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Biz Buzz: Repeat offender

/ 08:35 AM March 16, 2015

The tightly knit community of money brokers is in a state of confusion over one of their own’s ability to skirt the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rules on Risk Based Capital Adequacy (RBCA) ratio.

The RBCA is the standard mandated under SEC regulations to ensure that financial services firms like banks and money brokers are sound enough to service their customers. A broker/dealer must maintain an RBCA ratio of at least +1.10 to be compliant. A ratio lower and the broker “shall immediately cease doing business” under SEC regulations.

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For several years now, however, this particular money broker has failed to meet the RBCA ratio. According to this broker’s own annual reports filed with the SEC, its RBCA ratio has been in negative territory since 2010.

Compliant industry players have been left scratching their collective heads on how this deviant has been able to get away with its repeated violations yet continue doing business.

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Naturally, many in the industry are alarmed at this state of affairs since they claim that the danger is to the entire industry when an unsound player keeps operating.–Daxim L. Lucas

Discriminated
Former National Power Corp. president Guido Alfredo Delgado recently had a taste of how people who are not “power-dressed” may be treated in some upscale watering holes around the metropolis.

Delgado lamented on his Facebook page recently about this themed bar at the Peninsula hotel whose staff had presumed right at first glance that he could not afford the minimum P35,000 consumable amount to reserve a table with sofas in one corner of this popular bar.

“They were correct. They gave me and my group a small table with no seats,” Delgado said. “For people who know me, I wear only jeans and loafers. So really, I wouldn’t look like someone who can afford to blow P35,000 in one night,” he said.

However, he was perplexed that this hotel bar (a favorite place for bankers and nocturnal professionals) was swarming with party-going folks, thus deducing the increasing purchasing power of people in the metropolis.

Delgado said the staff of this hotel/bar should have been more courteous to underdressed people like himself.

“Instead of practically saying  ‘you can’t afford this place’, maybe they should have been more polite by telling me that the place with sofa had a minimum [requirement]. Then I would have voluntarily left, red-faced,” he said.

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“To [these hotel] people, I sincerely apologize for being poor. I promise not to embarrass you again. I promise never to visit you again,” he said.–Doris C. Dumlao

Try ‘cool’ summer

Dressing down at the end of the work week, a brief respite from the formal office dress code, may no longer be enough this summer.

Noting the need to save energy, the Department of Energy (DOE) is promoting the “cool” summer dress code while encouraging workplaces to ease up on the need for air conditioning.

This seems to take a page from Japan’s Cool Biz campaign in 2006, which energy authorities have noted to be a promising initiative for power savings.

Avoiding suits and layered formal clothing to curb the need for power-guzzling air conditioning, the DOE says, can help ease the strain on the Luzon grid. The system is experiencing tight power supply just as demand for cooling is picking up.

The DOE has even released a memorandum addressed to all its attached agencies to have employees wear casual clothes or “cool attire” during summer to cope with the high temperature.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla hopes the practice will trend in offices nationwide.

“It is hoped that this initiative will be replicated to all the public and private institutions,” he said in a DOE statement on the initiative.

Of course, just wearing a light shirt to the office will not magically erase all possibility of a power outage, but every little bit helps.–Riza T. Olchondra

Poll machine battle heats up

Leading automated election systems provider Smartmatic-TIM has turned the tables on its bitter rival Indra Sistemas S.A., accusing the latter of submitting fraudulent information to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to qualify for the hotly contested bidding of automated election machines.

In seeking Indra’s blacklisting, Smartmatic claimed its Spanish-owned rival was making a mockery of Comelec officials by twisting the words “system” and “machine.” Based on certifications secured by Smartmatic from the Provincia de Buenos Aires Junta Electoral, Indra allegedly did not provide an automated elections system for the Argentinian elections, but merely took charge of a provisional non-official vote quick count system. However, in its submission to Comelec, Indra allegedly claimed that the firm’s single-largest contract involved the design, planning and organization of the transmission, processing and broadcast of the provisional count of the 2013 Argentinian parliamentary elections.

