A new tech regulator will work to limit the power of Google, Facebook and other tech platforms, the government has announced, in an effort to ensure a level playing field for smaller competitors and a fair market for consumers.

Under the plans, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will gain a dedicated Digital Markets Unit, empowered to write and enforce a new code of practice on technology companies which will set out the limits of acceptable behaviour.

The code will only affect those companies deemed to have “strategic market status”, though it has not yet been decided what that means, nor what restrictions will be imposed.

The business secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “Digital platforms like Google and Facebook make a significant contribution to our economy and play a massive role in our day-to-day lives – whether it’s helping us stay in touch with our loved ones, share creative content or … Read the rest

STATE AGENCIES will have to significantly ramp up spending in December to boost fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), after the government continued to underspend amid the coronavirus pandemic.   

“The agencies were asked to implement catch-up plans to meet their original spending plans for the year. The catch up [spending plan] is intended to shore up the economy this Q4,” Budget Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua said via Viber on Friday.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told various departments to ramp up spending in the remaining weeks of 2020, during a meeting of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) two weeks ago.

Representatives from the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Transportation (DoTr), Education (DepEd), Tourism (DoT), Trade and Industry (DTI), and Agriculture (DA) attended the EDC meeting, said Ms. Pascua.

Anemic government spending was blamed for the 11.5% GDP contraction in the third quarter, which was worse than most analysts … Read the rest

Sir Philip Green’s retail empire is facing collapse within days, putting 15,000 jobs at risk and bringing the curtain down on the high street career of one of Britain’s most controversial businessmen.

It is understood that Arcadia Group – which owns TopShop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins – is preparing to appoint administrators from Deloitte as soon as next week.

One retail industry figure said Arcadia’s collapse had become inevitable after talks with a number of lenders about an emergency £30m loan ended without success.

The appointment of administrators could happen as early as Monday, although one person close to the situation said the plan had yet to be finalised and that it could yet be delayed.

If the insolvency is confirmed, it is expected to trigger a scramble among creditors to get their hands on the company’s assets.

It would involve Arcadia’s online operations and the stores which are … Read the rest

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino got a fresh mandate as head of the sports body after being reelected on Friday in elections held at the East Ocean Palace Restaurant in Paranaque City.

Looked to serve a full four-year term after assuming office only last year in special elections, Mr. Tolentino, head of the Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines (PhilCycling), got his wish after beating lone challenger Jesus “Clint” Aranas of the archery federation, 30-22.

A total of 53 eligible voters got to cast their votes, broken down to representatives from 50 national sports associations, two representatives from the Athletes Commission (Hidilyn Diaz and Jhessie Lacuna), and International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the Philippines Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.

The proceedings were done under strict compliance with health and safety protocols to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Also winning were handball’s Steve Hontiveros, … Read the rest

Spanish lender Banco Sabadell has said it will consider options for its UK bank TSB after it called off a planned merger with rival BBVA.

Sabadell and BBVA said they were in merger talks less than two weeks ago, but they failed to agree a price.

Sabadell said it would now seek “strategic alternatives for creating value with regard to the group’s international assets, including TSB”.

It did not specify if that would mean selling TSB, which it bought in 2015.

Separately, TSB said it had “good momentum” in its business growth as well as progress in “taking full control of our IT, delivering a right-sized modern branch network and reducing overall operating costs”.

In January, it signed a deal with US computing giant IBM to run its online banking, bank systems and cash machines, in an attempt to put a stop to the IT failures that have plagued the … Read the rest

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

The TNT Tropang Giga booked a spot in the finals of the PBA Philippine Cup following their 91-81 victory over the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters in their semifinal rubber match on Friday at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena in Pampanga.

The steadier team throughout the match, TNT frustrated Phoenix on its way to barging into the championship of the Philippine Basketball Association All-Filipino Cup, where it was last in seven years ago.

Ray Parks Jr. led the way for the Tropang Giga in the win, churning out all-around numbers of 26 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

The contest got off to a competitive start, with the teams knotted at 10-all midway into the opening quarter, before TNT sprinted to build a 25-20 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.

In the second quarter, offense tapered off a bit as defense … Read the rest

Everyone agrees we need economic growth, but we cannot agree on how it can be achieved. There are two fundamental approaches the government can take.

The first is through more public spending, which would put the country into even more debt. In the short term, while interest rates are low, the problems of this are not so severe, but the long term impacts are a different story.

The other option is to stimulate the private sector with lower taxes and eliminate red tape.  However, deregulation takes time to implement whereas the positive effects of reducing business taxes are immediate. The best and most immediate action the government could take to put a proverbial rocket up our economy is to scrap corporation tax in its entirety.

Lance Forman, Vice Chairman of the Independent Business Network (IBN) sets out 10 reasons why the Government should scrap corporation tax:

Employment

If a company … Read the rest

THE Department of Tourism (DoT) has condemned the party that took place in Boracay on Oct. 31, saying such irresponsible action compromises efforts to revive the tourism industry. The DoT, which serves as co-vice chair of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force for rehabilitation, said in a statement that it also “supports the recommendation of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group to Malay Mayor Frolibar S. Bautista to close down the erring establishment in view of its lacking of business permit and necessary clearances as determined by the authorities.” Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also asserted that while the “halloween party” involved an establishment that does not require a DOT-accreditation, all stakeholders must observe guidelines as the industry aims to strike a balance between ensuring health safety and resuming economic activities. “The jobs and livelihoods that were recently restored in these sites will be affected once again if an outbreak occurs in Read the rest

More than 95,000 newly incorporated business could join the quarter of a million firms that failed to meet recent Companies House accounts deadlines this year, following a record boom in new business registrations.

According to official government figures there were 397,135 new incorporations in Q2 and Q3 2020 combined, with HMRC reporting that one in four businesses required to file a month-to-date VAT return failed to do so on time, as well as more than a quarter of a million companies missing the September accounts deadline.

The proportion of business that fail to meet the important filing deadlines may also increase due to the added pressures of Covid, despite deadline extensions, as business owners and directors deal with the pressures of running a business during the pandemic.

Simon Wallwork, Partner & Head of Corporate and Commercial at Slater Heelis, said: “The pandemic and resulting rise in redundancies have accelerated … Read the rest

Tax collection by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs remained sluggish in October, amid the economic slowdown. COMPANY HANDOUT

THE government’s budget deficit swelled in October, bringing the 10-month gap to nearly P1 trillion as state revenues remained weak and spending continued to decline even as economic managers pledged to ramp up spending to stimulate the economy.

Latest data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed the budget gap rose by 24.56% to P61.4 billion in October. This brought the year-to-date shortfall to a record-high of P940.6 billion, up 170% from the P348-billion deficit seen in the same period last year.

In 2019, the budget deficit reached P660.2 billion. Economic managers estimated that the budget gap will hit P1.815 trillion this year or equivalent to 9.6% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Broken down, overall spending went down for the second straight month last month by 6.84% … Read the rest