Saturday, 21 July 2007

GMA launches stage 2 of South Skyway

Original report at the Manila Standard Today

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo launched yesterday the 6.9-km. Stage 2 of the South Metro Manila Skway project from Bicutan to Alabang in Muntinlupa City that would further cut travel time between the National Capital Region and sections of Southern Luzon upon its completion in 2009.

Mrs. Arroyo pushed the button signaling the start of the P8.1-billion project at the end of the elevated Skyway in Bicutan with the installation on top of a column of the patented Indonesian technology “sosrabahu,” a hydraulic frictionless rotating device that enables the construction of elevated roadways without any major disruption of the traffic flow on the ground.

Among those present were former President Fidel Ramos, Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, and Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. chief executive Henro Santoso.

Santoso briefed the President and showed an audiovisual presentation of Stage 2 of the project, a six-lane elevated stretch from Bicutan that winds up at Bunye Road in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.

Aside from facilitating access to the highly urbanized areas of Sucat and Alabang, Skyway Stage 2 would also increase road capacity, hasten the movement of goods and boost business and economic development in the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon growth area.

Stage 2 is the continuation of the 9.3-km elevated stretch from Buendia in Makati City to Bicutan, Taguig City that was completed in 1999.

The 16.3-km South Metro Manila Skyway project from Buendia to Alabang started in 1995 following an agreement between the Toll Regulatory Board, Philippine National Construction Corp. and CMMTC.

Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp. was mandated to design, fund and implement the project, with the PNCC taking care of operation and maintenance.

The overhead motorway on the South Luzon Expressway is a priority project of the Department of Public Works and Highways under Mrs. Arroyo’s 10-point agenda.

The 13-km. third stage will extend from Buendia to Balintawak, Quezon City, connecting to the North Luzon Expressway.

Friday, 20 July 2007

BSP says concerned over peso rally; economists bullish

Original report at ABS-CBN News

The Philippine central bank said on Friday a rapid increase in the value of the peso was causing some concern.

"The rapid pace of appreciation is of some concern since this tends to increase volatility," Governor Amando Tetangco said in a mobile phone text message to reporters.

The peso struck a seven-year high of 44.80 against the dollar on Friday, extending an eight-session rally during which it has risen more than 3 percent.

Financial strategists remain bullish on the Philippine peso despite the government’s recent fiscal slippage as capital inflows and dollars remittances from overseas Filipino workers are expected to remain strong.

DBS, Southeast Asia’s largest bank, upgraded its forecast on the peso as it expects the Philippines to continue recording a surplus in its balance of payments.

DBS strengthened its peso forecast to 44.50 by the end of 2007 instead of 45.50 previously. It also raised its end-2008 forecast to 42.50 per dollar from an earlier estimate of P43.

DBS noted that since 2003, the Philippines' current account balance has turned from a deficit to a surplus, thanks mainly to robust remittances from overseas foreign workers.

Steven Rowles, an analyst at CFC Seymour, said he is also placing his bet on the Philippine peso to remain as the region’s top currency.

"I think the the Philippine peso is the place to be right now - I think that now with the remittances coming in so strong, that it continued to provide for a strong current account surpluses there - and also as well the central bank is ok with having a stronger peso as their economy is so focused on imports as well," Rowles said.

"So a stronger peso makes inflation cheaper as well – so look for the peso to continue to be the primary or number one currency right now.

The Philippines reported a first-half budget deficit of 41 billion pesos in the first half of the year, more than its target of 31.3 billion. This puts at risk the Philippines’ goal to cap its full-year shortfall at 63 billion.

Economists said they are now looking forward to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address on Monday to hear whether she will announce durable measures to strengthen the fiscal front.

