Friday, 6 January 2012

PH has enough dollars to withstand Euro debt crisis

by Roderick T. dela Cruz
Manila Standard

The Philippine financial system is so awash with dollars that it could insulate the economy from the European debt crisis.

Bangko Sentral Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said total dollar deposits held by foreign currency deposit units of banks hit $25 billion, which is more than enough to cover the demand for the dollars.

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Filipino Accent Tutorial by Mikey Bustos

And a song by the same.

$1.5-B 25-year PHL global bonds fully sold

Business Mirror

THE government has fully sold $1.5 billion worth of 25-year global bonds on Thursday morning; tenders, in fact, reached more than eight times the Philippines’s offer.

The global bonds, maturing on 2037, fetched a rate of 5 percent, or an equivalent of 196.2 basis points over benchmark US Treasuries.

With the bond sale, the government has already raised two-thirds of its 2012 foreign-debt requirement of $2.25 billion.


Thursday, 5 January 2012

More PPP deals lined up

THE GOVERNMENT is aiming to roll out at least eight of 16 public-private partnership (PPP) projects this year as it seeks to recover ground lost due to delays in the centerpiece infrastructure scheme.

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2012: Year of the hard decisions

Business Mirror

IT is almost a week into the New Year so perhaps it is not too early to start some gloom-and-doom or at least some whining and complaining.

While the focus is always on the terrible global economic situation and the tip of the iceberg is the dismal outlook for general financial conditions, the truth is, many things are a mess.

Take political/government leadership, for example. As parents, we may shudder in horror at our children turning out like Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga. But they are only entertainers like circus clowns or dancers in a nightclub. People like that do not have any impact on our daily lives or our futures unless we let them.

However, presidents, prime ministers, and other assorted leaders do have an impact.

Who among them would you like your son or daughter to emulate? Which public figure did your parents tell you to look up to as your role model?

When I was young, one role model was John F. Kennedy. Sure, he came from a very wealthy family, but the man was a war hero. His older brother was killed in the war. For all of his personal weaknesses, which we all have, he was a man whose life could clearly be an example of how to live and what not to do.

Kennedy, like so many of his generation, had what used to be called, the courage of his convictions. Leaders are chosen because they should possess the ability to make difficult decisions. A difficult decision is not choosing between right and wrong, good or evil. A difficult decision is often choosing between two “not-so-goods” in order to create a positive outcome. Parents do that every day.

You want your child to grow their independence while you also must protect them. Yes you can go to the movie but your kuya will come with you to chaperone.

President Kennedy called out the military to run the steel mills when the unions went on strike because it was necessary for the nation. Can you imagine any political leader today going against a labor union?

English writer Hugh Walpole wrote in his novel Fortitude, “’Tisn’t life that matters! ‘Tis the courage you bring to it.”

Not a single government leader in the West for the last 20 years had the courage to stand up to the bankers and say “Hey, you’re bank. You can’t do all these speculative financial things.” The politicians needed the banks to finance their elections.

Likewise, the financial community lacked the courage (in order to gain the profits) to say to governments like Greece, Spain, and even the US, “Hey, you cannot borrow all this money to give away for votes.”

French philosopher Joseph de Maistre wrote, “Every country has the government it deserves.” People around the globe have placed other people in positions of authority unable or unwilling to make hard decisions.

There are some people who should not be listened to because they are evil and wrong. There are some people who should not be listened to because they are ignorant and foolish. And there are some people who should be listened to and then ignored because hard decisions must be made.

Adequate energy is critical and necessary to sustain human life and well-being. But nuclear, although sustainable and cheap is too dangerous. Look at Japan. Coal is cheap and plentiful but it is not 100-percent clean, just 9-percent nonpolluting. Oil is bad because you have to drill a lot of holes in Mother Earth and you might spill some. Hydroelectric is not suitable because you have to dam the river, upsetting the fish and changing the environment. Solar is renewable except it is not efficient on a large scale and is very expensive. Wind turbines only work sometimes, need lots of government money, are ugly and kill the birds.

So what is a poor government leader supposed to do? Make the difficult decision. What do they usually do? Nothing.

Walpole also wrote, “Don’t play for safety. It’s the most dangerous thing in the world.” Political safety is the motto of most governments.

