April 13, 2021
Monetary authorities may revisit the Philippine economic growth target for this year following the two-week hard lockdown imposed on the NCR Plus zone, the central bank chief said. In a virtual briefing on Monday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said they may revise the original forecast of 6.5% to 7.5% economic growth originally eyed for this year as economic activities were affected anew with the enhanced community quarantine implemented in the Greater Manila area from March 29 to April 11.
The Philippines has vaccinated at least 1 million people against COVID-19, Malacañang said on Monday, as the country battles a surge in coronavirus infections.
President Rodrugo Duterte earlier signed an order reducing imported pork tariffs to 5 percent from 30 percent until mid-2021, and between 10 and 20 percent in the succeeding months. The Philippines earns some P6.1 billion annually from tariffs on imported pork, but this would be reduced to P2.5 billion due to the reduced tariffs, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing.
Economic managers have been pushing for localized lockdowns to curb the high infection rate and allow areas with relatively few infections to operate normally. The DoF said pharmaceutical and other non-medical interventions should be “managed effectively” to contain the outbreak that started more than a year ago, so the government will not be “forced to take the difficult and painful decision of imposing much stricter quarantine measures.”
The inter-agency task force leading the country's COVID-19 response urged Duterte to downgrade the enhanced community quarantine over the National Capital Region, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces from April 12, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said. Duterte approved the recommendation and placed the Greater Manila area–which government calls NCR Plus– under MECQ, the third strictest of 4 lockdown levels, until April 30, Roque said.
500-M doses of Sinovac ferried by PAL Sunday
The latest shipment is part of the 25 million doses purchased by the Philippines from Chinese vaccine manufacturer Sinovac. This is the second batch of Sinovac vaccines purchased by the government which arrived in Manila, or a total 1.5 million doses distributed across different hospitals in the country.
DTI Chief: No need to relax loan rules on tourism MSME
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez remains convinced that the loan processing guidelines of the P6-billion CARES for Travel program of the Small Business Guarantee Corp. (SB Corp.) don’t need to be revised. “The capacity to process loans is high. That’s why there’s no backlog.” He added, “The guidelines are clear and application, processing and release are online and easy. No collateral. Done in four days if complete documents and max of around one week. Unless there are negative findings.”
Based on Bureau of the Treasury data, domestic borrowings comprised the bulk of the amount during the two-month period. Gross domestic borrowings as of end-February this year reached P717.96 billion, soaring by 60.6 percent from last year’s P446.93 billion. Accounting for the lion’s share of the amount from January to February this year was the P540-billion short-term borrowing from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The rest was sourced from Treasury Bonds (P120 billion) and Treasury Bills (P57.96 billion).
Monday (April 12), Republic Act 11534 or the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law is set to take effect. This facilitates the move to adopt the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP), a list of investment sectors that may apply for fiscal incentives under CREATE.
Philippine banks may experience “systemic solvency distress” if the economic impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) turns out to be worse than initially expected, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. The IMF report was finalized on March 9 after virtual missions were conducted on Oct. 20 last year. However, the IMF said the Philippines, at that time, was already recovering and that its macroeconomic fundamentals are more solid than its standing in the late 1990s. Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by a record 9.6% in 2020, and is expected to grow by 6.5% to 7.5% this year.
Despite the slight easing in March, inflation is expected to remain elevated in the second quarter with the lifting of the price caps on some meat products and rising global commodity prices, analysts said. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 4.5% in March, breaching the central bank’s 2-4% target for a third straight month but easing from the 4.7% in February, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported on Tuesday. The slight easing was attributed to slower increase in food prices.
The country’s trade-in-goods deficit widened in February as imports grew for the first time in 22 months and exports contracted albeit at a slower pace, the government’s statistical agency reported. Merchandise imports rose by 2.7% to $7.60 billion in February following a 12.1% annual decline in January, preliminary data by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. The import tally for February was bigger than the $7.40 billion in February 2020, but smaller than the $8.40 billion in January 2021.
The Board of Investments (BoI) will be releasing a preliminary list of industries eligible for incentives under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, Trade Secretary and BoI Chairman Ramon M. Lopez said. Albay Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda last week said that he wants the BoI to release the initial list to be covered by the law.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it will accept digitally signed audited financial statements (AFS) submitted by corporations through its online submission tool (OST) as Metro Manila and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal are still under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). E-signatures are accepted for submissions made through the OST beginning March 29, when the ECQ was first implemented in the so-called NCR Bubble.
The Tourism Department is set to present a proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for airlines to adopt a platform developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) that will enable passengers to digitally manage their travel documents and share their test and vaccination results.
The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA) to share information and develop technical knowledge on piracy. AVIA will provide information on piracy, conduct training on piracy matters, and make recommendations for IPOPHL’s online piracy monitoring and rolling site blocking, IPOPHL said.
The Philippine economy may be hard-pressed to even grow by 5 percent this year as no relief is yet in sight from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic a year since the outbreak, prompting a return to tough lockdown protocols. This was according to Romeo Bernardo, economist at New York-based think tank Global Source, who said in a research note dated April 5 that the present crisis was a “concrete display of what has kept us worried all this time and why we have not been able to shake off a more pessimistic outlook for the economy.”