The president’s spokesman said early this week that Mrs. Arroyo’s central theme in her speech would be how to sustain a strong economy. - with Reuters

Takenaka to begin NAIA 3 repairs by July 31

Receives ultimatum to finish repair
By Mia Gonzalez
Full report at the Business Mirror

SUBIC FREEPORT—The Japanese contractor of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia)-Terminal 3 must deliver on its commitment to finish repair work on the facility “or else” face criminal and civil lawsuits and possible exclusion from future government projects.

At the Luzon Urban Beltway Infrastructure Conference at the Subic International Airport, President Arroyo gave an update on the NAIA-3 project and said that after being served a termination notice by the government for the delayed repair of the airport, Takenaka Corp. appealed for reconsideration and vowed to finish work within the year.

“Now, the contractor is back, taking responsibility for the structural defects. We’ve pinned them down to complete the work by this year’s end. We said, ‘Or else,’” Mrs. Arroyo said but did not elaborate.

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza said in an interview after the conference that Takenaka will have a tarnished record and may jeopardize its participation in other government projects if it fails to deliver on its commitment to repair structural defects that it is responsible for.

Asked what would happen if Takenaka fails to finish the airport this year, Mendoza said: “Of course, they have criminal and civil liabilities....Of course, there will be some repercussions because they have a lot [of] ongoing and proposed projects especially with the department....They will not have a good record because they don’t deliver .”

He said Takenaka, which is building the Silay Airport and has built the Davao Airport, is “interested in many of our airport projects.”

Mendoza said that Takenaka will begin repair work on July 31.

Last month, Mrs. Arroyo announced that the government had terminated the services of Takenaka after it continued to put off conducting remedial works on Naia-3, which engineering consultants Ove Arup & Partners HK Ltd. and TCGI Engineers Inc. deemed to be structurally unsound and not built to withstand an intensity-6 earthquake.

Mendoza said the government was angered by the continued refusal of Takenaka to repair the airport, especially as it has “a lot of other projects in the Philippines,” and sent it a letter of termination.

Three weeks ago, senior officials of the Japanese firm went to Manila to personally apologize to the government for delaying the Naia-3 project and “committed” to take responsibility for structural defects that they made.

During the conference, the President also said that in view of the construction of more modern airports in the country, she will submit to Congress a priority administration measure to create the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

“Public safety comes first,” she said.

She said the proposed body would lessen the work of the Air Transportation Office.

GMA inaugurates phase 1 of Subic port modernization

By Ding Cervantes
Original report at the Philippine Star

SUBIC FREEPORT — President Arroyo led the inauguration yesterday of the first phase of the $215-million Subic Port Modernization project, a flagship infrastructure project of her administration.

“The completion of the new container terminal-1 (NCT-1) marks an important step in the implementation of President Arroyo’s 10-point agenda which includes the development of Subic Bay and Clark Freeport Zones as the most competitive international service and logistics centers in the Asia-Pacific region. This is intended to spur economic growth in the area and promotes these growth corridors as the most viable regional logistics hubs,” said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Feliciano Salonga.

While the the government is preparing the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark to accommodate more local and international flights, the Subic port is being developed into a world-class seaport facility.

The construction of the entire port modernization project is being implemented under the auspices of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). It is designed to make the Subic seaport a major container port in the country.

“With the completion of NCT-1, our port facility can now accommodate Panamax vessels augmenting the cargo volume and handling capacity of the Subic Bay Freeport,” Salonga said.

He pointed out that the alliance between Subic Bay and Clark is part of the long-term master plan that would be linked through the construction of the $425-million Subic-Clark toll road, and the $215-million port modernization program both funded by a special loan package from JBIC.

“Both major infrastructure projects will lead to increased economic activities in the hinterlands and generate additional employment opportunities throughout Central Luzon ,” Salonga said.

The construction of the port modernization project was started in 2004 by Penta Ocean Corp. and its joint venture partners Shimizu Corp. and TOA Corp. It entailed the installation of four gantry cranes from Japan , two of which were installed in May 2006, and the two others in March 2007. This will eventually position the Subic port as a world class maritime hub.

