earnings reports

Cash aid important for recovery, says Manny Pangilinan

Aika Rey

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CASH AID NEEDED. Manuel Pangilinan speaks at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Parañaque City on November 1, 2017.

File photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

Tycoon Manny Pangilinan supports the Bayanihan 3 bill

The formula to economic recovery from COVID-19 involves not just vaccines, but also putting money in the hands of the people, said business magnate Manny Pangilinan.

One way to do this is for the government to give out cash aid, he said.

“People will have lesser and lesser money in the course of time. They don’t have jobs. Demand continues to contract and then businesses will suffer as a consequence. It makes recovery much harder to accomplish,” Pangilinan told reporters.

On Monday, March 1, the Philippines officially rolled out its vaccination program, with China-donated vaccines.

“It’s not just the vaccine. That’s probably a leading factor to recovery but [to get] the economy started, [it is also] putting money in the hands of the people, getting businesses revived,” Pangilinan said.

He noted that the United States Congress is set to approve the Biden administration’s maiden stimulus package amounting to $1.9 trillion.

“I’m not saying that the [Philippine] government should do a similar quantum of ayuda (aid), but I think Bayanihan 3 is being considered by Congress and we will support that,” Pangilinan said.

Majority of the members of the Philippine House of Representatives support the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or Bayanihan 3 bill, according to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Bayanihan 3 proposes a P420-billion fund to cushion the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. But it is still unclear where the Philippine government would source that money, if the bill is approved.

For the private sector, Pangilinan said businesses should continue investing in their capital expenditures to generate more jobs.

“Because it creates jobs, it puts more money in the hands of our people,” he said.

2021 still volatile

While Pangilinan’s Manila Electric Company (Meralco) reached its target core profit of P21 billion for 2020, the firm held off on providing an outlook for 2021.

“It’s a very volatile environment we foresee for 2021, given the lingering effect of the pandemic [on] the economy,” said Pangilinan.

Meralco’s net income plunged by 30% to P16.32 billion in 2020 from P23.832 billion in 2019, while revenues declined by 14% to P275.304 billion from P318.315 billion.

The increased electricity usage of households was not enough to offset the gap left by businesses that shut down due to the pandemic. Meralco’s consolidated energy sales were down by 7% to 43,572 gigawatts per hour.

Energy sales were dragged by the commercial and the industrial segment, which dove by 20% and by 11%, respectively.

Operating expenditures for 2020 declined by 5% to P25.81 billion, while capex reached P20.83 billion in 2020, up by 2.9%. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.