• More foreign capital leaving?

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    EMETERIO SD. PEREZ

    GOVERNMENT media releases should not hide the truth. Even if they contain data that will yield negative publicity, they should also be reported, whoever gets hurt. Hiding behind technical terms destroys the aim of press releases to be as informative as possible.

    Public information officers (PIOs) hired by the government are tasked to inform. In issuing press releases, they know that their audience is made up of all kinds of people who rely on the public pronouncements of their offices.

    The postings on government websites should not be taken for granted by government workers and their superiors. They are not intended to please the public, who access them for their contents, which may be either pleasant or unpleasant.

    If you have access to the internet, it is up to you to either ignore or appreciate government websites. However, as concerned citizens, read them and learn something about our government and judge our leaders if they deserve to be called public servants.

    PSE postings
    Try surfing www.edge.pse.com.ph for disclosures posted on it by listed companies. A number of filings may not be as informative as they should be. Nevertheless, some of them tell you about the activities inside the boardrooms, which is good for the public.

    If, however, the public stockholders feel aggrieved by any of the decisions reached by the board of listed companies, they can email the Securities and Exchange Commission and seek the help of the five-person regulatory commission.

    However, don’t rely on the SEC for its annual reports. In the old days, its investment and research department (IRD) was among the SEC’s most helpful units. This may not be true anymore because the commission’s 2016 annual report does not contain investment data that can serve as a guide particularly for foreigners in investing in the Philippines.

    SEC data, culled by its IRD, used to present the true state of corporate investments. The amount of these investments infused by foreigners used to be detailed in IRD reports, but are no longer presented in the SEC’s websites.

    What for are the government websites if they exist not to inform the public but to please the top officials of government?

    BSP’s investment report
    In a posting on www.bsp.gov.ph, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas tried to be informative about “foreign direct investments” which it said “surged three-fold in June 2017.”

    Well and good if only the BSP explained what it meant by the following: “In part, the increase in FDI inflows during the month was due largely to the expansion on debt instruments (or intercompany borrowings from foreign direct investors by their subsidiaries/affiliates in the Philippines) to US$674 million.”

    How did the BSP conclude that the FDIs 182.7-percent surge reflected “investors’ continued bullish outlook on the Philippine economy” when “withdrawals,” which I think mean capital flight, amounted to $185 million against “placements” of $113 million?

    The comparative numbers resulted in “net withdrawals of US$72 million in equity capital investments” (US$185 million minus US$113 million equals US$72 million.)

    Somewhere in the BSP’s press release is what could be an explanation of the net withdrawals of US$72 million: “The net withdrawals in equity capital negated the reinvestment of earnings of US$72 million during the month.”

    Due Diligencer’s take
    The central bank could have made it easier for the public to understand what it tried to convey in its FDI report. Instead of sounding too technical to be fully understood, the BSP should have simply presented how much of the foreign money was in the form of borrowings and how much went to any of the companies as either additional infusion or new investments.

    By using “reinvestment of earnings,” the BSP could also be referring to stock dividends declared by any company in which foreigners are substantial stockholders.

    “Earnings,” in turn, could also refer to retained earnings, which is an accumulation of net profits over the years.

    Unfortunately, Due Diligencer has no way of confirming the BSP’s data against the SEC’s. The latter does not report corporate investments anymore.

    In the old days, the commission used to be very efficient in monitoring corporate investments through the registration of new companies and capital increases undertaken by existing stock corporations.

    The SEC also used to identify the companies that got foreigners’ capital infusion and which of them suffered, or even closed shop, as a result of capital withdrawals.

    How should the BSP report FDI outflow and inflow and in the process alert the government about capital flight through either withdrawals or declaration of a cash dividend? Just asking.

    esdperez@gmail.com

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