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Monday, 19 March 2018 00:00 Published in page one

RP, Japan sign $934.75-M loan pact for metro subway

Monday, 19 March 2018 00:00 Published in Business


The Philippines and Japan signed recently the 104.53 billion yen loan agreement for the construction of the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project, which aims to ease traffic congestion, meet fast-rising transportation demand, and reduce air pollution in the country’s premier urban center.
On behalf of their respective governments, Finance Sec. Carlos Dominguez and Yoshio Wada, the chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), signed the loan accord and formally exchanged documents on the construction of the Philippines’ first-ever subway, which is one of the flagship infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration under its “Build, Build, Build” program.
This 104.53 billion yen loan (approximately $934.75 million) represents the first tranche of the total loan financing requirement of 573.73 billion yen (approximately $5.31 billion or P259.6 billion) pledged by JICA for the 1st phase of the subway project, which is the biggest amount it has ever committed to any country.
“I would like to thank the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for its support in making this subway project a reality,” Dominguez said after yesterday’s signing of the loan agreement at the Department of Finance (DOF) main office in Manila.
“The timely completion of this subway project will crown the aggressive infrastructure program this administration has initiated,” he said. “It will likewise crown the achievements of the economic diplomacy the Duterte administration has undertaken.”
Wada, for his part said: “I’d like to commend our partners for this project focusing on this important infrastructure that can be the basis for a competitive Philippine economy. It is a game-changing initiative in many ways.”
Utilizing cutting-edge Japanese tunneling technology, the construction of the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway will stretch from Mindanao Ave. in Quezon City to the Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) area in Taguig City, and will continue to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
It will involve the construction of an underground railway spanning about 30 kilometers with 14 stations that is expected to be completed by 2025.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr), the chief implementor of the project, has targeted the partial operation of the subway with the opening of at least three stations—Mindanao-Quirino Highway, Tandang Sora and North Ave.—by 2022.
Witnessing the signing of the loan accord were Sec. Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda, outgoing JICA chief representative Susumu Ito, Finance Attache Noboru Kageyama of the Embassy of Japan, Usec. Timothy John Batan of the DOTr and executive director Emilio Fernandez of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Batan said during the signing of the agreement that the project “is one of the Duterte administration’s boldest response to the traffic crisis that affects the 26 million residents of our nation’s capital on a day-to-day basis.”
According to the DOF, the total project cost for the first phase of the subway project is estimated at 788.89 billion yen, which is around P356.96 billion or approximately $7.055 billion.
Of this total project cost, 73 percent (573.73 billion yen) will be funded by JICA through a time-sliced loan arrangement comprising three to four tranches, while the remaining 27 percent, which is about 215.16 billion yen or around P97.35 billion, will be shouldered by the government.
The loan agreement for the first tranche carries an interest rate of 0.10 percent per annum for non-consulting services (which involves civil works, depot, railroad, electromechanical works, power supply) and 0.01 percent per annum for consulting services, payable in 40 years inclusive of a 12-year grace period under the Special Terms for Economic Partnership of JICA.
For the remaining three to four tranches of the total loan, JICA will release the funds based on the project requirements and will be subject to further discussions between JICA and DOTr.
The preparation of the detailed engineering design and bidding documents for the project started in November 2017, finance by a grant from JICA.
In January 2018, the DOTr and JICA also signed a grant-financed technical cooperation agreement for the establishment of the Philippine Railway Institute, which is intended to support capacity building for the operation and maintenance of both current and new railway systems.
The subway system has been part of the joint NEDA-JICA Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development of Metro Manila and its Surrounding Areas, but because of its cost, Dominguez said the government considered this component of the infrastructure plan “a dream.”
“With the generous support of Japan and the fiscal space we enjoy thanks to the tax reform program, what was once considered a dream has now become a reality,” Dominguez said.
Underscoring the importance of the project, Dominguez said the government “commits to working on this project 25/8,” rather than “24/7” to ensure the project gets done at the soonest possible time.
Construction of the underground railway for the first phase of the subway project will require digging a tunnel 31.2 meters to 50 meters deep to accommodate eight-car trains that would be able to load 2,242 passengers. The entire rolling stock consists of 152 cars or a total of 19 trains.
The first phase also includes the installation of electro-mechanical systems as well as building a 28.8 hectare depot area and the Philippine Railway Institute in Barangay Ugong, Valenzuela City.
In line with the “fast and sure” principle adopted by the two countries, the government processed the loan approvals for the subway project within a short period of six months, from the approval by the NEDA board on Sept. 12, 2017 up to the signing of the Loan Agreement last March 16.


Acudeen to launch P35-M public token sale in Apr

Monday, 19 March 2018 00:00 Published in Business


Acudeen, a marketplace that empowers financial inclusion through selling invoices ahead of their maturity date for liquidity, is proud to announce the launch of its Public Token Sale amounting to $35 million this April.
The company’s token sale operations are based  here where it established its regional office in early 2018. 
Acudeen Technologies chairman Januario Jesus Atencio said, “the ACU tokens serve as our answer to the growing demand for our services outside of our current consumer market.
The purpose of our token sale is to accelerate more businesses with our services in the coming years through this revolutionary technology.”
Acudeen’s current model in place already utilizes advanced methods of validating transactions.
Tokenizing their services in a new ecosystem design further allows the company to bring financial inclusion to other parts of the world.
The premise of the new system uses three main drivers: The AssetChain Platform, a permissioned blockchain which stores all transaction data. 
The ACU Tokens which are used to avail of services within the platform, and CryptoFIAT, Acudeen’s intuitive solution to completing invoice purchases using cryptocurrency.
With this technology, the value of the cryptocurrency being used to transact represents an equivalent amount of FIAT money securely stored in a trusted account leveraged by the AssetChain Platform, therefore saving time and avoiding exorbitant fees otherwise incurred using traditional methods.
Integrated with the Stellar, its functionality addresses the issues of liquidity and expensive cross-border invoice purchases through blockchain and cryptocurrencies, making transactions faster with minimal fees.
Stellar’s design is advantageous as their protocol does not require Turing-complete based applications for smart contracts, or more commonly known as chain codes in the Hyperledger context, thereby preventing exploitation in their system.  
Meanwhile, the AssetChain’s Hyperledger fabric provides transaction confidentiality. Using a permissioned blockchain, data may only be shared to participants involved in the transaction. This helps protect their sensitive information both to possible competitors and to the public. 
The ACU Token Team envisions a means for financial inclusion that facilitates verification, hassle-free transactions, cross-border purchasing and better incentivization.
With ACU, business owners are empowered even more by being given the flexibility to choose when they want to complete purchases.
The company views this as a unique opportunity to both adopt modern technology and to rapidly scale towards their company’s mission beyond the fame, the glory and the profits — To support and generate financial inclusion amongst small business owners and to give them the opportunity they otherwise won’t have being tied to current bureaucracies and archaic systems.



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