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MICP shifts to online transactions amid COVID-19 outbreak

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila International Container Port (MICP) announced on Wednesday its temporary closure to allow disinfection of its entire building as one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.

At the same time, the Bureau of Customs has started to implement its contingency plan following guidelines set by the Department of Health (DOH) will conduct contact tracing on its personnel.

Those identified that had direct contact with the affected personnel are advised to go on self-quarantine during which they will be closely monitored by the Internal Administration Group.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero issued a memorandum directing unaffected offices of the  MICP to keep running normall, conducting vessel boarding and physical and X-ray examination of goods, among other things.

PH eyes up to $2 billion loans, grants to combat COVID-19 toll on jobs, health care

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government plans to secure up to $2 billion (almost P102 billion) in loans and grants from multilateral lenders so it can dole out aid to workers who lost their jobs while beefing up the health sector, as well as the economy’s defenses against the COVID-19 pandemic, President Duterte’s chief economic manager, said Wednesday.

“We are currently in negotiations with multilateral agencies for $1 billion up to $2 billion in funding support for [COVID-19 response]. We have to realize—we are looking at a drop in revenues. So we have to cover that gap somehow so that we maintain our pace of spending. So we are talking to multilateral agencies at the moment to do that. We want to do it early because all the countries in the world are trying to do the same thing. I think we are a step ahead of the others at this point,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in an interview via Google Meet.

Dominguez said the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Washington-based World Bank, and the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will be tapped for loans and grants.

“They are also on skeletal force, but we are continuously working online with them. I believe that they see immediate need, and are also working fast,” Dominguez said.

US economic rescue deal met with enthusiasm; PSEi also up

The local stock barometer rallied past the 5,000 mark on Wednesday as global investors cheered a forthcoming $2-trillion US stimulus package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) racked up 253.49 points, or 5.31 percent, to close at 5,027.76, tracking the upswing across regional markets.

Investors took their cue from the overnight resurgence of US stocks on the heels of a stimulus package being prepared by Congress. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged by 11.36 percent or 2,112.98 points on Tuesday, posting its best single-day performance since 1933.

There was finally “a sigh of relief as the US markets roared back to life,” local stock brokerage Papa Securities said.

Papa Securities added it was “best to note however that cases still continue to climb significantly especially in the US—so there’s still the possibility that last night’s move was just an exhaustion bounce amidst a strong downtrend as the US is looking to surpass China’s number of cases soon.”Local bargain hunters supported the day’s rally, making up for aboutP1.67 billion worth of net foreign selling.All counters edged higher, led by the holding firm and property counters, both of which advanced by over 5 percent. The financial counter rose by nearly 5 percent while the industrial, services and mining/oil counters rose by 4.3 percent, 3.74 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.Value turnover for the day amounted to P8.3 billion. There were 158 advancers that overwhelmed 44 decliners, while 29 stocks were unchanged.ThePSEi was led higher by Megaworld, which rose by 8.04 percent, while SM Investments and JG Summit both added over 7 percent.BDO and BPI both gained over 6 percent, while Ayala Land, SM Prime, PLDT and Metro Pacific all climbed by over 5 percent.AGI, Ayala Corp., ICTSI and First Gen all rose by over 4 percent, while Jollibee and URC both added over 3 percent. LTG Group went up by 2.9 percent.

PSEi sees best performance since 2007


The local stock exchange saw its sharpest rally in nearly 13 years on Thursday as global markets welcomed a $2-trillion COVID-19 fiscal plan approved by the US Senate.The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) recouped 373.82 points or 7.44 percent to close at 5,401.58, gaining ground for the third straight session.

This marked its best single-day performance since August 21, 2007, when the index rose by 9.82 percent, giving investors more relief from the bloodbath seen in recent weeks.

The local market tracked mostly upbeat regional markets, which in turn took their cue from the continued ascent of US stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 2.39 percent or 495.64 points overnight.

Microentrepreneurs get debt relief


About nine million microentrepreneurs nationwide have found debt relief during

the monthlong lockdown of Luzon as the microfinance industry heeded calls to ease the burden on households most vulnerable to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) under the umbrella of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines (MCPI) and the Alliance of Philippine Partners in Enterprise Development (Append) suspended loan payment collection and waived penalties nationwide until April 12.

“As an industry, we acknowledge that the nine million microentrepreneurs of our collective agencies will face liquidity problems and difficulty recovering losses should the COVID-19 threat persist. We pray the loan moratorium will in some way ease their burdens,” Eduardo Jimenez, MCPI chair, and Append president Virginia Juan said in a joint statement.

“While we all are at risk in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, our microfinance clients are even more vulnerable. Their micro businesses are shuttered, their income sure to suffer, even their children’s education have come to a halt with little or no access to online education,” Jimenez added.