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London to put Uber drivers through English-proficiency test

Ratcheting up a battle with Uber Technologies, Inc., London’s government transportation agency is requiring drivers to meet an English-language requirement in order to hold a private-hire taxi license. The new rules, which apply to UberX and the company’s black car service, come after Uber successfully sued the city to block the introduction of English requirements that would apply only to drivers from non-English speaking countries. The proposal was considered discriminatory. Rather than backing away from the language-proficiency plan, the city is now requiring all drivers to prove their English skills by March 31, 2017. Uber is facing increased resistance in London, as officials attempt to protect its historic black cab industry, which has been a key part of the city’s transportation system for generations and whose drivers go through intensive training and …

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Meralco’s 9-month profit declines to P15.7 billion

Amid continuing robust sales growth, the net income of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) in nine months this year had been down 3.0-percent to P15.676 billion from last year’s P16.149 billion. The utility firm’s core income had also been trimmed down 5.0-percent to P14.966 billion, from the year-ago level of P15.795 billion. This translates to reported P13.91 earnings per share, hence, affording the power utility firm to declare regular and special dividends to its shareholders.  Meralco’s prospective dividend policy is equivalent to 50-percent of its core income for this year. Juxtaposed with its overall performance in the first nine month, the company expressed confidence that they are on target achieving their P19 billion profit guidance for this year. Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in terms of core net income for the entire year, …

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BSP includes renminbi in GIR

With a Duterte government leaning towards China as source of trade and investments, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. yesterday said the Chinese renminbi (RMB) is now one of the official currencies of the country’s gross international reserves (GIR). Tetangco announced yesterday that the Monetary Board, BSP’s policy-making body, approved the inclusion of RMB in the GIR to make it readily available to the banking system. The GIR is primarily in US dollars but also includes other currencies such as the Japanese yen in smaller portions. Amando M. Tetangco Jr. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently included the RMB as part of its special drawing rights (SDR) list of currencies, the fifth in the SDR basket which is in US dollar, Japanese yen, the euro and the British pound. (Renminbi …

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India launches regional aviation scheme

New Delhi– India's aviation ministry said on Friday the first flights under a scheme to boost air travel between smaller cities should take off in January, after it finalized rules to make flying more affordable in the world's fastest-growing aviation market. Under the "Regional Connectivity Scheme," air fares on routes between towns and cities currently poorly connected will be capped – at 2,500 rupees ($37.4) for every 500 km of travel – and service and fuel taxes reduced. A small levy will be slapped on existing routes to help pay for the scheme, while the government will provide funding to make the project viable and spend 40 billion rupees ($598 million) to reopen 50 disused airports within four years. Some industry executives have expressed reservations about the levy, but the ministry defended the …

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Slight hikes in fuel prices today

Pump prices are on slight adjustments this week, with the price of gasoline up by a very lean P0.20 per liter; while diesel prices had been down P0.10 per liter and kerosene by P0.15 per liter. On the pricing advisory of the oil companies, this round of adjustment will still be effective either 12:01a.m. or 6:00 a.m. today (October 25). As of press time, the oil companies that already adjusted prices include Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation; and Eastern Petroleum Corporation. The fundamentals of global oil markets, often having spillover effect on heavily import-dependent market like the Philippines, had seen the string of price hikes in the past several weeks but settled a bit in recent days. With swings in developments, analysts and oil producers portend that the ‘era of down cycle’ in oil prices …

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Former DOE chief offers his view on ‘energy mix economics’

To get discussions moving to the next level on the proposed energy mix for the country, former Energy Secretary and PHINMA Energy President Francisco L. Viray offered insights on what metrics the energy planners shall be assessing and taking into consideration for the policy. At this stage, energy mix had become the industry’s buzzword but the Department of Energy (DOE) is still at ground zero when it comes to the specifics of the plans and parameters for such policy crafting. The fixed 30-30-30 prescription of technology sharing for coal, gas and renewables remained a deep puzzle and still too-complicated terrain for the industry players, hence, they have been seeking for clarity of the energy mix economics being presented by the energy department. In an exclusive interview, Viray noted that the starting point for …

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Aboitiz food unit banks on exports for further growth

Iligan City – The expansion efforts of Pilmico Foods Corp., the food subsidiary of listed conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV), is now more focused on growing its export business as part of its strategy to adjust with ASEAN integration, which somehow left them with no choice but to look for markets elsewhere. Florencio Sebandal, Pilmico Vice President for Operations for Iligan, said the more liberalized ASEAN free trade caused more imported food products to gain foothold in the country, prompting local companies like Pilmico to expand its export business. ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which started in 2015, involves an established common market among some of the ASEAN countries, including the Philippines. The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier said the free movement of goods and services within the AEC must be thought of as …

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RLC launches P6-B Westin-branded condo

Robinsons Land Corporation, through its upscale brand Robinsons Luxuria, has launched The Residences at The Westin Manila Sonata Place which is expected to generate P6 billion in sales. The project, which is a strategic partnership with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the company behind the prestigious Westin chain of hotels. This is the first Westin-branded residential and mixed-use development in Southeast Asia. RLC said The Residences at The Westin Manila Sonata Place is set to transform the local property landscape by fusing world-class hotel experience with luxury residential living to create redefined value. “Our commitment to serve and offer the best quality residential developments to match the discerning taste of our clients remains strong,” said RLC President Frederick Go. He added that, “we are pleased to partner with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, working with their …

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Economic team guarantees protection for poor families

The Duterte administration’s economic team assured the poor and low-income households that they are protected from the impact of the proposed increase in fuel taxes under the comprehensive tax reform program. According to the Department of Finance, they along with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as well as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) are assuring the public that the proposed tax reform will not burden the poor individuals. In a joint statement, the economic team said the government will introduce highly targeted, direct and indirect subsidies plus other social protection initiatives that should benefit poor and low-income families. Finance Secretaries Carlos G. Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia said they will help cushion the impact of the proposed indexing to inflation of the excise …

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Disaster resiliency needs to be part of business model

Business mogul Hans Sy has pledged to incorporate disaster resiliency into business models in keeping with the call of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) while urging other corporations to follow suit. Citing the people’s right to be protected against calamities, Sy who is also SM Prime president in a speech in Washington D.C. recently underscored the importance of other global corporations making the same commitment as he attended the meeting of the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilience Societies. He is the only Filipino member in the international board of the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance, which is also known as ARISE. SM Prime is the secretariat of ARISE Philippines.  “Our commitment to disaster resiliency has always been at the core of our business and we will further find ways …

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