Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pinoy tech entrepreneurs your time is now

Now is the unique opportunity for Filipino technology entrepreneurs to get much valued financial support from a local enterprise incubator backed the PLDT/ First Pacific group headed by Manny Pangilinan.

Up to PhP5M in funding offered for the best Pinoy tech innovations

IdeaSpace opens national search for startups
[August 31, 2012/Manila] –IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. (IdeaSpace) launched today its national competition in search of the country’s top ideas for technology entrepreneurship, the first private-led comprehensive incubation program in the Philippines.

Aspiring technopreneurs and startups can start submitting their applications for the contest starting September 1 until January 7 next year. Ten tech-based ideas will receive funding and support worth PhP2M for the first phase and up to PhP5M additional capital during or after six months into the program.

“We’re excited to see what kind of game changing ideas we will get from this competition. We have been going the rounds all over the country through our bootcamps and there are so many promising tech ideas and entrepreneurs around. It’s time to help make these ideas into commercial realities.” said Earl Martin S. Valencia, IdeaSpace president.

Valencia, an engineer and Stanford MBA graduate, recently moved back from Silicon Valley to help start IdeaSpace with co-founder Marthyn Cuan, Vice President of IdeaSpace and Chief Information Officer of Meralco.

IdeaSpace runs an incubator and accelerator program to support technology entrepreneurs in the Philippines and for the global market through partnerships between the MVP group of companies and global technology companies.

A non-profit foundation, it is supported by the following companies: First Pacific, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation (MPTC), MPIC hospital group, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), Meralco, Smart Communications, Inc (Smart), Digitel, Sun Cellular, SPI Global, ePLDT, Indofood, Philex Mining, Maynilad, MediaQuest, and TV5.

The companies contributed a total half a billion pesos funding for five years for the foundation, the largest private sector commitment for technology entrepreneurship in the country.

Aside from the initial seed money of PhP500,000 per startup, winners will receive mentorship from executives from the group companies, access to resources including legal assistance and advice, operational control, free office spaces, housing provisions for those from outside Metro Manila and a clear partner route to markets served by any company in the group – whose range of business translate to millions of households, subscribers, motorists and others. In exchange for the support, IdeaSpace will have a 20% equity stake for each company incubated and the future revenues will go back to help fund other statups.

Winners will be announced by April 2013 and they will undergo incubation for six months.

In his recent speech at the 6th Summit of the Internet and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines (IMMAP), Manuel V. Pangilinan, posed the challenge, “why can’t the next Instagram or Google be Filipino. This innovation void defined precisely the rationale behind IdeaSpace.”

Launched last March 5, IdeaSpace targets early stage start-ups that in the industries of water and power utilities, toll roads and transportation, healthcare, mining, telecommunications, media and food. The program is also open to applicants focused on solutions for other industries but have potentially significant global potential or developmental impact.

Startups which do not fall under the early stage target market for the competition can still connect with IdeaSpace for support through mentoring, partnerships and industry link-ups.

“The program goes beyond angel investing and provides incubation and acceleration with access to a wide group of companies to share and learn experiences, fast access to be defined market runway and

opportunities to be connected to potential investors” said Cuan.

Aside from funding, each incubated company will go through a structured program hosted by the group’s Leadership Academy to teach them the fundamentals on how to run a successful and scalable business.

Since its launch, IdeaSpace has also been supporting the various activities of start-up community. In addition to this, the foundation has been conducting bootcamps to help promote and expand the startup culture in the country. Through partnerships with schools and local communities, IdeaSpace has organized bootcamps in several universities all over the country. These one day activities include tech talks and sharing of startup success stories, mentoring and an ideation session which culminates in a pitching competition.

For the complete mechanics and more information, visit ideaspace.ph. Follow us at twitter, @IdeaSpacePh and like us at Facebook/ IdeaSpacePh.

For further information, please contact:

Earl Martin S. Valencia Ramon R. Isberto
President Group Head for Public Affairs
IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. PLDT and Smart
+632 511 4069 +632 5113101/ +632 5113106
esvalencia@smart.com.ph rrisberto@smart.com.ph

CIBI then, CIC now

As a new and young banker back in the 1980s, CIBI was viewed as the pioneer credit bureau in the Philippines. Times have changed and it is now just not the same. I now know there’s a new credit bureau agency (called the Credit Information Corp or the CIC) created by law in 2005 which unfortunately will only now will be establishing a national credit bureau and will be maintaining a database which will capture data from a variety of data sources in addition to just bank loans. Pension account (SSS andGSIS). NSO (National Statistics Office). Land Registration Authority (LRA). Home Mutual Development Fund (HDMF). In fact around 11 government agencies. All this to ensure literally the entire 100 million residents in the country will each have a credit record. Let’s hope one end result of the CIC is giving a credit score for each resident that can help them have a better access to credit. In the interim, please read this article of how CIBI has helped in the development of the local capital market.

