business

BSP wants to allow banks to operate satellite tech

April 21, 2021

THE central bank wants the government to allow banks to operate satellite broadband to help boost their operations following the liberalization of the sector.      THE CENTRAL BANK is asking the government to allow banks to operate satellite broadband to help boost their operations and give their clients better access to financial services.      This was the central bank’s input for the proposed implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Executive Order (EO) 127, which gives registered internet and value-added service providers access to satellite systems to build broadband facilities even without a congressional franchise.      “One such input is to allow banks or a consortium of banks to register under EO 127 so they can operate their own satellite broadband for their operations for the benefit of their consumers,” central bank Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said at an online briefing on Thursday.       “[It could also be] banks in conjunction with other local financial service providers. The more open it is, the less constrictions there are, the better,” he added.      Under EO 467 signed by former President Fidel V. Ramos which was amended by EO 127, only enfranchised telecommunications entities authorized by the National Telecommunications Commission and broadcast service providers are given access to international fixed and mobile satellite systems.      “By leveraging liberalized access to satellite technology, banks and other financial service providers in remote areas may now be able to put up more access points such as automated teller machines, cash agents, and branch lite operations,” Mr. Diokno said.      “They can also offer digitalized payment transaction services accessible via the internet,” he added.      Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Financial Inclusion Office Acting Deputy Director Cesar Augusto E. Villanueva said the BSP contributed to the crafting of the IRR as head of the government’s Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, which aims to bring more Filipinos into the formal financial system. He added that they are still waiting for updates from the Department of Information and Communications Technology.      “The IRR was supposed to be issued last April 10 but there was a slight delay, because there was a request for extension from the Philippine Space Agency because it wants to submit its comment,” Mr. Diokno said.      Internet penetration in the country is uneven across Luzon (60%), Visayas (40%, and Mindanao (30%), based on the BSP’s 2019 Financial Inclusion Survey. Mr. Diokno believes satellite technology will help “rural areas where setting up terrestrial infrastructure is not economically justifiable.”      “With EO 127 in place, we expect to bridge the digital divide in the country as it enables the deployment of infrastructure for areas that are currently unserved or underserved by incumbent providers,” he said.      The central bank wants 70% of adult Filipinos to be part of the financial system by 2023, from about only 29% in 2019.      It also targets a cash-lite economy in 2023 where digital payments make up 50% of total transactions both in terms of volume and value.

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Normin hosts leveling session to deepen understanding on GAD

April 21, 2021

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY--To heighten awareness and reinforce knowledge on gender and development, the Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC)-10, a special committee under the Regional Development Council (RDC)-10, held a leveling session, April 6-8, through video conferencing.      “This leveling session is part of the continuing effort of the RGADC-10, in partnership with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), to equip members with a deeper knowledge and understanding of gender and development, which is included in our work plan for the first semester 2021,” said Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derijie, DVM, president of the Central Mindanao University and the newly-installed RGADC-10 Chairperson.      Derije furthered that through the active participation of members in virtual lectures, sharing, and workshops/case study analysis, the attendees are expected to gain worthwhile, meaningful, and useful experiences for cascading to their respective agencies/institutions with the goal of advancing the gender and development agenda.      The series of lectures include GAD and Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) as a review of key concepts. It also underscored the history of efforts to alleviate the plight of women and the mainstreaming of GAD. Gender analysis and gender tools, such as the harmonized GAD guidelines on project implementation and management, and monitoring and evaluation Checklist were also incorporated through workshops and case study analysis sessions.      The lecture concluded with the topic GAD planning and budgeting, as well as, the preparation of GAD accomplishment reports of RLAs and LGUs based on the latest issuances of the PCW. Members of the PCW National Pool of GAD Resource Persons, together with PCW senior staff members, served as speakers/resource persons during the leveling session.      The Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) mandates all government offices, including government-owned and controlled corporations and LGUs to adopt gender mainstreaming as a strategy for implementing the law and attaining its objectives of women empowerment and gender-fair society.       It also mandates planning, budgeting, monitoring, and evaluation for gender and development; the creation and/or strengthening of gender and development focal points; and the generation and maintenance of gender statistics and sex-disaggregated databases to aid in planning, programming, policy formulation, and monitoring and evaluation.       Members of the RGADC-10 from regional line agencies (RLAs), local government units (LGUs), academe, and private sector attended the said session. (NEDA10/PIA10)

