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Paved with good intentions?

/ 11:14 PM July 26, 2015

YOU WON’T hear property developers complain openly about the government housing regulator’s policy requiring prior approvals for all real estate-related advertisements, but they complain about it in whispers.

And Biz Buzz has been made aware that quite a number of property firms are feeling the pinch, no thanks to the decision of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) to impose a rule requiring each and every TV or print ad (as well as “collaterals” such as fliers and brochures) to be cleared with the agency first.

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Word in the industry is that the bottleneck in advertising approvals —which has inevitably led to a slowdown in real estate ad efforts—is having an adverse impact on the companies themselves, with several having had to lay off sales staff. This is because real estate sales are directly related to the number of ads these firms put out. As a result, sales have dropped by as much as 50 percent for some of these companies. That hurts.

Of course, the HLURB’s rationale for imposing this rule is that it is meant to protect property buyers from abusive real estate firms that exaggerate the attributes of their projects in their advertising. And yes, some buyers have been victimized in the past by unscrupulous property developers whose main concern was preselling projects rather than completing them.

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But the majority of industry players are legitimate and are apparently hurting from this new rule.

At the same time, word from property developers is that HLURB officials in charge of reviewing and approving their advertising have no experience in advertisements and promotions. They end up nitpicking and micromanaging the ads, thus crimping the creativity of the advertisers.

Most importantly, perhaps, are the whispers coming from property firms that the constant need for approvals from the HLURB (especially for time-critical issues such as advertising) creates opportunities for graft. That is, if the advertiser wants his ad materials approved pronto, he might be tempted to slip the government censor a little extra gift under the table.

HLURB Commissioner and CEO Antonio Bernardo acknowledged that potential graft was a fear that the industry has raised in his meetings with real estate and advertising executives, but pointed out that they have been quiet about it, so far.

“They all know they can easily contact me through my cell phone,” he said. “And so far, I haven’t received any complaints.”

In fact, Bernardo—who is no stranger to how the government bureaucracy works, having once headed the Bureau of Customs under President Arroyo—said that his agency has so far approved more than 500 applications for licenses for real estate advertisements in TV and print.

While dispelling rumors that this clampdown on ads had anything to do with the looming 2016 elections (HLURB was, after all, under the ambit of Vice President Jejomar Binay, when he was still housing czar), Bernardo pointed out that the policy was conceived only with good intentions in mind.

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What did people say about the material used to pave the road to hell? Daxim L. Lucas

Regular Joe

MICHAEL TAN may be the son of the country’s second-wealthiest man— that’s Lucio Tan—but you might not know this by the way he jets around the globe.

In fact, the younger Tan would have you believe he’s just a regular Joe as he hardly flies private—unlike his father or a number of other high-profile scions or corporate chiefs in the country today.

Apparently, it’s all about learning for the young Tan, whose family owns flag carrier Philippine Airlines. Tan himself is a director and treasurer at owner PAL Holdings.

“I don’t learn much if I fly private,” Tan told Biz Buzz. “You can learn a lot from the other airlines on how they do things. Also, if I take PAL, I can always check on its operations.”

Tan, who even buys economy-class tickets when there’s a special deal, said he takes special notice on how other airlines configure their planes, the level of service, their lounges and especially the food.

Many who can afford to fly private argue that they’re more productive this way. Time, after all, is money and for people at this level, we’re talking huge amounts.

But Tan said this isn’t always the case. “Maybe I can manage my time better,” he quipped.

It seems he’s also picked up a few tips while traveling the globe aboard some of PAL’s rivals.

Tan noted for instance that flyers taking Gulf or Chinese carriers would do well to spend a little extra for business-class seats. The added cost—not that much compared to other carriers, he says—is well worth the extra comfort. Miguel R. Camus

 

Investment stars

SO WHO are the best investment minds in the country?

In an awards ceremony held at Raven Boutique Club in Taguig City last Friday, the Fund Managers Association of the Philippines (FMAP) recognized the best the industry had to offer.

And there were a few surprises.

The equities trading team of Maybank ATR KimEng, led by Luz Lorenzo, was named the Best Equities House in the Philippines. The same team was recognized for having the country’s best equities research group, and Lorenzo herself was named the country’s best research analyst.

Five brokers from Maybank and Deutsche Regis each won individual awards for different sub-sectors in the stock market. The two firms took home 10 of the 11 individual equities awards last Friday, with only CLSA’s Christopher Wood as the outlier after being named best regional strategist.

The night was not completely devoted to stockbrokers. Fixed-income traders came in force and the night’s big winner was none other than ING Bank led by its Manila economist Joey Cuyegkeng.

Cuyegkeng took home the best strategist and economist awards for fixed-income traders this year. The best foreign trader was ING’s Bezel Ann Zamora. ING Bank also won the award for Best Fixed Income House and best Foreign Market Coverage. Paolo Montecillo

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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