Friday, 8 April 2011

Highways set to revive Arroyo-era program

Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNews.htm?f=2011/april/8/news6.isx&d=2011/april/8

PUBLIC Works Secretary Rogelio Singson on Thursday ordered all district engineers to hire 10,745 workers to help regular crewmen assigned to road maintenance, a pump-priming program started by the Arroyo administration.

The department allocated P690 million for the job program, which runs from April to December, and will draw funding from the Motor Vehicle Users Charge.

Singson said he ordered the 182 district engineering offices nationwide to start hiring workers on a job-order basis to carry out the roadside maintenance program along national highways this year.

Those newly hired workers would augment the regular maintenance crews of the district offices, helping them clean road sides, remove silt from drainage canals, pipes and cross drains, cut vegetation along shoulders, patch up potholes, and clear sidewalks, Singson said.

He said priority would be given to hiring out-of-school youth aged 18 to 24 and other marginalized members of society identified by the Social Welfare Department, and who are residents of the immediate work location.

“They should also give priority to the qualified children of overseas Filipino workers displaced by the civil war in Libya,” Singson said.

“Aside from better roadside management that will help prolong the service life of infrastructure, this program provides gainful employment opportunities to the Filipino people and supports the accelerated poverty alleviation program of the Aquino administration.”

Roadside workers will receive an average minimum daily pay pay of P404 in Metro Manila, P300 in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Mindanao, and P250 in the other regions. Joel E. Zurbano

BPO 2010 grows $8.9B, a 26% increase

- A. M. G. Roa
BusinessWorld
http://www.itmatters.com.ph/inside.php?id=666&article_type=news

THE COUNTRY’s business process outsourcing (BPO) sector recorded $8.9 billion in revenues last year, a 26% growth from 2009, industry officials said in a statement last Wednesday.

The industry also recorded 525,000 jobs, up 24% from 2009.

Martin E. Crisostomo, Business Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) executive director for external affairs, said in a phone interview yesterday that growth was due to the strong performance of voice-based BPO — the Philippines’ traditional strength — which accounted for 65% of total revenues. He said the group expects revenues to rise further to $11 billion this year.

BPA/P Chairman Alfredo I. Ayala said in the statement that most segments of the industry posted robust growth, with its biggest sector — contact centers — growing 21% to $6.1 billion and accounting for 344,000 jobs.

This made the Philippines overtake India as the largest contact center hub in the world, he claimed.

“We achieved robust growth in all major sectors of the industry: voice-based BPO, non-voice business support and complex services, and information technology,” Mr. Ayala said.

“We have solidified our global leading position, with our agents providing the best customer service in the world,” Contact Center Association of the Philippines President Benedict C. Hernandez added separately.

Moreover, smaller outsourcing sectors like IT services, transcription, animation and game development have recovered from the global financial crisis, as buyers in developed markets have resumed placing orders and started the implementation of stalled contracts, the statement read further.

However, engineering and design services have not yet recovered, with BPA/P Senior Executive Director Gillian Joyce G. Virata noting that related industries in the United States and the Middle East which rely on the Philippines have yet to pick up.

GIR climbs to record $66.2 billion in Q1

By LEE C. CHIPONGIAN
Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/313224/gir-climbs-record-662-billion-q1

MANILA, Philippines – The country’s foreign exchange reserves surged to record high of $66.19 billion at the end of the first quarter, up $20.6 billion compared to the same period in 2010 and $2.3 billion from February, according to the latest Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data on gross international reserves (GIR).

BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. earlier projected that GIR will likely hit $70 billion by end-2011, fueled by remittances, exports and other external inflows.

The BSP projection is more conservative than the International Monetary Fund’s forecast of $78.4 billion GIR this year and $93.4 billion in 2012. The IMF also said the Philippines’ reserves level is at ‘comfortable position’ and comparable with regional peers -- Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Of $66.19 billion GIR, about $57.19 billion are BSP’s foreign investments and $7/08 billion are gold holdings, and both are significantly higher compared to previous data of $55.19 billion and $6.97 billion, respectively. In March, the BSP also recorded higher FX gains from FX transactions at $418.29 million from February’s $309.76 million.