The newly acquired goose neck-type quay gantry cranes, with a capacity of 40.6 tons rated load each, is also part of a bigger plan of the Arroyo government for the Subic port to enhance its capacity from the present 100,000 TEUs to at least 600,000 TEUs.

Each of the container terminals has been provided with two gantry cranes. Also included in the package is the construction of the modern container terminals, and the two berths measuring 280 meters long with a depth of 13 meters.

Meanwhile, SBMA Administrator Armand C. Arreza said the completion of the first phase of the port modernization project will also accelerate the construction of other projects being implemented in the Subic Bay Freeport such as the $1.684-billion Hanjin shipbuilding facility.

“The completion of NCT-1 boosts our confidence that the Subic Bay Freeport will soon become a key player in the containerized and non-containerized cargo handling business in the entire Asia-Pacific region. This will attract more shipping companies worldwide to use the Subic port, while helping decongest the traffic in the Port of Manila ,” Arreza said.

The operation of NCT-1 will be awarded to global port operator Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. (SBITC) upon the approval and concurrence of the SBMA board of directors and JBIC.

SBITC, a joint venture company, is 15 percent owned by SBMA and 85 percent by the Subic Bay International Terminal Holdings Inc. (SBITHI) which is a joint venture company of ICTSI and Royal Port Services, Inc. (RPSI) with the former owning 83.33 percent. — with Bebot Sison Jr.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

China's Cosco ups investment plans from $3B to $5B in RP logistics hub

Original report at ABS-CBN News

China Ocean Shipping (Group) Co. (Cosco), China's biggest shipping firm, will invest $5 billion in the Philippines for the construction of a logistics hub in a province south of Manila, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said on Wednesday.

Favila said Cosco officials led by Captain Wei Jiafu, chief executive officer and executive vice president, would be in Manila next week to firm up the investment plans.

"Cosco said it would need between $4 billion and $5 billion just to convert Sangley Point into a fully operational commercial port," Favila said.

Favila said Cosco chose Sangley Point for its deep harbor but said the plan would require some reclamation to accommodate the land requirement.

Favila added that the Philippine Navy, most of whose fleet is headquartered in Sangley Point, was assured by Cosco that they would co-exist in the area.

Sangley Point occupies the northern portion of the Cavite City peninsula.

The base has a two-kilometer-long airstrip (part of the Danilo Atienza Air Base), which is the home of the Philippine Air Force's 15th Strike Wing.

After the conversion, Sangley Point would be home to a big seaport that could service giant "super panamax" container ships and to an international airport.

Sangley Point used to be a major ship-repair and supply facility of the United States Navy and its runway was used by US Navy patrol planes used extensively in the Vietnam war. The naval station was turned over to the Philippine government in 1971.

Filipino high school students shine in regional math quiz

By Florante S. Solmerin
Original article at the Manila Standard

FILIPINO high school students shone again in the Po Leung Kuk 11th Primary Mathematics World Contest in Hong Kong Monday, cornering three team awards and nine individual awards including a first honor for a student of the Philippine Science High School, who received a perfect score that the Philippines last achieved eight years ago.

“We are very proud that these students have brought honor to our country,” said Simon Chua, president of the Mathematics Trainers Guild-Philippines, the group that trained the Philippine delegation for the contest.

“This only means that Filipino students can compete and win in world competitions,” he said.

Amiel Sy of the Philippine Science High School led the awardees.

Individual second honors went to Carmela Antonette Lao and Vance Go of St. Jude Catholic School, Matthew Ng of Chiang Kai Shek College, Miguel Sebastian Santos of Paref Southridge School, and Niel Benjamin Kho of San Beda College-Alabang.

Third honors went to Geovin Dexter Uy and Henry Jefferson Morco of Chiang Kai Shek College and Arvin Wilson Alba of Philippine Science High School.

