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Semirara Mining to Hike Coal Output to 16 MMT

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Image Source: www.semiraramining.com

Integrated energy company Semirara Mining and Power Corp. (SMPC) is poised to increase its coal production to 16 million metric tons (MMT) in the next two to three years in line with the national government’s thrust for power stability, optimal energy pricing and modernized infrastructure.

In 2016, SMPC achieved its highest coal production level at 11.9 million MT. Majority of its coal supply was sold to local power and cement producers.

In line with its expansion, the company said it also hired 387 personnel for key positions in its Semirara Island mine site to support its operational expansion plans.

According to SMPC President and COO Victor A. Consunji, the company still needs to fill nearly 170 positions in its mine site within the year. To meet their talent requirements, SMPC has begun conducting inter-island job caravans.

Last May, the SMPC job caravan attracted more than 100 job seekers from Semirara Island and nearby areas like Mindoro and Iloilo.

From the caravan alone, SMPC has hired 40 personnel or nearly 40 percent of the total number of applicants.

Applicants were given a tour of the mine site to become familiar with the company’s operations. Those from nearby islands were also given temporary housing during their stay.

Among the vacant positions in the Semirara Island mine site are dump truck drivers, backhoe and bulldozer operators, motor graders, water truck drivers, cadet engineers, staff auditors and staff nurses.

SMPC is the only power producer in the country that owns and mines its own fuel source (coal), which allows it to generate reliable, affordable energy for the Luzon and Visayas grids.

We are grateful to our host community, the LGU (local government unit) and public sector partners for helping us with our recruitment efforts. With their continued assistance, we can provide more people with high-value employment,” said Consunji.

Meanwhile, Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company reported it would start production from its Benguet copper-gold project in the third quarter of 2017.

Lepanto’s engineered sanitary landfill in Mankayan, Benguet is the first of its kind in the Philippine mining industry.

In a statement, Lepanto said on-going drilling revealed previously unrecognized gold-bearing vein systems, comprised of quartz, pyrite and gold (QPG), in five areas of its copper-gold project located next to its Victoria gold project in Mankayan, Benguet.

The QPG veins will have a very positive impact on future gold production,” it said.

With this findings, Lepanto said it would start production from the copper-gold project in the third quarter.

For this purpose, the copper flotation plant is presently being debugged. Initial combined ore throughput from the Victoria and the Copper-Gold Project is estimated at 1,500 tons per day, ramping up to 3,000 tons per day by 2019,” it added.

Lepanto started exploration in October 2015 and has so far completed 41,000 meters of underground drilling to evaluate the copper-gold project resources at the former enargite mining area. (Lilybeth G. Ison/PNA)

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Economy

Improving Access And Financial Literacy Are Key To Financial Inclusion In PH—PIDS Study

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Image Source: pidswebs.pids.gov.ph

Improving financial literacy and broadening access to financial institutions like banks and insurance companies, especially in the rural areas, are key to achieving financial inclusion in the country.

This was according to a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on factors affecting financial inclusion in the Philippines. The research showed that more educated individuals living in urban areas, wherein most financial institutions like banks are situated, are more likely to have savings and insurance than their less educated counterparts in the rural areas.

The World Bank defines financial inclusion as a situation where people and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Financial products and services include payments, savings, credit, and insurance.

Authors Gilberto Llanto and Maureen Ane Rosellon, PIDS president and research associate, respectively, emphasized that access to finance allows the poor to accumulate assets like savings and insurance to protect them from potential risks and shocks, and to invest in income-generating activities.

However, access to financial products and services remains a big challenge in the Philippines as shown in the latest data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP). According to BSP, only about 43 percent of Filipino adults have bank savings while 72 percent of those who borrow, transact with informal financial institutions. Also, only about 30 percent of small and medium enterprises have formal lines of credit and/or bank loans.

