Additional OFW remittances to help families back home cope with higher consumer prices

Additional OFW remittances to help families back home cope with higher consumer prices
Philippine consumer prices rose 4.6 percent in May, the fastest in four years, weighing on household expenditures. (Reuters)
Updated 05 June 2018

Additional OFW remittances to help families back home cope with higher consumer prices

Additional OFW remittances to help families back home cope with higher consumer prices

DUBAI: Overseas Filipino workers should consider sending additional remittances back home as a temporary back-up for their families as they deal with elevated consumer prices, and the Philippine government’s refusal to rule out the possibility of steep price hikes until year end, a migrant labor expert said.
“The prices of commodities [in the Philippines], from food to fuel, have gone up so maybe OFWs should consider sending an additional 10 percent or even 20 percent to their families especially if they can afford to do so. Everything has gone up,” Emmanuel S. Geslani said in a telephone interview with Arab News.
“The increase in oil prices [on the world market] had a domino effect on the prices of consumer items, and adding financial pressure to OFW families as it is again enrolment season and they have to pay tuition fees for their kids who go to school,” Geslani added. “I know some OFWs may also be in a difficult situation in their workplaces, but for those who can afford to send additional support, maybe they should do so.”
The government on Tuesday said headline inflation rose 4.6 percent in May — versus 2.9 percent of the same month last year — driven mainly by price increases in fish and seafood, fuel and lubricants and bread and cereals. Average inflation during the five-month stretch was at 4.1 percent, just above the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target for the year.
“The major catalysts include higher global crude oil prices at 3.5-year highs recently; the TRAIN Law that increased taxes on fuel and other goods and services; weaker peso exchange rate and higher local rice prices,” Michael L. Ricafort, head of the economics and industry research division at Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, told Arab News. “These factors resulted in second-round inflation effects in terms of upward adjustments in the prices of affected goods and services.”
It is a bit of consolation though as Ruben Carlo O. Asuncion, chief economist at Union Bank of the Philippines’ corporate research unit, expected last month’s consumer price basket to rise by 4.9 percent.
“However, it came in at 4.6 percent. Although it is the fastest in 4 years, it is still softer compared to expectations and slower than the previous months' expansions,” Asuncion said.
Legislators and vested groups have earlier called for the suspension of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law, which reduced personal income tax rates but raised the excise tax on petroleum products and automobiles, after crude oil price hit $80 a barrel in global trading and consumer prices spiked.
Their clamor was hinged on the notion that ultimately households were bearing the burden of TRAIN’s immediate effects on the economy. Previous surveys have estimated that one of every 10 Filipino households have at last one family member working overseas, whose cash remittances reached $28.1 billion in 2017.
The government economic team however was confident that inflation would taper off towards the end of 2018, even as it rejected the calls for the TRAIN law’s suspension.
“Though the 4.1 percent year-to-date inflation rate is slightly above the [government] target, we are still striking distance … there is no need to adjust inflation targets,” Benjamin E. Diokno, the secretary of budget and management, said during a press briefing on Tuesday. “There is consensus among the economic managers that inflation will taper off.”
“Suspending TRAIN and adopting other band-aid solutions will only have a minimal and short-term impact on inflation and will stifle our growth, further delaying our nation’s progress toward becoming an upper-middle-income country by 2019, such that around six million Filipinos would be lifted out of poverty by 2022,” Diokno added.
Still, both Asuncion and Ricafort see inflation rates to remain elevated for the most part of the year before reverting back to pre-TRAIN levels by 2019.
“Inflation could start to normalize lower in 2019, around January and February, exactly a year after the effectivity of the TRAIN Law,” Ricafort added.


Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones

Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones

Saudi small traders can accept payment with their phones
  • The “Tap to phone” solution uses near-field communication technology to allow these businesses to accept payments via their smartphone devices

DUBAI: Saudi Payments, owned by the Saudi Central Bank, has partnered with Visa to launch a low-cost contactless payment technology for small and micro-businesses.
The “Tap to phone” solution uses near-field communication technology to allow these businesses to accept payments via their smartphone devices, without having to invest in a separate point of sale device.
The move is in line with Saudi Arabia’s goal to modernize its financial system by making innovation accessible to all segments of society.
“This step enhances the Kingdom’s financial technology capabilities and is congruent with Saudi Vision 2030’s nation-wide drive for digitization,” said Fahad Al-Akeel, Saudi Payments managing director.
He said contactless payments have since grown in popularity as people avoid physical touch points amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has made it critical for all businesses to expand their payment methods beyond cash, as consumers expect and prefer secure and seamless cashless payment methods wherever they shop,” Visa’s country manager, Ali Bailoun, said.
He said more than 50 percent of small businesses in the Kingdom showed keen interest in low-cost acceptance solutions, citing a recent Visa study.
“We are excited to partner with Saudi Payments to bring this innovative digital payment solution to merchants in Saudi Arabia and help accelerate the Kingdom’s digital transformation goals,” he added.