BSP said the current level is enough to cover 10.2 months worth of imports of good and payments of services and income. It is also equivalent to 10.5 times the country’s short-term external debt based on original maturity and 5.9 times based on residual maturity.

In the meantime the IMF said the BSP has so far been successful in balancing exchange rate appreciation and reserve accumulation.

Reserves had provided an important buffer during the crisis, the report said, with the BSP's eye always on reserve adequacy and the costs of reserve accumulation. "(However) particularly in a volatile external environment, (BSP/authorities) would be reluctant to conclude too quickly that reserves were at adequate levels. Moreover, if a significant component of the inflows were transitory and driven by cyclical factors, then it was appropriate to smooth the impact on the exchange rate," said the IMF. "At the same time, (the BSP) were looking for ways to increase the absorptive capacity of the economy and harness capital flows to support investment and potential growth."

The IMF's 2010 Staff Report that includes projections for the next five years sees the Philippine current account balance still healthy at $9 billion this year, and capital and financial account of $6.3 billion -- both lower than what was projected in 2010. The expected remittances of $18 billion is also lower than the BSP's $20 billion forecast for fund transfers.

The IMF is inclined to mirror BSP's balance of payments projection of $6 billion to $8 billion this year although with a more conservative outlook. As for the country's foreign direct investments and foreign portfolio investments, the numbers are still on the steady side at $2 billion and $3.7 billion, respectively. The actual 2010 figures were $1.7 billion for FDIs and $4.6 billion for foreign portfolio "hot money."

The BSP is still reviewing FDI, hot money and current account projections for this year. The BOP numbers and its composition will be revised higher to reflect current domestic and global growth projections and its impact on trade and capital flows. Last year the BOP surplus amounted to $14.4 billion while GIR reached $62.4 billion and have increased to $64 billion by the end of February.

The IMF report said the surplus has reflected strong exports, remittances, sovereign bond issuance, and other capital inflows.

Cardinal Rosales on the RH Bill

Homily of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales
March 25, 2011, Feast of the Anunciation
Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Manila, PH
Estimated Crowd of 300,000 to 500,000


The Lord God said to Moses and his followers, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” (Deuterenomy 30:19).

Let us begin our reflection on the principle that life is the most precious gift from the Almighty God to any human being. This is a firm belief and teaching of the Catholic Church, that the life of a human being, whether weak or suffering, is always the greatest sign of the goodness of God (Familiaris Consortio, p. 30).

If you do not value life in whichever chapter of the life of a human being (baby, fetus, old, strong or weak), the life of any person will never be respected – and when there is no value or respect for human life, there will be no one to protect life and that life will be cheated, oppressed, kidnapped, lied to and stolen.

That is why what the Church teaches is so beautiful – nurture, protect and promote life. Do not prevent life with any form of weapon or artificial means. The disrespect for life, whether strong or weak, which we always value, is against the culture of life for Filipinos. (Pastoral Letter, CBCP, 30 January 2011).

The hardship of people or the growth in our population has answers which are lessons from our Lord Jesus Christ. First, the wealth of the world or the output of man’s labor is enough if not more to be shared by all. “Love one another” and care for one another in the name of love. Second, there is a way that Almighty God placed in the nature of the body of man and woman, which must be studied well to know the precise days when a woman is fertile which will lead to a new life arising from the conjugal act between husband and wife. In every conjugal act, the married couple can be cooperators with the Almighty God in the creation of new life. (Humanae Vitae, p. 11).

Marriage is sacred and because it is sacred, the Almighty God repays a married couple with joy and happiness for their married life because they sustain for life the care and nourishment of their children, their values formation, their life of hope and respect for their fellowmen until they reach old age.

There is a natural way for preparing for valuable human life. That is called NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING. And this was provided by Almighty God into the nature of each human being, male or female. God knows that the time will come when parents will need to carefully discern their plans for the family. This is why God placed in the body of man and woman the correct and precise way and time for fertility that will allow the conception of new life, made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27).

Anyone can determine those precious and sacred moments when the seeds of life can be planted on fertile ground – and what married couples need is self-control and discipline. That is the sacrifice required of man. Man needs discipline. If there is discipline in bed, there will surely be discipline on the road, and discipline when it comes to money. This is where we can place values that were taught by the Church.