Read the commentaries about what we face in 2012. Almost everyone will end with a comment similar to this, “But the real question is whether or not governments are willing to make the hard choices.”

A great leader doesn’t cower from the enemy. He or she doesn’t fear challenges or obstacles; instead, he or she deals with them head on.

2012 is going to be a year when many hard decisions must be made. Does the world have capable leadership? We will soon find out.

E-mail to and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

PH’s most anticipated projects of 2012

By: Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
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With 2012 just one more day away, perhaps, it’s time to raise our champagne glasses and offer a toast to all the wonderful new structures as well as residential developments we will be anticipating in the coming months.

These are no ordinary projects as they are set to become iconic if not meaningful for a country that seeks solutions to sustainability challenges as well as international acclamation.

While there are several grand projects that will see completion or turnover in 2012, these four are perhaps worthy of our attention.

P141.8-B infra rollout

Projects to pump prime domestic economy
Manila Bulletin
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MANILA, Philippines — The Aquino government will roll out P141.8-billion worth of infrastructure projects starting this month, a bid to pump prime the domestic economy, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) announced on Monday.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the funds, sourced from the 2012 national budget, will be used for construction and upgrade of roads, bridges, airports, seaports, classrooms, water supply system, irrigation system, and flood control projects this year.

Differences between a winner and a loser

Business Mirror

It is too early in the year to start talking about the challenges and opportunities 2012 will bring to the country and to all of us as individuals.

Besides, the “challenges” list is really long. And it is always better to look at all the opportunities. The very optimistic among us might even say “challenges” are “opportunities.” You just must know how to take advantage of the challenges to turn them into opportunities.

Perhaps, though, it might be good to step back a moment and examine what the character traits are that separate winners from losers.

We all know the stories of those people who walked out of adversity into success. Manny Pacquiao might be an example. The excelling athlete who started life with a disability or physical weakness of some sort might be another.

However, those might be extreme in comparison to our normal ordinary lives as we attempt to make it in a world that is constantly under the threat of one “gloom-and-doom” situation or another.

What is the world that we are facing in 2012? If 2011 was a year filled with turmoil and change, then 2012 will take the next step of consolidating that turmoil and change into something more tangible.

Change is inevitable and the consequences of change are always unpredictable.

It is how we individually gain or lose from change that is important.

Psychologists studying winners and losers see definite differences in attitude between people that have a “W” or an “L” next to their names. Attitude determines action and action determines outcome. As we go through these, I will confine my comments to stock-market investing. But I think you will clearly see how it applies to running a business, running a government, and running a life.

The first difference is that winners focus on the solutions while losers focus on the problems. If you discuss a problem without having first thought of some solutions that you can also talk about, you are stuck on the losing side.

Yes, it is a challenge to make profitable trades in the stock market. The solution is to learn and listen to other people who have been successful. The investor who is constantly losing money buying “hot tips” and “hot stocks” is not coming up with a reasonable solution. Winners try different strategies when they are not getting the results they want. Losers do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Winners take responsibility. Losers blame others. You cannot blame the PSE Old Boys’ Club for the fact that you did not make money in 2011. Also it is not Europe’s fault, China is not to blame, and the US had nothing to do with it.

Had you bought shares of Globe Telecom one year ago and sold out last Thursday, your profit would have been 35 percent.

Winners take action consistently. Losers refrain from taking action and lack consistency. OK, I will talk about the government. One of the greatest criticisms of investing in and doing business in the Philippines is the uncertainty that comes from inconsistent government policy. The most important “action” of the government is creating long-range policy and the Philippines has little, if any, credibility when it comes to that kind of policy.

Be a consistent investor also. Make staged investments every month regardless of the price. Over the long run you will make money.

That goes along with what is perhaps the most important difference between the “Ws” and “Ls.” Winners have a plan; losers hate having a plan.

The vast majority of stock-market investors never trade with a plan. That is the No.1 reason they lose.

You must write down specific answers to these questions before you invest.

Why am I buying this issue? If your response does not make sense when you see it on paper, you are heading down the “L” road.

At what price will I sell for a profit? Why?

At what price will I sell for a loss? Why?

Answering those questions is the most important part of your investing, even more important than the stock you select.