In the group competition, the Philippines-Luzon team won first runner-up in their grouping. The team was composed of Audrey Lao, Kenneth Co, Henry Jefferson Morco and Miguel Sebastian Santos.

The Philippines-Metro Manila team was named second runner-up in their grouping and a merit award in the overall performance in the contest. The team comprised Carmela Antonette Lao, Vance Go, Matthew Ng and Arvin Wilson Alba.

The team leaders and deputy team leaders of the Philippine delegation were Richelda Villame, supervisor Adoracion Villanueva from the Department of Education-Region 9, Carlo Nerecena, Vergel Rebuta, Eugenia Guerra, Daphne Guerra and Archie Rodriguez.

The other students in the Philippine team were Keefe Tan, Joanna Santelices, Sarah Jane Cua, Neil Jordan Chua Goy and Cathlyna Saavedra.

The contest drew 44 teams from 12 countries and territories. Besides the Philippines, the other teams that competed in the contest came from the United States, Mexico, India, China, Macau, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Thailand, South Africa, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia.

Railroad work starts Friday

By Maria Kristina C. Conti
Original article at the BusinessWorld

Major construction work on 34-kilometer Northrail-Southrail linkage project is expected to begin Friday, with five key railway-side areas already cleared of informal settlers.

New tracks for the Caloocan-to-Alabang line could be laid in places where clearance operations have been most successful, like Makati, Philippine National Railways (PNR) Assistant General Manager Rafael S. Mosura said in a phone interview yesterday.

An official from the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council said the agency has so far cleared intermittent segments in Makati City, and Paco, San Andres, Sta. Mesa and Pandacan, all in Manila.

"Minor clearing work already started on the ground on July 9," he said. "We wrote to the contractors we want to see the real work beginning on July 20."

Mr. Mosura said the PNR expects to see equipment and workers in place by the end of the week with the release of $14.7 million in advance payment on June 29.

Palace gives Takenaka time to repair Naia 3, after all

By Mia M. Gonzalez
Full report at the Business Mirror

WITH Takenaka Corp., the Japanese company that actually built the much-delayed Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 3 seesawing on its responsibility, the administration gave it again another chance to complete repair works on the controversial passenger terminal.

President Arroyo said that “hopefully” within the year Takenaka will complete the repairs for the government to finally be able to open the much-needed structure.

Speaking with Reuters Saturday, the President said Takenaka has “taken back responsibility” for the structural defects that resulted in part for the ceiling falling down and the terminal failing a safety test by private engineering consultants hired by the government earlier this year.

She said the government will thus hold in abeyance its planned lawsuit against Takenaka, which was hired by the Naia 3 developer Philippine International Air Terminals Corp. to build the airport.

Mrs. Arroyo said, “They were taking so long that the government sent them a notice of termination. But they’re back taking responsibility for the structural defects, and they said that they will be able to comply with the remedial works by the end of the year.”

She added the government is bent on “making the terminal acceptable to United States Federal Aviation Administration standards and all the other standards.”

Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) chief Alfonso Cusi said they have issued a letter to Takenaka terminating its services but the latter asked for a “reconsideration” toward the end of June. “The position of the government now is we want to see the completion of the terminal. Takenaka agreed.”

He said there are two kinds of repairs that should be done—one for the life safety system involving fire hydrants and the thickness of the glass to be used in the facility and the other is for structural defects.

The first type of repair had been agreed upon, but the second is still being thrashed out by Takenaka and the Miaa because Takenaka would only repair structural defects that it was responsible for.

He said they and Takenaka were to meet Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday to discuss the timeline of the repair work.

Peso surges to 7-yr high of 45.245 against dollar

By Des Ferriols
Full report at the Philippine Star

The peso soared yesterday to its highest level in seven years, hitting an intra day high of 45.245 to a dollar on the back of strong surges in foreign investment inflows into the stock market.

