Business (69)

MSMEs get lion’s share on DTI’s 2018 budget

MANILA –Bulk of the budget of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) next year is allocated to its projects and programs to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency is getting PHP5.8 billion next year under the 2018 General Appropriations Act (GAA) signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last week.
He said that this budget was higher from the PHP4.7 billion allocation for the DTI this year.
Lopez said budget for MSME initiatives alone reached about PHP2.0 billion.
Some PHP1.0 billion was allocated for shared service facility (SSF) program, which provides equipment to MSMEs to produce quality products and make the sector more competitive in both domestic and international markets.
The budget was augmented in the Senate with additional PHP800 million for the SSF program.
It was reported by Lopez early this year that the SSF program would be getting PHP200-million allocation for 2018.
With the higher budget for SSF program, the DTI chief said the agency can roll out at least 200 shared service facilities, adding to the current 2,000 facilities nationwide.
“That 200 facilities is like 10 percent of the current,” Lopez said, noting that the 200 facilities will be shared by small-size businesses through cooperatives.
“It’s good enough. We can help more MSMEs,” he added.
Lopez stressed that providing machines and equipment especially to micro entrepreneurs is a “vital ingredient” to help MSMEs grow their activities.
Moreover, DTI’s microfinance program Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (P3) under its financing arm Small Business (SB) Corp. also got PHP1.0 billion fund in 2018.
Lopez said the department had disbursed close to PHP1.0 billion for this year for microfund borrowers, particularly to individuals in the provinces who would like to fund their entrepreneurial activities.
The P3 was launched January 2017 to give better financial access to MSMEs, particularly in the 30 poorest provinces in the country, and for Filipinos to avoid loan sharks like “5-6” lending scheme.
The government can lend PHP5,000 up to PHP100,000 at 2.5 percent monthly interest rate.
Although the agency eyes for higher budget in order to boost its support to other initiatives like international trade promotion, among others, Lopez said DTI had acknowledged that there are sectors that would need a big boost in their funds such as education, health, defense, and other social services.
“Our support is facilitative, providing environment for the businesses. We’re more on enabling support,” he said. “So it will be a budget to teach them how to fish,” Lopez noted.
President Duterte has identified MSMEs as priority sector of his administration. (PNA)


PG&E contributes $1M to launch funding challenge as part of Respond, Rebuild and Resilience strategy for CA communities

San Francisco, CA -- PG&E Corporation this week announced the contribution of $1 million in shareholder funds to launch the “California Climate Challenge,” a new corporate-giving initiative dedicated to helping communities prepare for, withstand, and recover from extreme events caused by climate change.

Jumpstarting the challenge effort, organized by the Bay Area Council, is part of PG&E’s larger strategy to assist communities in confronting the consequences of climate change. The strategy has three major pillars: Respond -- help first responders be more effective; Rebuild -- help communities rebuild; and Resilience -- identify solutions to increase infrastructure resilience.

“We are already experiencing the reality of climate change in California -- more severe and more frequent storms, heatwaves, wildfires, and drought, along with the threat of rising sea levels. PG&E is incorporating this ‘new normal’ into how we manage risks, plan, and invest our resources. But our collective response to extreme events such as the tragic North Bay firestorms must go beyond the immediate work of rebuilding what was lost. A focus on resilience will strengthen our communities for the future,” said Geisha Williams, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation.

Respond: To help communities respond, PG&E will continue working with first responders, including firefighting agencies, on increasing their effectiveness in both preventing and combatting wildfires. For example, PG&E donated $25,000 to the Potter Valley Volunteer Fire Department in recognition of their heroic success in stopping wildfire flames from destroying a facility essential to the town’s water supply. The company also donated $15,000 to Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401 to fund their relief efforts.

"The hardworking people of PG&E and the Santa Rosa Fire Department work side by side in the field during emergencies to keep our community safe, which is why we are now excited to work together in bringing our community together and begin the road to recovery," said Tim Aboudara Jr., President of the Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401.

Rebuild: To help communities in the North Bay rebuild, PG&E donated $2 million to the North Bay Fire Recovery Fund, distributed $1 million to local communities, organized volunteer efforts, and created resources for customers and builders. We will continue to partner with federal, state and local government agencies around critical community needs related to both temporary assistance and longer term, sustainable campaigns.

“These funds are immensely helpful as we support our local immigrant families to get back on their feet. It?s going to be a long road back for many of the people we serve and all help is appreciated,” said Josefina Hurtado, Executive Director of Puertas Abiertas, a community resource center in the Napa Valley.

