Phl, China ink US$219M management consultancy loan for Manila-Bicol railway

Robie de Guzman   •   August 30, 2019   •   1782

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is accompanied by People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping inside the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing prior to their bilateral meeting on August 29, 2019. REY BANIQUET/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and China have signed an agreement for US$219.78 million Preferential Buyer’s Credit facility to fund the project management consultancy for the railway project that will connect Manila and Bicol.

In a news release, the Department of Finance (DOF) said President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing of the loan deal between DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Export-Import Bank of China Vice President Xie Ping at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in Beijing on Thursday.

The dollar-denominated loan has an interest rate of 2 percent per annum with a maturity period of 20 years, inclusive of a 7-year grace period, the DOF said.

The infrastructure project, called Philippine National Railways (PNR) South Long Haul Project under the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program, will link Metro Manila to Legazpi, Albay; Legazpi to Matnog in Sorsogon; and Calamba, Laguna to Batangas City.

The DOF said that under the agreement, the services to be rendered by the project management consultancy cover the detailed engineering and design; preparation of the terms of reference and bidding documents for a design and build procurement for the civil works, rolling stock and electromechanical system, as well as the construction supervision.

The project management consultant will also provide tender assistance including the market study, administration of the limited competitive bidding, and tender award to the contractors and suppliers.

Duterte and Xi also witnessed the exchange of notes between Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi confirming the cooperation procedures and arrangements that will enable the Philippines to avail of Chinese concessional loans under a renminbi-denominated loan facility.

This loan facility between the DOF and the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) is seen to help the Duterte administration’s major projects promote economic and social development.

Two accords were also signed by Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero of the Philippines’ Bureau of Customs (BOC) with Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and Minister Ni Yuefeng of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC).

These are the Implementation Agreement with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on China’s donation of four mobile x-ray container vehicle inspection systems and two luggage inspection systems to the Philippines, and a separate intergovernmental accord with GACC defining the scope and guidelines that aim to strengthen the cooperation and mutual assistance on customs matters between the two countries.

Dominguez earlier said the agreement on cooperation and mutual assistance covers GACC’s commitment to assist the BOC in monitoring and stopping the entry into the Philippines of unauthorized cigarette-making machines from China.

The Finance Secretary directed the BOC and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) earlier this year to work with their respective counterparts in China to stop the illicit entry of cigarette-making machines being used to manufacture fake tobacco products in the country.

Dominguez issued the order after confirming from the BIR that the illegal tobacco trade has shifted from smuggling cigarettes to producing locally counterfeit brands using undocumented cigarette-making machines.

Guerrero had earlier raised concern over the entry of illicit cigarette-making machines to the Chinese vice minister of the GACC during the sidelines of the 28th ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meeting held last June in Laos.

China bridge collapse kills three, injures two

Robie de Guzman   •   October 11, 2019

Three people died and two were injured when a highway bridge collapsed on Thursday (October 10) in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu, state media said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage, taken from a driver’s dashboard cam, showed the moment when the bridge collapsed onto several vehicles.

The bridge, in the city of Wuxi, fell on three cars below, killing three people in two of the vehicles, although the third vehicle was empty, official state news agency Xinhua said.

Three cars and two trucks fell from the bridge as it collapsed.

City and transport ministry officials are investigating the cause of the accident, Xinhua said. (Reuters)

(Production: Thomas Suen)

DOF coordinates with other gov’t agencies for full TradeNet rollout

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2019

The Department of Finance (DOF) is coordinating with the Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the full TradeNet rollout.

TradeNet.gov.ph  will simplify import and export documentary processes covering an initial 7,400 regulated products.

According to the DOF, TradeNet aims to speed up cargo clearances and promote economic integration by enabling the electronic exchange of border documents among the 10 ASEAN member-states.

Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said the DA is a key component of TradeNet since it is one of the regulatory bodies that process permits for imports and exports, particularly of agricultural products such as rice.

“The DA has created project teams for integrating sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) certificates in TradeNet and the ASEAN Single Window (ASW),” he said.

Once TradeNet is fully operational, traders may apply online for import and export permits for commodities such as rice, sugar, used motor vehicles, chemicals (toluene), frozen meat, medicines (for humans, animals, or fish) and cured tobacco, Beltran said.—AAC

Hong Kong protesters throw petrol bombs; police fire tear gas

Jeck Deocampo   •   October 1, 2019

An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail at the police during a protest on National Day in Hong Kong, China, 01 October 2019. Hong Kong has witnessed several months of ongoing mass protests, originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill to mainland China that have turned into a wider pro-democracy movement. EPA-EFE/FAZRY ISMAIL

Hong Kong protesters threw petrol bombs and police fired tear gas in street battles across the city on Tuesday (October 1), posing a direct challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

In the New Territories town of Sha Tin, police fired tear gas canisters directly at high-rise windows, though it was not clear why, as the Chinese-ruled city was gripped by the most widespread violence in nearly four months of unrest.

Police said “rioters” had used corrosive fluid in Tuen Mun in the west of the New Territories, “injuring multiple police officers and reporters”. No details were immediately available.

The Chinese-ruled territory has been tense for weeks, with protests often turning violent, as authorities scramble to avoid activists spoiling Beijing’s birthday parade at a time when the central government is already grappling with a U.S.-China trade war and a slowing economy. i

(Production: Ebrahim Harris, Dina Selim)

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