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IMF CHIEF 'REASSURED' AFTER TALKS WITH TRUMP's TEAM
[ALSO MARCH 4 UPDATE: Peso drops to P50.40 to $1]
[RELATED(2): Inflation rate seen to average 3% in H1]


FEBRUARY 23 -International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she’s had “some very positive discussions” with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (AFP Photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)
IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that she had been reassured by her first meetings with members of the new administration of US President Donald Trump, whose economic program has caused global jitters. Lagarde singled out “some very positive discussions” with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “I have had several meetings with officials of his administration in the economic and financial domains and the meetings I had are quite reassuring and comforting,” the International Monetary Fund head told German television ARD during a visit to Berlin. She said Mnuchin “clearly has indicated his desire to work with the IMF, on a multilateral basis. He’s expecting a candid assessment of the situation and clearly he has an interest in financial stability going forward.” On Tuesday, Mnuchin called on the IMF to provide “candid analysis” of exchange-rate policies in member countries. READ MORE...ALSO Peso drops to P50.40 to $1... RELATED(2) Inflation rate seen to average 3% in H1...

ALSO: The first Mitsubishi Mirage made in PH presented to President Duterte
[RELATED: Health advocate, car industry support proposed tax reforms]


FEBRUARY 28 -IMAGE Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation
If you buy a Mitsubishi Mirage in the near future, chances are it will be made by Filipino hands. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) has announced that local production of the small sedan has begun at its 21-hectare plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The Mirage G4 is the first vehicle to be manufactured under the government’s Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy, or CARS. In recognition of the importance of this occasion, MMPC was given the opportunity to present the first Philippine-made Mirage G4 to President Rodrigo Duterte in a simple ceremony at Malcañang Palace. The Mitsubishi top brass were in attendance, led by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) president and CEO Osamu Masuko, who flew in from Japan just for the occasion. Also present were Sojitz Corporation vice chairman Shigeki Dantani and MMPC president and CEO Yoshiaki Kato. READ MORE...RELATED,
Health advocate, car industry support proposed tax reforms...

ALSO:
By Rey Gamboa - Baby steps for CARS


Mitsubishi Motors PH in Sta. Rosa facility | Motoring, Business Features, The Philippine Star | philstar.com Mitsubishi Motors just recently delivered the first Philippine-made car under the government’s program called CARS (for Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy), which aims to establish the country as a regional automotive manufacturing hub. Manufactured in its Mitsubishi plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, the vehicle – a Mirage G4 – will have increasing local content through the next six years as a way of bolstering Filipino capability in producing car parts, and hopefully to be able to bring the dream closer to reality. At least, that’s the plan. Even during the time of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippine government had been dreaming of being a big player in the region’s automotive industry, of manufacturing hundreds of thousands of vehicles locally and exporting these to Asia and other parts of the world. Remember the defunct Progressive Car Manufacturing Program (PCMP) during the ’80s? Liberal incentives were then extended to car manufacturers, but somewhere along the road, plans fizzled out as a result of external events and internal pressures. READ MORE...

ALSO: PAL to start 7 direct flights to Middle East
[ALSO -Filipinos abroad embrace franchising]


MARCH 2 -Philippine Airlines said Wednesday it will start direct flights between Manila and seven cities in the Middle East on March 26. PAL said it would fly non-stop from Manila to Dubai, Doha, Kuwait, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Dammam and Riyadh. PAL said the Manila-Dubai flights would operate seven times weekly; Manila-Doha and Manila-Kuwait, four times weekly each; Manila-Jeddah and Manila-Abu Dhabi, thrice weekly each; Manila -Dammam, five-times-a-week; and Manila-Riyadh, seven-times-a-week. PAL is currently flying to Kuwait and Jeddah via Dubai, while the Manila to Doha flight is via Abu Dhabi. “The non-stop service will give us a better product to offer our kababayans, our overseas Filipino workers,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said. The current operating aircraft for the Middle East is PAL’s all-economy 414- seater Airbus A330. READ MORE...ALSO, Filipinos abroad embrace franchising...

ALSO: Lopez’s allies lose to foes, 3 to 5
[RELATED: Mining council okays mining review guidelines]


MARCH 2 -CONFIRMATION OPPOSED. Pro-mining groups stage Wednesday a picket outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head office in Quezon City, calling for the rejection of DENR Secretary-designate Gina Lopez’s confirmation by the powerful Commission on Appointments. Ey Acasio
GROUPS opposing and supporting the appointment of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez held separate rallies Wednesday, but her confirmation hearings were postponed to next week because of a reorganization in the Senate. Lopez’s supporters—estimated to be at 3,000—gathered outside the Senate and held a Mass marking Ash Wednesday, while groups opposing her appointment—about 5,000—held a rally outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources central office in Quezon City. Some of the protesters came from as far as Mindanao, where most of the mining companies that Lopez ordered closed operate. Jacob Arroyo, a mine worker from Dinagat, where Lopez closed down seven large-scale nickel mines, said he is not used to attending rallies but that he was compelled because his job is at stake. READ MORE...RELATED, Mining council okays mining review guidelines ...

