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Biz Buzz: Overweight, oversized

/ 01:57 AM September 05, 2012

So there was this big television and movie star who recently took a vacation overseas. She must have done a lot of shopping because, according to our source, she showed up at the airport for her flight back home with a lot of baggage—a lot more than what she had with her when she left for her vacation. (For the sake of our source, we won’t be revealing this destination. Suffice it to say that the location is a lovely country where a major Philippine airline flies to regularly.)

So back to the airport, movie star showed up with a lot of baggage and, naturally, she instantly went overweight. When apprised by the airline’s ground staff of the excess baggage fees, Movie Star … refused to pay. Much to the ground staff’s puzzlement, Movie Star started the inevitable name-dropping game (in the process, probably wearing thin the name of the airline’s owner), saying that she was personally assured by this owner “not to worry about anything” when flying on this particular airline.

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Thus ensued some frantic phone calls from the airline’s overseas ground staff to their supervisors in Manila, and all the way up the company’s chain of command at an ungodly hour (especially since no one wants to be on the receiving end of Movie Star’s tantrums, we’re told. She has a nice public image, but her staffers swear she can be a real pain sometimes).

After a lot of back-and-forth talks between the airline officials (that must have, in itself, cost a small fortune in IDD charges), the decision was made by Manila to waive the excess baggage charges (which, we understand, also included charges for the items being oversized, not just overweight).

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Total forgone revenue for the airline: just a little under $10,000, we hear. (Wow! What did she buy that was so heavy?)—Daxim L. Lucas

‘Unsolicited’ connector roads

The debate over the rival connector roads espoused by the Metro Pacific and Citra-San Miguel groups has not abated behind the scenes. While the Palace has given both projects the green light, there are more questions on the Citra-San Miguel project being raised by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, who now wants both projects treated in the same way—as “unsolicited proposals.”

In the latest 48-page appeal memorandum submitted to Malacañang dated August 6, Singson argued that the Department of Justice had “gravely erred” in declaring as exclusive the franchise of the state-owned Philippine National Construction Corp. (the tollway project partner of Citra) over the expressway projects. Singson also questioned the DoJ’s alleged failure to recognize that the DPWH had the power to enter into contracts for the construction of infrastructure pursuant to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Law, notwithstanding the PNCC franchise (which his petition pointed out had expired in 2007).

Singson—who previously worked as one of the Metro Pacific group CEOs (running Maynilad)—sought the DoJ ruling on the matter but after getting an unfavorable ruling from the agency, said that the latter’s issuances effectively “thwarted” the policies of the Aquino administration of transparency and competitiveness and would undermine P-Noy’s P255.56 billion worth of public-private partnership projects.

“In order to carry out the President’s pronounced policy of transparency and competitiveness as well as uphold prevailing law and jurisprudence, Citra’s proposal to undertake the MMS3 (PNCC-Citra’s proposed connector road) may have to be considered as an unsolicited proposal under the BOT and applicable laws, in the same manner as MPTDC (Metro Pacific Tollways Development Corp.)’s proposal to undertake the NLEx-SLEx Connector Road,” Singson said.

By likewise declaring the PNCC-Citra’s project as “unsolicited” if Singson would have his way, a Swiss bidding challenge mechanism will be triggered.—Doris C. Dumlao

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Early felicitations

If “tweets” on the online social media site Twitter are to be believed, our very own Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has been named Finance Man of the Year by the internationally renowned finance magazine Euromoney.

Congratulatory messages came fast and furious online after word of Purisima’s latest achievement spread within minutes of the news being posted. The finance chief has, after all, distinguished himself by putting the country’s fiscal house in order, raising tax revenues, cutting debt levels and somewhat controversially keeping the government’s budget deficit in check.

(Purisima’s award also comes on the heels after Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. was named as of one the best central bankers in the world by Global Finance magazine—for the fourth time, mind you—beating the likes of US Fed chair Ben Bernanke.)

In any case, within minutes of the word about Purisima’s award being circulated came a flurry of phone calls urging people to take down their online congratulatory messages.

According to a source, the award was not supposed to have been made public until ceremonies at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington, D.C., later this month, and that Euromoney had given Purisima a very discreet heads up (perhaps to make sure he shows up at the event, dressed in a nice suit for the photo opportunity). In other words, no one outside Purisima’s circle was supposed to have known that he had won.

Alas, word has leaked out and the cat is now out of the bag. In any case, (early) congratulations are clearly in order for one of the world’s best finance ministers. More power to you, Sir…—Daxim L. Lucas

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TAGS: Air Transport, Airline, awards and prizes, Celebrities, Cesar Purisima, Citra-San Miguel group, connector roads, Entertainment, Finance, Metro Pacific, Philippines
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