ZTE met trouble also in Burma

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc

To recap from Monday’s column:

ZTE Corp. of China is in trouble in Mexico City. It was commissioned by the mayor to set up wireless Internet “hotspots” for 8.7 million residents who instead cry for water, electricity and clean air. ZTE was in worse mess in Liberia. Its country agent there was indicted in Feb. 2006 for bribing the three highest state telecoms officials to edge out a winning bidder.

Today’s piece is about ZTE’s similar trouble elsewhere.

An article from Inside Burma, a regular feature of the Internet website BurmanetNews, came out on Feb. 22, 2005, with this lead: “Hundreds of military officers who served under deposed Myanmese prime minister General Khin Nyunt are expected to be handed stiff jail terms for corruption this week, sending fresh shock waves through the ruling armed forces… Sentences of up to 30 years are expected to be handed down for economic crimes and corruption during secret court sessions inside Yangon’s notorious Insein jail, where the defendants have been held since a crackdown on Khin Nyunt’s faction in October.”

The article gave a background on the military infighting that led to Khin Nyunt’s downfall, house arrest, and indictment of his two sons. Then followed a detailing of economic crimes, related to Chinese companies, specifically ZTE:

“Many of the intelligence officers on trial have been charged with crimes related to commercial activities involving Chinese businessmen across the border, and in some cases having bank accounts there.

“There are also investigations into several ministers for what the regime regards as ‘excessive corruption’. One of those under scrutiny is the minister for post and telecommunications, Brigadier General Thein Zaw, regarding a number of major contracts that allegedly involved massive kickbacks.

“One of the contracts under review is a proposed deal with mainland mobile phone company ZTE. Under the contract, ZTE would provide a $150-million loan for the infrastructure to provide 300,000 phone lines. But this is more than ten times the real cost of the project, according to industry experts. Another ZTE contract for a million phone lines in another Southeast Asian country costs $30 million.”

It was not known if Huan Shouqiang, ZTE’s chief representative in Burma, was implicated. What was clear though was that ZTE found a new Burmese patron only two months later.

On Apr. 29, 2005, Inside Burma (Burmanet News) filed a new report, with this lead: “Burma’s wealthy tycoon and arms broker Te Za has expanded his involvement in the telecommunications sector by taking over a profitable GSM mobile phone contract reached between the Rangoon regime and China’s ZTE company, according to business and diplomatic sources in Rangoon.

“Te Za is very close to the family of the military government’s top leader Senior General Than Shwe.

“The GSM phone contract between the government’s Myanmar Post and Telecommunications, and China’s ZTE, the country’s leading telecoms manufacturer, was signed during a visit to China last July by former prime minister Gen. Khin Nyunt. The contract provided for the sale of 100,000 mobile phones in Rangoon and Mandalay.”

ZTE is one of about 500 global firms doing business in Burma, and so is under fire from the free world that wants the militarized nation to open up. In the Philippines ZTE signed one of its biggest contracts with any government — the supply of an exclusive broadband network for $330 million (P16 billion).

Two competitors, Amsterdam Holdings Inc. and Arescom (of America) have complained about undue haste in awarding the contract to ZTE last April. Arescom had offered to supply the same system for only $135 million. AHI had proposed to build it on its own for $240 million, provided the government subscribes to it at a 25-percent discount.

The revelation of the competitors’ price offers led senators to call for an investigation of overpricing. The disclosure by the Department of Transportation and Communications in June — two months after the signing — that the contract supposedly was stolen led to more calls for a congressional inquiry.

Last Friday ZTE threatened to take legal action against those who imputed bribery and corruption in its Philippine contract. It claimed to strictly follow the laws of China and other countries in which it operates because of its supposed regulation by the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges. It claimed as “untrue, unfounded and even malicious” the reports of its “poor record or even wrongdoings” in other countries.

