BIZ BUZZ: Brod is thicker than water | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Brod is thicker than water

/ 02:02 AM August 17, 2022

Although the recent leadership tiff at the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) between its current Officer in charge Director General, Tereso Panga, and the now deemed former Director General Charito Plaza has somewhat died down, one can only wonder about the powers-that-be backing either one.

While some media entities reported that several industry associations have endorsed Plaza’s reappointment, word on the grapevine is that Panga himself was and is still backed by an equally, it not more, influential side.

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Aside, of course, from the actual merits of Panga’s leadership competency and experience (being the most senior career official in the country’s top investment promotion agency), the “brods” of Panga in the University of the Philippines’ Upsilon Sigma Phi seem to have played an instrumental role in his retention, according to our sources.

Notable Upsilonians who currently hold high-ranking positions in the government include Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Justice Secretary Boying Remulla, House Speaker Martin Romualdez and former Sen. Richard Gordon.

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Pascual issued the department order earlier this month which affirmed Panga as the OIC Director General until Dec. 31, or until a replacement is appointed.

Romualdez is also the president’s cousin. And, let’s not forget that the president’s late father himself, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was also an Upsilonian.

So, can Plaza’s camp still ease out Panga in Peza before a more permanent appointment is made by the President? Maybe. But probably not.

—Alden M. Monzon

OKBet prizes shake up PH golf

Those lucky enough to get an invitation to take part in the OKBet VIP Club Golf Tournament set for Aug. 18 at Clark Sunvalley Golf Club, Pampanga, must have been busy practicing their swings and putts for the big day, as the prizes are certainly worth gunning for.

The champion of the by-invitation only golf tournament stands to win P1 million, with the first runner-up to be awarded P800,000 while the third placer will receive P500,000.

But the ultimate prize is the whopping P10 million that will go to the lucky person who will bag the elusive hole-in-one at the 16th hole.

According to the special invite, these mouthwatering prizes will be disbursed in the form of OKBet VIP Club chips. If exchanged with another unit or form, the amount will be 80 percent of the OKBet Club chip value.

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Invited to take part in the special tournament are “notable personalities” in local business, national industry and expatriate communities chosen by a special corporate committee.

The one-day tournament will start at 9 a.m. with a ceremonial tee-off by distinguished dignitaries, and will be followed in the evening by a special banquet and awarding ceremony at Clark Marriott Ballroom where other special surprise prizes will be awarded.

OKBet is the new Filipino-owned and operated lifestyle and entertainment platform that offers its clients various sports entertainment options, while OKBet VIP Club currently operates casino junkets in Pagcor-licensed gaming venues across Luzon.

OKBet is also currently the major sponsor for the fourth regular season of the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL), the country’s premiere regional basketball league.

In June, the company launched and commemorated its partnership with the basketball league by kicking off its corporate social responsibility campaign featuring a mural in the basketball court of the Taguig Tenement in support of local artists.

The Aug. 18 OKBet VIP Club Golf Tournament marks the official entry of OKBet into the thriving local gaming circuit.

—Tina Arceo-Dumlao

Cement industry watches sugar industry

The local cement industry is watching developments in the sugar sector with keen interest, awaiting clues as to how the Marcos administration will address concerns of Philippine-based firms that have to contend with rival foreign suppliers that can afford to sell their products locally at cheaper rates.

We are, of course, referring to the long running debate between local producers opposing the importation of cement, especially from Vietnam, to fill the growing local demand, versus those who simply import them or key raw materials and redistribute them in the Philippine market.

With the decision of the Tariff Commission still up in the air, the lobbying for regulators to lean one way or another is in full swing.

According to one camp, in the wake of the uncurtailed imports of basic and prime commodities such as cement being brought in from Vietnam at allegedly “price dumping” levels, there is a clear threat of an erosion, or worse, the demise of Philippine industries similar to what happened in Great Britain in the late 1800s (which resulted in that country losing many of its competitive advantages).

As it stands, the anticement importation lobby says the ability of local industries to contribute to the economy at full throttle, generate thousands of jobs for Filipinos, and uphold the national interest is already being undermined.

These local players see cement importation as an existential threat, very much the same way local sugar planters see sugar imports as a danger to their long term survival.

To address threats to the continued existence of the cement industry in the country, Philippine domestic cement manufacturing companies have filed for trade remedies. We’re talking about an antidumping case against certain manufacturers and traders who export cement from Vietnam.

They’ve also filed a petition for the extension of so-called safeguard measures, basically additional tariffs on imported cement.

For the local players, these remedies promote a level playing field, which they hope will benefit the country through job creation, taxes, investments and independence from imports.

They also believe that this will preserve the Philippines’ dollar reserves (which are eroded every time anyone has to pay or imports).

According to the Cement Manufacturers’ Association of the Philippines, the country has approximately 47 million tons of domestic capacity, which significantly exceeds domestic demand and provides comfort on stability of local supply of cement.

Of course, the firms importing cement have a different take on this issue and Biz Buzz will tackle their side next. In the meantime, the question is which side are government regulators likely to favor: Cheaper cement for the consuming public? Or protecting local industries? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas INQ

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