Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Feb net FDI falls 70% to $97 million

MANILA, Philippines - Net inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) plunged in February from a year ago as unfavorable developments overseas weighed on investor sentiment.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said FDI net inflow amounted to $97 million in February, down over 70% from the $326 million recorded in the same month last year.

This brought net inflows for the first 2 months to $304 million, a 39% decline from $496 million last year.

"Investor sentiment was subdued on account of unrest in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa, sovereign debt concerns in some European economies, as well as expectations of monetary tightening in Asia amid inflationary concerns," BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said in a statement.

Equity capital registered a net inflow of $10 million in February, down from year-ago net inflow of $76 million. The bulk of these inflows originated from the United States, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, and Germany.

Net FDI, portfolio inflows, and remittances from Filipinos working and living overseas help keep the country's balance of payments (BOP) in surplus.

The central bank revised its estimate for balance of payments surplus this year to $6.7 billion from a range of $6 billion to $8 billion. The Philippines posted a record balance of payments surplus of $14.4 billion in 2010, boosted by strong portfolio inflows.

LTFRB Oks LRT, MRT fare hikes

MANILA, Philippines - Fare hikes for the three mass rail systems in Metro Manila have been approved, but the government postponed indefinitely their implementation.

Transportation Undersecretary Ruben Reinoso confirmed that the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has agreed to the proposed increase in the fares for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2, and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3.

However, he said the LRTA (Light Rail Transit Authority) decided to delay the fare hikes in light of rising prices of basic goods and services.

"We are looking for the best timing. We don't want to burden the people. But certainly [LRT, MRT fares] are going up, it's just a matter of time."

Under Executive Order 603, the LRTA needs to consult the LTFRB first, and comply with publication requirements, before it could adjust fares. The LRTA board is headed by Transportation Secretary Jose de Jesus.

The Transportation Department had said the LRT and MRT fare hikes were meant to reduce the billion-peso subsidy extended by the government to rail operations.

This would be supported by a plan to bid out the operation and maintenance of the rail systems to the private sector to free up state funds.

New fares

The fare hikes were supposed to have taken effect on March 1. The LRTA, last February, deferred this to allow a review by the LTFRB.

The approved fares include a boarding fee of P11 and a P1 charge for every kilometer.

As a result of the new fares, travelling the entire length of the MRT station, a total of 17 kilometers from Taft to North Avenue, would cost P28. For the LRT Lines 1 and 2, the maximum fares will be P30 and P25, respectively.

Commuters, however, would be able to get discounts if they buy "stored value" tickets.

Monday, May 09, 2011

SM-Carlson to open Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Davao

MANILA, Philippines - The SM group has partnered with global hospitality firm Carlson anew, this time for the opening of the Park Inn by Radisson hotel in Davao City.

SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. will construct and own the P750-million hotel, while management and operations will be handled by Carlson.

The 200-room hotel, which will rise on a 175,000-square meter mixed-use complex of another SM subsidiary, SM Prime Holdings Inc., is slated to begin construction by the third quarter of 2011 and open by 2013.

"The signing of our contract with Carlson to open a Park Inn by Radisson in Davao City is another concrete step towards fulfilling the vision of our founder, Henry Sy, to make the Philippines a world-class tourist destination," said SM Hotels president Elizabeth Sy.

"We believe that Davao is an ideal location for such an undertaking because of its robust economy, vibrant population, and excellent infrastructure including its international airport," she added.

In September last year, SM Hotels opened the upscale 400-room Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu, which is also managed by Carlson.

PNoy's wealth up P4M since June

MANILA, Philippines - The President has a monthly basic salary of P95,000, or P63,000 after tax and other deductions.

In a year, President Aquino's income has reached P1.2 million.

Since assuming office on June 30, 2010, President Aquino’s wealth grew by P4 million, according to his latest Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).

From P50.1 million when he became president, his net worth rose to P54.9 million, as of December 31, 2010.

The President earned from proceeds of a residential lot in Antipolo sold by the Cojuangco family. Hence, the real estate property listed in 2010 had receivables worth P17 million.

The President's cash also grew, after selling P4.7 million worth of shares in 8 companies owned his family, including shares of stock in Central Azucarera de Tarlac that runs the family's sugar estate, Hacienda Luisita.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the President deemed it proper to fully divest his shares, in compliance with the Constitution and the code of conduct barring public officials from engaging in private businesses, whether or not there is conflict of interest.

The president still owns a residential lot in Tarlac, 2 agricultural lands in Tarlac City and Capas, an inherited commercial lot in San Juan, and the house and lot on Times Street he inherited from his mother, worth P13.7 million.

From P9 million, the President's vehicles are now valued at P8.7 million.

The president earlier said he owns three vehicles: a 2007 Toyota Land Cruiser that he has used since he was a senator, a 2005 Ford Everest, and a Porsche which he bought after selling a BMW SUV.

The President's only listed liability: income tax worth P229,000, which according to Lacierda, the President already paid to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) last April.