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DA earmarks P80 million for agriculture  projects in Quezon     Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 19:50   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent   THE  Department  of  Agriculture  (DA)  has  allotted  an  initial  P80  million  for  agricultural  and  fishery  projects in five towns of the Polillo group of islands in Quezon province.  According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, the assistance is aimed at making Polillo sufficient  in rice and other staples, fish, vegetables, and other crops.  He led the distribution of farm inputs, equipment and projects to more than 1,000 farmers, fishermen  and  local  government  officials  during  a  two‐day  visit  to  the  island  group  that  was  highlighted  by  a  summit on agriculture and fisheries development at the Polillo town hall on April 15.  Alcala  said  the  DA,  through  its  Region  4‐A  (Cavite,  Laguna,  Batangas,  Rizal  and  Quezon  provinces  or  Calabarzon) office, and other agencies are helping the towns of Polillo, Jomalig, Patnanungan, Burdeos  and Panukulan craft a medium‐term agriculture‐ and fisheries‐development plan to make the people on  the islands sufficient in rice and major staples.  “We need to expand the area planted [with rice in each of the barangays in [the] Polillo group of islands  in line with the Aquino administration’s goal to achieve sufficiency in rice by end of 2013,” the DA chief  said.  He  asked  Polillo  farmers  to  coordinate  with  the  Bureau  of  Soils  and  Water  Management  to  locate  springs to be tapped as sources of irrigation and establish small water impounding projects.  Alcala  also  gave  P54.7  million  in  crop  and  accident  insurance  coverage  from  the  Philippine  Crop  Insurance Corp. to the agricultural workers.  Polillo  secured  P13.5  million  worth  of  insurance;  Jomalig,  P15  million;  Patnanungan,  P9.6  million;  Burdeos, P8.35 million; and Panukulan, P8.25 million.  For its part, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) gave P14 million worth of assistance, primarily in the  form  of  thousands  of  coconut  seedlings  and  livelihood  projects,  under  its  Kasaganaan  sa  Niyugan  ay  Kaunlaran ng Bayan program. 

Alcala instructed PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes to set up a coconut‐processing facility in Polillo that  will produce virgin coconut oil, coco sugar, water and coir, among other coconut by‐products.  The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources provided P5 million worth of fish nets, fishing gear and  paraphernalia.  Two  barangay  food  terminals  worth  P2  million  will  be  established  by  the  Agribusiness  and  Marketing  Assistance Service, while P1.5 million worth of farm equipment (hand tractors, water engine pumps and  a coffee dryer), native pigs and chickens, and a training module were allotted under the DA’s organic‐ agriculture program.  The  department’s  High  Value  Crops  Development  Program  provided  P1.7  million  worth  of  farm  equipment and various fruit seedlings (rambutan, lanzones, citrus, coffee and cacao), root crops (ube),  and  assorted  vegetable  seeds.  The  equipment  included  knapsack  sprayers,  cacao  dehuller  and  pH  meters.  The DA’s rice and corn programs gave P1.4 million worth of certified rice seeds (200 50‐kilo bags worth  P240,000),  150  bags  of  yellow  and  white  corn  seeds  (P360,000),  and  dozens  of  farm  equipment  that  included hand tractors, rice cutters, knapsack sprayers, collapsible dryers and laminated tarps or trapal.  Polillo  rural  women  and  young  people  who  are  members  of  rural  improvement  clubs  and  4‐H  clubs  received P170,000 worth of livelihood projects from the Agricultural Training Institute.  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/12217‐da‐earmarks‐p80‐ million‐for‐agriculture‐projects‐in‐quezon                     

Exporting organic rice BIZLINKS By Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 18, 2013 - 12:00am Visible in supermarket shelves nowadays are those supposedly organically-grown rice made distinct by their coloring – red, brown, purple, and black. These rice varieties have a loyal and captive market while commanding premium pricing. Local demand may not be as buoyant yet, but globally, there is a huge potential for these varieties especially among those who are more health conscious or only patronize farm products that are grown in pesticide- and chemical fertilizer-free environments. According to growers, the margin of profitability for organic rice varieties has become more attractive with better farming techniques to grow these special grains. Because of this, a number of our rice growers are keenly developing the export potential of locally grown organic rice. Niche market To put things in proper perspective though, organic rice cannot supply the world’s food demand simply because it takes longer to harvest compared to the commercial white rice that we are all familiar with. As a fertilizer executive often reminds me, if the world were to wait for its food to grow at the pace of organic rice, then half would grow hungry – which would be cause enough for riots and wars. With this, our organic farmers should be reminded that the market they dare to develop will continue to be a niche market in the longer term. This may mean higher prices – and much improved profitability – in the future on potentially tight supply, but production cannot be expected to go anywhere near what the world’s rice producing countries are currently producing. While our government can opt to support such products for export, it must not lose track of the need to further improve the current rice farming systems and invest in improved varieties and extensive infrastructure support, i.e., improved irrigation, better storage, and an efficient network. Are we rice self-reliant? Manuel Q. Bondad, who regularly provides this column with data and comments on rice, recently sent a letter that tackles national rice production with the view of getting the country on the road to self-reliance. He writes: “That the National Food Authority (NFA) approved the importation of 187,000 metric tons of rice for 2013 made news in nearly all of our newspapers; just as 2.4 million metric tons (MMT) were procured from neighboring countries in 2010, 1.8 MMT in 2009, and 2.4 MMT in 2008.

“It is significant because yearly imports from 1998 to 2007 only averaged 1.0 MMT. This year’s 187,000 MT allocation is lower than the 189,700 MT import level in 1984 but higher than the 119,200 MT importation in 1988 when the Philippine population reached “only” 52 million compared to close to 100 million this year. “It is noteworthy that over a 30-year period from 1983 to 2012, published records from the United Nation’s FAOSTAT show that the Philippines imported rice except in 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, and 1992. Indisputable gains in rice production “We cannot deny government’s indisputable gains in rice production of late at 18 MMT, surpassing the highest ever recorded volume of 16.8 MMT in 2008. “Similarly, Indonesia with its population of 240 million and rice production of 68 MMT is thrice ours for years deemed self-sufficient, and yet from 1997 to 2012, rice imports for buffer stock fluctuated from 348,000 MT in 1997, peaked to 4.8 MMT in 1999, dived to 189,000 MT in 2005, and settled at 1.95 MMT in 2012.Industry sources place imports at 800,000 MT in 2013. “Why the importation? According to the Indonesian Grain and Feed Update in January 2013, the country’s initial rice production target of 71 MMT reached only 68 MMT in 2012 due to “conversion of agriculture lands to non-agricultural uses,” prompting Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to propose to the President of Indonesia a ban on such conversions fearing a shortage of suitable land for rice production. Will the Philippines consider a similar move? “Moreover, the recent floods in Indonesia destroyed thousands of hectares planted to rice prompting the government to revise production targets. Our country is similarly situated as our brothers in Indonesia. Climate change is unpredictable. No country is spared. Safe buffer stocks “It is significant that Indonesia’s rice stock inventory of 2.3 MMT as of year-end 2012 is within the minimum level set by Bulog, the state grains agency, and deemed safe as buffer stock, compared to the Philippines’ inventory of 2.0 MMT as of February 2013, which buffer stock is sufficient for two months’ consumption assuming zero production and importation from March to April 2013. “Critics should take note that in 2010 our rice inventory reached a record breaking 3.4 MMT that would take 120 days to consume, which shipment took more than a year for rice exporting countries to deliver to NFA’s bulging warehouses from November 2009 to early 2011. “The inventory carrying costs alone reached close to P100 billion in 2010. The same pattern was observed in previous years. No wonder NFA incurred mammoth debts and bank interest payments, while precious rice turned to staple not even suited for hog or cattle feed!

“Clearly, the NFA Council proposed importation of 187,000 MT is for buffer stock unless a “weather disturbance” will necessitate significant importation on a scale that has buffeted Philippine agriculture for years. It could happen this year. “We should be open to rice importation at all times. Why not, and at the right price? In our view our country, like Indonesia, is self-sufficient in rice. Self-sufficiency should not be equated with zero importation.” Short break I will take a short break next week as I will join my brother and fellow Philippine STAR columnist, Ray Butch Gamboa, on a driving tour of Greece. Our visit to historical places in Athens and the Peloponnese area was arranged courtesy of the Greek Ambassador to the Philippines, Madam Constantina Koliou. This column will be back to discuss current issues on April 30, 2013. Facebook and Twitter We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa. Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/04/18/931858/exporting‐organic‐rice                   

Pro­biochar group supports government's  efforts to achieve sufficiency in rice     Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 19:49   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning   THE  Philippine  Biochar  Association  (PBiA)  is  keen  on  backing  government  initiatives  to  attain  rice  sufficiency, achieve food security and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.  The PBiA expressed its support during the first national conference on biochar initiatives in the country  at the Philippine Social Science Center on Tuesday.  In his address, Philip Camara, PBiA founding member and a member of the lead advisory council, said  what the country needs to do is to try removing carbon dioxide (C02) from the atmosphere and not just  rely on neutrality or mitigation.  “The biochar technology can help us do that,” he added.  Biochar,  now  practiced  by  some  farmers  in  Zambales  province’s  Botolan  town,  is  charred  biomass  usually produced from agricultural and forestry organic waste material like rice hull, straw, corn stover,  coconut husks, tree branches and fallen trees by applying heat with very limited oxygen to the biomass.  The process releases synthesis gases or syngases that can be harnessed for renewable energy and leaves  behind charcoal.  The PBiA said biochar is intended for use in farm soils while charcoal is for cooking.  Biochar is also being supported by international leaders.  Former  US  Vice  President  Al  Gore  said  biochar  is  one  of  the  newest  and  most  exciting  strategies  for  restoring carbon in depleted soils and sequestering significant amounts of CO2 for 1,000 years.  Dr. Bernardo Tadeo, member of the PBiA board of trustees, said many farmers are now testing the use  of biochar, with some reporting higher farm yields. During the two‐day conference, attendees discussed  organic farming, climate‐change adaptation and mitigation, local biochar network and the integration of  biochar into companies’ corporate social responsibility programs  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/12216‐pro‐biochar‐group‐ supports‐government‐s‐efforts‐to‐achieve‐sufficiency‐in‐rice 

Searca study on per­capita consumption  of rice crucial in food­sufficiency drive     Category: Agri‐Commodities   Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 19:45   Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Contributor   A  study  by  experts  at  the  Southeast  Asian  Regional  Center  for  Graduate  Study  and  Research  in  Agriculture  (Searca)  has  validated  the  uniqueness  of  rice  consumption  patterns  in  the  country.  Moreover, the same study led to the revision of the per capita consumption (PCC) figure used for years  in validating the volume of rice to be imported by the National Food Authority (NFA).  Searca Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said the Department of Agriculture (DA) funded the study to determine  just what the PCC is and how the country can reduce rice consumption while promoting other staples  like corn, sweet potato and cassava. The study, the final report of which was delivered to the Philippine  Rice  Research  Institute  (PhilRice)  in  December  2011  and  subjected  to  intense  discussion,  found  that  while  demand  for  rice  in  Southeast  Asian  countries  like  Singapore,  Thailand,  Malaysia  and  even  Indonesia declined, the PCC in the Philippines actually increased in the last two decades.   Even the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was heartened to know that rice consumption was tapering off  in Southeast Asian nations and even told Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala to abandon his rice self‐ sufficiency program in favor of long‐term rice‐supply deals with Vietnam and Thailand. The Searca study,  titled  “Estimating  the  Demand  Elasticities  of  Rice  in  the  Philippines”  and  undertaken  by  Flordeliza  Lantican,  Karen  Quilloy  and  Mercedita  A.  Sombilla,  showed  that  demand  elasticity  for  rice  is  between  zero and one, which means that it is not characterized by sudden increases or decreases in demand.  Not even an increase in per capita income led to a reduction in demand for rice in the National Capital  Region (NCR), where 5.21 household respondents for the 2008‐2009 Survey of Food Demand (SFD) for  agricultural  commodities  was  sourced  by  the  Bureau  of  Agricultural  Statistics  (BAS).  Demand  theory  holds that with higher income, consumers would buy staples other than rice. Moreover, Engel’s law says  that with higher incomes, expenditure on food would be reduced.  This theory fall flat on the basis of the SFD and the intense analysis by Searca on current and past studies  on rice consumption using the most advanced demand equations. SFD showed that the gross household  income of those surveyed was P141,010 per household, or P30,337 per person, but 48 percent of those  polled had an annual per capita income of P16,001.  The Searca experts noted that 82 percent of the SFD respondents came from rural communities and the  rest from urban communities.   