One of the main factors that limits people’s access to formal financial institutions, according to Llanto and Rosellon, is their remote location in the rural areas. “For example, data on bank network vis-à-vis population on a regional level indicate a great difference between urban areas like the National Capital Region (ARMM) and highly rural regions like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” they explained. Citing statistics from BSP, they noted that the number of banks per 10,000 adults in the NCR is estimated at 3.6 in 2010 and 2015 compared to only one bank per 100,000 adults in ARMM for the same period.

“Due to the absence of banks, people would usually just keep their money at home or join informal group savings in the community, such as rotating savings and credit associations locally called “paluwagan”, the authors concluded.

Also, data from BSP show that majority of adults (about 70%) find pawnshops as the nearest and easiest to reach among financial products and service providers. Likewise, nonstock savings and loan associations, payment centers, and remittance agents take the shortest time to reach at 17 to 18 minutes. The cost of a round-trip travel to these establishments is also the lowest, at PHP 31 to PHP 37.

Llanto and Rosellon said the first step to encourage people to access banks and other formal financial institutions is to improve people’s education. “A higher level of education increases the likelihood of saving and borrowing from a formal financial institution. Educational attainment can be an indicator of the knowledge and level of understanding of credit options and opportunities, and confidence to apply for a loan,” they pointed out.

Furthermore, the authors highlighted the importance of looking at potential barriers to access, which includes, among others, cost or proximity to providers of financial services.

Meanwhile, banks have recently introduced electronic banking (e-banking) to the market as a proper response to global innovations in banking. According to the study, e-banking has started to penetrate “unbanked” markets. Still, poor people in far-flung areas are unable to access this technology as it requires suitable electronic devices and strong Internet connection.

“Although mobile financial services have taken a foothold in the financial markets, the majority of retail transactions by individuals and businesses in the Philippines are still done in cash,” the authors stated. They cited a 2015 report by Better Than Cash Alliance showing that only 1 percent of the 2.5 billion retail payments per month in the country were done electronically.

This press release is based on the PIDS discussion paper titled “What Determines Financial Inclusion in the Philippines? Evidence from a National Baseline Survey”.

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BSP Sees 3.4-4% Inflation for January

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Higher oil and commodity prices are seen as upside risks for Philippines’ inflation rate in January 2018 and bring the rate between 3.5 and four percent.

In a statement, the central bank said its Department of Economic Research considered the impact of higher fuel prices overseas and weather-related disturbances in the country as factors that would push up prices.

“In addition, higher excise taxes on fuel, sugar sweetened beverages with the implementation of the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) this month, would lead to additional upward price pressures,” it said, referring to the first package of the tax reform program that is being implemented starting Jan. 1 this year.

“The increase in prices could be partly offset by lower electricity rates in Meralco-serviced areas for the month,” it added.

The government has a two to four percent inflation target for 2017-19.

Last year, inflation averaged at 3.2 percent, higher than year-ago’s 1.8 percent rate but still within the government’s target range.

Last December alone, inflation was flat at 3.3 percent but higher than year-ago’s 2.6 percent.

Philippine monetary officials forecast this year’s inflation to average at 3.4 percent.

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Improving Access and Financial Literacy Are Key to Financial Inclusion in PH—PIDS Study

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Image Source: lawyer24h.net

Improving financial literacy and broadening access to financial institutions like banks and insurance companies, especially in the rural areas, are key to achieving financial inclusion in the country.

This was according to a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on factors affecting financial inclusion in the Philippines. The research showed that more educated individuals living in urban areas, wherein most financial institutions like banks are situated, are more likely to have savings and insurance than their less educated counterparts in the rural areas.

The World Bank defines financial inclusion as a situation where people and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs. Financial products and services include payments, savings, credit, and insurance.

Authors Gilberto Llanto and Maureen Ane Rosellon, PIDS president and research associate, respectively, emphasized that access to finance allows the poor to accumulate assets like savings and insurance to protect them from potential risks and shocks, and to invest in income-generating activities.

However, access to financial products and services remains a big challenge in the Philippines as shown in the latest data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas(BSP). According to BSP, only about 43 percent of Filipino adults have bank savings while 72 percent of those who borrow, transact with informal financial institutions. Also, only about 30 percent of small and medium enterprises have formal lines of credit and/or bank loans.