ALSO: Better safe than worry - On money still untouched for Clark Int'l airport expansion


MARCH 4 -
Time is slipping by quickly for the Department of Transportation to act on the expansion program of Clark International Airport, or CRK for short. In fact, the DOTr has only 10 months to jumpstart the project before it expires. Still aching for a bit of DOTr attention are some untouched funds of P800 million, mostly intended for the technical studies for the expansion. The Aquino (Part II) administration allotted the money in the 2015 budget. Yes, two years ago and still untouched! Under the law, the DOTr has only two years to use the funds, or else they revert to the national treasury, neither to be seen nor heard of again. The two-year leeway for DOTr ends on Dec. 31 this year. If the DOTr forgets to use the money, the memory lapse will affect the entire expansion program worth about P7 billion. READ MORE...


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IMF chief ‘reassured’ after talks with Trump’s team


International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she’s had “some very positive discussions” with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (AFP Photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

MANILA, MARCH 6, 2017 (MANILA BULLETIN) February 23, 2017, 10:29 AM By Agence France-Presse - IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that she had been reassured by her first meetings with members of the new administration of US President Donald Trump, whose economic program has caused global jitters.

Lagarde singled out “some very positive discussions” with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

“I have had several meetings with officials of his administration in the economic and financial domains and the meetings I had are quite reassuring and comforting,” the International Monetary Fund head told German television ARD during a visit to Berlin.

She said Mnuchin “clearly has indicated his desire to work with the IMF, on a multilateral basis. He’s expecting a candid assessment of the situation and clearly he has an interest in financial stability going forward.”

On Tuesday, Mnuchin called on the IMF to provide “candid analysis” of exchange-rate policies in member countries.

READ MORE...

The IMF monitors currencies and other economic policies in the 189 member countries, and its rules dictate that members must avoid manipulating exchange rates… to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

However, in practice the fund can only exert real pressure to change policies on those countries that have IMF loan programmes in place.

Trump, who has repeatedly accused countries like China, an IMF member, of using trade and currency policies to cheat its trading partners.

Lagarde’s comments came a month into Trump’s presidency, after he had campaigned on the slogan “America First” .

In recent weeks, he has sent senior representatives to Europe to convince allies that his putting America first does not mean they will be left behind.

But he has also brandished the threat of hiking customs duties for Mexican-made products entering the United States.

Earlier this month, Trump also took the first step to undoing key reforms enacted after the 2008 financial crisis, aiming to scale back toughened regulations on the banking industry.

He has also accused countries including China, Germany and Japan of manipulating their currencies to boost trade.

Last month the International Monetary Fund raised its estimates for US growth on expected stimulus spending by the Trump administration, but kept the forecast for global growth unchanged.

The IMF warned then that executing protectionist policies could backfire on the US economy and create ripple effects abroad.

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Peso drops to P50.40 to $1 By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 4, 2017 - 12:00am 1 182 googleplus0 0


The local currency ended yesterday’s trading at an intraday low of 50.40 from Thursday’s 50.31 to $1. This was the lowest level for the peso since it closed at 50.43 to $1 on Sept. 12, 2006. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - The peso lost another nine centavos against the dollar yesterday, hitting a fresh 10-year low amid mounting concerns about the impending interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve this month.

The local currency ended yesterday’s trading at an intraday low of 50.40 from Thursday’s 50.31 to $1. This was the lowest level for the peso since it closed at 50.43 to $1 on Sept. 12, 2006.

The peso opened weaker at 50.34 to $1 and recovered to an intraday high of 50.315 to $1 before faltering toward the end of the trading. Volume increased to $482.1 million from Thursday’s $409 million.

A trader said the next resistance level for the peso is 50.50 to $1 and once broken would lead the currency to 51 to $1.

BPI Asset Management and Trust Corp., a unit of Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), said in its morning view the peso continued to slip against the dollar as investors reacted to hawkish commentary by US Fed officials leading to a higher expectations for a March rate hike.

“The US dollar strengthened against major rivals as a March Fed rate hike continues to loom. Market consensus still leans heavily toward a hike,” it said.

The next rate-setting meeting of the US Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) is scheduled on March 14 and 15.

