DA to task exporters to invest in infras abroad
Read 316 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
THE Department of Agriculture may require exporters of farm produce to invest in infrastructure abroad before they are allowed to do business overseas.
In the case of banana growers and exporters planning to tap the US market, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said they should first build ripening facilities or warehouses where the produce is expected to land.
“Banana exportation does not end with shipment,” the Agriculture chief noted. “After shipment, it has to be placed in a ripening room in a controlled temperature…
“If you do not have a ripening room, it would be useless to export,” he added.
Dole Philippines will be the first to ship 3,000 metric tons of Cavendish bananas to the US by the end of the year. Dole has the proper facilities for handling bananas post-transport, Alcala said.
Exporters are wooing the US market, particularly its military commissaries, after China imposed stricter sanitary and phytosanitary measures on Philippine bananas.
Alcala said the US market would be bigger than the Chinese market.
The department is also working on expanding the market to Japan and Korea and Middle East countries.
FAO projects rice exports to go up 2%
Read 341 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
DESPITE the restraint exercised by the Philippines and Indonesia, two of the biggest rice importers in the world, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projected that global rice export will go up by 2 percent on year to 37.3 million metric tons (MMT).
In its “Food Outlook,” FAO noted that both the Philippines and Indonesia have rolled out self-sufficiency policies and are restraining their reliance on world markets.
“[A] major development for the rice trade in 2012 is a sharp retrenchment from the world market by Bangladesh, and especially, by Indonesia and the Philippines,” the report read.
FAO foresees Indonesia to halve imports to 1.3 MMT this year while the Philippines’ purchases will drop by 22 percent on year to 900,000 tons.
Nigeria, which has been tagged by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the world’s biggest rice importer, will increase its purchases by 17 percent on year to a record 2.8 MMT.
“Although Nigeria is also engaged in ambitious rice-development programs, the announced heightening of import taxes in 2012 had the effect of prompting a rush of purchases,” the report read.
Aside from Nigeria, the FAO report noted expectations of a sharp increase in the rice imports of other countries in Near East and Africa such as Iran, Brazil, and Venezuela will contribute to the rise in global rice trade.
FAO said an “outstanding development” in the international rice trade is the emergence of India as the top rice supplier after decades of Thailand’s leadership.
“The displacement of Thailand from its leadership was mainly the result of the pledging program run by the Thai government to guarantee high prices to producers, which has severely hindered the country’s competitive edge,” the report noted.
For 2013, FAO anticipates that rice exports could also go up slightly to 37.5 million tons as ample supplies in exporting countries may intensify competition for world markets and foster a further easing of prices.
Global rice utilization in the 2012/2013 period is predicted to increase by 1.4 percent to 475 MMT due to an increase in population.
Being a major staple food, FAO noted that over 85 percent of the total, or 402 MMT, are estimated to be destined for human consumption, with only small amounts diverted to feed or industrial uses.
Bukidnon’s power sector alliance holds third congress
Read 588 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
By MILDRED BORBON TORREJAS,
THE 3rd Multi-Sectorial Electrification Alliance Council (MSEAC) Congress was held at the Farmers Training Center of the Central Mindanao University (CMU) last November 10.
MSEAC is composed of three electric cooperatives, namely First Bukidnon Electric Cooperatives (Fibeco), Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (Buseco) and the Bukidnon Electric Consumers Foundation (Beco) and representatives from different sectors such as agro-fishery, business, barangay council, civic, education, local government, media religious, youth and women.
The event was spearheaded by Beco Board Chairman Architect Raul L. Alkuino, who also gave the welcome address.
Beco-CEO President Engr. Edgardo R. Masongsong presented before the members the brief review of the previous Congress, including the yearly performance report of Fibeco and Buseco.
Likewise, Buseco Branch Manager Juancho Chiong also gave the strategic plans of Beco, while Managing Consultant Oda S. Beltran introduces the objectives and expected output of this year’s congress.
Activity workshop was also done in the afternoon by Mindanao Development Authority representative Gerardo Ramon Caesar B. Reynaldo.
300 MW Aboitiz coal plant construction in full swing
Read 326 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
By Carmencita A. Carillo
DAVAO City — The construction of the P25-billion, 300-MegaWatt (MW) coal-fired power plant owned by Aboitiz Power Corporation located at the boundary of Davao City and Davao del Sur is in full swing and is expected to start operating by 2015.
“The plant will be able to meet a substantial part of the power requirements of Mindanao which is expected to have a shortfall of 484 MW by 2014,” Aboitiz Power Mindanao Affairs First Vice President Manuel Orig said. Aboitiz had the chance to convince students and environmentalists to see the benefits of the coal-fired power plant during a forum held at the Finster Auditorium of the Ateneo de Davao University last Friday, November 9.
