New BIR Withholding Taxes for Self-Employed and Professionals under the NEW TRAIN Law



CEBU, Philippines — The year 2018 will bring Cebu to economic highs regardless of political climate, locally and nationally.

This is the forecast of prime movers of the local economy for 2018 who said Cebu will start to reap the fruits of the “year of abundance” that was 2017.

“It’s a building year, at the same time, a harvest year for Cebu,” said Melanie Ng, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).

She said Cebu will also continue to attract more seeds of investments and interests from capitalists all over the world.

Ng said tourism will serve as a strong magnet for high growth, which will also give birth to more investments across industries like retail and real estate, among others.

The top employer industry, the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, will sustain its vigor, but growth in terms of employment volume is seen to be tamer this 2018, as Cebu is positioned to catch high value services, which will not need large numbers of people compared to voice-related services.

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High value outsourcing falls under the Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) category, which requires highly skilled talents. Monthly salary usually starts from P30,000, depending on a company’s skills requirement.

“We have seen the strong interest from investors around the world, especially from China, Japan, and other countries through several visits and trade missions in 2017,” Ng said.

Though the avalanche of international investors continues to come in, materialization in terms of actual investments is expected to happen this year.

Ng’s counterpart in Mandaue City, Glenn Soco, shares her prediction.

Soco, president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), said 2018 will be a “breakaway” year for Cebu, meaning, Cebu will show that it can stand on its own economically.

Soco believes the opening of the second Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal will bring Cebu to a historical growth performance.

Soco said Cebu has been a consistent star performer in terms of economic growth, regardless of crises, man-made problems, and even calamities.

Now that the Philippines is being touted as the next economic tiger or economic powerhouse in Asia, Cebu is expected to take the spotlight in this trademark.

The Duterte government’s build-build-build thrust is another fuel that supports the promising outlook, Soco added.

Intact Drivers

This on-the-ground standpoint is backed by academic and research-based perspective from economist and financial analyst Alvin Arogo who said that the country’s economy will remain vibrant and healthy in 2018 regardless of the twists and turns in politics.

“There are things that are more structural in nature and economic drivers in the Philippines will remain intact and not affected by politics,” Arogo said.

The Philippine economy is on for sweeping growth and will remain in place whoever is on top, dismissing fears that the unpopular decisions made or will be made by the government may affect direly in the country’s economic pump.

Aside from the strong economic fundamentals, sound policies implemented by the Bangko Sentral Ng Pilipinas (BSP) in 2002 and the execution of Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT) in 2007, among others, have helped strengthen the foundation of the country’s economic vibrancy.

EVAT, for one, has placed the Philippines in a better position that resulted in impressive ratings posted consistently by foreign credit rating entities.

Consumer Base

The country’s hard-to-beat economic fuel is its demographics. The over 100 million population (and growing) continues to attract investors to pour money in the Philippines.

A peso spent by every Filipino, for instance, could reap a million peso revenue.

The expanding group of median aged Filipinos is also an added boost to the economy. This group of consumers spends more, earns high, and is surprisingly productive.

“Whoever is in power will not change population and the median age in five years time,” Arogo said.

The Philippines’ “sweet spot” flirts with investors regardless of political issues, he said.

Trade, Export

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced recently that continued exports growth, economic cooperation, and trade facilitation initiatives will sustain trade gains, as total trade records double-digit growth as of October 2017.

NEDA-attached agency Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has reported that the country’s total trade grew by 10.4 percent year-on-year in October 2017, a pickup from the 4.6-percent growth in September.

Exports recorded its 11th consecutive month of positive growth at 6.6 percent while imports posted a double-digit growth of 13.1 percent.

Total merchandise trade grew by 11.2 percent for the first six months of 2017 compared to the first half of 2016.

According to NEDA, 2018 is seen to reveal another round of improved performances in exports of agricultural products and semiconductors, which continue to comprise a huge portion of Philippine exports.

The business players in Cebu believe that challenges and problems will always be there in order to keep the economic speed on balance, but what is certain is that 2018 will bring a flamboyant, colourful, and exciting economic journey.

How this promising outlook can be experienced by Cebuanos will depend on how they will play their cards and the kind of mindset one will have.

