By Kuhlin Ceslie Gacula
Diversified multinational San Miguel Corp. (SMC) submitted on Wednesday an unsolicited proposal to the government for the construction of a P3 billion bridge linking Boracay island to Caticlan.
Weeks before the six-month closure of Boracay island, SMC President and COO Ramon S. Ang already explored the likelihood of building a bridge connecting the two islands, with an actual gap of 1.1 kilometers.
“We are going to submit the proposal for the unsolicited offer to build the bridge of Caticlan-Boracay (today)” Ang said after Tuesday’s annual shareholders’ meeting of Top Frontier Investment Holdings, Inc. Top Frontier is the majority owner of SMC with 66.09 percent shares.
He said the project could be completed within two years after securing approval from the government. The proposed bridge will be made of concrete and high enough to allow ships to pass underneath and include a pipe that can carry the sewage and waste from Boracay.
He added the Boracay-Aklan bridge would alleviate the congestion problem in Boracay as well as increase the supply of fresh water and electricity to the resort island.
Ang also said the 1.9-kilometer bridge would reduce the need for tourists and tourism workers to stay on the island and provide an option to relocate in Caticlan where there cost of living is cheaper. There will also be less pressure on the island’s resources, he added.
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By Ed Lacson — June 15, 2018 12:05 AMWhen a wife tells a husband who comes home late at night with a tall tale, “OK, Darling, I give you the benefit of the doubt.” It’s a left-handed assurances. Similarly, when organized labor asks for unreasonable and varying amount of increase in minimum wage ranging from P350/P800/P1,200 policy makers should not give them false assurance. Government should be forthright and instead tell labor to “doubt the benefit” of their demands. Let’s look at the facts: The Philippines has the highest minimum wage in Southeast Asia next to Singapore and Malaysia. Out of the 42 million workers in the country’s workforce only less than 3million or 7% are receiving minimum wage. And more than 95 % of these minimum wage earners are employed by MSME’s who are cost challenged. A wage order precipitates inflation as unscrupulous traders will take advantage to push up commodity prices immediately after a minimum wage order is published. The pain of inflation will hurt the 39 million not covered by the minimum wage increase. What is not publicly transparent is the distortion effect of a mandated minimum wage increase. Affected enterprises in order to maintain employee morale and equilibrium in their pay scale will need to adjust upward the salaries of their staff from line supervisors up to managerial level. The unintended consequence of salary distortion is significantly much higher than the impact of the minimum wage increase. The labor code recognizes the salary warping effect and it prescribes a distortion formula which MSME’s could not afford. Another collateral damage of a wage order is the additional 30% increase in payroll cost such as contributions to SSS and PhilHealth, attendant increase in overtime pay and retirement benefits. Employers, by and large, are not insensitive to their workers’ needs and voluntary grant special economic adjustments in basic pay or cost of living allowance. Majority of employers are guided by two basic principles to recruit and retain employees, pay them well and treat them well. In times of great challenges, business has two options to survive, increase revenue or cut cost, wages being one fixed cost that may be considered. However, the Philippines has a peculiar labor law that prohibits and criminalizes diminution of salaries and benefits . Thus, once minimum wage is raised it stays at the new level irrespective of any economic crisis that may hit the country which may call for belt tightening across all levels of company operation. Wages and benefits cannot be included in cost cutting as it is legally protected by the Labor Code. Employers are understandably cautious about mandated upward salary adjustments because it is the only earthly movement that defies Newton’s Law of Gravity. Surely, when payroll cost is beyond the capacity of employers to pay, it will result in downscaling of operation, layoffs, or business closures, not to mention the disincentive to investors to expand or start a new business in the country, Learned economists are aware of the harmful impact of a one-size fits all minimum wage increase as each industry and region are differently situated. Organized labor is in denial of this reality and calls it blackmail by employers to ward off a minimum wage increase. But prudent labor leaders should temper their next- to-impossible expectations, reckless wage petitions, and advocacies for self destructive labor bills. It may be time for our labor partners to indulge in self examination and the first step, I suggest, is for them to “doubt the benefit” of their demands. Social/Civic Organizations Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) (Business Organization) : Chairman Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) (Business and Industry Assn.): Honorary Chairman
By AFP — June 22, 2018 07:09 PMBRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union slapped revenge tariffs on iconic US products including bourbon, jeans and motorcycles on Friday in its opening salvo in a trade war with President Donald Trump. The tariffs, which took effect at midnight (2200 GMT Thursday) according to the EU\'s official journal, will further fuel jitters on world stock markets that are already alarmed by trade tensions between the United States and China. Customs agents across Europe\'s colossal market of 500 million people will now impose the duty, hiking prices on US-made products in supermarkets and across factory floors. \"These measures are the logical consequence of the US decision,\" French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told AFP. \"They reflect a Europe that is resolute and principled,\" he said. Brussels imposed the raft of duties on US products worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in a tit-for-tat response to Trump\'s decision to slap stiff tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports. Global markets on Friday took the development in stride, with stocks in Europe firm after weeks of instability on trade worries. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said this week that the 28-nation bloc was \"left with no other choice\" but to impose tariffs of its own after the \"unilateral and unjustified decision of the US.\" Together with US tariffs against Mexico and Canada, the trade battles have raised the spectre of a global trade war, spooking financial markets that fear major consequences to the global economy. \"We have a trade war -- and it\'s an escalating trade war,\" SEB chief economist Robert Bergqvist told AFP in an interview. Brussels first drew up the list in March when Trump initially floated the 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, which also target Canada, Mexico and other close allies. \'Against all logic\' The list does not specifically name brands but European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker spelled out in March that the bloc would target \"Harley-Davidson, bourbon and Levi\'s jeans\". Cranberries, cranberry juice, orange juice, sweetcorn and peanut butter are among the other food products targeted. Juncker said on Thursday that the US decision to impose tariffs \"goes against all logic and history\". \"Our response must be clear but measured. We will do what we have to do to rebalance and safeguard,\" he said. European consumers would be able to find \"alternatives\", European Commission Vice President for trade Jyrki Katainen said. \"If we chose products like Harley Davidson, peanut butter and bourbon, it\'s because there are alternatives on the market. We don\'t want to do anything that would harm consumers,\" he said on Thursday. \"What\'s more, these products will have a strong symbolic political impact.\" International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde warned on Thursday that trade war, as well as Brexit, were the key risks to the eurozone economy. While she didn\'t see a serious \"direct impact of tariff increases... it\'s a trend that is worrying, the breach of confidence that undermines confidence,\" she said on the sidelines of eurozone minister talks in Luxembourg. Relations reach new lows Transatlantic ties are at their lowest level for many years due to rows over a host of issues including the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Relations plumbed new depths at the recent G7 summit when Trump abruptly rejected the joint statement and bitterly insulted his Canadian host, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump claimed America had been obliged to levy the metals tariffs as it has been exploited as the world\'s \"piggy bank\". He is also targeting EU auto imports with a US probe now underway. Trump\'s outbursts were the latest in which he has clashed with America\'s closest allies, even as he has had warm words for autocrats like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with whom he had a historic meeting earlier this month, and Russia\'s Vladimir Putin. But US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Wess Mitchell said on Thursday that Trump\'s approach towards his allies was about \"strategic renovation\". \"Strengthening the West means making hard decisions today when we initially disagree, rather than continuing to accept the appearance of transatlantic unity,\" he told the Carnegie Europe think-tank in Brussels. p: wjg
By Mina Diaz — June 9, 2018 12:00 AMThe vital infrastructure developments inside the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone boosted Central Luzon’s gross domestic product (GDP) which grew 9.3 percent in 2017, or three percent higher than the country’s GDP of 6.7 percent during the same year. Jess Nicdao, president of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. attributed the growth to the high-impact projects under the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build Infrastructure Program, like the New Clark City, the Clark International Airport (CIA), the Manila-Clark Railway, and the Subic-Clark Railway. Nicdao said, “I commend the Duterte administration for making Clark a part of the country’s economic strategy as the region has been experiencing an influx of new businesses and investments for the past five years.” The 9,450-hectare New Clark City will be the country’s first smart, disaster-resilient, and sustainable city, with mixed use of residential, commercial, agro-industrial, educational institutions, and information technology developments. The railway projects in the pipeline and the ongoing construction of access roads inside the city are also expected to provide interconnectivity and better logistics throughout the region. Nicdao also noted the considerable potential of CIA as a major gateway with the passenger capacity expected to increase to eight million annually after the completion of a new terminal building. “Passengers coming from north of Metro Manila are using the airport as it is more convenient compared to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport,” Nicdao said. Meanwhile, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the Build, Build, Build program is gaining ground as the Philippine economy expanded by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018. “It is at par with market expectations and close to the low-end of our full-year growth target of 7.0 to 8.0 percent for 2018,” Pernia said. He said the country had a steady growth streak over the past couple of years, with 6.9 percent GDP growth for full-year 2016 and recorded a 6.7 percent expansion in 2017. “Real GDP growth could have been well within our growth range target of seven to eight percent,” Pernia added. Pernia said that he Build Build Build program would continue its momentum in providing more economic opportunities for Filipinos in terms of job generation, massive investments, and faster delivery of public services. “Our country’s growth implies that we have the potential to become an upper middle-income economy, even as early as next year,” he added.