Orig assured the people that the coal-fired power plant makes use of modern technology and is capable of meeting environmental standards. He said the plant is in full swing and while there are minor problems, these are manageable and won’t delay the opening of the plant.
The biggest economic problem facing Mindanao today, he said, is the lack of power to fuel economic growth. The projected power shortfall by 2014, he added, is equivalent to the power usage of various cities including General Santos, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Butuan.
“The only viable option available is the putting up of a generating facility that can provide adequate and reliable power supply at competitive rates and with the least adverse effect to the environment,” he said.
He said Aboitiz has considered renewable fuels but “it would be extremely difficult to find and attain the scale of renewable fuels capable of meeting the shortfall.” It is important to reduce Mindanao’s dependence on hydro power, he said, although the cost of other sources like biomass, solar and wind are higher than hydro.
Aboitiz is counting on the high environmental standards practiced by the Steag coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental ever since it started operating in 2006. He said Steag’s actual emissions are lower than the Philippine Clean Air Act, DENR and even World Bank standards.
“This coal-fired power plant is the best available and most practical solution to Mindanao’s biggest problem,” he said. Aside from being capable of producing adequate and reliable power, he said, the plant can also produce power at competitive rates. He said Davao City is also proximate to Kalimantan, Indonesia where the coal will be sourced.
Maybank to get $100-M infusion
Read 350 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
MAYBANK Philippines, Inc. has secured the approval of Malayan Banking Berhad, its parent bank, for a $100-million additional capital infusion, an official said.
“We got the approval of the Maybank Group’s board for the capital infusion last Oct. 25,” Maybank Philippines Corporate Planning Head Benedict F. Borlado said in a phone interview last Friday.
“We hope to receive the $100 million additional capital within the first quarter next year,” he said.
The additional equity infusion is double the $50 million that Maybank Philippines got in December 2010.
The first infusion allowed the bank to pursue more business opportunities.
Mr. Borlado reiterated the new funds will be used by the bank to beef up its capital in preparation for the higher capital requirements of Basel 3. The bank will also be taking in more risks as it scales up its operations.
Universal and commercial banks are required to have a capital adequacy ratio (CAR) of 12.5% starting Jan. 1, 2014 under Basel 3 from 10% under Basel 2.
As of end-August, Maybank Philippines had capital totaling P5.6 billion while its CAR stood at 14.23%
The bank currently has 54 branches and plans to put up another in Davao before the end of the year.
It targets to double its branch network by 2015 to reach more clients nationwide.
Malayan Banking Berhad, Malaysia’s largest lender, in September raised $800 million from the sale of 10-year subordinated notes that carried a 3.25% yield.
Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, Malayan Banking Berhad president and chief executive officer, said proceeds of the debt sale will be partly used to bankroll its operations in Indonesia, the Philippines and other regional markets.
Maybank Philippines’ net income surged by 304.04% to P359.6 million in the first semester.
Smart to launch microfinance bank
Read 347 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
TELECOM firm Smart Communications Inc. said it will establish the country’s first microfinance bank, in which the company will tap its mobile-phone subscribers focusing on those who have little or no access to the formal banking system.
The company already announced its plan during a summit in Italy last month, wherein the country’s top mobile phone company said it will soon launch mBank Philippines after it secured the necessary approvals from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Smart will utilize the mBank Holding, the mobile microfinance firm of PLDT-Smart Foundation, Finnish development finance company Finnfund and Dutch development bank FMO in launching the micro finance bank.
Pilot services are already being offered by mCompany, a non-government organization, which will spin off into mBank Philippines once the central bank approves its application for a formal banking license, Smart said in a statement.
“By offering simple and effective financial services, mCompany and eventually mBank seek to increase financial inclusion and ensure that people have enough money at any given moment,” said Smart Financial Services Head Tricia Dizon.
Once the microfinance bank is launched, Smart and Talk ‘N Text subscribers will be able to open a savings account with the help of mBank field agents deployed in their communities. Activated account holders can apply for a loan product, immediately get a response about their application and select a weekly repayment schedule–all via their mobile phone.
“The process eliminates the need to travel far to deposit and withdraw money, apply for loans, and pay amortization. This is very convenient especially for those who cannot afford to be absent from work or leave their sari-sari stores,” Dizon said.
Bank will operate a very advanced credit risk management capability delivered by Experian, a credit risk management automation firm.