Higher than usual  BASED  on  Searca’s  analysis  of  the  choices  available,  the  disposable  income  and  the  household  rice  consumption,  the  figure  used  for  justifying  the  importation  of  2.4  million  metric  tons  of  rice  (MMT)  during the previous administration—128.9 kilos per person per year—was higher than usual.  “At  the  national  level,  a  Filipino  consumed  an  average  of  111  kilograms/year  of  rice,  which  was  equivalent  to  P3,336  per  year,  given  its  price  of  P30/kg  in  2008  and  2009.  On  household  basis,  rice  consumption  and  expenditure  reached  568  kg/year  and  P17,1233/year,  respectively,  during  the  same  period,” the authors said.  “Although  the  PCC  in  2008  and  2009  became  lower  than  the  national  average  during  2004  to  2007,  wherein it ranged from 116 kg/year to 126 kg/year, such level of consumption had remained relatively  higher compared to the volume of PCC in the 1990s [92 kg/year—BAS 2011],” they added.  “The recent, unusual decline in rice consumption could have only been led by the sharp increase in the  world prices of rice in the first quarter of 2008 due to the global crisis that occurred in 2007 and 2008,”  the authors said.  “The result of the study clearly indicates that the rise of PCC of rice from 113 kg in 2000 to 128 kg during  the  food  crisis  in  2008  and  2009  could  seemingly  not  be  explained  by  the  theoretical  underpinning  of  consumer behavior,” they added.  “The  sizes  of  estimated  demand  elasticities  are  not  that  huge  to  instigate  the  sudden  change.  The  current method of estimating PCC, which is based on the disappearance method, has to be rectified,”  Lantican, Quilloy and Sumbilla said.  ‘’Theoretically,  the  easiest  way  for  the  government  to  decrease  the  consumption  of  rice  is  to  substantially increase the prices of rice, so that it would become less affordable to consumers, especially  to poor consumers, who are the major consumers of rice,” they added.  “However,  this  is  not  feasible  in  reality  because  such  strategy  will  certainly  worsen  food  insecurity,  hunger and malnutrition in the country,” the authors said.  “A  more  plausible  strategy  is  to  implement  differential  policies  that  can  effectively  reduce  rice  consumption and at the same time do not hurt the consumers, particularly the poor,” they added.  “Any policy that will improve the purchasing power of the targeted consumers, primarily through price‐ related  or  income‐related  policies,  is  expected  to  lead  to  a  decline  in  their  rice  consumption  and  the  diversification of their diet in favor of other commodities,” they said.  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/12215‐searca‐study‐on‐per‐ capita‐consumption‐of‐rice‐crucial‐in‐food‐sufficiency‐drive 

No drought in Central Luzon, DA assures farmers By Mark Anthony N. Manuel Published: April 17, 2013 SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Central Luzon Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) here assured farmers in the region of sufficient irrigation water this summer. The Agriculture Department said Thursday that the Pantabangan, Ipo and Angat dams can sufficiently sustain the water requirements of the agricultural sector and that there are yet no reports of crop damages due to intense heat. Based on DA records, there are some 747,448 hectares of total agricultural lands in the region of which 345,002 were irrigated. It added that it has been rationalizing the use of irrigation water by scheduling their use in farming communities as part of current conservation measures to ease the impact of the dry season on the agriculture and fisheries sector. "We have enough water. In fact, the need for irrigation water is minimal since standing palay crops are now in maturity level," said DA Regional Ditrector Andrew Villacorta. This year, he said, the DA has P50-million buffer fund for the dry season. He said the summer heat can even help those palay crops that are about to be harvested. "This is the last month of the standing palay crops. Based on our experience the summer heat is more beneficial to palay rather than rainy or cold season," he said, explaining that palay is photo sensitive that needs sunlight. Villacorta, however, said that while water in irrigation facilities and dams remain adequate, it is better to conserve water while the country is experiencing intense summer heat. He, likewise, advised farmers to plant crops this summer season that do not need much water like onions and other green leafy vegetables. He, however, said DA will assist farmers with crops that would be affected by dry spell. He said that among the assistance that they could provide to farmers include the distribution of seeds and construction of shallow tube wells. http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=7989&sid=1&subid=2   

Corporate News  Posted on April 17, 2013 11:36:07 PM 

Record profit for farm supplier  

CALATA Corp. grew profit to a record high last year, boosted by revenues that similarly hit a  fresh peak, the farm input supplier said in a statement attached to its disclosure yesterday.      Audited consolidated statements of income in Calata’s annual report that came with the disclosure  showed its income increased by 10% to P110.357 million last year from P100.174 million in 2011.    “The company saw record‐breaking revenues and net income in the year 2012,” the company said in its  statement.    “The company has been recording significant revenue growths and was not negatively affected by the  economic crisis that hit the global economy hard in 2008.” Calata’s sales revenues increased by 11% to  P2.21 billion in 2012 from P2 billion in 2011.    “The increase in sales is mainly brought about by the sales contribution of the company’s wholly owned  chain of stores under Agril Phil Corp.,” the report noted.    Agri Phil Corp. is engaged in retail operations through a chain of stores in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan  Valley, Central Luzon, and the Cavite‐Laguna‐Batangas‐Rizal‐Quezon region.    “[S]ignificant highlights of the company’s… drive to maintain business growth for 2012… include  initiatives to introduce modern agriculture technology in the country through establishment of ties with  foreign counterparts,” the statement read. Cost of sales grew by 9% to P1.95 billion in 2012 from P1.79  billion in 2011, while operating expenses nearly doubled to P106.951 million from P58.925 million.    The company said in the same disclosure that its board of directors approved declaration of cash  dividend amounting to 25 centavos per share of common stock for all shareholders on record as of May  17. It said date of distribution will be set as soon as details of implementation are finalized. Calata sells  farm products like agrochemicals, feeds, fertilizers and veterinary medicines which its unit, Agri Phil,  distributes through its retail stores, according to the company’s profile on the Philippine Stocks  Exchange Web site. Calata shares gained 55 centavos or 15.28% to close at P4.15 apiece yesterday. ‐‐  RJRP  ‐ See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Corporate&title=Record‐profit‐for‐ farm‐supplier&id=68853#sthash.8HKwKGXC.dpuf 

Nation  Posted on April 17, 2013 11:12:50 PM 

Low copra prices hit farm families TACLOBAN CITY ­­ Low copra (desiccated coconut) prices have adversely affected incomes of  farm families and with it the education of their children.    Twenty‐five‐year‐old Romualdo R. Naboya dropped out of college last year       and landed a job at a fastfood chain to help his parents, whose income  plunged when copra prices decreased.    “I was just a first‐year college student at EVSU (Eastern Visayas State University) when I quit last year.  The price of copra had significantly gone down and my parents could no longer afford to send me to  college. I have no choice but to work in this place,” Mr. Naboya said.    He is among the estimated 20% of EVSU’s student population who are forced to leave college whenever  copra prices decrease, said EVSU President Dominador O. Aguirre, Jr.    “Every second semester, enrollment decreases because copra prices fluctuate and most of the students  have parents who are dependent so much on the industry. Because of the lowering price of copra, they  cannot really afford to continue schooling,” he said.    EVSU has about 11,000 enrollees every year. Mr. Aguirre estimated that about 2,200 students, or a fifth,  drop out by the second semester if copra prices decline.    In this region where a third of the population is dependent on the coconut industry for livelihood, Mr.  Aguirre said the record low copra price is considered a calamity.    The average farm‐gate price of copra, or dried coconut meat from which coconut oil is extracted,  dropped to as low as 7 per kilogram as of this month from 15.54 per kilogram last year and from an all‐ time high of 40 per kilogram in February 2011.    Because of the drop in copra prices, Mr. Naboya said their monthly household income plunged to 1,000  this month from an average of 4,000 in 2011.    Teresita I. Escobar, chief of the National Economic and Development Authority planning division, said a  coconut farming family nets only 35,358 a year or 2,946 monthly.    “This level of income is less than a third of the average income of a family in the region. The situation is 

much worse for tenants since they only receive 50% of the farm they are taking care of,” she said.    Ms. Escobar said the impact of declining copra price will be minimized if state universities and colleges  offer minimal tuition fees. Many organizations are also giving out scholarship grants.    “Interested students have other options if they want to pursue their education. They can enroll in  vocational technology courses which are also offered by TESDA (Technical Education and Skills  Development Authority) and accredited schools,” she said.    TESDA is the government’s arm for technical‐vocational courses.    But Gloria M. Reyes, Southern Leyte State University (SLSU) president, pointed out that even if tuition is  free, some students still can’t afford a college education because they don’t have budget for food and  transportation. ‐‐ Sarwell Q. Meniano  ‐ See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Low‐copra‐prices‐hit‐ farm‐families&id=68847#sthash.mM2Rsfm2.dpuf                             

Agribusiness  Posted on April 17, 2013 10:40:58 PM 

Furs fly as Chinese consumers drive boom in mink farming    CHICAGO ­­ Battered by the economic downturn and years of animal rights  activism in their own backyard, American mink farmers are now in a different sort  of quandary: scrambling to keep up with China’s demand for all things fur.   

Feature 

A saleswoman displays a mink coat to customers at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China in this photo  taken last April 4. ‐‐ ReutersDriven by a hunger for high‐end clothing and luxury home goods among  China’s burgeoning middle class, US exports of mink pelts to China jumped to a record $215.5 million  last year ‐‐ more than double both the value and volume shipped in 2009.    That Chinese consumers are clamoring for fuzzy‐trimmed backpacks, ermine‐edged coats and mink‐ covered office supplies comes as a welcome respite for the US mustelidae world.    The industry’s fortunes had chilled in recent years, with farms shuttering and prices slumping amid the  past two recessions and mounting criticism of the fur trade by US and European animal rights groups.    Now, prices of farmed mink pelts are soaring to all‐time highs. South Korea and Russia, too, have  contributed to a surge in demand that led to shipments of 11.8 million pelts worth $479 million  worldwide by US farmers, trappers and auction houses last year.    That was nearly triple the level in 2009.    GOOD FOR BUSINESS  Weather has kept the demand piling on in recent months.    Both Russia and China experienced unusually cold winters late last year.    The bitter temperatures half a world away were something to celebrate on Ron Gengel’s mink ranch.    For three generations, the Gengel family has raised minks in a northern Illinois farm for furriers around  the world.   

They’ve survived competition from overseas rivals, slumping prices and an American consumer more  interested in fakes than the real pelt.    Such down times have made the Gengels cautious of the current boom and quick to adjust to shifting  trends. When international buyers began talking about white fur being considered more chic than black  pelts, the family started raising more white mink ‐‐ and fewer black.    “You have to keep track of so much, from what’s happening to the Russian currency to what’s the  weather forecast in China,” said Justine Gengel, Ron’s daughter‐in‐law.    “You have to know what the buyers want.”    For now, at least, Chinese buyers and manufacturers are flocking to fur auction houses in Seattle and  Canada by the droves. At a recent sale held at North American Fur Auctions (NAFA) in Toronto, the  demand drove black male mink pelts to an average price of more than $141 each. Two years ago, similar  quality pelts were selling for $98.    “We had over 700 registered buyers and the majority were from China,” said Nancy Daigneault,  communications director for NAFA.    “It was jammed. We’ve never had that many buyers before, ever.”    Chinese consumers bought more than half of the fur coats sold worldwide in 2010, and China’s retail  sales of fur‐related goods ‐‐ ranging from full‐length mink coats to ermine‐covered toilet paper holders ‐ ‐ were forecast to hit $6 billion in 2012, according to data from the China Chamber of Commerce of  Foodstuffs and Native Produce. Few people understand the mink boom better than Zhang Lingli,  manager of Shanghai Zhichuan Garment Co. Ltd. Inside her cozy shop, on the sixth floor of a downtown  Shanghai mall, mink pelts are stacked in hues of black, blue and silver.    Mink fur, Ms. Zhang said, has become particularly popular among those who have the extra cash to  spare. The demand for mink pelts has been increasing every year in the past few years, Ms. Zhang said,  and so has the price. But her customers simply shrug that off ‐‐ and pepper her with requests for higher‐ quality furs from the United States, Canada and Europe.    “They just want fur products,” she said. ‐‐ Reuters  ‐ See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Agribusiness&title=Furs‐fly‐as‐ Chinese‐consumers‐drive‐boom‐in‐mink‐farming&id=68831#sthash.AGRIhoJu.dpuf     

Agribusiness  Posted on April 17, 2013 10:41:44 PM 

More tramlines planned THE PHILIPPINE Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) is putting  up 32 agricultural tramline systems across the country this year, the agency’s top official told  reporters yesterday.    Tramlines, like this one shown in operation in Barangay Tubonan in Kayapa municipality, Nueva Vizcaya  in this photo provided by the Agriculture department on Aug. 19 last year, help farmers in remote areas  bring their produce to markets.  “For this year, we are going to build an additional 32 agricultural tramline       systems (ATS) across the country,” PhilMech Executive Director Rex L.  Bingabing told reporters during a press briefing yesterday at the Agricultural  Training Institute building in Quezon City.    The Agriculture department has allocated 96 million for the construction of the planned new systems in  Cagayan Valley; Quezon, Mindoro and Iloilo provinces; as well as in Mindanao at 3 million per ATS.    “We will finish the construction of these additional 32 ATS in August,” Mr. Bingabing said.    He said each car in the diesel‐powered system can carry 350 kilograms (kg) to 500 kg per ride.    Over 97 ATS were built from 2009 to 2012 as the government aimed to help farmers in far‐flung areas  transport their produce to markets, Mr. Bingabing said.    He noted that most of the systems are located in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Nueva Vizcaya, as  well as mountainous areas in Mindanao.    “The ATS project, which is spearheaded by PhilMech, has significantly lowered transportation costs for  agricultural products in the mountainous areas, by 50% to as much as 80%,” he claimed.    Aside from lower transportation costs, the system is also estimated to cut postharvest losses by 5%‐10%  as it reduces transportation time from the usual 4 hours to as short as 15 minutes.    “The tramline systems enable farmers from far‐flung mountainous regions, especially those areas with  no roads, to transport their harvests from their farms to the market faster,” Mr. Bingabing said. 

  Farmers have to pay a 3‐5 to the operator, usually the local government or a farmer organization, each  time they use the ATS.    Mr. Bingabing also said that the agency is improving the design of the tramline so it can better transport  people as well.    “From our initial assessment, the first batch of tramlines built from 2009 to 2011 were also used to  transport people, and even various products like grocery items or other non‐farm products to the  farming communities,” Mr. Bingabing noted.    Regional offices of the Agriculture department and local government units (LGUs) build the system itself.  PhilMech provides technical assistance for the design and construction of the ATS and trains farm  organizations on how to maintain and use the system.    “Sometimes, LGUs subsidize the transportation cost so farmers can use the ATS for free,” Mr. Bingabing  said.    He added that PhilMech is “proposing the construction of an additional 40 ATS in 2014” at a total cost of  100 million. ‐‐ RJRP   http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=21&title=More‐tramlines‐planned&id=68832                       

Agribusiness  Posted on April 17, 2013 10:39:58 PM 

Instant coffee blenders go gourmet NEW YORK ­­ Instant coffee drinkers may soon be getting a more gourmet brew  than they realize at no extra cost as roasters consider adding higher­quality  arabica beans into their blends.   

