money matters

Short on cash?

June 13, 2019

IT is time to bid your money woes goodbye. Farewell to the scenario where you have to face the reality of an empty wallet on your next shopping trip, or to the sinking feeling of not having enough cash to pay your bills until the next paycheck. Short on cash? In dire need of funds in an instant? Within a click’s reach is your saving grace -- the GCash app. Emergencies are stressful no more with the GCash’s “request money” feature. Aside from saving people the problem of lugging around money in a bulky purse or wallet, GCash eases the transfer from one mobile wallet to another. At the drop of a hat, friends can easily request money from each other in times of distress and ask for money. Requesting for more moolah in your mobile wallet has never been this easy. The request money feature is readily visible in the app’s dashboard once you open it. Just enter your friend’s name or mobile number, the amount you need, and the problem already solves itself. If you’re in the mood to explain your situation or deliver an advanced message of gratitude, the GCash allows you to do just that.  Responding to a friend’s financial SOS is a breeze, too. Simply check your app’s notifications and sending help is as mindless as clicking a button on your smartphone. Plus, there is also a special tab to track your history of requests for reference. The cherry on top? It doesn't matter if you’re a Smart, Sun, or TNT subscriber. Now, all it takes is a SIM card and smartphone, and you can take advantage of whole array of GCash services through your mobile phone. It’s as easy as grabbing the free app on Google Play Store or iOS App Store and registering for an account.  In the eyes of GCash, operated by Globe Fintech Innovations Inc. (Mynt), no network should be left behind. Even though it is a company led by Globe Telecom Inc., Ayala Corp., and Ant Financial, this new financial technology wonder is out to pave the way towards a cashless society by adopting a policy of inclusivity.  Long gone were the days where GCash was exclusive to one network. Now, anyone can participate in the cashless revolution and have access to greater convenience through the GCash app.  “We believe in the power of inclusivity. As we lead the push for financial inclusion across the different sectors of the society, we believe that providing a telco agnostic platform will help more Filipinos participate in the digital economy,” Mynt Vice President for Money Transfer Fred Levy said.  GCash is the new must-have in an age where technology reigns supreme. It is a mobile money service, regulated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, where you can buy load, purchase items, send and receive money, pay bills, and more using Globe, TM, Smart, Sun, or TNT -- or the future telco player that everybody is raving about.  GCash, the leading and revolutionary mobile wallet in the Philippines, is designed to help users navigate through the modern, agile world of finance. So the next time that you find yourself knee deep in money troubles, just remember that your fellow GCash users are literally one tap away.

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Economic managers announce growth catch up plan

May 28, 2019

MANILA – Economic managers have agreed to further strengthen coordination with other agencies, especially on acquiring permits and other requirements, to fast-track implementation of infrastructure and socioeconomic programs to meet 2019 growth targets amid the impact of budget delay.      Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, in a statement after the meeting of the Economic Development Cluster at the Department of Finance (DOF) Friday, said officials of both the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) are optimistic of meeting their disbursement program for this year.      "To enable them to attain their targets, it would require close cooperation and support of other government agencies by expediting the approval of permits and other requirements,” he said, as he expressed hope that “no major weather disturbance will disrupt the implementation of the projects.”      The social protection programs that were agreed to be implemented faster include the national ID System, 4Ps, social pension, unconditional cash transfers, and fuel marking program.      Dominguez said that aside from these programs, the government will also “double its efforts in the agriculture sector, which should expand by at least 2 percent per year.”      He explained that if the 2018 national budget was approved on time, growth in the first quarter of the year would have risen between 6.6 to 7.2 percent instead of the four-year low of 5.6 percent.      President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed this year’s budget only last April after the impasse in Congress.      Dominguez said that since the government worked on a re-enacted budget in the first quarter, there was about PHP1 billion underspending per day.      He, thus, stressed the need to put in a “carefully crafted and bold expenditure catch-up plan to enable us to hit a GDP growth rate of above 6 percent this year.”      He said spending from January to March this year reached PHP778 billion, little moved from year-ago’s PHP772 billion.      The programmed spending for this year amounts to PHP3.774 trillion, or about 19.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) while total infrastructure disbursement was set at PHP1 trillion or about 5.2 percent of domestic output.      Dominguez also noted the need for the participation of the private sector to help boost economic growth, thus, the enactment of the Ease of Doing Business in May 28, 2018 to entice more businesses.      He also said that “the Executive and the Legislative branches of government also need to work together in passing legislation that allows for a business-friendly environment, such as the Public Service Act, Foreign Investments Act, and the Retail Trade Act.”      The continued deceleration of domestic inflation rate, which declined to 3 percent last April after peaking at 6.7 percent in September to October last year, is also positive for the economy, he said.      "We will intensify our efforts to restore last year’s upward momentum in our growth rate,” he added.      Relatively, Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, during a press briefing after the EDC meeting, said economic managers are still studying whether to adjust this year’s economic targets.      "We still have to do some number crunching to have more realistic numbers regarding growth rate and related numbers so it is better that we wait until we are more confident with what we can tell you,” he said.      Among others, GDP target this year has been lowered to between six to seven percent while deficit target is at 3.2 percent of domestic output.      Meanwhile, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) acting chief Janet Abuel said that because of the delay in the approval of this year’s budget, it will be hard to fully implement the cash-based budgeting system, which requires all state agencies to pay within the year all the contracts they need to accomplish.      She said deadline for the infrastructure projects and payments for these contracts has been moved to December 31, 2020 while those for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) will be on June 30, 2020.      "We hope that will lessen the worries of the agencies in paying their contractors,” she added. (PNA)