CIBI Foundation and the capital market

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 Santiago F. Dumlao Jr. / Free Enterprise

IT has been 30 years since Credit Information Bureau Inc. or CIBI was organized to promote capital market development, more specifically, to establish a nationwide credit information system in aid of better credit decisions: Now renamed CIBI Foundation, Inc., it is an example of public sector-private sector cooperation that has generated rewarding results, and continues to provide social dividends. Here is a bit of its history, instructive in the way government takes the initiative, then leaves it to the private sector to carry on.

The Dewey Dee scandal precipitated it all

On January 15, 1982, the newly-appointed Central Bank Governor Jaime Laya now faced with a headline-grabbing financial scam called the ‘Dewey Dee scandal.’ Dewey Dee was a high-profile businessman who had managed to accumulate a pile of debts from several banks and other financial institutions which all gave him credit liberally. By the end of December 1981, Dewey Dee and his family hastily moved out of the country, leaving all his borrowings unpaid and his creditors fuming in helplessness. A large part of the problem was that the bank lenders were unaware of what each one had lent to Dewey Dee, which, if they knew, could have alerted them to the unduly high risks which had built up. In other words, there was a failure of credit information exchange.

A Credit Information Bureau

CB Governor Laya had mentioned then that his basic policy choices to address the financial system-wide problem was either to impose additional, stricter regulation on lending practices (under a martial law regime, this seemed a very feasible approach), or to create the conditions for a wider availability of credit information to allow lenders to make better credit decisions. To the credit of Jimmy Laya, he opted to develop the better sourcing and exchange of credit information as a longer-lasting solution to the need for the responsible dispensing and use of credit. To implement this idea, he thought of creating the Credit Information Bureau, Inc. or CIBI.

CIBI, he envisioned, should be a non-stock non-profit company that should be a private sector endeavor since it will largely serve the needs of private business, but it would have to be supported by government, particularly the regulatory agencies, i.e. the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) of which Jimmy Laya was a member, was the institutional partner chosen from which to recruit the private sector representatives in CIBI. FINEX, after all, was the leading organization of financial executives and practitioners, and in its ranks were represented the major credit providers and credit users.

The incorporators for the CIBI were recruited from representatives of the Central Bank, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC and FINEX.

The Articles of Incorporation of CIBI mentions its Primary Purpose:

To engage in the business of collating, developing and analyzing credit information on individuals, institutions and all types of business concerns; develop and undertake the continuing exchange of credit information among its members and subscribers; provide an impartial source of credit information for debtors, creditors and the public; and to cooperate with and assist government agencies in their credit information requirements.

Since CIBI was starting from scratch, the Central Bank, through Governor Laya, provided a special grant of P1.5 million for initial operations. The first office was located at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

The Credit rating business

Manuel “Manny” Abello was some kind of consultant to Central Bank before he was appointed chairman of SEC. He had come from the law firm Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz (ACCRA), at that time widely known as a favored law firm of President Marcos.

Manny wanted to promote the issuance and trading of corporate commercial paper (or CPs). To protect investors, he thought SEC should require CP issuers to backstop their issuances with a stand-by letter of credit equivalent to, as I recall, the value of 25% of the issue; or to have a credit rating. The stand-by L/C would have been very expensive, and so the more feasible arrangement would be to have a credit rating. Since there was no credit rating agency operating at that time, Manny asked CIBI to do the credit rating since its credit information bureau function was related to credit rating some way. Thus started the credit rating function of CIBI.

Lacking the track-record and credibility, CIBI proceeded to perform credit ratings through two layers of evaluation. A full-time staff did the credit rating research and analysis and produced the first layer of credit opinion. This was submitted to an External Credit Rating Board, which reviewed and deliberated on the credit opinion, and produced the final credit rating.

Conclusion

THE External Rating Board members were not Cibi employees but were active practicing professionals or business executives, recognized for their expertise in their respective fields of specialization, and above all, for their integrity. They represented various business sectors which provided the External Rating Board the depth and breadth of knowledge and experience to bear down on the credit rating deliberations. These circumstances, it was thought, would give the initial credit-ratings the credibility that a start-up analytical staff may not have. In fact, the External Rating Board proved to be most useful for assuring not just quality but consistency in the ratings process, when in the beginning staff turn-over was fairly high.

The External Rating Board members were originally mostly recruited from the trustees. Understandably, many were expert accountants and finance practitioners but care was exercised to bring in others who represented different business sectors or industries. The unanimous acceptance of a new member by the whole board was the observed norm, since the board members were collectively responsible for every credit rating issued.

The External Rating Board was convened when a rating was submitted for review and finalization. Where there was a possible conflict of interest in a member’s participation, he or she would inhibit from the deliberations and would not have any access to the information about the subject matter of the rating. This rule was strictly observed and, further, the Issuer subject of the rating could request the exclusion of a board member in the rating process on grounds of conflict of interest.

PD 1941

IT is important to recall that it was martial law that prevailed in 1982, when Cibi was founded, and it was Presidential Decree 1941 issued by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on June 27, 1984, which greatly facilitated the start-up and viability of Cibi’s operations as a credit information bureau. In fact, PD 1941 was entitled “Recognizing and Supporting the Credit Information Bureau Inc.,” and was very specific about directing government support to Cibi.

