New investment pledges are expected to be lower this year amid the pandemic. — REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO

THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is aiming to approve more than P100 billion in investment pledges by the end of the year, led by a potential investor relocating from China.

“We might exceed more than P100 billion this year, with all these positive responses of our present investors and incoming investors,” PEZA Director General Charito B. Plaza in a press conference on Monday.

For the first 10 months of 2020, the agency reported P72.6 billion in new investment pledges, falling by more than a quarter from a year earlier.

The PEZA board approved another P14.6 billion worth of new investments during its board meeting earlier this month.

However, even if PEZA reaches P100 billion in new investment pledges, this would still be around 15% lower than P117.54 billion in investments … Read the rest

Marks & Spencer will keep 400 stores open until midnight in Christmas week as desperate high street retailers scramble to recoup billions of pounds of sales lost to lockdown restrictions.

The UK’s biggest clothing retailer said its “longest-ever” store opening hours would kick in on Monday 21 December, with two-thirds of its 600 shops opening until midnight for a run of three days. Unlike many of its rivals M&S’s shops are currently open; however; government rules means it has been forced to close off its clothing floors.

Last year just 15 of M&S’s stores stayed open until midnight. The three midnight shopping days are expected to be the biggest sales days of the year, with the move described as giving customers “extra time to grab groceries and final gifts”.

The current lockdown restrictions have forced non-essential shops to close in England and, from Friday evening, in parts of Scotland. The … Read the rest

By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter

THE Philippine central bank would probably remain dovish and might cut benchmark interest rates again next month and in the next quarter as the recovery outlook remains uncertain, analysts said.

“If the pace of economic recovery continues to underperform official forecasts, as we expect in the near term, then policy rate cuts will be warranted,” Nomura Global Markets Research analysts Euben Paracuelles and Rangga Cipta said in a note.

Further cuts would likely come especially as inflation remains benign and stays within the target of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), whose monetary policy decisions continue to rely on data, they added.

“We reiterate our forecast that BSP will cut its policy rate by another 50 basis points (bps) to 1.5%, likely delivering 25 bps at its next monetary board meeting in December and then another 25 bps in the first … Read the rest

A UK book publisher says congestion at Felixstowe Port has left it with no books to sell in the lead up to Christmas.

Colin Hoad and Matt Green run a publishing company, Idesine, which has 4,000 books stuck on a ship that has been trying to dock since 31 October.

They are one of many businesses encountering problems importing goods.

Importers say congestion issues at UK ports have led to shipping firms quadrupling their freight costs.

“People are contacting us saying they’ve paid for books on pre-order as gifts, and we ultimately can’t guarantee delivery,” Mr Hoad said.

Delays at Felixstowe have been caused by a surge in import traffic as companies increased orders after the initial lockdown and some looked to stockpile goods before the end of the Brexit transition period.

The pandemic has made matters worse as large orders of PPE added to the backlog of containers on … Read the rest

Coca-Cola Philippines has extensively scaled up its e-commerce presence to better respond to consumers whose needs and shopping behavior have altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With transportation and mobility affected, the Company has ensured that it can continue to serve people with its portfolio of beverages just a few clicks away.

Coca-Cola’s e-commerce website www.CokeBeverages.ph was first launched in 2015. To meet the constraints of the pandemic and to adapt to homebound Filipinos’ needs, the Company accelerated its digital and e-commerce roadmap—strengthening existing infrastructure and opening new channels to connect with the market. Thus, demonstrating agility as a total beverage company, with consumers always top of mind.

Coca-Cola products have been accessible online through its e-commerce website — www.CokeBeverages.ph — since 2015. With the constraints of the pandemic, the Company ensures that its products remain available within a click’s reach by strengthening its existing platform and partnering with food
Read the rest

Some Cineworld cinemas are set to never reopen after the coronavirus lockdown as bosses consider permanent closures and job cuts in a desperate bid to save the struggling cinema chain.

The company has been hammered by the pandemic, which forced industry-wide closures seeing them shut all 128 of its venues earlier this month of its own accord, rather than under government orders – with 5,500 people said to be at risk of losing their jobs.

A lack of new films has meant cinemas have struggled to draw in audiences in recent months, with the postponement of the latest James Bond picture, No Time To Die, cited as the potential final straw for many.

It was reported last night that Cineworld, which owes some £6.2 billion to its lenders, was lining up a rescue package as a result, and that slashing rents and shuttering swathes of sites could be required … Read the rest

AT least half of the population needs to be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a health official said.

"If we are talking about herd immunity, we need to reach 50% to 60% across the population so it's really important we expand the coverage," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said in an interview with ANC on Friday.

Herd immunity is when most of the population becomes immune from an infectious disease, either through vaccination or a previous infection, thus indirectly protecting those without immunization.

A Social Weather Stations survey released late Thursday indicates 66% of Filipinos are keen to get experimental COVID-19 vaccines.

The mobile phone survey, conducted September 17 to 20, shows that of the 66% Filipinos who are "willing to get the COVID-19 vaccine if it is available now” consists of 32% who would “definitely” get it and 34% … Read the rest

COVID19 has been a tough time for many of us. Especially for those who are looking to shift their role or go for a new one entirely.

But, with 85% of jobs being filled through networking alone, getting sociable is essential to your career.

With the ‘new normal’ ensuring that face-to-face events are off the cards, virtual networking has become the easiest way to secure yourself a pay-rise or a brand-new job entirely. But how do you actually succeed at virtual networking? What can you do to stand out from the screen?

The Basics

While these tips can differ from event to event, there are a few things that you can do to improve your networking experience:

–        Follow the event hashtag on social media

This allows you to stay in the loop about any interesting discussions or event updates

–        Create a great profile

Some events will allow you … Read the rest

The central bank cut policy rates to a record-low 2%, as the economy continued to struggle with the impact of the pandemic and recent typhoons. — PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

By Luz Wendy T. Noble, Reporter

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) unexpectedly cut benchmark rates to new record lows on Thursday, the fifth reduction this year, citing the continued uncertainty caused by a fresh surge in coronavirus cases globally and the impact of recent typhoons on the struggling economy.

The Monetary Board on Thursday trimmed the rates on the BSP’s overnight reverse repurchase, lending, and deposit facilities by 25 basis points (bps) to 2%, 2.5%, and 1.5%, respectively.

“With a benign inflation environment and stable inflation expectations, the Monetary Board sees enough policy space for a reduction in the policy rate at this juncture to uplift market sentiment and nurture the country’s economic recovery amid increased downside risks Read the rest

Shoppers are stocking up on festive groceries earlier than ever, with Asda yesterday reporting a surge in frozen turkeys and “lockdown-proof” items alongside a slowdown in quarterly sales.

The supermarket chain said that sales of Christmas trees had increased by 83 per cent, festive lights by 57 per cent, Christmas puddings by 71 per cent and mince pies by 44 per cent, compared with the third quarter of last year.

In a sign that families are preparing for smaller gatherings as social distancing restrictions may remain in place, sales of frozen turkey crowns, which serve three to four people rather than larger families, have increased by 230 per cent.

“After a rollercoaster year, it’s clear our customers are already planning for a very different Christmas,” Roger Burnley, 54, chief executive of Asda, said. “We have already seen a marked shift in buying patterns, with customers stocking up their freezers and … Read the rest