“We believe this is the right way to go to drive financial inclusion in the countryside. In our Leyte pilot, we started offering the product on Sept. 26, 2012. By October 16, mCompany already had 110 account holders and had already disbursed P265,700 in loans to Smart subscribers,” said Arnaud Ventura, board director of mCompany and co-founder of mBank Holding.
Smart has earlier tried to offer financial solutions and services for the un-banked and underserved. Previous projects include Hapinoy with MicroVentures and CARD-MRI and the Islands Activations Program with SeedFinance.
The company was also tapped by the United States Agency for International Development for its Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money project which seeks to boost mobile money transactions in the country using Smart Money.
Toyota to invest $1.3-B in Indonesia over 5 years
Read 298 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
TOKYO — Japan’s Toyota group said Saturday it will invest about 13 trillion rupiah ($1.3 billion) over the next five years in expanding its vehicle production in Indonesia.
Toyota Motor and its five affiliated firms are making the move “considering the remarkable growth of the (Indonesian) market in recent years”, a statement from the group said.
The investment will create 9,000 new jobs, raising the group’s total workforce in Indonesia to around 41,000, according to Japanese media.
Toyota Motor’s Indonesian unit, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indonesia (TMMIN), will buy 150 hectares (370 acres) of land near its two plants in Karawang outside Jakarta to build a new engine plant, the statement said.
TMMIN will increase annual production at one of the Karawang plants from 110,000 vehicles to 130,000 by September 2013 to reinforce supply of pickup trucks, minivans and sports utility vehicles.
The five Toyota group firms are Daihatsu Motor, Toyota Auto Body, Aisin Seiki, Denso and Toyota Tsusho.
In the expansion project, Toyota Auto Body will begin vehicle production in December, the statement said.
Daihatsu Motor will also begin construction of its second test track and design centre outside Japan — at one of its Karawang plants — by the end of this year.
The six group firms have already invested about 27 trillion rupiah over four decades with Toyota Motor accounting for 9.5 trillion rupiah, the statement said.
Strong investment and domestic spending have seen Indonesia remain one of the best performers in Asia. Southeast Asia’s biggest economy on Monday announced growth of 6.2 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier.
Aselco inks power deal with Aboitiz
Read 329 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
AGUSAN del Sur Electric Cooperative (Aselco) has signed up to buy 10 MW of power from the 300-MW coal-fired power plant project of AboitizPower in Davao which is set to be completed in 2015.
With distribution utilities Davao Light and Cotabato Light already signing for a combined 105 MW, there are around 185 MW of capacity left for other Mindanao DUs and electric cooperatives to sign up for.
Aselco general manager Emmanuel B. Galarse said their signing with Therma South ensures the cooperative will have power not only at present but also for its future needs especially that Therma South has already started construction.
“Our franchise area is experiencing very encouraging economic growth. Our role as the electric cooperative is to ensure that this growth is supported by reliable and affordable power,” Aselco board president Joel Q. Jumonong said.
With construction in full swing for the circulating fluidized-bed power plant project in southern Davao, the project of AboitizPower subsidiary Therma South Inc. is seen to provide the solution to ongoing Mindanao power crisis soonest.
The signing was held in Butuan City with Jumonong and Galarse representing Aselco and Jay Gatmaitan, AboitizPower AVP for sales and marketing representing Therma South.
Aselco has an estimated daily peak demand of 24 MW as it serves Bayugan City and 13 other municipalities in Agusan del Sur.
“We are happy to have earned the confidence of Aselco and will do our best to build and deliver our power plant as scheduled by 2015,” Therma South chief operating officer Benjamin A. Cariaso Jr. said. “We have the advantage of having already started our construction and we will ensure we will build a world-class power plant that the people of Mindanao will be proud of.”
TSI is employing the latest circulating fluidized-bed technology to ensure the power plant meets stringent Philippine environmental standards.
Aselco has been awarded as one of the country’s best operating electric cooperatives in the recently concluded NEA Lumens held in Davao City, April 2012. Other awards Aselco harvested during the said event were the Special Awards for Category A+ EC, the Special Awards for Sitio Energization, the Sunshine Region Award, and the Sunshine Award.
With Steag in full capacity: M’danao back to life
Read 567 times | Posted on November 13, 2012 @ 5 years ago
By IRENE DOMINGO, Reporter
and CARMELITO Q. FRANCISCO, Correspondent
MINDANAO residents get back to life as one of the major sources of electricity in the island has completed its maintenance work ahead of schedule.
Over the week end, Steag State Power, Inc. officially announced the synchronization of its power capacity back to the Mindanao grid after finishing the preventive maintenance works of its two coal-fired power units that generates a total of 210 megawatts.
