June 22, 2021
A think tank said on Monday that most Asian countries could achieve herd immunity—including from the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19— by next year, except for the Philippines and Vietnam where mass vaccination lagged behind their neighbors’ vaccine rollout. In a report on “vaccination rates [in] emerging Asia” posted on its website on Monday, the United Kingdom-based Pantheon Macroeconomics said herd immunity could be achieved if 85 percent of populations were vaccinated, taking into consideration the emergence of the Delta variant first detected in India in February.
LPC Executive Director Lylah Ledonio said landlords stand to gain from cost savings by pursuing energy efficiency measures. Alexander Ablaza, president of the Philippine Energy Efficiency Alliance, said at a forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines that improvements in building energy use can translate to increased rental rates, lower tenant turnover, and higher property value.
Agencies may lose their sense of urgency in implementing programs under Bayanihan 2 if the validity of its appropriations is once again extended, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said. As of May 31, P18.4 billion in Bayanihan 2 appropriations have yet to be obligated by agencies, according to DBM. Unobligated funds will revert to the Bureau of the Treasury after Bayanihan 2 expires.
Financial technology (fintech) company CreditBPO Tech Inc. announced it has won the “Green and Inclusive Finance Solutions” category in the first “Europa Awards” 2021 last June 10. The “Europa Awards” was organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines to promote and recognize companies with exceptional performance and contributions in promoting sustainability in line with global standards and the Philippine Development Plan.
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said imported goods for personal use worth less than P50,000 will be cleared through an informal entry process to separate it from bigger commercial shipments. Customs Administrative Order (CAO) 02-2021 sets the rules for importations that will undergo an informal entry process. This covers imported goods with “free on board” or “free carrier” value of less than P50,000, and are used for personal consumption only. Shipments with declared value exceeding the amount will have to undergo a formal entry process.
More vaccines will be sent to key leisure destinations in the country as more supplies arrive. This was the assurance made by National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF) Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon, as resort islands like Boracay and Panglao started ramping up their vaccination of residents and tourism frontliners in preparation for their eventual reopening to foreign travelers.
The Philippines was the fourth largest recipient of foreign direct investments among countries in Southeast Asia but got a mere 5 percent of total FDIs that flowed into the region in 2020. In its World Investment Report released yesterday, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, (UNCTAD) said FDI inflows to the Philippines plunged 24 percent last year to $6.54 billion, from $8.67 billion in 2019. Last year’s FDI inflows approximated 2018’s $6.6 billion and the decline was at pace with the region’s.
Malacañang yesterday confirmed that more than P18 billion under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 remains unobligated but it is unsure whether President Duterte would call for a special session to extend the fund’s validity. Bayanihan 2, an extension of the law that funded the government’s pandemic response, will expire on June 30. Congress has to pass a new law to extend the validity of the appropriations under the measure.
The Department of Health on Monday reported four additional cases of the Delta (B.1.167.2) coronavirus variant, bringing the total to 17 cases. Three of the four additional Delta variant cases are Filipino seafarers from MV Eastern Hope, the DOH said. Upon detection of the virus, they were repatriated from South Korea to the Philippines on June 3. Two of them have recovered and have been discharged, while one is still admitted in a Metro Manila hospital. The fourth case is a returning overseas Filipino who arrived from Saudi Arabia on May 24. The person has been tagged recovered on June 10, DOH added.
Over 8 million coronavirus shots have been administered across the Philippines, reflecting that Filipinos' vaccine hesitancy is fading, a government official said. Citing data from the National Vaccination Operations Center, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said 5.95 million were already given as the first dose, while 2.09 million were administered as the second dose. Last June 15, the government posted its highest daily vaccination rate of 322,929 shots.
The country must maintain strict border controls to dampen threats of the more transmissible and severe Delta variant, a Health official said. The Delta coronavirus variant, first identified in India in February, is believed to be 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant and can cause severe symptoms.
The delivery of the first batch of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines has been pushed back due to logistical issues. Instead of June 21, Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the arrival of 250,000 doses in the country has been moved to June 25. This would be the first shipment of the US-made vaccine brand in the country. From this batch, 100,000 doses will be given to the private sector, while 150,000 will be for the government. Galvez added that one million more Moderna doses are expected to arrive in July, while two million will be shipped by September.
The Philippine government has signed a supply agreement for 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, the biggest vaccine procurement for 2021. National Task Force against COVID 19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the deliveries of the vaccine would start "eight weeks starting August." He added that the Pfizer vaccines would be delivered to all provinces and regions through what he called "hubs and spokes," and urged local government units to be ready for the arrivals.
Filipinos covered by repatriation efforts of the government and manning agencies cleared by the quarantine bureau can still enter the Philippines despite the extension of the travel ban on passengers from seven countries, Malacañang clarified. The Philippines has been imposing the ban on passengers from India since April 29, and from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka since May 7. The scope of the restriction has been widened to include Middle Eastern countries Oman and United Arab Emirates.
An estimated P18 billion in unutilized funds for pandemic response programs would go to waste when Republic Act No. 11519 or Bayanihan 2 expires on June 30 amid the dire need to arrest the surge in COVID-19 infections in many provinces. Albay Rep. Joey Salceda pushed yesterday for the holding of a “special session” while Congress is in recess for the purpose of extending the validity of the legislated fund at least until yearend. He said that local response teams and civil society groups have requested Congress to pass a bill extending the appropriations and capacity to obligate and disburse funds until Dec. 31.
President Duterte’s administration will have completed 40 big-ticket infrastructures amounting to P365.2 billion of the 119 “flagship” projects in his ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program by next year and will leave the bulk to be finished by his successor. Presidential adviser on flagship programs and projects Secretary Vivencio Dizon said 11 of these flagship projects, worth P126.7 billion, were already completed. Another 29, amounting to P238.5 billion, will be finished before the end of next year, after the President steps down on June 30, 2022.
The BIR last week issued Revenue Regulations (RR) No. 9-2021, which imposed a 12% value-added tax (VAT) on raw materials and packaging supplies sold by local manufacturers to exporters. These were previously taxed at zero percent. This issuance was followed by RR 10-2021, which requires the payment of excise tax on sweetened beverages for export upon their removal from production plants, only giving them the option to apply for tax credit or refund, or avail of the product replenishment scheme.
The government dropped two infrastructure projects worth P38 billion and added 13 new ones worth P523 billion under the revised list of the Duterte administration’s flagship infrastructure projects, data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed. The two projects removed from the revised list approved on May 12 were the P33.98-billion ICT Capability Development and Management Program and the P4.27-billion Bohol Northeast Basin Multipurpose Dam Project.
A poll held last week showed 14 out of 16 analysts expect the central bank to retain its key policy rate at its record low of 2% at the Monetary Board’s fourth policy meeting for this year on June 24. Analysts said it is crucial for the BSP to retain its accommodative stance in the meantime as the economy’s rebound from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic still has a long way to go.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said that mainstreaming sustainable finance in the country is crucial to protect the economy and the financial system from potential shocks related to climate change. In February, International credit watcher Moody’s Investors Service assigned a “moderately negative” ESG credit impact score for the country. The credit watcher also said the inadequate and intermittent access to clean water and issues of waste and pollution add to the Philippines exposure to environmental risks.