Pauline May Ann Revillas, research analyst at the Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co. (Metrobank), said the peso would remain under pressure throughout the year amid the volatile financial markets due to the rate hike in the US as well as the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Inflation rate seen to average 3% in H1 0 SHARES Share it! Published March 4, 2017, 10:01 PM By Lee C. Chipongian

Inflation rate is expected to range in the three percent level in the first six months of the year on stable fuel and food prices, according to a research group.

“We expect headline inflation to hit three percent and hover around it in the first half as crude oil prices have stabilized at current levels while food supply should improve with better agricultural performance and early rice imports,” said First Metro Investment Corp. with research partner University of Asia and the Pacific (FMIC-UA&P) in its latest “Market Call” issue.

FMIC-UA&P added: “The outlook for the second half may be less sanguine if the proposed excise taxes on petroleum products become effective then.”

For February, it expects inflation rate to settle at 2.9 percent and higher in March at 3.1 percent. For the month of April it sees headline inflation further climbing to 3.3 percent.

FMIC-UA&P said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also seemed set on its liquidity management with the term deposit facility (TDF) which it introduced last June with the implementation of the interest rate corridorr.

“BSP will continue to remove liquidity from the financial system through its overnight deposit facility and TDF through the first half at a much slower pace compared to the second half of 2016,” the report said.

“With inflation still well within the two percent to four percent target, BSP may postpone rate hikes to the second half especially if the next Fed policy rate increase occurs only in the second quarter,” it added.

The BSP earlier said it expects inflation in February to range within a 3.1 percent to 3.9 percent band. The inflation in January was 2.7 percent.

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco said inflation upticks are however only temporary since upside factors are coming from the supply side. He noted that the increase in domestic petroleum prices, jeepney and taxi fares, and electricity fares of Meralco-serviced areas “could exert upside pressures to inflation during the month.”

The BSP sees average inflation of 3.5 percent for this year and 3.1 percent for 2018. The 2017 and 2018 forecasts are higher than previous estimates of 3.3 percent and three percent.

During its last policy meeting, the BSP’s Monetary Board said the risks to the inflation outlook “continues to be weighted toward the upside, given possible adjustments in electricity rates as well as the initial impact of the government’s broad fiscal reform program.”

On global risks, the BSP continues to see this as challenging particularly with the ongoing normalization of US policy rates. But, it added, domestic activity “is expected to stay firm, supported by buoyant household consumption and private investment, increased fiscal spending and ample credit and liquidity.”


TOP GEAR PH INDUSTRY NEWS

The first Mitsubishi Mirage made in PH presented to President Duterte by Dinzo TabamoA day ago 39.2K Shares Share Tweet 824 Comments


IMAGE Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation

If you buy a Mitsubishi Mirage in the near future, chances are it will be made by Filipino hands. Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) has announced that local production of the small sedan has begun at its 21-hectare plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. The Mirage G4 is the first vehicle to be manufactured under the government’s Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy, or CARS.

In recognition of the importance of this occasion, MMPC was given the opportunity to present the first Philippine-made Mirage G4 to President Rodrigo Duterte in a simple ceremony at Malcañang Palace. The Mitsubishi top brass were in attendance, led by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) president and CEO Osamu Masuko, who flew in from Japan just for the occasion. Also present were Sojitz Corporation vice chairman Shigeki Dantani and MMPC president and CEO Yoshiaki Kato.

READ MORE...

Already one of the more popular models in the market, producing the Mirage G4 here will generate job opportunities for both MMPC and local suppliers. Production of the G4 began last February 14, with the hatchback’s local creation commencing in May this year. MMPC’s target is to build 20,000 units by the end of the year. With a stamping plant set to go online in January 2018, the percentage of Mirage built locally will reach 50%. And further down the road, MMPC is aiming to have 70% of the Mirage made here.

So far, MMC has already sunk P4.3 billion for the production facilities and equipment for building Mirage models. The seeds of this operation were planted during President Duterte’s visit to Japan last year, when a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Philippine government and MMC.

Mitsubishi is confident that the locally made Mirage is of the same quality as global models. According to MMPC president and CEO Yoshiaki Kato, “the Mirage, being one of MMC’s global car models, brings forth pride to both MMPC employees and local parts suppliers. As a next challenge, we have to step up our Quality Cost Delivery programs to be competitive with other MMC production facilities.”

So the next time you're in the market for a small car, you just might want to consider something built by fellow Filipinos.


IMAGE Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation


IMAGE Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation


IMAGE Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA TIMES

Health advocate, car industry support proposed tax reforms BY REICELENE JOY IGNACIO ON MARCH 4, 2017 BUSINESS


DOF's comprehensive tax reform program, ...

