Friday, April 20, 2007

PESO UP, CLOSES AT 47.61:$US1 / COLUMN: CORRECTING CORRUPTION

PESO  UP,  CLOSES  AT  47.61:$US1

MANILA, APRIL 19, 2007 (STAR) The peso gained
yesterday on the back of strong inflow of dollar
remittances from overseas Filipino contract
workers (OFWs) as well as surges in the bonds
and equities markets,analysts said.

At yesterday’s trading at the Philippine Dealing
System (PDS), the peso gained by 10 centavos to
settle at 47.610 from Tuesday’s close of
47.710 to the dollar.

This was the peso’s best finish since Feb. 16, 2001,
when it closedat 47.55 to the dollar.

Remittances from OFWs surged by 23 percent to hit
$1.09 billion in February, bringing the two-month
total to $2.2 billion.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects
remittances passing through banks will increase
10 percent to $14 billion this year after surging
by 19.4 percent last year.

The surplus in the country’s balance of payments,
likewise, rose to $126 million in March from
$89 million a year earlier, supporting gains in
the peso.

The peso has gained eight percent in the past
12 months, the fourth-best performer of
15 Asia-Pacific currencies monitored by Bloomberg.

The peso opened strong at 47.670 to the dollar
before hitting a high of 47.610 and a low of 47.705.
Total transactions amounted to $417 million
on an average rate of 47.663 to $1.

Earlier, the BSP reported that net foreign portfolio
investment or hot money surged by 71 percent to
$838 million in the first three months of the year
from $490 million a year ago due largely to positive
investor sentiment on the economy.

Meanwhile, the BSP is expected today to keep its
key policy rates unchanged. The BSP has held its
overnight borrowing rate at 7.5 percent since
October 2005, even as inflation slowed from as high of 8.5
percent to a seven-year low of 2.2 percent last month.



Correcting corruption ASK GONEGOSYO
By Joey Concepcion The Philippine
Star
04/19/2007

For the past two weeks, this column has discussed
the issue on hunger and possible solutions to this
problem. Eleven entreps gave their opinions on
how we can fight hunger in this country and among
those who replied were: Usec. Mel Alonzo of DTI,
Santi Araneta of LBC Express, Dra. Vicky Belo of
the Belo Medical Group, Nonoy Colayco of Level Up!, Joey
Gurango of Webworks, Dr. Rolando Hortaleza of Splash Corp.,
Butch Jimenez of PLDT, Johnlu Koa of French Baker,
Manny Pangilinan of PLDT, Socorro Ramos of National
Bookstore and Ardy Roberto of Salt & Light Ventures.

In summary, the solution to hunger is really about
creating more enterprising Pinoys and teaching them
how to fish. But the process will have to be a concerted
effort between the private sector and government
and getting big business people to create business
models for the small entreps. While some banks have
started, there is a need to get more banks to lend
and support MSME’s so they can start to expand their
businesses. I hope to see banks lending more aggressively
not only to the successful corporations but to micro,
small and medium entrepreneurs and in a way support in
incubating these businesses. Banks can also increase loan
allocations to rural banks and MFI’s who support micro financing
programs.

These topics of hunger and corruption are somehow related.
We have observed that corruption in a way is correlated
with low level of economic development or where hunger
could also be a national issue. While poverty is cited
as a probable factor, I am not to say that hunger directly
leads to corruption as we know a lot of less fortunate and
financially-deprived Filipinos striving to make a clean and
honest living, of high moral values and adhering to a
God-centered way of life.

I guess the correlation could be attributed more to
weaker control structures, jurassic rules and procedures,
lack of transparency and the highly regulatory regime
that are oftentimes associated with developing
economies. As the country develops, and probably also
true the other way around, controls are in place and
there is better check and balance in the way things
are run. We see more transparency and consciousness towards
stronger corporate governance, both in the public
and private sectors. Above all, there’s greater
demand for moral leadership.

There must be political will to institute reforms,
less regulatory and more promotional policies with
clearer set of rules that leave no room
for negotiations and discretions with rule-makers
and implementors.

The overall policy environment and good governance
culture set in a virtuous cycle that encourages more
investments, entrepreneurship and job and wealth creation.
So as we take this journey towards development, we
build on a better conducive climate to build entrepreneurship.
We now see corporate governance and more transparency
enter into the private sector. Higher standards are
now being asked of public companies, and we see
more private companies become public.

