PHILIPPINE REAL ESTATE and RELATED NEWS in and around the country . . .

Philippines can be economic powerhouse in next decade – PEZA

By Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 18, 2016 - 12:00am

PEZA director general Lilia De Lima said the country stands to benefit from the reforms implemented by the investment promotion agency. File photo

Wipe out red tape, graft

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has the potential to become a major economic powerhouse over the next decade should it succeed in eliminating red tape and graft and corruption in government agencies, according to the head of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).

PEZA director general Lilia De Lima said the country stands to benefit from the reforms implemented by the investment promotion agency.

She said the PEZA  was one of the few local government agencies implementing a no red tape and no corruption policy, earning the respect of no less than President Aquino.

With its good image among investors worldwide, PEZA has managed to attract P3.18 trillion worth of investments across various economic zones in the country since 1995.

“The Philippines today stands before a giant door of opportunities never before opened until now. Our economy is on a continuous upward trajectory,” De Lima said.

Aside from cleaning up government practices, the country must also utilize and put into good use its young population, the PEZA chief said.

“Our demographics, a young population with over 100 million Filipinos with a median age of 23.5 is our strongest asset. The over one million Filipinos that enter the labor force annually – half of them are college graduates – is no longer a challenge but an opportunity for this country to be among the leaders in the region. With all these ageing societies worldwide and we have the right demographics that know how to speak English, if we do it right within the next 10 years we have a big chance,” De Lima said.

From being the sick man of East Asia, the Philippines has already been dubbed as Asia’s rising tiger by the World Bank given the fast growth of its economy in recent years.

However, challenges that include economic restrictions, poor infrastructure, low level of foreign direct investments, and bureaucracy remain as among the major concerns pulling back Philippine economy from reaching its full growth potential.

An upcoming change in administration is also deemed as a potential threat to the country’s continued economic growth.

Economist Bernardo Villegas, however, ruled out such concerns in a business gathering last week.

Villegas said the country is capable of sustaining its six to seven percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth regardless of who will replace President Aquino.

He said the country’s economy could grow even further to as much as 10 percent if it gets to elect the right president.

OFW remittances up 9.1% to $2.11 B in Feb

By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 16, 2016 - 12:00am


BSP officer-in-charge Diwa Guinigundo said cash remittances from overseas Filipinos reached $2.11 billion in February, 9.1 percent or $175 million higher compared with the $1.93 billion recorded in February last year. File photo

MANILA, Philippines - Remittances from overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) expanded 9.1 percent in February despite the prolonged slump in global oil prices, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday.

BSP officer-in-charge Diwa Guinigundo said cash remittances from overseas Filipinos reached $2.11 billion in February, 9.1 percent or $175 million higher compared with the $1.93 billion recorded in February last year.

The 9.1 percent growth in February was the fastest since June last year when cash remittances booked a double-digit growth of 10.9 percent.

Guinigundo said remittances rose 6.2 percent to $4.13 billion in the first two months of the year from $3.89 billion in the same period last year.

The growth in the first two months was faster than the four percent full year growth set by the central bank.

Guinigundo, who is also deputy governor of the BSP, said remittances from land-based Filipino workers went up 6.9 percent to $3.2 billion, while remittances from sea-based workers increased 3.7 percent to $917 million in the first two months of the year.
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More than 75 percent of the cash remittances came from the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, Japan, and Qatar.

“The steady deployment of overseas Filipino workers remained a key driver to the growth of remittance inflows,” Guinigundo said.

BSP Deputy Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. earlier said the $81 million bank heist involving the money stolen by hackers from Bangladesh Bank that found its way to the country via Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) has not affected remittances.

However, he noted foreign correspondent banks of local banks have ended their partnerships involving remittances as part of their de-risking efforts.

BPI president Cezar Consing earlier confirmed the money laundering scandal could result in higher cost for cash remittances.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) showed 31.6 percent of the 160,277 total approved orders in January and February were processed during the period.

Processed job orders were intended mainly to fill demand for service, production, and professional, technical and related workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Taiwan, and the UAE.