One of the main factors that limits people’s access to formal financial institutions, according to Llanto and Rosellon, is their remote location in the rural areas.

“For example, data on bank network vis-à-vis population on a regional level indicate a great difference between urban areas like the National Capital Region (ARMM) and highly rural regions like the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM),” they explained.

Citing statistics from BSP, they noted that the number of banks per 10,000 adults in the NCR is estimated at 3.6 in 2010 and 2015 compared to only one bank per 100,000 adults in ARMM for the same period.

“Due to the absence of banks, people would usually just keep their money at home or join informal group savings in the community, such as rotating savings and credit associations locally called “paluwagan”, the authors concluded.

Also, data from BSP show that majority of adults (about 70%) find pawnshops as the nearest and easiest to reach among financial products and service providers. Likewise, nonstock savings and loan associations, payment centers, and remittance agents take the shortest time to reach at 17 to 18 minutes. The cost of a round-trip travel to these establishments is also the lowest, at Php 31 to Php 37.

Llanto and Rosellon said the first step to encourage people to access banks and other formal financial institutions is to improve people’s education. “A higher level of education increases the likelihood of saving and borrowing from a formal financial institution. Educational attainment can be an indicator of the knowledge and level of understanding of credit options and opportunities, and confidence to apply for a loan,” they pointed out.

Furthermore, the authors highlighted the importance of looking at potential barriers to access, which includes, among others, cost or proximity to providers of financial services.

Meanwhile, banks have recently introduced electronic banking (e-banking) to the market as a proper response to global innovations in banking. According to the study, e-banking has started to penetrate “unbanked” markets. Still, poor people in far-flung areas are unable to access this technology as it requires suitable electronic devices and strong Internet connection.

“Although mobile financial services have taken a foothold in the financial markets, the majority of retail transactions by individuals and businesses in the Philippines are still done in cash,” the authors stated.

They cited a 2015 report by Better Than Cash Alliance showing that only 1 percent of the 2.5 billion retail payments per month in the country were done electronically.

www.pids.gov.ph

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Economy

BMI Research Forecasts Sustained 6% Level Growth for Philippines

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The research subsidiary of Fitch Group projects the sustained robust expansion of the Philippine economy on back of the government’s infrastructure program, favorable demographics and increased trade with China.

BMI Research eyes a 6.3 percent growth in 2018 and 6.2 percent in 2019 – – levels that the research entity considers “respectable.

These are lower than the 6.7 percent output, as measured by gross domestic product (GPD), that the economy posted in 2017.

“We emphasize that the 6+% GDP expansion is still strong by regional and historical standards and this will be supported by positive demographic trends, a strong public infrastructure drive, and deepening economic cooperation with China,” the study said.

However, BMI Research cited as risk to growth the deteriorating business environment, citing that the seven percent growth in the third quarter of 2017 will “unlikely to continue as leading financial market indicators were showing signs of fatigue while the business environment has been deteriorating.”

This deterioration, it said, is expected to hamper further improvement on private sector investment in the next quarters.

It noted that growth of fixed capital formation declined to 10.3 percent in 2017 from year-ago’s 25.2 percent, with construction rising only by 5.7 percent from 2016’s 15.1 percent and durable equipment by 12.2 percent from year-ago’s 34.5 percent.

Amidst these risks, BMI Research remains optimistic on the domestic economy’s growth, which is expected to get additional lift from the tax reform program, the first package of which is for implementation starting January this year.

Package 1 of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law cuts personal income tax in the country, making workers’ first Php250,000 annual income tax free. Impact of this on government revenues will be countered by excise tax hikes on fuel and sugar-sweetened beverages, among others.

The first tax reform package is estimated to generate around Php82.3 billion additional revenues for this year alone, and this, the study said, is a plus on the government’s program to increase infrastructure investment.

“This will likely go some way in improving the country’s poor infrastructure, which has long prevented the Philippines from reaching its growth potential,” it added.

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