The conjugal act between husband and wife is sacred. That is why the Good Lord repays a married couple with joy and happiness not only in the conjugal act, but including the upbringing of the children, in goodness and kindness and in guiding their children to the path of holiness. The couple is accompanied by the Almighty God. And the faithful couple will never be abandoned by God.

Marriage is sacred; sex is sacred because it is integral in the procreation of life that comes from the Almighty God. This is not a game to be taught to children like rubber bands, balloons or condoms, allegedly to avoid disease? Why will they teach children this kind of game? Isn’t it that the right thing to teach children is the good example of elders and the value of life, the value of purity and chastity and self-control called discipline? Before, we would say that if there is self-control, there is discipline and respect, and there will also be character. Nowadays, what they want to teach the children is how to use rubber. Play! That is how cheap life has become today.

Thankfully, there is a Church and thankfully, there is faith that reminds us (even if there are a few legislators or elders whose thinking is different and harmful to the formation of values, unable to teach virtues) and laws that will revive the gradually eroding and weakening of the beauty of Filipino culture and tradition.

And why do a few legislators and elders want to teach children to avoid the responsibility and ignore reason and purity (allegedly to promote health and sanitation). These few legislators want to teach nothing but lies and alibis – and that is what the future of the Philippines will become – citizens who know nothing but alibis and bribes. There is a danger that the meaning of true Filipino Christians will vanish. What we need to teach our children is a clear conscience, a pure heart, discipline, self-control and respect for money that is not theirs.

What kind of law is this RH bill that will punish with penalties or jail terms, the members of the Church, those who teach the Bible, the Faith and the conscience of Christians? They will even punish those who follow their conscience and their Faith. This is not the Philippines! We don’t need to mention other countries, but this is not the Philippines that was loved and liberated by the blood and lives of our heroes and martyrs, including the three priests – Fr. Mariano Gomez, Fr. Jose Burgos and Fr. Jacinto Zamora. In El Filibusterismo, the first page was dedicated by Jose Rizal to the three Filipino priests (and yet what they want to remind us with is DAMASO, who is not even Filipino.

This is the stand of the Church:

1. Compassion for the plight of the many poor, especially the suffering women who are striving to improve their lives and even need to go to foreign lands or are forced into indecent forms of work, just to earn a living. The Church is deeply disturbed about this.

2.The Catholic Church is pro-life and for the protection of life from the moment of conception up to natural death.

3.The Church believes in responsible parenthood through Natural Family Planning. Here is where we need character-building that is made up of sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of one’s spouse. If you don’t have sacrifice, you cannot build character.

4.Every human being is only a steward of his or her own body. The responsibility for our body must be in line with the will of God who speaks to us through our conscience. If we do not listen to the voice of God through our conscience, we will experience the violence of an earthquake – not in our mountains and our seas – but in our souls.

5.We believe that in the matter of choice regarding the RH Bill, the conscience is not only necessary, but more importantly, it must be enlightened by faith.

6.We believe in the freedom of religious worship and in the right to oppose, according to conscience, those things that are against one’s faith. The penalties incorporated in the RH Bill are the basis for our opposition to this bill. (Pastoral Letter, CBCP, 30 January 2011).

There is still time to avoid the moral tragedy being brought upon us by the RH Bill.

Change it or reject entirely the RH Bill, which is the source of all disrespect for life, the disappearance of any sense of responsibility and the loss of discipline which are what the people and the nation truly needs today.

If the youth can still be educated by the Church, we are also reminding the legislators. All of you, now and in the future, are included in our prayers.

May God bless all of you and our country. God loves all of us and the Mother of Jesus cares for all of us.

Gaudencio B. Rosales
Prayer Rally
Feast of the Anunciation
25 March 2011

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Foreign funds return to PH

Elaine Ramos Alanguilan, Bloomberg
Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideBusiness.htm?f=2011/april/5/business1.isx&d=2011/april/5

Foreign investors are swarming the country’s financial markets, boosting the stock exchange index to a three-month high and pushing down the yields in Monday’s auction of Treasury bills.

The peso rose to 43.31 against the US dollar from 43.36 Friday while other Asian currencies also climbed on speculation overseas investors are adding to holdings of the region’s assets to take advantage of the economic growth outlook.