“Although pursuant to a Letter of Instructions 1107 the Central Bank organized the Credit Information Exchange System, operating under the Central Bank’s Department of Loans and Credit, this did not suffice to grant the System access to all the needed credit information from government agencies and private institutions “because of certain doubts” regarding the legal ability of said agencies and institutions to make available to them credit information. PD 1941 addressed this concern and removed any legal obstacle. The recital of PD 1941 provided that “it is advantageous and in the public interest to make legally available to the Credit Information Bureau Inc. credit information in the possession of government and private entities…”

PD 1941 was a complete enabling legislative authorization to access information comprehensively from government and private sources.

Contribution to capital market development

THE greatest contributions of Cibi Foundation in the last 30 years are the establishment and nurturing to growth of two Philippine capital market institutions: CIBI Information, Inc. and PhilRatings, which are essential components in the framework of capital market development in the Philippines.

Cibi Foundation now moves to new areas of endeavor to promote the growth of our domestic capital market, keeping in mind the contemporaneous efforts to develop as well and to integrate the Asian regional financial markets.

Solar energy options for the Philippines

With the feed-in-tariff rates for renewable energy do not look attractive enough for private sector generators to do this in the Philippines, the world marches on with the various other approaches to use solar energy for those who don’t have it. Read about 3 of them below.

From CleanTechies.Com

Solar Power in Poor Rural Areas

Environmental News NetworkPublished on Date March 9th, 2012 by Environmental News Network

 

Solar power works best of course where the sun is brightest. However, another major factor is the capital cost for a solar installation. If your are poor, you cannot get started easily. One of the big opportunities positive climate action has presented the developing world is the chance to leapfrog a generation of energy technology straight into clean, green generationwithout the intervening capital intensive and dirtier aspects of energy technology. A British company thinks it has a potential and intriguing solution. Cambridge-based Eight19, named after the eight minutes and 19 seconds it takes light form the sun to reach earth, has developed this technology, and the business plan to tackle these challenges.

Eight19 is developing a novel printed plastic solar cell technology based on organic semiconductor materials.

Organic semiconductors originate from abundant and therefore potentially low cost materials. Their strong light absorption (100 times stronger than silicon), the tunability of the absorption spectrum by chemical synthesis and their deposition from solution under ambient condition resulting in an ultra-thin solar absorber makes them a highly promising materials class for large scale electrical solar power generation. The unique properties of organic semiconductors in contrast to inorganic semiconductors like silicon allow for the development of low cost, highly flexible and low weight solar modules

Customers can pay an up-front fee of $10 for a 3W solar panel, battery, two LED lamps, a phone charging unit and a module that enables them to purchase electricity using their mobile phone.

“In Kenya for example we provide solar power for around $1 a week,” says Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO, Eight19.

“They tell us they are saving about $2 a week on kerosene and a further $1-1.5 on the electricity that they would have to spend on putting electricity into their mobile phones.”

“The plastic solar cells will reduce the overall cost of the installation. If you put solar cells on your roof in the UK probably half the cost is for the framing, wiring, the metalwork and everything else that goes around the solar panels,” claims Bransfield-Garth.

“You can’t put a 30kg solar panel onto the traditional thatched roof of a home in Malawi. With the plastic film, you can just literally stick it onto the roof.”

There are over a 1 billion people without or with minimal electricity in the world according Garth, 300 million or so which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

This part of the world is where Eight19 will concentrate its efforts. Since its first install in Kenya in September, 2011 the company’s IndiGo system is now in Malawi, Zambia and South Sudan as well.

“We thought avoiding Kerosene fumes would be a really big driver for these sorts of things. Kerosene fumes kill 1.5 million people a year, that’s more than malaria. But in reality, if you have been brought up with kerosene fumes for ever, you have a slightly different view on that sort of thing.” Kerosene is a common means of lighting in this area of the world. It is used because of its relative low cost.

In fact, the ability to charge mobile phones, is the biggest advantage to those who use the IndiGo system, their customers have said.

Customers will on average take a couple of years to pay for the full cost of their system in these poor areas of the world.

“We’re running on commercial terms but it’s not our job to go and exploit some of the poorest people in the world. That’s why we have this upgrade initiative. We could charge a $1 a week indefinitely on the basis that that is half what they were paying for kerosene,” says Bransfield-Garth.

At this stage customers can either buy the 3W set-up outright or they can upgrade to a larger 10W system that supports an additional two lights and a radio.

The companies energy plans ends with a 80W system capable of running four lights, radio, TV, sewing machine plus the invaluable phone charging.

For further information: http://www.rtcc.org/energy/flexible-solar-revolution-could-bring-power-to-1-4-billion-people/ or http://www.eight19.com/technology

Article appearing courtesy Environmental News Network.

LuminAID, the Inflatable Solar Light

EnergyRefuge.comPublished on Date January 10th, 2012 by EnergyRefuge.com

People developing solar energylights have all sorts of ideas, and sometimes they are very swell …Take the case of the LuminAID Light. It’s an inflatable nifty number, that fully charges with four to six hours of solarexposure.