Analysis 

Soaring demand for instant coffee in emerging markets has caused demand     growth for caffeine‐rich robusta coffee, widely used in soluble coffee, to  outpace that for arabica beans, which dominate the gourmet ground‐coffee  market. That has pushed the typically cheaper and lower‐quality beans to almost par with some  arabicas.    With the price of some arabicas near that of robusta, some instant coffee makers have already taken the  rare step of adding the typically more expensive arabica to their highly secretive blends, coffee buyers  said.    The move marks a possible a precursor that other coffee makers who currently use robusta in their  blends may be reverting their blends to include more higher‐quality arabica beans, a change that could  soften the current surge in robusta demand. This is coming less than two years after several shifted in  the other direction.    “Since early this year, we are seeing roasters replacing robusta for low‐grade arabica in the lower‐quality  soluble coffees,” said Freddie Schol, trading manager for Nedcoffee in Amsterdam.    Soluble, or instant coffee, is usually made from robusta beans, known for acidic flavors and higher  caffeine content.    The taste for instant coffee in Asia has surged, with consumers in China buying more than 40,000 tons of  it in 2012, up 9% from 2011 and up 43% from 2008, Euromonitor International data showed.    That equates to roughly 59 million cups a day of instant brew, more than double the instant coffee  purchases in the United States, where demand is relatively flat.    Robusta usage has also risen after the 2011 arabica rally forced many roasters to adjust or create new  blends with higher robusta content.   

Nedcoffee, a large coffee trading company headquartered in Amsterdam, buys 150,000 tons (2.5 million  60‐kilogram bags) of coffee annually, with 99% of this being robusta, an amount that equates to roughly  10% of Vietnam’s entire crop. It has procurement and processing plants in Ivory Coast, India, Indonesia  and Vietnam.    CHEAPER THAN ROBUSTA  On the physical market, prices of some low‐grade arabica beans have fallen to below high‐quality  robusta, importers said.    Uganda drugar beans, an unwashed and low‐quality arabica, stored in US warehouses, recently fetched  roughly $1.15 per pound (/lb) while Uganda standard robusta was valued at about $1.18/lb, US  importers said.    Instant coffee processors do not appear to be the only ones adding arabica beans their blends.    “(Roasters) are thinking about it now and some of them are already doing it, but it’s going to be  gradual,” said Ernesto Alvarez, chief executive of COEX Coffee Group in Miami.    There is no data available to show this trend, but Mr. Alvarez said that he has already started selling  some discounted mild arabica beans to a company that had previously increased its usage of robusta in  its blends due to the rally in arabicas.    “As the arbitrage narrows, it makes natural sense that they would begin to shift at these levels back into  arabica in the future,” said one US coffee buyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, referring to  the difference in price between arabica and robusta beans.    Coffee has been volatile since arabica prices on ICE Futures US more than doubled over 11 months to  above $3/lb in May 2011 as speculators piled into the market. The rally pushed the arabica premium on  the futures market over robusta to nearly $1.90/lb in 2011, above the premium that ranged between 35  and 85 cents in 2009 and 2010. In March, it dropped to around 35 cents, the lowest level in four years,  and a level many dealers consider historically normal. While several coffee dealers expect the premium  will drop further to 20 cents, others anticipate it will rise. Last April 9, the premium sat around 45 cents.    So far, the switch in beans is limited in scale. A blend change is easier for instant coffee makers or small  roasters than the large roasters, several coffee buyers said.    Analysts said arabica’s premium would need to be around 35 cents for months before larger roasters  would adjust their blends, a process that involves extensive research to ensure the taste profile isn’t  significantly altered.    “I don’t think we’re at the point where we can definitely say there’s massive shifting happening, but  incrementally we have to believe that it’s happening behind the scenes,” the US buyer said. 

  While US instant coffee consumption has flatlined, Americans are drinking more brewed coffee made  from robusta beans, adding to mounting pressure on global supplies.    Total consumption of robusta in brewed coffee climbed by 7% in the United States in 2012, up from  3.9% growth in 2011 and 3.6% in 2010, according to StudyLogic, a US market research firm.    This compares with a small 1.9% climb in demand for brewed arabica in 2012, versus a year‐over‐year  increase of 4.1% in 2011 and 5.4% rise in 2010.    Global robusta exports jumped a whopping 24% to 46.6 million 60‐kilogram bags in the 2012 calendar  year, versus 2011, while arabica exports dropped by 0.8% to 66.5 million bags, International Coffee  Organization data showed.    Several US importers have said they are concerned about securing robusta supplies later this year, with  one wondering if he will have problems as early as August if demand continues to climb at its current  pace.    “There’s too much demand for coffee. At the rate we’re going, I don’t know how that’s going to be  met,” said COEX’s Mr. Alvarez. ‐‐ Reuters   ‐ See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=21&title=Instant‐coffee‐blenders‐ go‐gourmet&id=68830#sthash.OggWPp0h.dpuf                       

2nd Ilocos Norte windmill farm project opens By Artemio Dumlao (philstar.com) | Updated April 17, 2013 - 3:54pm BAGUIO City, Philippines - Another wind farm project in Ilocos Norte was opened in Burgos town, north of Laoag City on Wednesday. The Energy Development Corp. (EDC), the country’s largest geothermal producer, will build the $300 million and 87-megawatt Burgos Wind Project (BWP) which covers around 600 hectares of land across Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot villages in Burgos. The wind farm when finished will be the second wind energy facility in Ilocos Norte next to the Northwind power plant built in 2005 in nearby Bangui town. The Burgos wind farm is accordingly bigger than the Bangui windmills. The first in Southeast Asia, the Bangui windmills have since become one of the main sources of electricity in the province as well as a tourist lure in the province. The EDC has tapped Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark to construct the wind turbines. The Burgos wind farm, expected to become operational on 2014, will generate more than 230 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year which is enough to supply a million households. It is also expected to generate jobs, boost economic activity in the province and contribute to the national effort to develop clean and green energy resources. http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/04/17/931754/2nd‐ilocos‐norte‐windmill‐farm‐project‐opens 

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IRRI scientists develop rice variety that is salt-tolerant Published: April 18, 2013 Scientists have successfully bred a rice variety that is salt-tolerant, which could enable farmers to reclaim coastal areas rendered useless by sea water, a Philippine-based institute said. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) near Manila said its researchers are in the process of perfecting the variety of rice that would be the most salt-tolerant ever developed before field testing it widely. “They hope to have the new variety available to farmers to grow within four to five years,’’ the institute said in a statement. IRRI’s media office said the new variety would offer twice the salt-tolerance as previous attempts to breed such a variety. India and Bangladesh could potentially be the biggest beneficiaries, the IRRI said, remarking that about 20 million hectares (49 million acres) of rice farms worldwide have been affected by salinity. The new variety was bred by crossing an exotic wild rice species found in brackish water with one cultivated at the institute. The result is a “new rice line that can expel salt it takes from the soil into the air through salt glands it has on its leaves’’, the statement said. “This will make saline stricken rice farms in coastal areas usable to farmers,’’ said lead scientist Kshirod Jena. “These farmlands are usually abandoned by coastal farmers because the encroaching seawater has rendered the soil useless.’’ Incidents such as the 2011 tsunami in Japan which flooded thousands of hectares of rice farms with sea water have spurred the development around the world of new varieties of rice that can grow in such areas. Rice is considered one of three major domesticated crops that feed the world, along with wheat and corn, and scientists have been continuously looking to develop new varieties to increase production. (AFP) http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=8093&sid=2&subid=80#.UW9XLkprqrE 

BLB-Tolerant hybrid rice launched By Zac B. Sarian Published: April 18, 2013

DECORATIVE SQUASH – Vegetables are not only for eating. There are some varieties that can be used for decorative purposes. Just like the colorful pumpkins that are sold at the Talad Thai Market in Thailand, about an hour’s drive north of Bangkok. These colorful little pumpkins can also be cooked as vegetable but it is better to sell them to flower shops and interior decorators because they fetch a higher price if they are sold for decorative purposes. Bayer CropScience has launched what it claims to be its newest and most tolerant hybrid rice variety to bacterial leaf blight (BLB) disease. The new hybrid rice variety, called Arize Bigante Plus, was launched during the 1st National Hybrid Rice Congress held April 3 to 5 at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. According to Analen Dela Rosa, Bayer CropScience head of Seeds in the Philippines, Bigante Plus, based on field trials, is the most tolerant hybrid to BLB. BLB is a disease caused by bacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. Affected plants exhibit wilting at seedling stage as well as yellowing and drying of leaves which result in 20 to 30 percent reduction in yield. Bigante plus has a yield potential of 13 metric tons (MT) per hectare and is ideal for wet season planting. Three of the farmers who planted Bigante Plus last wet season cropping – Vicente Sibayan of Villasis, Pangasinan; Fernando Gabuyo Jr. of San Jose, Nueva Ecija; and Rogelio Ceredon of Dingras, Ilocos Norte – all attest to the high-yielding performance and good resistance of the variety. Now available in the market mainly in Luzon and Visayas, Arize Bigante Plus is Bayer’s fourth hybrid rice variety under the umbrella brand Arize, which includes Arize Bigante, Arize TEJ, and Arize H64.

In anticipation of the increase in demand for hybrid rice seed in the country, Bayer CropScience is pouring a P40 million investment this year to put up a bigger seed processing facility in Calauan, Laguna. The state-of-the-art seed station facility, which includes the sorting, conditioning, treatment and packaging lines, will have an expanded production capacity of 50 MT per day from the current capacity of 10 MT, according to Dela Rosa. In addition, the company will establish in the same site a new rice breeding station which will be used for developing and testing new hybrid rice varieties for Philippine and Southeast Asian markets. -Melpha M. Abello

Agri Plain Talk Zac B. Sarian A veteran agriculture journalist who also runs a one-hectare nursery of exotic fruit trees. I am currently the Agriculture Editor of Manila Bulletin, a 113-year-old daily newspaper. My agriculture page appears every Thursday and Saturday where I write my Agri Plain Talk column. This twice weekly column has been running for more than 21 years now.   http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=8044&sid=7&subid=47#.UW9aakprqrE                       

Looks good on paper But… By Zac B. Sarian Published: April 18, 2013

MANGO FESTS IN GUIMARAS AND QUEZON CITY – Mango enthusiasts can attend one of two mango festivals that will end on Sunday, April 21. One is the ongoing 20th Manggahan Festival at the provincial capitol in Guimaras which is well known for its very sweet fruits. The other mango festival is being held at the Quezon Memorial Circle starting tomorrow up to Sunday, April 21, under the auspices of the Aani Mango Industry Network headed by Antonio Rola. In both festivals, there are exhibits and in the case of the event in Quezon City there are lectures and free consultations with the mango experts. A management specialist in a leading corporation in Manila opted for an early retirement a few years back so he could go into full-time farming in a property he inherited from his parents in the Visayas. As a management expert, he had devised what he was sure to be an attractive package for his workers with whom he will be working closely during the whole cropping cycle. He crafted a scheme whereby his workers will get half of the profits from the venture instead of receiving a daily wage. He computed that the workers will make much more money under the scheme. In their ampalaya-planting venture scheme, for instance, he figured out that each of his workers will make at least P60,000 each in a growing period four months or thereabouts. That will give them the equivalent of P15,000 a month! It did not take him long to find out that his three workers did not care about the prospects of a big amount they will make at the end of four months. The workers opted to resign one after the other in less than a month. Why? Well, the workers needed to bring home something for the family at least once a week. They needed the weekly income for their hand-to-mouth existence. Well, that’s one simple lesson learned. He didn’t realize the daily needs of his joint venture partners. **** **** ****

MANGO FEST AT THE QM CIRCLE – The Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City is the venue of a mango festival starts tomorrow and will end on Sunday, April 21. The event is under the auspices of the Aani Mango Industry Network headed by Antonio S. Rola. Mango exhibits, lectures and free consultation with the mango experts are some of the features of the festival. Not only carabao mangoes will be exhibited. There are also imported varieties that are outstanding in their own right. GUIMARAS MANGO FEST - April 18 to 21 is also the last four days of the 20th Guimaras Manggahan Festival held at the Capitol grounds in the island province famous for its sweet mangoes. **** **** **** Log on to: agrizaccess.com for practical farming tips, doable ideas and interesting agri-people.

Agri Plain Talk Zac B. Sarian A veteran agriculture journalist who also runs a one-hectare nursery of exotic fruit trees. I am currently the Agriculture Editor of Manila Bulletin, a 113-year-old daily newspaper. My agriculture page appears every Thursday and Saturday where I write my Agri Plain Talk column. This twice weekly column has been running for more than 21 years now.   http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=8047&sid=7&subid=47#.UW9as0prqrE               

Work to start on turning farms into agritour sites Philippine Daily Inquirer 8:54 pm | Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

THE NATIONAL Statistical Coordination Board recently declared that farmers are among the least paid workers in the country with an average daily wage and salary of P156.8. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO DAVAO CITY—Preliminary work will start to develop Bukidnon and three other provinces into agritourism areas by a company led by agribusiness leader Antonio Tiu. Tiu said the projects will boost farmer income in line with his advocacy to turn agriculture into a vehicle for “all inclusive growth”. “We’ve commenced preliminary work on how these areas can be developed as destinations for foreign tourists, specifically from countries, with which we have existing tie-ups,” said Tiu, chair and chief executive officer of AgriNurture, an agricultural company. AgriNurture is considered the country’s biggest mango exporter and fruit and vegetable supplier. He said the preliminary work involved negotiations with farmers in the provinces. “We can easily fine-tune the details (later), whether to use lease, usufruct agreements or joint ventures with the locals,” Tiu said. He said he is confident that the development of farmlands into tourism destinations will help uplift the living and work conditions of farmers in Bukidnon and the three other provinces. Bukidnon, Batangas, Tarlac and Tagaytay are already widely recognized due to their potential to become agritourism destinations. “Throwing in tourism will create more employment and livelihood opportunities as well as directly increase the income of those already in the industry,” he said.

