May 18, 2021
Authorities have so far administered 2,959,829 jabs. These include 2,245,397 first doses, and 714,432 second doses, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. Out of the Philippines' some 1.7 million health workers, the top vaccine priority group, at least 1.215 million jabs have been administered, he said in a press briefing.
After a month-and-half long break, Congress resumes session with a legislative proposal to further open up the Philippine economy to foreign ownership and control among the top agenda, a lawmaker said. It will be the Duterte administration's final attempt to amend the 1987 Constitution, with passage at the House of Representatives eyed by June before he delivers his last State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Joyce Ong, an analyst at the Financial Institutions Group of Moody’s Investors Service, expects lending to remain sluggish in the next few months before picking up pace later in the year. In February, loans for production activities fell by 3.2%. Borrowings from consumers also dropped 9.9%. More business activities are expected to resume with NCR now under a more relaxed GCQ. She, however, warned that recurring waves of COVID-19 infections and a slow vaccination rollout could continue to hinder economic and credit growth.
The Anti-Red Tape Authority (Arta) is set to take action against more government agencies found to be violating the provisions of Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) law this week after recently sounding the alarm on over 600 pending drug applications. The Arta chief noted that officials will also be subject to lifestyle check which is under the mandate of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission. Last month, Arta and PACC signed a pact to boost coordination and cooperation in addressing complaints and reports of violations relating to red tape and corruption.
House Committee on People’s Participation Chairperson and San Jose Del Monte City Rep. Florida Robes pushed for the prioritization of passage of the P405.6-billion Bayanihan 3 when lawmakers get back to work. Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, meanwhile, said the lower chamber will resume its plenary discussion on his Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 (RBH 2) or the economic Charter change. Earlier, Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman and Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said the House will approve on third and final reading the economic Cha-cha before its sine die adjournment in June.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III is calling an all-senators’ caucus Monday to firm up their agenda of urgent bills to be tackled in their remaining three-week session calendar before Congress adjourns anew. High on the priorities are amendatory bills that were earlier certified by the Palace: revising the Public Service Act, retail trade liberalization law, and the Foreign Investments Act.
As the economy again contracted while obligations surged to new highs, the Philippines’ debt-to-gross domestic product ratio (GDP) ratio jumped to 60.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly above the internationally recommended 60-percent threshold, which multilateral lenders and credit-rating agencies considered as manageable debt levels. The latest Bureau of the Treasury data showed that domestic debt-to-GDP climbed to 43.4 percent in March from 37.3 percent as of end-2020. External debt-to-GDP ratio slightly declined to 17 percent in the first quarter from 17.3 percent at the end of last year.
According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno, an industry-wide “rehearsal” is now in full swing for the live run of the new peso real-time gross settlement (RTGS) platform of the next-generation Philippine Payment and Settlement System, dubbed “PhilPaSSplus.”. The completion of the project’s user acceptance test by the BSP in the first quarter of 2021 kicked off the market rehearsal where key functionalities of PhilPaSSplus were being tested by banks and other participating institutions prior to implementation.
Alongside rising borrowings mainly through short-dated securities issuance locally, the national government paid P521.5 billion in debt in the first quarter of the year, 53-percent bigger year-on-year. The latest Bureau of the Treasury data showed that the amount of debt paid from January to March jumped from P339.9 billion a year ago.