business

Imported vehicle sales drop 34% in Q1 2020

April 30, 2020

THE Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) reported a 34-percent decline in sales for January to March this year, the group reported Tuesday.      AVID said vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2020 reached 14,404 units, lower than the 21,949 units sold in the same period of 2019.     The drop in sales of imported vehicles in the country is mainly due to the closure of dealership networks since the quarantine measure was implemented by the government to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.     “The industry is no stranger to adversity but this pandemic will be our toughest challenge yet. We estimate that it would take at least 12 months for the local industry to recover once the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) is completely lifted. There will be a ‘new normal’ and we must be quick to adapt since Filipino consumers will be even more prudent and looking for more value in their purchases,” AVID President Ma. Fe Perez-Agudo said.     Sales of passenger cars in the first quarter of 2020 plunged by 43 percent to 4,506 units from 7,848 units sold in the first three months of last year.     Light commercial vehicles’ sales also dipped by 29 percent to 9,806 units in January to March 2020 from 13,862 unit sales during the same period last year.     “Demand has likewise declined as consumers spend on more urgent needs. With this disruption, we estimate that car sales may drop by around 40 percent for the year,” Perez-Agudo added. (PNA)  

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SMC gives workers full pay

April 30, 2020

SAN Miguel Corporation (SMC) has committed to grant full-time pay to all its employees and extended workforce as the ECQ remains in effect, even as it works round the clock mobilizing resources to help address the larger societal and economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.     In a news release, SMC also announced that it has set aside P11.67 billion in tax, concession and contractual payments throughout the quarantine period to make available funds needed to respond effectively to the challenges of the pandemic.     Of the amount, SMC said it already paid government P8.77 billion, while the remaining balance will be remitted before the end of the ECQ.     Meanwhile, it has released full compensation with benefits amounting to over P3 billion for all its 66,557 employees, consultants and contract workers.     “These are trying times and while we, as a company, are not immune to the challenges of this crisis, the safety and security of our workforce will always come first. We do not want them worrying about their jobs,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang said.     Ang said told SMC employees that he is “truly proud of the hard work that you, most especially our front-liners, have been doing in the midst of the challenges: delivering essential goods and services that are critical in this battle.”     To date, SMC and the businesses under it, have provided assistance of over P1 billion in the form of cash, food, flour, disinfectant alcohol, fuel, free toll and personal protective equipment (PPE) donations to vulnerable communities and front liners.     It has also built emergency quarantine facilities together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to help ease the pressure on health facilities flooded by patients needing intensive medical treatment resulting from the pandemic. (PR)  

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Pryce posts 9.4% rise in income at P396 M

April 30, 2020

LIQUEFIED petroleum gas (LPG) industry player Pryce Corporation has posted 9.4 percent income jump to P396.36 million in the first quarter of this year versus year-ago level of P362.35 million.     On a consolidated revenue basis, the company was able to inch that up by 24.2 percent to P3.18 billion from last year’s P2.56 billion.     “The company’s net income of P396.36 million represents 12.5 percent return on sales,” the Escano-led firm noted.     The upturn in the company’s financial performance, as noted, has been due to higher sales of its LPG cooking gas, along with its cylinders and accessories, as well as LPG gensets.     “LPG products accounted for 95.3 percent of total revenues, while the balance was covered by sales of industrial gases, real estate and pharmaceutical products,” the company said.     It added that “the rise in revenue is mainly due to the 15.1 percent growth in LPG sales volume,” which reached 58,745 metric tons (MT) in the first three months of the year versus 51,047 MT in the same period in 2019. Revenues had likewise been buoyed by higher average international LPG contract price of US$572 per metric ton within the January-March stretch as against last year’s US$465 per metric ton on a comparative period.     Relative to the persisting enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Pryce noted that this “only slightly affected the company’s first quarter performance since the ECQ was implemented near the end of the quarter (specifically on March 16, 2020).”     Nevertheless, it indicated that it is expecting the succeeding quarters “to be adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.” It has to be noted that ECQs are still prevailing in many parts of the country until May 15 this year.

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GSIS raises emergency loan amount to P40K

April 30, 2020

GOVERNMENT workers can now avail of emergency loans from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) up to P40,000.     During the #Laging Handa PH briefing aired over the state-owned television network, PTV, GSIS president Rolando Macasaet said the agency’s Board of Trustees have decided to increase the loanable amount after noting that some of those who applied for emergency loans have existing loans.     Under GSIS rules, the outstanding loan amount of a member will be deducted from the proceeds of the emergency loan once the application has been approved.     Emergency loans may be availed of within three months after the declaration of a state of calamity in an area.     GSIS members may apply for emergency loans after Malacanang declared a state of calamity nationwide since March 16 and the declaration will last for six months “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant” due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.     Macasaet said they are accepting online loan applications because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) declared over Luzon, among other areas.     He said the system has yielded good results, with total loan applications reaching nearly 40,000 with payout almost reaching P4 billion.     He said GSIS members who are medical front-liners will get additional life insurance if they die of the virus.     He said GSIS members are automatically given a life insurance coverage amounting to 150 percent of their salary multiplied by 12.     He, however, said that because of the pandemic, GSIS officials decided to give medical front-liners who are GSIS members additional insurance amounting to P500,000.      He said they have been received reports that eight GSIS members who are medical front-liners have died because of Covid-19. (PNA)  

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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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