Biz Buzz: Money back, pleaseBy the staff
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Here’s bad news for directors and officers of government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) who sat on the boards of private firms during the previous administration.
Word going around is that the administration of President Aquino is set to require all these former officials to return the income they earned as directors of these firms while representing the government’s interests on their boards.
Biz Buzz hears that the bulk of these former GOCC people who will be affected by the “benefits recall” are former directors of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), including their former chief executives and ranking officers.
According to our source, the rationale for the new retroactive policy is that these GOCC officials served on the boards of private (mostly listed) firms representing shares owned by the government. As such, any benefit they receive—honoraria, bonuses, incentives and the like—should accrue to the state (so the argument goes).
No estimate is available as yet on how much is involved here, but it is expected to be in the tens of millions for all the officials involved.
Understandably, many of these former GOCC officials—including some very reputable names who are now close friends of the Aquino administration—are upset at the prospect of having to return millions of pesos to the government. They are also wondering why the benefits recall is being targeted at them, with some arguing that the government should go after benefits enjoyed by all GOCC-appointed directors who served during administrations before GMA’s.
The policy is supposedly being pushed by the Department of Finance, which has oversight function over the GOCCs. Good luck with that.—Daxim L. Lucas
Despite the initial doubts that met Petron Corp.’s entry into the Malaysian market—through its purchase of the country’s third-biggest player Esso Malaysia—the Philippines’ largest petroleum refiner and distributor seems to be making inroads.
Not a few observers were surprised when Esso (now Petron Malaysia) scored a coup by sealing a six-month fuel supply contract with Malaysia Airlines, specifically for its new flagship, the Airbus A380 “Superjumbo.”
Initial press reports indicated that Petron Malaysia was able to corner the deal by offering discounted fuel to Malaysia Airlines. But upon further inquiry, Biz Buzz learned that the so-called “discounted fuel”—free fuel actually—was only provided for the airline’s inaugural A380 flight from Kuala Lumpur to London (a substantial amount, nonetheless).
“It’s basically for bragging rights for both parties,” said a Petron insider, who explained that the rest of the fuel supply deal is priced at competitive rates (and it has to be competitive, given the presence of Malaysian giant Petronas in the market).
More interestingly, however, the Malaysia Airlines-Petron partnership seems to indicate a new level of cooperation between the San Miguel group (which owns Petron) and its hosts in Malaysia. Add to this the recent pronouncement of SMC top honcho Ramon Ang that Philippine Airlines (which he also controls) is in talks with a potential partner airline in the region, and … well, feel free to connect the dots.—Daxim L. Lucas
Open secrets, sexy stats
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies will be losing key staffers starting this month. The agency’s climate change forum last Thursday was the last of its local public events that three outgoing staffers attended.
One of those on the way to other adventures is Dr. Jose Ramon G. Albert, who had served at PIDS for four years and seven months.
PIDS president Josef T. Yap said at the forum it was an “open secret” where Albert was headed, but stopped short of announcing it and chose to stop speaking before, he said, he bursts into tears.
Elsewhere, staff at the National Statistical Coordination Board have been close to tears for sometime now. This month, the agency’s secretary general, Romulo A. Virola, is retiring.
At a recent workshop, leaders of statistical agencies in the UN system and from individual countries toasted Virola’s efforts in pushing for a stronger Philippine statistical system and promoting education among data users.
The message was the same as in NSCB’s press briefing on the first-quarter economic growth (Virola’s last press conference as NSCB chief): his brainchild “Sexy Statistics” and “Statistically Speaking” series are in great demand.
“The next NSCB chief must be ‘sexier,’” quipped one participant. Certainly, a tough act to follow.—Riza T. Olchondra
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