Tenders in Monday’s Treasury bill auction hit P31.l76 billion, prompting the government to increase its offering to P9.6 billion after yields across all tenors fell.

“Risk appetite is improving,” said Shigehisa Shiroki, chief trader on the Asian and emerging-markets team at Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. in Tokyo. “When stock market performances are solid, the money tends to flow into emerging markets.”

Developing-nation equity funds attracted inflows of $2.6 billion in the week to March 30, the most since the period ended Jan. 5, according to EPFR Global data. Emerging-market bond funds had inflows of $2.3 billion in the first quarter, down from $11.5 billion a year earlier.

The benchmark 91-day Treasury bill in the Philippines fetched 0.9 percent, 22.5 basis points lower than the previous average 1.125 percent.

National Treasurer Roberto Tan told reporters following the auction that lingering worries of an inflationary buildup due to rising oil and food prices had also prompted the market to go for short-dated debt, pushing rates lower across the board.

“There’s strong demand for shorter-term placements. There are still some expectations on inflation. These create uncertainties [in the market]. Therefore, they would like to park in short-term investments,” said Tan.

Inflation in the Philippines accelerated to 4.3 percent in February from just 3.6 percent in January.

The Bangko Sentral expects inflation in March to range between 4 and 5 percent. Market consensus places the March inflation around 4.5 to 4.6 percent.

The 182-day T-bill rate averaged at 1.205 percent, down 54.8 basis points from 1.753 percent, while the one-year debt paper settled at 2.191 percent, 67.4 basis points off the previous rate of 2.865 percent.

The United States and population control

Emil Jurado
TO THE POINT
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion.htm?f=2011/april/5/emiljurado.isx&d=2011/april/5

Reports have it that both the United States and the United Nations are endorsing the reproductive health bill. There will be a plenary debate on the measure come May 9 upon the resumption of session.

But of course. The US and the UN are all for population control.

Let’s rewind a bit to see how involved the US really is on population control. In December 1974, shortly after the first major international conference was held under UN auspices in Bucharest, Romania, several of the major US government agencies—the Central Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the Agency for International Development)—submitted their inputs.

Their contributions were combined into one report entitled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth on US Security and Overseas Interests.” The final study was more than 200 pages long.

That crucial document became what is known as NSSM 200. It stands for National Security Study Memorandum and the number 200 identified the order in which it was produced.

Records show that the original request for a review of overseas population policies is also called NSSM 200, and was written April 27, 1974 by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The actual study which covered 229 pages of text represents one stage of the NSSM 200 correspondence series, and was submitted on December 10, 1974. It became the official guide to foreign policy November 26, 1976, when a National Security Decision Memorandum (NSDM 314) was signed. It endorsed the findings of the study.

Who actually was responsible for the study? NSSM was compiled by the National Security Council, which is the highest level of command in the US government. The NSC is headed by no less than the US President and his designated Security Advisor, and its purpose is to coordinate the overseas operations of all executive branches of the US government.

Now, read this: Specifically, NSSM 200 targets 13 countries of “special US political and strategic interest,” which include India, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, Ethiopia and Columbia. Why? I will come to that later.

***

The question is whether or not NSSM 200 is still in force. Records show that it still is, technically. It remains the official paper on population until it is replaced by another of equal importance. However, the implementation of the guidelines may differ from one administration to another.

Former President Jimmy Carter, for example, showed considerably less interest in curbing population growth than did his predecessors, former US President Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. The Reagan administration took a somewhat different approach (i.e. the Mexico City policy that banned direct US financing for abortions). Records also show that funds for population control increased rapidly and dramatically during the Reagan and Bush years, but this did not necessarily indicate a new NSC direction.

Why was the NSSM 200 only discovered in 1990? This is a highly classified document, which the public—much less the people of the developing countries affected—should not know about. But in the mid-1990s, there was a schedule for declassifying secret documents. The document was not actually made public until almost a year later, when it was given to the US National Archives in response to a request from an American journalist working for the Information Project for Africa.

