Komfie Manalo

New portal makes job matching easy

Filipino fintech firm Sterling Openovate Corporation formally launched on Thursday a new portal described as the “dating website” for job seekers and employers because it provides the perfect venue for job matching. In an interview with the Daily Tribune, Sterling chief technology officer Christian Blanquera said that Jobayan.com is the first “peer-to-peer” recruitment and job hunting platform that allows job seekers and employers to transact directly based on their preference. “We aspire to provide an online job searching platform where getting hired and finding candidates is easy,” Blanquera said. “We aim to make job hunting more social through awareness and connections. As the recruitment space gets more crowded and more job seekers turning towards social media to find jobs, we provide a platform for this new kind of job seekers who are willing to put themselves out there.” He said what makes Jobayan different from existing job portals is that the platform allows job seekers and employers to communicate directly. Existing job portals also act as recruitment agencies because they take charge of finding job matches and even arrange for interviews for applicants who qualify for a job posting. “We don’t want to take that route,” Blanquera insisted. “What we want is for the employers and the job seekers to transact directly with each other.” According to Blanquera, a job seeker can click the “interested” button if he or she finds any job posting on Jobayan interesting.

Prepaid loads now have 1 year validity

“The order to extend the validity of prepaid loads of P300 or higher to one year was actually set for implementation in January.” No more “missing” prepaid loads. Telecommunication giants PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom have fully complied with a government order requiring all prepaid loads to have one-year validity. Effective July 5, PLDT and Globe said they would comply with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) memorandum extending the expiration periods for prepaid loads. “We are grateful to the NTC, DICT, and DTI for giving us ample time to prepare for the smooth and seamless implementation of the extension of the expiration period across all denominations,” Globe Telecoms said in a statement. The order to extend the validity of prepaid loads of P300 or higher to one year was actually set for implementation in January. Globe said they implemented the order starting January 6, together with other carriers but it only covered prepaid loads worth P300 and above. In a separate statement, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications said that all Smart, TNT and Sun prepaid loads would be valid for one year. This includes all load denominations of Smart Prepaid, Smart Bro, TNT, Sun Prepaid, Sun Broadband Wireless Prepaid, Smart Link, Smart Marino, PLDT Prepaid Landline Plus and PLDT Home. “This development completes our compliance with the Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 05-12-2017 issued jointly by the NTC, DICT, and the DTI,” Smart said.  With PNA

‘BBB-originated funds to fuel growth’

“The flow of state-generated funds into the real economy forms part of the multiyear Build, Build, Build program that should eventually cost more or less P9 trillion.” Some P56 billion worth of funds find their way into the financial system every month as a result of the government’s ambitious infrastructure buildup program, a development helping make possible for the Philippines to continue to grow no matter the economic headwinds. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III pointed this out yesterday when he expressed optimism the Southeast Asian nation was on track towards continued growth approximating 7 percent in terms of the gross domestic product (GDP) this year. The flow of state-generated funds into the real economy forms part of the multiyear Build, Build, Build program that should eventually cost more or less P9 trillion, he said. According to Dominguez, that much money in the system was certain to create jobs, attract investments “and finally disperse growth to the countryside.” He said that in the first five months this year alone, national government spending on infrastructure reached P281 billion, representing an increase of 42 percent over the same period last year. This was on top of private sector construction and public sector projects financed through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). “The Build, Build, Build program will drastically alter the Philippine economic landscape. It will create over a million jobs per year. It will bring our logistics backbone up to par in a region that is growing very dynamically,” Dominguez said. He estimated 30 percent of the spending go to wages each month and infuse the economy with P17 billion in the form of additional income and purchasing power for workers apart from creating some 100,000 new jobs that spur economic activity in related sectors and other multiplier effects. Dominguez said that combined with other reforms such as the long-due modernization of the tax system and improvements in the ease of doing business, the infrastructure buildup program should help reduce the poverty incidence by a third of the 2015 level of 21.6 percent to just 14 percent by 2022. “This will be the absolute measure of success of our strategy of inclusive growth. This is the goal that has been set for us by President Duterte, and this is how we are implementing it,” he said. “We fully aspire to be the fastest growing economy in the fastest growing region in the world. This will not be an easy task to accomplish. But we are ready to meet the challenges, driven by the optimism of our people, the confidence of our development partners, and the leadership of President Duterte.” 6.5% GDP growth more likely However, some analysts noted several headwinds that could hamper the government’s 7 percent GDP growth target, citing the spiraling inflation, the rising interest rates and the weak peso. These economic spoilers could limit the domestic economy’s growth range to only between 6.5 percent and 6.9 percent, one analyst said. On Tuesday, credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings expressed confidence that a 6.5 percent or higher GDP growth over the next few years was “very easily achievable” for the Philippines on the basis of the country’s economic policies. S&P Asia Pacific Economist Vincent Conti bared this outlook and said, “And the reason for that is very favorable demographic trends that continue to benefit the Philippines, particularly providing a very mobile and effective labor force that has generated a lot of investments and consumption onshore.” Conti said economic policy in the Philippines “seems to be very stable” and expected to have continuity. “A lot of positives from the economic policy as well. The ramping up of infra program is one of the relatively newer additions to the policy toolkit and that’s actually a positive in that it can generate even further potential growth farther into the future,” he said. Bright future Dominguez led the administration’s Build, Build, Build team comprised of Secretaries Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DoTr), and Vivencio Dizon, president and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) along with MTD Clark Inc. chairman Isaac David and president Nicholas David to showcase “the progress of the infrastructure program as it is actually unfolding on the ground.”