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Peso seen to remain firm vs. USD amid correction

May 28, 2019

MANILA – The Philippine peso is projected to trade between 52.00 to 52.10 against the US dollar this week after its recent correction following a two-week rally, Michael Ricafort, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Economics and Industry Research Division head, said.      The peso depreciated by PHP0.47 or 0.9 percent week-on-week against the greenback last week and closed at a two-week low of 52.16.      He explained that amid the peso’s slight weakness, several factors are seen to continue lifting it up, including the report of the government’s record-high budget surplus last April amounting to PHP86.9 billion.      He said this particular factor is positive for the country’s credit rating, which received a notch upgrade to BBB+ with Stable outlook from S&P Global Ratings last April 30, after the credit rater noted the country’s "healthy external payments position, contained fiscal deficits and stable public indebtedness”.      Another plus factor for the peso is the drop to two-month low of crude oil prices in the international market because of concerns on the US-China trade issues, which, in turn, also resulted in lower US government bond yields.      The recent cut in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas‘ (BSP) key policy rates and on domestic banks’ reserve requirement rate (RRR), the seasonal increase of remittance inflows from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in line with the school enrollment period, and the tail-end of vacation spending will further boost the local currency’s strength, Ricafort said.      Recent issuances by the Philippine government of foreign currency-denominated bonds in Europe and in China are also positive for the peso, he said, adding that in recent years the local unit started appreciating against the US dollar since 2016. (PNA)

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Higher alcohol, tobacco taxes to fund Universal Health Care: Duque

May 28, 2019

MANILA -- Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday stressed the importance of passing the pending sin tax bills in the Senate to ensure sufficient funding for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program and improve health condition in the country.      In a press brifieng at the Department of Finance, Duque said the DOH envisions the Philippines as one of the healthiest countries in South East Asia by 2040.      “This can only be done if we keep Filipinos healthy and we provide affordable health care to those who get sick, and these are the two main reasons why we need to increase tobacco and alcohol taxes once more,” he added.      More than being a means to raise funds, Duque said increased alcohol and tobacco taxes are a health measure which would keep Filipinos especially the youth away from smoking and drinking alcohol.      “It is harder for the youth to buy these harmful products for the youth when the prices of alcohol and cigarettes are higher. We can only reduce consumption by making these ‘sin’ products less affordable to consumers,” he said.      Citing that a million smokers quit in 2015 following the passage in 2012 of Republic Act 10351, the Sin Tax Reform Law, Duque said the alcohol and tobacco taxes must be raised once more to stop putting the lives of 250,000 Filipinos at risk every year.      “The revenues gathered from sin taxes provide the much-needed financing to realize our health reforms. More people, especially the poor, are now covered by the national health insurance program and it enabled us to scale up our non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention program and to assist our tobacco farmers,” he said.      The DOH and Philheath need a total of PHP257 billion to improve the health insurance coverage of all Filipinos and expand the benefit packages they provide.      “We need to secure sufficient and sustained resources to ensure that the health system will be set up and transformed as envisioned in the next 10 years,” said Duque, adding that President Rodrigo Duterte and the Cabinet members have approved the DOH’s proposal on increased alcohol and tobacco taxes.      Duque also urged civil society organizations, medical communities, and health advocates to continue supporting the DOH in its campaign against alcohol and tobacco.      “Three out of four Filipinos agree that tobacco taxes must be raised based on the recent Pulse Asia Survey. There is clearly a demand from the people to get this done,” he said.      There are still nine days remaining in the 17th Congress for the pending bills on increased alcohol and tobacco taxes to be passed.      According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the bills could reduce prevalence of tobacco use nationwide while providing additional revenue to fund the government’s UHC program.      The WHO said a tax of PHP90 per pack of cigarettes is projected to achieve the most substantial decline in the rate of people using tobacco.      “This translates to 14.5 percent by the end of the current administration’s term, from the 23.8 percent in 2015. A PHP60 increase, meanwhile, is expected to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use to 17.0 percent,” WHO said. (PNA)

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Online hiring in PH continues to experience positive uptrend

