Japan-led Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) has expressed intent to support the government's ambitious infrastructure spending program, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Sunday.
In an emailed statement, the DOF said officials of MUFG led by Managing Executive Officer and CEO for Asia and Oceania Takayoshi Futae said they "want to work together" with the country's infrastructure spending and "will help further expand the development of the Philippines."
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Futae met during the 50th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) earlier this month, along with other officials such as MUFG CEO and Head of Asia Yasutaka Suehiro, and Head of Financial Institutions Frederic Cabay.
The government plans to pour as much as P8.2 trillion to finance the country's infrastructure needs over the next six years, with P860.7 billion allocated for big-ticket projects this year alone.
"We also want to develop medium-sized companies by encouraging them to partner with equally sized Japanese companies for more inclusivity in our development," Dominguez told the Japanese officials.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia earlier said the Philippines and Japan have already agreed to implement at least three mega infrastructure rail projects.
Japan also in January pledged a total of ¥1 trillion worth of ODA and private sector investments, aimed at creating business opportunities in the Philippines over the next five years.
The MUFG already has a presence in the Philippines, after acquiring a 20-percent equity stake in Security Bank Corp. through its commercial banking unit Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. —ALG, GMA News
MANILA -- Philippine telecom giant PLDT said Friday its net income in the first three months of 2017 dropped 20% on the year to 4.97 billion pesos ($99.9 million) as wireless revenue kept shrinking and impairment losses from Rocket Internet continued to hamper the bottom line.
The impairment losses from PLDT's investment in the German e-commerce company reached 500 million pesos in the period, while higher expenses also hindered the telecom's net profit.
PLDT's share price dipped by as much as 4% at the time of the earnings release, but the stock recovered quickly as Chairman and CEO Manuel Pangilinan gave a positive outlook on the company's prospects. The shares closed at 1,755 pesos, up 1.9% from Thursday.
"In the medium term, as far as we could see, the growth of the industry will come from the [fixed-line business], and the wireless would grow at low single-digit numbers," Pangilinan said Friday.
PLDT's net income plunged by as much as 49% in the third quarter of 2016, but an internal reorganization and a shift in focus to the fixed-line business has ameliorated the slump.
Service revenue continued to decline, falling 7% on the year to 35.6 billion pesos. PLDT's wireless segment dropped 16% to 20.8 billion pesos, but the fixed-line business grew 10% to 16.9 billion pesos. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, service revenue dropped 1%.
"For now, we are in this sort of golden age of fixed [line]," the CEO said.
Household and business subscribers, excluding international, now comprise 52% of the company's revenue base, a proportion forecast to reach 56% by 2019.
PLDT shifted focus to fixed line following the exodus of over 5 million customers in 2015 to key rival Globe Telecom, which leads in offering expanded data services. PLDT controls around 70% of the fixed-line market.
Pangilinan said the first-quarter performance puts the company on track to meet its core profit target of 21.5 billion pesos for the year, up slightly from last year's 20.2 billion pesos. Barring "unusual circumstances," PLDT is poised to earn more than 5 billion pesos for each succeeding quarter of 2017, he said.
MIKHAIL FLORES, Nikkei staff writer http://asia.nikkei.com
MANILA - The government said it has 'sealed' the deal for the proposed Metro Manila subway system.
Transport Secretary Arturo Tugade announced that the Philippines and Japan agreed on the P300 billion project during the World Economic Forum in Cambodia.
Tugade said that the Philippines and Japan will sign the agreement this November during the ASEAN Summit in Manila.
Tugade also assured that the project will be transparent and the bidding will be conducted live for all to see.
Apart from the subway and other infrastructure projects, the Philippine economic delegation at the forum said that the Duterte administration also intended to bring down the cost of power in the Philippines.
They noted that the Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in the region, and needed new investments in the energy sector.
Government economic managers also said that all infrastructure projects in the pipeline will be finished during Duterte's term.
Doris Bigornia, ABS-CBN News
Newly appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday pledged to protect the environment and safeguard mining laws, but asked for more time to study his new responsibilities as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
As chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the past, Cimatu said he remembered his role was to to protect the people and the land. Then, when he was designated by President Rodrigo Duterte as special envoy to overseas Filipino worker-refugees, his role was to protect the OFWs.