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Holcim launches water-repellent, ‘environment-friendly’ cement

April 19, 2021

LISTED building solutions provider Holcim Philippines, Inc. has launched what it described as the country’s first water-repellent cement product that can protect homes from water-based damage.      In a press release on Thursday, Holcim said its “Holcim Aqua X” is a blended cement that is more environment-friendly than similar products in the market. The new product, which was rolled out to select customers in Davao, will be widely available in Mindanao by the end of the year.      It said Holcim Aqua X contains “Active Water-Repellent Boosters” that prevent damage.      “These make it easier to build water-resistant structures compared with current practices, where builders apply a repellent on walls or include a water-proofing compound to the concrete mix,” it said.      Holcim said it developed the water-repellent cement to respond to customers’ demands for a product that protects structures against excess moisture.      In a survey by a third party commissioned by the firm, 70% of home owners and contractors in Davao identified water protection as an important consideration in projects. Some 300 respondents were interviewed for the survey.      “This new product highlights our great advantage in developing exciting products,” Holcim Philippines President and Chief Executive Officer Horia-Ciprian Adrian said, adding that Holcim Aqua X is more eco-friendly than other products.      “Being a blended cement, Holcim Aqua X is more environment-friendly than others in the market because it uses less clinker thus having lower carbon footprint,” he added.      The launch of Holcim Aqua X comes as the company continues the rollout of its specialized line of construction solutions.      Last year, it introduced Holcim Multifix, a multi-purpose mortar that seeks to improve the quality of walls, floors and tile installations in building projects.      In 2019, the company came out with road infrastructure cement “Holcim Solido,” which became a significant part of its product mix and acted as an alternative to the commonly used ordinary Portland cement.      The company has five cement manufacturing facilities in La Union, Bulacan, Batangas, Misamis Oriental, and Davao, as well as aggregates and dry mix business and technical support facilities for building solutions.

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Chelsea Logistics unveils new Trans-Asia ship

April 19, 2021

CEBU City –  Chelsea Logistics and Infrastructure Holdings Corp. on Friday disclosed its new vessel MV Trans-Asia 21 (TA 21) has completed its sea trial in Fukuoka, Japan, marking the company’s new investment amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.      “The shipping industry might have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic but we are convinced that this investment will be a meaningful revenue and profit contributor to the Group,” Chelsea Group president and chief executive officer Chryss Alfonsus Damuy said in a statement to the Philippine Stock Exchange.       Damuy said the Philippines, being an archipelagic country composed of 7,641 islands, is largely dependent on shipping to move people, goods, and services across the globe.       “We are certain that the shipping and logistics industry will recover faster because it is essential and a necessity in global trade,” he said.       MV Trans-Asia 21 was contracted for shipbuilding with a highly reputable Japanese shipyard several months prior to the onset of the pandemic, and is in partnership with one of the biggest private ship owners in Japan, the firm said.       It was in November 2016 when Dennis Uy, president of the Udenna Group, Chelsea’s parent firm, signed a share purchase agreement with Cebu-based shipping company Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc. (TASLI) to acquire the latter.       TA 21 measures 123 meters in length and has a gross registered tonnage (GRT) of 8,800 tons. It can carry a total of 1,085 passengers, 24 buses and 11 trucks.       During its sea trials, MV Trans-Asia 21 easily reached its designed top speed of 20.1 knots and successfully passed all the necessary tests to ensure safe and efficient operation of the vessel.       The ship was constructed at the Fukuoka Shipyard in Japan and internationally classified by Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (ClassNK), one of the largest and most reputable ship classification agencies in the world.       Upon its delivery in the second quarter of 2021, TA 21 will be Chelsea Group’s 12th and biggest brand-new RoPax (or a ship made to carry passengers, cargo and vessels) made in Japan and designed specifically for operation in Philippine waters.       TA 21 is the latest and another welcome addition to Chelsea’s fleet of 76 vessels composed of 22 roll-on/roll-off passenger vessels, 10 fast craft, 11 cargo ships, 16 tankers, 16 tugboats, and a floating dock, through its subsidiaries Chelsea Shipping Corp., Starlite Ferries Inc., TASLI and The Supercat Fast Ferry Corp.       “TA 21 will be deployed at a prime route giving the Filipino public affordable and quality service they deserve on board a brand-new and safe ship,” the company said. (PNA)