Tiu said these were his response to President Aquino’s call for increased private sector investment in agriculture, tourism and infrastructure. Tiu said Mr. Aquino had credited him with helping bring in foreign investments since 2011. These included the $1.3 billion biomass project in Negros Occidental, which is a partnership between his other company, Greenergy Holdings, and China’s Tianjin Tiambao Investment Development Corp. Greenergy’s biomass project in San Carlos is the first of such facility to be endorsed by the Department of Energy under the Renewable Energy Act of 2008. “We should be able to make agriculture more viable for the Filipino farmer. What is important is that the farmers and their families benefit from these agritourism projects. If the farmers are rich, (then) the country is rich,” Tiu said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/392461/work-to-start-on-turning-farms-into-agritoursites#ixzz2Qm9YHea3      

Philmech to put up more agri tramlines By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 18, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Center for Post Harvest and Mechanization (Philmech) intends to complete the construction of 32 new agricultural tramline systems (ATS) in various regions this year to help raise farmers’ incomes through lower transportation cost and less postharvest loss. The new tramline systems, which are due for completion by August this year, would be built in mountanious and hilly farming communities such as those in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Region 3 (central Luzon) and Region 2(Cagayan Valley). The Department of Agriculture has allotted a budget of P96 million from its 2012 budget to build the tramlines. It would cost about P3 million per kilometer. An ATS usually stretches from 800 meters to one kilometer and has a capacity to transport between 350 to 500 kilograms of goods. The project, which was started last year, aims to lower the transportation cost of high value crops and other farm goods and reduce the average post-harvest loss rate to only five percent from a high of 25 percent. Philmech executive director Rex Bingabing said that in areas where there are already existing tramline systems, farmers have expanded their production areas. The construction of tramlines in some areas have also contributed to the socio-economic wellbeing of households because of higher incomes. A total of 97 ATS have been completed from 2009 to 2011 at a cost of P2 million per kilometer. These ATS were also primarily intended for the transport of farm produce but have also been used to transport people and various commodities. Bingabing said that the new tramlines, which would be more expensive to build, owed be of higher quality that those previously built. “The objective is to increase the safety of the new tramlines,” he said. The 32 new ATS are seen to have a lifespan of 15 years without needing much repairs. The tramlines, like the ones before it, would be operated either by local govenrment units or farmers cooperatives. The revenues from fares would be used for repairs and to sustain the operations of the lines. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/04/18/931851/philmech‐put‐more‐agri‐tramlines 

Mindanao Newsbits for April 18, 2013

Published: April 18, 2013

FOOD TERMINAL Cotabato City (PNA) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Mindanao on Tuesday started a three-day training for Barangay Food Terminal (BFT) operators aimed at giving them the basics of running the affairs of the food terminal. Held in Polomolok, South Cotabato, the training is being undertaken by DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division (AMAD12). Present during the training were barangay and town officials and BFT operators. Bai Dido Samama, AMAD chief, said region 12 now has 105 food terminals scattered in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, and North Cotabato and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal and Gen. Santos City. http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=8080&sid=1&subid=5#.UW9UoUprqrE

                       

DBM freezes candidates’ ‘pork’

By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 18, 2013 - 1:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With the elections fast approaching, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) appears to have frozen pork barrel fund releases to lawmakers, many of them candidates. Though the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the DBM to continue disbursing senators’ and congressmen’s allocations from the P25-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), there have been allegations that money is being used for election purposes or skimmed for campaign funds. In Caloocan City, a congressman running for mayor has been accused of using his PDAF to boost his campaign. PDAF is the official name of the congressional pork barrel. It allocates P200 million a year for each senator and P70 million for each member of the House of Representatives. A check with the DBM website yesterday showed that total PDAF releases for this year has not moved from its P10.6-billion level 12 days ago, or April 5. This means that there have been no new releases made for nearly two weeks. If at all, only small amounts were disbursed and these did not affect the total. The April 5 level was almost double the P5.8 billion that was out as of March 8. Of the P10.6 billion, P9.4 billion has been made available to members of the House and P1.2 billion to senators. Of the amount released to House members, P7.6 billion was for those elected from legislative districts and P1.8 billion for party-list groups. PDAF releases to Senators Aquilino Pimentel III, Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV and Gregorio Honasan have remained at P167.3 million, P90.5 million, P88.8 million, P7.3 million, P30 million, and P54 million, respectively. The amount made available to Pimentel represents backlog for last year. Pimentel, Legarda, Escudero, Cayetano and Trillanes are seeking reelection under Team PNoy, while Honasan is aspiring for a second term as candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance.

Releases to San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara amounted to P32 million, P15 million and P50 million, respectively. Ejercito and Enrile are part of the UNA slate while Angara is running under Team PNoy Angara’s P50 million includes his P15.5-million balance for last year. Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, another UNA candidate for senator, has remained “pork-less.” In less than four months, the DBM has disbursed 42.7 percent of the P24.8-billion annual PDAF. Infrastructure budget hiked 40 percent The budget for infrastructure projects increased by 40.8 percent last February, or P9.4 billion more compared to the same period last year, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said in a statement. Abad said the increased allocation is in “fulfillment of President Aquino’s commitment to enhance spending for infrastructure and key economic services.” He said disbursements for infrastructure jumped to P12 billion this year, a massive 114.5-percent leap from the P5.6-billion disbursement in February 2012. The DBM added that maintenance and other operating expenses “leapt by 40.5 percent or P13.65 billion to P47.0 billion this year.” Abad said the increase was largely due to the continued implementation of key social service programs, including the conditional cash transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. “As early as the beginning of the year, agencies already have the authority to utilize their budgets for the early implementation of their programs and projects,” Abad said. “Since the administration began, we’ve committed ourselves to the timely enactment of the national budget to allow departments and agencies to start their projects as soon as the year begins,” he added. Personnel services also increased by P84.5 billion in February or 13.6 percent higher from P74.4 billion in 2012. The impact of the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law III, creation of new positions and higher claims for retirement gratuity and terminal leave benefits were credited for the jump. The newly created positions include 21,110 teaching and non-teaching spots at the Department of Education as well as 3,000 Police Officer I positions, 500 Jail Officer I positions and 500 Fire Officer I positions at the Department of the Interior and Local Government. –With Delon Porcalla http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/04/18/931965/dbm‐freezes‐candidates‐pork   

IMF keeps 6% growth projection for PHL   Category: Top News   Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 20:53   Written by Dennis D. Estopace | Reporter   THE  International  Monetary  Fund  (IMF),  a  recipient  of  a  $1‐billion  loan  from  the  Philippines,  kept  its  projection for the country’s growth amid risks the country faces.  In its “April 2013 Global Financial Stability Report,” the IMF maintained the Philippines’s real growth rate  of  its  gross  domestic  product  (GDP)  at  6  percent,  which  is  0.6  percent  lower  than  the  projected  6.6  percent for 2012.  The  projection  is  in  line  with  the  IMF’s  growth  picture  for  five  economies  under  the  Association  of  Southeast  Asian  Nations  (Asean),  which  growth  the  lender  described  as  “strong…  reflecting  resilient  domestic demand.”  The  IMF  said  in  its  report  released  on  April  16  in  Washington,  D.C.,  that  the  Philippines’s  growth  is  underpinned by “robust remittance flows and low interest rates.”  The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has noted that personal remittances from overseas Filipinos in February  was 6.9 percent higher at $1.9 billion compared to the same period last year.  Monetary  officials  have  also  maintained  low  interest  rates,  even  slashing  Special  Depository  Account  rates to sterilize the country’s financial environment.  The  combo  of  high  remittances  and  low  interest  rates  has,  according  to  the  IMF,  supported  private  consumption and investment in the Philippines.  The  IMF  projected  consumer  prices  to  remain  stable  at  3.1  percent  for  the  year,  with  a  slight  rise  by  2014 at 3.2 percent.  Current‐account  balance  projections,  however,  were  expected  to  decline  this  year  to  2.4  percent  as  a  share of the GDP and to 2 percent by 2014.  The  IMF  said  these  projections  may  be  viewed  in  terms  of  the  continuing  drag  from  advanced  economies, 10 of which are still a shambles, including the United States.  These economies all have a debt‐to‐GDP ratio exceeding 90 percent and still rising, although at different  speeds, according to IMF Fiscal Affairs Department Director Carlo Cotterelli.  The IMF warned that the external risks posed by these economies are considerable. 

“In  the  event  of  a  severe  global  slowdown,  falling  external  demand  would  exert  a  powerful  drag  on  Asia’s  most  open  economies,  including  through  the  second‐round  impact  of  lower  investment  and  employment in export‐oriented sectors,” it said.  If this ensues, the IMF added, a scenario of reassessment of sovereign risks would prompt further fiscal  tightening and lower growth in the advanced economies.  This, hence,  would effect  the growth in emerging  Asia, such that rates “would be reduced by about  1  percentage point on average in 2015‐2016.”  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/12238‐imf‐keeps‐6‐growth‐projection‐ for‐phl                                     

Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown By Alister Doyle Published: April 17, 2013

(Reuters) - Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon. Getting this right is essential for the short and long-term planning of governments and businesses ranging from energy to construction, from agriculture to insurance. Many scientists say they expect a revival of warming in coming years. Theories for the pause include that deep oceans have taken up more heat with the result that the surface is cooler than expected, that industrial pollution in Asia or clouds are blocking the sun, or that greenhouse gases trap less heat than previously believed. The change may be a result of an observed decline in heat-trapping water vapor in the high atmosphere, for unknown reasons. It could be a combination of factors or some as yet unknown natural variations, scientists say. Weak economic growth and the pause in warming is undermining governments' willingness to make a rapid billion-dollar shift from fossil fuels. Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out a plan by the end of 2015 to combat global warming. "The climate system is not quite so simple as people thought," said Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who estimates that moderate warming will be beneficial for crop growth and human health. Some experts say their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to correct a 2007 report that exaggerated the pace of melt of the Himalayan glaciers and wrongly said they could all vanish by 2035. "My own confidence in the data has gone down in the past five years," said Richard Tol, an expert in climate change and professor of economics at the University of Sussex in England.

Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first showed in the 1890s how man-made carbon dioxide, fromcoal for instance, traps heat in the atmosphere. Many of the exact effects are still unknown. Greenhouse gas emissions have hit repeated record highs with annual growth of about 3 percent in most of the decade to 2010, partly powered by rises in China and India. World emissions were 75 percent higher in 2010 than in 1970, UN data show. UN PANEL SEEKS EXPLANATION A rapid rise in global temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s - when clean air laws in developed nations cut pollution and made sunshine stronger at the earth's surface - made for a compelling argument that human emissions were to blame. The IPCC will seek to explain the current pause in a report to be released in three parts from late 2013 as the main scientific roadmap for governments in shifting from fossil fuels towards renewable energies such as solar or wind power, the panel's chairman Rajendra Pachauri said. According to Pachauri, temperature records since 1850 "show there are fluctuations. They are 10, 15 years in duration. But the trend is unmistakable." The IPCC has consistently said that fluctuations in the weather, perhaps caused by variations in sunspots or a La Nina cooling of the Pacific, can mask any warming trend and the panel has never predicted a year-by-year rise in temperatures. Experts say short-term climate forecasts are vital to help governments, insurers and energy companies to plan. Governments will find little point in reinforcing road bridges over rivers, for instance, if a prediction of more floods by 2100 doesn't apply to the 2020s. A section of a draft IPCC report, looking at short-term trends, says temperatures are likely to be 0.4 to 1.0 degree Celsius (0.7-1.8F) warmer from 2016-35 than in the two decades to 2005. Rain and snow may increase in areas that already have high precipitation and decline in areas with scarcity, it says. EXCEPTIONS AND CHALLENGES Pachauri said climate change can have counter-intuitive effects, like more snowfall in winter that some people find hard to accept as side-effects of a warming trend. An IPCC report last year said warmer air can absorb more moisture, leading to heavier snowfall in some areas. A study by Dutch experts this month sought to explain why there is now more sea ice in winter. It concluded melted ice from Antarctica was refreezing on the ocean surface - this fresh water freezes more easily than dense salt water. Some experts challenged the findings.

"The hypothesis is plausible I just don't believe the study proves it to be true," said Paul Holland, an ice expert at the British Antarctic Survey. Concern about climate change is rising in some nations, however, opinion polls show. Extreme events, such as Superstorm Sandy that hit the U.S. east coast last year, may be the cause. A record heatwave in Australia this summer forced weather forecasters to add a new dark magenta color to the map for temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius (129F). By Alister Doyle (Reuters) - Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions. Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon. Getting this right is essential for the short and long-term planning of governments and businesses ranging from energy to construction, from agriculture to insurance. Many scientists say they expect a revival of warming in coming years. Theories for the pause include that deep oceans have taken up more heat with the result that the surface is cooler than expected, that industrial pollution in Asia or clouds are blocking the sun, or that greenhouse gases trap less heat than previously believed. The change may be a result of an observed decline in heat-trapping water vapor in the high atmosphere, for unknown reasons. It could be a combination of factors or some as yet unknown natural variations, scientists say. Weak economic growth and the pause in warming is undermining governments' willingness to make a rapid billion-dollar shift from fossil fuels. Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out a plan by the end of 2015 to combat global warming. "The climate system is not quite so simple as people thought," said Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who estimates that moderate warming will be beneficial for crop growth and human health. Some experts say their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to correct a 2007 report that exaggerated the pace of melt of the Himalayan glaciers and wrongly said they could all vanish by 2035. "My own confidence in the data has gone down in the past five years," said Richard Tol, an expert in climate change and professor of economics at the University of Sussex in England.

Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first showed in the 1890s how man-made carbon dioxide, fromcoal for instance, traps heat in the atmosphere. Many of the exact effects are still unknown. Greenhouse gas emissions have hit repeated record highs with annual growth of about 3 percent in most of the decade to 2010, partly powered by rises in China and India. World emissions were 75 percent higher in 2010 than in 1970, UN data show. UN PANEL SEEKS EXPLANATION A rapid rise in global temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s - when clean air laws in developed nations cut pollution and made sunshine stronger at the earth's surface - made for a compelling argument that human emissions were to blame. The IPCC will seek to explain the current pause in a report to be released in three parts from late 2013 as the main scientific roadmap for governments in shifting from fossil fuels towards renewable energies such as solar or wind power, the panel's chairman Rajendra Pachauri said. According to Pachauri, temperature records since 1850 "show there are fluctuations. They are 10, 15 years in duration. But the trend is unmistakable." The IPCC has consistently said that fluctuations in the weather, perhaps caused by variations in sunspots or a La Nina cooling of the Pacific, can mask any warming trend and the panel has never predicted a year-by-year rise in temperatures. Experts say short-term climate forecasts are vital to help governments, insurers and energy companies to plan. Governments will find little point in reinforcing road bridges over rivers, for instance, if a prediction of more floods by 2100 doesn't apply to the 2020s. A section of a draft IPCC report, looking at short-term trends, says temperatures are likely to be 0.4 to 1.0 degree Celsius (0.7-1.8F) warmer from 2016-35 than in the two decades to 2005. Rain and snow may increase in areas that already have high precipitation and decline in areas with scarcity, it says. EXCEPTIONS AND CHALLENGES Pachauri said climate change can have counter-intuitive effects, like more snowfall in winter that some people find hard to accept as side-effects of a warming trend. An IPCC report last year said warmer air can absorb more moisture, leading to heavier snowfall in some areas. A study by Dutch experts this month sought to explain why there is now more sea ice in winter. It concluded melted ice from Antarctica was refreezing on the ocean surface - this fresh water freezes more easily than dense salt water. Some experts challenged the findings.

"The hypothesis is plausible I just don't believe the study proves it to be true," said Paul Holland, an ice expert at the British Antarctic Survey. Concern about climate change is rising in some nations, however, opinion polls show. Extreme events, such as Superstorm Sandy that hit the U.S. east coast last year, may be the cause. A record heatwave in Australia this summer forced weather forecasters to add a new dark magenta color to the map for temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius (129F). http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=7973&sid=1&subid=7#.UW9VeEprqrE                                     

Low interest rates may cause financial instability – IMF By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Governments and private enterprises have benefitted from the low interest environment abroad which allowed them to borrow funds cheaper, but continuation of the trend may cause financial instability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. “At present, balance sheets within emerging markets appear generally sound, but a continuation of current trends would likely lead to an increase in financial stability risk,” IMF said in its latest Global Financial Stability Report. Interest rates at floor levels abroad— partly caused by an effort to boost growth— have not only push out funds from Europe and the US, it also encouraged states and firms to source funding abroad. By the IMF’s estimates, foreign-currency borrowing by emerging market businesses rose by an average of 50 percent in the past five years. For sovereigns, the agency said dollar purchases reached “new highs.” While low borrowing rates are welcome, the multilateral agency warned an increase in foreign exchange funds must be matched by a rise in issuance of investment assets to absorb these inflows. It noted most foreign funds have been finding their way to the government bond market, shunning equities because of their risky characteristic. Corporations, on the other hand, have refrained from floating bonds themselves. With low issuance and large influx of foreign investors, asset bubbles, while still absent in emerging markets, should now be a cause of worry for policymakers. The fear is that a repeat of the 1997 Asian financial crisis may happen, when stock markets around the region crashed, denting growth and causing economic turmoil later on. “While emerging markets benefit from favorable external financing conditions, including through reduced borrowing costs and a wider range of financing sources, excess borrowing could increase risks in the medium term,” the IMF explained.

“At the same time, the crowding-in of foreign investors could lead to an asset price bubble, with prices becoming increasingly sensitive to external conditions,” it added. In addition, economies should watch out for a possible rise in interest rates— or an “interest rate shock”— in developed markets which could push up the amount of their foreign financing. Funds flowing to emerging markets have contributed to the rise in credit in these economies. According to the IMF, the proportion of credit to gross domestic product (GDP) is about 70 percent. Credit-to-GDP ratio is a gauge to measure if the amount of credit flowing in the system is enough to finance growth or excessive that it could stoke inflation and cause asset bubble formation. The IMF said while the emerging markets credit ratio remains far behind that of advanced economies, at 140 percent, policymakers should be watchful of sustained inflows. “Low interest rates and favorable financing conditions have eased risks and supported growth in emerging markets, but prolongation of such condition will likely lead to the build-up of vulnerabilities and potential stability,” it said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/04/18/931833/low‐interest‐rates‐may‐cause‐financial‐ instability‐imf                     

Financing firm targets to double loans to  SMEs by end of 2013     Category: Banking & Finance   Published on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 19:42   Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Reporter   FINANCING company Esquire Financing Inc. (EFI) said on Tuesday it aims to double this year the amount  of loans it released to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in 2012.  In  a  press  conference  at  the  Kashmir  restaurant  in  Makati  City,  EFI  Chief  Finance  Officer  Sandeep  Chandarimani said the company wants to be able to sustain its 100‐percent year‐on‐year growth.  “Based on the portfolio of the current clientele, they [SMEs] will continue to grow their businesses and  we’ll  grow  with  them  by  20  percent  to  30  percent,  and  incremental  to  that  we  can  expect  the  new  distribution  channel  to  contribute  to  the  balance,  which  will  get  us  to  at  least  100  percent,”  Chandarimani said.  According to him, EFI’s clients—new and otherwise—are expected to drive loans growth.  “If you look at the P3.86 billion in loans we released last year, an additional 30 percent is about P5 billion  in 2013, plus we’ll add [more] billions [of pesos] from new accounts to maintain the 100‐percent year‐ on‐year growth,” Chandarimani said.  EFI  Chief  Operating  Officer  (COO)  Navin  Uttamchandani  said  the  company  also  targets  to  expand  its  distribution network as it focuses on contributing to economic growth by acquiring new clients.  He said the company released P3.86 billion in loans to 4,649 clients in 2011 from P1.42 billion to 2,457  clients the year before. He added that the average loan size also grew by 44 percent to P831,000 last  year from P577,000 in 2011.  According to him, EFI considers SMEs’ potential for growth as untapped, as access to capital remains to  be the biggest barrier.  The  EFI  COO  said  the  Philippines’s  recent  credit‐rating  upgrade  has  several  benefits  for  SMEs,  particularly  in  their  growth  stage.  “What  we’re  seeing  now,  thanks  to  the  credit‐rating  upgrade,  is  a  huge amount of capital inflow, which is translated into liquidity. [This, in turn,] translates into [creating  opportunities] for SMEs.” 

“The government is expected to begin spending more and promoting SME businesses more. That’s the  way they can flow into the liquidity in a more intelligent way—by investing in infrastructure, in creating  more  jobs  and  more  businesses.  SMEs  will  eventually  get  [greater]  access  to  capital  than  before,”  he  added.  Based  on  estimates,  Uttamchandani  said  stimulating  the  growth  of  SMEs  is  critical  for  the  country’s  economy, as these currently contribute about 30 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, putting  them at par with larger enterprises. EFI doesn’t respond to their clients’ needs through fixed product or  solutions, according to the company’s COO.  “We  respond  through  our  core  values  of  efficiency,  flexibility  and  integrity.  SMEs  need  someone  who  can turn around approvals very quickly, who’s dynamic enough to understand their needs and customize  solutions to match them, and most important someone they can trust to stick with them. It’s not a one‐ shot deal. We help them grow, and by doing so, we grow with them,” Uttamchandani said. EFI President  and Chief Executive Officer Rajan Uttamchandani  said the credit‐rating upgrade was foreseen by most  experts, with much of the groundwork for managing an investment‐grade country already in place, and  all that’s left now is to help SMEs fulfill their potentials.  He added that it also means SMEs will see the benefits of the upgrade much more quickly than usual,  making  this  a  particularly  thrilling  time  for  them.  The  challenge  for  SMEs  now,  however,  is  securing  capital.  Rajan  expressed  belief  that  his  company  can  help  SMEs  achieve  success  by  providing  them  access to capital.  “Esquire  provides  a  means  to  an  end.  And  it  offers  easy  access  to  financing  for  smaller  to  medium  enterprises. We serve as a conduit, connecting investors or partners like banks to SMEs,” he said. While  larger  finance  institutions  and  banks  aren’t  built  to  engage  with  the  SME  market,  microfinance  enterprises generally stick to a one‐size‐fits‐all model due to a smaller amount of capital, as well as fixed  amounts at fixed interest rates over fixed periods of time.  “Our vision is for Esquire is to become the leader in growth‐stage financing. In order to achieve this, we  create relationships and partnerships with our clients,” Rajan said.  “Our clients aren’t account numbers; they’re people, they’re personalities. We know who they are, their  clients, how they work and what their visions are. We develop our relationships in a mutually beneficial  way, so that when our clients are successful, we’re successful,” he added.  “If you look at our marketing collateral, you’ll notice that we talk about our core values more than the  product  itself.  For  us,  it’s  not  just  about  providing  loans  or  funding.  It’s  about  being  able  to  achieve  success for our clients,” the EFI chief said.  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/banking‐finance/12213‐financing‐firm‐targets‐ to‐double‐loans‐to‐smes‐by‐end‐of‐2013 

Asean financial integration to boost PHL  capital market     Category: Banking & Finance   Published on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 20:00   Written by Dennis D. Estopace / Reporter   BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo expects the Association of Southeast  Asian Nations (Asean) financial integration to positively affect the country’s capital market.  “Financial integration aims to make Asean a bigger market than individual national markets for financial  products  and  services,  including  banking,  insurance  and  securities,”  Guinigundo  said  in  a  message  e‐ mailed to the BusinessMirror.  His statement came a day after a summary report was released at the sidelines of the meeting of the  Ninth Asean Central Bank Governors in Brunei Darussalam.  The Asean Summary Report on Asean Financial Integration, which was erroneously referred to as having  been  written  by  the  Asian  Development  Bank,  gives  guidance  to  the  move  by  Asean  members  to  integrate the region’s financial environment.  “With  financial  integration,  we  expect  [that]  capital  markets  in  the  region  will  be  deeper  and  more  developed,” Guinigundo said. “More efficient and reliable payments and settlements system will also be  covered.”  “With sufficient safeguards and with due consideration of local conditions and levels of preparedness,  the capital account of the Asean member‐countries will go through careful and phased liberalization,”  he added.  The  report  was  prepared  by  the  Asean  central  banks  under  the  supervision  of  the  Asean  Senior  Level  Committee, according to the BSP deputy governor.  This committee is led by the BSP and Bank Negara Malaysia under the guidance of all the Asean central  bank governors.  Guinigundo  said  that  from  the  output  of  the  Asean  central  bank  deputies  in  the  committee,  “we  can  infer  that  this  could  have  the  desired  effects  of  expanding  the  absorptive  capacity  for  capital  flows,  recycling them for productive uses in the Philippine economy and in the process temper any potential  inflationary impact of excess liquidity coming from the external side.” 

The  report  defines  “financial  integration  as  a  market‐driven  process,  which  can  be  set  in  motion  by  domestic financial‐market liberalization and [capital‐asset liberalization].”  The  Asean  is  banking  on  this  process  to  remove  restrictions  and  reform  policies  that  obstruct  cross‐ border movements of capital.  The  report  believes  integration  would  eventually  strengthen  the  domestic  financial  markets  of  Asean  vis‐à‐vis  “those  of  countries  outside  the  region  because  the  fungibility  of  money  and  finance  would  make it difficult to discriminate against non‐Asean borrowers and lenders, even if it were possible under  multilateral rules.”  Guinigundo  said  that  “with  greater  financial  integration  encouraging  cross‐border  flows  within  the  region,  capital‐market  development  will  receive  [an]  additional  boost  and  in  the  process  increase  the  economy’s capacity to absorb and recycle funds for productive uses.”  “Thus,  greater  financial  integration  in  the  Asean  has  dual  positive  effects  on  both  capital  market  development and inflation management,” he added.  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/banking‐finance/12162‐asean‐financial‐ integration‐to‐boost‐phl‐capital‐market                       

PDIC ordered to go on with EIB’s  liquidation     Category: Banking & Finance   Published on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 20:01   Written by Paul Anthony A. Isla / Reporter   THE  Bangko  Sentral  ng  Pilipinas’s  (BSP)  Monetary  Board  (MB)  has  directed  the  Philippine  Deposit  Insurance Corp. (PDIC) to proceed with the liquidation of the shuttered Export and Industry Bank (EIB).  In  a  statement  released  on  Tuesday,  the  PDIC  said  the  order  was  issued  pursuant  to  Section  30  of  Republic Act 7653, or the New Central Bank Act. The order came after the MB received the state deposit  insurer’s report on the non‐satisfaction of the conditions for EIB’s rehabilitation.  On March 20, the PDIC declared the rebidding and rehabilitation of EIB a failure when it didn’t receive  any letter of interest from any of the pre‐qualified strategic third‐party investors (STPIs).    In the October 18 bidding, no bids were received from the pre‐qualified STPIs who submitted letters of  interest to participate in the exercise.  The  net  realizable  value  of  EIB’s  recorded  assets—estimated  at  P13.65  billion—is  deficient  by  P11.02  billion to cover its liabilities aggregating to P24.67 billion as of December 31.  In line with procedures, the state deposit insurer said it would file with the liquidation court a petition  for assistance in the liquidation of EIB.  The  liquidation  of  the  bank,  according  to  the  PDIC,  will  involve  the  collection  and  resolution  of  loan  accounts, and disposal or sale of assets via bidding and negotiated sale.  The  MB  ordered  EIB’s  closure  on  April  26,  2012,  after  the  bank  voluntarily  surrendered  its  banking  operations to the BSP due to its inability to service withdrawals.  http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/banking‐finance/12163‐pdic‐ordered‐to‐go‐on‐ with‐eib‐s‐liquidation       

BSP finetunes SDA rates further as inflation outlook stays favorable By Lee C. Chipongian Published: April 18, 2013

The benign inflation outlook continues to give the central bank the monetary space to further adjust rates on special deposit accounts (SDA), said Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. “Depending on market circumstances, the BSP could make further adjustments on the price of the SDA, as well as its operations,” according to Tetangco. The BSP however, does not “precommit to any particular policy action in the future” since its policy decisions depend on how the outlook for inflation evolves, he added. BSP Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo, for his part, said the benign inflation as it is, will continue to provide scope for operational adjustments in the SDA facility. “(But) further changes will depend on operational and institutional considerations as assessed by the Monetary Board.” While both Tetangco and Guinigundo clarified that BSP will never pre-commit a policy action, the later said decisions will always depend on how inflation is trending. “Any fine-tuning adjustments are always guided by the BSP’s objective to preserve price and financial stability,” said Guinigundo. As of March 14, the BSP has cut SDA rate by 100 basis points to 2.5 percent on all maturities. The move follows the BSP’s objective of improving the SDA facility in preparation to adopting the interest rate corridor approach by the second quarter this year. Tetangco earlier noted that despite reducing SDA rate in January to three percent flat across all tenors, the interest in SDAs have not waned which he said is an indication that the relatively riskfree deposit facility continues to attract funds. As of end-March, SDA level totaled P1.9 trillion from P1.67 trillion in December. Funds continue to flood the deposit facility because capital inflows are not slowing down. However despite the challenge of managing capital inflow surges, Tetangco said they have “deep toolkits” to maintain a low inflation environment and avoid uncontrolled exchange rate volatility because of the inflows.

