Financial market regulators have shortened daily stock and foreign exchange trading operations in the Philippines in line with the monthlong community quarantine and curfew imposed by the government on Metro Manila to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Starting March 16 to April 14, trading at the Philippine Stock Exchange ends at 1 p.m. instead of 3:30 p.m.
The foreign exchange market will also end session at 2 p.m. instead of 4 p.m. starting March 17, the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) said.
PSE president Ramon Monzon said the shortened local trading session was “consistent with COVID-19 preventive measures implemented by the government, particularly the Metro Manila-wide curfew.” The PSE has also encouraged trading participants with booths on the trading floor to temporarily switch to remote or offsite trading. Those who decide to continue doing business on the trading floor are required to limit their personnel on the floor to one trader per booth effective March 17.
Traders who will report on the trading floor will be subject to thermal scanning and other precautionary measures. Anyone whose body temperature is at least 37.3 degrees Celsius will not be allowed to enter the premises. Traders who will develop fever while already within the premises will be sent home immediately.
The BAP said it was in close coordination with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to ensure continuity of banking services and operations to serve the public.
“The banking community shall adhere to the guidance set forth by the Department of Health and relevant agencies to ensure the safety of our people while we remain committed to deliver banking services to the public,” the BAP said.
For its part, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had agreed to cut affected corporations some slack as far as the filing of annual and quarterly reports is concerned. This is similar to the relief given by other regulators overseas, particularly the United States SEC given the extraordinary challenges caused by the new pandemic.
Under the Philippine SEC’s new memorandum circular approved on March 12, affected corporations with domestic operations may file until June 30 their annual reports (SEC Form 17-A) and annual financial statements for the period ended Dec. 31, 2019.
For companies with domestic and foreign operations, the filing period is extended until June 30 or 60 days from the date of lifting of travel restrictions by concerned government authorities, whichever comes later.
The filing period for the quarterly reports (SE Form 17-Q) of publicly listed companies and registered issuers of securities for 2020 will accordingly adjust.
Corporations whose preparation of financial statements or completion of statutory audits is not affected by the COVID-19 outbreak were still required to file their annual reports and annual financial statements for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, within the periods prescribed under existing rules and regulations.
“The new coronavirus disease has posed specific challenges to some Philippine companies in complying with certain reportorial requirements,” SEC Chair Emilio Aquino said in a press statement on Monday.
“For one, the travel restrictions, suspension of business operations and other measures implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19 have kept companies, particularly those with operations in China and other affected territories, from gathering all information or documents necessary in the preparation and the subsequent audit of their annual financial statements,” he added.
To request for more time to submit its reports, a publicly listed corporation must submit a written request to the SEC, through the Markets and Securities Regulation Department (MRSD), at least five days before the deadline of filing.
The submission must include a sworn certification signed by the company’s president and treasurer to confirm that its financial year ended Dec. 31, 2019, and that it has significant business operations or subsidiaries in China or other affected territories, including the Philippines.
Also, the corporation must confirm that the timely completion of statutory audit of its financial statements as of December 31, 2019, had been affected by travel restrictions, suspension of business operations or other measures imposed by authorities or by the corporation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The affected company must submit a sworn certification by its external auditor confirming its operations in China or other affected territories, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the auditing of its financial statements.
Given the impact of the delayed release of the annual reports, the corporation shall also submit to the SEC an indicative date for its annual stockholders’ meeting.
The SEC vowed to continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the preparation of financial statements and on the completion of the statutory audits of companies. It said it might issue appropriate rules and regulations to address the concerns that might further arise. INQ
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