Resilience: In addition to funding the California Climate Challenge, PG&E is to helping to support resilience through other public-private partnerships, including this year’s launch of the Better Together Resilient Communities grant program and state-level participation in the Tree Mortality Task Force and Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program.

PG&E’s participation in the California Climate Challenge is designed to attract resources from across the California business community, while also providing a framework for corporate, government, and environmental leadership concerning the risks that climate change is creating for the state’s infrastructure and economy.

The challenge will raise money to support research, planning, and implementation of community-level “climate resilience” projects focused on California’s water, energy, and telecommunications networks, as well as natural ecosystems and wildland-urban boundaries. The total amount raised -- and the process for selecting projects -- will be announced during the September 2018 Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.

“California’s business climate is inseparable from its actual climate. Much of California’s infrastructure was built under a colder, wetter, more predictable climate than we have today. Protecting our homes and employment centers from extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods and wildfires, requires a top-to-bottom assessment of our existing resilience, and fresh thinking on how to best adapt,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.

The California Climate Challenge Fund will be administered by the Bay Area Council Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports initiatives to build stronger, more vibrant communities, a healthy economy, and a more innovative, globally competitive and sustainable Bay Area region.

“We applaud this initiative to fund a public-private partnership for climate resilience in California. Businesses are concerned about climate risks, which have the potential to cause wide-ranging disruptions to their operations and supply chains. Corporate support for tackling climate change is only growing stronger, and companies clearly see the benefit of staying ahead of the game and doing their part,” said Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of Ceres and a member of PG&E’s Sustainability Advisory Council.


PG&E continues to educate customers on utility scams

San Francisco, CA.Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is standing with fellow electric, natural gas, water utilities and our respective trade associations in support of Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS). UUAS is a consortium of more than 100 U.S. and Canadian utilities. UUAS will observe the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day, on Wednesday, Nov. 15, as part of a weeklong advocacy and awareness campaign, Nov. 13 – 17. UUAS is focused on exposing the tactics scammers use to steal money from utility customers and on educating customers on how to protect themselves.
“Awareness and reporting are keys to keeping customers safe from these scammers,” said Deb Affonsa, vice president, Customer Care. “It’s important that if customers get a call, a visit, or an email that just doesn’t seem right – say something by letting PG&E and law enforcement know.”
Electric and natural gas customers throughout the country are being targeted by impostor utility scams each day. Scammers typically use phone, in-person, and online tactics to target these customers. Scammers pose as electric, water or natural gas company employees, and they threaten that customers’ services will be disconnected or shut off if they fail to make an immediate payment – typically using a prepaid card or other non-traceable form of payment. 
Scammers can be convincing and often target those who are most vulnerable, including senior citizens and low-income communities. They also aim their scams at small business owners during busy customer service hours. However, with the right information, customers can learn to detect and report these predatory scams.
Signs of Potential Scam Activity:
Threat to disconnect: Scammers may aggressively tell the customer his or her bill is past due and service will be disconnected if a payment is not made – usually within less than an hour.
Request for immediate payment: Scammers may instruct the customer to purchase a prepaid card then call them back supposedly to make a bill payment.
Request for prepaid card: When the customer calls back, the caller asks the customer for the prepaid card’s number, which grants the scammer instant access to the card’s funds.
How Customers Can Protect Themselves: Customers should never purchase a prepaid card to avoid service disconnection or shutoff. PG&E does not specify how customers should make a bill payment and offers a variety of ways to pay a bill, including accepting payments online, by phone, automatic bank draft, mail or in person.
If a scammer threatens immediate disconnection or shutoff of service without prior notification, customers should hang up the phone, delete the email, or shut the door. Customers with delinquent accounts receive an advance disconnection notification, typically by mail and included with their regular monthly bill.
If customers suspect someone is trying to scam them, they should hang up, delete the email, or shut the door. They should then call PG&E at . If customers ever feel that they are in physical danger, they should call 911.
Customers who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened during contact with one of these scammers, should contact local law enforcement authorities. The Federal Trade Commission’s website is also a good source of information about how to protect personal information.
UUAS is dedicated to combating impostor utility scams by providing a forum for utilities and trade associations to share data and best practices, in addition to working together to implement initiatives to inform and protect customers.
For more information about scams, visit

McCafé seasonal favorites return to McDonald’s

OAK BROOK, Ill. – It’s beginning to look like the holiday season with the return of the most festive beverages from McCafé: Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. These popular, seasonal specialty beverages are available in participating U.S. restaurants nationwide starting November 1 for a limited time.