“We have to be alert in grabbing and sensing every opportunity that usually are just in front of us,” Ng said. — /JMO (FREEMANNEWS)



Attracting big investors, installing new traffic lights and opening new roads were some of the accomplishments of Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza in 2017. Rolando Duero, the mayor’s executive secretary, said the Rockwell, Sheraton Cebu Mactan Resort, The Emerald and Seagrove businesses will soon rise in Barangay Punta Engaño. During her State of the City Address last September, Radaza said that the Udenna Development Corp. broke ground for The Emerald, a resort casino, last July. The Sheraton will have over 400 hotel rooms and condominium units. For 10 years, the city’s traffic lights were not working. The problem was finally addressed this year with the City using its own funds after it failed to get help from the National Government. It allocated P30 million to install modern traffic lights with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras on 10 junctions and intersections. Last November, the City inaugurated newly installed traffic lights with CCTV cameras at the airport road, City Hall intersection and the intersection at the foot of the first bridge, which are located on M. L. Quezon Highway. The other traffic lights will be installed next year. The City also opened the Ylaya-Pagambakan-Kalubihan Road in Barangay Marigondon. According to Duero, the new road, which is over a kilometer long, will help decongest traffic on the main road. The causeways in Angasil in Barangay Mactan and Sta. Rosa in Olango Island were also widened. The City started the retrofitting project of the City Public Market, temporarily allowing vendors to sell their goods along the road in Barangay Poblacion. Duero said the ongoing construction of the city hospital will be completed sometime in the middle of 2018. Duero told SunStar Cebu that most of the major projects have been completed except for some road projects. In Mandaue City, ordinances pertaining to social services, infrastructure, labor and employees welfare, informal settler’s displacement, and development administration highlighted the achievements of the City Council. Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna said that all projected programs for 2017 were accomplished. He said the council approved ordinances accrediting the skills training programs of the Mandaue City College Technological and Entrepreneurial Skills Training; financial assistance for hotel and restaurant management and tourism management moving-up students worth P600,000; and persons-with-disabilities year-end financial assistance. The council also helped regulate the use of streets and sidewalks for street events and raised the job-order employees’ honorarium. Through the council’s approval, 78 structure owners, who are informal settlers in Barangays Ibabao-Estancia, Centro and Guizo, got financial assistance from the City Government. Another six structure owners in the danger zone of Sitio Nawanao in Barangay Subangdaku also got cash aid. Other important ordinances approved were the enhancement of measures against human trafficking, online sexual exploitation of persons and cyberpornography; public-private partnership for the people; ad hoc committee for barangay boundaries; creation of the barangay solid waste management council; augmentation, enhancement and sustenance of the social amelioration; and the creation of the Mandaue City Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council.

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Investment pledges hit record P617 B this year – BOI PHILS.

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P65B worth of ecozones still await Palace nod

By: Roy Stephen C. Canivel

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:12 AM December 18, 2017

The year is almost over and there are still economic zones that have yet to receive Malacañang’s approval, putting on hold more than P65 billion worth of development projects.

As of Nov. 16, 45 economic zones registered under the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) are still awaiting final approval in the Office of the President, languishing despite increasing public pressure from some members of the business community to fast-track the approval process.

This was disclosed by a source familiar with the issue, who requested to remain anonymous given the sensitivity of the topic. The source said the total project cost of the pending applications reached P65.42 billion.

Projects to develop economic zones need the approval of Malacañang before development could officially begin. This also means that the companies that would be based in the economic zone, also known as the locators, would have to wait for Malacañang’s green light before commencing with their investments.

Blame game

The source told the Inquirer that there was an issue between Peza Director General Charito Plaza and Malacañang, particularly since Plaza has been pinning the blame on the Palace for the delay in the proclamations.

Other than that, the legal team of the Office of the President is “quite slow,” the source added.

The source did not expound on the current makeup of the backlog. However, based on Peza’s previous updates, most of these projects were investments to put up buildings to house IT-BPM companies.

The property market has been taking notice of this, too. According to the recently released third-quarter office briefing of real estate services firm KMC Savills Inc., the “delays in granting Peza certification for certain office buildings have become concerning.”

Fresh investment

The number of projects in the backlog has gone up and down in the past months, most likely because Peza has been registering fresh investment pledges to develop economic zones.

Plaza previously said that there were 46 economic zones in the backlog as of July with a total project cost of at least P30 billion. Then, in October, she told reporters that the number had gone up to 58.

Asked for an update, Plaza told the Inquirer that the Office of the Executive Secretary promised her more than 20 economic zones would be proclaimed.

“We are waiting for 20 plus [presidential proclamations for economic zone development] to be released. I hope [it would be released] before the year ends,” she said in a text message.