"My third 'P' as secretary of the DENR is to protect the environment and safeguard the mining laws that they should be implemented," Cimatu said in his remarks during the turnover ceremony of the DENR leadership in Quezon City.
He took over the helm of DENR from former Environment Secretary-designate Gina Lopez who was rejected by the bicameral Commission on Appointments
Cimatu noted his new job is far from his background and experience as a ranking military officer, and he asked that he be given enough time to learn how he can do his job properly.
"Please, excuse me if I may ask to be given time to scan and study the terrain," he said.
On the sidelines of the turnover rites, Cimatu doused speculations that he will serve to the interest of mining companies. "I will see to it what is in the law is followed," he said.
Cimatu addressed the employees of the DENR and asked them to work as a team.
"Please help me learn the ropes and earn your respect. We are all in this together," he said. — VDS, GMA News
The owner and executives of homegrown cigarette manufacturer Mighty Corp. are facing yet another tax evasion case in the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) yesterday brought a criminal complaint against the owner and officials of the local cigarette manufacturer for allegedly avoiding the payment of P26.93 billion in excise taxes by using spurious tax stamps on its products.
This is the biggest of the 23 tax evasion cases filed by the BIR since President Duterte was sworn in nearly a year ago.
Sued were Mighty owner Alexander Wongchuking, also the company’s vice president and assistant corporate secretary; president Edilberto Adan, a retired Army general; executive vice president Oscar Barrientos, a former judge, and treasurer Ernesto Victa.
They were charged with violating Sections 263 and 265(c) of Republic Act No. 8424, or the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, which prohibits the “possession of articles subject to excise tax without payment of the tax, and false, counterfeit, restored or altered stamps.”
The complaint was filed barely two months after the BIR lodged a similar criminal case in the DOJ against them over Mighty’s alleged failure to settle P9.6 billion in excise taxes.
In a statement, Internal Revenue Commissioner Caesar Dulay said the case stemmed from the raid conducted by officials of the Bureau of Customs and the BIR on Mighty’s two warehouses in San Ildefonso town, Bulacan province, on March 24.
After a thorough examination of the products, the tax bureau said it found out that the tax stamps attached on 536,000 cigarette packs that were contained in 1,072 master cases were counterfeit.
“The master cases containing the cigarettes with fake stamps were marked and seized. The stamps are fake since they did not contain one of the multilayered security features of a valid internal revenue stamp,” the BIR said.
As mandated by law, it said the tax stamps should have been attached on the cigarette packs at its factory in Barangay Tikay in Malolos City, also in Bulacan.
“Such failure to present the official delivery receipts showed that the cigarette packs in the subject warehouses did not come from the manufacturing plant in Barangay Tikay,” it said, adding that Mighty’s mere unexplained possession of the packs of cigarettes with fake internal revenue stamps was illegal and a violation of the tax code.
By: Marlon Ramos - Reporter / @MRamosINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA - More Filipino men are doing grocery shopping, according to a study by Nielsen Philippines.
Data from the Nielsen Shopper Trends 2017 show males now make 40% of grocery shoppers in the Philippines, a 6% jump from last year's numbers.
"This is the first time that we're seeing it," Nielsen Philippines' Consumer Rights Executive Director, Carlos Santos, told ANC on Wednesday. "In the past, the levels were relatively stable but now we're seeing it growing."
Santos attributes the growing number of men doing grocery shopping to the openness and gender sensitivity of millennial husbands.
"They're definitely younger. They're married but they're younger -- a large proportion of the segment we call millennials," said Santos noting that these men also come from dual-income households.
He added that the current dynamics between husbands and wives make space for more understanding on the side of men, especially when women could not go to the grocery due to work.
MANILA - The Filipino-American entrepreneur who created the world’s first vodka distilled from coconut has acquired MEDEA Vodka, a spirit brand endorsed by American basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Entrepreneur Rich Cabael, through his Bevriqo firm, has acquired MEDEA Vodka as he extended the company's portfolio of "innovative, high quality wine and spirit brands."
MEDEA Vodka, an ultra-premium vodka produced in partnership with one of the oldest and most respected distilleries in Europe, is known for its unique packaging featuring a one-of-a-kind, personally programmable LED display.