The light was designed for disaster zones. Electricity is one of the first vital services affected by catastrophe and current solar power solutions are expensive and difficult to manufacture and transport. The LuminAID solar light addresses these issues by providing a useful and portable form of light for disaster victims.

They replace kerosene lamps, which are toxic and a safety hazard, besides making a dent of up to 30% on the income of those who need it. As solar technology becomes better and more portable, hopefully the stinky kerosene lamp will be a thing of a fossil fuel past.

LuminAID is the brainchild of Anna Stork, an architect whose previous jobs include working for the Department of Defense developing technologies to help soldiers survive in remote locations, and Andrea Sheshta, an architect and former employee at Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects in New York.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

Solar, Not Kerosene, Is What the World Needs

EnergyRefuge.comPublished on Date August 28th, 2012 by EnergyRefuge.com

Like in cartoons, sometimes a brilliant idea appears in the shape of a light bulb. This is because solar lights are some of the most brilliant ideas being developed to make the world a more sustainable place and to promote inclusion for those people living in remote areas.

Around two billion people in the world rely on burning biomass for cooking and power and a great portion of that live in off-grid regions. There’s a great opportunity there to bring alternative energy such as solar to those people, as we have seen in previous articles. And sometimes an idea can be really simple and take the shape of light bulb.

Nokero’s N200 solar powered LED lamp light bulb is one of them. Nokero is a short for no kerosene, in reference to the dirty fuel that so many people rely on. The company was founded in 2010 by American inventor Steve Katsaros. From his base in Denver he works on solar LED design innovation and orchestrates the business development, marketing and public relations of the company. The Hong Kong office deals with manufacturing, shipping and logistics.

Nokero’s provides cheap products (prices range between $10 and $20). Besides lights, it also makes mobile phone chargers and battery chargers. The company also supports Child Fund International, helping children whose education and potential is hampered by lack of electricity.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

PAL biggest purchase

Wow. 54 new Airbus aircraft for PAL. Something tells me they are thinking big. Let’s find an opportunity to help them.

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer

PAL orders 54 Airbus aircraft worth $7B

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

 

MANILA, PhilippinesPhilippine Airlines announced Tuesday it had ordered 54 Airbus aircraft with a list price of $7 billion, and planned to buy dozens more planes in a spectacular move to rejuvenate Asia’s oldest carrier.

 

“The orders we are placing with Airbus will play a key role in revitalizing PAL and growing trade and tourism in this country,” PAL chairman Lucio Tan said in a statement.

 

In a separate statement Airbus said the “firm orders” were for 34 single-aisle A321 ceo planes, 10 of the newer-model A321 neo models and 10 long-haul A330-300s, and delivery would start next year.

 

PAL said the orders had a list price of $7 billion dollars.

 

PAL president Ramon Ang told reporters at a press conference announcing the deal that the carrier intended to buy 100 new aircraft in total.

 

“Our intention is to buy up to 100 aircraft, 26 of that will be long range, wide body,” Ang told reporters, adding all the planes would be bought and none leased.

 

The announcement comes after San Miguel, one of the Philippines’ biggest conglomerates, bought a 49-percent stake in the loss-making carrier for $500 million in April, and took over management.

 

Ang is president of San Miguel although billionaire Tan, an ethnic Chinese tycoon who is the country’s second-wealthiest man, remains PAL’s controlling shareholder.

 

PAL, which began flying in 1941, reported a net loss of $33.5 million in the three months to December, reversing a profit of $15.1 million from the same period the previous year.

 

It had said the losses were mainly due to soaring fuel costs, and added that it was looking for fresh money to upgrade its fleet.

 

However the airline’s reputation had also declined, with passengers complaining of old planes, limited flight options and poor service.

 

PAL has had to watch its status as the nation’s top carrier slide in recent years, giving up the mantle to low-cost rival Cebu Pacific.

 

PAL was also forced to cut hundreds of flights in September last year after a day-long wildcat strike by ground crew who were protesting the outsourcing of 2,600 catering, airport services and call center reservation jobs.

 

It took the airline more than a month to cut the flight backlog, however Tan won the battle against the determined unions to outsource the jobs and cut costs.

 

PAL’s current fleet is made up of 39 aircraft that fly to 31 foreign cities and destinations. Thirty-one of those are Airbus planes. The other eight are Boeing aircraft.

A novel approach to accessing credit for small business

Here’s one novel approach of how a local government unit is help small business in its community access credit.  Wonder it can happen where I live (Sydney, Australia). Believe me, we need it too.

From BusinessWorld Philippines

August 22, 2012

BSP, Palawan launch credit surety fund

THE BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Palawan provincial government yesterday launched a facility that will guarantee loans that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) take out from banks.

In a statement, the central bank said that together with the Palawan provincial government, it launched yesterday the Palawan Credit Surety Fund (CSF), the 24th of its kind in the country.

