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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | June 18, 2021

June 18, 2021

ECCP Online

Leisure travel for all ages to MGCQ areas extended until June 30

Tourists of all ages from Metro Manila and four nearby provinces can travel for leisure to areas under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) until June 30, according to the Department of Tourism. Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat also clarified that restrictions have been relaxed, even for elders and minors, since June 1 provided that they have negative RT-PCR test results before traveling. Other protocols and restrictions will depend on the DOT and the local government unit of destination

No funds yet for Bayanihan 3, gov’t admits

While President Duterte’s chief economic manager supports more financial aid to vulnerable sectors amid the prolonged pandemic, he maintains that additional spending should be within the government’s means and not further bloat the budget deficit. The Finance chief noted that this year’s budget deficit had been programmed to widen to 9.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), amounting to a record P1.86 trillion, from P1.37 trillion or 7.6 percent of GDP last year.

DOTr eyes gradual increase in passenger capacity

During the Virtual Presser, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade said a study is ongoing to determine how best to balance the public’s need for increased public transport capacity without sacrificing the health and safety of the passengers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently, public utility vehicles (PUV) such as buses and modern and traditional jeepneys are limited to 50 percent of their maximum sitting capacity.

DOLE offers incentives for vaccinated workers

To encourage more workers to get inoculated against COVID-19, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is giving out bicycles and other freebies to fully vaccinated employees under the so-called Baksikleta program. According to Bello, 1,000 essential workers from the National Capital Region (NCR) and another thousand from different regions are expected to benefit from the program.

Trade dep’t developing online consumer complaints portal

An online consumer dispute resolution system will be rolled out soon in response to a spike in consumer complaints last year, the Trade department said. The system being developed by the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) consumer protection group will be a unified consumer complaints portal linking various government departments. Through the online system, consumers can file complaints and seek redress as long as the products bought either online or offline are from a business in the Philippines.

DoF firm on keeping stimulus at P173B

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government can only provide P173 billion in stimulus funds this year, as it is unsustainable to have the fiscal deficit exceed 9.3% of gross domestic product (GDP). Mr. Dominguez said they are “internally looking for the sources” to finance at least P173 billion of the proposed Bayanihan III. He said this package should be aimed at combating poverty and hunger, after the pandemic dealt a heavy blow on poor families.

Tourism contribution to GDP lowest in at least 2 decades

Preliminary data compiled by the PSA showed tourism’s direct gross value added (TDGVA) accounted for 5.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, down from 12.8% of GDP in 2019. This was the lowest in at least 20 years based on available data dating back to 2000. The last time the sector posted similar figures were in 2000 and 2002 when it contributed 5.6% to the country’s GDP during those years.

IMF cuts PHL growth projection to 5.4%

Following the Philippines’s annual economic check-up from the IMF via its Article IV consultation this year, the global monetary authority cut its growth projection of the Philippines from 6.9 percent to 5.4 percent for this year. What pulled the economy down in the first half of the year is largely the second wave of Covid-19 cases in the country, which likely peaked in April, IMF Article IV Consultation Mission Head Thomas Helbling told reporters in a virtual briefing. 

P661B COVID response released as of May

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P660.5 billion to various agencies and departments as of end-May, to support the implementation of their respective coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic response program, said Wendel Avisado, DBM secretary. Of the amount, 82.2 percent or P542.64 billion is already obligated while P486.71 billion or 89.8 percent was disbursed by the agencies, Avisado said during the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines mid-year economic forum yesterday.

Damage from disasters reached P113B in 2020

Total damage from disasters last year stood at P113.4 billion, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). NEDA Undersecretary Mercedita Sombilla said at the Sulong Pilipinas 2021: Climate Change and the New Normal with the Youth Sector online briefing yesterday, Typhoon Ulysses caused the most disruption as it affected 5.2 million people and displaced 1.5 million of them.

