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The Philippines can maintain an economic growth of 6.7 percent this year despite the monetary tightening cycle initiated by the inflation-targeting Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, an economist from Citibank said.

In a research note, Citibank economist for the Philippines Jun Trinidad said the rate-tightening process would not necessarily curb the country’s potential for higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

During the BSP’s next policy rate setting on July 31, Citibank expects another 25-basis point special deposit account (SDA) rate increase to 2.5 percent against an unchanged policy rate. Citi also expects a policy rate rise of 25 basis points (100 basis points=one percentage point) in the fourth quarter as well as in the first quarter of 2015.

“Our sanguine view of a macro backdrop that can withstand rate hikes rests primarily on the quality of first-quarter growth that remains favorable as indicated by a real investments ex-inventory contributing 24 percent of GDP—a recent high,” Trinidad said.

The economist noted that the key drivers of real investments, particularly construction and capital expenditures alongside rising incomes, were seen supporting strong demand. At the same time, he said that outstanding supply deficiencies, housing demand backlog, tightening capacity, strong public investments were appealing to supply-chain foreign direct investments.

Awarding of big-ticket public-private partnership (PPP) projects has also enhanced the investment outlook, Trinidad said. He noted the April labor survey, which reported an increase in manufacturing and construction jobs, could be attributed to higher investments and support a national jobless rate easing to 7 percent.

“Unlike the income variable, rising interest rates on average has a subdued impact on domestic spending,” he said.

The economist likewise said that negative real interest rate condition conducive to spending might take time to dissipate, adding that inflation expectations, which continued to exceed nominal short-term rates, would sustain negative real rates.

A 1-percentage rise in negative real rate is seen lowering real bank loans by a modest 0.0007 percent.

Trinidad cited the BSP’s second-quarter consumer survey where inflation expectations eased to 6.1 percent, down from 8.4 percent in the first-quarter survey, while consensus inflation forecasts remained in the 4-percent range.

“Upbeat consumer and business sentiment accompanied higher inflation and interest rate outlook although percentages of respondents expressing an elevated outlook may not be as high,” he said.

PH seen maintaining growth path

July 10, 2014

http://business.inquirer.net/174430/ph-seen-maintaining-growth-path

JACKSONVILLE, Florida — A Florida-based Fortune 500 company, one of the world’s leading providers of banking and payments technology services, is seriously mulling the expansion of its operations in the Philippines.

FIS Global wants to tap the Philippines for information technology and business process outsourcing (IT-BPO) services, reported Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. who led an economic diplomacy mission to Florida recently.

FIS Global, which has been serving bank clients in the Philippines for the past two decades, is No. 1 in the annual FinTech 100 list and 434 on the Fortune 500. It is a member of Standard & Poor’s 500® Index.

“We welcome the interest of Florida companies, particularly FIS Global, to collaborate and invest in Philippine businesses and institutions,” Cuisia said.

FIS Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frank Martire said his company is considering the expansion of its present operations in the Philippines “because of the favorable investment climate and other advantages, particularly the encouraging support that the government provides,” Cuisia reported

Trade Representative Maria Roseni Alvero, who accompanied Cuisia in the mission, said FIS Global, which is headquartered in Jacksonville, employs more than 37,000 people worldwide, including more than 1,700 in the Philippines.

“We see this as a step forward in further developing our local industries as well as further strengthening economic ties with between the Philippines and the United States,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

During the business roundtable in Jacksonville, Aaron Bowman, Senior Vice President for Business Development of JAX USA Partnership, a regional economic development organization in Jacksonville, said there are local companies interested in doing business in the Philippines.

“There are various areas that we would like to explore – from agricultural research and food product testing to opportunities in aerospace and aviation, particularly on the maintenance and manufacturing side,” Bowman said.

“We want to be connected with companies in the Philippines,” Bowman told Ambassador Cuisia, Commercial Counselor Alvero, and Agriculture Attaché Josyline Javelosa.