As for key policy rates for overnight lending and borrowing, these were left unchanged based on assessment that the inflation environment over the policy horizon is likely to remain manageable. “Inflation expectations continue to be firmly anchored (and) the risks to the inflation outlook are evenly balanced. Although global economic activity has gained traction, lingering fiscal and financial market stresses in the advanced economies continue to dampen the broad outlook, thereby mitigating upward pressures on commodity prices,” said the BSP. “Meanwhile, pending domestic power rate adjustments and potentially stronger domestic liquidity growth due to expectations of further capital inflows pose upside risks to the inflation outlook.” As for the adjustments in SDA rates, the central bank said the move is consistent with “continuing efforts to fine-tune the operation of its monetary policy tools.” The benign inflation outlook and improving growth prospects provide room for the reduction in the SDA rate, it added. “The BSP also stands ready to employ macroprudential measures as necessary to preemptively address any potential misalignments in asset prices.” http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=8121&sid=2&subid=9#.UW9ZdEprqrE                               

Top Story  Posted on April 17, 2013 11:41:39 PM 

By Bettina Faye V. Roc, Reporter

State agencies miss budget deadline LESS THAN a third of state agencies have submitted their budget proposals for 2014 but the  preparation process remains on track, Budget department officials yesterday said.      “Our bureau monitoring the hard copies of submissions reports that 73 agencies have submitted,”  Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said in a text message, out of a total of 260.    “[O]nly DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), DND (Department of National Defense) and PCOO  (Presidential Communications Operation Office) have submitted their OSEC (Office of the Secretary)  budgets. And DFA has a complete submission, including attached offices,” Ms. Pascua added.    The deadline for the submission of agencies’ budget proposals for next year, according to National  Budget Memorandum 115, was last Monday. Ms. Pascua said that the delays in submission were  “expected” and were not a cause for concern.    “We are piloting our online budget submission system and our new coding structure. The latter  harmonizes the CoA (Commission on Audit) chart of accounts and our budget classification system.  Hence, I expect delays,” she noted.    “[W]e hold the final review of the proposals by mid‐May to June. So I would say we’re still on track.”  Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad, in a separate text message, also said that the preparation process  remained on schedule.    “We’re currently going over the submissions as they come,” Mr. Abad said.    The DBM hopes to be able to have the 2014 national budget signed into law and enacted before the end  of the year, as it has been able to do for the last three years. The 2014 national budget has been  tentatively capped at P2.268 trillion, 13.1% higher than this year’s P2.006 trillion. The total budget for  government agencies has been set at P1.049 trillion, with the Education department again given the  highest ceiling of P255.15 billion, albeit slightly lower than its approved 2013 allocation of P293.32  billion. The proposed 2014 budget will be presented to President Benigno S. C. Aquino III on June 21. It is  expected to be submitted to Congress by July 23.   ‐ See more at: http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=TopStory&title=State‐agencies‐ miss‐budget‐deadline&id=68856#sthash.VVSzIUCB.dpuf 

Govt won’t bring up Sabah in Asean gab By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:02am | 457 views

President Benigno Aquino III has no plans to internationalize the Sabah conflict, which Manila views as a bilateral issue between the Philippines and Malaysia. Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the President will not bring up the issue during the Leaders’ Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei next week, nor will he hold any bilateral meetings during the event. Hernandez clarified, however, that this was not a deliberate move to avoid a oneon-one meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. “People are busy and this is actually a very short summit and not like the one that we had last November,” Hernandez said. “The Sabah issue, for now, is considered a bilateral issue. So this will not go to the meetings of Asean,” he said. Followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III trooped to Sabah in mid-February and have refused to leave, reasserting their territorial right over the island state. Firefights between Kiram’s followers and Malaysian forces have left between 30 and 60 people dead. Apparently alarmed by reports that more fighters from Tawi-Tawi and Sulu had arrived to reinforce the sultan’s followers in Sabah, the Malaysian military announced Wednesday that it had tightened security in the state’s coastal areas to strengthen their naval blockade. This year’s Asean summit, under the chairmanship of Brunei, has the theme “Our People, Our Future Together,” which emphasizes the importance of citizens in realizing the vision of an Asean Community by 2015. Hernandez said the President will “continue to advocate maritime security and cooperation, to push for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration

on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and to propose the early conclusion of a substantive and legally binding Code of Conduct.” The department spokesman said he hoped China, which has several territorial disputes with Asean members, would respond positively. “The Chinese side has said that they will only discuss this with ASEAN when the time is ripe. And we are hoping that the time is ripe now for such discussion because this actually would be very good and this would be good for the region, and this will put peace and stability and freedom of navigation in the area that we are talking about,” he said. The 22nd Asean Summit will start with a working dinner to be hosted by Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on April 24. The President will also join his counterparts in the 9th Brunei-IndonesiaMalaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area or BIMP-EAGA Summit after the Asean Summit Retreat Session on April 25 before flying back to Manila. On Tuesday, the Moro National Liberation Front claimed it has sent 3,000 guerillas to Sabah to help the sultan’s followers, led by his brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram. MNLF peace panel member Absalom Cerveza said the MNLF fighters slipped to Sabah in fast boats, eluding the cordon set up by the Philippine and Malaysian navies. The sultan’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, has denied Cerveza’s claim.With Vito Barcelo and Ferdinand Fabella http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/18/govt‐wont‐bring‐up‐sabah‐in‐asean‐gab/           

Pharmacists needed to man drug stores By Gigi Munoz-David | Posted on Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 183 views 1

UNA senatorial candidate Jack Enrile on Wednesday asked the Food and Drug Administration make sure drug stores have licensed pharmacists. “No one should play around with the health of our people,” he said amid findings that 70 percent of pharmacies in the Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzuela (Camanava) area have no actual pharmacists to assist the buying public. He said the Professional Regulatory Commission certificates of license pharmacists were merely being displayed for the sake of compliance. We are talking here of a life-and-death issue because medicines can kill if misused or when the prescribed dosage is not followed,” Enrile said. “A pharmacist can only be physically present in one drugstore at any given time. Thus, it can be assumed that many pharmacists allow multiple pharmacies to use their certificates, for a fee I bet, so those drugstores can operate,” Enrile said. “Those so-called ghost pharmacists may just make ghosts of our ailing countrymen by being absent in the pharmacies they man only on paper.” Enrile said the Philippine Pharmacists Association to police its ranks by reminding its members of their duty to help sick people get well through the proper dispensing of medicines. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/18/pharmacists‐needed‐to‐man‐drug‐stores/             

The problem of smuggling By Florencio Fianza | Posted on Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 463 views 1

Is the country really the smuggling capital of Asia as headlined by this paper several days ago? I do not believe so but sometimes I think that we flagellate ourselves too much by saying that we are the worst. Make no mistake about it, though —there is a lot of smuggling going on. Smuggling here has a long and colorful history. Traditionally, smuggling was the landing of contrabands without going through the legal ports of call in order to avoid paying the proper taxes. That’s why in the old days, there were stories of the landing of “blue seal’” cigarettes on the shores of Cavite. More recently, there were stories of the landing of second-hand motorcycles in the Ilocos region or the landing of illegal drugs along the Atimonan shores of Quezon. In the law enforcement community, there were stories of the People’s Liberation Army of China getting involved in the illegal trafficking of drugs in the 1990s by floating contraband drugs in containers along the shores of Quezon to be retrieved by drug smugglers. Today, smuggling has gotten very sophisticated. It is done through our ports of entry under the very noses of our Customs officials. Technical smuggling is a term used to denote underdeclaration, misdeclaration or downright false declaration of goods. The importation of second-hand right hand-drive vehicles in Subic and then Port Irene in Cagayan can also be classified as technical smuggling. Fortunately, this has now been stopped by the Supreme Court. Previous administrations addressed the problem of smuggling by creating separate agencies which in turn created problems because of turf wars. This administration I understand has decided to simply rely on the Customs Bureau under Ruffy Biazon and Danny Lim for enforcement. But as we can see, the result is not also successful. The bombshell of Mr. Ramon Ang with regard to oil smuggling is actually no bombshell at all; our Customs people and the oil industry have known about this for a long time but no one was or is prepared to do anything about it. In fact, oil

smuggling is happening right in Manila Bay if the Bureau of Customs really wants to know. And this is not all. There is smuggling of LPG and other agricultural products, costing the government billions of pesos in lost revenues. And since the smuggling is large-scale, the identities of those involved cannot of course be kept secret for long. Inevitably, their identities will filter out and will be known to the industry and to the Customs bureau. But when big money is involved, it is always difficult to stop anything. Look at jueteng; it is still thriving. So who should be blamed for the current rampant smuggling? The police, as one writer in a different paper forcefully proclaimed? He wrote that smuggling is a police problem and it is the cash cow of many police generals. He does not seem to realize that the Customs and Tariffs Law is a special law and for the police to get involved, they would need deputization. The problem of smuggling falls squarely on the shoulders of the Customs Bureau. The writer is barking up the wrong tree. The position of Commissioner of Customs has always been a much sought-after position. The common knowledge is that once appointed, it is like winning a lottery. I am not saying that all those appointed to the position are corrupt because there are always some exceptions. Should Commissioner Biazon resign to take responsibility for failing to stop rampant smuggling? His boss President Aquino does not think so. In his defense, Biazon speaks of reforms that he has undertaken but has been vague on specifics. What exactly are these reforms? He also speaks of someone spreading black propaganda against him and is asking the oil companies to police their own ranks—an admission of failure. One senator who defended Biazon says that he should be given more time because it takes about two years to learn the job. I think this is the problem. Why appoint a neophyte when who is needed is someone who can hit the ground running? Ruffy Biazon might have good intentions, but the road to hell is often paved with good intentions. In the meantime, the government is losing a lot of revenues and the smugglers are having a fiesta.

Customs is having difficulty reaching its collection target. To me, all this is simple. Once appointed to the job, he is responsible for all the accomplishments or failures of the bureau. If it makes good, he gets all the credit. If he fails, he gets all the blame and since there is failure in the bureau, he should take the hint and do the right thing. Biazon’s job is not a position where trying your best is enough. I think he should have learned the ropes after more than a year in the bureau. He should by this time be able to come down hard on the corrupt people that walk the corridors of Customs. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/18/the‐problem‐of‐smuggling/                                   

US-PH defense sea force eyed By Florante S. Solmerin | Posted on Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 891 views 3

Joint move to protect territorial waters A high-ranking US military official said on Wednesday that the US government was considering establishing a “strong” defense force with the Philippines’ armed forces capable of handling the country’s “strategic interest” in the South China sea. Speaking during the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the Balikatan 2013, Gen. Terry Robling, commander of the US Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific, said he hoped to get the defense force to the point of becoming a “national maneuver force” that is best designed for territorial defense. “One of the things that I talked to (Philippine military chief) Gen. (Emmanuel) Bautista about was a roadmap for us training with the armed forces of the Philippines,” Robling told reporters. “I think, at some point, that will happen, but probably, not in the next exercise,” he added. Robling added that while the territorial disputes in the Asia-Pacific region will have to be worked on through diplomatic channels, “having a strong defense” is also one tool that can be used. The Philippines and China remained locked in a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea, specifically in the islets surrounding the Spratly Islands, and the resource-rich Panatag Shoal in Palawan. But Robling added that the military ties between the US and the Philippines may have helped prevent the escalation of territorial dispute. Other claimant countries of some of the territories in the South China Sea are Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. The Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises have been going for the past several years as provided in the PH-US 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty that later gave birth to the Visiting Forces Agreement.1

And for the first time, China has sent a representative to the Balikatan to observe round-table discussions that focused on humanitarian affairs and disaster relief operations. “Very significant,” said Robling of China’s participation. “There is no one country that has domain over that (disaster relief operations) and we need every country in the region to be able to hold together and help countries in need. Certainly, having China for the very first time at least (to) watch how we do table top exercises and the things that we talked about I think will help them be better partners in the future.” Beijing’s representative joined other delegates from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam. Maj. Gen. Virgilio Domingo, the Balikatan 2013 exercise director from the Philippine side, said officials for Balikatan 2014 will have to discuss whether similar drills will be held again in Palawan. Robling said that Balikatan 2013, which opened April 5, not only strengthened the Philippines and U.S. forces’ combined ability to defend each other, but it also “improved the multinational military and civilian disaster response coordination in Southeast Asia and throughout the region.” Even with the fresh threats from North Korea, Balikatan proved to be an opportunity for the Philippines and the United States to ensure their “operational readiness” against “any emergency that both our countries may face,” Domingo added. Robling also touched on North Korea’s threat of a nuclear attack in the region, saying that the US has at least seven defense treaty partners that can deal with the situation. Robling said they are now looking forward on the possibility of conducting a multi-lateral military exercises with partner countries. “We will begin that planning next week and we’ll take a look at that. Well, we certainly are looking at other countries like Japan and Australia,” he said. As this developed, a congressional reports said that the US was footing more of the bill for overseas bases in Germany, Japan and South Korea even as the

military reduces the number of American troops in Europe and strategically repositions forces in Asia, The exhaustive, yearlong investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee focused on costs and burden-sharing as the United States spends more than $10 billion a year to back up the U.S. military presence overseas, with 70 percent of the amount expended in the three nations. The figure does not include military personnel costs. With AP http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/18/us‐ph‐defense‐sea‐force‐eyed/                                     

Domingo asks Chinese businessmen to invest more in PH By Othel V. Campos | Posted on Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 112 views

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo on Tuesday asked visiting Chinese businessmen to increase their investments in the Philippines. “Since China has more money than the Philippines, we hope that more Chinese will invest in the Philippines,” Domingo told 56 Chinese investors who attended the Philippine-China Business Forum and the First Philippine-China Trade and Investment Council meeting in Makati City. Domingo said there was a huge disparity in investments made by Chinese businessmen in the Philippines and Filipinos in China. He said Chinese businessmen invested only $65.45 million here while Filipinos poured $130 million in China in 2012. He said cumulative Philippine investments in China were six times bigger than what the Chinese had invested in the Philippines through the years. Domingo said China was also the third-largest export destination of Philippine products and second-largest source of imports. He said together with Hong Kong, China stood as the Philippines’ largest trading partner. He expressed confidence that with the continuing economic relations between the two countries, the investment statistics could be reversed in favor of the Philippines over time. “Definitely, we can reverse the investment figure. They have more money with GDP [gross domestic product] that is 30 times bigger than ours,” Domingo said. The Chinese delegates were comprised of 56 businessmen from 24 companies of varied industries representing 10 provinces in China.

