Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

LTO vows to end crime, pollution with RFID

EFFECTIVE October 2009 the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will implement a cutting edge technology that will revolutionize motoring and land transportation in the country. The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology will be used to enhance and speed up the vehicle registration process while providing the motoring public with many benefits that will greatly improve land transportation in the country.

RFID is a cutting edge technology that uses radio waves to identify vehicles and related information remotely and in real time. The use of this technology will allow the LTO and other law enforcement agencies to access vehicle information to aid in traffic management, law enforcement and crime prevention.

Among the many benefits that this technology will provide motorists and commuters are: First, the system is expected to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the LTO’s law enforcement capabilities, effectively improving traffic conditions via the apprehension of frequent violators and out-of-the-line vehicles. Second, air pollution will be lessened as the system will eradicate the practice of non-appearance of vehicles subject to smoke emissions testing, effectively barring smoke belchers from the streets. Third, legitimate Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) operators and drivers as well as commuters will be well-protected as the RFID will be able to identify and verify franchise records, thus keeping colorums off the road. And finally, it can serve as a major deterrent against carnapping because law enforcers will have access to information on possible “hot” vehicles in real time.

“The RFID technology will revolutionize land transportation in the Philippines. This is a great first step in putting order in our streets,” said Assistant Secretary Arturo Lomibao.

The new system involves the tagging of a sticker on all vehicles. The sticker contains a microchip that will store vehicle information but is completely tamper proof and can only be retrieved by authorized LTO personnel and law enforcers.

Motorists will only pay a one-time tagging fee of P350 as they register their vehicles. The LTO RFID tag is expected to last for ten years, which means that the RFID effectively costs just P35 per year. This is considerably less expensive compared to the more than P1,500 paid for other RFID technologies such as the e-pass and ec-tag.

“We are confident of the enormous benefits this technology will provide to the public in general and enjoin our motorists to have their vehicles tagged with the RFID beginning October of this year,” Lomibao added.

RFID technology has been used to manage traffic and vehicular registries in the United States, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and other countries.

The LTO RFID tags will be available at all LTO offices beginning October 1, 2009. By: Jun Icban-Legaspi - JOurnal online

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Text tax bill recalled

DUE to growing public outrage, the House committee on ways and means has reconsidered the approval of a consolidated bill seeking to impose excise tax on every text message sent.

The committee chaired by Rep. Exequiel Javier yesterday decided to conduct more discussions to get the sentiments of various sectors, including subscribers, on the proposed five-centavo excise tax.

The panel was pressured by several groups including Malacanang and Senate to recall the bill which does not contain the “no pass on” provision, meaning subscribers, not the telecommunication companies, will shoulder the five-centavo tax.

“We find it appropriate that we suspend the approval of the bill,” Javier said, adding his panel will draft a new scheme to ensure that the five centavo excise tax will not be passed on to the consumers.

The solon said the committee will amend the bill to ensure that the public will not be burdened with additional tax.

The consolidated bill was approved on Sept. 8. Javier said members of the committee agreed to disregard the “no pass on provision” because it is difficult to impose text tax on telecommunication companies as this may affect business.

But during the deliberations yesterday, Cagayan Rep. Rufus Rodriguez moved to recall the approval of the bill to give way to more public discussions. It was seconded by Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.

Txt Power President Tonio Cruz objected to the five-centavo tax saying it is a “direct attack against the people and not against the telcos” that are already earning billions.

Rodolfo Salalima of Globe Telecoms also opposed the tax, saying the cost of a text message is only 23 centavos and telcos are only earning two centavos for every text message. By: Jester P. Manalastas - Journal online

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Monday, September 21, 2009

BPO jobs to reach 1 million in 2010

By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The booming business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the country is expected to employ at least one million Filipinos by 2010, Malacañang said yesterday.

A Palace statement said that although BPOs started in the country in the 1990s, the industry “really took off” shortly after President Arroyo assumed power in 2001.