The reason reportedly for the document’s declassification is first, by 1990 at least, many of study’s recommendations for population control on aid-receiving countries had been achieved; and second, records also showed that the US had elected George Bush, a former CIA director, in 1988, which may have signaled to classification review personnel that the American public had grown more tolerant to covert US activities overseas.

***

Now, we come to the reasons why the US wanted to control other countries’ population.

NSSM, according to records and studies, showed US concern for population growth in the developing world threatening US security in four basic ways. First, certain large nations stand to gain significant political power and influence as a result. Second, the US and its western allies have a vital interest in strategic materials, like mineral and ore, which have to be imported from less-developed countries like the Philippines. Third, societies with high birth rates have large numbers of young people, who are more likely than older people to challenge global power structures. And last, population growth in relatively disadvantaged countries jeopardizes US investments. Santa Banana, the bottom line is US self-interest!

The report cites Brazil that could benefit politically with population growth. Since Brazil clearly dominates the continent demographically, Brazil could outnumber US residents by the end of the century. This would give Brazil a growing power status not only in Latin America but on the world scene over the next 25 years. Nigeria, likewise with a growing population to number 135 million by the end of this century, would have political and strategic influence in Africa south of the Sahara.

How does population control help the West acquire minerals? It is said that the location of vast reserves of higher-grade ores of most minerals favors increasing dependence of all industrialized regions on imports from less-developed countries. Studies show that the real problems of mineral supplies lie, not in basic sufficiency, but, in the politico-economic issues of access, terms of exploitation and exploration and division of the benefits.

Another issue is the role of the youth. Records show that young people have historically been advocates for change and are more prone to confront imperialism. This is especially true in the Philippines with the youth now more involved in political and economic problems.

There is also the issue of US commercial investments being affected by growing birth rates overseas. The NSSM 200 document points out that the growing nations are hard put in providing their growing needs. Thus, it warns, they are likewise to make increased demands of foreign investors. Thus under such circumstances, western corporate holdings are likely to be expropriated or subjected to arbitrary intervention.

***

United States and United Nations policies repeatedly assert that birth control is necessary for development. This is also the core of the advocacy of population control through a reproductive health law. And the US and the UN do it by means of providing less-developed nations like the Philippines with grants and aids, like the involvement of the World Bank and other agencies of the United Nations in development.

For instance, the NSSM 200 document advises the US government to play an important role in establishing the United Nations Fund for Population Activities to spearhead a multilateral effort in population as a complement to the bilateral actions of USAID and other donor countries.

The document even asserts the need for mandatory programs like the appraisal of assistance to less-developed countries and their requirements.

***

Now comes the rub. The NSSM 200 document requires US diplomatic and embassy officials to be alert to opportunities to demonstrate to the leaders of less-developed countries like the Philippines on the consequences of rapid population growth. That’s basically propaganda by imperialist America.

This propaganda includes invitations to Washington extended to every leader of a less developed nation. That explains the yearly homage of every Philippine president to Washington.

Simply put, the slower the Philippine population grows, the better for Washington.

We must be blind if we don’t see through all these.

The bottom line is that the controversy over population control is not really between the anti-life advocates and the so-called Damasos of the Catholic church.

Mindanao must ‘secede’ from central govt

JOHN MANGUN
OUTSIDE THE BOX
Business Mirror
http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/home/opinion/9478-mindanao-must-secede-from-central-govt

That may seem like a provocative title for an “Outside the Box” column but it is not mine. It is the title of a column published on the Advocacy Mindanow Foundation Inc. website written by Atty. Jess G. Dureza.

If you are not familiar with Jess Dureza, let me assure you that this man is the ultimate guide to all things Mindanao, from its political landscape through Mindanao’s economy. Mr. Dureza was an appointed “presidential adviser” to both Presidents Ramos and Arroyo and was and is a crucial participant in the long ongoing peace talks between the government and the various separatist factions in Mindanao. He served as chairman of both the Mindanao Development Authority and the Mindanao Economic Development Council. A former member of Congress, Mr. Dureza understands the political process and the realities of working through that process. His grassroots economic expertise may be found in his appointment as a director of the Philippine Coconut Authority and his position as National Program director for the United Nations Development Program–ACT For Peace Program.

I know that the above paragraph sounds like a press release for Jess Dureza, but I want you to know who this man is because when someone of his qualifications and expertise talks about Mindanao, someone better listen.