“Both units now are fully operational with an available power of 210 megawatts,” Steag’s Communications Officer Jerome R. Soldevilla said.
The coal plant’s two 105-megawatt generating units were disconnected from the grid to make way for maintenance work after six years of operations.
With this development, the grid’s power deficiency has eased significantly.
Based on figures from the Web site of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines on Sunday, power shortage in Mindanao was at a low of 49 MW. System capacity was estimated at 1,008 MW while peak demand was estimated at 1,057 MW.
Weekend power demand in Mindanao, however, is roughly 200 MW lower than during weekdays when requirements from industries and other businesses are at their peak.
Power supply deficiency figures ranged from 300 MW to 500 MW in the last few weeks while one or both plants of STEAG were closed for maintenance.
“The precarious power supply condition in Mindanao is expected to substantially improve with the full capacity operation of STEAG’s (power plants),” the company said.
He said the preventive maintenance shutdown — its first plant shutting down on Oct. 6 and its second plant turned off on Oct. 29 — was necessary to improve power availability from the plants.
The company’s first plant went back to its normal operations on Nov. 4, 10 hours ahead of schedule.
“Carrying out the necessary preventive maintenance as planned and scheduled will bring long-term benefits for Mindanao power consumers in terms of operational reliability,” it added.
The Mindanao power situation has been problematic lately after old hydroelectric plants of the government-run National Power Corp. have experienced problems in the last five years.
Based on official data, government-operated hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur produce about 50% of the island’s total requirements.
Prior to the completion of repair works on the coal plant, only some parts of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Zamboanga del Norte were spared from the daily power outages of between 30 minutes to 4 hours, said Energy Undersecretary Josefina Patricia M. Asirit.
The said areas in Mindanao have been spared from the brownouts because they either have back-up power supply or host power plants in their localities.
Mindanao’s power supply has been unreliable for much of the year resulting in persistent brownouts because of insufficient generating capacity.
The Department of Energy had blamed this on the region’s reliance on hydroelectric power plants, which are unreliable because of changing weather and reservoir conditions.
This was further compounded by repair and maintenance works on the region’s power plants, the bulk of which are state-owned generating facilities that have been operating for decades.
Baldoz calls to address labor-market mismatch to improve PH competitiveness
Read 266 times | Posted on October 27, 2012 @ 5 years ago
Baldoz calls to address labor-market mismatch to improve PH competitiveness
The issue of job-skills mismatch has been a lingering problem both in the domestic and global labor markets.
This is the introduction made by Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz during the 3rd National Competitiveness Council dialogue at Makati.
Baldoz said that the inability of our job applicant to obtain jobs appropriate to their backgrounds, graduates getting jobs not in line with their degrees and suffering from tough competition and unjust compensation are evident for the need to converge and work hand-in-hand to improve the matching of skills with available jobs in the market.
More of these lingering problems are the difficulties employers encounter in screening qualified workers and the daunting high unemployment and underemployment in the country.
Baldoz said, “The recent statistics of unemployment has reached to 2.84 million or 7 percent.”
On the other hand, underemployment has reached to 8.55 million or 22.7 percent in the country, she noted.
Most unemployed were college undergraduates and graduates estimated to be at 940 Thousand, Baldoz said.
Youth unemployment rate is alarming at high as 17 percent which is more than twice the national average, she added.
This youth is crucial to a nation’s development but our young people are constantly struggling to find a decent job, she further stressed.
The Philippine Development Plan (PDP) aims to create one million new jobs per year and maintain the unemployment rate within a narrow range of 6.8 percent and 7.2 percent.
One of its accompanying plans is the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) Labor and Employment Plan for 2011-2016 which has set out active labor market policies and interventions to address the employment challenge of asymmetry in information.
This will be addressed in both the demand and the supply sides of the labor market by enhancing the labor market information and employment intermediation systems.
In addition, the Plan includes institutionalization and capacity-building of the Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) for better service delivery, developing job search and internship programs for the youth who have difficulty integrating in the labor market.
There is also a policy initiating a review of the labor code to address impediments to hiring workers and adopting flexible arrangements that are acceptable to the tripartite partners.
Meanwhile, Baldoz echoed the advocacy of APEC leaders which is to “put job creation at the heart of our economic strategy and enhance cooperation to address the social implications of globalization”.
“Not only should we advocate that our workforce be employed in the domestic market, but we should also ensure that what we are producing are qualified and competent workforce who can compete well in the global arena”, Baldoz said.
Global competitiveness is a key pillar that should be mainstreamed in the employment services. — Gelo Udaundo, PHILEXPORT News and Features