“The Palawan CSF is a surety fund established to help cooperatives and their micro-, small- and medium-enterprise members secure collateral-free loans from banks,” the BSP said.

Ten cooperatives pooled funds for a contribution amounting to P2 million, while the provincial government of Palawan pledged another P2 million for the Palawan CSF.

“The Industrial Guarantee and Loan Fund, Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines have also expressed strong support to the CSF Program with their contribution pledges to augment the fund,” the BSP said.

A member MSME of any these 10 cooperatives, which normally will not have access to bank loans, may now apply for a loan at a bank participating in the Palawan CSF program. Once the loan is approved, the sponsoring cooperative will issue a surety cover to secure its member’s loan.

In case of a default, the CSF will pay the bank. The cooperative will collect the unpaid loan and interest from the borrower and remit these to the CSF.

The BSP, for its part, allows banks that extend loans under the CSF program to rediscount their collectibles in order to come up with cash that can be lent to other borrowers.

“Various sectors are expected to benefit from this credit enhancement scheme, which also serves as an alternative lending window for MSMEs,” the central bank said.

“The program also integrates a training component to enhance the skills of participating cooperatives in the areas of business plan preparation, loan evaluation, risk management and accounting system.”

The Credit Surety Fund program is one of the central bank’s efforts to attain “inclusive growth” in the country.

Inclusive growth is a broad-based approach that benefits even the low-income sector.

CSF programs were also launched in Capiz, Bohol, Gen. Santos and Davao this year.

Aside from the credit surety fund program, the BSP has also launched financial literacy campaigns to tackle topics on personal financial management and financial consumer protection. — KAM

Article location : http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Finance&title=BSP, Palawan launch credit surety fund&id=57233

Start you business with SAP

If you have a start-up that needs a hand with your database needs, here’s an opportunity to benefit with the help available from SAP.

 

SAP Startup Forum launches locally amid $155 million funding pool

By Michelle Hammond
Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Local software start-ups are being encouraged to register for Australia’s first-ever SAP Startup Forum, linked to venture capital arm SAP Ventures, which recently announced US$155 million in new funding.

 

SAP is a German company that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. It is the world’s third largest independent software manufacturer.

 

SAP Australia has confirmed the company’s global SAP Startup Forum is launching in Australia. The forum will be held in Sydney on Friday, September 21.

 

Organised by local SAP teams, Startup Forums provide a platform for SAP to meet and engage with entrepreneurs from major innovation hubs around the world.

 

The forums offer start-ups an opportunity to create easy-to-access solutions using SAP HANA to help solve real-world problems.

 

SAP HANA, which handles massive volumes of data entirely in its in-memory database, enables applications and analytics to execute their data-intense operations right where data resides.

 

This helps customers achieve performance improvements of up to 100,000 times compared to traditional databases while running non-disruptively alongside the existing technology landscape.

 

It’s important to note the SAP Startup Forum works closely with SAP Ventures, the venture capital arm of SAP, which is looking to make its first investments in the Australian market.

 

The news comes after SAP Ventures announced $155 million in funding to identify and cultivate groundbreaking start-ups who can help solve business problems using SAP HANA.

 

Dereck Daymond, general manager of SAP’s database and technology group, says he’s looking forward to seeing what comes out of Australian start-ups.

 

“Australians are great innovators, and launching this initiative enables start-ups to gain access to one of SAP’s most innovative solutions,” Daymond says.

 

“We are really thrilled that we are able to bring this program to Sydney, and very much look forward to engaging with our local entrepreneurs.”

 

The Sydney Startup Forum is a stepping stone for entrepreneurs to become part of the wider SAP Startup Forum, which aims to help companies with high growth potential scale their business.
The forum will give start-ups an opportunity to pitch their ideas to executives from SAP and SAP Ventures.

 

From each Startup Forum, up to 10 start-ups will be invited to join a development accelerator. The objective of the accelerator is to build a proof-of-concept and, eventually, a product with explicit business value.

 

The event is by invitation-only. Entrepreneurs can register via an online form.

 

 

During the registration process, entrepreneurs must provide details about their business, product stage and current “big data” challenges.

Negative list no more

In the Philippines, there are certain parts of the economy where private business is restricted to locals and its commonly called the negative list. The intentions were to protect the locals who would have to compete with a foreign competitor in the same business. Unfortunately, this practice which dates back to the country’s independence despite 3 changes in the constitution did not give the desire results to the benefit of the business or the customer of it. It only gave a sort of monopoly power to the existing local business operators. In a globalised world such continued practice denies the country the benefit of foreign capital in these areas. Let’s hope this will change.

Removal of restrictions on foreign ownership pushed
By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) Updated August 24, 2012

 

MANILA, Philippines – A professor of the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics and fellow of the Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis (IDEA) is in favor of lifting restrictions on foreign ownership in doing business in the Philippines.

Prof. Ernesto M. Pernia said that lifting of restrictions would encourage more foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the Philippine economy.

“However, it should be done gradually or in phases,” Pernia, a former lead economist of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), pointed out.