Allow me to quote from Mr. Dureza’s column. “It’s about time that Mindanao must insist to charter its own course in history. Mindanao must now ‘secede’ from the central government. Lest someone accuses me of treason, let me immediately and categorically state that the ‘secession’ I am espousing for is not from the Republic but secession from the central government which is Manila. It is not to declare Mindanao independent from the Philippines, although that would have been most desirable to many. But rather, it is to effect constitutional changes so that Mindanao runs its own affairs, determines its own future, and removes itself from being under the skirt of imperial Manila. I may be oversimplifying this, but that’s what the shift to a federal system of government is all about. I have spent the best part of my life working for the national government and serving Mindanao in various capacities through different administrations. And I have closely witnessed the inutility or the tragic inability of even well-meaning leaders to give Mindanao what it rightfully deserves.

“I am convinced more than ever that Mindanao’s collective effort over these years for more attention from the central government is futile unless we radically change the setup. One of the ways of moving forward is to ‘go federal.’ I call it ‘secession in moderation.’ This way, Mindanao can run its affairs and be solely responsible for its future. If we do good, well and good. If we screw up, then it’s our own lookout.”

Those are probably the strongest and clearest words possible, written in the interest of self-determination and community responsibility.

Mr. Dureza goes on to speak of the postponement of elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but makes a very interesting and thought-provoking analysis of the ARMM. “If this [the ARMM and ‘the struggle for deliverance from a highly centralized setup’] is, indeed, good and desirable for the Bangsa-
moro, then it must equally be good for all Mindanaoans, the non-Muslims included. So, what then is the take of the non-Bangsamoro sector of Mindanao? Otherwise stated, if the Muslims of Mindanao are struggling and fighting for self-determination, then why are the Christians and non-Muslim sectors of Mindanao not also as assertive?”

I cite Mr. Dureza’s column because of statements made by noted economist Bernardo Villegas during a recent speech before the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he implored for support of changes to the economic provisions of the Philippine Constitution. From the Inquirer: Villegas “disagreed with views that corruption was the reason for widespread poverty in the Philippines, insisting that the prime cause was neglect of rural and agricultural development.”

What is somewhat startling about these comments is that “rural and agricultural development” has been a cornerstone of every Philippine administration and sadly all the policies have not been successful. The one common denominator has been that the policies have ultimately been “Manila-controlled” no matter how much local input and local oversight has been in place.

At a meeting of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., Chowking’s original owner Robert Kuan said the government had no concrete plan to address the country’s problems and how to move forward. “I don’t see any direction yet,” said Kuan, who is now chairman of the St. Luke’s Medical Center. “[President Aquino] has to have a vision of what will happen to the country during his incumbency. The success of an individual or a certain company is [in] having a vision and direction.”

I personally see this, not as an indictment of the Aquino administration per se but illustrative of the time-honored concept of “Imperial Manila.”

It is important to note that virtually every study by the United Nations of rural development shows that when the policy initiatives have been conceptualized, created, planned, formulated, implemented and made responsible at the most local level, they are successful.

Look, it only makes sense. As much as I respect Jess Dureza, I do not think he is qualified and I would not want him to be a major participant in my local community’s efforts at solving our flood-control problem. We know where the water comes from, we know where it goes, and we know where we want it go. And Mr. Dureza does not want or need Manila telling Mindanao how to improve its economy and deal with its own problems.



E-mail comments to mangun@gmail.com. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by CitisecOnline.com Inc. Coming soon, watch for http://mangunonmarkets.com.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Philippines’ per capita income hits $2,000, finally

by Roderick T. dela Cruz
Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNews.htm?f=2011/april/4/news2.isx&d=2011/april/4

THE Philippines last year joined Asia’s emerging markets with an expanding middle class after it posted a per-capita gross domestic product of more than $2,000, according to economists.

That was double the country’s per capita income a decade ago, although it remains one of the smallest in Southeast Asia.

Per-capita income rose after the country’s gross domestic product grew 7.3 percent in 2010 while the peso appreciated by about 5 percent against the dollar during the same period.

Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said last year’s GDP growth was the highest in 34 years, while inflation had been manageable.