McCafé Peppermint Mocha: Made with espresso beans that are sustainably sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and served with steamed U.S.-sourced whole or nonfat milk, and peppermint chocolate syrup. The drink is garnished with a whipped topping, which has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and a delicious chocolate drizzle.

McCafé Peppermint Hot Chocolate: Freshly brewed and silky smooth with a hint of mint chocolaty goodness and served with a whipped topping, which has no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives along with a delicious chocolate drizzle.

McDonald’s has also added a splash of holiday cheer to its new McCafé cups. This year’s seasonal hot cups are red and feature glistening stars touting “Wonder in Every Sip”– meant to inspire the joy of the holiday season. The seasonal hot cups are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and available beginning November 6 through the holiday season or while supplies last. By 2020, McDonald’s is committed to sourcing 100 percent of its coffee around the world from sustainable sources and 100 percent of its fiber-based packaging from certified sustainable or recycled sources.

“These festive McCafé beverages deliver enticing flavors that are holiday favorites,” said Elina Veksler, senior director of McCafé Menu Innovation. “For many, nothing comes before coffee – even during the holidays, which is why our Peppermint Mocha is made with café-quality espresso made from 100 percent Arabica beans. Our customers are sure to enjoy our delicious Peppermint Mocha and our other seasonal favorite, Peppermint Hot Chocolate.”

For a limited time at participating restaurants, McDonald’s will be offering any small McCafé specialty beverage, including Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, for $2.

In September, McDonald’s elevated the McCafé experience and introduced new café-quality espresso beverages to its McCafé lineup – Caramel Macchiato, Cappuccino and Americano – all part of the brand’s greater journey of raising the bar on everything. New coffee makers were also introduced to nearly all of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants earlier this year, helping prepare the espresso-based beverages with a consistent, flavorful taste.

For those looking to stay cozy inside, customers can get their favorite McCafé drinks delivered to them with McDelivery on UberEATS.

To determine which McDonald's locations in your area are participating in restaurant delivery, simply download the UberEATS app, input your delivery address, and you will see a list of participating McDonald's restaurants in your area (if McDelivery on UberEATS is available in your area). Changing the delivery address will also change the available McDonald's restaurants shown in the UberEATS app.


Jack Ma: Filipino-Chinese community to invest, turn PH into a cashless society

Chinese business magnate Jack Ma urged the Philippines to convert to a "cashless society," saying that an old economy should not fear change.
"We should make the Philippines a cashless society. Cashless society: no corruption, life is easier," Ma told students at De La Salle University in Manila on Wednesday.
In a press conference, Ma said that the Filipino-Chinese community in the Philippines should be the investors in turning the country into a cashless society.
"The Filipino-Chinese here—I think there's a big community here—they can understand Chinese, English and also Philippine culture. So I think they should be the investors of the cashless society, because a lot of people have heard of Alibaba, Alipay but they don't know how to use it because of the language problems," Ma said.
Ma, 53, is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, China's biggest e-commerce company. He has an estimated net worth of $38.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Alipay is the mobile and online payment platform of the Alibaba Group. In 2013, it overtook PayPal as the world's largest mobile payment platform.
Ma said you can get anything with just the use of a mobile phone.
"In my city, mobile phones can almost get you anything ... There're no pickpockets in the buses because there's no money in the people's pocket, no wallet, only mobile phones," he said.
"So I think the Chinese community here would be happy that you're the ambassadors of the Philippine small business, introducing Philippine products, mangoes and all the great stuff—fruits—introduce it to China and introduce the Chinese products, service and technology. You are the investors and bridges," he added. — GMA News


Philippine Stock Exchange to amend trading rules

MANILA – The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) plans to revise its rules to allow trading even on days when the clearing activities of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) or Philippine Clearing House Corporation (PCHC) are suspended.
The local bourse issued the proposed amendment after the suspension of trading on Monday, October 16, which was due to Malacañang's decision to call off classes and government work because of a nationwide transport strike. (READ: Transport strike shuts Philippine financial markets)
Under its current trading rules, the PSE trades every day except for Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, special holidays, days when the BSP is closed, and suspension days declared by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the local bourse.
The PSE uses the central bank's Philippine Payments and Settlements System (PhilPaSS) to facilitate cash payments for cash purchases. This means the PSE needs PhilPaSS to allow settlements to be completed.
"The exchange recognizes the global market dynamics in operating the country's sole stock market. As such, it is important for the exchange to have the ability to allow investors to trade in the market and minimize situations where trading is suspended unexpectedly," the local bourse said on Tuesday, October 17.
"However, the exchange also recognizes that the declaration of non-working days for government offices is a prerogative vested on government alone, even if such decision affects the ability of the PSE to open the market for its investors," it added.
In a memorandum, the PSE sought comments from investors on the proposed change.
Meanwhile, trading resumed at the local bourse on Tuesday, even after Malacañang's late announcement on Monday evening that again suspended government work and classes.
Jeepney drivers and operators are protesting the government's public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program. –


