BIZ BUZZ: Hot infra theme | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Hot infra theme

/ 02:03 AM January 24, 2023

We’ve heard about the likes of BlackRock, Glencore and Morgan Stanley whose leaders met with President Marcos and his economic team in Davos last week, and thereafter signified their intention to bring in new investments.

But there were bilateral meetings with other groups that did not yet want to be named but were just as promising. According to Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, one of the biggest aviation services in the world is raring to enter the picture and participate in aviation services and ground cargo handling.

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“They operate in more than 70 countries and said they are happy with their Filipino employees and that’s one of the reasons why they also want to invest in the Philippines,” Bautista said.

The transport czar also met with another “promising” group that wants to invest in the land transportation business. It is also one of the biggest in the world in its field but wants to keep a low profile for now.

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It’s also infrastructure that investment giant BlackRock is interested in. And because it’s Bautista whom they had sought for a bilateral meeting, we can assume that it’s related to transportation, too.

“So I think this participation in this World Economic Forum is very important because as mentioned by the other cabinet secretaries, we are selling the Philippines. Now they have more understanding of what are the projects of the Marcos administration,” Bautista said.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

No ECC? No problem!

A controversial firm owned by a Chinese businessman, which is engaged in nickel mining operations in the province of Zambales, is once more in the spotlight after it managed to obtain a Palace ruling that basically overruled a ban imposed on it by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Biz Buzz sources said that the company—Yinglong Steel Corp.—was ordered by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau to stop its nickel mining operations in Zambales because it didn’t have a valid environmental clearance certificate.

All this happened over the holiday season with a sub-Cabinet level Palace official basically overruling the DENR, effectively allowing the firm to export a quarter of a million metric tons of nickel ore before the end of the year.

The order comes at an opportune time for the Chinese firm, of course, because nickel prices have been rising steadily in recent months.

Yinglong insists that it has the right to operate its nickel mining activities by virtue of an ECC issued to Filipino-owned Westchinamin Corp. which sold its mining rights to Yinglong a few years ago.

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But a 1970s-era executive order specifies that environmental clearances cannot be passed on to new owners, who must obtain new regulatory approvals to continue operating.

To make matters worse, Westchinamin says that Yinglong has yet to settle the P1 billion that the Chinese firm owes it for its mining rights, with several of the checks for the installment payments having allegedly bounced.

Westchinamin has since appealed to various authorities on the national level as well as with the provincial government of Zambales to stop Yinglong’s operations, but its pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears. We wonder why.

Will Yinglong be able to continue operating? Will Westchinamin ever get paid? Will authorities do the right thing on this issue? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: aviation, Biz Buzz, ECC, mining, prospective investors, transportation
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