado explained that the P5, 000 cash assistance was given to qualified rice farmers, tilling an area ranging from half to two hectares and duly registered under the updated Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA).  The financial aid was extended through the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) sourced from tariff collections of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).  Collado expressed his gratitude to the provincial government under Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr. and municipal mayors for the support they extended to the agriculture sector.  A total of 6,594 rice farmer-recipients received the P5, 000 financial aid through Bukidnon’s 19 municipalities and cities from April 20-24.  The towns and cities include Baungon, Talakag, Sumilao, Manolo Fortich, Impasug-ong, Lantapan, Cabanglasan, San Fernando, Malaybalay City, Damulog, Kibawe, Dangcagan, Don Carlos, Kadingilan, Maramag, Quezon, Kalilangan, Pangantucan and Valencia City.  “Dako na kaayo ni nga tabang alang sa pagkaon sa akong pamilya, labi na niining panahon sa krisis. Ang pagtanom sa humay ug ang kita niini maoy gisaligan namo alang sa among pagkaon sa tibuok tuig,” said Nova H. Omonlay, a 62-year old rice farmer from barangay Kisolon, Sumilao, Bukidnon, who has been cultivating her rice fields for over 20 years, [This is a big help to buy food for my family, especially in this time of crisis. Rice farming is also the source of our income and this is where we also get money for our food for the whole year.”  Aside from Bukidnon, simultaneous distribution of RFFA assistance was also conducted in the province of Lanao del Norte with 6,442 beneficiaries.# (DA RFO-X/MGBS)

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Stronger Together: COCA-COLA's Collective COVID-19 Response for Frontliners & Communities

April 29, 2020

For 108 years, the purpose of refreshing the world and making a difference has been the driving force of Coca-Cola  in times of crisis. The Company continues to tap its network of partners to provide financial resources and logistics support to be of genuine service to health workers and local communities.  Following the announcement of the Company last March 20 to re-channel P150 million of its advertising budget toward COVID-19 relief efforts, the Coca-Cola system immediately mobilized the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline responders, the distribution of food packs to vulnerable communities, and the delivery of beverages to hospitals, national government agencies local government units and NGOs.  PPEs for frontline responders and food for vulnerable communities  One of the top priorities of Coca-Cola is to respond to the urgent demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) to help equip critical healthcare workers with gear ensuring their safety and welfare, as they lead the nation’s fight against COVID-19. Over 46,000 medical workers in 305 medical institutions have so far been provided with PPEs, a significant portion of which was coursed through the TOWNS Foundation, UP Medical Foundation and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF).  “These initiatives form only the initial phase of our ongoing efforts to make a positive impact in communities and among the most vulnerable,” says Winn Everhart, Coca-Cola Philippines President and General Manager. “Alongside our valued partners, we are committed to the spirit of bayanihan, believing that as long as we weather this crisis while lifting up our fellow countrymen, we can look forward to a better-shared future."  Coca-Cola also saw the need to help feed the most vulnerable families in the country once the enhanced community quarantine was imposed. Working together with Caritas Manila, McDonald’s, Rise Against Hunger-PH, Philippines Business for Social Progress & Jollibee Foundation, Coca-Cola has delivered over 5,000 food packs and is committed to reaching 30,000 more families in the coming days.  Continuous supply of essential hydration   In addition, with over 19 production facilities, over 70 distribution centres and 10,000 direct employees in the country, Coca-Cola continues to manufacture and deliver essential hydration needs to stores, its customers and partners to ensure that beverages such as Wilkins water and other Coca-Cola products remain available to communities during this time.   Since March 20, Coca-Cola has distributed over 400,000 litres of beverages to various frontline organizations—including 125 public and private medical institutions, the AFP, the PNP, several government agencies, local government units , and different civic organizations—as well as vulnerable communities.  “We have all been witnessing the generosity of spirit, the hard work, and the unparalleled dedication of the thousands upon thousands of frontline workers in the medical sector and across various industries, and it is incumbent upon everyone of us to support them in any way we can,” says Gareth McGeown, President and CEO of Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Inc., the bottling arm of Coca-Cola in the country.  The Company will also be providing beverages to the COVID-19 quarantine facilities the government will be establishing, in partnership with the PDRF. The first batch of these deliveries has already been made to the PICC and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium. Coca-Cola coolers will be installed in the command centres of these facilities.  “This is perhaps the toughest collective challenge we will all face in our lifetimes, and extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary responses. Coca-Cola is in a position to help—therefore, we will do so to the utmost of our abilities. We will continue to prioritize the safety of our employees; as we serve our customers, support the government’s welfare initiatives, and help bring aid to vulnerable communities across the country,” added McGeown. (StratWorks) Keeping their welfare in mind, Coca-Cola responds to the urgent demand for personal protective equipment in order for our healthworkers to work safely.        

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