Metrobank to buy out partner ANZ Fund in credit card unit

Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co. is increasing its stake in credit card unit Metrobank Card Corp. (MCC) to 100 percent, in the process buying out partner ANZ Funds Pty Ltd. in the joint venture.

"The buy out of ANZ in MCC is a mutual agreement between the companies," Placido Mapa, vice president and head of Investor Relations at Metrobank, told GMA News Online.

The deal was made with ANZ Funds Pty. Ltd. (ANZ), Metrobank told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday.

"Metropolitan Bank & Trust Company announced today that it entered into an agreement with its joint venture partner, ANZ Funds Pty. Ltd. (ANZ), to increase its stake in Metrobank Card Corporation up to 100 percent, Mapa said.

"Subject to regulatory approvals, Metrobank will purchase 20 percent of MCC for a consideration of P7.4 billion," the bank said in a separate statement.

The transaction will allow Metrobank to realize more earnings from the credit card business.

"Increasing our stake will leverage our operational efficiency in MCC as well as it will now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Metrobank," Mapa told GMA News Online.

The partnership with ANZ will continue until the buy out deal is completed next year, with the remaining 20 percent to be consummated under the same terms in the third quarter of 2018.

The Metrobank-ANZ joint venture was formed in 2003, with a 60-40 equity structure in favor of the George Ty-led bank.

Citing data from the Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP), Metrobank said MCC has issued more than 1.5 million credit cards in the country.

Metrobank is betting on robust consumption in the Philippines to sustain the historically strong performance of the credit card company, bank president Fabian Dee said in the statement

In 2016, MCC reported total assets of P60.4 billion and a return on average equity of 36.3 percent

ANZ Funds is an Australia-based holding company that provides banking services. —Ted Cordero/VDS, GMA News


Iconic SyCip dies at 96, business mourns

Washington Sycip (photo by Manny Llanes)

The SGV & Co. took to Facebook to officially announce their founder’s passing.

“With deep sadness, the partners, principals and staff of SGV & Co. announce the passing of SGV Founder Washington SyCip on the 7th of October 2017. Mr. SyCip went quietly while on a flight to Vancouver from Manila. He was 96 years old. The SyCip family requests for some private time at this moment. Information on memorial service to follow. Please pray for the eternal repose of is soul,” SGV said.

Former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also took to Twitter to announce his mentor’s demise.

“Today we mourn the profound loss of a dear boss, friend, and mentor. I owe much of who I am to the privilege of having been under his wing. Washington SyCip was a towering pillar of the Philippine economy. For decades, he stood as an exemplar of excellence and integrity while shining the light of his sage guidance on our business community. Wash lived a very full and meaningful life. I will miss you,” Purisima said.

Insurance Commissioner Rufino H. Abad took to his Facebook stating that SyCip’s remains will remain in a New York hospital while documents are being prepared.

“He was a true statesman and served our country well!! Rest in our Lord’s peace Mr. SyCip,” Abad mourned.

Business leaders, especially the accounting and auditing industry, mourned SyCip’s passing.

Teresita Sy Coson, chair of SM Investments shared her thought: “With sadness, we regret to inform that Mr. Washington SyCip passed away last night on his way to New York. He has been a highly valued adviser to the Board of Directors of BDO Unibank. We will always remember him for his guidance over the years.“

The auditing industry, who looked up to SyCip as the epitome of the profession, deeply mourned Sycip’s passing.

Former Bureau of Internal Revenue Kim Henares said, ”With his demise, we lost one of the great minds ever produced by the Philippines.”

“The auditing industry has a lot to thank him as he pioneered and saw the growth of the industry not only in the Philippines but also in other parts of Asia. But more importantly, he trained and was a great influence to a lot of the captains of industries.”