THE proposed increases in automobile excise tax under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program are a highly progressive and pro-commuter measure, a non-government coalition said on Friday.

Jo-ann Diosana of the Action for Economic Reforms told lawmakers that the tax reform package will help ease the worsening traffic crisis in major urban centers, Department of Finance said in a statement.

AER supports the excise tax reform, but such measure “should not negate the government’s Automotive
Resurgence Strategy Program” which aims to develop the Philippines to a regional manufacturing hub for motor vehicles, Diosana said during a House committee hearing. AER is primarily a health and economic policy group.

“First, the excise tax on automobiles is a highly-progressive tax. We believe that having cars is a luxury, but public transportation is a right,” Diosana said, citing the AER position paper.

Earlier, AER expressed its support for the measure and described it as a potential “game changer” which would not only generate revenues but also enable the government to finally address the country’s infrastructure backlog and invest heavily in human capital formation.

“What better way to finance our mass transit system plans than collecting from those who have more capacity to contribute to building our nation’s transport system?” Diosana said.

People will think twice now before buying a second car due to the measure, despite having an increased take-home pay resulting from the personal income tax cuts under the CTRP, she said.

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines and the Association of Vehicle Importers and Distributors (AVID) said in a joint statement that they likewise support HB 4774 to enable the government to raise enough revenues for its programs.

House Bill 4774, filed by Representative Dakila Carlo, seeks to amend certain provision of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997:

• For vehicles worth P600,000 or below, an increase in excise tax from 2 percent to 4 percent

• For vehicles worth P600,000 but not more than P1.1 million, an excise tax of P24,000 plus 40 percent of value in excess of P600,000

• For vehicles worth over P1.1 million but not more than P2.1 million, an excise tax of P224,000 plus 100 percent of value in excess of P1.1 million

• For vehicles worth over P2.1 million, an excise tax of P1,224,000 plus 200 percent of value in excess of P2.1 million

Tax reform is indispensable to the government’s goal of investing some P1 trillion more each year on top of the current P1.3 trillion it plans to spend on infrastructure, education, health, social protection and other programs necessary to create enough decent-paying jobs for, and improve the living standards of, Filipinos and at the same time make the Philippines more globally competitive and attractive to foreign investments, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said.

Increasing the tax tiers from four to seven and providing a six-month grace period from the implementation of the new tax rates can mitigate the impact of the excise tax adjustments on the local car industry, AVID chair and president Maria Fe Agudo Perez said.


PHILSTAR BUSINESS COLUMN

Baby steps for CARS BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 2, 2017 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0


Mitsubishi Motors PH in Sta. Rosa facility | Motoring, Business Features, The Philippine Star | philstar.com

Mitsubishi Motors just recently delivered the first Philippine-made car under the government’s program called CARS (for Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy), which aims to establish the country as a regional automotive manufacturing hub.

Manufactured in its Mitsubishi plant in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, the vehicle – a Mirage G4 – will have increasing local content through the next six years as a way of bolstering Filipino capability in producing car parts, and hopefully to be able to bring the dream closer to reality. At least, that’s the plan.

Even during the time of deposed president Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippine government had been dreaming of being a big player in the region’s automotive industry, of manufacturing hundreds of thousands of vehicles locally and exporting these to Asia and other parts of the world.

Remember the defunct Progressive Car Manufacturing Program (PCMP) during the ’80s? Liberal incentives were then extended to car manufacturers, but somewhere along the road, plans fizzled out as a result of external events and internal pressures.

READ MORE...

On the other hand, Thailand mustered the right plan, and by the turn of the century, was already shipping out vehicles by the thousands from its plants.

For the Philippines, it looked like it had to give up on this dream. But as the local economy gathered strength during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in spite of a global economic downturn, and as more Filipinos realized they had more money to set aside for the purchase of a car, hope was rekindled.

Cautious CARS

Perhaps minding the painful lessons of the PCMP’s failure, former president Benigno Aquino III announced a plan to develop a “roadmap” for the automotive manufacturing sector that would provide incentives for the production of local vehicles, but on a more conservative level.

The original plan though was still not warmly received by the industry because of what it deemed were excessive demands: high investment levels and the unrealistic numbers of produced cars that must be maintained to qualify for incentives. Eventually, expectations were scaled down to what CARS now dictates.

Still, only two auto manufacturers signified their intention to join: Toyota, which has the undisputed number one position in unit sales in the country and accounts for about half of market share, and Mitsubishi which holds the second highest sales, but with a significantly lower market share.

For a while, Korea’s Hyundai, which was then a bullish player banking on its aggressive sales force, entertained thoughts of joining CARS. But with internal problems and other reasons that Isuzu, which had also relatively competitive sales figures matching Hyundai’s, had expressed, the Koreans decided not to participate.

