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Fil-Estate incurs P37.4-million loss


[ philstar.com ]

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña Updated April 01, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Fil-Estate Land Inc. (FELI) incurred a net loss of P37.4 million in the first quarter of its fiscal year ending September 2009, a reversal of the P8.51-million net profit reported in the same period a year earlier.

This net loss translated to a loss per share of P.0112 compared with earnings per share of P.00254 last year.

The turnaround was due to higher cost of sales even as its revenues more than doubled to P181.23 million on the back of improved service and rental income.

Cost of sales jumped to nearly P100 million, or more than two times the P40 million recorded a year ago.

With the company’s continued effort to cut costs, general and administrative expenses fell 10 percent to P86 million.

As of end–2008, FELI had a total asset base of P15.01 billion, slightly lower than the year ago level.

To ride out the current economic slowdown, FELI said it intends to focus on the socialized, low cost and affordable housing markets where demand is strong.

While focus will be on these markets, the company shall also address the niche markets for high-end leisure projects in Boracay, Camp John Hay, Tagaytay and Nasugbu.

FELI said it would continue to work with banks for end-buyer financing for its projects. It intends to utilize these facilities to convert receivables from in-house sales into cash.

These facilities will allow the company to come up with competitive terms to buyers, FELI said in a financial report filed with securities regulators.

FELI is eyeing to raise up to P1.5 billion from the sale of assets to complete some real estate projects, pay down debt and fund its shift to socialized or affordable housing.

The company has one of the largest landbanks among the country’s property developers, with over 1,000 hectares of wholly-owned and 2,940 hectares of joint venture properties.

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NEDA okays $317-million additional cost for Northrail


By Ding Cervantes Updated April 01, 2009 12:00 AM [ philstar.com ]

CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga , Philippines – North Luzon Railways Corp. (Northrail) president Edgardo Pamintuan said yesterday the long-delayed Caloocan-to-Clark modern railway will now cost $317 million more, on top of its initial $1 billion cost.

In an interview with The Star, Pamintuan said this was approved yesterday morning by the board of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as proposed by his government firm.

He said the additional cost was approved after Northrail’s proposal for the upgraded cost passed through “the processes of the NEDA inter-agency coordinating council and technical boards.”

Pamintuan said NEDA’s approval of the additional $317 million was based on the foreign exchange adjustments, inflation, and “necessary variation orders required by project site conditions.”

The railways project was already delayed five years when Pamintuan assumed post as Northrail chairman in July last year. Despite the delay, Pamintuan said President Arroyo wants the entire project from Caloocan to Clark, and not just its first phase from Caloocan to Malolos, Bulacan finished within her term which ends by the middle of next year.

“The contractor Sinomach, which used to be known as China National Machinery and Equipment Corp. (CNMEC) will immediately commence the Malolos to Clark section of the project,” he said.

Northrail is set to bid out to the private sector the operations and maintainance of the project which will link the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) at Clark Freeport to Metro Manila. The President announced last year that DMIA will be the country’s premiere international airport.

Reacting to the President’s order for him to finish the entire project before her term ends, Pamintuan said “this is indeed a tall order for the Northrail team and me.”

“Time is still my nemesis as I face the daunting task of catching up with the five-year delay in project implementation. Rest assured that we are exerting all efforts to ensure that all of the civil and track works from Caloocan to Clark are completed on or before June 2010,” he said.

Pamintuan said “Section 1 or the Caloocan to Malolos Section of the project should have been completed in September 2007. I was able to immediately address the inadequacy in the organizational structure by increasing its technical staff from the only seven personnel when I assumed office in July 2008 to the present day 65 technical personnel all of whom are engineers.”

He said measures have been put in place to fast track the railways project.

He noted that “during our negotiations to break the impasse with the Sinomach, I was able to convince them to adopt a simultaneous, segmental construction methodology in order to meet the schedule.”

“In the past, Sinomach wanted to solely implement the project. Now, they will be tapping the expertise of qualified Filipino engineering contractors and using local supplies to implement the project. The Sinomach however will be directly implementing the more sensitive components of the project,” he also said.

He also said that despite the higher cost, the government will greatly benefit from the project.

“Even before the railways project is completed, economic benefits can be expected from the project in these grave economic times. The use of qualified Filipino subcontractors means employment opportunities for both skilled and unskilled labor,” he noted.

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Filinvest 'has right' to get out


Tuesday, March 31, 2009 [ sunstar.com.ph ]

CEBU CITY -- While some City Hall officials welcome Capitol's plan to initiate a House inquiry on the City Hall-Filinvest Land Inc. (FLI) deal, the move could scuttle the transaction based on provisions of the joint venture contract.

FLI can terminate the contract if the Cebu City Government cannot fulfill its obligations or if the transfer of the South Road Properties (SRP) lots to its name is prevented, either by a lawsuit or any proceeding.

The contract also says that FLI can ask the city to refund any expenses it may incur as a result of any suit, proceeding, investigation or other legal action questioning the city's titles of SRP lots, and its right to dispose of the lots covered by the joint venture.

"If that is in the contract, then in effect, we are giving FLI an option or opportunity to withdraw from the joint venture, if there is an inquiry," Fernandez said, adding that he does not recall the exact words on the contract pertaining to litigations and investigation.

But even with these implications, City Administrator Francisco Fernandez said he looks forward to going to Congress to answer any question that may be raised against the joint venture contract during a congressional hearing.

