UK expresses concerns on business risks in the Philippines

Image result for Photos on business risks

The UK’s Department for International Trade has expressed concern on the current business risks in the Philippines.

The areas of economic risks are linked to the political and security conditions in the country. Restrictive economic provisions on foreign ownership, corruption and the high cost of utilities continue to keep foreign investments significantly lower than regional peers. Country competitiveness is also undermined by a high regulatory burden and red tape.

One of the main concerns among investors and business groups is peace and order, particularly in the Mindanao region. The 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) provides some hope for peace in the region that could unlock the potential for long-term economic opportunities in Mindanao.

The Philippines has high incidence of violent crime, including gun crime. While British Nationals have been recent victims, there is no evidence that they are specifically targeted. Gun ownership, legal and illegal, is extremely widespread but foreign nationals are not permitted to carry firearms. Street ‘crime’ and robberies, such as bag snatching or pickpocketing are prevalent, even in well-lit and busy city areas. Visitors should also be wary of drugged drinks. Public transport is also subject to distraction theft and armed robberies from time to time.

Although mostly assumed to be wealthy, foreigners are not normally singled out as targets. The majority of crimes against foreigners involve petty thefts and robberies. British visitors to the Philippines should not feel particularly exposed, provided certain common sense precautions are taken, particularly when travelling with large amounts of currency, jewellery or other high-value items such as PCs, laptops, mobile phones and other electronics, etc. Visitors should also be aware that strict limits on bringing in or taking out currencies are in place.

Counterfeiting is large-scale and organised. Nothing is immune from abuse either in counterfeiting or pirating: computer games, business software, DVDs, clothing, high-value consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, industrial products, among others, are all readily available in both legitimate and illegitimate outlets.

UK Ambassador shares his vision on Philippine-UK ties in future

British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmed has shared his vision on how the Philippines and UK can work together to shape the future.

In my imagination, I see us arriving in a transformed Manila airport. We will use a new runway, based on the ingenious British idea. This is a single extended runway that planes use for both landing and takeoff. Our electric powered taxi will take the Laguna lakeshore highway. We will be home under an hour after leaving the airport. The jeepneys I will see on the road will still be as colourful as they are now but they will be safer and they won’t be smoke belchers. The Philippines will be a pioneer for pollution control with a visible shift to a green agenda.

We will want to connect with family and friends all over the world. We will choose whether to sign up to a British internet service provider based in the Philippines or a Filipino one. Both delivering the fastest broadband speed in the world. Perhaps, the one I will choose will have 3 dimensional virtual reality too. My favourite sports will be broadcast live through a reliable British satellite hovering over Philippine air space. The same satellite that will connect rural Philippines to the rest of the world.

In my local market, we will be overwhelmed with choice. Fresh fruits and seafood delivered in a seamless cold chain from Bicol. British beef and lamb will be available once again. In my local bar, alongside Scotch whisky, I will see British draught ale. Served at the right temperature with no ice in the glass.

From the time of the first steam locomotive, we have taken railway mania to all parts of the world. In fact, we built the first railways in the Philippines. I look forward to taking the subway from Makati to Quezon City. The new trains, supported by British technology, will be reliable. The journey will take no more than 20 minutes. I might even hear the familiar message on the platform-Mind the Gap-ingat ka.

The Ambassador’s speech underscored the strong bilateral relations of the UK and the Philippines, a partnership that is expected to flourish for many years to come. As the UK remains to be a global and outward looking nation, it commits to be open for business and a staunch partner of the Philippines in its road towards further development and prosperity.

The Ambassador closed his speech by saying:

I have set out a vision for the future. This is not a flight of fantasy. Everything I have said is reachable. All you need is belief and determination. Remember the words of John Lennon’s song Imagine. You may say that I’m a dreamer but I am not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.

PAL ranked 67th in Skytrax top 100 airlines in 2017

PAL

The Philippine Airlines ((PAL) has improved its ranking in Skytrax world’s top airlines in 2017 from 83 to 2016 to 67th place this year.

Voted by airline customers around the world, Qatar Airways was voted the best airline in 2017 as the airline has grown to more than 140 destinations worldwide, offering levels of service excellence that helped the award-winning carrier to become best in the world. Qatar Airways network spans business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America. Qatar Airways is a member of oneworld global airline alliance.

Included in the best top 10 airlines for 2017 are

2 Singapore Airlines
3 ANA All Nippon Airways
4 Emirates
5 Cathay Pacific
6 EVA Air
7 Lufthansa
8 Etihad Airways
9 Hainan Airlines
10 Garuda Indonesia

Long overdue LTO IT modernization

driver's license

Filipinos have to cue and wait for long hours before they could apply or renew their driver’s license at the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

It is only now that the LTO has thought of modernizing its IT system to make online transactions possible and more efficient.  This has long been overdue and why now when the agency should have done it before.

 LTO chief Edgar Galvante said that part of their strategy is to enhance the agency’s Information Technology (IT) system, expected to improve services, promote transparency, prevent corruption and allow drivers and car owners to transact in comfort and convenience.