“The 3.8 percent inflation rate for 2010, together with the fastest economic growth rate registered in decades, put our country in what some analysts have described as, the Goldilocks world, where everything is just right,” Tetangco said.

Bank of the Philippines Islands president Aurelio Montinola III said the $2,000 per-capita threshold was crucial for any developing economy. Reaching it marked a turning point for countries such as Thailand in growing their consumer market with a capacity to buy cars and houses.

Montinola, who is also president of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, confirmed that “2010 proved to be a good year for the banking industry and for BPI in particular.”

But former Economic Planning Secretary Cielito Habito said the Philippines’ per capita income, which used to be bigger than Thailand’s in the 1970s, was now just a third that of Thailand’s.

Just the same, banks were excited about the rising per capita income in the Philippines, which helped them grow their profit by a third last year.

Vehicle sales tripled last year, while property developers built thousands of new residential units because of the increasing demand from the new middle class—the Filipinos working abroad, business process outsourcing professionals, and the college-educated new entrants to the labor force.

The National Statistical Coordination Board placed the per capita gross domestic product of the Philippines in 2010 at P90,552 at current prices, while the Bangko Sentral said the peso averaged 45.1097 against the US dollar.

That translated to a nominal per capita GDP of $2,007.37 in the Philippines in 2010, which compares with less than $1,000 in 2000.

About 94 million Filipinos contributed to a total of P8.513 trillion GDP and P9.75 trillion GNP last year.

Per capita GDP was estimated at only $1,748 in 2009, or P83,261 using an average exchange rate of 47.637 to the dollar.

Per capita gross national product, which includes income from abroad, actually began exceeding the $2,000 mark in 2009, when it hit $2,005. That was based on a per capita GNP of P95,525 in peso terms, and computed at an average exchange rate of P47.637 to the dollar.

Per capita GNP climbed to $2,299.08 in 2010 based on an estimated per capita GNP of P103,711 in peso terms, and an average exchange rate of P45.1097 to the dollar.

Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga said the government was committed to growing the economy by 7 to 8 percent annually over the next six years, although he refused to predict the peso’s direction against the US dollar.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Convergys to open 4th facility in Cebu City

Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/312596/convergys-open-4th-facility-cebu-city

MANILA, Philippines – Convergys Corporation, the largest private employer in the Philippines, announced that it would expand again, with a fourth state-of-the-art facility in Cebu City. The announcement comes just weeks after Convergys revealed it has a new contact center currently under construction in the country’s summer capital, Baguio City.

Located in the Asiatown IT Park, the new facility being announced today is at the TGU Tower. Once the Convergys site is operational, the company will operate 15 facilities throughout the country – eight in Metro Manila, four in Cebu City, and one each in Bacolod City, Santa Rosa, Laguna, and Baguio City.

“The largest BPO provider in Cebu City and in the Philippines is getting even bigger,” said Marife Zamora, Philippines Country Manager and Managing Director, Asia Pac/EMEA for Convergys. “Our continued growth is due to the extraordinary support provided by our employees in Cebu and throughout the Philippines to our major international clients. This type of unrivaled service is why our clients continue to specifically request the Philippines as the location for their critical customer support operations and why we continue to meet and exceed our client's expectations every day.”

Convergys employees in the Philippines receive hundreds of thousands of customer service calls each day on behalf of global clients representing a wide variety of industries, including financial services, telecommunications, retail, e-Commerce, direct response, and health care.

Since beginning operations in the country in 2003, Convergys in the Philippines has been honored many times for its customer service excellence, its talented employees, its expertise, and its leadership.

Last year, Convergys won the ”BPO Company of the Year” award at the International ICT Awards and was also inducted into the Philippine Economic Zone Authority Hall of Fame after winning both the Outstanding Employer and Outstanding Exporter three times in each category.

Convergys believes in investing in the development of its people. Rather than have one set path, Convergys has a variety of career tracks for employees to explore. Having a talented, motivated workforce maximizes Convergys’ productivity and enhances the quality of service we offer all of our clients and their customers. This is another way Convergys ensures its spot as a global leader in relationship management.

As the largest private employer in the Philippines, Convergys continues to hire as new work continues flowing into the country.