Isuzu had been vocal about the seeming foolishness of the Philippine government to enter into a race that would be difficult to win. By this time, the ASEAN Economic Community was being formed, and Isuzu felt the impending opening of trade doors amongst ASEAN would make it harder for the Philippines to become an exporter of vehicles.

Other industry sources were also saying the Philippines was turning a blind eye to the market realities where countries around it like Thailand and Indonesia were manufacturing cars by the millions. Outside ASEAN, there were also stronger competitors, like the Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and Indians.

Local market

For companies like Toyota and Mitsubishi, it made more sense to avail of the government incentives under CARS. In a bullish market where more Filipinos were buying cars, both companies were in a better position to fulfill their commitments to CARS.

Mitsubishi Philippines had even constructed a P2-billion big parts stamping plant in Laguna, the first in the country. Part of the objective for this was to bring local content of its Mirage under CARS to 35 percent, as well as to bring down production cost.

Obstacles for expansion

One reason why local automotive industry players were not keen on expanding their manufacturing operations in the Philippines even under CARS was the high cost of production and the inadequacy of local suppliers to deliver quality parts and supplies.

However, Mitsubishi was willing to bring in a total investment in CARS of P4.3 billion, one which would play a pivotal role in bringing the capability of local suppliers to higher quality levels assuming that small Filipino companies would be able to raise enough funding to upgrade their manufacturing facilities.

Local parts makers who will collaborate with Toyota and Mitsubishi under the CARS program are expected to infuse over P18 billion in added investments.

Toyota, on the other hand, has committed to spend P3.22 billion to produce 230,000 vehicles over the next six years in its Sta. Rosa plant in Laguna. It enrolled the Vios in the CARS program.

Increasing importation costs

Officials from the Department of Trade and Industry admit that it is a very competitive environment in the region as far as automotive manufacturing is concerned. But with the rising cost of importations on vehicles and parts, something had to be done.

From less than 200,000 vehicles sold in a year in the early 2000s, the country has now more than doubled this figure, and is likely to hit the 500,000 mark before the decade ends. This is a trend that economists believe will continue well into the future as the Philippine economy gets stronger.

The tax incentives to be given to Toyota and Mitsubishi, amounting to P18 billion, are expected be offset by expected revenues from import duties, and other taxes amounting to P408 billion. Likewise, the program would also enable direct purchases of raw materials for parts, equivalent to a savings of P63 billion.

Changing environment

As long as the country keeps its aspirations grounded on the realities of the marketplace, it can continue to take baby steps in nurturing its dream of becoming a regional hub — perhaps not in exporting vehicles like what Indonesia and Thailand are doing, but in other areas.

It is still too early to say where CARS will bring the country, its auto makers, and the fledgling industry that supports big companies like Toyota and Mitsubishi, but as long as it remains cautious moving forward, something good may come from it.

The global automotive manufacturing landscape is transforming, and many of the established car manufacturers are already talking about the risks they face should there be new technologies that will make them obsolete.

Perhaps, as the Philippines is just starting its journey, it would be in a better position to adapt to the changing times — when indeed this happens.

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MANILA STANDARD

PAL to start 7 direct flights to Middle East posted March 01, 2017 at 08:32 pm by Darwin G. Amojelar


Philippine Airlines said Wednesday it will start direct flights between Manila and seven cities in the Middle East on March 26.

PAL said it would fly non-stop from Manila to Dubai, Doha, Kuwait, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Dammam and Riyadh.

PAL said the Manila-Dubai flights would operate seven times weekly; Manila-Doha and Manila-Kuwait, four times weekly each; Manila-Jeddah and Manila-Abu Dhabi, thrice weekly each; Manila -Dammam, five-times-a-week; and Manila-Riyadh, seven-times-a-week.

PAL is currently flying to Kuwait and Jeddah via Dubai, while the Manila to Doha flight is via Abu Dhabi.

“The non-stop service will give us a better product to offer our kababayans, our overseas Filipino workers,” PAL president and chief operating officer Jaime Bautista said.

The current operating aircraft for the Middle East is PAL’s all-economy 414- seater Airbus A330.

READ MORE...

The shift to the bi-class A330, with full-flat beds on business class, will take place on June 15 for Dubai; July 15 for Abu Dhabi and Doha; Aug. 15 for Riyadh; and Sept. 15 for Kuwait and Jeddah.

“The shift to bi-class service across all Middle East routes gives our passengers the flexibility to choose between regular economy, premium economy and business class service,” Bautista said.

PAL said with the non-stop operations to and from Manila, travelers from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would now have direct and non-stop travel to the Philippines and connections to other international destinations where PAL has operations.

