BIZ BUZZ: An industry pariah?
Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (Pogos) are apparently now an industry pariah, with a can’t-sit-with-us scenario happening in business circles, at least according to tales from an official of the Association of Service Providers and Pogos (Aspap).
Earlier this week, Aspap spokesperson Paul Bongco told the Inquirer that no other industry association nor local chamber would take them in as members.
He said some of these business-oriented organizations had told them that they wanted to distance themselves from Pogos today because of the ill repute associated with them as well as the looming government crackdown on the industry.
“Even if a good number of our members technically count as BPO (business process outsourcing) firms, they do not want to be associated with us,” Bongco said on the sidelines of a press conference last Monday.
Aspap is a fairly young organization, only founded in 2020, comprising 68 service providers and 16 out of the 35 Pogo firms licensed by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
Sought for comment, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) president George Barcelon said that, for their part, they have no such policy which implicitly excludes Pogos from seeking membership.
“Actually, there might be some companies that are already members of PCCI but they have interest in Pogos, which we don’t know. But as of now, they fall under the travel and leisure sector,” Barcelon said.
“It’s not something we encourage. But if they’re with us because of their involvement in the travel and leisure [industry], we do accept them,” he added.
PCCI honorary chair and treasurer Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., who is also the president of Employers Confederation of the Philippines and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc., said the whole business sector was divided on their opinion of the Pogo industry.
“A lot of people are worried about security and everything. But at the same time, we are also worried about what would be [the effect] on the real estate and employment here,” Ortiz-Luis said.
“We will probably be seeing a drift toward eliminating Pogo, and I think it will start with the illegal ones and I think the [government] will be very, very careful to take away the legal ones,” he added.
The Finance Secretary and some lawmakers want to ban Pogos citing social costs.
Aspap said their member firms employ a total of 23,118 Filipinos today, 11,766 of whom are direct hires and 11,342 indirect ones, on top of the 17,130 foreign nationals who are also employed in the online gaming sector.
The Pogo industry has also contributed more than P61 billion to the government coffers in terms of taxes and other fees in the last six years, according to the trade group.
—Alden M. Monzon
Cement consumers win
It took them a long time to decide, but when the time came, the decision was … well … decisive.
Last week, the Tariff Commission sided with consumers and recommended against the extension of higher tariffs levied on imported cement despite protests from domestic manufacturers led by the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (Cemap).
The reason? The Tariff Commission said it found no evidence that cheaper imports from countries like Vietnam were killing the local industry as Cemap has claimed in its petition.
In fact, the Tariff Commission said that during the review period of 2019 to 2021—during which the Department of Trade and Industry had imposed two anti-import duties on cement—the domestic industry did not suffer at all.
In fact, the domestic cement industry came back strongly from the pandemic in 2021. Sales were brisk, and operations were efficient on the part of the local firms.
In short, it looks like the local players were as competitive as their foreign rivals and were able to stand toe-to-toe against imported cement, despite the price differences.
In its report, the Tariff Commission outlined the benefits that consumers would derive from the non-extension of the tariffs, saying it would help keep local cement prices low—a good thing, given high inflation rates at present—which, in turn, would boost the construction industry.
Hopefully, this decision will settle the long running “cement wars”… for now.
—Daxim L. Lucas
BDO boosts EVs
The Sy family-led BDO Unibank recently announced its support for the electric vehicle (EV) sector via strategic bets that benefit both “the environment and present opportunities for economic growth.”
BDO was careful not to mention any specifics on how it was supporting the industry. But it did mention luxury vehicle importer PGA Cars, the company behind names such as Audi, Bently, Lamborghini and Porsche.
By now, well-heeled car enthusiasts know that PGA Cars would bring fully electric Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron vehicles to the local market.
BDO said these electric car models were aligned with its own sustainability views.
It also helps that half of PGA Cars’ brand-new vehicles sales would be those of the fully electric variety in about five years, according to chair Roberto Coyiuto III.
SM Group is supporting the industry in other ways. SM Supermalls was the first in the country to provide public charging stations at its parking areas.
—Miguel R. Camus
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