STUDIES SAY U.K. LARGEST INVESTOR IN THE PHL / STAR BIZ OPINION
 

MANILA, JANUARY 10, 2011 (BULLETIN) By ROY C. MABASA –The United Kingdom (UK) is the largest investor in the Philippines for the past decade.

Citing the most recent studies conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the British Embassy in Manila disclosed that the UK had a combined net foreign direct and net portfolio investments from 1999-2009 of an estimated $9.7 billion, rivaled only by Singapore with a much smaller $6.7-billion cumulative investment.

According to the British Embassy, this was largely due to the pre-eminence of the UK as a global financial center.

The Embassy said there are currently about 200 British companies active in the Philippines ranging from big multinationals to small medium enterprises.

Major British companies in currently in the country include Anglo-American, Shell, HSBC, BG, Standard Chartered, Pru Life and Unilever. A number of British companies are active in successful retail franchising, these include Debenhams, M & S, Speedo, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Warehouse, Clarks Shoes, Burberry, Paul Smith, Dunhill and Mothercare.

On the other hand, HSBC, Shell, Logica, Atkins, the Financial Times and Northgate Arinso are among the British companies active in business process outsourcing.

In training, Balfour Beatty and Cape Plc have established technical training centers in Manila, training Filipinos in the technical skills to support the operations of these companies around the world.

Among the most recent UK business successes in the Philippines were the establishment of a partnership last year between Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) for the delivery of the CIMA Masters Gateway Assessment (CMGA) courses.

In August 2010, AIMA registered an office in the Philippines to tap into the growing market of students seeking a UK education.

Meanwhile, in April 2010, TAMS signed an agreement with Transworld Philippines for the distribution of the company's chemical disinfectants to Philippine farms.

In March 2010, UK renewable energy firm Global Green Power PLC held a reception at the British Ambassador's Residence to mark the contract signing with engineering contractors and technology partners for its biomass projects in the Philippines.

As of February 2010, design firm Broadway Malyan was working on three major projects with one of the Philippines’ major developers, Century Properties.

The Britsih Embassy in a statement, described that UK-Philippine trade relations as "good." However, the balance of trade remains as it has over the last few years, in favor of the Philippines in a ratio of about 3:1.

Total exports of goods to Philippines for January to October 2010 were £242 million, an increase of 14 percent on the same period in 2009. Imports in the period were pegged at £413 million, or a rise of 29 percent on the same period last year.

In terms of the UK's share of world exports to the Philippines, the Embassy said the UK remains in 15th position after the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, and regional neighbors.

Based on 2008 and 2009 figures, the UK is a net importer of goods and services with £115 million and and £38 million, respectively.

UK’s top three exports of goods are electrical machinery & appliances, with £45 million; medicinal & pharmaceutical products, with £45 million; and power generating machinery with £23 million.

On the other hand, UK’s top three imports of goods in 2009 include electrical machinery & appliances, with £118 million; fish, crustaceans & mollusks, with £30 million; and articles of apparel and clothing with £28 million.

STAR BUSINESS OPINION

Purisima's trial balloon CTALK By Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) Updated January 10, 2011 12:00 AM

I will not deny that when it comes to plans or announcements made by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, I honestly cannot help but be suspicious. It was under the watch of Secretary Purisima that an excise tax of 500 thousand on second hand cars were imposed by the DOF during the Arroyo administration.

The tax was intended to punish the Subic car importers and favor the association of car manufacturers. Unfortunately, the intended targets in Subic got a court order blocking the tax. Instead, legitimate Filipino balikbayans and car enthusiast were slapped the tax and became collateral damage.

Recently the DOF Secretary announced that they were studying the possibility of selling Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo in order to generate funds that could be used to modernize the AFP and benefit the AFP and the PNP in terms of housing etc.

On the surface, there was nothing controversial about the announcements considering the intended good. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and that’s exactly where our military personnel are even after the Ramos administration sold most if not all of Fort Bonifacio to private developers.

The AFP is still scrounging and doing by, from American or Korean surplus military hardware. While thousands of high-priced condominium units have been built and sold by Fort Bonifacio developers, I doubt very much if half of the AFP personnel have titled homes out of the deal.

I also wonder why Purisima wants to sell Crame and Aguinaldo, when all he has to do to raise money, is convince the President and Congress, that by a mere amendment of the law to change the classification of cigarettes, the BIR and the DOF can immediately collect anywhere between 20 to 40 billion pesos in additional taxes.

So when Secretary Purisima begins by saying it is for the benefit of our AFP and PNP, my first reaction is to say: If you love our men in uniform so much, why not give or develop Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo exclusively for our soldiers and police?

Considering the publicity that Secretary Purisima has been generating on the idea, it is apparent that he is testing the waters or sending out a trial balloon to find out if people will love his idea or shoot it down.

The idea of selling government property is not new. Almost every administration does it because it is the easiest way to generate money. But you have to wonder what kind of people, are running the Philippine Government?

If Secretary Purisima were working for the private sector, the first question would be: What is your business plan? Is it a profitable or beneficial business undertaking? What capital or investment is required? And how much profit on what timetable are we talking about?

I don’t know why some people who have worked well in the private sector, suddenly forget or disregard private sector practice for business management. Does becoming a cabinet member automatically remove best practices, logic and common sense?

Ideally, you would expect research to be done on several projects, then, a team comes together to form a business plan. In all the talks and interviews I have had with respected businessmen, they have all pointed out that their actions and decisions started with the idea or a challenge.

It was not about how to make money or how much money can be made. Profit is presumed if the company knows the business, has a good business plan and pursues the project.

Ironically, getting capital for a good business idea is a lot easier than finding or having the right idea. There are so many businessmen in the country with so much money but with very few choices or opportunities to participate in joint ventures. Even banks are so solid that they are bordering on financial constipation.

At the moment, our government officials are like shopaholics. They focus on finding the money without really having a shopping list based on real or immediate needs.

So, first come up with the business plan or several real well studied business plans and projects, not generic shopping lists.

We also have to pay particular attention to the idea of selling Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo because in the end it may simply be political payback for supporters of PNoy.

It is no longer a secret that many posts and opportunities have been distributed to classmates, campaign supporters and long time associates. Right now the common expression of resignation on this state of affairs is: To the Victor goes the spoils.

Given this shameless behavior of late, the administration may ultimately do as they please. However, any and all of us who gives a damn about our soldiers and the PNP should at least demand that Secretary Purisima presents a plan that shows in black and white, how the PNP and the AFP personnel will directly benefit from the sale of their respective headquarters.

Tell us how many families, what ranks and what type of homes, facilities and benefits will individual members of the AFP and the PNP receive? How many percent of the project and the sale price will go to the service?

In the event of an actual disposal of the camps, what will we do to accommodate the necessary presence in of AFP and PNP units in Metro Manila? Are we going to end up having to rent expensive buildings like the DILG in spite of the fact that they have land? Or the LTO that has to rent buildings in every town and city annually?

I will not deny Secretary Purisima the possibility that he is simply being a pragmatic and efficient steward of resources. But he should focus on particulars and not on the general headquarters!


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