New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom

New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom
Updated 21 June 2021

New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom

New Fairmont to open in Al-Khobar amid hotel building boom
  • With an opening date expected for 2023, the hotel will feature 160 rooms and serviced apartments

RIYADH: Accor is set to open a new Fairmont property in Saudi Arabia on the Ajdan Waterfront development in Al-Khobar.
With an opening date expected for 2023, the hotel will feature 160 rooms and serviced apartments.
"This prestigious destination is known to be one of the most desirable leisure attractions for visitors and residents of the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia,” said Abdullah AlFozan, chairman of Ajdan Real Estate Development Company.
Saudi Arabia has the world’s biggest hotel pipeline, according to STR data. The hotel research group said the country’s expected 67.1 percent increase in room supply over the next three years is the highest among the 50 most populated countries.
The new Fairmont planned for Al-Khobar will be part of the Ajdan Waterfront mixed-use development, featuring retail, commercial, residential, and entertainment components. It will be located close to the Saudi Aramco headquarters as well as the King Abdulaziz Cultural Centre and Airbase, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, and various malls and attractions in the city.
It is also in the vicinity of the King Fahd Causeway, which connects thousands of passengers from Al-Khobar to Bahrain.
Accor currently operates 39 properties with 14,314 rooms in the Kingdom with a pipeline of 33 properties.


Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros

Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros
Updated 21 June 2021

Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros

Abu Dhabi pledges $9.5m to fund development projects in Comoros
  • The fund will be used in key projects in education, health, and agriculture

DUBAI: The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has allocated 35 million dirhams ($9.5 million) to support the UAE’s ongoing development efforts in the African island-nation Comoros.
The fund will be used in key projects in education, health, and agriculture, state news agency WAM reported, under the “Mother of the Nation” development program, led by the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC).
About 4.5 million dirhams will fund a garment manufacturing unit to provide livelihood to families in the island; 10 million dirhams will be used to build a student dormitory; and 13 million for two women and children-focused health centers.
The rest of the fund will be channeled into agriculture and livestock projects, and construction of a school.
“Through this agreement, we seek to support sustainable development and improve the living standards of the people of the Comoros by ensuring their access to basic services in collaboration with ERC,” the ADFD’s director-general, Saif Al-Suwaidi, said.
The UAE’s commitment to Comoros dates back to the late 1970s, and the ADFD has since given 436 million dirhams in development aid to the African country.


Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court

Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court
Updated 21 June 2021

Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court

Arabtec Holding and units bankruptcy approved by Dubai court
  • The court last week approved the liquidation of Arabtec and its six subsidiaries

RIYADH: A Dubai court has approved the opening of bankruptcy proceedings for Arabtec Holding and six of its units.
The court last week approved the liquidation of Arabtec and its six subsidiaries namely, Arabtec Construction Abu Dhabi, Arabtec Construction Dubai, Austrian Arabian Ready Mix Concrete (AAC) and Arabtec Precast, in addition to Emirates Falcon Electromechanical Co (EFECO) Abu Dhabi and EFECO Dubai.
The court appointed a trustee for each of the entities and ordered them to publish the bankruptcy decision of each one, review its debts, deposit a record of its creditors, and conduct all the procedures stipulated under the bankruptcy law, within 35 days, the company said in a stock exchange filing.
The court also instructed each trustee to prepare an initial separate report on the assets of each entity and its rights with third parties.
It stopped all judicial and execution procedures on the companies’ assets until approving the restructuring plan or the lapse of 10 months from the date of the decision to open the bankruptcy proceedings.
The court scheduled the next hearing for July 26.


Saudi Arabia was Abu Dhabi’s biggest trading partner in 2020, data shows

Saudi Arabia was Abu Dhabi’s biggest trading partner in 2020, data shows
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi Arabia was Abu Dhabi’s biggest trading partner in 2020, data shows

Saudi Arabia was Abu Dhabi’s biggest trading partner in 2020, data shows
  • Imports hit 11.47 billion dirhams, while exports and re-exports stood at around 33 billion dirhams between the pair

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi’s trade with Saudi Arabia reached over 44.43 billion dirhams ($12.1 billion) in 2020, making the Kingdom its biggest trading partner during the year.
Imports hit 11.47 billion dirhams, while exports and re-exports stood at around 33 billion dirhams between the pair, state news agency WAM reported, citing customs data.
The UAE capital’s total non-oil foreign trade was recorded at 201.2 million dirhams during the same period, mainly attributed to its solid logistical infrastructure, especially amid the global health crisis.
Digital capabilities of Abu Dhabi Customs were enhanced during the pandemic, with digital custom transactions hitting over a million in the span of a year.
“This achievement came in line with the automation of all customs services and the digital completion of customs clearance processes and transactions,” according to a statement.