Doing it in phases would allow for gradual entry of foreign capital as well as limit the shocks to the domestic economy.

Speaking before students from the Lyceum of the Philippines and the Holy Angel University yesterday, the UP professor said that allowing for foreign ownership in the country’s economy is part of improving the investment climate in the country.

Pernia said that it is not enough for the economy to rely on the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector and the migrant Filipinos to be the main drivers of growth.

“Our country is coming in late in the intensely-competitive FDI and development game in the region,” he said. “We must shift to the productive and labor-intensive secondary sector to manufacturing.”

The BPO sector accounts for a mere one percent of the country’s labor force in an environment of seven percent unemployment rate and a little over 19-percent underemployment rate, Pernia pointed out.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario categorically favored the lifting of restrictions on foreign ownership to attract more investments.

“There may be a need to re-evaluate the existing economic parameters as the Philippines further redefines international economic policy and offer more access to foreign investments. There may be a need for changes in statutory ownership standards,” he said early this month.

Del Rosario reasoned that since the Philippines has decoupled from the nations badly battered by the ongoing global economic crisis, the country was saved from the negative impact of the crisis.

“But now it has less access to markets that have been earlier given preferential treatment status from the nations or regions which are now suffering from the global financial crisis,” he added.

The country has been ranked in the lower half of nations considered not attractive, or difficult to do business with in global surveys on doing business.

Manila as seen in the Movies

I just watched this movie recently and was proud the many places featured in Manila as places I know growing up.

From CNN Go

Thrilla in Manila: On location with ‘The Bourne Legacy

Finally, a film that films Manila as Manila. Here’s a guide to the new movie’s Philippines shoot locations

By Cheryl Tiu 20 August, 2012

Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz spent nearly two months ripping through the streets of Manila to film “Bourne Legacy”.

Hard-core fans of rogue CIA assassin “Jason Bourne” have already followed him through Zurich, Paris, Mykonos, Berlin, Goa, Moscow, Tangiers, Madrid, London and New York City.

But in just released “The Bourne Legacy,” the fourth installment of the films based on the Robert Ludlum spy action thriller series, it’s less — or rather, no — Bourne (Matt Damon) and more legacy, in the form of agent Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner).

Cross travels through Alaska, Washington D.C. and New York, but he spends quite a bit of time in the Philippines, where the film’s crew spent 45 days shooting around the streets of Manila.

Big budget films have been shot here before. What has Filipinos excited is that it’s the first Hollywood film to include the Philippines in location credits on the big screen.

“The Philippines has played almost any country — Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, Panama, Cuba,” says Lope “Jun” Juban, Jr., president of Philippine Film Studios, which worked on the “Legacy”  shoot.

“It is only now that we are filming Manila as Manila, which is great for us.”

Here’s a quick guide to where some of the movie’s key scenes were filmed.

Shoot location: Remedios Circle

Jeremy Renner drops down “the chasm,” built especially for a key scene near Manila’s Remedios Circle.The scene: The cops chase Marta and she reaches a dead end, an entrance to a very narrow alleyway.

The action: According to Second Assistant Director Maricris Calilung, the very narrow alleyway — called “the chasm” — where Marta gets trapped by two cops was constructed in a vacant lot across Remedios Circle (a five-minute walk from the San Andres Market).

Remedios Circle used to feature some of Manila’s most happening nightlife, with clubs, bars and discos pulsating from night to day.

While it’s no longer as jumping as it was during its 1980s/1990s heyday, the idyllic circle still retains some of its bohemian, “come as you are” vibe.

Tourist fare: Café Adriatico (1790 M. Adriatico St.; +63 2 738 8220), which has been described as “the first true Filipino Café,” continues to serve classic Spanish and Filipino dishes in an old-world setting with a terrace perfect for people watching.

The Bar@1951, formerly Penguin Café, (1951 M. Adriatico St.) features live indie bands and exhibits.

A short distance away, Oarhouse (1688-B, Jorge Bocobo Street; +63 2516 7296), another Malate institution, founded by retired U.S. Navy pilot Charles “Chuck” Monroe, serves pub fare like fish-and-chips and chicken wings.

More on CNN: How to be a Manila local: 10 tips on faking it

 

Shoot location: Jones Bridge

Future ‘Bourne’ stuntmen? Manila kids jump off the Jones Bridge into the polluted Pasig River.The Scene: Motorcycle police pursue operative Larx-03 (Louis Ozawa Changchien), who jumps on one of the bikes and throws the cops off.

The action: Aaron takes his bike up the stairs, across Jones Bridge, and down the stair rail on the other side.

Tourist fare: Formerly known as Puente de Espana (Bridge of Spain), this was the first bridge to be built in the country in 1623, spanning the Pasig River.

The Neoclassical Bridge was once hailed as the queen of bridges, but fell into neglect in the 1980s.

Today, strolling or driving across the bridge offers a gorgeous view of the Manila Post Office and other parts of old Manila on one side.

The other side opens up to Binondo, one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world.