Personal remittances also grew nine percent to $2.33 billion in February from $2.14 billion in the same month last year.

Personal remittance is computed as the sum of gross earnings of overseas Filipino workers with work contracts of less than one year, including all sea-based workers, less taxes, social contributions, and transportation and travel expenditures in their host countries.

For the first two months, personal remittances went up 6.1 percent to $4.57 billion from $4.31billion in the same period last year.

According to Guinigundo, personal remittance flows consisted primarily of transfers from land-based workers with contracts of one year or more amounting to $3.5 billion as well as compensation of sea-based workers and land-based workers with short-term contracts reaching $1 billion.

Cash remittances rose 4.6 percent to $25.77 billion last year from $24.63 billion in 2014 amid the strong demand for skilled Filipino workers abroad.

For this year, remittances are expected to increase by four percent on account of the steady deployment of Filipino workers, greater diversification of country destinations, and shift to higher-skilled types of work.

Moody’s Investors Service said weaker remittances from the Middle East due to the continued softening in oil prices would reduce the benefits of oil imports for several Asian economies including the Philippines.

In a report, Moody’s said the more pronounced and prolonged oil price decline coupled with fiscal tightening in many oil exporting countries could hurt migrant worker earnings and remittances.

Moody’s said diversified locations and vocations of overseas workers from the Philippines, India, and Vietnam would help reduce the fall in remittances.

Moody’s said the Philippines draw its remittances almost equally from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies with 34 percent and the US with 31.7 percent.

“The proportion of remittance inflows from the US and GCC are nearly equal, at 34 percent, and 31.7 percent, respectively,” Moody’s added.

Clark’s ‘Green City’ breaks ground today

posted April 10, 2016 at 11:30 pm by []
Othel V. Campos

President Benigno Aquino III is leading the groundbreaking rites for Clark Green City today, heralding the start of the development of the country’s first smart, green and disaster-resilient metropolis in Tarlac province.

The president will lay the time capsule of what will become the country’s most modern and global metropolis.

He will be accompanied by Cabinet members including Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Economic Planning Secretary  Emmanuel Esguerra.

“It’s all system go for the Clark Green City,” Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive Arnel Paciano Casanova said.

The development of the 9,450-hectare Clark Green City will be in several phases.  The first phase covering 288 hectares will be developed by BCDA and  joint-venture partner Filinvest Land Inc.

The Filinvest parcel will have two distinct components—an industrial zone and a mixed-used development with residential, office, commercial and institutional elements.

Casanova said Clark Green City was perfectly suited to become a back-up government center, as it was designed to have a disaster-resilient facility, with measures to combat the ill effects of climate change and other natural disasters.

Clark Green City’s favorable geological conditions also make it less vulnerable to earthquakes.  The absence of a fault line in the vicinity makes the site ideal for long-term development.

The city will also be spared from the damaging effects of super typhoons, with the Zambales Mountain Range and the Sierra Madre Mountain Range serving as natural barriers.   Flooding will also be remote due to its high elevation.

Casanova said Clark Green City would showcase the country’s capability to build a sustainable and modern city.

“The city will adopt smart and green features like compact walkable communities with generous open spaces, bike lanes, mass transportation, smart utilities, high-bandwidth connectivity, protected biodiversity, energy efficiency and urban farming, among others, making it one of the country’s most livable cities of the future,” he said.

He said Clark Green City would be a community that allows people from all walks of life to realize their aspirations in the cusp of an inclusive community.

“This is not merely a city for the rich. This is a city for the poor to be rich. Rich in knowledge as well as in wealth. Abundant in compassion, devoid of bigotry and inequality,” said Casanova.

BCDA chairperson Ma. Aurora Geotina-Garcia said Clark Green City would be a master-planned metropolis, to be built from ground up, incorporating the best practices in urban planning and development.

“The soul of every city is its people. We must enable every individual to reach their full potential by honing their talents and giving them more opportunities for growth,” said Garcia.