The visiting companies have interests in energy and power, import and export, services, mining, transportation, real estate, construction, agriculture and leather goods manufacturing. “This implies we are back in the Chinese business radar,” said Domingo. Philippine Stock Exchange chairman Jose Pardo said the renewed Chinese interest was an opportunity for the revival of business relations given the spate of controversies that threatened to damage bilateral relations with China. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/18/domingo‐asks‐chinese‐businessmen‐to‐invest‐more‐in‐ ph/                                     

BSP set to issue new foreign exchange rules By Bloomberg | Posted on Apr. 18, 2013 at 12:01am | 133 views

The Bangko Sentral will announce the latest changes to its rules on foreigncurrency transactions today to boost demand for dollars, spur capital outflows and slow peso appreciation. Bangko Sentral will hold a briefing at 2:30 p.m. Thursday on the “6th wave of foreign exchange liberalization,” it said in an e-mail. The adjustments in rules, which will allow easier access to foreign exchange, are aimed at encouraging fund outflows, Governor Amando Tetangco told Bloomberg Television on March 28 when he revealed the April timetable for the new rules. The Philippines, which won its first investment-grade credit ranking from Fitch Ratings last month, is seeking to slow a surge in capital inflows that fueled the biggest peso gain in six months and drove local shares to a record high. Foreign portfolio inflows into the $225-billion economy jumped 79 percent from a year earlier to $7.3 billion in the first quarter, after rising to a 10-year high in 2012. “To encourage the purchase of dollars, the BSP will probably expand the list of transactions that are not subject to a cap and probably raise some of the caps,” said Rafael Algarra, executive vice president at Security Bank Corp. in Manila. “Right now, there are still more dollars coming in than going out, so the impact of the rules may be minimal at the moment,” Algarra said. The peso rose 0.4 percent to 41.250 per dollar at the close Wednesday, according to Tullett Prebon Plc. The currency has gained 3.4 percent in the past 12 months, the second-best performance in the region. Exports fell 15.6 percent in February from a year earlier, the biggest drop since 2011, according to official data. Bloomberg http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/04/18/bsp‐set‐to‐issue‐new‐foreign‐exchange‐rules/ 

Business booms Published on 17 April 2013  Hits: 321  Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER   

A MAJORITY of businesses in the Philippines is enjoying robust growth and 90 percent of companies are either planning to hire more staff or maintain the number of their employees this year, according a survey released by the global workspace provider Regus. The survey showed that the Philippines remained untouched by the gloomy scenarios of unemployment and plummeting profits in other parts of the world. The poll, which involved 26,000 businesses across 90 countries, revealed that the latest Business Confidence Index found that a great number of Philippine companies have posted soaring incomes. In fact, 63 percent of businesses reported rising revenues, while 59 percent said their profits increased over the past 12 months. With many of these companies planning to expand operations, a hiring binge is expected. However, these firms will put emphasis on sales and marketing, as many businesses feel that it is the right time to boost sales. The survey said nearly a third, or 30 percent, of these companies plan to increase their personnel by more than five percent, 51 percent are set to hire more sales and marketing employees, while 53 percent want to get more operational staff. Regus added that the findings highlighted a strong emphasis on recruiting more sales, marketing and operational staff in the Philippines. It said that this positivity bolsters a stable business confidence index score, which has risen slightly in the Philippines since October 2012. The index for the Philippines stands at 147 points, up one point from six months ago. “The stand out figures are not just that firms are looking to recruit but that their plan is to invest in sales and marketing, this shows that companies feel it’s the right time to go out there and sell,” John Henderson from Regus said. He added that results suggest that sales and marketing professionals will be in high

demand in the coming months. Businesses need to consider how to recruit and retain the best in the field, ensuring they can remain competitive in their market, Henderson explained. It noted that 85 percent of businesses are planning to increase or maintain headcount in 2013, with one in four going for an expansion of more than 5 percent. The survey further said that a remarkable 57 percent aim to bolster sales and marketing departments and a large rise in operational hires (40 percent) is anticipated to service new sales. Furthermore, it also said that small businesses—traditionally an engine of economic recovery—are most likely to take on significant numbers of new staff at 28 percent. “All trends indicate that offering flexible working will move from a ‘nice to have’ perk to a necessary condition of employment, being key to securing and retaining the best employees for any company,” Henderson said. He added that younger people are entering the workforce with a “very different attitude to work,” placing flexibility and quality of life above more traditional considerations. “But flexible working also brings additional benefits, helping businesses cut fixed office space costs and increase staff productivity,” Henderson said. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/top‐stories/45691‐business‐booms               

Mindanao power crisis to ease by 2016   Published on 17 April 2013  Hits: 107  Written by CATHY S. VALENTE   

A 28-year contract between the Phividec Industrial Authority and Filinvest Development Corp. (FDC) Inc., that offers long-term solution to Mindanao’s energy problems, was signed. President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself witnessed the ceremonial contract signing of the P30-billion investment of FDC that paves the way for the construction of a power generation facility in Misamis Oriental. In his speech, the President said Mindanao will soon become the “Land of Promise Fulfilled” after a 405 megawatt circulating fluidized bed (CFB) coal-fired thermal power plant built in an 84-hectare land within Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. “This contract signing today demonstrates a new face of Philippine governance: We are witnessing a great step in our shared pursuit of bequeathing to succeeding generations a Philippines that meets its full potential,” he said “Through the collective efforts of forward thinkers in public service, and of our partners in Filinvest, we are showing our commitment to sustainable, inclusive growth whose impact will be felt by Filipinos even decades from now,” he added Mindanao’s energy situation, the President said, did not arise overnight and the solution also requires cooperation among stakeholders, which is also expected to take some time. “These plants that Filinvest is committing to is a reaffirmation of this confidence. They are a significant part of the long-term solution. This signing gives us peace of mind that the permanent solutions are being put in place,” Mr. Aquino said. “By 2016, these three plants, by themselves, will be providing 405 megawatts of coal power to the Mindanao grid.” “With the energy these plants will be producing, by 2016, we expect production capacity to be almost 470 megawatts above peak demand,” he added

Mr. Aquino said that the government, in cooperation with the private sector, not only increases Mindanao’s maximum capacity but also reinforces the region’s entire energy supply with more reliable and stable sources. He noted that the establishment of the power plant in Mindanao is expected to generate 2,000 jobs. “We are making their energy infrastructure much more competitive. We should also not forget that in constructing these power plants, Filinvest will be injecting P29-30 billion into Mindanao’s economy, while giving jobs to two thousand workers in the process,” he added The President cited that previous leaders assumed that cheap hydro power could last forever neglecting the fact that the hydropower plants are machines that need to be maintained, improved and replaced. He said that “instead of actively protecting the source of hydropower, illegal logging was allowed to continue, destroying watersheds and was compounded by the effects of climate change.” But with the construction of cleaner coal-powered plants in Mindanao, President Aquino said that he expects the region’s energy woes to be a thing of the past. Since taking office in 2010, he said, his administration immediately began making the structural changes that encouraged the private sector to come in and put up power plants. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/regions/45661‐mindanao‐power‐crisis‐to‐ease‐by‐2016               

Feb. infra spending up 40.8% to P9.4 billion   Published on 17 April 2013  Hits: 186  Written by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER 

Government spending for infrastructure and other capital outlays as of February went up by 40.8 percent to P9.4 billion from the same period last year, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced on Wednesday. The DBM said that a big portion of the increase because of the increased spending by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), as its disbursements for infrastructure projects rose 114.5 percent to P12 billion this year from the P5.6billion disbursement level in February 2012. On the other hand, maintenance and other operating expenses also jumped by 40.5 percent or P13.65 billion to P47 billion this year. The DBM attributed the increase to the continued implementation of key social service programs, including the conditional cash transfer program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development. According to Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad, higher spending levels in February resulted from budgetary reforms instituted under the Aquino administration—including the timely enactment of the National Budget and the establishment of Account Management Teams in key departments and agencies— which helped drive the fund disbursement pace and improve agency absorptive capacity. “As early as the beginning of the year, agencies already have the authority to utilize their budgets for the early implementation of their programs and projects. Since the Administration began, we’ve committed ourselves to the timely enactment of the National Budget to allow departments and agencies to start their projects as soon as the year begins,” he stated. Abad continued that with the one-year lapse period for appropriations in effect, the Budget and Management department expects agencies to make even better use of their allotments within the fiscal year.

As DBM prepares for the next year’s budget, Abad reported that the agency will continue to implement and advance reforms that will ensure efficient, high-impact spending that will yield real, immediate, and sustainable benefits for Filipinos. Meanwhile, the DBM also noted that disbursements for personnel services also expanded by P10.1 billion to P84.5 billion in February, or 13.6 percent from the 2012 level of P74.4 billion. It explained that the impact of the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law III, the creation of new positions, and higher claims for retirement gratuity and terminal leave benefits were credited for the jump. The department added that the newly created positions include an additional 21,110 teaching and non-teaching spots in the Department of Education, as well as 3,000 Police Officer I positions, 500 Jail Officer I positions and 500 Fire Officer I positions under the Department of Interior and Local Government. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top‐business‐news/45643‐feb‐infra‐spending‐up‐40‐ 8‐to‐p9‐4‐billion                         

Keeping up with the times Published on 17 April 2013  Hits: 151   

With the rapid advancements in financial systems in both the domestic and global arena, it becomes imperative for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to be attuned with the times. Not only does it need to “ride on the waves” of technology, but it should also adopt internationally accepted principles in both financial and payment systems. The BSP has been pushing for the amendment of its charter so it can prompt the national government to recapitalize automatically every time its capital reaches dangerously low levels. Through recapitalization, banking regulators—like BSP— will further increase the stability of the sector especially of rural banks so that they are able to raise capital themselves after they reform their corporate structure. By beefing up the rural banks’ capital, they are placed in a better position to withstand any losses and liquidity risks. Over the years, the BSP has played a crucial role in ensuring the stability of the rural banking industry. Under its leadership and partnership with the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines and the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., the public has been assured of the financial integrity and strengthened financial inclusion particularly in rural banks. In fact, the BSP is one of the first central banks in the world to have an office dedicated to the pursuit of financial inclusion. The whole rural banking industry has been an active advocate of financial inclusion in the country. It is through rural banks that those that are “unbanked and underbanked” have gained access to financial services. Despite geographical hindrances, rural banks have persevered in reaching out to the poor market, through the full utilization of mobile banking, microfinance and micro insurance. For instance, the BSP authorized rural banks to make equity investments in ATM networks through Circular 563 and engage in limited trust activities under Circular 583 in 2007. The following year, qualified rural banks were even allowed to participate in select derivatives activities under Circular 594. In 2009, the BSP issued Circular 649, or the electronic money circular, which provides the regulatory framework for the fast-growing electronic money business,

where rural banks play a central role. This enabled rural banks to leverage their existing offices and deliver their financial services to an even broader market, with potentially greater efficiency and lower costs. The BSP has also issued regulations that significantly broaden business opportunities for rural and cooperative banks. Under Circulars 678 and 680, covering Housing Microfinance and the Micro-Agri Loan Product, banks are able to manage their microfinance operations better, with a more diversified portfolio and lower risk of business loans applied to agriculture or housing. Furthermore, the Monetary Board earlier approved the housing microfinance program for rural banks, wherein RBAP will take a leadership role in the qualification or screening process of participating banks that wish to offer housing microfinance. With these developments in place, it is envisioned that the rural banking industry can guarantee its effectiveness and credibility, through the strengthened institutional framework of the BSP. An effective industry needs an effective regulator. Anything that will enhance the capability of the BSP will enhance the state of the industry as well. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top‐business‐news/45642‐keeping‐up‐with‐the‐times                       

Posted on April 17, 2013 10:48:35 PM By Cliff Harvey C. Venzon, Reporter

Local market eyed for business aircraft THE NUMBER of business aircraft in the country grew slower than the regional rate over the last decade, making the Philippines as a “growth market” for these planes, a manufacturer said yesterday.   Citing data from aviation intelligence services provider JETNET LLC, American airplane manufacturer Beechcraft Corp. said there were 63 business aircraft in the Philippines last year, up by 35% from the 46 units recorded in 2002. Beechcraft said the growth of business aircraft in the Philippines falls behind the 65% average growth in the Asia Pacific region where the number of business aircraft increased to 1,566 in 2012 from 947 units in 2002. Business aircraft are corporate jets that are not engaged in public air transportation services, Beechcraft said. “The Asia Pacific region continues to be a large growth market for business aviation, fuelled by some of the most exciting economies in the world,” Ted Farid, Beechcraft’s vice-president of sales for Asia Pacific, was quoted as saying in the statement. “Business leaders and entrepreneurs here understand the importance of seeing their clients and operations on a regular basis, and having the flexibility of their own business aircraft helps make that possible,” he said. LARGEST INCREASE Beechcraft said Singapore saw the largest increase in the number of business aircraft at 131% with 37 units last year from 16 in 2002. It was followed by Hong Kong with 104% growth (104 from 51); China with 103% (187 from 92); Malaysia with 79% (61 from 34); Indonesia with 72% (50 from 29); South Korea with 65% (38 from 23); Taiwan with 56% (14 from 19); and Thailand with 39% (50 from 36). In other Asia Pacific countries including Australia, Bangladesh, India, New Zealand, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, the number of business aircraft grew by an average of 65% to 776 in 2012 from 471 a decade earlier. “Growth of the business aviation market varies between countries, with some -- such as Singapore and Hong Kong -- seeing significant increases,” Nicole D. Alexander, Beechcraft’s corporate and public affairs manager, said in a separate e-mail. “These have an impact on Asia Pacific figures as a whole. In the case of the Philippines, the country already had a significant business aviation population, but has still demonstrated a significant expansion,” Ms.