 

Shoot location: San Andres Neighborhood

From aging jeepneys to ramshackle rooftops, Manila’s gritty streets play a starring role in ‘The Bourne Legacy.’The scene: This is where Aaron (Renner) and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) run, hide and seek refuge from Philippine cops. Producer Patrick Crowley described it to media as “one of the best chase scenes ever.”

The action: The neighborhood’s ramshackle houses and dark alleyways are home to some of the city’s lower and middle income earners.

In “Legacy,” rooftops in San Andres were replaced for the chase scene, and they hired hundreds of local technicians and drivers, rented a parking lot and “trained a core group of drivers to keep a straight line and not to flinch as Hollywood stuntmen and motorcycles raced past them with inches to spare,” says Crowley.

Tourist fare: San Andres is home to the popular 400-square-meter San Andres Market, which locals claim is where you’ll find some of the largest and most colorful selection of fruits in the country.

Mangoes, rambutans, pineapples, melons, apples, pears and durians are among the greats, and which can be arranged in fruit baskets for gifts at some stalls.

Bargaining is the name of the game here.

Getting there: Head for San Andres Street, in Manila’s Malate district.

More on CNN: The best of Manila

 

Shoot location: Marikina Public Market

Forget Bourne. Marikina’s real claim to fame is its designation as the “shoe capital” of the Philippines.The Scene: When Aaron shoots at Larx, who is on a motorcycle, he crashes on a fruit and vegetable stall in the market.

The Action: One of the largest markets in the country, Marikina Public Market has been declared one of the cleanest, too.

Marikina residents say they love it because it’s clustered into food groups, wet and dry sections, utilities and DVDs. The different sections also have covered walking streets to shade from the heat.

The market has been likened to an “un-airconditioned” grocery store because of its sanitary standards, and is closed regularly for cleaning.

Tourist fare: Manufacturing over 80 percent of the country’s footwear, Marikina is the “shoe capital” of the Philippines. There’s even a “Shoe Museum,” featuring over 3,000 pairs of shoes, including 800 owned by former first lady Imelda Marcos (J.P. Rizal St, Barangay San Roque, Marikina City; +63 2430 9735).

Getting there: Marikina Public Market, E. De La Paz Street, Marikina City; +63 2646 1996

 

Shoot location: Navotas Fish Port

Over 80 percent of Manila’s fish supply passes through the Navotas Fish Port.The scene: Larx hits a concrete post, and Aaron and Marta’s motorcycle skids.  A fisherman sees them, and they ask him for help.

The action: The oldest fishing port in the country, established in 1977, Navotas Fish Port supplies most of the country with fresh and quality fish, about 80 percent of Metro Manila’s demand.

“The Bourne Legacy” crew took over the port for a few mornings in January, replacing parts of the roof to let natural light in. They also had to scrub down the floors every day to make sure nobody slipped on fish guts.

Tourist fare: More than 20 commercial fishing vessels unload at least 800 tons of fish daily from Laguna de Bay, Zambales and Palawan, as early as 6 a.m.

Come early but bring boots as the floors can indeed get wet and slippery. Haggling or bidding for the best price is encouraged if done discreetly.

To get there, ask a taxi driver to take you to the Navotas Fish Port Complex, Navotas.

 

Shoot location: El Nido, Palawan

Besides “Bourne,” El Nido was also a pit stop on “The Amazing Race.”The scene: There’s a boat, it’s the end of the film. That’s all we’ll tell you. No spoilers here.

The action: It’s “most beautiful place I’ve been to,” proclaims “Legacy” director Tony Gilroy.

Marbled cliffs, white sand beaches, limestone formations, prehistoric caves and waterfalls and crystal clear blue waters make Palawan one of the Philippine’s top islands.

And if you’ve seen the competition, that’s no petty achievement.

Tourist fare: Wildlife like kingfishers, egrets, eagles and hornbills and bountiful flora like narra trees, mangroves and coconut trees abound.

Located in the “coral triangle,” the global center of marine biodiversity, diving and snorkeling Palawan can boast colorful corals, reefs, parrotfish, clownfish, reef shark, stingrays, turtles, dolphins and the occasional whale shark.

Getting there: Several airlines fly daily from Manila to El Nido, including SEAir and Island Transvoyager.

More on CNN: The Philippines best beaches and islands

“The Bourne Legacy” is now showing in cinemas worldwide.  

Cheryl Tiu is a magazine publisher/editor and newspaper columnist based in the Philippines. She is allergic to MSG and recently developed a facial swelling in Mexico from eating too many chilaquiles at random side street taquerias. You can follow her @cheryltiu.

The REIT waits on

When will there be a Philippine REIT be available? Its anybody’s guess as it appears everybody is focused on the tax benefit than the whole benefit of the financial instrument for property development. Can someone just get started with doing it?

From Business Mirror

PSE fears longer wait for possible issuers of REIT

Sunday, 19 August 2012
Miguel R. Camus / Reporter

THE Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) sees the current year as another lost cause for potential issuers of Real Estate Investment Trust  (REIT) and is more optimistic for 2013 as efforts to amend the REIT law gain steam, its top official said.