Duque seeks P51-billion insertion in Bayanihan 3 to fill ‘gaps’ in Covid response

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III asked senators for a P51 -billion supplemental budget for the Department of Health’s Covid-19 response, which he said could be inserted in the third Bayanihan measure pending in Congress. Duque said that the DOH already “communicated” this request for a supplemental budget to the House of Representatives and concerned agencies, even to the Office of the President.

PHL could get 204-million doses of Covid vaccine in 2021–DOF

In the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on the government’s Covid-19 vaccination program, Dominguez told senators that the government is already assured of at least 149.83 million doses through binding term sheets and supply agreements backed by the country’s foreign loans, the regular budget and donations from other countries and the Covax facility. The finance chief said it was estimated that 44 million doses will be donated by Covax to the Philippines. Moreover, Japan Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi had also announced that they will also be donating Astrazeneca vaccines to some countries, including the Philippines.

PH recovery starts in Q2, says gov’t economic team

President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team on Tuesday expressed confidence that the economy will rebound starting the second quarter with mass vaccination in full swing and government spending, especially on infrastructure, remaining strong. During the Economic Journalists’ Association of the Philippines’ (Ejap) midyear forum, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said “we might appear to be behind our neighbors for now, but our recovery will be stronger because of our sound fundamentals.”

3,000 infrastructure projects seen completed in 2022

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has expressed confidence that the Duterte administration will be able to complete over 3,000 big and small infrastructure projects by next year. Chua said 314 of the projects have already been completed as of June 2019 and 2,800 are set to be completed by 2022. These projects are part of the medium-term Public Investment Program (PIP) of the administration.

Philippines tops Asian forecasts for lower GDP, faster inflation

Economists have raised their forecasts for Philippine consumer price inflation by the most in Asia since December, by 1.2 percentage points to 4.1%, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. They’ve also slashed the country’s economic growth outlook by the most in Asia, following a recent downgrade by the World Bank. As in other countries, the latest inflation figures for the Philippines come amid higher prices of food and commodities. May marked the fifth straight month inflation has been above the central bank’s 2%-4% target.

BIR awaiting Duterte’s signature on estate tax amnesty extension

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it is waiting for President Rodrigo R. Duterte to sign a bill that will extend the validity of the estate tax amnesty program for another two years, with the original program set to end Monday. The House of Representatives adopted late last month Senate Bill 2208, which aims to extend the estate tax amnesty by another two years, to fast-track the process and ensure the measure’s prompt dispatch to Malacañang. The bill will amend Republic Act 11213 or the Tax Amnesty Act of 2019, moving the deadline for amnesty applications to June 14, 2023.

PHL firms facing higher import costs

Philippine industries are struggling with higher import costs caused at least in part by global supply chain constraints amid the coronavirus pandemic. Delays have hampered both inbound and outbound trade. An export industry group recently flagged logistics issues as vessel space and container shortages cause freight rate surges and shipment delays and losses. Shipment waiting times continue to be long as export market demand recovers, a Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport) official said.

‘Investing in green growth to help countries’ recovery’

Investing in green growth will allow developing countries like the Philippines to recover from the pandemic and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to economists from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). These investments will go a long way, especially where the SDGs are concerned. The economists said data showed annual investment in SDGs by developing countries is currently around $1.4 trillion, 69 percent short of its target.

Exports rebound, BPO to anchor PHL growth

In a Laging Handa briefing on Monday, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said exports may post 7-percent growth this year while the BPO sector is looking at a growth of 5 percent. Lopez said the recent growth of the country’s exports and BPO sector are not only due to base effects. He said recent policies on allowing 100-percent operation in these sectors also contributed to the growth.

PH extends travel ban on India, 6 other countries until June 30

The Philippine government announced on Monday the extension of the ban on travelers coming from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates until June 30. This is the third time the Philippine government imposed travel restrictions to the seven countries.

NCR mayors shorten curfew hours starting June 15

Metro Manila mayors have agreed to impose shorter curfew hours starting tomorrow amid declining COVID-19 daily attack rate in the region, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairperson Benhur Abalos said. Those residing in the capital region can stay out late longer as local executives have decided to implement curfew hours from 12 a.m. to 4 a.m. beginning June 15.

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