Fortune 500 company mulling expansion in PH

July 14, 2014

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/107893/fortune-500-company-mulling-expansion-in-ph

CLARK FREEPORT—Some P207.18 million worth of infrastructure projects that are expected to give motorists speedy, comfortable and convenient travel, while plying the 94-kilometer Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) are now being implemented by the state-owned Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

Arnel Paciano D. Casanova, BCDA president and CEO, said there are six projects currently underway including the long-term permanent works at Pasig-Potrero Bridge of SCTEx pegged at P71.62 million; Gumain Bridge’s Pier Nos. 5 and 6 protection works worth P18.96 million; construction management and supervision of the long-term permanent works at the Pasig-Potrero Bridge of SCTEx worth P7.13 million; 2014 heavy maintenance works along SCTEx—asphalt pavement resurfacing worth P68.48 million; 2014 heavy maintenance works along SCTEx bridge revetment, slope and drainage repair works worth P12.43 million; and the fortification works of the SCTEx Pasig-Potero Bridge.

Casanova said five of the six projects are still in their early stages of implementation, noting that the P28.56-million fortification works of the SCTEx Pasig-Potrero Bridge is on track and is expected to be completed by the end of this month, just in time for the torrential rains that usually come during the months of August to October.

“We are on track in completing the fortification works by the end of July so that when the strong rains come, the structural integrity of the Pasig-Potrero Bridge and the temporary Bailey Bridge will not be compromised and ensure the safe travel of the motorists plying the SCTEx,” Casanova said.

He also said the fortification works, part of the long-term permanent repair works, involves the installation of concrete sheet piles around the damaged abutment of the Pasig-Potrero Bridge. An abutment refers to the substructure at the end of a bridge span where the bridge’s superstructure rests.

Casanova said the installation of concrete sheet piles will secure the eroded slope of the bridge abutment, as well as its exposed bored piles from further scouring by the strong current of floodwaters during the rainy season.

Last year the strong river current initiated by the heavy downpour during the height of Typhoon Maring set off a massive erosion of up to 10 hectares of land from the banks of the Pasig-Potrero river caused the damage to a segment of the toll road that serves as an approach to the Pasig-Potrero Bridge.

Joshua M. Bingcang, BCDA manager for SCTEx Services, said the P68.48-million asphalt pavement resurfacing just recently started. It involves the resurfacing of the worn-out asphalt pavement along sections of SCTEX.

“It is expected to be completed in 120 calendar days and ensure the smooth travel of motorists along the toll road,” Bingcang said.

BCDA works on 6 SCTEx infrastructure projects worth P207 million

July 21, 2014

http://www.businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/en/news/regions/35818-bcda-works-on-6-sctex-infra-projects-worth-p207-million

Despite the robust economic growth being enjoyed by the Philippines these past few years—as always trumpeted by the Aquino administration—many Filipinos remain poor, if pundits are to be believed.

But if one goes around Metro Manila, one will see a number of development projects that may turn a skeptic into a believer in the economic miracle that has turned around the Philippines from being the “sick of man of Asia” to one of the emerging economies in the region.

See the malls choked with people shopping all day; more vehicles on the roads, causing traffic jams (poor infrastructure is also a major cause of congestion, but that’s another story); and high-rise, high-end residential and commercial buildings mushrooming all around.

World Bank data showed that alongside the expansion of the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP), or output of goods and services, came the rise in the purchasing power of Filipino consumers.

From a GDP per capita of $1,832 in 2009, it steadily rose to $2,136 in 2010, $2,358 in 2011 and $2,587 in 2012.

Last year, when the Philippine economy grew to second fastest in Asia—next only to China—with a 7.2-percent expansion, the GDP per capita further climbed to $2,765.

The auto industry is one of the sectors enjoying increased sales as a result of the Filipinos’ higher capacity to spend.

The industry group Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) has already jacked up its sales target for 2014 to 250,000 vehicles from the earlier projection of 230,000 vehicles on the back of rosier prospects for car companies.

“The growing economy bodes well for the automotive industry. With GDP per capita of more than $2,500, we are set for the motorization stage,” Campi president Rommel T. Gutierrez said.

“The purchasing power of consumers is getting stronger, which enables more buyers to purchase vehicles. The availability of affordable models across all segments makes it a good time to buy a car. Buying a car is second to owning a house,” he said.