He said a House inquiry would be an opportunity for the City Government to explain and prove that it entered into a good deal with FLI.

But Representative Pablo John Garcia (3rd District, Cebu) may have found another reason to push for the inquiry with FLI's admission that it already holds titles for two hectares of the 10.6-hectare Pond F that it purchased.

The admission, he said, refuted Osmeña's earlier statement that the city still holds the titles and won't release these until the investor has paid in full for the lots.

"It is not me, it is not the governor, it's not anybody else, it is Filinvest calling Mayor (on-leave) Tomas Osmeña a liar," he said.

But bigger than that is the irregularity of the procedure wherein FLI got titles before it has even fully paid the P1.59-billion stipulated in the contract, he added.

"Nowhere in the COA (Commission on Audit) rules is this kind of practice contemplated, nowhere in our laws," Garcia said.

He noted that in the regular course of business, a title can only be claimed after full payment of property and not on a piecemeal basis.

FLI, which develops a number of subdivisions, should know this, he said.

Provisions

The joint venture contract provides that in the event of a suit, proceeding, investigation or other legal action questioning the city's titles of SRP lots and its right to dispose of the sale and joint venture (JV) properties "and to carry out the objects of this agreement, the city shall indemnify and hold FLI free from any and all claims, damages, expenses and liabilities arising therefrom or relating thereto."

"Should any such pending or future suit, proceeding or action be decided adversely against Cebu City or result in a judgment affecting the city's performance of its obligations, or which would prevent the transfer of the properties under the name of FLI...then FLI should have the option to cancel and terminate this agreement and be reimbursed by Cebu City for any and all amounts which may have been paid to the city for the sale properties, and spent by FLI for the development of the joint venture properties...," the contract read.

FLI has already paid P348 million for the 10.6 hectares of beachfront properties worth P1.59 billion.

Aside from the P217 to P269 million that FLI will pay the city every year for the purchased lots, it will also turn over 10 percent of its gross sales for any development on the 40 hectares.

Tailor-made

"This (the transaction) was really tailor-made to keep the other investors out of the property," Garcia said.

He explained that other investors "equally serious and with enough financial resources" would have offered better deals had the city allowed development of parts of the properties.

But instead, the city gave FLI the right to the entire 10.6 hectares and issued the titles upon payment of a parcel, instead of payment for the entire property.

Part of the agreement, Garcia said, is a joint venture between the city and FLI on a 40-hectare property at the SRP.

"What if FLI say that it is not interested in the joint venture anymore? In any contract, you penalize default. In this case, it rewards default. Because if FLI defaults, there is no problem because they already have titles to the properties, depending on how many installments they have made already," the congressman explained.

Pablo John intends to file a resolution for the conduct of a House inquiry as early as April 13 when Congress resumes its session.

The resolution will then be referred to the appropriate committee, which will assess whether or not the case merits an inquiry.

Dinner

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia announced Monday that she is sponsoring a dinner with Cebuano congressmen on Wednesday to talk about the "irregularities" of the Filinvest deal.

Five already confirmed their attendance, she said, adding that these congressmen were "not necessarily just (from) Cebu Province."

Representative Raul del Mar (Cebu City, North District) is out of the country, which could mean that Representative Antonio Cuenco (Cebu City, South District) may have signified his plan to attend.

It was not known whether the governor counted her brother Pablo John and her father, Representative Pablo Garcia, as among the congressmen in the province who has signified their intention to join the gathering

"I don't want to get anything out of that meeting. But I'm sure that our congressmen will be enlightened on several provisions in this agreement," the governor said.

Just as she made a power point presentation on the controversial Cebu International Convention Center project, she said she might do the same for the FLI deal.

Copy

Also on Monday, Provincial Planning and Development Officer Adolfo Quiroga delivered to Fernandez a letter from the governor, asking for a copy of FLI's technical proposal.

Fernandez said they will consider the request, but they will also take into consideration the confidentiality agreement they entered into with FLI. (LCR/JGA/Sun.Star Cebu)

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DA to restore irrigation for 148,000 hectares of farmland

April 01, 2009 06:06 PM Wednesday [ journal.com.ph ]

By: Cory Martinez


THE restoration and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities covering a total of 148,000 hectares of farmland and postharvest projects are set to be implemented starting this April that would benefit farming communities and create new jobs in the countryside, the Department of Agriculture said yesterday.

DA Secretary Arthur Yap said that the implementation of these projects, which will extend up to June this year, is part of the government’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP), an economic resiliency initiative aimed at helping Filipinos cope up with the deepening global financial contagion.

Yap explained that the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities this year will cover 48,000 hectares of land while the restoration phase of these projects will service an additional 100,000 hectares.

Rehabilitation involves minor repairs of canals and the sustenance of irrigation areas while restoration will entail the repair of canal structures, diversion works and excavations to make nonfunctional irrigated areas serviceable.

Based on the data from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), the rehabilitation and restoration projects for irrigation facilities will benefit mostly irrigated lands in Mindanao and the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ).

For Mindanao, the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities will cover 15,993 hectares while the restoration will cover another 31,781 hectares.

In NLAQ, Yap said, the rehabilitation will service an additional 17,865 hectares and the restoration another 42,971 hectares.

For the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway, excluding the National Capital Region, the target is the rehabilitation of facilities in 8,634 hectares and the restoration in 10,846 hectares.

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