Finance official invites Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation delegates to enjoy Tagaytay City
(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, in his keynote speech at the opening session on financial inclusion here in Tagaytay City, invited APEC delegates to enjoy what the city has to offer.
"I hope you will find time to go around Tagaytay and enjoy the famous Taal Volcano and its lake, cool weather and the warm hospitality of the local people," Beltran told APEC delegates and stakeholders gathering at Taal Vista Hotel here.
At the same time, he thanked all the co-organizers and sponsors who made the forum on financial inclusion possible this year.
"I wish us all a fruitful interaction in the next two days," he added.
Marciano Paynor, the Secretary General of APEC Philippines 2015 National Organizing Committee, said the objective was to promote the Philippines' different locations for tourism and investments that's why they are holding APEC's initial meetings in different locations in the country.
These meetings are run up to the APEC Leaders' Meeting in November.
Tagaytay City, dubbed as the country's second summer capital because of its cool climate, is a favorite gateway spot and tourist destination in the country.
It provides an amazing view of the Taal Volcano nested in the Taal Lake. The city hosts an array of places to visit as well as local dishes for visitors to enjoy.
Tagaytay City is part of Cavite province and has a total land area of 6,500 hectares. It is approximately 60 kilometers away from Metro Manila and it takes about one hour travel from the metropolis. PND (as)
Annual discussion on financial inclusion in APEC meeting has regional importance, says Finance Undersecretary Beltran
(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation's yearly discussion on financial inclusion have regional significance because stakeholders learn from each other and apply them in actual financial transactions that impact on different economies, a finance official said on Tuesday.
"This yearly forum is important because it brings together public and private sector, financial regulators, policymakers, multilateral institutions, industry organizations and private foundations," Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said in his keynote address during the opening session on financial inclusion at Taal Vista Hotel here.
"We continue to learn from each other," he added.
In the next two days, Beltran said he expects delegates to venture into advancing lending infrastructure to promote inclusive financial systems that in turn improves lending on low income vulnerable households and small enterprises.
There will be a review of policy recommendations on financial inclusion to assess the extent to which they have been adopted by APEC economies and identify what challenges remain for their implementation, he said.
Mexico, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea will share their experiences to add to the vast knowledge of APEC economies experiences from previous fora.
"This exercise is important because it shows the different levels of development for financial inclusion in the region. Definitely, we also learn from our differences," Beltran said.
Also in the agenda for discussion include digital finance as well as how digital financial service providers can improve customer centricity.
And to solve the asymmetric information problem in financial inclusion, credit information systems will be examined with high emphasis on private credit bureau and public credit registry and how they can complement each other.
Making public and non-bank data more accessible to private bureaus will also be discussed to improve efficiency.
"We are also pushing on how to assist SMEs more access to credit by creating more credit reporting products for them," Beltran said underscoring the importance of SMEs, which serve as the backbones of APEC economies.
SMEs creates jobs and APEC members must support SMEs in every way possible, he noted.
Reforms in the legal and regulatory regimes are also needed to improve the security transactions of SMEs, Beltran said adding that talks about commercial law reforms are also being discussed.
"We are aiming to build supportive operational infrastructure for secured finance with particulars on the practical infrastructure needs of the secured lending sector for secured financing to the mid-market," he said.
Finance officials are also looking at the possibility of an initiative aimed at supporting the acceleration of reforms in participating APEC economies where reforms have been introduced, Beltran added.
The two-day forum on financial inclusion has strong relevance to the general theme of the country's hosting of APEC Summit this year.
Philippines APEC 2015 carries the theme “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”. PND (as)
Malta’s Prince lays wreath at Rizal Monument
The Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing offered a wreath before the monument of Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal at the Luneta Park in Manila on Tuesday, the third day of his seven-day official visit to the country.
Fra’ Festing arrived at the park at 10:20 a.m. and was welcomed by Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who escorted him as he laid the wreath at the foot of the Rizal monument.
After the ceremony, Mayor Estrada presented Fra’ Festing the symbolic Key to the City of Manila.
The Maltese Prince then proceeded to Malacañang Palace for his courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III. PND (ag)
Malta’s Prince presents symbolic key of houses donated to typhoon victims
The Prince and Grandmaster of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing on Tuesday presented to President Benigno S. Aquino III the symbolic key of the 700 new houses donated by Malta to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
The handover ceremony was held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Palace following Fra’ Festing’s courtesy call on President Aquino.