Pledges to develop economic zones largely make up the investment commitments registered under Peza this year.

Overall Peza investments grew nearly 90 percent in the first 10 months of the year. From January to October, investments grew 89.28 percent to P203.18 billion from P107.34 billion in the same period last year.

While in constant growth, it remains to be seen if Peza would be able to hit its own yearend target.

Plaza previously said that the agency wanted to close the year with at least P654.54 billion worth of pledges and even as much as P872.72 billion, which meant they would have to grow 200 to 300 percent.

AEV spending P50B in ’18 for power, infra projects

By: Doris Dumlao-Abadilla – Reporter

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:10 AM December 18, 2017

Conglomerate Aboitiz Equity Ventures (AEV) expects to spend up to P50 billion in the coming year to complete new power generation projects and jump-start new infrastructure-related initiatives.

AEV chief financial officer Manuel Lozano said that in 2018, about 500 megawatts (MW) of attributable capacity would be added to the group’s portfolio with the completion of new plants in Pagbilao.

This year, AEV is completing the 340-MW Therma Visayas baseload power plant in Toledo, Cebu, 400-MW Pagbilao Energy Corp. plant expansion and the 68.8-MW Manolo Fortich hydroelectric power plant in Bukidnon.

Excluding the interest attributable to partners in Pagbilao and Therma Visayas, the net increase in installed capacity for AEV will be 500 MW which will bring to 3,500 MW its total attributable power generation capacity nationwide. This will be equivalent to around 18 percent of the national grid, Lozano estimated.

The increase in coal taxes recently approved by Congress would have some impact, but Lozano said most of the group’s contracts allowed such costs to be passed through consumers.

“There are other different and more effective ways of reducing CO2 (carbon dioxide) than providing coal tax but if the goal is to raise money, demand is there already, so it will have an impact,” he said.

The bicameral conference committee recently raised the coal excise tax rate from P10 per metric ton to P50 per metric ton in the first year of implementation, P100 in the second year, and P150 in subsequent years. The final excise tax rates were halved from the original proposal in the Senate version.

For capital spending next year, Lozano said the budget would range between P40 billion and P50 billion, mostly for the power projects to be completed.

Another likely big component to AEV’s capital spending next year will be the start of the Apo Agua Infrastructura Inc., a joint venture with J.V. Angeles Construction Corp. to build one of the country’s largest private bulk water supply projects. This project will provide Davao City with 300 million liters of water per day sourced from the Tamugan River, seen to benefit Davao City’s one million residents, by end-2019 or early 2020.

More flights needed between Phl, China to lure more Chinese tourists

By Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 18, 2017 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — More flights between the Philippines and China are needed to further grow the number of Chinese arrivals, a tourism official said.

“For me, connectivity is key,” Raymund Glen Agustin, Department of Tourism (DOT) chief tourism operations officer of the market development group, told reporters on the sidelines of the Xi’an Tourism Administration promotions event.

Agustin said with the Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) option for Chinese nationals visiting the Philippines now available, the next step is to improve accessibility between the two countries.

Connectivity should not only be offered from the main gateways of China, but also from tier 2 cities, he said.

“That would also give a big boost to the arrivals so that connectivity is not only in Metro Manila, but also in our other destinations like Cebu, Davao even Kalibo, Caticlan, Bohol as well,” Agustin said.

Last week, Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said the Philippines has been receiving a lot of interest for chartered flights from Chinese groups. She disclosed she had a meeting with a Chinese group planning to operate chartered flights from Nanning City in China to the Philippines.

Teo said most of the operators are always asking for chartered flights to Manila, but she urged them to consider other airports in the country such as Clark, Davao, Palawan and Cebu.

“I told them to do their chartered flights (in these areas) so that it is spread out (to the entire country),” Teo said.

Last September, the DOT inked an agreement with Chengdu-based charter operator Hanglv International Travel Group to further boost the thriving route between mainland China and Manila.

The Philippines has seen an influx of Chinese tourists this year, mainly driven by the improved diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as the VUA option for Chinese nationals.

For this year, the DOT expects Chinese arrivals to hit the one million mark.

From January to October, Chinese arrivals have reached 810,807, accounting for 14.81 percent of the total arrivals.

China is currently the Philippines’ second top source market, following South Korea.

Apart from its impact on the arrivals numbers, the Chinese market also pushed visitor receipts up.

Based on latest available figures from the DOT, visitor receipts surged 36.28 percent in the nine months to September to P243.23 million.

