BIZ BUZZ: From Aboitiz … to KPMG … to PPP
The new head of Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center of the Philippines is upbeat about the prospects of PPP projects as an economic growth driver of the country, which has been implementing measures to regain its footing amid the pandemic.
“[We] are hopeful that the PPP Center will be instrumental in spurring economic growth in the country,” said Ma. Cynthia Hernandez, the newly appointed executive director. She took her ceremonial oath of office just last week.
Prior to joining the PPP Center, she served as the principal in deal advisory principal resources at accounting firm RG Manabat & Co.
Hernandez has over 20 years of experience in corporate finance, valuation, business advisory and strategy and corporate planning in both the private and public sectors.
She had involvement in Aboitiz Power Corp., Manila Electric Co. and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. She obtained her metallurgical engineering degree and master’s degree in development economics from the University of the Philippines.
“[We] are optimistic that we will be able to increase the number of quality PPP projects in the country,” Hernandez said.
The current administration pushes for PPP to realize infrastructure projects given the country’s limited fiscal space after incurring debts to fund its pandemic response.
The priority PPP projects are the Central Luzon Expressway, Metro Cebu Expressway, Kennon Road rehabilitation and maintenance, North Luzon Expressway East Phase 2 and Mindoro-Batangas Super Bridge.
Others include the Infanta-Atimonan segment of Pacific Eastern Seaboard Expressway, Naawan-Opol-Cagayan de Oro City-Villanueva Expressway, Pangasinan-Nueva Ecija Expressway, Iloilo-Capiz-Aklan Expressway and the Dingalan-Capas-Botolan Expressway.
—Tyrone Jasper C. Piad
Ayala Alabang coup d’etat
A boardroom squabble has erupted in upscale Ayala Alabang Village as a group of homeowners’ association board members recently ousted their president, vice president and treasurer.
The ‘blitzkrieg’ happened during the special board meeting of Ayala Alabang Village Association (AAVA) on Sept. 14, when four out of seven board members voted to declare all the board positions vacant. They then installed a new set of officers, with Jimmy dela Rosa elected as president to replace Andrew Kahn.
Many homeowners were not aware of the squabble until they read the updates posted on their social media group page. Kahn was apparently accused of renewing the contracts of two service providers without board approval.
Kahn, however, is contesting the move and has appealed for support from village residents, noting that the officers, including himself, had been duly elected in the last annual general membership meeting in April. They would hold the mandate until the next poll in 2023, he said. The boardroom coup was a unilateral and “surprise move,” which had been done without consultation with homeowners, he pointed out.
“But no, there are those whose personal motives go beyond what should be a simple and purely public service to the members,” Kahn said in a Sept. 16 letter to association members.
Kahn is now questioning the legality. He has written to the Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development as well as Barangay Ayala Alabang chair Ruben Baes to complain.
In the letter to Baes, he argued that the ouster was “illegal” as it was not in the agenda during that special board meeting; and that no prior notice had been made, and no corporate secretary was present.
He also refuted the accusation about two contracts lacking board approval. He said board minutes dated July 13, 2022, would show that there had been deliberations on and approval for the renewal of these disputed contracts. And he said had a video recording to support this, which he attached to his complaint letter sent to Baes.
Meanwhile, an AAVA board meeting was set for Sept. 28. The legality of the coup d’ etat is part of the agenda, with Siguion Reyna, Montecillo & Ongsiako tasked to present its legal opinion.
A tale of two (or three) pan de sals
Pan de sal, the popular yeast-raised, oval-shaped bread, has been a long-time cultural food icon with roots to the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. Like rice, it is a constant in many Filipino households and present in many meals from breakfast to lazy, late afternoon merienda.
But a food culture war might be cooking on the horizon as industry leaders in the baking industry, along with the rest of the country, continue to grapple and look for ways to mitigate the supply issues concerning one of pandesal’s most important ingredients: sugar.
Philippine Federation of Bakers’ Association Inc. (PFBAI) president Lucito Chavez said pan des al, or at least the variant which is commonly consumed by the average Filipino family, should be less sweet than what most are munching on today.
“The real pan de sal in the 1960s to the 1970s, which is crusty outside and soft inside, is low in sugar. We need to bring back the old recipe,” Chavez told the Inquirer recently, highlighting the etymology behind its name: “pan,” the Spanish word for bread, and “sal,” which means salt.
“What we are doing is pushing the bakers and making an awareness to the consumer. And we are asking the government to help us bring the old mix back to the mainstream,” he added, saying that their advocacy is to lower sugar content by 8 to 10 percent.
More than that, Chavez said that a change in Filipinos’ taste buds would also be beneficial to public health as too much sugar on our food can cause diabetes.
Sought for comment, PhilBaking President Johnlu Koa told the Inquirer that returning to the old pandesal recipe would be like asking people today to wear clothes that are out of fashion.
“I respect his opinion, he can do that, but for us big, industrial bakers, we follow what the consumers want,” Koa said, noting that many Filipinos have a sweet tooth and like sugary food.
“This will be determined by the consumer. If people want it sweet, give it to them. If they want salty, give it to them,” he added.
As many scholars point out, culture wars are won by the larger social group. At this point in time though, it might be moot and academic to debate whether we want our pandesal to be sweet or salty as salt supply seems to also be lacking nowadays.
So the question is… will Pinoys settle for tasteless pandesals?
Alden M. Monzon
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