Even luxury vehicles that cost tens of millions of pesos are now available to the ultrarich, as local dealerships of bespoke Rolls Royce and sports car Ferrari were opened during the past two years.

In the case of Rolls Royce, its Ghost, the least expensive model available in the Philippines, sells at P25 million for starters.

A Ferrari means shelling out between P18 million and P30 million.

An industry executive who requested anonymity said that luxury cars have a ready market here, mostly among captains of industry or top-level executives.

Sales of luxury consumer goods are also rising, as more Filipinos have found more stable jobs, according to a recent study of global market research firm Euromonitor International.

“The demand for luxury goods was sustained in 2013 by the overall improvement in the country’s economic condition, which provided better employment opportunities for Filipinos,” Euromonitor said in the executive summary of its report titled “Luxury Goods in the Philippines” released this month.

“The continued growth in business process outsourcing activities contributed to improved disposable incomes providing opportunities for occasional purchases of luxury goods from lower income groups. The increased participation of women in the workforce likewise proved beneficial, as double-income households provided families the flexibility to trade up to more expensive luxury brands,” the report said.

According to Euromonitor, the influx of luxury brands came on the back of additional investments in casino, hotels and residential development that would mainly cater to affluent foreign tourists, but this widening of brand choices would also benefit Filipinos.

“Consumers are provided with better options with the increasing availability of affordable and aspirational luxury brands,” Euromonitor said.

The wider range of high-end brands now available in the country has also made luxury goods more accessible to the middle class, it said.

In particular, high-end electronic gadgets “hold much promise for growth given the current limited market appeal these luxury goods have and the small number of players available locally,” the report said.

As for real estate, the luxury and high-end segments have also become a lucrative market for property developers.

Catherine A. Ilagan, executive vice president of Filinvest Alabang Inc., said in an interview that competition among real estate firms has intensified as more and more of them have ventured into a “still small” but higher-value market.

Filinvest, for one, has focused on the lower and midmarket housing segments but has also introduced its “Premiere” and “Exclusive Collection” projects, which cater to the ultrarich.

The smallest unit, at 140 square meters, of Filinvest’s luxury project called Botanika that will soon rise in Muntinlupa City costs at least P19 million, while the most expensive homes could reach around P40 million.

At BeauFort in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City, one-bedroom units go for a minimum of P8 million and three-bedroom units cost up to P30 million. Despite the steep price tags, 60 percent of the west wing of the two-tower development is already occupied.

“High-end and luxury developments are not as risky because there’s money in this market,” Ilagan said.

Boom ups Filipinos’ per capita income at $2,765 in 2013; luxury goods sale rising

July 27, 2014

The Philippines and Kuwait on Friday signed four bilateral agreements, covering diplomatic, social, economic and cultural relationships between the two countries.

The emirate’s Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is now in the Philippines for a five-day state visit. He arrived in the southeast Asian country Friday afternoon.

The agreements signed by Kuwaiti and Filipino officials include:

       Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperation

       Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Official Passports, Executive Program for the Cultural Agreement for the years 2012-2014

       Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Recruitment and Employment of Filipino Household Service Workers and

       Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Labor Cooperation.

The Philippine officials who signed the documents were Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and National Commission on Culture and the Arts chairman Felipe de Leon.

For Kuwait, Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah led the signing of the bilateral documents with the Philippines.

“We are very happy that we are here in Manila. (May I extend) my invitation for you to visit Kuwait,” Sheikh Sabah told President Benigno Aquino III before the expanded bilateral meeting at Malacañang started.

“We would like to commend highly the excellent relation that exists between Kuwait and the Philippines. During the invasion of my country, (Philippines) participated in liberating Kuwait, therefore, I would like to extend my appreciation and thanks for this act,” he said.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and annexed the oil-rich emirate as its province. The invasion prompted Desert Shield, a US military operation to keep Baghdad from expanding its invasion to Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait was liberated through Operation Desert Storm, an offensive launched by US-led allied forces on Jan. 16, 1991 that led to the liberation of the emirate in late February of that same year.  

