Biz buzz: Less brickbats for DOTr?
Not a few motorists have observed that there has been a noticeable easing of traffic during the midday hours since the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and other traffic management agencies removed the “window period” for number-coded cars.
For instance, travel time from eastern Metro Manila to Makati or Manila, especially around lunchtime, has been reduced to a more reasonable one-hour ride from the grueling two hours before the suspension of the window period.
The same is true with airline passengers who noticed less air traffic congestion both on air and on ground as evidenced by the higher on-time performance of major airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
While it is by no means sufficient for self-congratulations at DOTr, it shows that some policies and interventions quietly being pursued by Secretary Art Tugade are slowly bearing fruit.
This is the kind of decisive action the public expects from the agency, with or without emergency powers.
But given the Herculean task he inherited from previous administrations, Tugade definitely needs more support for his plans and programs as solving the traffic mess and myriad concerns of the transport sector is a shared responsibility of many stakeholders within government and the private sector.
For quietly chipping away at the challenges of his job, the secretary could use a break from the daily brickbats thrown his way. But will rival powers within the Duterte administration give him that benefit, especially after the “sacrifice move” of letting go of DOTr Undersecretary Noel Kintanar? Abangan. —Daxim L. Lucas
PPP policy shift
The situation of the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program is getting messy.
Half of the PPP equation— the private sector players—are scratching their heads over the government’s recent decision to “unbundle” the regional airport projects up for modernization. We’re referring to the Bacolod-Silay, Iloilo, Davao, Laguindingan and New Bohol air gateways, worth a combined P108 billion. The projects, carried over from the Aquino administration, were earlier packaged into two separate bundles, comprised of several airports each.
The previous thinking made business sense. A bidder can choose its preferred airport bundle, and assuming it wins, modernize and operate those gateways together. We say it made sense because some airports, say Davao, are more commercially viable than others.
This way, all those airports benefit from the modernization program, regardless of their individual numbers. Meanwhile, the private operator can spread its risk and save on certain expenses. After all, operating a whole bundle of airports gives big benefits in terms of scale. This is precisely why many would-be bidders, each with experienced international partners, are stunned by the government’s move to unbundle the deal—under the current administration, each airport will be auctioned off separately.
But what happens, for example, when a less viable airport gets ignored by bidders? Participants were told: No problem, the government will continue handling its development and operations.
This kind of piecemeal bidding could also discourage international operators altogether since the projects, taken individually, might be too small to be worth their effort. This ultimately means some regional airports might not benefit from the “world-class” standards originally envisioned for this PPP project.
We understand that the government wants to make the PPP bid requirements more “inclusive.” This way, a smaller group could potentially participate in this unbundled scheme. Right now, the project already has a set of qualified bidders. But with this development, it appears the PPP can be opened up to a new qualification process.
The question some are now asking: Is the government trying to be more equitable, or was it simply making room for certain groups unable to join the first time around? —Miguel R. Camus
Best managed funds
To raise the bar for managing pooled funds in the Philippines, CFA (Chartered Financial Analysts) Society Philippines—an organization which promotes the highest ethical standards and professional excellence among local investors— launched its first ever “Best Managed Funds of the Year” awards.
The annual search aims to recognize high-performing funds open to the public, based on their five-year risk-adjusted returns (the practice of refining investment return by measuring how much risk is involved in producing that return).
The grand winners for the six categories were: ALFM Peso Bond Fund as “Best Bond Fund” (medium-term peso); UB Gold Dollar Fund as “Best Bond Fund” (medium-term dollar); Odyssey Peso Bond Fund as “Best Bond Fund” (long-term peso); CBC Dollar Fund as “Best Bond Fund” (long-term dollar); SB Peso Asset Variety Fund as “Best Balanced Funds” (peso) and Philequity Fund as “Best Equity Fund” (peso).
The winners were announced during the recently held Philippine Retail Investors Conference, which aptly carried the theme “Ride the Virtuous Cycle of Wealth”.
“CFA embodies global standard excellence in the investment industry. This recognition program aligns with our thrust of upholding the interest of the investing public. Through the ‘Best Managed Funds of the Year’ Award, we hope to further help them make a decision by introducing the concept of risk-adjusted returns when looking at performance of various funds, as well as heighten the morale and camaraderie within the industry,” said Cristina Arceo, president of CFA Society Philippines and vice president and head of the Fixed Income Desk at China Banking Corp. treasury group.
“We want the retail investors to learn the principles and best practices in investment management so that they can become better consumers of financial products. We want to empower them through knowledge and insights from top local and foreign professionals in the industry,” Arceo said. “Smart investment decisions translate to economic development.” —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
Fresh IAAC term
Former Commission on Audit (COA) chair Grace Pulido-Tan, the first Filipino to sit on the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) of the United Nations, has been given a fresh three-year term upon the endorsement of Asia-Pacific member states. To recall, she was first appointed to the IAAC in 2013 and currently serves as its vice chair.
IAAC is a subsidiary body of the UN General Assembly tasked to advise on the scope, results and effectiveness of audit as well as other oversight functions. This body advises the Assembly on the work of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, management of risk and internal controls, appropriateness of accounting policies and disclosure practices and on increasing and facilitating cooperation among UN oversight bodies.
The Committee is comprised of five members based on geographical representation, personal qualifications and experience. Aside from Tan, the other members are from the United States of America, Russia, Chile and Ghana.
IAAC members are deemed to “reflect the highest level of integrity and shall serve in their personal capacity, and in performing their duties they shall not seek or receive instructions from any government.” —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
This year’s “grand” winner of PLDT’s MVP Bossing Awards is arguably the jolliest taipan in the country—none other than Jollibee Foods Corp.’s founder and chair, Tony Tan Caktiong.
The recognition came after four decades of building the Jollibee brand, whose flagship brands also include Red Ribbon, Chowking, Mang Inasal, Greenwich and Burger King, into the fast food giant that it is today. Those business also made the ever-humble Tan immensely wealthy.
During the awarding, Tan shared how he started Jollibee with his spouse, Grace, and how he had a “big and crazy dream” to one day run a global chain of restaurants.
“Some thought my dream was unrealistic and wacky,” Tan recounted. With the group now at more than 3,200 restaurants in the country and abroad, he’s certainly achieved that goal.
“Dreaming big is a very important part of being an entrepreneur,” Tan shared. “Dream big and work hard. That’s a winning combination.”
A number of other successful entrepreneurs were recognized at the 2016 MVP Bossing Awards, named after the initials of PLDT’s top boss, Manuel V. Pangilinan. These were Andok’s Litson Corp. CEO Leonardo Javier Jr., Astoria Hotels and Resorts president Jeffrey Ng, Double Dragon Properties chair and CEO Edgar “Injap” Sia, Eng Bee Tin Chinese Deli president Gerry Chua, designer Kenneth Cobonpue, Mercury Group of Companies president Vivian Azcona, and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines CEO Dennis Uy. —Miguel R. Camus
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.