The damning reports on ZTE in Mexico came from the prestigious International Business Times and Xinhua, the Chinese government’s official press agency. That on Liberia was from the independent Liberian Observer. Discerning sleuths freely can research more items on ZTE on the Internet.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Can ZTE deny these overseas troubles?

By Jarius Bondoc
Original article at the Philippine Star

ZTE Corp. of China, in full-page ads last Friday, threatened to sue for libel those who impute bribery and corruption in its dealings. It said: “As a listed company in the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges … ZTE complies strictly not only with Chinese law, but also the local laws in all the other countries it operates.” Further, that “media reports concerning ZTE’s supposed poor record or even wrongdoings in (other) countries … are also totally untrue, unfounded, and even malicious.”

And so with the threat of libel suit, here I am shaking in my booties. But let us continue to tell the truth. Government will borrow $330 million (P16 billion) for the ZTE broadband deal. Our children and grandchildren will be forced to repay it. They must know if it is a needed or wasted loan.

ZTE is a listed company and thus can do no wrong. Well, so was Enron, in the New York Stock Exchange. Not to forget BW Resources, in the Makati bourse.

As for “unfounded reports” on ZTE’s works elsewhere in the world, let the records speak for themselves:

ZTE is in trouble in Mexico City. The influential International Business Times broke the story on Apr. 3, 2007: “The city’s new mayor said he hopes to offer high-speed wireless Internet to all 8.7 million residents even as it struggles to supply basic services such as water and electricity.” Mayor Marcelo Ebrard had tapped ZTE to set up Wi-Fi broadband “hotspots” connecting schools, government offices and thousands of surveillance cameras. Highest priority was put on the hi-tech project, the Times stated. But, “that could be a tall order in Mexico City, which already struggles to solve problems such as choking smog, snarled traffic and public utilities that are inconsistent — and in some areas nonexistent. Because of leaks, low-pressure and over-exploitation of aquifers, whole neighborhoods still rely on tanker trucks to deliver water. Meanwhile, an aging electricity infrastructure causes frequent blackouts even in upscale districts.”

It’s not coincidental that the description of Mexico is so much like Manila. Of the ZTE deal in the Philippines, six business groups said the P16 billion could be better spent to build 36,000 classrooms, or 6,000 rural health clinics, or 120,000 artesian wells.

But that’s not the clincher. No less than Xinhua, the official press agency of the government of China, reported on the Mexico matter. The story on Apr. 4, 2007 was about the inaugural of an artificial beach, another of the mayor’s priorities. Stated Xinhua’s international news section: “Critics of the project say the city is still plagued by water shortage and crime, and is littered with decaying sports grounds and plazas. Since taking office in Dec., Ebrard has announced ambitious projects to improve the quality of life in the metropolis, although it still struggles to provide basic services such as water and electricity. This week Ebrard said he hopes to offer high-speed wireless Internet to the city’s 8.7 million residents.”

So there. ZTE must complain to Xinhua if such report was unfounded.

ZTE was in worse trouble in Liberia. On Feb. 17, 2006, the Liberian Observer reported: “Chinese telecoms manufacturer ZTE is facing criminal charges, along with another company and the country’s new deputy minister for finance Francis Karpeh, for ‘tampering with public records’. ZTE and co-conspirators are indicted by Criminal Court A on several counts that include ‘criminal and wicked’ intent to deprive a fellow-bidder’s just contract, ‘unfair competition and business practice by conniving and conspiring … with the (state-owned) Liberia Telecommunications Corp. to cheat and kick out the legitimate winner of the bid. ZTE especially is charged for offering bribes to LTC.’”

The Monrovian newspaper identified ZTE’s country rep Lui Rui Peng as having signed an “illegal contract with the alleged co-conspirators … The crime, tampering with public records, with which the defendants are charged, is a first-degree misdemeanor under the New Penal Law of Liberia.”