“All these will not be forgotten by our people,” Sheikh Sabah told President Aquino.

Aquino conferred on the sheikh the Order of Lakandula Grand Collar. In turn, Sheikh Sabah conferred on Aquino the Mubarak Al Kabeer Medal.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Sabah will unveil the marker for the Sabah Al Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga — about 95 kms north of Manila —  before flying back to Kuwait.

There are more than 140,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, the fourth largest expatriate community in the emirate, after the Indian, Egyptian, and Bengali nationals.

March 23, 2012

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/252552/news/nation/philippines-kuwait-sign-bilateral-agreements

 

MANILA — The five-day state visit of Kuwait’s Amir, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the Philippines is expected to intensify economic relations and boost investments in the Philippines.

Interviewed by the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) prior to the visit, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan O. Primavera said economic diplomacy is one of the current thrusts of the Aquino administration aimed at seeking potential foreign investors for Philippine development projects.

Among the Kuwaiti investments in the Philippines include the US$ 2 billion KGL Investment Co. investment in Clark Field in Pampanga, the acquisition of the Negros Navigation and interest in investing in metro rail transit (MRT) system, and Intishar's 500-hectare banana plantation in Davao, Primavera said.

Sheikh Sabah is scheduled to unveil the marker for the Sabah Al Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City, at the Clark Export Processing Zone on Tuesday, March 27.

The Philippines opened the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Kuwait City in 2009 to boost economic cooperation in Kuwait and facilitate several business matching conferences between Filipino and Kuwaiti businessmen.

Kuwait currently hosts more than 140,000 Filipino expatriates with Filipinos ranking as the fourth largest expatriate community in that country, after the Indians, Egyptians, and the Bengalis. In 2009, Kuwait passed a labor law designed to promote the welfare of workers in its private sector.

The visiting Amir of Kuwait and the President are expected to hold bilateral meeting and witness the signing of several agreements.

Among the agreements to be signed by the two countries include: Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperation, Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Official Passports, Executive Program for the Cultural Agreement for the Years 2012-2014, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Recruitment and Employment of Filipino Household Service Workers, and Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Labor Cooperation. (PNA)

March 24, 2012

http://www.zambotimes.com/archives/45406-State-visit-of-Amir-to-boost-country146;s-economic-relations-between-Kuwait.html

MANILA — The five-day state visit of Kuwait’s Amir, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the Philippines is expected to intensify economic relations and boost investments in the Philippines.

Interviewed by the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) prior to the visit, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Shulan O. Primavera said economic diplomacy is one of the current thrusts of the Aquino administration aimed at seeking potential foreign investors for Philippine development projects.

Among the Kuwaiti investments in the Philippines include the US$ 2 billion KGL Investment Co. investment in Clark Field in Pampanga, the acquisition of the Negros Navigation and interest in investing in metro rail transit (MRT) system, and Intishar's 500-hectare banana plantation in Davao, Primavera said.

Sheikh Sabah is scheduled to unveil the marker for the Sabah Al Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City, at the Clark Export Processing Zone on Tuesday, March 27.

The Philippines opened the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Kuwait City in 2009 to boost economic cooperation in Kuwait and facilitate several business matching conferences between Filipino and Kuwaiti businessmen.

Kuwait currently hosts more than 140,000 Filipino expatriates with Filipinos ranking as the fourth largest expatriate community in that country, after the Indians, Egyptians, and the Bengalis. In 2009, Kuwait passed a labor law designed to promote the welfare of workers in its private sector.

The visiting Amir of Kuwait and the President are expected to hold bilateral meeting and witness the signing of several agreements.

Among the agreements to be signed by the two countries include: Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Fisheries Cooperation, Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic, Special and Official Passports, Executive Program for the Cultural Agreement for the Years 2012-2014, Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Recruitment and Employment of Filipino Household Service Workers, and Memorandum of Understanding in the Field of Labor Cooperation. (PNA)

March 24, 2012

http://www.zambotimes.com/archives/45406-State-visit-of-Amir-to-boost-country146;s-economic-relations-between-Kuwait.html

Kuwaiti Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, on Friday night expressed his country’s appreciation for the Philippines’ participation in the multilateral effort to liberate the oil-rich state when it was occupied by Iraq several years back.