Apparently, Philippine laws require that bidders for automated election machines and systems should have a demonstrated capability not only to supply but must have prior experience conducting such automated polls. But Smartmatic also discovered that its rival’s claim of supplying its own Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to Venezuela was also misleading and utterly false because that poll equipment was allegedly supplied by a US company.

Worse, the machines allegedly malfunctioned, prompting Venezuela’s Consejo Nacional Electoral to replace them with more “reliable” technology from Smartmatic. These, and Indra’s other supposed misrepresentations to Comelec and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on automated elections, are more than enough grounds for the Spanish firm’s disqualification and blacklisting, Smartmatic claims.

As the 2016 election draws near, expect more fireworks between the two bitter rivals in the coming days.–Daxim L. Lucas

Betting on Binay

One former senior government executive has already placed his bet for the 2016 elections.

Biz Buzz sources tell us that, as is the SOP for elections, the price of this former executive’s support for a certain presidential candidate is a highly coveted appointment. And this is not any ordinary cabinet post.

Once appointed to this position, you cannot be removed by any sitting president. You’re also free from political influence—if you choose to exercise your independence, that is. Of course, there’s all of the prestige that few government appointments can rival.

How did this executive strike this deal? Well, he still does have connections from his previous stint in government service. He also comes from an entrenched and influential political clan. Indeed, he’s a nice ally to have for anyone who wants to be Commander-in-Chief.

And we’re not saying he’s not qualified for the position. After all, during his days as a lawmaker he co-authored the current charter of the institution he wishes to head.

Needless to say, as far as economists are concerned, this former executive may be a silver lining—literally and figuratively—to the dark clouds the country may see in 2016.–Paolo Montecillo

Date with lady LNG

The three-phase, 650-megawatt (MW) integrated LNG and power facility in Pagbilao, Quezon province, by Australia’s Energy World Corp. (EWC) is not delayed, so says company chairman and CEO Stewart W.G. Elliott.
In a recent forum, Elliott spoke up from the floor to say that while there are “bumps” now and then, deadline with the government for energy investment is “not that hard.”

Which is why, he said, the company is working double-time to try to fast-track the integrated LNG-and-power station’s commercial opening. It would be a much-awaited first for the Philippines.

“Because of the [power] shortage this year and they (government) all asked us if we could go faster, so we said yes. But I don’t want it to sound like we’re delayed because we’re not,” Elliott said when asked by a group of reporters for updates on the sidelines of the forum.
Last year, it was reported that EWC was aiming for a summer opening this year to help ease the power supply crunch in Luzon.
But that’s off the table now.

“We’re already many years ahead of the program … even here,” Elliott said. Perhaps he was alluding to the fact that there is an industry clamor for an LNG policy to help keep the current balance in the Philippines’ energy mix, which is only slightly dominated by coal and with a lot of input from natural gas and renewables such as hydro, solar, and wind power.

Elliott said EWC is trying to get the first 200MW unit running “by the middle of this year” and then get the second unit online by the end of the this year.

“But we’re not under any contractual obligation. We’re trying to help,” Elliott said.

Based on timetables released by the DOE in February 2013, EWC’s first unit was supposed to be online in December 2014. The rest of the 650MW was to be developed up to 2017.

There were delays in the delivery of the turbines but the initial delivery has apparently been made.

In a February 2014 list of committed projects, the DOE included EWC’s first unit but in its latest list as of end-July 0214, the DOE had removed EWC due to the uncertain timetable. Delays tend to plague infrastructure projects in the Philippines for various reasons, be it due to permitting, financing or logistics.

Asked whether mid-year 2015 meant a June or July opening, Elliott told the swarm of reporters, “You keep asking me; it’s like asking for a date with a lady.”–Riza T. Olchondra

E-mail us at [email protected] Get business alerts and a preview of Biz Buzz the evening before it comes out. Text ON INQ BUSINESS to 4467 (P2.50/alert).

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TAGS: DoE, Elections, Energy World Corp., Guido Alfredo Delgado, Guido Alredo Delgado, LNG, napocor, Peninsula Hotel, power dressing, power plant, RBCA, SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, Smartmatic-TIM, summer dress code
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