BIZ BUZZ: Hefty Maharlika salaries

BIZ BUZZ: Competitive Maharlika salaries

/ 02:06 AM March 26, 2024

Competitive paychecks might be waiting for officials and top talents of Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC), the state-run firm managing the country’s first sovereign wealth fund.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the induction ceremony for new officers of the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines last week, Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said it was likely that the salary structure of MIC would be “similar” to that of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Under the law, the organizational and salary structure of the MIC must be approved by the President.


READ: Maharlika Fund board gets the ball rolling


Beginning 1993, when the Central Bank of the Philippines became BSP, officials were exempted from the salary standardization law so they can enjoy competitive compensation packages and make them stay in government. That exception can explain why central bank officials are among the highest paid government employees.

Amid a tight labor market, it seems like the MIC is serious about attracting—and retaining—top talents to run one of the government’s most important companies. — Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

Unionbank, Citi complete ‘migration’

Aboitiz-led Union Bank of the Philippines has officially dropped the Citi brand, finally sealing the P72-billion takeover two years in the making.

UnionBank on Monday informed its customers that it had completed the migration of Citi-branded cards and accounts after a weekend-long shutdown of services.

READ: UnionBank to give up Citi brand in early 2024

“Thank you for all your support and encouragement throughout this journey. We’re excited to begin this new chapter with U!” the domestic banking giant said in its advisory.


Of course, this resulted in Citi Philippines bidding adieu to its own users.

Last week, Citi announced to its more than 900,000 Facebook followers that their page would no longer be active following the migration. Citi’s online and mobile app services also ceased operations at 7 p.m. on March 22.

UnionBank first announced its takeover of Citi’s Philippine retail and consumer banking business in 2022 in a move to position itself higher on the list of the Philippines’ largest banks. September 2023 data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show that UnionBank is the ninth biggest bank in the country in terms of total assets at P977.64 billion.

UnionBank has been saying that it will work to ensure that its system can replicate the features that Citi offered in order to keep their customers.

For its part, UnionBank has previously extended promos to Citi users.

In November last year, Filipino K-pop fans were surprised to know that they could use their Citi-branded credit cards to purchase concert tickets in advance during a one-day-only presale event that was exclusive to UnionBank cardholders.

Everyone is eagerly anticipating something as—or more—exciting. Abangan! —MEG J. ADONIS

Wanted: Nonstop flight to Italy

Among all Italian embassies, the Philippine office is the seventh largest provider of visas, which only shows how much Filipinos love to travel to Italy, Ambassador Marco Clemente told the Inquirer newsroom during a recent visit.

As the Philippines and Italy mark 75 years of diplomatic relations, the Italian ambassador said one thing that could provide a “crucial breakthrough” in strengthening trade relations would be to have a direct flight from Manila to Rome and/or Milan.

“It will change the future,” Clemente said.

“It will be a big boost.” It’s something that the ambassador had pitched to government officials, including Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista. But since it’s ultimately a business decision, Clemente hopes that flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) would “take up the challenge.”

PAL previously operated a direct Manila to London route but this was eventually scrapped. Unless it’s a chartered flight, there’s no direct flight from Manila to anywhere in Europe at this time.

But PAL has indicated interest to return to European skies by 2025 and PAL president Stanley Ng himself noted that Italy is “one of the top countries in mind.”

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Also part of the ambassador’s wish list is for someone in the Philippines to invest in an opera house. He has been told it’s a “crazy” idea because of the hefty cost (and other priorities) but he remains hopeful that someone could champion this. By bringing the opera to the mainstream, he said it could help “revive high culture” in the country. —Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ

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