“From 4,000 in 2001, the number of BPO workers reached 350,000 in 2007, spurred on in part by the country’s stable economic environment and by aggressive marketing abroad by the President,” the Palace said.

“There were 400,000 workers as of February 2009. It is estimated that by 2010, available jobs will be 900,000 despite the ongoing global economic slowdown,” the statement reads.

It said Mrs. Arroyo put up the “Cyber-Corridor” information and communications technology (ICT) channel running the length of the Philippines that interconnects BPO service centers all over the country, “to efficiently bring together cyber service providers and BPO locators.”

“The goal is to employ one million workers by 2010,” the statement said.

The sector’s future growth can be traced in part to the country’s two-pronged strategy. While the country will continue to offer voice-activated services, which require facility in English as well as other languages, it will also branch out to non-voice services such as medical transcription and animation as well as to the more lucrative development of software.

Mrs. Arroyo has acknowledged the sector’s remarkable performance that has helped the country achieve positive growth rates despite the global economic slowdown.

The President said the fast development of the BPO industry in the country is an example of an industry that nobody ever thought before would become a driver of growth.

“This is an example of what I said that we want to create jobs so that, for (Filipinos), it will be a career choice to go abroad and not the only choice,” Mrs. Arroyo has said in her speeches.

As of end of 2008, the sector generated $6.1 billion in revenues and is projected to reach $13 billion in 2010. This is only 6.7 percent of the estimated $326 billion global ICT outsourcing market, according to data issued by the Canada-based ICT research and advisory firm XMG Global.

The Philippines is the third top performing offshore country in the Asia Pacific, next to India and China. The Philippines is aiming for a 10 percent market share as it sells its many advantage to companies in the United States and Europe, the Palace statement said.

“These includes a steady supply of competent and educated workers, improving telecommunications infrastructures, and government incentives,” it said.

Although the majority of BPO companies are located in Metro Manila, there is a marked migration into other key economic centers of the country such as in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Subic, Bacolod and Baguio, to either be closer to their employee base or, in part, to keep their costs, such as leases, as low as possible.

To further aid the sunrise industry, government has allocated P350 million for a training program called PGMA-Training for Work Scholarship Program (PGMA-TSWP) through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in partnership with the Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP). The training program does not only cover English language proficiency but also the use of computers.

“Likewise, government is offering significant fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to attract more foreign direct investments, primarily through its Cyber Corridor project, which is part of the President’s 10-point agenda,” it said.

DOLE: Pinoys have better jobs

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported that Filipinos have better jobs now despite the lingering effects of the financial crisis.

DOLE officials said the quality of employment has improved for Filipinos as indicated by results of the latest National Statistics Office (NSO) Survey.

Based on the July 2009 Labor Force Survey (LFS), DOLE said the number of wage and salary workers rose by 1.3 million compared to the same period last year, while the number of persons in full-time employment increased by half a million.

DOLE further noted that except for the Bicol region, employment rate in all regions posted growth with the National Capital Region (NCR) positing the highest gain of 142,000 more workers.

Underemployment or the number of workers looking for additional jobs went down from 21.1 percent last year to 19.8 percent.

“The drop corresponds to a reduction of 259,000 in the number of underemployed, which now stands at seven million,” DOLE officials noted.

The rate of visible or time-related underemployment dropped by a full percentage point over the period – from 12.1 percent to 11.1 percent.

Employment also continued to expand by 2.6 percent as the economy showed signs of recovery from the global financial crisis in the second quarter of the year.

Growth was posted strongest in the service sector (5.4 percent) negating the modest growth in the industry sector (2.7 percent) and the decline in the combined agriculture, fishery and forestry sector (-1.3 percent).

DOLE is currently developing a new skills registry system in an effort to make it easier for the government to assess the demand for skills in the labor market.

Acting Secretary Romeo Lagman said the envisioned skills registry has been piloted in select regions, provinces, cities and municipalities, and its full implementation will kick off in October.

Lagman said the planned National Skills Registry System (SRS) will combine the existing skills registries of PhilJob.net and the Public Employment Service Office.