Meeting with President Aquino in Malacañang on the first day of his state visit, the Amir said he was happy to be in the Philippines and extended his own invitation to the Filipino leader to visit Kuwait.

“We would like to commend highly the excellent relations that exist between Kuwait and the Philippines,” Sheikh Sabah said in his opening statement during the bilateral meeting.

“(The Philippines) participated (with) other countries in liberating Kuwait… Therefore, I would like to extend my appreciation and thanks for this act,” he added.

President Aquino welcomed Sheikh Sabah in Malacañang, where the visiting dignitary was greeted with a 21-gun salute.

A state dinner was also tendered for the Amir in the Palace.

The five-day state visit of the Kuwaiti Amir is expected to intensify economic relations and boost investments in the Philippines, Malacañang said on Friday.

Sheikh Sabah is scheduled to unveil the marker for the Sabah Al Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City, at the Clark Export Processing Zone on Tuesday.

The Palace said Kuwaiti investments in the Philippines include the $2 billion KGLI investment in Clark Field, Pampanga; the recently-acquired shipping company Negros Navigation. Kuwaiti businessmen have also expressed interest in investing in the Metro Rail Transit system, and Intishar’s 500-hectare banana plantation in Davao, Primavera said.

The government said Kuwait currently hosts more than 140,000 Filipino workers.

Among the agreements scheduled to be signed by the two countries are a memorandum of understanding on agricultural and fisheries cooperation, an agreement on the waiver of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports, a cultural agreement, a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the recruitment and employment of Filipino household service workers, and an another in the field of labor cooperation.

Norman Bordadora

March 24, 2012

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/30407/aquino-welcomes-kuwaiti-amir-to-malacanang

MANILA: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will arrive in the Philippines today on an official visit aimed at strengthening relations between the two countries, according to local reports. The Amir will arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on board a Kuwait government aircraft B747-400, the Philippines news agency (PNA) reported, noting that he will be welcomed by Albert del Rosario, Foreign Affairs Secretary, Jose Rene Almendras, Energy Secretary, Shulan Primavera, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Jose Angel Honrado and Antonino Calixto, Pasay City Mayor.

After his arrival, the Amir is scheduled to proceed to the Rizal Park for a wreath-laying ceremony and will depart for Malacanang Palace for a welcome ceremony, PNA reported. Following the welcoming ceremony, he will pay a courtesy call on President Benigno S Aquino III at the Music Room of the Malacanang Palace. Following this, an expanded bilateral meeting will be held between the two leaders, the agency said.

Joining the president during the courtesy call will be Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo. Aquino and Sheikh Sabah will also witness the signing of several bilateral agreements between the two countries following their bilateral meeting. Aquino will confer the Order of Lakandula with the rank of Grand Collar (Supremo) on Sheikh Sabah. In turn, the Amir will confer on Aquino the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Meda

In the evening, the president will host a state dinner for the visiting Amir of Kuwait at Malacanang’s Rizal Hall. Kuwait’s Ambassador to the Philippines will hold a dinner in honor of him during the second day of his state visit. HH the Amir is also scheduled to visit Tagaytay Highlands on the third day of his visit. Sheikh Sabah will then proceed to Clark Export Processing Zone to unveil the Sabah Al-Ahmad Global Gateway Logistics City. He will depart for Kuwait after the event. The agency said that Philippines and Kuwait will seal several agreements during the visit to further cement the growing relations between the two countries.

Among the agreements to be signed by the two countries include a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on agricultural and fisheries cooperation, an agreement on the waiver of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports, an executive program for cultural agreement for 2012-2014, an MOU on cooperation in the recruitment and employment of Filipino household service workers and an MOU in the field of labor cooperation.

The signatories on the Filipino side will be Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Felipe de Leon, Chairman of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

For the Kuwait government, the signatories will include Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al- Hamad Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs. —KUNA

Kuwait Times

March 22, 2012

http://news.kuwaittimes.net/2012/03/22/amir-heads-to-philippines/

Exports from Clark Freeport Zone surged by a record 161 percent to $3.912 billion last year, from the previous year’s $1.453 billion, owing to the hefty contribution of a US firm.