Regulator voids Chelsea-Trans Asia deal

Anti-trust watchdog Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has voided the P205.3 million acquisition deal between Chelsea Logistics Holdings Corp. and Trans-Asia Shipping Lines for failure to notify the commission of the transaction in December 2016. At the same time, the PCC fined Chelsea P22.8 million regarding the botched transaction. Chelsea Logistics Holding Corp. is a unit of KGLI-NM Holdings Inc., which in turn controls 2Go. Trans-Asia Shipping Lines operates a passenger and cargo shipping business in Cebu. “Every M&A (merger and acquisition) notification subjected to PCC review is evaluated in a fair and transparent manner with the public’s welfare as foremost concern. There are sanctions for violations, there are clearances when there are no competition concerns,” said PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan. The nullification of the Trans-Asia deal also led to PCC’s conditional clearance of a related transaction -- the acquisition by Chelsea Logistics Holding Corp. of KGLI-NM Holdings Inc., which in turn controls 2Go. The latter transaction involves the acquisition by Chelsea Logistics of shares in KGLI-NM to consolidate its majority ownership in KGLI-NM and gain a 52.98 percent stake in the 2Go group. PCC’s investigation initially found that control of both 2Go and Trans-Asia by Chelsea would lead to a substantial erosion of competition affecting roll-on/roll-off passenger shipping services (RoPax) in Cebu-Cagayan De Oro, Cagayan De Oro-Cebu, Cebu-Ozamis, Ozamis-Cebu, Cebu-Iligan and Iligan-Cebu legs; and cargo shipping services in the same areas plus the Cebu-Zamboanga leg. In these legs, 2Go and Trans-Asia overlap or compete directly with each other. However, Chelsea and its parent firm Udenna Corp. protested the ruling and insisted the deal is not covered by the compulsory notification because the transaction was below the P1 billion threshold. It added the PCC even raised the mandatory review value floor to P2 billion.

GSIS hikes offshore portfolio to P58.3 billion

State pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) is raising its offshore portfolio to P58.3 billion as it looks for opportunities overseas. GSIS president and general manager Jesus Clint Aranas said that he has authorized the allocation of nearly $300 million in the infrastructure-focused the Asia Infrastructure Fund (AIF). He said that GSIS’s portfolio in the AIF cushioned the decline of the fund’s assets due to the slump of the local stock market. Aranas said, “Our investments right now are in local securities, bonds, different areas... We have adopted the multi-asset strategy which is the global trend, which is you do not put your eggs locally all the time.” GSIS senior vide president for financial management group Gracita Gilda Bocanegra, said the Macquarie AIF is invested in infrastructure assets in Asia, which covers Japan, Korea, China, Australia and India. Bocanegra said the investment amount is GSIS’ commitment along with other foreign investors to the $3-billion Macquarie Asia Infrastructure Fund (MAIF).

PH bats for prompt end to RCEP

The Philippines has called on trade ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six states with which the bloc has existing free trade deals to be more realistic to complete the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this year. The RCEP is an expanded free trade agreement between ASEAN member-states and their free trade partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez represented the Philippines at the 5th RCEP Intercessional Meeting in Tokyo over the weekend, where he joined Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock-Hoi, and trade ministers from the 16 RCEP participating countries (RPC). “It is about time that we shift gears and lean towards being more realistic than idealistic. While we attend to our own interests, we should also remember that a mutually-beneficial agreement requires trade-offs,” said Lopez. “We should also keep in mind that this mega-regional trade pact should be inclusive and progressive and should cater not only to today’s generation but also of the future,” he added. The free trade agreement that began negotiations in 2013 covers trade in goods, trade in services, investments, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues. On the trade in goods, some countries’ submissions were still below the targeted 92 percent for tariff elimination. RPCs committed to submit improved offers by the middle of July. Meanwhile, Lopez commended the progress on e-commerce for closing several articles in the RCEP key elements paper. He said that e-commerce significantly lowers the barriers to entry and operating costs for businesses, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), which comprise 99.6 percent of all registered businesses in the Philippines. The RPC will meet again in Singapore this August to assess the outcome of the 23rd round of negotiations in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dominguez rules out wanton spending