Quoting the charge sheet, the report went on: “Although ZTE is a Chinese public corporation, its actions at the LTC are found to be a violation of the laws of China. The (Chinese) Republic’s laws against unfair business competition, which came into force Dec. 1, 1993, state under Article 8: ‘A business operator shall not resort to bribery, by offering money or goods or by any other means, in selling or purchasing commodities. A business operator who offers off-the-book rebate in secret to the other party, a unit or an individual, shall be deemed and punished as offering bribes; and any unit or individual that accepts off-the-book rebate in secret shall be deemed and punished as taking bribes.’”

The report concluded: “China is a society where the strictest adherence to the law is observed, and many are wondering why a Chinese public corporation would stand in wanton violation of its country’s law in Liberia.”

So much for ZTE’s claim in last Friday’s ad about respecting China and other countries’ laws.

Meanwhile, do the 2006 events in Monrovia sound so similar to Manila’s today? Again, ZTE’s involvement in both is not coincidental. There’s more….

Bank Lending to the Productive Sectors of the Economy Continues to Climb in May

Media Release
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

Outstanding loans of commercial banks, thrift banks and rural banks to the productive sectors of the economy (i.e., net of banks’ RRP placements with the BSP), continued to gain momentum at 6.7 percent from the 6.1 percent posted in the previous month. There has been a clear pick-up in this lending since December 2006, after the BSP implemented the tiering system in November. Given the continued broadening of the financial markets, which has enabled the private sector to diversify funding sources, this trend in bank lending can be considered to have reached a respectable level.

Meanwhile, bank lending including RRPs expanded by a slower rate of 3.6 percent year-on-year in May compared to the 12.1 percent growth recorded in the previous month. This was nevertheless higher than the 2.9 percent expansion registered in the same month a year ago. The deceleration in aggregate bank lending was led by the financial institutions, real estate and business services (FIREBS) sector, which grew by only 1.0 percent year-on-year in May from a 25.5 percent growth in the previous month. This was due mainly to the lower volume of banks’ reverse repurchase transactions (RRPs) with the BSP as there was a shift in placements to the special deposit accounts (SDAs) following the introduction of new monetary measures in early May. Net of RRPs, however, FIREBs continued to post a strong growth of 13.2 percent, from the 4.8 percent recorded in the previous month.

Growth in lending to the agriculture sector rose to 5.1 percent from 2.1 percent in April. Meanwhile, the lower stock of loans outstanding in other sectors such as manufacturing, which comprise about a fifth of the banks’ total loan portfolio, was due to repayments by firms of their financial obligations. The lower level of outstanding loans to the mining sector was traced to the settlement of corporate loans. Compared to their trends in the previous month, the declines in the mining and manufacturing sectors were smaller and contributed positively to the overall trend in bank lending. During the same period, loans to other sectors such as construction, wholesale and retail trade, transportation, storage and communications, and community, social and personal services, continued to grow albeit at a slower pace.

The BSP will continue to closely monitor credit developments to ensure that liquidity conditions are consistent with the Government’s price stability objectives.

Net foreign buying of RP stocks up 155% in H1

Original article at ABS-CBN News

Net foreign buying of Philippine stocks grew 155 percent to P64.4 billion in the first six months from P25.26 billion in the same period last year, as the market recorded its highest monthly level in net foreign buying last month.

The Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) said Monday net foreign buying for June alone reached P17.83 billion beating the previous all-time monthly record high of P15.96 billion posted in September 2006.

The level for June 2007 was also 6,795.3 percent higher than the P258.67-million net foreign buying chalked up for the same month last year.

Total foreign buying from January to June this year increased by 124.7 percent to P358.43 billion from P159.48 billion for the same six-month period last year. Total foreign selling, on the other hand, went up by 120 percent to P294.03 billion from the year-ago level of P134.22 billion.

Net foreign buying is the difference between total foreign buying against total foreign selling

The bourse said the value of total foreign trades in the first half hit P652.4 billion or more than double the P293.7-billion mark in the same period last year. Total domestic trades, on the other hand, reached P658.47 billion or almost triple the P220.7-billion level in the same period last year.