In a statement, Felipe Antonio B. Remollo, president of state-run Clark Development Corp., said that the entry of Texas Instruments in 2010 “has remarkably contributed” to the export industry of this bustling Freeport last year, posting $1.53 billion in exports.

Also, at least $124 million came from so-called “service exports” from the Freeport’s Information Communications Technology and Business Process Outsourcing (ICT-BPO).

According to Remollo, Clark’s export performance last year was equivalent to 8.1 percent of total Philippine exports estimated for 2011.

The other top-performing exporter-firms in Clark last year were identified as Nanox Philippines Inc., which contributed $791 million; Phoenix Semiconductor Philippines Corp., with exports of $566 million; Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc. (YTPI), $298 million; L&T International Group Philippines Inc., with $145 million; and SMK Electronics (Phils.) Corp., with export contribution of $98 million.

Remollo revealed that the electronics industry continued to be the top exporting sector of Clark Freeport last year, generating $3 billion worth of exports, followed by the tire industry with $298 million.

The garments sector churned out $227 million in exports; other manufacturing, $131 million; aviation-related, $13 million; and other sectors, $139 million.

Remollo also said that Clark’s employment statistics showed a significant 6 percent growth to 64,055 workers last year compared with the previous year’s 60,162.

“This is the highest level of employment generated at the Clark Freeport since the CDC’s inception in 1993,” Remollo said.

Remollo also announced that CDC management signed a total of 207 projects last year, with committed investments totaling P22.97 billion. That figure may translate to the employment of 8,206 workers.

Among the major investments signed last year were YTPI, which committed to infuse P14.62 billion worth of investments and a committed employment of 3,000 workers; Hae O Rum Development Corp. with an investment pledge of P1.58 billion and additional employment of 30; SPT (Phil) Clark Corp., with P285 million and 138 new jobs; Bonsure Everrich International, Inc., with a pledge of P192.7 million and 39 new jobs; and Jamco Philippines Inc. with a committed investment of P171 million that can generate 68 new jobs.

Other notable projects and accomplishments achieved last year by the state-run CDC include: United Asia Automotive Group Inc.’s $35-million investment for assembly lines for Foton vehicles; the estimated $50-million state-of-the-art Philippine Academy for Aviation Training of Cebu Pacific Air and the Canadian aviation training firm CAE.

Meanwhile, some P3 billion has also been allocated for infrastructure improvement at the Freeport.

Among the key projects that have been completed or still in the pipeline are the Clark-Mexico Transmission Line Project (Phase 3A and 3B); security improvements at Clark’s Main Gate Entry Control Facility; and initial drainage improvements.

Clark exports surge 161% to $3.9B

Amy R. Remo

January 27, 2011

http://business.inquirer.net/41567/clark-exports-surge-161-to-3-9b

CLARK FREEPORT­—The number of workers here increased by 4,080 in the last nine months, pushing the total to a record-high 64,256.

The Clark Development Corp. (CDC) announced on Thursday that the employment record was based on the report of 532 locators.

The CDC’s Customer Service Department (CSD) said the increase was recorded from May 2011 to June of this year.

It could be recalled that CDC President and Chief Executive Officer Felipe Antonio Remollo was appointed to the state-owned firm in May last year. There were at least 60,322 workers in January 2011.

Remollo and President Aquino-appointed CDC board directors were responsible for convincing locators, including the Cebu Pacific Air (CPA) to invest more at Clark.

The CPA and its Canadian-based partner invested at least $50 million for the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training Inc.

No less than President Aquino attended last month the groundbreaking ceremony of the pilot training school that will initially employ 100 workers.

In the same CSD report to Remollo, some 552 locators signed an agreement with the state-owned firm.

The number of workers per sector are broken down as: electronics and industrial, 13,838; Information Technology (IT), business-process outsourcing and  telecommunications, 11,818;  garments, 9,332; manufacturing, 7,223; and  service-oriented businesses, 6,530.

