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Filinvest sets P39-B spending plan

May 1, 2019

FILINVEST Development Corp. (FDC) has programmed P38.9 billion for its spending plan this year as it accelerates its expansion in Clark, Pampanga.     In a statement issued over the weekend, the Gotianun-led conglomerate said bulk of its 2019 capital expenditure (capex) will be used for Clark projects such as the Clark International Airport, Filinvest Mimosa+ Leisure City, and the first phase of its logistics park in New Clark City.     “Capital expenditure in 2019 is roughly equally allocated between the trading segment of the real estate business and the investment segment, which includes office, retail, hotel, and logistics park developments,” FDC President Josephine G. Yap said was quoted as saying in a statement.     Filinvest Land, Inc. will get bulk of the spending as it starts the construction of Phase 1 of New Clark City spanning 64 hectares. The listed property developer has scheduled to break ground for the logistics, industrial park, and mixed-use project this May, with target completion by 2020.     The company expects locators to start setting up their facilities in the area by early 2020.     For Filinvest Mimosa+, FLI has lined up two office buildings, a lifestyle mall, four residential towers, a retail strip, and a high-end residential project for this year.     FDC’s investments in Clark also include the Clark International Airport, as it is part of the consortium that will handle its operations and maintenance alongside JG Summit Holdings, Inc., Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions, and Changi Airport Philippines Pte. Ltd.     The planned spending will further support FDC’s target of having 5,000 keys under its hospitality business by 2023. The listed firm has 10 new hotels and expansions in the pipeline, equivalent to about 2,600 additional keys.     FDC currently operates six hotels with around 1,800 keys under the brands Crimson — located in Mactan, Alabang, and Boracay — and Quest Hotel, with locations in Cebu, Clark, and Tagaytay. The company also has two golf courses under its hospitality arm.     Aside from its property and hospitality projects, FDC also has interests in power, banking, and sugar.     Its main asset for the power business is a 405-megawatt clean coal power plant in Misamis Oriental. It has also partnered with French utility firm Engie for three solar rooftop projects that will provide 5 MW.     The banking business through East West Banking Corp. is focusing on consumer loans, with its consumer portfolio rising by 16% in the previous year.     Meanwhile, the company said it milled 900,000 metric tons of cane in 2018, resulting to P2.5 billion in revenues.     FDC booked a net income attributable to the parent of P9.8 billion in 2018, 48% higher year on year. Consolidated revenues also went up by eight percent to P73.3 billion.

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Udenna-China Telecom deal may prompt more Chinese firms to enter PH

May 1, 2019

THE $5.4-billion deal signed last week by Udenna Corp. and subsidiary Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. with China Telecommunications Corp. for a telecommunications joint venture may prompt more Chinese firms to pour investments in the Philippines.     “[T]he huge investment is significant because it represents a long-term commitment by China to the Philippines and indicates that China desires warmer relations with the Philippines beyond the Duterte administration,” Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) President Calixto V. Chikiamco said in a mobile message Sunday.     Global research firm Fitch Solutions had said in a report in November the entry of a new telco player joined by a Chinese company is a “clear sign” of the Duterte government’s “warming posture towards China.”     Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Economist Michael L. Ricafort said in an e-mail the investment between Udenna and China Telecommunications may prompt other firms to follow suit.     “This huge foreign direct investment (FDI) from China, a manifestation of improved diplomatic ties/relations between Philippines and China over the past 2-3 years especially in terms of increased business transactions between the 2 countries, would send a strong positive signal for other large Chinese companies to follow by also putting/locating huge investments in the Philippines…,” he said.     “Further increase in FDIs from China presents a huge opportunity for the Philippines, going forward, as China has yet to become a major source of FDIs for various industries…” Mr. Ricafort added.     The investment agreement signed by members of the Mislatel consortium in Beijing last week formalizes its earlier commitment to invest $5.4 billion (about P279 billion) in Mindanao Islamic Telephone Company, Inc. (Mislatel), which is the group’s franchise holder to operate as a telco in the Philippines.     When Mislatel consortium joined the government’s third telco player auction last November, the group committed a combined capital and operating expenditure of P257 billion over a five-year period.     “The investment by China Telecom into Udenna will help strengthen the technical and financial capabilities of Udenna to enter the telco market and give competition to the entrenched players Globe Telecom, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc.,” Mr. Chikiamco said.     Asked if more deals between Chinese and Philippine companies will come soon, the FEF president said, “yes.”     “The Philippines is an attractive investment destination for Chinese businessmen as it is with Japanese and other foreign investors because of the country’s high growth rate, very favorable demographics, and untapped potential in terms of tourism, infrastructure needs, mining, etc.,” he said.