Marivic Espano, managing partner and CEO of P & A Grant Thornton, called Mr. SyCip “one of the great pillars of the profession and played a key role in shaping it. He built a strong firm that is acknowledged as a good training ground for CPAs. He is leader who believes in the goodness and talent of Filipinos.”

Business advisory firm Bower Group Asia also tweeted “RIP Mr. Washington SyCip. This great patriot & leader of the Philippines, we learned so much from him.”

The book “Wash, Only a Bookkeeper,” a biography of Washington Z. SyCip by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr. published on said that Mr. Sycip was born in Manila on June 30, 1921 to Albino and Helen Bau. Albino Z. SyCip was born in the Philippines in 1887; like many other Chinese immigrants, Albino had come over Fujian province in the late 19th century. Both come from well-off, progressive families.

The young SyCip would go on to become one of the foremost practitioners of accounting in the Philippines and Asia, as well as a prime advocate of closer cooperation between the Philippines, the United States, Europe and Asia.

He passed the examination for Certified Public Accountants at age 18, but was too young to receive a professional license to practice. The middle child in a brood of five decided instead to take his PhD in the United States at Columbia University. SyCip was working on his doctoral dissertation when Pearl Harbor and Clark Air Base were bombed. He returned to Manila at the war’s end to be reunited with his family. Seeing great opportunities in the country’s postwar reconstruction, he set up his own accounting firm, W. SyCip & Co., in Binondo. As the business grew, SyCip with his longtime friend Alfredo M. Velayo, renamed the firm SyCip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (SGV).

After retiring from SGV in 1996, he continued to be active in business and civic endeavors, and sits on the board of many Philippine and international companies and foundations. His advocacies include the improvement of public education, micro finance and entrepreneurship, and public health. He is relentless in his pursuit to help alleviate poverty. A staunch believer in Filipino talent, SyCip is also an avatar of economic freedom, according to the book.

SyCip has been honored and his works recognized by various prestigious organizations and award-giving bodies.

The most recent was with the Edmonds Award for International Understanding by the New York-based International House. A philanthropist, SyCip was also conferred The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for his contribution in promoting stronger business ties between the Philippines and Japan by the Japanese government.


Metro Pacific group eyes P20 billion for MRT3 takeover

NEW OPERATOR SOON? Once the Metro Pacific group hurdles the Swiss challenge, it expects to take over the operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation of the MRT3 by early 2018. File photo by JR Belardo/Rappler 

MANILA, Philippines – The group of Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC) will invest up to P20 billion to rehabilitate, operate, and maintain the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) should the government approve its takeover plan.

MPIC on Monday, October 2, confirmed that its MRT3 proposal could reach P20 billion, inclusive of the equity component. This would be P7.5 billion higher than its initial projection.


But MPIC noted that "discussions are still ongoing" in terms of the participation of Ayala Corporation in the MRT3 proposal. (READ: Singson leaves Light Rail Manila, moves to Meralco

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade told reporters last September 15 that his department will soon give the original proponent status to the Pangilinan-Ayala group.

Once the Department of Transportation (DOTr) formally grants the original proponent status, the MRT3 proposal will be up for the approval of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board. 

Following NEDA Board approval, the proposal must then undergo a Swiss challenge.

Based on the build-operate-transfer law, other private investors can submit competing offers under a Swiss challenge, while the original proponent will be given the right to match them. (READ: Pangilinan-Ayala group eyes MRT3 takeover by early 2018)

Among the terms of the unsolicited proposal is the resolution of the arbitration case filed in 2009 by MRT3 owner MRT Corporation against the government due to, among others, failure to pay equity rental payments on time.

The government, through the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (Landbank), owns a 77% economic interest in MRT Corporation by virtue of its acquisition of asset-backed bonds in 2009.

The government's interest secured the state-run banks 11 of the 14 board seats, but it did not give them equity ownership.

DBP had said it is open to selling its entire economic interest in the MRT3, a move that can pave the way for a new private owner and operator.

Once the MPIC group hurdles the Swiss challenge, it expects to take over the operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation of the MRT3 by early 2018.

The MRT3 is currently being maintained by Korean-Filipino firm Busan Universal Rail Incorporated (BURI), while the system's rail replacement is being handled by the government. –





Care Indeed Attends Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) Northern California Education Day

Photo shows Vanessa Valerio, COO and VP for Patient Care, and Apryl Ryder, Client Services Manager. The event, held last September 20 at the San Francisco Convention Center, provided information on how health care professionals can work more effectively with clients. For more details about Care Indeed's home care services and job opportunities, call(650) 328-1001 or log in to

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