"MEDEA Vodka is a valuable asset not just because of its award winning liquid and packaging technology, but because of its existing worldwide distribution network," Bevriqo said in a statement.
"This move will greatly benefit the international expansion of our proudly Filipino brands, VuQo and Haliya, by giving us access to major distributors and retailers," it said.
Cabael's VuQo was the world’s first vodka distilled from coconut and was acknowledged as a nod to the local "lambanog." It was launched in Hollywood in 2009.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 19) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees robust growth for the country this year and next, citing strong domestic demand, recovery in exports, and higher public spending.
According to its 2017 World Economic Outlook report, it expects Gross Domestic Product (GDP) maintained at 6.8 percent this year and even higher at 6.9 percent in 2018, still one of the fastest growing in Asia.
"(The Philippines) growth is projected to remain robust at 6.8 percent in 2017 and 6.9 percent in 2018, led by strong domestic demand and a recovery in exports. Higher commodity prices will push up higher inflation (3.6 percent in 2017 and 3.3 percent in 2018), although still within the BSP's target range of 3±1 percent," Shanaka Jay Peiris, IMF resident representative, said in a statement.
"Public spending is expected to rise as the fiscal deficit target has been increased to 3 percent of GDP in 2017 and provide a stimulus to economic activity. The external position of the Philippines will continue to be comfortable," he said.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez had said the country's infrastructure remains below regional standards. The government currently spends 5.4 percent of its GDP on infrastructure.
On Tuesday, economic managers launched "Dutertenomics" an economic program that's anchored on building key infrastructure.
Dominguez said the proposed comprehensive tax reform bill IS a key factor to this economic agenda.
He described this as a "key link in the grand effort to break out from the cycle of low growth and build a dynamic and inclusive economy".
The IMF report said the Philippine economy will lead in terms of growth in the next two years in Southeast Asia, outpacing Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia,
In emerging and developing Asia, the Philippines will grow faster than China, which is seen to grow at 6.6 percent this year and lower at 6.2 percent next year.
The IMF's projection for the country compares with the World Bank's 6.9 percent forecast this year, even higher than Asian Development Bank's 6.4 percent.
The growth forecasts fall within the government's goal of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year.
By Maricel Burgonio, CNN Philippines
Oil firms are expected to implement another round of rollback in the prices of petroleum products next week, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Saturday.
"There will a rollback... 70 to 90 centavos for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene," Energy Undersecretary Felix Fuentebella said in a text message.
Estimated downward adjustments in pump prices may still change on Monday upon the completion of the whole week assestment of oil trading, Fuentebella noted.
He said the rollback is due to oversupply.
Latest data from the DOE show diesel prices in the country currently range from P27.75 to P32.96 per liter, and gasoline from P38.25 to P50.40 per liter. —ALG, GMA News
YOKOHAMA – While political risks are “worrisome,” the Asian Development Bank (ADB) sees continued strong economic growth for the Philippines.
Fears have been raised about the impact of President Duterte’s pugnacious rhetoric and the negative reports generated by his brutal drug war on the country’s economic growth.
ADB chief economist Yasuyuki Sawada, who is also director general of the bank’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, told a media briefing here yesterday that the bank conducted a “decomposition exercise” on the Philippines last year.
Sawada did not comment directly on Duterte or administration policies. While Sawada said “political risks are worrisome” in the Philippines, he said the ADB found domestic consumption and “very active” domestic investments in both the public and private sectors “quite sound to support robust growth.”
The Manila-based ADB is holding its 50th annual governors’ meeting starting today in this Japanese port city.
Sawada said the ADB forecasts growth to pick up this year in 30 of the 45 Asia-Pacific economies in all sub-regions except East Asia, where a slowdown is expected because of “growth moderation” in China. The ADB sees China growing by 6.5 percent this year, down from 6.7 percent in 2016, and slipping further to 6.2 in 2018.
“This is not necessarily bad news for other countries,” Sawada said. “I don’t think we can say this is really harmful for Asia.”
Southeast Asian economies, which grew by four percent last year, are forecast to grow by 4.8 percent this year and five percent in 2018. Sawada said Indonesia is leading the growth due to policy reforms and active investment in infrastructure.
