Biz Buzz: Grade ‘A’ streak
As the Philippines and the rest of the globe may be on the cusp of a financial markets meltdown, it may be reassuring to know that the country’s top monetary regulator remains one of the best in the world in terms of managing the economy.
For the seventh time in his 10 years at the helm of the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. has been awarded a Grade A rating by renowned industry magazine Global Finance.
In its yearly Central Banker Report Cards listing, Tetangco joined eight other central bank chiefs from around the world who received the top grade.
The BSP chief outscored the head of the US Federal Reserve (Janet Yellen, who received a slightly lower mark of “A-“) in areas such as inflation control, economic growth goals, currency stability and interest rate management.
Under Global Finance’s grading system, “A” represents excellent performance while “F” represents outright failure. No one got an “F” this year, but a number of central bankers — including Thai central bank chief Veerathai Santiprabhob — got a grade of “too early to say”.
Tetangco has received the top grade in the magazine’s annual rankings in 2006, 2007 and a five-year streak from 2011 to this year. The only central bank chief to have more Grade “A” ratings than him is Bank Negara Malaysia’s Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
It’s good to know there’s a steady hand at the central bank’s helm in these financially volatile times. Daxim L. Lucas
WHETHER it’s the “ghost” of the month or something else, market players are getting frustrated that trading glitches have become more frequent at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE). This is especially true when swift decisions on trading positions had to be made in a fast-moving market.
It happened in the midst of the local stock market’s free fall and the global bloodbath on Monday, and occurred anew on Tuesday while most markets in the region had started to firm up. And Tuesday, it was longer than the usual intra-day trading disruptions, starting at 10:02 a.m. until 2:55 p.m. On Aug. 18, trading was also halted due to technical issues.
“This is the first time the system has been tested under fire. It looks like it didn’t pass,” said Joseph Roxas, president of local stock brokerage Eagle Equities Inc. This statement was even more diplomatic compared to the harsh words aired on social media, especially those who were looking to recoup losses.
PSE president Hans Sicat apologized to all stakeholders, noting that the trading halt was “the right thing to do.” He explained that the disruption had nothing to do with the newly acquired core trading engine powered by Nasdaq but occurred at the “middleware” — the software that sends information from the base engine to front-end trading terminals, resulting in slower transmission of information to some terminals. To be fair to everyone, the PSE took the bitter pill of halting the entire market.
Despite the long hours of trading lost on Tuesday, the PSE decided not to extend the day’s session. Sicat said this would give time for the IT people to work on these technical issues. Hopefully the third intra-day trading disruption will be the last one during this Chinese ghost month. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Balikbayan box conspiracy
Even before President Aquino had ordered a suspension of the random inspection on balikbayan boxes, Customs Commissioner Bert Lina had already planned on buying new x-ray scanners for use in each of the country’s 10 main ports.
A Buzzard told us that Lina had already ordered his information technology staff to make a full study and price canvass for the purchase of 10 backscatter imaging equipment used in the United States.
These scanning machines are a step-down from the heavy duty x-ray machines currently in use by the BOC. The backscatter scanners are for exclusive inspection of balikbayan boxes, as these cannot penetrate containers made of thick steel.
The source said each machine would cost between $1 million and $2 million.
But our Buzzard can’t help but wonder what happened to the 30 x-ray machines worth $75 million for the country’s ports and another 20 x-ray units for airports that were bought over the last nine years.
Was the furor over the clamp down on balikbayan boxes deliberately created as part of a calculated move to justify the purchase of backscatter scanners exclusively for balikbayan boxes? Gil Cabacungan Jr.
Apec expressway dilemma
Looks like the news is out that the Naia Expressway won’t be open for use by our foreign guests during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit this coming November.
Naturally, it’s a bit disappointing but it is also a complex situation and no single entity should bear the blame due to delays in the turnover of the right of way and the relocation of key utility posts.
We hear, though, that not everyone has given up on the Naia Expressway. Some are hoping the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-to Entertainment City section can be used by Apec dignitaries.
In fact, we heard that some government higher ups have floated the idea of erecting a temporary steel bridge at least 60 meters in length along the unfinished portion of the expressway in Roxas Boulevard.
We understand that no decision has been made—it’s just an idea after all, albeit a pretty bad one.
Apart from questions on who should bear the cost and possible delays this could cause the actual not-temporary expressway, there comes a whole slew of complicated issues, not the least of which is the very obvious public backlash.
Remember that makeshift wall in Manila apparently placed to hide a slum area from visiting foreign finance ministers and officials just a few years ago?
The better solution is just to clear the roads and implement a sound traffic management plan during Apec, and thankfully, this seems to be the direction the private sector is supporting.
As one businessman told Biz Buzz: “If the street level was good enough for the Pope it should be good enough for Obama.” Miguel R. Camus
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya doesn’t have to look far to find evidence that the monstrous traffic in Metro Manila can be deadly, indeed.
Abaya only needs to travel from the headquarters of the Department of Transportation and Communications along Ortigas Ave. to nearby Annapolis St. to find a branch of Piandre Salon just counting the days before it shuts its door for the last time after 26 years.
According to Linda Francisco, owner of Piandre Salon, which is celebrating its 28th year this year, the horrendous traffic from Edsa has overflowed to Annapolis St. in Greenhills and has prevented customers from going to the branch.
“The traffic has taken its toll on our business, it has made it a big hassle for customers to approach our salon, more so to find parking space in the area,” says Francisco, who will close the branch for good at the end of the month.
She is shutting the branch with a heavy heart because it was one of the first that she put up and is also where some of the most experienced and most skilled among her stylists are stationed. Tina Arceo-Dumlao
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