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Loans for Covid-19 vax program best strategy for PH: DOF chief

April 19, 2021

TAKING out loans to help finance the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination program is the best approach for the government, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Thursday.       “We chose this financing strategy because we want to assure the public of two things: First, that the vaccines we are buying are internationally accepted, and have passed the stringent criteria for safety and effectiveness. Second, that the vaccine procurement is totally transparent,” he said during a virtual briefing organized by Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez in Washington DC.       The government has secured total loans amounting to about P58.4 billion ($1.2 billion) from the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)  to help finance the vaccination deployment plan.      It has secured over 140 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, 15 percent of which is scheduled for delivery in the first half of this year while the bulk, or 85 percent, is set for delivery in the second half.       Despite the supply issues, it has started vaccination drives around the country using the supplies donated by China.       The government plans to inoculate at least 70 million adult Filipinos this year.      “The Philippines strongly supports the statement of Mr. David Malpass, former US Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs and now the World Bank President, who underscored the importance of releasing Covid-19 vaccines from countries with excess supplies as soon as possible,” he added.       During the same briefing, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) acting Administrator Gloria Steele announced that the agency is providing “USD3.5 million to further support the Philippines in delivering vaccines received from COVAX”, referring to global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.       “Our assistance will strengthen vaccine supply chains and support local governments to plan, track, and deliver vaccines. And it will help the Philippines’ Department of Health and local government distribute essential public health messaging around the vaccines,” she said.

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RCBC’s sustainable loans hit P52B in 2020

April 19, 2021

RIZAL COMMERCIAL Banking Corp. (RCBC) continued to boost its sustainable lending portfolio through credit for green and social projects related to transport, energy, water management, and housing.      RCBC said in a statement on Wednesday that its sustainable loan portfolio reached P52.165 billion in 2020. Broken down, P32.722 billion funded 15 eligible green projects and P19.432 billion went to 9,947 social projects.      More than half (61%) of its eligible green portfolio consists of renewable energy projects related to clean transportation and energy efficiency (18%), and sustainable water management (3%).      Meanwhile, its social portfolio includes affordable housing projects (36%), employment generation (32%), access to essential services (24%), and socioeconomic advancement and empowerment (8%).      “As the economy gradually rises from the ruins of the pandemic, RCBC will be a strong partner in support of the BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas), not just in rebuilding, but in championing the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) agenda and sustainable practices,” RCBC President and CEO Eugene S. Acevedo was quoted as saying.      In 2020, the bank said it will stop financing coal-fired power projects in the Philippines in support of the Department of Finance’s drive to hike the country’s share of renewable energy power source to 43%.      Meanwhile, the bank raised P17.8 billion through 2.5- and 5.25-year ASEAN sustainability bonds in March, which it said will be used to refinance green and social projects.      RCBC’s net income fell 7% to P5 billion in 2020 from P5.388 billion in 2019 as it ramped up loan loss provisions during the crisis.

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