PAL expects to carry 15 million domestic and international passengers this year, up from 13.5 million passengers last year.

The airline, now wholly-owned by tycoon Lucio Tan after he bought back a 49-percent stake that San Miguel Corp. purchased from him in 2012, posted a comprehensive income of P2.96 billion in the first nine months of 2016, lower by 54.8 percent than the previous year’s P6.55 billion.

Revenues in January to September rose 3.5 percent to P85.35 billion from P82.48 billion a year ago.

The airline’s total operating expenses increased 8.9 percent to P76.21 billion.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Filipinos abroad embrace franchising posted March 04, 2017 at 08:29 pm by Manila Standard Business


Go Negosyo angelpreneur Ed Pilapil.

Filipinos working in Singapore were exposed to business ideas and investment opportunities in the Philippines at the third leg of the Smart World Negosyo Caravan.

The event was staged by PLDT Global Corp., through Smart World, the international brand of the PLDT group that provides products and services to Filipinos living and traveling overseas.

This was done in partnership with the Philippine Franchise Association, The Global Filipino Investors Singapore and the Department of Trade and Industry.

“We hope that the success stories of our featured entrepreneurs will inspire them to start planning for their future and investing in the right business,” said PGC vice president and group head for global operations John Palanca.

Be Your Own Boss!

A Smart World Negosyo Caravan was held on Jan. 14, 2017 in AIA Tampines, Singapore. Business experts and franchisors flew in to give Singapore-based Filipinos tips and insights on different franchise opportunities.

“This is our way of providing our overseas Filipinos with a viable option when they return home and decide to start a business in the country,” said Palanca.

The event featured talks onOperational Efficiency:

How to Effectively Manage Your Business by James Melon, country manager for PLDT Singapore; and Tapping Opportunities in a Growing Economy by Glenn Penaranda, commercial counselor of PTIC-Singapore.

Sherill Quintana, PFA director for South Luzon and president of Oryspa, presented the overview of opportunities in Philippine Franchising; Federico Moreno, president of Xcess Salon, shared his learnings on How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur; and Dana Cuneta, strategic planning consultant of Francorp Philippines, gave tips on How to Invest in the Right Franchise.

“PFA has always been in the forefront in promoting entrepreneurship through franchising while advocating wise franchise investments through the seminars that we conduct,” said Quintana.

“We are happy to partner with PLDT Global because overseas Filipinos are a top priority in our efforts to educate the public on wise franchise investments.”


MANILA STANDARD

Lopez’s allies lose to foes, 3 to 5 posted March 02, 2017 at 12:01 am by Lance Baconguis and Julito G. Rada


CONFIRMATION OPPOSED. Pro-mining groups stage Wednesday a picket outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head office in Quezon City, calling for the rejection of DENR Secretary-designate Gina Lopez’s confirmation by the powerful Commission on Appointments. Ey Acasio

GROUPS opposing and supporting the appointment of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez held separate rallies Wednesday, but her confirmation hearings were postponed to next week because of a reorganization in the Senate.

Lopez’s supporters—estimated to be at 3,000—gathered outside the Senate and held a Mass marking Ash Wednesday, while groups opposing her appointment—about 5,000—held a rally outside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources central office in Quezon City.

Some of the protesters came from as far as Mindanao, where most of the mining companies that Lopez ordered closed operate.

Jacob Arroyo, a mine worker from Dinagat, where Lopez closed down seven large-scale nickel mines, said he is not used to attending rallies but that he was compelled because his job is at stake.

READ MORE...

“Dinagat was a declared mineral land since 1939, so who is Gina Lopez to deprive us of the only livelihood we know?” said Arroyo.

Arroyo also blamed Lopez’s chief consultant, Leo Jasareno, for supposedly influencing Lopez on her decision to close down the mines “without due process.”

Jasareno is the former director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau who was axed by President Rodrigo Duterte but retained by Lopez as a principal adviser.

Dulmar Raagas, president of the Chamber of Mines-Caraga Region Inc., who also led a contingent of mining workers in the DENR protest, said Lopez was unfit to hold the position because of her “inability to separate her mindless advocacy from her role as a regulator.”

“A conscientious regulator is impartial and objective, weighing things according to existing laws and not based on her feelings,” said Raagas, who came all the way from Surigao City.

In Caraga alone, 20,589 mining jobs are at stake, according to Evelyn R. Ramos, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-Caraga).

Roger de Dios, regional director of MGB-Caraga said the closures would hurt some 300,000 individuals in Caraga Region.