China was the top spending market for September with estimated receipts of P10.6 billion.

DOE program cites SM Prime

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 18, 2017 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — SM Prime Holdings Inc., one of the leading integrated property developers in Southeast Asia, received numerous awards from the 2017 Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards, spearheaded by the Department of Energy (DOE), bringing the total number to over 200 since it joined in 2007.

This year, a total of 18 awards, consisting of eight citations, six special awards and four ASEAN Energy Award of recognition were received by SM Prime in the awarding ceremonies held at the Maxims Hotel in Resorts World Manila.

SM City Manila, SM Mall of Asia, SM City Fairview, SM City Clark, SM Southmall, SM Delgado, SM Harrison and OneE-Com were given Citation Awards. Special Awards were given to SM Center Pasig, SM City Bacoor, SM City Marikina, SM City Cebu, SM City Masinag and TwoE-com; ASEAN Energy Awards of recognition, on the other hand, were given to SM Jazz Mall, SM Seaside City-Cebu, OneE-Com and FiveE-Com.

The combined energy saved by the recognized properties is equivalent to powering up 2.6 million mobile phones, or 62,000 LED street lamps in one year. All in all, the energy savings measured is 9,571,199 kilowatt hours.

The Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards recognizes outstanding companies and energy managers who have achieved substantial savings in their energy consumption.

Prior to joining the Don Emilio Abello Energy Efficiency Awards in 2007, SM Prime chairman of the Executive Committee Hans Sy advocated the company’s energy management initiatives as early as 1999. This was the time when the effects of climate change, carbon emissions, greenhouse, and global warming has not been fully grasped by the world.

Energy management programs are incorporated as early as the design stage of SM buildings, so that at the first day of commercial operations, the structures are already running optimally.

SM Prime recognizes its impact on the environment and thus continues to make energy efficiency and conservation one of its top priorities. Alongside the company’s growth and success, the addition of the recent awards serves as a challenge that inspires the company to do even better in becoming a leader in environmental sustainability.

Dennis Uy investing P6b in Clark

posted December 17, 2017 at 08:06 pm by

Darwin G. Amojelar

Clark Global City Corp., an affiliate of Udenna Corp., the holding company of Davao City-based businessman Dennis Uy, plans to invest an initial P6 billion to develop a 177-hectare land in Clark Freeport Zone into a new central business district.

“[We are initially spending] P6 billion on our side. This is for roads, drainage and other development,” Freddie Placino, vice chairman of Clark Global City Corp., said.

“What we will do is like BGC [Bonifacio Global City]. We develop it horizontally and let the other developers participate in developing vertically. Whatever mistakes in BGC [or] Makati, we’re correcting for [Clark Global City]. We will do [it] in phases over 10 years,” Placino said.

Placino said of the 177-hectare property of Clark Global City, 47 hectares were fully developed by the previous owner―Global Gateway Development Corp.

Potential locators of Clark Global City include multinational logistics companies, international schools, hotels, convention centers and business process outsourcing companies, he said.

CGCC completed the acquisition of Global Gateway Development Corp., a company based in Cayman Islands on Nov. 14, with Bank of China, BDO Unibank Inc. and Philippine National Bank as its financial partners.

Aside from Clark Global City, Uy earlier acquired Chelsea Shipping Corp., 2Go Group Inc., Petronas Energy Philippines and Enderun Colleges Inc.

He also plans to acquire the Family Mart convenience stores franchise with 67 stores from SSI Group of the Tantocos and Ayala Land Inc.

Uy’s Chelsea also acquired more vessels as it pursued its goal to become the country’s prime mover of vital goods, cargoes and people.

Chelsea’s unit Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc. in July purchased a 6,348-gross-register-ton cargo vessel called MV Orient Spirit. The vessel, which has a capacity of 400 twenty-foot equivalent units, will be in operation by the first quarter of 2018 and ply the Manila-Cebu-Manila route.

The company also acquired Starlite Ferries Inc., a roll-on, roll-off and passenger ship operator in Batangas and other routes, to strengthen its position in the Southern Luzon (Batangas)-to-Northern Visayas (Calapan, Odiogan, Roxas) route.

Uy said he was open to listing his other companies at the Philippine Stock Exchange over the next couple of years, but did not name which companies would be listed with the local bourse.

Uy now has three listed firms, including 2Go Group Inc., oil company Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. and Chelsea Logistics Holdings Inc.