The houses in Basey, Samar and Bantayan Island, Cebu were built through Malteser International, the worldwide relief agency of Malta.
Malteser International was among the few international aid agencies that were on ground zero days after Typhoon Yolanda struck central Philippines in November 2013.
Fra’ Festing said they provided medicines, food, relief goods, hygiene kits, seeds, tools for farmers, and other much needed supplies when they arrived.
“We stand by our commitment to work with your people accompanying the delivery of goods and the construction of infrastructures with solidarity and brotherhood embodied in our shared values. Our best wishes for the people who will live there in peace, harmony and security,” he said.
For his part, President Aquino said the turnover of the symbolic key illustrates Malta’s generosity.
“This complements our own government’s plan to build back better: to break the vicious cycle of destruction and reconstruction by emphasizing long-term resilience in our reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts,” he said.
The President also welcomed the news that Malteser International plans to establish a regional office in Southeast Asia.
“Its physical presence in our part of the world will certainly benefit Asian countries by allowing more effective coordination and execution of relief activities, and facilitating our increased cooperation in areas of mutual benefit,” he said.
Fra’ Festing’s official visit marks the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Malta established in 1965. PND (ag)
Output of APEC-Tagaytay meetings to be part of Cebu Action Plan in September, says DFA spokesman
(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The output of the ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings here will form part of the Cebu Action Plan that will be launched during the APEC Finance Ministers Meeting in September in Mactan, Foreign Affairs Spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement on Monday.
The Department of Finance is hosting a series of related meetings this month in Tagaytay City. Among them are the Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion which starts Tuesday, March 3; the APEC Public Private Partnership (PPP) Experts Advisory Panel Meeting (March 4); the Asia-Pacific Infrastructure Partnership Meeting (March 4); and the APEC Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting (March 5-6).
Held under the APEC Philippines 2015 theme of “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”, these meetings aim to promote discussions on various financial policies and programs affecting the 21 APEC member economies, as well as the regional network.
Specifically, delegates will tackle issues on financial inclusion, financial transparency, and financial resiliency, among others.
In keeping with the three APEC pillars of trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation, these meetings are targeted toward the development of a more integrated financial network within the Asia-Pacific region.
In line with the outcome of the meetings in Tagaytay, Jose said the Cebu Action Plan envisions an APEC community that is more financially integrated, transparent, and resilient.
The plan proposes the harmonization of APEC economies’ policies, rules, and practices to facilitate free trade and the free flow of cross-border investments.
It wants to ensure good governance that results in sustainable and inclusive economic growth and rapidly growing and robust financial markets that offer diversified financial instruments.
"It is within this context that the series of meetings in Tagaytay will take place, with the aim of promoting a more open and accessible financial environment in the region," Jose said in the statement. PND (as)
APEC meetings on financial inclusion target the poor, says finance official
(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) delegates and stakeholders who gathered here Tuesday to discuss financial inclusion want to target the poor to encourage them to participate in the financial system, in the hope of spurring economic growth and eventually lifting them out of poverty.
"The target of financial inclusion is the poor because right now, they have very limited access and encouraging them to gain access would lead to more growth, more savings, more investments for all the countries in the region," Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said in a press briefing at the Summit Ridge Hotel here.
The Department of Finance is hosting the two-day discussion on financial inclusion at the Taal Vista Hotel.
"The main objective of all these things is to increase trade, investment, employment generation and of course raise incomes," Beltran said.
He explained that the goal of the meetings is to share information and knowledge on financial inclusion as stakeholders try to set up programs that would encourage poor people to participate more actively in the financial system.
"Get them to save, borrow, invest and of course use the money to make their lives better so that they could actively participate in the growth of the economy," he said.
The exchange of views, he said, will cover such areas as policies, strategies, and practices that lead to financial inclusion.
Many of these will involve regulators, service providers, policymakers and private non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that lend to the poor, Beltran noted.
Exchanging ideas would mean giving ordinary people more options on what the system can do to encourage more financial sector development, he said.
The meetings, which will run until Wednesday, March 4, will try to find ways to develop more products, additional financial outlets so that these products are made available to all, he added.
Beltran estimated the number of meeting participants at 130.
It is a big gathering for this kind of meeting, he said, adding that the huge number of participants means that APEC member economies are showing an increasing interest in financial inclusion.
The event was organized by the APEC Business Advisory Council, and the Foundation for Development Cooperation, in partnership with Citi Foundation and in collaboration with GE Capital, the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC).