The figure, De Dios said, includes regular and seasonal mine workers and their dependents, as well as employees of mine suppliers, subcontractors and the service sectors that cater to mining firms.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Wednesday issued a statement denying that he was siding with the mining companies, but was merely ensuring that due process was followed and that contract obligations are respected.


DOMINGUEZ

“Secretary Dominguez himself has stressed in a Tuesday news briefing at Malacañang that the only position he supports is that of President Duterte, which is to follow due process and honor all contracts in dealing with all kinds of activities in government,” a spokesman for Dominguez, Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez, said.

Alvarez said that it was only natural for Dominguez and several Cabinet members to be concerned about the impact of the DENR’s actions on local employment and finance, considering that estimates by the DOF-attached Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) show that the closure and suspension orders will cost 17 affected cities and municipalities in 10 provinces over P821 million annually in foregone revenues.

Three of these municipalities—Carrascal in Surigao del Norte, Tagana-an in Surgao del Norte and Tubajon in Dinagat Islands—will lose revenues representing over 50 percent of their current operating income if the affected mine sites are shut down or forced to suspend operations.

BLGF estimates show that Carrascal will lose P198.3 million of its mining revenues, which represent 62.3 percent of its total operating income, while Tagana-an will lose P70.3 million or 54 percent of its total operating income. Tubajon will shed P38 million, or 55.4 percent of its total operating income if the DENR order is implemented.

Of this amount, local collections of the affected LGUs from mining firms amounted to P340 million, comprising real property taxes (RPTs) of P53.54 million, P263.13 million from business tax, fees, charges and other local charges, and P23.29 million from provincial revenues.

The share of the affected LGUs from mining taxes collected by the national government account for P481.17 million.

Aside from the two Surigao provinces and Dinagat islands, the other provinces affected by the closure or suspension orders are Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Palawan, Cebu, Bulacan, Zambales and Eastern Samar.

BLGF’s estimates do not include yet the projected income losses of the LGUs that host 75 mine sites whose MPSAs were ordered canceled by the DENR.

Early last month, Lopez announced the closure of 23 mining companies and suspension of five others, citing the results of a mining audit that she has not made public. The move would throw 19,000 workers out of work, and affect tens of thousands of others who indirectly benefit from these mining operations.

Dominguez said earlier the sustainability of the economy, aside from employment and local government finances, would be affected by the DENR decision.

On Feb. 9, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said President Duterte and his Cabinet would observe due process before shutting down or suspending the operations of 28 mining sites located in 10 provinces.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Mining council okays mining review guidelines 4 SHARES Share it! Published March 4, 2017, 5:45 PM


Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez (left) listens as Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez speaks during a meeting of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council on February 9, 2017. Dominguez and Lopez are co-chairman of the council. (Reuters photo)

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) has approved the guidelines on the conduct of an “objective, fact-finding, science-based” review of mining operations nationwide, starting with those ordered shuttered or suspended last month by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Co-chaired by Secretaries Carlos Dominguez III of the Department of Finance (DOF) and Regina Lopez of the DENR, the MICC also decided in its Friday meeting to complete the review to be conducted by five interdisciplinary technical review teams (TRTs) within three months, with primary focus on the technical, legal, social, environmental and economic aspects of the affected mining operations.

“The Council approved the guidelines for the conduct of an objective, fact-finding and science-based review of the operations of the mining companies, in accordance with specific mining contracts concerned and other pertinent laws rules and regulations,” said Dominguez after the meeting.

Lopez, who was not present at the meeting, was represented by DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna.

It was the MICC’s second meeting since Lopez ordered on Feb. 2 the closure of 23 mine sites and the suspension of five others on environmental grounds. The DENR secretary later cancelled on Feb. 14 about 75 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSAs) still in the pre-operation stage.

The review, which is mandated under Executive Order No. 79, “will initially cover the 28 mine sites that were recommended for closure and suspension,” according to the guidelines approved by the MICC.

THE MEETING

In the meeting attended by representatives of various government agencies, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) expressed concern over the high costs of the emergency employment program that had to be immediately put in place to support workers who might be displaced should the DENR ‘s closure and suspension orders push through.

Joji Aragon, DOLE Assistant Secretary for Legal, Legislative and International Affairs, said the department will look into the impact of the mine closures on employment and job displacement.

Aragon said DOLE is also currently working on a comprehensive transition plan in case the mines are closed.

Local government executives, represented by the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) pointed out that due process was not observed in the issuance of the DENR orders as the governors and mayors in the host provinces, cities and municipalities of the affected mine sites were never consulted about the closure and suspension order s.

Isabela Vice Governor Antonio Albano, a member of the ULAP National Executive Board and president of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines (LGVP) said that in Dinagat Islands, for instance, no consultation process was done.