"That means domestic trades are getting bigger and they are growing at a rate faster than those of their foreign counterpart," said PSE president Francis Lim.

On June 20, 2007, the PSEi, which is the main barometer of local stock price movements, closed at 3,718.88 points, which was an all-time at that time. At the end of the first semester, the PSEi closed at 3,660.86 points or 22.7 percent higher than the PSEi’s level at the end of 2006.

The record high for June 20, however, did not last long as the main index has continued to scale new highs at the start of the second semester. On July 5, it reached another all-time high of 3,791.42 points or 27.1 percent higher than its level in 2006. Last Friday, the PSEi closed at 3,786.02 points or 26.9 percent higher than its yearend level in 2006.

At the end of the first half, total capitalization reached P8.36 trillion or 16 percent higher than the P7.17-trillion level at the end of 2006. The market capitalization of listed domestic companies went up by 30.7 percent to P4.38 trillion from P3.35 trillion a year ago.

Total value turnover for the first six months of the year jumped by 155 percent to P655.47 billion from P257.22 billion a year ago. Average daily value turnover increased by 161 percent to P5.33 billion from P2.04 billion

At the end of June, the prices of 217 issues were up, those of 25 others were down, while prices of 13 issues were unchanged compared to their levels at the end of 2006.

Investments jump 30% in H1

By Ma. Elisa P. Osorio

Investments for the first half of the year jumped 30 percent as businesses in the manufacturing sector continue to pour in, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

“The remarkable first half of the year investment performance shows that the Philippines is still one of the best investment destinations in Asia, an indomitable proof that the country remains competitive as brought about by the sound economic measures put in place by the government, despite the recent political exercise and the attendant political noise created by this exercise,” Trade Secretary Peter B. Favila said over the weekend.

In a joint report, the Board of Investments and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) said approved investments reached P130 billion from January to June, better than the P100 billion recorded during the same period a year ago.

The multi-billion investments cover 347 projects and created almost 70,000 new jobs. PEZA attracted investments totalling P69 billion while BOI listed P61 billion.

For June alone, BOI generated P39.3 billion , 248 percent more than the P11 million recorded in June last year.

PEZA generated P7.3 billion or 55 percent last month, more than the P4.7 billion last year. A total of 68 projects were approved by both agencies for June.

Local investors accounted for half of the total investments at P65.4 billion, slightly higher than the P64.9 billion poured in by foreign businessmen.

Foreign investments came mostly from traditional partners such as the Americans and Japanese that poured in P26.3 billion and P12.7 billion worth of investments, respectively.

Manufacturing remained to be the biggest contributor as the sector grew 157 percent to P48.5 billion from P18.8 billion primarily due to the capital infusion of Mabuhay Vinyl Corp. for the manufacture of caustic soda and hydrocholoric acid and liquid worth P564.6 million, and Pilipinas Kyohritsu’s production of automotive wiring harness worth P453.3 million.

Investments in infrastructure and electricity, gas and water supply sectors was at P33 billion. Major contributors under this sector are the investments in renewable energy sources as that of SN Aboitiz Power, Inc., a hydroelectric power generating plant worth P27 billion, First Hydro Power Corp. another hydroelectric power generation project worth P7.7 billion, Montalban Methane Power Corp. involving the production of power from methane coming from dumpsites worth P1.6 billion and Philippine Hybrid Energy Systems, Inc., a wind diesel hybrid energy power system worth P2.2 billion.

The IT services remarkably performed this year with a growth of 86 percent from P4.7 billion in 2006 to P8.7 billion in 2007.

The major investors include Sykes Asia - P845 million, Latitude Broadband- P162 million, Ghlsys Philippines -P154 million, Philwweb Corp. P147.8 million, and Focusmedia Audiovisuals- P126.7 million.