The APEC Advisory Group for Financial Systems Capacity Building has been convening the Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion since 2010 to provide policymakers and regulators with priority recommendations in relation to financial inclusion. PND (as)
Cooperatives and non-governmental organizations are major tools in encouraging poor to participate in financial system
(TAGAYTAY CITY, Cavite) The government and other stakeholders will use non-governmental organizations (NGOs), small cooperatives and other ordinary lenders to reach the poor and involve them in the financial system, a finance official said here Tuesday.
In a two-day discussion on financial inclusion, Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said one of the tools is to use digital finance to encourage the people's participation in the financial system.
More people could be reached through the use of techology because “there are a limited number of venues that could be used by savers and borrowers," Beltran said in a press briefing at the Summit Ridge Hotel.
For instance, he said, the number of banks is limited and if the government wants to reach the farthest corners of the country, it cannot be expected for banks to set up branches in small and faraway towns.
Although some areas have no banks or will never be penetrated by banks, they have NGOs engaged in lending and cooperatives that are working to reach the people, he noted.
There could be mutual benefit associations being set up, and these are the ones that really get more participation than banks, he added.
"By their very nature, banks cannot get into the rural areas, into the farthest corners of the country, because they have to make money and they are regulated," he explained, noting that NGOs and cooperatives are thus the financial institutions “that will get us into more financial inclusion".
With NGOs and other lenders, the number of financial institutions reaching the people increases six times compared to banks, he said.
The Department of Finance is hosting the meeting on financial inclusion at the Taal Vista Hotel here, as part of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
The event was organized by the APEC Business Advisory Council, and the Foundation for Development Cooperation, in partnership with Citi Foundation and in collaboration with GE Capital, the International Finance Corp. (IFC), the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the Policy and Economic Research Council (PERC). PND (as)
President Aquino confers Order of Sikatuna on Prince Fra’ Matthew Festing of Malta
President Benigno S. Aquino III on Tuesday conferred the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Raja or Grand Collar, on the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing.
“As a gesture of appreciation for all the support we have received from the Order, we will confer upon His Most Eminent Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, the Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Raja,” President Aquino said.
“This is the highest order of diplomatic merit our people can bestow upon the leader of a sovereign state; may it stand as a symbol of our gratitude for the Order’s friendship and assistance throughout the last half century,” he added.
Fra’ Festing was honored for his “invaluable support” to the Philippines during times of national calamities, particularly Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, Sendong in 2011, Pablo in 2012, and Yolanda in 2013, as well as the earthquakes in Bohol and Cebu, through the facilitation of humanitarian assistance programs.
He earlier presented to President Aquino the symbolic key of the 700 new houses donated by Malta to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.
In 1979, the 77th Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Cologna received the same order of diplomatic merit when he visited the Philippines.
Fra’ Festing, the 79th Grand Master, in return conferred on President Aquino the Collar of the Order of Merit, Pro Merito Melitensi in recognition of “a pursuit that gives honor and prestige to the Sovereign Order of Malta”.
During his toast at the luncheon in honor of Fra’ Festing, the President said the conferment of the order by the Sovereign Order of Malta was meaningful to him.
“On a personal note, the Sovereign Order of Malta has long been part of my family’s history. My maternal grandparents, Jose and Demetria Cojuangco, and my paternal grandmother, Aurora Aquino, were members of this noble order,” he said.
“I accept the conferment of this order on behalf of the Filipino people, as a symbol of our shared commitment to serve the poor,” President Aquino added.
Fra’ Festing meanwhile conveyed his “deepest appreciation for the warm welcome, which we have received here in Manila." PND (ag)
Philippines welcomes Malteser International’s plan to open office in Asia
President Benigno S. Aquino III has said the Philippines welcomes Malteser International’s plan to put up a regional office in Southeast Asia.
Malteser International, the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid, has offices in the United States and Germany.
In a speech delivered during the courtesy call of Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta Fra’ Matthew Festing in Malacañang Palace on Tuesday, President Aquino said the physical presence of Malteser International “in our part of the world will certainly benefit Asian countries by allowing more effective coordination and execution of relief activities, and facilitating our increased cooperation in areas of mutual benefit”.
During the courtesy call, Fra’ Festing turned over to President Aquino the symbolic key to the doors of the 700 new houses donated by the Sovereign Order of Malta to people affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda in Basey, Samar and Bantayan Island, Cebu in 2013.
As a gesture of gratitude for all the assistance extended by the Sovereign Order of Malta, President Aquino conferred to Fra’ Festing the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Raja or Grand Collar.