Every one must learn to manage challenges in order to turn them into opportunities. For stock-market investors, the greatest, most difficult challenge is learning when to sell. The only way that you can overcome this major obstacle is to have a firm clear plan. Winners control their own destiny. Losers leave everything to their fate.

Stock-market investors are going to make a lot of money in 2012. But at this time next year, I guarantee you the list of losers is going to be much longer than the list of winners.

E-mail to and Twitter @mangunonmarkets. PSE stock-market information and technical analysis tools provided by Inc.

Seair sets 5-yr fleet expansion program

Business Mirror
SOUTH EAST Asian Airlines Inc. (Seair) is expanding its fleet by 10 more aircraft in the next five years, serving more routes and more frequencies.

“We are going to add more aircraft, maybe 10, in the next five years,” said Seair president Avelino Zapanta. The airline flies to Boracay, Batanes, Tablas (Romblon), Clark and Cebu. It also serves three international routes—Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau from the Clark hub.

Zapanta said the new fleet will be composed of Airbus A320s. The first two units are arriving in February and March and will serve the Cebu and Davao routes.  Funding for the new fleet, he said, is still being planned by the airline. 

“The new jets will continue to serve existing routes and maybe add more frequencies and new routes in the near future as we expand. We were recently granted air rights to fly to Kuala Lumpur,” added the Seair official.

The airline wants to be known as the only low-cost carrier with a fleet composed solely of Airbus A320s. A newly formed affiliate, Seair International, will take over the turboprop operation of Seair Inc. which has several Dornier 328s.

“Seair Inc. currently has dual operations—serving both as a leisure airline and a low-cost airline. While Seair International is waiting for the airline operating carrier permit from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Seair Inc. will continue with its dual role. When the permit is granted, Seair Inc. will serve as a low-cost airline while Seair International will be the leisure airline,” said Zapanta. 

Seair Inc. is being managed by its new owners. Tiger Air, the budget carrier of Singapore Airlines, has signed an agreement to buy a 32.5-percent stake in Seair Inc. for $6 million. The remaining 67.5 percent is owned by “three big investors” whom Zapanta declined to identify.

Zapanta begged off from giving additional details on the identities of the new owners but sources confirmed that the Lopez family is indeed one of the group of Filipino investors that bought into Seair’s jet operation. The other two groups are reportedly from the Delgado and Consunji families, which controls DMCI Holdings, a conglomerate with interests in real estate, construction and coal mining. The Lopezes hold interests in broadcast, telecommunications, power and infrastructure companies.

Zapanta explained that Seair International will be a Filipino-owned airline. “The [previous] board of Seair will sit in to run Seair International, which will continue its legacy off serving leisure routes. It will be marketed under the brand,” he explained.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New year of skepticism over Aquino intentions

By: Amando Doronila
Philippine Daily Inquirer
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The New Year promises to be the beginning of a season of skepticism over the good intentions of the Aquino government, with the virtuous slogans driving the administration’s “daang matuwid” in the past one-and-a-half years as the sole justification of the President’s mandate following his landslide election victory in May 2010.

After more than a year of nonperformance and failure to deliver concrete results on election promises, including the reduction of poverty, people are now less inclined to swallow hook, line and sinker pious protestions from the administration propaganda organs. They are beginning to demand, “where’s the beef?”

Many are now asking, is the jailing of Arroyo, the impeachment of the alleged pro-Arroyo Chief Justice and the revamp of a Supreme Court packed by Arroyo appointees enough of a claim of achievement for a results-deficit nearly two-year-old Aquino government? More and more people are asking, are the poor any less poor than before May 2010? Where are the jobs that give incomes to the poor and enable them to buy more food for their families and to send their children to school?

In assessing the accomplishments of the Aquino regime, it is difficult for journalists to turn a blind eye on the defining character of an administration in its first one and a half years—which is that it is an undemocratic government.

This is not the Aquino who mesmerized the people to vote for him in 2010 with promises of a caring and honest government. The basis for his continuing popularity requires closer examination.

The media cannot be, and should not be, party to propagating a momentary fad in the shifting sands of public opinion. To do so would be to abdicate their duty as sentinels warning against the deployment of the superior powers of the state against the weak and disadvantaged—no matter how popular that regime is.