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Bong Go gets love back in Quezon City, says candidates should keep campaign clean and fight fair

May 1, 2019

The people of Quezon City on Saturday gave love back to former Special Assistant to the President and 2019 senatorial candidate Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go when he returned to the city on a motorcade as part of his campaign.     It could be recalled that during his stint as SAP, Go has helped many fire victims in the city. Even after declaring his Senate bid, Go would take time out to visit fire victims to listen to their concerns, cheer them up and call for assistance.     QC residents came out on the streets, cheering and waving back at him, while some even approached the mini-truck Go was riding in to shake his hand.     “Kahit sobrang init ng panahon, subalit sa sobrang init nga ng pagtanggap ng tao kahit saang eskinita kami pumasok dito sa Quezon City nakakawala ng pagod,” Go pointed out.     With barely two weeks before the elections, Go said he would press his efforts to go around the country up to the last day of campaign not just because of his senatorial bid but also, and more importantly, to meet the ordinary people and hear their concerns directly.     “Hindi lang naman po para mangampanya, para (na rin) mapangiti man lang ang ating mga kababayan.  Hindi  lang po yun kung meron silang gustong iparating sa ating Pangulo, minsan may nag-aabot ng sulat, (ay makatulong ako kahit paano).  Gusto ko rin pong makipag-usap sa kanila,” Go said.     Upon learning that somebody recently passed away in a community along the route of the motorcade, Go decided to take time off to visit the wake and extend his sympathies to the family of the deceased.     “Kanina meron pong namatayan dinaanan namin. Nagmamalasakit lang po sa pamilya,” Go said.     The former SAP also vowed to keep his campaign clean and remain fair amid the increasing use of fake news to malign candidates and undermine their chances of winning in the elections. Go had been at the receiving end of unfounded allegations recently.     “Andyan pa rin talaga yun maduming politika. Basta kami malinis po yung pangangampanya namin,” Go said.     “Ako naman gusto ko patas na laban. Kung ano lang yung pwede mong ibigay o i-serbisyo sa taong bayan yun ang iprisenta natin sa kanila. Gaya ng sinasabi ko itago nyo na lang po sa puso ninyo kung sa tingin ninyo, sinong Pilipino ang makakapag-serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino,” he added.     Go had declared his full support for the programs and policies of President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly his campaign against criminality, corruption and illegal drugs.     “Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang mga pagbabagong nasimulan ni Pangulong Duterte,” Go had said earlier.     Likewise, Go said he is equally in favor of infrastructure and other development projects for the benefit of the people of Quezon City and other Metro Manila cities.     Among others, Go pointed to the P356.9-billion Metro Manila Subway Projects, expected to start limited operations by 2022, that would eventually link Manila, Quezon City, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna. In addition, Go noted the P62.7-billion MRT Line 7 that would link QC, Caloocan City and Bulacan, which is expected to be completed this year.     Likewise, Go noted plans for the P45-billion Southeast Metro Manila Expressway, expected to be completed by 2020, and the P7.45-billion NLEX Harbor Link Segment 8.2 connecting Mindanao Avenue  and Commonwealth Avenue, targeted for completion by mid-2021.     For his legislative agenda, Go said he puts top priority in improving the delivery of health services particularly through the establishment of Malasakit Center, which seeks to help drive down to the lowest possible the hospital bill, particularly of indigent patients.     “So makakatipid po sila ….at pwede nilang gamitin yung pera (na natipid nila) na pambili na lang ng pagkain. Hindi lang yun pati yung panahon nila, yung pamasahe nila makakasave po sila dahil hindi na sila palipat-lipat ng ahensya at hihingi ng tulong. Isang araw lang tapos na ang proseso,” Go explained.     A project of the Duterte administration, the Malasakit Center makes the process of availing of medical and financial assistance from the government easier and faster by bringing together in one room all concerned agencies such as the DOH, DSWD, PCSO and Philhealth.     Go wants to enact a law to ensure continuation of the program and allow the establishment of Malasakit Centers in more provinces and key urban centers in the country.     Other priority concerns Go has identified as part of his legislative agenda include programs for agriculture, education, housing for the poor, long-term sports development, fire protection and prevention, localized peace talks, creation of a Department of OFW and improved benefits for senior citizens.     “Maraming salamat sa mga kapatid kong Pilipino. Ipagpapatuloy ko po ang pagserbisyo ko dahil ang pagserbisyo ko sa tao ay serbisyo po sa Diyos,” Go said.

