Biz Buzz: ‘Hot’ car haven
WHO IS this middle-aged car dealer belonging to a powerful religious group who has zoomed his way up as the go-to supplier of exotic cars and fancy SUVs since businessman Alberto Lina took over Sunny Sevilla’s seat at the Bureau of Customs?
A buzzard told us that this “brother” operates a customs bonded warehouse (CBW) where he sneaks in as “used imports” Mercedes Benz, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini cars and SUVS that looked like they just came off a showroom. His clients include high officials of the religious group itself and politicians.
The car importer reportedly declares the cars as damaged or spare parts and keeps them in his CBW until they’re sold. The guy’s connections run all the way to the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which makes the registration seamless.
Why the BOC is looking the other way when this fellow is driving off his cars out of the CBW is not a mystery: The bloc-voting religious sect has always been a major player in Aduana. The car dealer also shares his selfies with the powerful and famous on social media in case somebody needed proof of his connections.
His Quezon City garage is where buyers get to see his high-priced goodies for sale such as several units of Mercedes SLS Black Series AMG worth $400,000 each; Ferrari 458 Speciale worth $350,000 each; Lamborghini Huracan worth $300,000 each, and Mercedes G-Klass Wagon at $100,000 each.
Our buzzard says the guy doesn’t pay more than P1 million in taxes for each hot car (sometimes he doesn’t pay anything at all), which is why other importers are getting furious because they pay more than double the price of the unit in taxes and duties.
And they were made to believe that “Daang Matuwid” meant the end of the road for car smuggling. Gil Cabacungan
SPANISH IT firm Indra Sistemas SA, one of the bidders for automated polling machines, may have blown its chance to bag a multibillion-peso supply contract last week after reportedly submitting the wrong envelope to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) special bids and awards committee.
Comelec insiders are now snickering behind the company’s back for supposedly “successfully disqualifying itself” due to its non-responsive bid.
These same Comelec insiders say Indra representatives were seen frantically sealing envelopes just minutes before submission. When its bid was finally opened—lo and behold!—it turned out that Indra’s envelope was intended for another bidding covering a different set of machines.
Comelec observers couldn’t help but chuckle at the embarrassing turn of events. Thus, the company’s critics point out: If it couldn’t even handle its own envelopes, they say, how can it be entrusted with a critical task as complex as automated polls? Daxim L. Lucas
IT’S NOT clear though whether the firm’s representatives made an honest mistake or deliberately submitted the wrong envelope because it reportedly couldn’t supply the machines in the first place. Also, there were some issues raised by the Bids and Awards Committee regarding the validity of some of the credentials submitted by Indra to comply with Comelec’s strict qualification requirements—particularly a contract in Iraq, which Indra claimed would count as the single-largest contract required by law.
During an earlier bidding for a separate set of polling machines, Indra overshot the budget by more than P1.2 billion, prompting some lawmakers to call for the firm’s blacklisting for allegedly making a mockery of Comelec processes.
Apparently the firm also did the same in 2009, where after trying to disqualify all competitors in the bid for PCOS machines, it also presented a non-compliant bid, offering only 55,000 machines when Comelec was purchasing 82,200 of them.
So other than being a thorn on the side of bitter rival Smartmatic, it would appear that Indra has yet to submit a serious bid for the supply of polling machines. But if it’s not bidding to win, then why join in the first place? That, folks, is the million-dollar question. Daxim L. Lucas
New BPO haven
WHICH city outside Metro Manila is the biggest beneficiary of the business process outsourcing (BPO) boom in the Philippines now? Not Cebu, or at least not anymore, according to property consulting firm Jones Lang Lasalle.
Based on 2014 data, JLL said Davao was the single-biggest recipient of new provincial BPO office transactions in the country, accounting for 23,000 square meters out of a total 75,000 sq m provincial office property demand. In 2013, Davao cornered only 19,700 sq m out of 138,690 sq m in total demand. Two of the world’s biggest call center operators, Convergys and Teleperformance, now have operations in Davao.
“After 10 years of pursuing Davao as a BPO location, it’s definitely on the map. Davao was the largest recipient of BPO traffic after Metro Manila, even beating Cebu,” JLL regional director and Philippine chief David Leechiu said. “By saying that, I’m not endorsing (Davao City Mayor Rodrigo) Duterte (for president). I’m just genuinely happy for them. More and more companies are saying: Why are we not in Davao?”
Leechiu said the lifting of the travel ban to Davao (and several other cities following the 2013 Cagayan de Oro hotel bombing) had favorably affected the city. At the same time, he noted that there was a large pool of untapped manpower in this region.
Aside from Davao, JLL’s top picks as “next wave” cities for BPOs are Clark, Subic, Balanga (Bataan), Cavite, Puerto Princesa, Tuguegarao (Cagayan), Antipolo, Kalibo, Iloilo and Bohol. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla
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