Saturday, January 22, 2005

Subic Freeport Generates More Jobs for Central Luzon

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Jan 21 - Employment figures here reached 55,875 at the end of 2004, reaffirming the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority's (SBMA) commitment to uplift the living condition of Central Luzon residents by generating more job opportunities.

"The continuing development of Subic is essential for the employment opportunities it creates for the people. The investments we bring into the Freeport directly translate into more jobs for our fellowmen," said SBMA administrator Alfredo C. Antonio.

According to the SBMA Labor Department's periodical report, the total manpower in the Freeport last year reached 55,875, posting a nine per cent increase from 2003 figures.

Department manager Severo Pastor said a total of 32,812 applicants were hired by Freeport locators in 2004 but only 4,389 new jobs were added to 2003 figures due to cases of resignations or end-of-contracts.

Statistics showed that the top employers in Subic were service-oriented companies engaged in various tourism-related businesses such as hotels, restaurants, duty-free shops, trading and transportations, among others, which hired 33,322 workers or 59.64 per cent of the total year-end figure.

Manufacturing companies, which employed a total of 18,636 workers or 33,35 per cent of total hires, maintained their position as the second biggest Freeport employer while a total of 3,371 workers or 6.03 per cent were hired by construction outfits.

Pastor said that investors, particularly those engaged in manufacturing, banked on the skills and knowledge of Filipino workers, which he believed, was one of the aspects that contributed to the Freeport's increased export figure of US$712 million last year.

Olongapo City, where 26,847 workers or 48.05 per cent of workers in the Freeport come from, remains the biggest source of workers for Subic investors.

A total of 9,841 workers or 17.61 per cent are from Zambales, while 8,260 or 14.78 per cent from Bataan and 1,765 or 3.16 per cent from Pampanga.

Meanwhile, Antonio assured that the Freeport would generate more new jobs this year as five new manufacturing firms have pledged to infuse some P1.87 billion worth of investments into Subic.

In addition to the entry of new investors, Antonio also noted the expansion programs to be implemented soon by Japanese firms at the Subic Techno Park (STEP) such as computer micro-motor maker Nidec and automated teller machine (ATM) manufacturer Top Mechatronic Corp. (Subic).

"The continued growth of Subic will definitely have a positive impact not only on its neighboring towns and cities but also on the rest of Central Luzon," he said.

Nidec is set to open some 600 new jobs to nearby residents in a mini job fair which will be held on Monday at the Rizal Triangle covered court from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Globe Telecom OK’s plan to invest $60M in Subic

Globe Telecom Inc. had approved plans to invest $60 million in Subic Bay that involves the roll out of fixed line services in the industrial zone.

Globe assistant vice president Froilan Castelo said Innove Communications Inc., which continue to market and sell the Globelines and Globequest services, has applied at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to provide lease line and local exchange services to residential and commercial customers of Subic Bay.

Subic Telecommunications Co. Inc. used to be the sole provider of wireline-based services in Subic Bay until its contract expired last year.

This development, Castelo said, provided an opportunity for other operators like Innove to come in and offer their services.

“Subic Bay is now open to other players. Innove and Liberty Telecom are those that applied to provide telecom services there,” he said.

Liberty also intends to provide wireless and radio communication facilities to the area, he added.

Castelo said they expect SBMA to come up with a decision on Innove’s proposal within the first quarter of this year.

If Innove’s application is approved, Castelo said it will take six months to one year to roll out the entire infrastructure.

SBMA, he said, will also have to decide how long Innove can operate there.

“The duration of the contract depends entirely on SBMA. We don’t have the exact figures as to the total number of customers we can serve there, but it’s a lot like the Ortigas business district in terms of size. So it’s quite lucrative. It will involve an investment of bout $60 million,” he said.

Subic Telecom, a wholly owned company of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) that offered telecommunications services and products to corporate and residential customers in the Subic Bay Free Port Zone, reportedly failed to cope up with the latest technology, that’s why the SBMA wanted other players to come in.

“The SBMA felt the service they [Subic Telecom] offer has not been enough,” Castelo said.

Subic Telecom started as a joint venture of PLDT, SBMA and American Telegraph & Telephone.

PLDT bought 40 percent of AT&T’s stake in Subic Telecom in 2001 for $8 million.

PLDT is also the parent firm of mobile-phone giant Smart Communications Inc., the fierce rival of Globe in the cellular-phone industry.On the other hand, SBMA is currently chaired by Francisco Licuanan III, the former president of Ayala Land Inc. (ALI).

Both ALI and Globe are publicly listed companies majority owned by the Ayala group.

Globe planned new investments proved that the firm is unfazed by the last Fitch rating agency’s negative outlook on the two company and the PLDT.

Globe Telecom chief finance officer Delfin Gonzalez said he sees “no impact on our borrowing next year as we have no plans to raise new bonds.”

The London-based credit-rating agency has revised its outlook on Globe’s long-term foreign currency rating to negative from stable, while affirming the rating at “BB.”

Meanwhile, Globe’s debts stood at $926 million as of end-September, of which 80 percent are foreign-denominated, Gonzalez said.

The debts of the country’s second-largest phone firm include P58.6 billion worth of long-term borrowings that will mature between 2003 and 2012 and a P7.4-billion short-term debt that will mature 180 to 360 days from drawdown.

“The rating does not reflect any adverse changes in the stand alone credit profile of Globe. This merely follows the same action they took with the sovereign rating outlook,” the Globe official said.

Globe is expected to incur P2.3 billion in foreign exchange losses as a result of the new international accounting standards. Gonzalez said the P2.3 billion in exchange loss will not going to affect the company’s bottomline.

“There will be P2.3 billion in capitalized foreign exchange losses to be charged to retained earnings. We will adopt this in January next year but it won’t affect the company’s bottomline,” he said