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BSP sees within-target inflation amid oil price upticks, El Niño

May 1, 2019

PHILIPPINE monetary officials continue to see within-target average inflation this year amid risks arising from higher global oil prices and the impact of El Niño.     In a briefing Friday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. said the inflation’s trajectory continues to point towards deceleration until the third quarter of the year, and then go back towards the mid-point in the latter part of the year.     “That’s driven by base effects,” he said.     In 2018, inflation surpassed the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band from 2018 to 2022, and peaked at 6.7 percent primarily due to supply side factors, such as lack of supply of rice and several agricultural products.     However, with the help of the total of 175 basis points increase in the BSP’s key rates, as well as non-monetary policy measures, such as the immediate release of rice stocks from the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA), inflation decelerated and ended at 3.3 percent last March.     In the first quarter of this year, inflation averaged at 3.8 percent, same as the first quarter of last year but lower than the 5.9 percent in the last quarter of 2018.     BSP’s policy-making Monetary Board (MB), during its rate setting meet last March, placed the BSP’s average inflation forecast for this and next year at 3 percent.     Citing results of the BSP survey on private economists last March, BSP Department of Economic Research (DER) Director Dennis Lapid, during the same briefing, said mean inflation forecast among private economists showed a decline in their average inflation forecast for this year to 3.3 percent from 4.1 percent in the survey done last December.     For next year, the mean forecast declined to 3.4 percent from 3.8 percent previously, while initial forecast for 2021 is at an average of 3.4 percent.     Dakila said the BSP’s inflation forecast will be closely studied in the next policy meeting of the MB on May 9.     To date, monetary officials consider as upside risks to inflation the higher prices of oil in the international market and the impact of the El Niño, which is now seen to be longer-than-expected.     Dakila said they have not seen to date the impact of El Niño on prices of agricultural products, among others, while rice prices are going down as a result of the rice tariffication.     “For me, that is something that we need to watch out for,” he said, adding that balance of risks is even. (PNA)

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ADB lauds infra investment through 'Build, Build, Build'

May 1, 2019

CEBU City -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday lauded the “Build, Build, Build” program of the national government as a demonstration of how it undertakes infrastructure projects with commitment and focus.     ADB Philippines Country Director Kelly Bird said he has seen a lot of progress on how the national government implemented major infrastructure investment projects since President Rodrigo Duterte conceptualized the “Build, Build, Build” program.     Bird also noted that the country is catching up on infrastructure projects with spending that has gone up to 6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at present and targeted to reach 7.4 percent of the GDP in 2022.     He described the government’s handling of infrastructure projects under the program as “relatively fast and much faster than ADB had been done.”     The top ADB official cited the proposed 53.1-km. Clark-Malolos Railway Project which, he said, “demonstrates huge government commitment and focus.”     “We are working as partners. We can prepare them relatively quick at high quality and we started to give them out. So you see more of these major flagship projects coming out this year or next year,” Bird said in a press briefing on the sidelines of a stakeholder discussions on the ADB’s six-year country partnership strategy at the Radisson Blu here.     The railway project is a complex project to prepare but the ADB was able to have it prepared in advance, he said.      The Department of Transportation, which implements transport projects, such the Clark-Malolos Railway Project, “has been very, very active” and made the ADB team and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) team “work very, very hard,” he said.     “We have already put contracts for bidding at the ADB website and we have done it on a relatively short time and the government is committed to have this construction to commence this year,” he said.      Other ADB-assisted projects are the road projects in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, Integrated Flood Control Project in six river basins in Panay island, construction of the New Terminal of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), and the solid waste management project of the Cebu City government.     Bird noted the significant increase in public spending on infrastructure programs.     “What I really want to highlight here is that the Philippines in the past was underinvested in infrastructure, quite significantly,” he said, citing a 2013 study on public capital stock of countries’ infrastructure, which saw the “Philippines as among the lowest in (the) Southeast Asian region” in terms of infrastructure investment program.     Infrastructure deficit has contributed to slowed GDP growth rate and “reduces country’s competitiveness and does not help the connectivity of regions, communities and people,” he said. (PNA)

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BDO books higher first quarter income on core businesses

May 1, 2019

BDO UNIBANK, Inc. saw its net income soar the first quarter of 2019, as core banking operations continued to expand while trading gains normalized.     In a press conference Monday, BDO President and Chief Executive Officer Nestor V. Tan reported that the Sy-led bank logged a P9.8-billion net profit in the first three months of the year, surging by 66% from P5.9 billion tallied year-on-year.     This puts the lender on track to hit its full-year profit guidance of P38.5 billion, which if realized would be 17.7% higher than the actual P32.7-billion net income it booked in 2018.     Mr. Tan attributed the bank’s first-quarter income growth to the continued expansion of its core banking operations, recovery of trading gains, and strong non-interest income.     Net interest income stood at P27.7 billion in the quarter, up 25% from P22.2 billion in the comparative year-ago period.     This was on the back of its gross consumer loans which grew 10% to P2.009 trillion from last year’s P1.828 trillion.     Its nonperforming loan (NPL) ratio was steady at 1.2%, while NPL cover went up to 163% from 156% in the first quarter of 2018.

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