At full development, Clark Green City will have some 1.12 million residents, 800,000 workers and contribute a gross output of P1.57 trillion per year to the national economy or roughly four percent of the gross domestic product.

Tan’s Megaworld boosting retail footprint amid strong demand for office space

Posted on April 10, 2016 08:45:00 PM [ ]

MEGAWORLD CORP. is boosting its retail footprint that will take advantage of the strong demand for office space within its townships across the country, while brushing aside concerns of a slowdown in the residential sector.

The property conglomerate of billionaire Andrew L. Tan will launch an average of 60,000 to 70,000 square meters (sqm) of retail space every year until 2019, Megaword Senior Vice-President Jericho S. Go told reporters last week.

By 2020, Megaword’s lifestyle malls will have a total gross floor area of 1.4 million sqm with their contribution to rental income seen increasing to as much as 50%.

Megaword’s retail projects draw its strength from the office buildings serving business process outsourcing companies within its townships, Mr. Go said. The real estate developer is bringing to the market at least 100,000 sqm of office space every year until 2019.

“We are on track, if not ahead, in terms of meeting those targets,” Mr. Go said.

For the residential sector, Mr. Go said sales this year have been “encouraging,” tracking “what we had in the past two years” despite coming from a high base.

“It is an election year. Even for those that have the money to purchase, they are on wait-and-see mode, but that doesn’t mean there is a slowdown. They are just waiting for the proper timing,” Mr. Go said.

The sweet spot for Megaworld continues to be the middle-income segment or projects ranging from P3 million to P7 million per unit.

“That’s where the money is. That is where the purchasing power is,” Mr. Go said.

Megaworld’s bottomline was halved to P10.57 billion last year from the previous year’s P21.55 billion which included a P12.16-billion nonrecurring gain. Excluding the one-time gain, the company’s core net income climbed 11% to P10.4 billion last year.

Megaworld is part of Alliance Global Group, Inc. -- the holding firm for Mr. Tan’s liquor, gaming and quick-service restaurant businesses.

Shares in Megaworld slid four centavos or 1% to end at P3.95 each on Friday. -- Krista Angela M. Montealegre  

Villar named Real Estate Personality of the Year

By Andre Santiago (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 8, 2016 - 12:00am


MANILA, Philippines - Recognizing his significant contributions to the Philippine real estate industry over the years, Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. chairman Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. received the prestigious Real Estate Personality of the Year award at the black-tie gala of the Philippines Property Awards 2016 at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City last night.

A self-made man and a central figure in the housing, business and finance sectors, Villar has catered to all Philippine market segments in the past decade, building around 300,000 quality houses in 95 cities and municipalities across 36 provinces in the country.

Dubbed by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism as the “Dean of (Philippine) real estate,” he was also named by Forbes as one of the most prominent billionaires of the country with a net worth of $1.37 billion in 2016.

“I am deeply grateful for, and profoundly humbled by this recognition from the Philippines Property Awards,” Villar told Property Report. “For me, the Real Estate Personality of the Year award is a testament to how Vista Land has been an instrument in improving the lives of Filipinos by providing them homes to live comfortably and communities where necessities are within their reach.

According to Villar, building quality houses for Filipinos has always been his priority, and with the promising outlook for the property sector in 2016, he said Vista Land has a strong competitive advantage given its wide geographic presence.

Initially established as a construction supplies business in 1975, Villar’s Vista Land now operates several subsidiaries including Camella Homes, Communities Philippines, Crown Asia, Vista Residences, Brittany, and the newly acquired Starmalls Inc. Vista Land reported a record 14 percent growth in profits in 2015, amounting to PHP7.2 billion ($156 million) last year.

The editors of Asia’s leading luxury real estate, architecture and design publication, Property Report, were among those who officially recognized Villar as the Real Estate Personality of the Year.

“Property Report’s editorial team basically look for individuals who have made crucial developments to the industry. Manny Villar’s contribution in providing quality housing to every Filipino is very evident in Philippine real estate,” said Ramon Rufino, executive vice president of The Net Group and was also named as Real Estate Personality of the Year in 2015.

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