The CDC said the increase was complemented by the expansions and full operation of several prominent firms, including the Phoenix Semi Conductor of the Philippines and Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc.

In April 2011, before Remollo took over from former CDC President Benigno Ricafort, the number of workers was pegged at 60,056, or a decrease of 266 compared to the previous months.

Clark employment rate up by 4,080 in nine months

Joey Pavia

February 23, 2012

http://businessmirror.com.ph/home/economy/23676-clark-employment-rate-up-by-4080-in-nine-months

MANILA (Xinhua) -- The government of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will fast-track, starting this month, infrastructure development throughout the country through massive release of public funds as well as through the public-private partnership (PPP) program with the participation of private investors both local and foreign.

Early this month, Philippine Budget Secretary Florencio Abad announced the release of 141.8 billion pesos (3.2 billion U.S. dollars) for infrastructure projects from the recently-enacted General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2012.

Abad said that the infrastructure projects, which will be implemented within this month, include national roads and bridges; airports, seaports and lighthouses; classrooms and other educational facilities; potable water supply systems, irrigation and post-harvest facilities; and flood control and slope protection structures.

The sum is part of the 182.2 billion pesos (4.15 billion U.S. dollars) total outlay for government infrastructure under the 2012 national budget. It is 25.6 percent higher than the 2011 allocation and represents a higher 1.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to the 1.4 percent in 2011.

According to Abad, the early implementation of key infrastructure programs at the start of the year "can hit the ground running" for the priority projects of the Aquino administration in 2012.

He said it would also reinforce President Aquino's commitment to his Social Contract with the Filipino people and underscores his mission to ensure economic development and transparent government spending.

In addition to the outlay from the national budget for infrastructure projects, PPC Center Executive Director Cosette Canilao also announced the bidding for a 10.4-billion-peso (239- million-dollar) classroom contract, the first PPP project to be awarded this year after the much-delayed program was finally launched last December with the award of the Daang Hari-South Luzon Expressway project, south of Manila, to the Ayala Corp., a local conglomerate.

The latest project, to be implemented by the Department of Education, involves the construction of 9,623 classrooms for 2,300 elementary and secondary schools in Ilocos Region, Central Luzon and the growth centers in southern Luzon.

According to Canilao, the government also hopes to jump-start the bidding of the 900-million-peso (20.5-million-dollar) Vaccine Self-Sufficiency Program of the Department of Health in the first quarter, to be followed by six more projects in the second half of 2012.

The Philippine government intends to implement at least eight of 16 PPP projects this year in its bid to recover ground lost due to delays in its centerpiece infrastructure scheme.

These include the 5-billion-peso (113-million-dollar) modernization of the Philippine Orthopedic Center and four projects under the Department of Transportation that include the improvement of major airports in the provinces.

Other PPP projects targeted for rollout this year include the 4. 2-billion-peso (95.7-million-dollar) Puerto Princesa Airport Development Project; 20.28-billion-peso (462-million-dollar) North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway Connector project; Cavite-Laguna Expressway; LRT-2 East Extension/Operation and Maintenance contract; Corn Bulk Handling and Transshipment System project; and the Balara Water Hub in Quezon City.

The Philippine government has invited foreign groups to invest in the PPP projects in the country.

Early last year, a high-level economic mission led by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima visited China to encourage state-owned Chinese firms to participate in the bidding of PPP projects.

But sources said that most Chinese officials are still awaiting the outcome of the scheduled renegotiation of the NorthRail project, which was approved during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The project is being funded by a concessional loan from the Chinese Export-Import Credit Agency.

The project, which would connect Metro Manila to the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport at the Clark Special Economic Zone, a former U.S. military facility some 80 kilometers north of Manila, has been delayed due to problems on right of way and the relocation of squatter colonies along the proposed railway tracks.

Completion of the first phase was moved from 2007 to 2013 while the total cost had ballooned from 1.2 billion to 1.8 billion U.S. dollars.

During Aquino's state visit to China in September last year, Aquino and President Hu Jintao have agreed to have the NorthRail contract renegotiated.

Despite the delay in the NorthRail project, Canilao said the government was confident that more PPP projects would take off this year, in contrast to last year's slower-than-expected rollout.

