Philippine flag carrier agrees to pay $117 million aviation fees

President Rodrigo Duterte had given Philippine Airlines a Friday deadline to pay arrears. (Reuters)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Philippine flag carrier agrees to pay $117 million aviation fees

MANILA: Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said Friday it will pay the government six billion pesos (SR441.6 million) after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to cut off its access to Manila airport over alleged unpaid landing and other fees.
Duterte had given the airline a Friday deadline to pay arrears.
“The (Department of Transportation) has accepted the offer of PAL to pay in full the six billion-peso claims of the (Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines/Manila International Airport Authority,” a joint statement said.
“One of the overriding reasons why PAL agreed to settle is to manifest its trust and confidence in President Duterte’s administration,” the statement said.
The airline also committed to “keep all transactions updated and current” with the aviation and airport authorities, it added.
On September 26 Duterte said he had told PAL chairman and billionaire Lucio Tan: “You are using government buildings, airport, you have back debts for the use of the runway that you have not paid.
“I said, ‘You solve the problem yourself. I will give you 10 days. Pay it. If not I will close it down. No more airport’.”
Previously state-owned PAL was sold off in 1992, and the government said the fees were waived when the airline was government-owned.
Despite an increase in low-cost competitors, PAL still has the largest fleet in the Philippines and is the only local carrier to fly to North America and Europe.
In June it said it planned to increase its fleet serving smaller islands in the archipelagic nation.
PAL’s parent company, PAL Holdings, suffered a net loss of 501 million pesos for the three months to June due to higher fuel costs and aircraft lease charges.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.