In turn, Fra’ Festing awarded the Collar of the Order of Merit, Pro Merito Melitensi to President Aquino.
In his speech, Fra’ Festing noted that Malteser International, which reached the Philippines within three days after Typhoon Yolanda struck, and the Philippine Association of the Order of Malta “worked extremely well together and succeeded in introducing a very good result”.
“The Order of Malta intends to strengthen our collaboration and our relations with the Republic of the Philippines in the short term future. We are discussing the possibility of a cooperation agreement and indeed the elaboration of what we have been doing here so far,” he said.
The Philippines and the Sovereign Order of Malta are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year. PND (jm)
Energy Department has made ‘proactive’ preparations to deal with possible power crisis, Palace says
Having made “proactive” preparations, the Department of Energy (DOE) is confident that it would be able to deal with the impending power shortage, even without the special powers sought by the government, a Palace official said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the DOE has begun making preparations in August to September last year.
“Inasahan nga sana natin na mas maaga ang pagbibigay ng emergency powers para mas malawak sana ang mga opsyon. Ngayon at limited na ang mga opsyon, makikita na rin naman natin na nakabuo na rin naman ng kahandaan ang DOE sa pamamagitan ng pakikipag-ugnayan sa pribadong sector, dahil marami nang mga kumpanya ang nagpahayag ng kanilang kahandaan na gamitin ang kanilang mga sariling generator sets,” Secretary Coloma said.
He further said that the department has already begun campaigning for the use of energy conservation measures, and has been monitoring the maintenance schedules of power plants.
“Kaya sa pangkalahatan, ayon sa latest projection ng DOE, nakikita nilang minimal ang maaaring maging shortage o power supply deficiency,” he said.
Congress has yet to pass a law granting President Benigno S. Aquino III special powers to avert the projected power shortage during the upcoming summer months. PND (ag)
Palace optimistic Bangsamoro Basic Law would get enough votes in Congress
The Palace is optimistic that the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) would get enough votes from Congress leaders, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. has said.
“Ang aming pinagbabatayan ay ang commitment ng liderato ng magkabilang Kamara at sa aming pagtaya, karamihan naman sa ating mga mambabatas ay nananalig at naninindigan para sa kapayapaan,” Secretary Coloma told reporters during a press briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday.
While there is resistance in the passage of the BBL because of the Mamasapano incident, Coloma said this is understandable.
“Nauunawaan natin na nagkaroon ng agam-agam at pagdududa dahil nga sa mga naging kaganapan sa Mamasapano. Pero habang nagkaroon na ng kaliwanagan hinggil dito at habang nauunawaan din ng ating mga lider ang kahalagahan ng prosesong pangkapayapaan, tumitibay ang kumpiyansa na marami sa kanila ang maninindigan din para sa kapayapaan,” he said.
The executive and legislative branches of the government will coordinate to ensure the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, he said, noting that Congress has already conducted about 36 public consultations on the bill.
“Ayon sa pahayag ni Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, ang tagapangulo ng ad hoc committee on the Bangsamoro Basic Law, mayroon siyang kumpiyansa na maipapasa nila ito sa committee level, even within the March session, para pagdating ng May to June session ay pwede na itong maihain sa plenaryo,” he said.
Coloma further said that the ideal situation when the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro was formed was for the early passage of the BBL to allow those working in the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority to demonstrate their abilities and to show how qualitatively different the Bangsamoro is, compared to the system of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“Kaya lang realistiko tayo, kinailangan ang mas mahabang panahon ng konsultasyon doon sa Bangsamoro Basic Law bago pa man naganap ang insidente sa Mamasapano. Kaya't iginagalang naman natin ang prosesong pinagdaanan nila dahil sinikap talaga nilang makuha ang pananaw ng malawak na stakeholder-based,” Coloma explained.
He said those who have reservations in the BBL could study the provisions.
“Kaya ang mga nagpapahayag ng reserbasyon, mainam siguro pag-aralan nilang mabuti ang mga probisyon dahil ito ay dumaan na rin sa masusing pag-aaral ng maraming mga eksperto, maraming mga dalubhasa at mismong ang mga members ng 1986 Constitutional Commission na nagbuo ng 1987 Constitution ang nagsasabi sa atin na sa kanilang pananaw, tumatalima ang Bangsamoro Basic Law sa mga probisyon at prinsipyo ng 1987 Constitution,” he said. PND (jm)