But University of the Philippines Economic Professor Benjamin E. Diokno was quoted by reports as saying that the PPP roll-out "will not make a big contribution to growth this year" unless the projects actually take off and people and resources are mobilized.

Diokno said an invitation to bid is at the very early stage of the bidding process. "The process goes through invitation, submission, opening of bids, award, notice to proceed and mobilization... [but] at least it's moving, though rather slowly," Diokno, a former budget secretary, said.

Canilao has admitted that actual construction of a PPP project could start six to eight months after it is awarded to the winning bidder. In the case of the school-building program -- even with a January rollout -- construction will most likely take place in late December or early January 2013, she said.

Gov't to fast-track infrastructure projects

January 17, 2012

http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=200&articleid=768656

CLARK FREEPORT -- Clark International Airport will give its Manila counterpart a run for its money, said a budget fare airline top official.

“Watch out NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport),” said Marianne Hontiveros, chief executive of AirAsia Inc., at the launch of flights to Davao and Kalibo from Clark.

Toward the close of 2011, talks of moving flights out of the National Capital Region were fanned by the Aquino administration indicating growth opportunities in Pampanga and neighboring Tarlac to take up increasing air traffic.

CIA President and chief executive Jose Luciano recently signed a P1-billion loan with Land Bank of the Philippines to expand terminals and upgrade navigational facilities in anticipation of more passengers triggered by more international and domestic flights.

Airphil Express will fly daily from Clark to Cebu, Davao and Puerto Princesa in Palawan starting on March 29.

Other airlines using the Clark hub are Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Jin Air, SeaAir and Aseana Airlines.

“Clark is AirAsia’s 14th hub in Asia,” said Hontiveros, adding that A-320 airbus is designed for 180 passengers.

Echoing the airline’s mantra “Now everyone can fly,” she said AirAsia was offering Filipino travelers its P275 fare all-in one-way for the first time.

Hontiveros said the tag price covered fuel surcharge, processing fee and government-mandated fees such as aviation security fee and value added tax.

“The hype has been building up for the Philippine’s AirAsia particularly the community in Clark,” she said.

AirAsia Berhad regional head Kathleen Tan joined Hontiveros in welcoming guests and members of the media.

She would not discount a travel boom around the corner with more visitors using Clark.

“We cannot stop them from coming to the Philippines,” Tan said.

Clark faces up to NAIA

Jess Malabanan

February 29, 2012

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideNation_mstd.htm?f=//2012/february/29/nation4.isx&n=nation&d=/2012/february/29

State-run Clark Development Corp. signed last year agreements for 207 lease and sublease projects worth P22.9 billion that are expected to boost further the development of the freeport zone into one of the most complete investment destinations in Asia.

CDC president Felipe Antonio B. Remollo said the projects could generate 8,200 jobs as soon as they begin operations within the year. This figure is seen to increase should the proposed expansion programs of the locators push through for 2012.

According to Remollo, the bulk of the new jobs to be generated in 2012 would come from some of the biggest committed investments signed last year, led by Korea’s Hae O Rum Development Corp., which has committed P1.5 billion for its tourism-related projects. The company plans to put up a hotel, dormitory, business center, specialty restaurant and international school within Clark.

Also expected to boost employment opportunities would be Haitima Clark Corp., which has committed more than P1 billion for the establishment of a manufacturing plant for all kinds of valves, flanges, pipes, fittings and accessories for export to Asia, Europe and North America; and Spectrum Blue Steel-San Fernando Corp., which has committed to invest P868.4 million.

The expansion programs of Yokohama Tire Phils. Inc., Dongwang Clark Corp. and several business process outsourcing (BPO) firms in Clark were also expected to generate a number of workers should they start expanding their operations in 2012, Remollo added.

As of December 2011, Clark has logged 64,055 workers, up 6 percent from the previous year’s employment figure of 60,612.

Clark freeport attracts P22.9B in investments

Amy R. Remo

March 1, 2012

http://business.inquirer.net/46969/clark-freeport-attracts-p22-9b-in-investments