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Feb 17. 2019
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By Asia News Network

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SSS to hike contribution rate to 12% this year

Social Security System (SSS) members and their employers in the Philipines will shell out more for their contributions as the rate will increase to 12 per cent, a move that the state-run pension fund’s chief said would replenish the fund life by six years.

SSS president and chief executive Emmanuel Dooc told the Inquirer that the second tranche of pension hike would unlikely be implemented this year even as it will still be granted within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.

A source said the amendments to the SSS’s charter was signed by Duterte last week.

Dooc said the SSS will immediately craft the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR), so that the provision mandating a 1-percentage point increase in the contribution rate every two years, until it reaches 15 per cent, can be implemented this year.

At present, the contribution rate stands at 11 per cent.

As such, this year’s contribution rate hike will be followed by three more 1-percentage point increases in 2021, 2023 and 2025.

Under the SSS Rationalisation Act, the Social Security Commission (SSC) — the pension fund’s highest policymaking body — can implement contribution rate increases even without the President’s approval, unlike the current charter wherein only the chief executive can approve rate adjustments.

Two-thirds of the contribution rate increase will be shouldered by the employer. – The Philippine Daily Inquirer

Aust targets March signing of stalled Indonesia trade deal

Australia said a long-awaited trade deal with Indonesia will be signed in March, following months of diplomatic tension over Canberra's contentious plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem. 

The multi-billion-dollar deal will include improved access for Australian cattle and sheep farmers to Indonesia’s 260 million people, while Australian universities, health providers and miners will also benefit from easier entry to southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Greater access to the Australian market is expected to spur Indonesia's automotive and textile industries, and boost exports of timber, electronic and medicinal goods. 

"This a strong deal for both our countries, which will increase the two-way flow of trade and investment, creating more opportunities for farmers, businesses and economic development," Australia's minister for trade Simon Birmingham told AFP.

Bilateral trade was worth US$11.7 billion (Bt366 billion) in 2017. 

The deal has been in negotiations since 2010 and was expected to be signed before the end of last year before it stalled when Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed the relocation of Australia's embassy to Jerusalem. – The Jakarta Post

Vietnam set to probe Grab-Uber deal again

VIETNAM’S authorities plan to conduct further investigations into the merger of Grab and Uber last year over possible antitrust regulations violations, said the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The Competition Council announced that after examining documents and working sessions with relevant parties, it had discovered a number of new details related to possible violations of competition law in Grab’s acquisition of fellow ride-hailing platform Uber last March.

These discoveries prompted the council to return the case dossiers to the Ministry’s Competition and Consumer Protection Department for further investigation. The investigation is expected to run until April this year.

Last year, Grab announced its acquisition of Uber’s operations in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam.

In Vietnam, the investigation into Grab and Uber’s merger was initiated in May last year.

The Competition Council in December 2018 announced Grab’s acquisition of Uber had signs of violations in terms of failure to notify market regulators of its purchase of Uber. The deal was also thought to have threatened Vietnamese taxi companies by cutting their market shares and changing customer habits. – Viet Nam News 

iPhone maker Pegatron to start operating in Batam 

Pegatron Corporation, the maker of Apple’s iPhones, is scheduled to start operating in Batam, Indonesia, in April this year after the Taipei-based manufacturer agreed to rent a factory in a specially designated economic zone.

The company is planning to invest up to US$300 million (Bt9.4 billion) in the long run.

The general manager of Batam’s Batamindo Industrial Park, Mook Sooi Wah, confirmed the company would rent a 2-hectare manufacturing plant in the park.

"The company will officially start operations in April," Mook told The Jakarta Post recently.

Batam Development Industrial Authority (BP Batam) chief Edy Putra Irawadi said Pegatron's total investment could reach $300 million with an initial investment of $40 million. However, he said his side had not heard of confirmation from the company regarding its plan to build a manufacturing plant in Batamindo.

"The company wants to build a large manufacturing plant in Batam as the city has the spare land it needs," Edy said. – The Jakarta Post


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