In the public sector, we must bank on pro-economy,
developmental and honest leaders that will help
bring the country forward. As we get more enterprising
leaders who have a clear vision of what they want to see
their town, province and city either as a lawmaker or a
hands-on local government official, then we can see a
more progressive climate that can diminish further the
areas for corruption.

It is also important to see our leaders become more frugal on
spending, as this builds confidence on the part of the
taxpayers that the money given to government are spent wisely.
Seeing people’s money put to good use encourages more
people to pay taxes that will fund more development
projects benefiting the people and the economy.

Any remaining issue on corruption in fact should not
influence entrepreneurs to see if they should invest
or not. By getting into business, you contribute to
the nation’s economy when you pay taxes and hire people
and create business opportunities for others. As we see
this positive cycle, together with the moral leadership
and stronger good governance practices mentioned above,
we can hope for a more conducive "cleaner" business
environment in the near future.

Here are contributions from other entrepreneurs on how to minimize
corruption:

Roberto Claudio

(Chairman and CEO, Toby’s Group of Companies)

The government must institute transparency in the procedures of
complying with its rules and regulations. They must be printed and
clearly seen and understood by all applicants. These should include the
process, the paper flow and the rates to be paid. This should be very
visible in the place of transaction. Government offices must also provide for
"fast-tracked" processing for an additional fee. These should clearly
be stated and made available as part of the menu of services in government
agencies such as passport renewal, driver’s license renewal, business
permit application, etc. In the past, facilitations like these were
done unofficially and thus were construed as corrupt practices. If we
legitimize the use of "Fast-tracked" services and publish rates for
such, then the perception of corruption will be reduced.

As to foreign investors, my advice to them is: Ask all the foreign
companies and multinationals operating in the Philippines why they are
still doing business here if corruption is an issue to them? Ask
especially those who have been doing business in the Philippines for
more than 10 years.

Dennis Mendiola

(CEO and president, Chikka Asia)

Government should push for a campaign that talks about corruption –
the common ones, the consequences, the effects on our youth, their future.
They should create an incentive for watchdogs. The incentive is likely
financial. Anonymity should be preserved. But a government, or third
party body could be the investigators and auditors.

Francisco "Paco" Sandejas

(Founder and managing partner, Narra Venture Capital)

As entrepreneurs and investors in the field of information systems,
the problems of corruption and all other inefficiencies are viewed by us in
Narra Venture Capital as opportunities for new products and services.
Examples are the use of internet watchdog and electronic procurement or
bidding systems. Making information readily available is clearly great
for transparency and accountability.

Jean Henri Lhuiller

(President, Cebuana Lhuiller)

Asia remains as the dynamic engine of global free trade. Though
corruption plagues a number of countries like the Philippines,
investments help give the needed boost to improve living conditions.
Our investments create jobs, improving living conditions, thereby
putting a better chance for people to do good, and eradicating
corruption in the long run.

Robert Yupangco

(President, Zoobic Safari Corp.)

"Sa Kauunlad ng Bayan... Disiplina ang kailangan"... these are
beautiful thoughts of Marcos during Martial Law! Unfortunately he couldn’t
sustain it! But Singapore did!! Lee Kuan Yew then added one additional
component (espaused by Michael Porter...a business guru)
which is productivity! That made Singapore top 10 in GDP in the world...
we are not yet late... we can still transform with a good benevolent and
honest hardnose leader/s. The old concept/approach is "do it, you’ll have
it and you’ll be it"... since we are kinda late (last 3 min)...Lets just
be it, do it and we’ll have it!!

[For feedback, you can email me at joey@gonegosyo.net or thru sms at
09175591245. For free business advice, visit www.gonegosyo.org or watch
the GoNegosyo Bigtime TV Show every Monday, 10:30 p.m. in RPN9.]

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Good to be back. A good start for the year, the peso has been regained much of its
losses last year. Debt is still rising though and elections is nearing. And when
were talking of corruption not much have changed since the late dictator was
overthrown by the ever popular Edsa revolution. A revolution that since then has not
reap much good. Freedom was back but rampant corruption from the lowest level of
government position to the highest still happens. Political dynasties have cropped
up like mushrooms because of the biggest fact that you can use your "Pork Barrel"
funds not for the people but for yourself. Isn't it strange, that the
people/person's shouting that they will serve the people during elections but when
they are in power instead wants to be served by the people..not for the people.

:)

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