The PSE president, Hans Sicat, told reporters last week that an initiative to amend the law is being spearheaded by industry group Financial Executives of the Philippines but the effort is still far from a guaranteed success.

The law provides a framework for investors to buy shares in REIT firms, which will own assets, such as shopping centers, apartments and office buildings, and earn from dividend payments.

Sicat said the current strategy is to focus on the contentious public-ownership requirement, which starts at 40 percent but should be increased to 67 percent in three years, and the value-added tax (VAT) on one-time property transfers.

Based on the PSE proposal, taxes on the initial transfer of a property to a REIT should be based on “zonal valuation,” not market value, he added.

Philippine REITs will still come out less competitive versus other REIT frameworks abroad, Sicat said, as such property transfers are meant to be tax-free.

“On the other hand, maybe the trade-off is it’s better than having a product than no product at all,” the PSE president added. “Having something that approximates your ideal is better than zero.”

When asked whether the law can be amended in time for a REIT offer this year, Sicat said, “Given where we are, if it gets [amended], it’s a next-year product.”

The REIT Act was passed into law at the end of 2009 but its implementation has suffered several delays as the government worried that tax incentives would hurt revenue generation amid its swelling budget deficit.

The Department of Finance eventually came up with the tax implementation rules in mid-2011 but potential REIT issuers, already hesitant due to the steep public-float requirements, balked at the addition of VAT.

Since its implementation, there has not been a single REIT offer.

The PSE estimates that a viable REIT solution would generate at least $2.4 billion in fresh investments.

Sicat said the PSE is also focusing on the implementation of Exchange Traded Funds (EFT) as its draft guidelines were recently released by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“EFTs continue to be the largest asset class and it still is growing asset class for all jurisdictions,” he said noting that the first ETFs could be operational within this year.

An ETF is similar to a mutual fund but also allows investors to diversify their portfolio by buying a single product that represents a wide range of securities tracking multiple assets such as stocks, commodities or bonds which can be traded like a stock

The PPP marches on

With 2 PPPs completed, expect more. Let’s just hope the pace would be faster as the current term of this administration is half way through and would need to do the most of the remaining time available.

PPP inches forward

Tuesday, 21 August 2012 19:58 The BusinessMirror Editorial
THERE’S no truth to the rumor that the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Program of the Aquino administration is dead as a doornail.

The truth is that it is moving, although in an excruciatingly slow fashion.

Two years ago the fledgling Aquino administration trumpeted that it was going to launch the ambitious infrastructure program with more than 10 big-ticket projects costing hundreds of billions. Last we checked, however, only one project—the Nlex-Slex Connector Road—is up and running.

The good news is that at least two more projects have already gone past the drawing boards.

The Department of Education successfully bidded out work on the Public-Private Partnership for School Infrastructure Project (PSIP) with an approved budget of P16.4 billion in the Ilocos provinces, Central Luzon and Calabarzon. The PSIP is a build-lease-transfer contract for the design, construction and maintenance of 9,301 classrooms in the three regions for a period of 10 years. Education Secretary Bro. Armin A. Luistro believes that with this PPP project, easing the classroom shortage is finally within reach, with over 20 million young Filipinos to benefit from access to quality education.

At the same time, the P60-billion Light Rail Transit (LRT) Cavite Extension Project is inching closely toward reality with the recent decision of the Department of Transportation and Communications to extend up to next month the submission of prequalification documents by interested bidders.

The railway project will extend the existing 20.7-kilometer LRT Line 1 system, which runs from Roosevelt Avenue in Quezon City to Baclaran in Parañaque City, by an additional 11.7 kilometer southward to Bacoor, Cavite. Once completed, the new line is expected to increase ridership of LRT 1 from 500,000 to 700,000 passengers a day, thus providing faster and more convenient alternative to residents of Cavite, Las Piñas City and Parañaque City. The first half of the project is expected to be completed by late 2014 and the other half by late 2015. The project cost will be equally split between the private sector and the government.

Another ambitious development program is the Clark Special Economic Zone. While not listed under the PPP Program, the project is being pushed by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority. The agency has already commissioned the drafting of a master plan covering the development of the remaining 36,000 hectares of untapped land in Pampanga.

The new master plan for the Clark Ecozone is expected to set the pace of socioeconomic development in Central Luzon by transforming the area into a highly integrated, high-tech, green community—sort of Bonifacio Global City meets Silicon Valley amid lush greenery—and position Clark as the investment destination in Southeast Asia.  The new city that will be built is seen to boost the national economy by attracting more investments and generating thousands of jobs for Filipinos. But one big question is how the planners will go around the geographic hurdle, since the Pampanga plains is highly vulnerable to flooding. Buildings on stilts and elevated roadways, perhaps?

In any event, the Aquino administration should now fast-track the implementation of various infrastructure development programs even as it pursues a vigorous campaign against corruption. The money saved from the grubby hands of the corrupt should be channeled to more projects that will benefit the economy and raise the people’s quality of life in the long run.

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