He said the SRS is a computerized system which captures and updates in a register skills and qualifications of interested workers.

The system also lists down establishments and their job vacancies in the community for quick access by jobseekers and employers, both local and foreign.

Unlike the existing skills registries of PhilJob.net and the PESOs, the SRS is live and dynamic because it will be regularly updated and tied up to the relevant educational background of jobseekers and the needs of the employers.

“Ultimately, the SRS will solve the country’s perennial problem of jobs mismatch,” Lagman said. – With Mayen Jaymalin

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

What? A tax relief for telecoms?

Opinion Written by Butch del Castillo / Business Mirror = Omerta

We sometimes refer to Congress as a legislative “mill.” It is, after all, like a complex processing plant. It refines raw ideas (bills) into semifinished products called drafts of proposed laws.

But if it is a kind of “processing plant,” how come our Congress has often been criticized for being excruciatingly slow in acting on some of the most urgent bills, but remarkably efficient and fast in approving other pieces of legislation? Well, folks, the answer is obviously no other than “lubrication.” Lubrication is that efficacious substance that makes the wheels and gears of Congress turn with remarkable smoothness and speed. In our bicameral system, the legislative mill we call Congress is made up of two independent processing plants. Each one consists of a complex system of wheels and gears called committees and subcommittees. Each wheel or gear quickens in its efficiency only when well-oiled or—more aptly put, greased. Sometimes, the natural oil that our lawmakers produce out of a zeal to do right by their constituencies or pure love of country is sufficient. More often than not, however, the grease is provided by special interest lobby groups. It is this kind of lubrication that produces miraculous results.

In the House of Representatives only this week, for example, we saw a fine example of how this kind of greasing can perk up the enthusiasm of some of the members of the House ways and means committee to push a particular piece of legislation.

This committee—according to accounts made by members of the House press corps—reported out a number of proposed measures for plenary debates. It was discovered, however, that among the measures that were reported out was one that was never discussed in committee deliberations, at least in the recollection of party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz.

Had Representative de la Cruz not raised a howl against it, the “smuggled” bill would have been calendared for plenary debates (plenary debates are a prelude to approval or disapproval by the House of any proposed law).

How this bill was “smuggled” out of the committee level (“railroaded” was the term used by our good congressmen) is a mystery my friend Jonath was still trying to solve as of this writing yesterday. In remarks made on and off the floor, according to the House reporters, de la Cruz lamented that on the one hand, his colleagues in the committee were strongly supportive of a bill imposing higher “sin” taxes (on tobacco and liquor) to increase the government’s tax take and thus pare down its huge budgetary deficit. But the same committee members also seem to back the idea of depriving the government of a fairer share of the huge net profits being raked in by these telecoms firms.

In other words, these overzealous congressmen don’t mind driving the tobacco producers of northern Luzon (his fellow Ilocanos) out of business by imposing bigger sin taxes. And yet they also want to grant these affluent telecoms firms a tax relief by legislative fiat. If passed, the bill would allow these companies to pay much less than the paltry amount of taxes they are paying now.

The bill angrily questioned by de la Cruz proposes to exempt some P30 billion in profits made by the telecom firms from any income tax assessment. (Copies of the highly questionable bill yesterday somehow suddenly became scarce. But I’ll get one and take it up again in this column the next time around.)

Figures provided by the Department of Finance show that the five providers of wireless telephone service alone (cell-phone companies) had combined revenues of P175.586 billion last year. The government’s share (in income taxes) of that huge income was only P21.448 billion.

The popular sentiment has always been to tax them a little more to help the government out of its fiscal predicament. But these companies have consistently resisted such an idea by simply threatening to pass on any additional tax burden to cell-phone users. This threat has been very effective in keeping Congress at bay on this ticklish question.

All the cell-phone companies have never had it so good, with their sales rising phenomenally for the past five years. They are, in fact, riding the crest of a sales boom that is not expected to flatten out in the next five. Why would they want to deprive the government of its fair share of their rich pickings?

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