“Dominguez stressed the country’s fiscal position “is strong” and “would continue to be so in the foreseeable future.” The government vowed on Tuesday to observe fiscal discipline even while it aggressively spends under the multi-year infrastructure buildup program designed to supercharge the economy and sustain growth. This requires the Department of Finance (DOF) to work closely with the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) to ensure the government’s borrowing policy remains cost-efficient to provide it with enough resources to fund the infrastructure buildup program and other priorities. “We assure our people that the government remains steadfast in its commitment to fiscal discipline. The improved revenue collections are channeled to productive spending that will clear the way towards inclusive economic growth,” Dominguez said at the 173rd meeting of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) at the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) office in Manila. Dominguez stressed the country’s fiscal position “is strong” and “would continue to be so in the foreseeable future.” He added the economic managers have adjusted the forecast budget deficit from 3 percent of local output or the gross domestic product (GDP) to 3.2 percent through 2019 to maintain the momentum of the buildup program. Keeping the budgetary shortfall in check allows the government to allocate scarce public funds to such other critical sectors as defense, education or health. Such discipline also allows the economic managers to borrow only when necessary even though government debt as a fraction of GDP has fallen over a nine-year period to only 42.1 percent as of December last year from 54.7 percent. For the first five months this year, for example, revenue collection already reached P1.19 trillion, higher by 19 percent year-on-year and also 7.4 percent above the target, Dominguez said. From January to May, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) also collected P828 billion, or 15.5 percent higher than the same period last year and 3.1 percent higher than the target. During the same period, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) reported collecting P229.3 billion pesos, a 31.2 percent increase from the same period last year and 2.4 percent above target. “For these, we credit the administrative reforms undertaken by both agencies as well as the beneficial effects of the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) Law passed late last year,” he said. To ensure efficient borrowing, the year’s so-called borrowing mix had been reset to 75 percent domestic from 65 percent originally and to 25 percent from external sources from 35 under the old proposal. “The larger proportion of domestic borrowing in the 2019 mix will help us hedge better against foreign exchange risks,” Dominguez said.

Consensys to roll out blockchain–based real-estate fund

Global blockchain software technology company ConsenSys is rolling out a blockchain-based real estate fund that allows sufficiently enlightened Filipinos to share ownership of property. Marketed as the Meridio, the fund converts individual properties into digital shares on the blockchain and seamlessly connects diverse investors and asset owners to invest and trade. In an interview, Aiai Garcia, Asian head of ConsenSys Solutions, said the fund unlocks value in real estate through so-called fractional ownership. “Meridio launches funds out of tokenized real estate assets. Think of it as fractional ownership because you are now able to reallocate one piece of property to multiple investors. And since it is all on the blockchain, you can track the equity, the ownership, the income received from the property, even the yield, over time.” She explained that Consensys has since scouted for real estate opportunities in the Philippines because of the property boom in the country, buoyed in part by a massive infrastructure buildup program. Garcia said Meridio also allows property developers access to a fresh wave of investors they never had access before. “Say you want to invest in an apartment project but you do not have the fund for it. The Meridio fund allows you to be a part of that project by investing in the real estate fund. You can fractionally own that apartment from that portfolio,” she said. Currently, Meridio is available in Dubai after Consensys signed a partnership agreement with a local investor, creating the world’s first real estate blockchain platform. The Meridio fund is looking to address the challenges of transparency, liquidity and inclusion by creating a real estate token. A separate article by Consensys further described Meridio. “As the project concluded, we realized that we were only scratching the surface of the benefits blockchain could provide for real estate. Meridio cofounders Corbin Page and Mohammad (Mo) Shaikh began exploring other tokenized business models around fractional ownership, and ‘Project Pangea’ was selected as a temporary name for the venture. While the name was very fitting, it served its purpose and it’s time we shed our old skin and prepare our company for long-term adoption.”

Loyal travelers to earn crypto

Blockchain-based loyalty platform is making inroads as local carrier Cebu Pacific becomes the latest company to integrate a cryptocurrency rewards system for its loyal customers. Cebu Pacific has entered into a partnership with software services and fintech firm Appsolutely that will give digital currency LoyalCoin to users of Cebu Pacific’s GetGo lifestyle rewards card. Through the partnership, users can now convert LoyalCoin to GetGo points using the LoyalWallet app at a rate of 1.20 LYL = 1 GetGo point. “The partnership is a natural response to our mutual commitment to help consumers maximize the rewards they earn from their purchases,” shared Patrick Palacios, CEO of Appsolutely “Building a strong loyalty economy means making redemption and transactions easier for industries that generate demand among its customers. Through our technology, we hope to influence more people to experience the convenience and practicality created by a digitally-integrated loyalty ecosystem. Teaming-up with Cebu Pacific helps showcase LoyalCoin within the travel industry which continues to grow thanks to the Pinoy’s penchant for travelling,” Palacios added. Nik Laming, Cebu Pacific Loyalty Divisions general manager said that adding LoyalCoin to its line-up of lifestyle partners brings more value to its members. He said the partnership provides GetGo members an even wider network to earn more points which they can use to redeem free flights with Cebu Pacific. “We both strive to give users full control of how they want to make use of their points. Through the LoyalWallet application, users can easily convert their points without having to go through an additional third party, such as calling customer service,” Laming added.
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