April 30, 2019

ONLINE hiring in the Philippines witnessed a positive year-on-year growth of 13% between March 2018 and 2019, according to data from the latest Monster Employment Index (MEI). The Healthcare industry recorded the highest demand growth with a 25% year-on-year rise in March. This was closely followed by the Consumer Goods / FMCG and Hospitality industry, both of which recorded a 24% year-on-year growth. Other industries monitored by the index recorded significant positive growth, as well, with the exception of the Education sector, which witnessed an 11% decline between March 2018 and March 2019. The Monster Employment Index (MEI) is a gauge of online job posting activity compiled monthly by Monster.com. It records the industries and occupations that show the highest and lowest growth in recruitment activity locally. When looking at specific job roles, all of the 10 occupations monitored by the Index recorded positive growth in March. Purchase/Logistics/Supply Chain professionals witnessed the highest spike in demand with a remarkable 23% year-on-year growth for the month of March, followed by Finance & Accounts talent with a 20% year-on-year growth in demand. Other occupations that experienced an impressive rise were Healthcare and HR & Admin, which saw 19% and 18% growth, respectively, between March 2018 and 2019. “Online hiring sentiment in the Philippines has been consistently rising, and much of this growth can be attributed to the government’s infrastructural reforms, together with the push for greater foreign investment,” said Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO of Monster.com – APAC and Middle East. “Finance Secretary Dominguez recently dubbed the Philippines as the region’s next economic powerhouse, and urged American businesses to invest in the local economy. This would be a huge step forward in bringing lasting positive changes to the economy, and would be  bound to inject further growth in the local job market,” he added. The Monster Employment Index is a monthly gauge of online job posting activity, based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities culled from a large representative selection of career websites and online job listings across the Philippines. The Index does not reflect the trend of any one advertiser or source, but is an aggregate measure of the change in job listings across the industry.

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Labor official fights back says govt indicators dispel IBON claim on infra project

April 30, 2019

AN official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said excess demand for workers and improvement of wages mean that the “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) flagship program of the government is effective. Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad made this comment after Ibon Foundation took a swipe at the government’s infrastructure program, calling it an ineffective platform for job creation. Lagunzad said the employment surplus of workers and an increase in their salaries in the construction sector are indicators that President Rodrigo Duterte’s program is successful. “Objective indicator is if the workers’ salary increased in sub sector, construction. Remember that is economics, if there is an excess demand for workers for BBB, I’m talking of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, etc,” he said in an interview on Monday. “If there is excess demand and that the wages tend to go up, that means it is effective in that sense.” Lagunzad noted that the surplus in the demand for workers has been reported by other sectors, including the manufacturing sector. “What are the other indicators? Manufacturing companies are already looking for workers in other regions because they cannot get workers here. They have to go to as far as Bicol as the labor here are hired in BBB and some go abroad. So, objectively you’re already looking, you’re seeing already the effects of an excess demand for workers in that sub sector,” he said. “Obviously, the billions and billions that go into construction will necessarily produce demand for more workers, more investments, more demand for labor so that is as far as labor market is concerned,” the DOLE official added. On the criticism that construction jobs under the project is seasonal, Lagunzad explained that those who benefited from projects, which have been completed, are not left alone since it is a continuous cycle. “Hindi naman ganun yun eh, it’s a continuous cycle. Halimbawa, ang mga backward linkages. ‘Yung negosyo ng hardware, pako, bakal, cement hindi ba lumalago ‘yun dahil nga may nagko-construct? So, dito sa backward link ang daming demand n’yan so nagke-create ng trabaho (It’s not like that. It’s a continuous cycle. For instance, backward linkages. The hardware industry, nails, metals, cement -- aren’t they growing because there’s construction? In this backward link, there’s a huge demand which helps create jobs),” he said. Backward linkage is an industry or business that supports another industry or business. “Kapag natapos na mga projects (infrastructure projects such trains, highways etc.) may maintenance ‘yan e. So in other words, these are cycles and that is the economic, the workings of the economy. Hindi ‘yung one time titingnan mo dito hindi ganun ang pag-analyze (When projects are finished, there’ maintenance. So in other words these are cycles and that is the economic, the workings of the economy. You don’t just look at it in a one-time perspective, that’s not how you analyze),” Lagunzad added. With this, he noted that there’s a side effect in the excess demand for workers, where people will find it hard to find carpenters or plumbers or they charge too much to help fix their houses. “Ang danger nga dyan, ‘yung household, mahal na ‘yung karpintero, wala ka ng makuha, mahal ang tubero. That’s the side effect (The danger here is carpenters’ rate become expensive, you can’t find one, plumbers’ rates are also expensive), the DOLE official added. Ibon Foundation earlier said the BBB program of the government is not an effective job-creating program, saying the annual job-creation rate under the Duterte administration is the lowest over the last six administrations. (PNA)

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