Alexander added. According to Beechcraft, 58% of the region’s business fleet are jets while 42% are turboprops or those that are equipped with propellers. The company said its turboprop deliveries in Asia Pacific increased by 41% to 72 units between 2007 and 2011, from 51 units between 2002 and 2006. “Turboprops cost substantially less than a jet of the equivalent size and are more economical to operate -factors that have helped lead to an increase in demand for King Airs,” Mr. Farid claimed, referring to Beechcraft’s turboprop brand. “In this region of the world, great flexibility in remote areas is crucial and the King Air delivers, especially for special missions operations that require an aircraft capable of operating from short, unimproved runways,” he added. Headquartered in Kansas, USA, Beechcraft is a manufacturer of general aviation and military aircraft, ranging from light single engine aircraft to twin engine turboprop transports, and military trainers. Beechcraft has built more than 54,000 aircraft and more than 36,000 continue flying today. It leads the industry with a global network of more than 90 factory-owned and authorized service centers. It currently has 5,400 employees and has been in the business since 1932, according to its Web site.

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Economy&title=Local‐market‐eyed‐for‐business‐ aircraft&id=68838                           

Posted on April 17, 2013 11:09:11 PM

Protection order sought on reef incident SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS yesterday asked the Supreme Court (SC) to issue an environmental protection order on the grounding of a US warship in a protected area, seeking a higher fine and the prosecution of involved persons.   In their 94-page petition, the 19 petitioners, including two Catholic bishops, environmentalists, activists and lawyers, filed a petition for a Writ of Kalikasan (nature) demanding a fine from the United States (US) 12 times the initial estimate of the government, and the prosecution of officers of the USS Guardian under Philippine laws. The group has sought a fine of between $16.8 million and $27 million from the US, a far cry from the initial $1.4-million demand. A similar incident in 2009 was cited in the petition wherein the US Navy paid the State of Hawaii a total of $15 million for the restoration and settlement of Oahu reef for the grounding of the USS Port Royal. “Because a 58-million ($1.4 million) administrative determination is considerably more severe to the Republic of the Philippines than prior valuations, then equal protection... will require a finding that 58 million is constitutionally impermissible,” the petition read. They argued that although Oahu is larger than Tubbataha, Oahu has not been identified as a World Heritage site, while Tubbataha’s biodiversity concentration is 2.3 times more than that of the Hawaii reef. Aside from monetary compensation, the group also demanded that the US Navy officials responsible be tried under Philippine laws. The petitioners identified Scott H. Swift, commander of the US 7th Fleet; Mark A. Rice, commanding officer of the Guardian, and Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling, US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) 2013 exercise codirector, as respondents. Also cited as respondents were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, Environment Secretary Ramon Jesus P. Paje, Vice-Admiral Jose Luis M. Alano, and Admiral Rodolfo D.

Isorena for their failure “to undertake meaningful consultations prior to and during the salvage operations, as well as during the ongoing cleanup and restoration operations....” The destruction was estimated to have covered 2,345.67 square meters. The petitioners were led by Bishop Pedro D. Arigo of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, and Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., bishop emeritus Of Caloocan. They were joined by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri J. Colmenares, Kabataan Rep. Raymond V. Palatino, Maria Carolina P. Araullo and Renato M. Reyes, Jr. of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Clemente G. Bautista, Jr. of Kalikasan, Joan May E. Salvador of Gabriela Women’s Party, Elmer C. Labog of Kilusang Mayo Uno, and public interest lawyer Edsel F. Tupaz, among others. -- D. E. D. Saclag

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Protection‐order‐sought‐on‐reef‐ incident&id=68846                                 

Posted on April 17, 2013 11:04:35 PM

Child-friendly local governments feted  

FIVE LOCAL governments were awarded yesterday for their achievements in promoting child rights and ensuring child-friendly governance.   Of 21 local government unit (LGU) finalists, Villaverde, Nueva Vizcaya; Tubigon, Bohol; Tagaytay City; Davao City and Santiago City were conferred the 2012 Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon J. Soliman and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel A. Roxas II during ceremonies at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City. Categories under the annual Presidential Award are: 4th to 6th Class Municipality (Villaverde), 1st to 3rd Class Municipality (Tubigon), Component City (Tagaytay City), Independent Component City (Santiago City), and Highly Urbanized City (Davao City). “Placing children at the center of development is the main goal of the Search for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities,” Brenda S. Vigo, Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) executive director, said in a statement. The award is given to local governments based on dedication and sustained promotion of children’s rights to survival, development, protection and participation. It is in line with Executive Order No. 184 issued in 1999 that established the Presidential Award. A total of 38 LGUs have been cited as of 2011. Mr. Roxas explained after the ceremonies that achievements made in child development cannot be made through slogans or words but by programs that provide the right path for children to grow up. “Ang isinasabuhay ng programang ito ang kasabihan na ang kabataan ay ang ating kinabukasan [The program embodies the saying that the children are our future],” he said. Asked on the criteria for awarding LGUs, Ms. Soliman, also the CWC chairperson, said: “Number one ay ang mga bata ay protektado, merong ginagawa para sa kapakanan nila, may budget at may maliwanag na programa [the children are protected, their welfare is being looked after, there is a budget for them and a clear program].” -- Y. Y. Pascual

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Child‐friendly‐local‐governments‐ feted&id=68844       

  Posted on April 17, 2013 11:01:39 PM

Comelec needs to settle P1.4B in cash advances, fund transfers THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) has been asked to require its employees to settle 1.4 billion in cash advances and fund transfers, according to the 2011 audit report on the agency.   “We recommended, and management agreed, to continue efforts to reduce the balance of unliquidated cash advances and fund transfers, if not to zero out, by strictly enforcing the rules and regulations governing the grant, utilization and liquidation therefor... and the withholding of the payment of all money due all erring accountable officers,” said the Commission on Audit in its report on the agency. The Comelec should file administrative charges against concerned employees if they fail to settle accounts, it further said. “... [F]ailure of an accountable officer to render an account within the periods prescribed and after formal demand shall constitute the administrative offense of gross neglect of duty punishable by dismissal from the service for the first offense,” the report noted. The penalty is outlined in a 2004 resolution of the Civil Service Commission on failure to settle accounts. Of the unsettled amount, Comelec employees failed to liquidate 500.34 million in cash advances granted to more than 1,600 officials and employees for unspecified purposes in 2011 and previous years. Some of the biggest cash advances were given to Comelec Director Gideon G. De Guzman (48.85 million), Comelec head office employee Ricky Catamora (40.61 million), and Comelec-Cordillera assistant regional director Reddy Balarbar (33.77 million), noted the CoA report. Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. and Director James Arthur B. Jimenez, who is also spokesman, were also found to have unsettled advances of 2.52 million and 100,000, respectively. Meanwhile, the fund transfers worth 898.19 million were made between Comelec and six military officers, more than 700 provincial, municipal and city treasurers, nearly 100 school superintendents, the National Food Authority and the Foreign Affairs department, in 2011 and the years prior. The CoA noted that failure to immediately report the transactions violates the Government Auditing Code. A CoA circular issued in 1997, meanwhile, requires all cash advances to be fully liquidated each yearend and to refund any leftover advances except petty cash. The Comelec cannot be immediately reached for comment.The poll body noted in the report that the unliquidated amount was, however, a sharp decline from the 4.54 billion recorded in 2010. -- Monica Joy O. Cantilero

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Comelec‐needs‐to‐settle‐P1.4B‐in‐ cash‐advances,‐fund‐transfers&id=68843 

Posted on April 17, 2013 10:53:11 PM

Compensation commission benefits disallowed by audit body HEALTH BENEFITS worth 2 million extended to employees of an office under the Labor department have been disallowed by state auditors as these were unauthorized by law.   In a decision dated Jan. 30, the Commission on Audit (CoA) denied the distribution of laundry and subsistence allowances to employees of the Employee Compensation Commission (ECC) for the years 2006 and 2007 as it is not a health-related body. “Clearly, the ECC is not a health establishment since it is not primarily engaged in the delivery of health services such as a hospital, clinic or laboratory,” stated the commission. The ECC, created under the Labor Code of the Philippines, is tasked to create policies to improve compensation for state workers, according to its Web site. The commission further found that the ECC violated the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 7305, also known as the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, which states that the law, which was invoked in the release of benefits, cannot be applied to an agency that does not provide health services. In addition, then Health secretary Francisco T. Duque III may have overstepped his authority when he issued a certificate allowing ECC employees to receive Magna Carta benefits. Mr. Duque is now chairman of the Civil Service Commission. “In view of the above prohibition, the then-DoH (Department of Health) secretary may have overstepped the bounds of his authority when he issued the Feb. 7, 2006 certification declaring that all ECC personnel are entitled to the benefits under RA No. 7305,” state auditors said. “The DoH certification is not the final and conclusive determination of the matter.” The ECC employees and board members will be held accountable for the paid allowances, the decision read. Robert M. Baldago, head of the CoA’s public information office, explained in a text message that concerned ECC employees must return the funds in line with the CoA ruling. Meanwhile, the commission allowed the payment of such health benefits to members of ECC’s health service section who are considered public health employees. The decision was promulgated by CoA Chairwoman Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan, Commissioner Heidi L. Mendoza and then Commissioner Juanito G. Espino, Jr. -- Monica Joy O. Cantilero

http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Nation&title=Compensation‐commission‐benefits‐ disallowed‐by‐audit‐body&id=68840 

Education is No.1 for Loren   Published : Thursday, April 18, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 52  Written by : People's Tonight  Believing that upgrading the quality of Philippine education is a good investment for the country, Senator Loren Legarda has allocated a large amount of her Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms and school buildings. From 2010-2012, Legarda allocated a total of Php146 million for 291 classrooms and school buildings in various parts of the country. “Placing high priority on education will be one of the best investments we can make. Aside from legislation, allocating a significant portion of my PDAF to building classrooms and schools is one way to help upgrade the country’s education system,” she stressed. For the next six years of her term, Legarda will continue her one town, one classroom project. “I am fully supportive of the highly motivated attitude with which the administration is addressing the backlog in classrooms,” she said.

http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/48730‐education‐is‐no1‐for‐loren                         

C/Supt. Constantino new PNP Academy Director Published : Thursday, April 18, 2013 00:00  Article Views : 112  Written by : Alfred Dalizon  HE is one of the finest graduates of the Philippine Military Academy ‘Maharlika’ Class of 1984 who will now lead reforms and transformation in the PNP Academy, the PNP’s equivalent of the Philippine Military Academy. Meet Chief Superintendent Noel Gicano Constantino, the new PNPA director tasked by PNP chief Director General Alan LM Purisima to institute the much-needed reforms in the academy established to provide preparatory education and training of the three uniformed bureaus of the Department of the Interior and Local Government namely PNP, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. The youngest member of PMA Class 1984 to become a one-star general -- he will be retiring on Dec. 8, 2018 -- Constantino was the erstwhile PNP Deputy Director for Personnel and Records Management before he assumed the top PNPA post on last week. “The Chief PNP asked me to head the country’s premier police training institution and has the highest confidence and hopes that I will be able to institute the much-needed reforms, increase the standards of training and improve the quality of PNPA graduates,” he said. “The tasks that lie ahead of me are difficult and very challenging as I am put in charge of the management of the 1,000-strong PNP cadet corps plus the 300 plus academic, technical, administrative and support staff. However, with your prayers, strong support and those of many other persons and institutions and more importantly with God on my side, I will definitely not only live up to but will exceed the expectations. So I go where the Chief PNP wants me to go and where God and destiny leads me,” Constantino told the Journal Group. With the motto ‘To Learn Today, To Lead Tomorrow,’ the PNPA, which was established under Section 19 of Presidential Decree 1184 and became a primary component of the Philippine Public Safety College pursuant to Section 67 of Republic Act No. 6975, is currently the primary police institution tasked to develop knowledge, skills and the virtue of justice, integrity and service among future public safety officers of the land. The PNP chief is focusing on ways to improve the competence of the police. Constantino will be bringing to the PNPA a key policy of Gen. Purisima which is to improve the PNP’s human resources by upgrading and enhancing the competence, meaning the knowledge, skills and attitude of the police. He explained that this could be done by seeing to it that the basic, mandatory and specialized police courses shall be a continuous process in the force before police are allowed to pursue their own field of expertise.

http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/48729‐csupt‐constantino‐new‐pnp‐academy‐ director   


2013 04 18 - QUEDANCOR Daily News Monitor