Aboitiz spending P50b next year

posted December 17, 2017 at 08:01 pm by Jenniffer B. Austria

Aboitiz Equity Ventures Inc., the listed holding company of the Aboitiz Group, said it plans to spend P40 billion to P50 billion in 2018 mainly to roll out more power projects.

AEV chief finance officer Manuel Lozano said the 2018 capital expenditure would almost match this year’s spending, as the company continued to secure funding requirements for major power projects.

A major capital spending planned by the company next year is the P13-billion Apo-Agua water project, which is set to be country’s largest private bulk water supply facility with a fully renewable energy-powered water treatment plant.

Under the plan, Apo Agua will supply up to 300  million liters per day of potable bulk water from Tamugan River to Davao City Water District, which will benefit more than 1 million people of Davao City.

Lozano said construction of the project was expected to start next year while completion would be in 2020.

AEV teamed up with J.V. Angeles Construction Corp. for the water project.

Meanwhile, the planned expansion of the group’s cement plant is expected in 2018 or 2019.

The group said it was also interested regional airport projects that the government planned to bid out.

The conglomerate tapped Vinci Airports of France to form the Maya Consortium to bid for the P108.2-billion regional airports.  The bidding for the bundled airport project was delayed.

AEV is also a part of the planned super consortium that will submit an offer to expand and modernize Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the country’s main gateway.

Other members of the consortium are Ayala Corp., LT Group Inc., Filinvest Group, JG Summit Holdings Inc., Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and Megaworld Corp.

AEV is one the leading conglomerates in the country with investments in power, banking, cement, property, infrastructure and feed mill.

AEV saw its net income decline 7 percent in the first nine months to P17.1 billion, as the company recognized P1.2 billion in non-recurring losses due to foreign exchange losses, revaluation of dollar-denominated loans and pre-termination costs on refinancing.

AEV said minus the one-time non-recurring losses, core net income was flat at P17.1 billion.

Foreign portfolio investments rebounded to a net inflow of $107m in November—BSP

posted December 17, 2017 at 07:54 pm by Julito G. Rada

Foreign portfolio investments or ‘hot money’ registered a net inflow of $107 million in November, a reversal of the $607-million net outflow seen a year ago, as investors cheered the mostly positive third-quarter corporate earnings, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas said.

“This may be attributed to positive investor reaction to news of favorable third-quarter corporate earnings;  outcome of and pronouncements during the recently concluded 31st Asean Summit; and the Senate’s approval of a higher personal income tax exemption of P250,000.00 annually, as part of the Senate version of the government’s tax reform program,” the Bangko Sentral said.

Foreign portfolio investments are overseas funds that are temporarily invested in local stocks, government securities and money market. They are also called ‘hot money’ because of the ease they are invested in and taken out of the local markets.

The November net inflow was a turnaround from the $563.42-million net outflow recorded in October. Despite the latest data, hot money in the first 11 months still recorded a net outflow of $634.53 million, a reversal of the $672.73-million net inflow in the same period last year.

Data showed that total inflows in November fell to $1.128 billion from $1.190 billion a year ago, while gross outflows also declined to $1.020 billion from $1.797 billion.

About 80.8 percent of these funds in November went to securities listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange, particularly in holding firms, banks, food, beverage and tobacco companies, property companies and utilities.

The 19.2-percent balance went to peso government securities whose transactions yielded a net inflow of $213 million.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Norway and Luxembourg were the top five sources of investments in November.

Registration of inward foreign investments with the Bangko Sentral is optional.

Portfolio investments posted a net inflow of $404 million in 2016.  This year, the Bangko Sentral expects hot money to post a net outflow of $2.5 billion.

When Giants Invade: National Property Developers Redefining Cebu
Over the past few years, we have observed the transformation of Cebu’s skyline with large-scale residential,
commercial, retail, and hotel developments.

Infra-led GDP to buoy property
The Philippine economy, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), accelerated by 6.5% in 2Q 2017.
This is slightly faster than the 6.4% logged in 1Q 2017 but slower than the 7.1% recorded in the same period last

Shifting Orbits: The Rise of Satellite Communities
Colliers expects developers to continue pursuing townships as these offer a better value proposition compared to
standalone projects. This makes townships a viable investment option for an aspirational labor force.

Cebu’s office market to see further developments in the next six months
David Hand Joins Colliers International as CEO of the Asia Pacific Region
Office sector thrives amid BPO company expansion
Colliers International Makes a Clean Sweep at Euromoney’s Real Estate Awards 2014<

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