Local government units (LGUs) have to be consulted, said Albano who added that ULAP’s next step is to come up with a resolution and a proposed bill to strengthen the roles of LGUs in the closure of businesses in their localities.

THE GUIDELINES

The guidelines approved by the MICC in Friday’s meeting stated that: “The review shall refer/take off from the existing reports (e.g. audit reports and checklists) prepared/developed by the DENR audit team and Technical Review Committee (TRC). The DENR twill provide and make available the copies of the documents in the DENR data room for easy reference/access during the conduct of the review. Ocular inspections may also be conducted, if deemed necessary, by the TRT and if funds permit.”

The technical review experts of the TRTS “shall be independent and [have] no known conflict of interest” with the mining sector or any anti-mining nongovernment organization, according to the organizational framework adopted by the MICC’s Technical Working Group (TWG) during an earlier meeting.

Under the organizational framework, the five TRTs will go over the compliance of the 28 mine sites with applicable agreements, submissions, laws and regulations and impact of their operations.

The five TRTs will also tap the academe and engage experts from State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) to help conduct the review, he said.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the DENR will also provide qualified technical personnel and provide available data and records to each TRT.

The MICC will present the findings and submit its recommendations to the Office of the President, which will make a final decision on the closure and suspension orders.


INQUIRER

Better safe than worry - On money still untouched for Clark Int'l airport expansion By: Conrado Banal - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 12:30 AM March 04, 2017



Time is slipping by quickly for the Department of Transportation to act on the expansion program of Clark International Airport, or CRK for short.

In fact, the DOTr has only 10 months to jumpstart the project before it expires.

Still aching for a bit of DOTr attention are some untouched funds of P800 million, mostly intended for the technical studies for the expansion.

The Aquino (Part II) administration allotted the money in the 2015 budget. Yes, two years ago and still untouched!

Under the law, the DOTr has only two years to use the funds, or else they revert to the national treasury, neither to be seen nor heard of again.

The two-year leeway for DOTr ends on Dec. 31 this year.

If the DOTr forgets to use the money, the memory lapse will affect the entire expansion program worth about P7 billion.

READ MORE...

In the 2016 budget, the airport got P2.1 billion for the Phase I construction, which naturally would never move on without the technical studies. Without Phase I, the subsequent segments would also be forgotten.

In effect, the entire project hinges on the ability of the DOTr to use the P800 million budget this year.

To think, the DOTr is already delayed in the project by almost two years, since construction was originally set to start in 2016, and its completion, well, by 2018.

To think, the government already spent money on the architectural design, done by foreign firm Aeroport De Paris.

All that will be wasted unless the DOTr moves fast enough!

It so happened that, in all these seven months of the administration of the motor-biking Duterte Harley, our beloved Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade simply talked about big plans and complex schemes, plus sprinkling of some impossible dreams, to modernize our transport systems. Things like cable cars in Metro Manila!

He threw his support to CRK, promising to build railways and road network, saying that this country would need CRK as back up to the overcrowded Naia.

Talking of plans and schemes, the administration already has a superb name for its P8-trillion spending binge called “golden age of infrastructure,” none other than TRIP, or the Three-year Rolling Infrastructure Program.

Was it TRIP as in “journey” or TRIP as in “stumble?” Just asking!

Anyway, in a better-safe-than-sorry move, Clark International Airport Corp. earlier trumpeted a little “memo” that it signed with DOTr. It basically said, not to worry, they would still pursue the expansion. And that was it.

Actively seeking the actual release of the funds is the former congressman from the region, Joseller Guiao, aka “Yeng,” the professional basketball coach, who noted that it took a lot of work to get the P2.9-billion budget for the expansion, considering that it already passed the stringent Neda screening and all that.

Just exactly what was keeping the DOTr from jumpstarting the expansion, say, by commissioning the technical studies, Yeng Guiao could never really know.

Talk in business suggested that the administration might be eyeing an entire new airport to replace Naia, so the CRK expansion might take the back burner.

The truth is we are stuck with Naia for the next several years.

If we decide now to build a brand new airport, we still must wait for at least 10 years to see its actual operation.

In the meantime, do we just make do with Naia, with its limited capacity and all, and just grin and bear the hours upon hours of flight delays?

Whether the DOTr likes it or not, we do really need the CRK.

The Philippine flag carriers PAL and Cebu-Pac already said as much, when they decided to relocated a god number of their flights to CRK.

In fact, the Civil Aeronautics Board, or CAB, also tried to force international airlines from the United Arab Emirates to use CRK, as part of its condition in giving away landing rights to the airlines, totaling 392 flights a year.

Guess what—all those 392 flights would still use Naia!


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