The ADB said the Asia-Pacific needs to invest about $1.7 trillion in infrastructure annually, but actual investments amount to only about $1 trillion. The gap is a challenge that the ADB hopes to help narrow with cooperation from governments and the private sector as well as additional funding from the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank.
Another priority of the ADB is to support programs to help middle income economies move up to high income. This is possible, Sawada said, through investments in innovation, human capital and infrastructure.
US policies under President Donald Trump pose potential risks for the region, Sawada said. Policy changes may generate pessimistic investment and consumption. Lower US consumption may also bring down prices and affect exports, he said.
The regional outlook, however, remains generally positive. Asia has learned from the 1997-1998 financial crisis, Sawada observe.
(The Philippine Star)
Anthony Sullivan, TV’s greatest pitchman, teams up with McDonald’s on infomercial celebrating the release of the Frork in restaurants on May 5
OAK BROOK, Ill. — (BusinessWire – May 1, 2017) — Today, McDonald’s USA revealed the Frork, a quasi-utensil, fry-fork hybrid designed solely for scooping up the quality ingredients that may fall while eating a new Signature Crafted™ Recipes sandwich.
McDonald’s is continuing to raise the bar with the national rollout of its Signature Crafted Recipes sandwiches, which feature premium ingredients and unique flavor combinations, including Pico Guacamole, Sweet BBQ Bacon and Maple Bacon Dijon. Each sandwich is served with delicious toppings for customers to enjoy, even when they fall out. McDonald’s is tackling this so-called dilemma with the Frork, a silicone fork-shaped utensil topped with an opening where the customer can insert three-to-four World Famous Fries. The fries become the prongs of the Frork— edible, utilitarian and desperately innovative.
To announce the Frork, McDonald’s turned to legendary pitchman Anthony Sullivan, who shares McDonald’s passion for solving consumer problems with unique products. Sullivan recently starred in McDonald’s first-ever infomercial, which aired in New York on Sunday, April 30, and is now posted to McDonald’s YouTube channel.
“Anthony Sullivan here,” said Anthony Sullivan. “Will the Frork change your life? Probably not. Will the Frork improve your Signature Crafted Recipes eating experience? I mean, sure… maybe!”
“We started with All Day Breakfast, updated our Chicken McNuggets, offered new Mac sandwich sizes for every occasion and now we’re introducing Signature Crafted Recipes because they are inspired by our customers,” said McDonald’s Chef Michael Haracz. “And while the Frork is supremely superfluous, it shows that McDonald’s is willing to do whatever it takes to help them enjoy every last bite.”
The Frork works with all three new Signature Crafted Recipes – premium sandwiches that put flavor at the forefront, also giving customers a choice through recipe, protein and bun selection. Signature Crafted Recipes are available for an average price of $4.99 - $5.19 at participating McDonald’s.
Pico Guacamole: Smooth and creamy meets chunky and spicy with white cheddar cheese, guacamole made with 100% Hass avocados, freshly prepared Pico de Gallo, crisp leaf lettuce and creamy buttermilk ranch sauce made with real buttermilk and sour cream blended with shallots, garlic and spices. Served with a fresh lime wedge.
Sweet BBQ Bacon: Sweet BBQ meets savory, with grilled onions, thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, creamy white cheddar, delicious BBQ sauce, all topped with golden crispy onions.
Maple Bacon Dijon: A satisfying combination of sweet and savory, with grilled onions, thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon with sweet maple seasoning, white cheddar, crisp leaf lettuce and a creamy Dijon sauce.
The Frork and Signature Crafted Recipes can be found near you:
Starting April 30, the people can all 1-844-MCD-FRORK (1-844-623-3767) to learn how to get the Frork and coupons to try all three Signature Crafted Recipes.
On May 5, Frorks will be given away at select McDonald’s locations nationwide with the purchase of a Signature Crafted Recipes sandwich, while supplies last. Customers can call the same toll-free line or visit McDonalds.com to find the nearest participating McDonald’s.
Finally, from May 4 – May 8, with the purchase of a Signature Crafted Recipes sandwich, customers will receive a free medium fry and soft drink at participating McDonald’s.
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