The LTO head explained that the idea has been around for some time now and his agency is now working to turn this idea into a reality.

“We are gearing towards online registration of driver’s license application and car registration. We need a credible IT to be able to enforce that,” said Galvante.

 The five-year license with 5 years validity will be available by the end of the year.

 Transport Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has expressed his support for online driver’s license application.

Metro Manila commuters face delays in train service

DOTC-on-MRT

Metro Manila commuters who depend on trains in Metro Manila for their daily commute face another nightmare with the reduced number of trains on service and slow speed during peak hours.

The reason given by the Department of Transportation is the importance of conducting safety inspection in all MRT-3 trains.

According to DOTr Undersecretary for Railways Cesar B. Chavez, safety of the riding public is the priority.

The MRT3 maintenance team is working double time to ensure the fast completion of the safety inspection in order to deploy additional trains so as to minimize the impact of speed reduction.

To assist passengers, DOTr has sought the help of MMDA and LTFRB to deploy additional buses in all MRT3 stations to give MRT-3 passengers an alternative mode of transportation.

 MRT-3 Director for Operations Deo Leo Manalo has reassured passengers that the MRT3 maintenance team is focused in completing the safety inspection at the soonest possible time for the rail line to be able to deploy additional trains.

 The MRT 3 management has mandated a thorough inspection of wheel axles of all its trains following an incident when the train driver of Car 64 observed an abnormal noise and strong lateral movements on the train.

Philippines has one of highest electricity rates in Asia

transmission tower

The Philippines has one of the highest electricity rates in Asia today and the Philippine government has urged private companies to help bring down the cost of electricity and in meeting the growing demand for energy.

Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia has stressed the role of power companies, in partnering with the government, is crucial to economic growth.

“Noting that energy security is a critical input to stimulating and sustaining socioeconomic development, the private sector can participate in the generation of additional power to meet the growing demands of the country,” Pernia said.

Chapter 19 of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 states that, despite efforts to pursue nationwide distribution of electricity, many rural and off-grid areas still have no access to stable power.

The household electrification level of the country is at 89.6 percent with Luzon and Visayas at 94.8 and 92.4 percent. Mindanao, however, is still at 72.4 percent.

Pernia identified power and electrification as vital to the growth of the agriculture, fishery, and forestry sectors.

Power companies can participate through the Qualified Third Party (QTP) program, which is designed to attract alternative service providers and private investments in rural electrification.

“Participating in energy development projects will promote competition, increase power generation, and ultimately drive down electricity rates.”

Secretary Pernia explained that this is consistent with the administration’s plan to prioritize the provision of electricity services to the remaining not electrified off-grid, island, remote, and last-mile communities to achieve total household electrification by 2022.

 

 

Philippine exports up 12% in April 2017

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Philippine exports posted a 12.1 percent growth toUS$11.7 billion in April 2017, offsetting the 0.1 percent decline in imports.

“For exports, East Asia and the EU remain the top destinations of our products, accounting for 62.3 percent of total export receipts,” 
said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.

Secretary Pernia is optimistic of the country’s trade performance for the rest of the year considering thriving exports and trade linkages, especially to Europe and East Asia.

Exports to EU and East Asia grew by 36 percent and 10 percent in April 2017, respectively.

“Despite global uncertainties, we remain upbeat that the country will sustain the 
strong performance of export and trade growth recorded in the first quarter,” said Pernia.

Meanwhile, sales of exports to 
Hong Kong (36.8%), China (26.4%), South Korea (18.9%), and Taiwan (26.4%) posted double-digit growth while exports to Japan fell (-16.6%).

“We aim to deepen our engagement with our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance trade and investment links,” said Pernia.

Pernia
 noted the positive contributions of trade connections and cited China as an example, where merchandise exports increased by 27.7 percent from October 2016 to April 2017 compared with the 7.1 percent decline from January to September 2016.

“Also w
orth noting is the tripling of exports to the UAE and India in April. This was the third month that receipts to UAE tripled, and the second month for India.” 
Exports to UAE and India 
grew by 286.4 percent and 204.1 percent, respectively.

“We see an opportunity to strengthen 
bilateral ties with India as it becomes a major player in the global economy. Their large consumer base can be an important market for Philippine products,” Secretary Pernia added.

PAL promo ticket sale ends June 15

PAL promo An ongoing ticket sale promo by Philippine Airlines (PAL) intends to give bargain-hunters reason to celebrate the country’s 119th independence.

Manila to Guangzhou (Canton) roundtrip tickets can go as low as $115 or Cebu-Singapore tickets at $124 or Manila-Vancouver at only $596.

The PAL Independence Day Seat Sale runs from June 8 to 15, 2017.

It covers all domestic, regional and international flights, including domestic flights originating from Manila (to 22 destinations), Cebu (12 destinations) and Clark (8 destinations), as well as international fares for Business Class, Premium Economy and Regular Economy for flights coming from and to Manila and Cebu. It also covers flights to and from the US, Canada and London.

