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USAID renews inclusive dev’t commitment for Bohol

“The U.S. government shares the determination of the Government of the Philippines to continuously enhance the quality of education in the country,” said USAID General Counsel John Simpkins during the handover of the teaching and learning materials at the Tagbilaran City Central Elementary School. After the turnover, Simpkins did a read along with the school’s Grade 2 students. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) General Counsel John Simpkins visited the province of Bohol January 26-27 to renew the U.S. government’s commitment to the province’s inclusive and sustainable development. Simpkins joined Bohol officials, led by Governor Edgar Chatto and Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap II, to launch the Stakeholders’ Forum, which was organized by the U.S. Embassy Manila’s USAID through its Strengthening Urban Resilience for Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project. SURGE …

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Motech Automotive, Autobacs Seven sign deal to expand to ASEAN

Motech Automotive, a Philippine-grown automotive company, signed a partnership deal with Japan-based Autobacs Seven Co. Ltd., a major automotive brand in the ASEAN region. This new alliance was signed following the recent developments in ASEAN integration, with the goal of opening 500 Motech centers in the region. The partnership is expected to create a high quality global brand that aims to elevate the standards of service and parts to a level that is at par with Japanese and Autobacs standards. To achieve this, transfer of service technology and knowledge is needed to meet the ever-changing automotive technologies. In addition, a local training center will also be established. “The combination of the two brands is geared to meet the various demands of consumers across the different segments of automotive after-warranty market of the …

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Salamat, Secretary Gregory Domingo

I first met Greg Domingo in August, 2012 when I interviewed him for an article on the improving business climate. Back then, he was already making waves as the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Right from the get go, I could tell that he was different from the other Cabinet Secretaries I had spoken to before. Instead of rushing through the interview by spewing one motherhood statement after another, he took the time to share his aspirations for the country and describing the various programs in government’s pipeline that would make them possible. Our conversation lasted three hours. I could tell he was a dreamer, an optimist and a patriot. I was inspired and we hit it off famously. Secretary Greg is a quiet man who carries …

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PH gears up for 2020 Cacao Challenge

From just one division in the Department of Agriculture (DA), cacao industry has transformed into an agency-wide initiative. Then Local Government Units (LGUs) got interested and showed some support too. Now, other agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are doing their share for the 2020 Cacao Challenge. In fact, DTI is the lead agency in the crafting of 2020 Cacao Challenge, a national roadmap for the cacao sector where the country targets to start producing 100,000 metric tons of fermented beans annually starting 2020. The 2020 Cacao Challenge plans to grow the production areas and productivity in the Philippines, targeting to have 58 million cacao trees and as many as 130,000 farmers. In a report, DTI National Cacao Industry Cluster coordinator Edwin Banquiero was quoted as saying that the Philippines …

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Kennemer integrates local cacao farmers

Dutch company Kennemer Foods International, which has invested around P1 billion since 2010 to train cacao growers in various parts of this country to make them more productive, provides farmers with all the necessary inputs and facilities. Through contract growing, Kennemer provides end-to-end support to smallholder farmers with access to technology, financing and markets needed to increase and sustain farmers’ yields, income and quality of life. Kennemer has also tied up with Land Bank of the Philippines for this government bank to provide capital to the poor. A hectare of cacao plantation needs P75,000. The non-collateralized loan is payable over a seven year period. Now, the first batch of Kennemer cacao growers are earning 7 times more than what they used to earn to a net of P150,000 per hectare from only P30,000 …

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DTI prioritizes cacao clustering

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has included cacao among its six priority Industry Clustering strategy as the agency steps up efforts to uplift micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group Zenaida Maglaya said the Industry Clustering strategy will launch various initiatives and interventions to promote and foster industry development nationwide. Aside from cacao, the other priority industry clusters include rubber, coco coir, coffee, processed fruits & nuts, and tourism support industries. “These industry clusters are predominantly agri-based industries tha have contributed significant outcome in terms of bottomline indicators,” Maglaya said. As of third quarter 2015, a total of P1.717 billion in investments and P2.621 billion in domestic sales were generated from the six national priority industry clusters. These surpassed the annual targets by 135% and 144%, …

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FWD PH to remove ‘fine print exclusions’ on insurance policies

Age, illnesses/sicknesses, occupation and risky endeavors are normally excluded from insurance policy coverage for the longest time, oftentimes causing many Filipinos to extricate themselves from existing plans or hesitate into getting insurance for themselves. But HongKong-based FWD Insurance, which set up shop in the Philippines in 2014 and has been operating actively its life insurance business for the past six months, vowed to remove these “exclusions in the fine prints” of policies to ensure that coverage can be expanded in the coming years. This thrust was bared by FWD Philippines president/CEO Peter Grimes to the Manila Bulletin as he spoke of other innovations that the company would aggressively embark to get an increasing share of the local life insurance market. FWD is essentially born in HongKong owned by Richard Li Tzar Kai of …

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Filipinos have started to save, but …

The government and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) face a lot of challenges in ensuring inclusive growth in the country. One of the key requirements is delivery of financial services and products and to do that, every Filipino no matter where they are, should have access to banks and non-bank financial institutions. The BSP launched the “National Strategy for Financial Inclusion” (NSFI) in mid-2015 and recently released the results of the national survey, or the first “National Baseline Survey on Financial Inclusion”. The NSFI is a comprehensive public document developed through a broad-based consultative process with private and public sector stakeholders involved in financial sector development. It “aims to enable coordination among various public and private sector stakeholders and optimize collective efforts toward financial inclusion.” What the 2015 data show was what …

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2015: Milestones in financial inclusion

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), in its year-end report on financial inclusion efforts, has remained “steadfast” in its pursuit of financial inclusion. Specifically, the report showed a more focused effort last year on policy and regulation, financial education and consumer protection, and finally on data and measurement as well as advocacy programs. The 2015 initiatives “bring us closer to our goals,” according to the BSP. Past efforts have already been recognized by the Economist Intelligence Unit which noted that the Philippines is the first country in Asia, and third in the world, with the most conducive environment for financial inclusion. “Yet, more focused work needs to be done by the BSP as well as public and private sector stakeholders to fully realize financial inclusion objectives,” said the BSP. “In 2015, the BSP focused on …

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My vice-presidential choice

The long Christmas break gave me a chance to think about my choices for the May elections. While vague policy statements by some presidential candidates prevent me from making a decision on whom to support as of yet, I am certain about my choice for the Vice Presidency. My vote will go to Leni Robredo. Last November, I wrote a piece narrating my impressions of the widow from Naga during our first meeting. For those who missed it, the gist of it was that Leni impressed me not for her flair, flash or glib but rather for her humility and purity of intent. She is a stark contrast from Chiz Escudero, Bongbong Marcos and Alan Peter Cayetano in that she doesn’t prance like a peacock to impress you. Instead, she simply …

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