The low fares will still get passengers ample legroom, free baggage allowance, wifi connection and in-flight snacks for domestic flights and hot meals on international flights.

The promo tickets are available at all PAL ticket offices, PAL website (philippineairlines.com), PAL Reservations (855-8888) or any accredited travel agent.

Travel period is from July 1, 2017 to March 15, 2018. For details of applicable travel periods of particular routes, refer to the PAL website, PAL’s Facebook account (facebook.com/flyPAL/) or print ads.

PAL will soon offer a new Premium Economy service on flights from Manila to Haneda, Narita, Osaka, Melbourne, Sydney, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Shanghai andSingapore; and Business Class on flights to Doha, Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah, Kuwait and Dubai.

World Bank okays US$99-M financing to Philippine agrarian reform program

Agrarian reform

The World Bank (WB) has approved US$99.3 million in financing for the  Philippine agrarian reform program that would benefit 300,000 farmers and farm workers under a new government project designed to enhance the competitiveness of agrarian reform communities.

To be implemented over five years by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), the Inclusive Partnerships for Agricultural Competitiveness (IPAC) Project will support the efforts of farmer organizations to improve productivity and the quality of products, as well as find more markets in order to raise farmers’ incomes. World Bank financing will comprise $99.3 million of the $231 million project, as approved today by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, while the government and beneficiaries contribute $131 million and $28 million, respectively.

The Philippine government would contribute US$131 million to the project to be implemented among agrarian reform community clusters across 44 provinces. The objective of the project is to help strengthen the capacity of farmer organizations to engage in commercial agriculture, provide extension services, develop enterprises, secure individual land titles for their members, and improve rural infrastructure.

“The country’s agrarian reform program gives lands to landless farmers, but we don’t stop there,” said Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano“The government also provides support services. Through the farmer-driven matching grants, IPAC will strengthen our efforts to help small-holder farmers and their organizations engage in sustainable agri-enterprise projects. This will raise their incomes and help them become self-reliant.”

The matching grants, which are channeled through farmers’ organizations, support a number of initiatives, including production facilities such as nurseries and green-houses; processing and marketing facilities; production of high-value agricultural products; promotion and investments in food safety; and product development.

“Through the project, farmers and other beneficiaries will be able to directly identify and implement activities that will empower them to improve their lives,” said World Bank Country Director for the Philippines Mara K. Warwick. “As a long-term partner of the Philippines, the World Bank supports the country’s efforts to develop a competitive farming sector that may bring down poverty and vulnerability in rural areas.”

The project builds on previous community-driven development projects supported by the Bank which provided farmers and rural communities with basic infrastructure, including irrigation systems, roads and bridges. These initiatives also helped farmers improved their ability to manage their enterprises.

At least 30% of the beneficiaries are women, and 20% suffer from poverty. The targeted provinces include:

  • Abra and Benguet in the Cordillera Administrative Region;
  • La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte in Region 1;
  • Cagayan, Isabela, and Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2;
  • Bulacan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales in Region 3;
  • Batangas and Quezon in Region 4-A;
  • Marinduque, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro and Palawan in Region 4-B;
  • Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Sorsogon and Camarines Norte in Region 5;
  • Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental in Region 6;
  • Bohol, Cebu and Negros Oriental in Region 7;
  • Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern Samar and Western Samar in Region 8;
  • Misamis Occidental in Region 10;
  • Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental in Region 11;
  • Sarangani in Region 12; and
  • Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Cebu Pacific ties up with Visa

visacebu-pacific logo

Visa cardholders can now avail of an all-inclusive seat sale to some of the most popular international destinations within Cebu Pacific’s (CEB) extensive flight network.

Beginning today until June 16, 2017, Visa cardholders will be able to avail of special fares to nine of CEB’s 26 international destinations. Flights will be for travel from July 1 to November 30, 2017, perfect for those who want to catch up on their travels during the upcoming four long weekends.

Flights to Hong Kong from Cebu, Clark, Iloilo or Manila are for sale at only Php1, 099, as well as flights to Singapore from Cebu, Clark, Davao or Iloilo. Cardholders may also opt to visit Taipei either from Cebu or Manila for the same affordable fare.

Those interested to visit Singapore, Busan, Guangzhou, Xiamen from Manila will be able to do so for as low as Php2, 099; passengers from Cebu, Kalibo, or Manila may also fly to Incheon for the same low fare. Also included in this sale are flights to Beijing and Shanghai from Manila sold at only Php3, 099.

“For five years now, we have been working hand-in-hand with leading financial services organization Visa in providing great travel deals, which in turn, allows us to ensure we remain committed to fulfilling our promise to make travel accessible for everyJuan, not only within our archipelago but to the rest of the world as well. We encourage all our valued guests to grab this opportunity and book flights to these wonderful destinations right away,” said Candice Iyog, CEB Vice President for Marketing and Distribution.

All fares quoted are for one-way flights and are inclusive of country-specific taxes, web admin fee and terminal fee. Baggage allowance, meals, travel insurance and other ancillaries may be added to the fare upon the preference of passengers.