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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | June 25, 2021

June 25, 2021

ECCP Online

S&P sees PHL economy growing by 6% this year

S&P Global Ratings lowered its 2021 growth forecast for the Philippines to 6% on Thursday, as low public mobility amid the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a drag on recovery. The latest forecast is significantly lower than the 7.9% gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimate S&P gave in March, and matches the low end of the government’s 6-7% target for the year. Meanwhile, S&P raised its Philippine GDP estimate for 2022 to 7.5% from 7.2%. This is well within the government’s 7-9% growth projection for next year.


Lower quarantine restriction mulled in Metro Manila

DOH epidemiology bureau chief Alethea de Guzman said the department is conducting a study on the current situation and will submit the appropriate recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.The sub-technical working group on data analytic, she added, is looking into whether Metro Manila will still be placed under general community quarantine or downgraded further.


Monetary execs raise inflation forecast to 4%

Higher oil prices in the international market resulted in the upward revision in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) average inflation forecast for this year. In a briefing streamed through the central bank’s Facebook page on Thursday, BSP Deputy Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. said the 2021 projection was changed from 3.9 percent to 4 percent. 


BIR sets tougher fines, penalties for tax evasion

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has jacked up the fines and extended the jail term for those who will be found guilty of tax evasion as mandated by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Internal Revenue Caesar Dulay set the updated penalties under the TRAIN Law through Revenue Regulations (RR) 13-2021. RR 13-2021 also listed down the range of penalties for various violations of the fuel marking program, which was aimed at eliminating oil smuggling. The BIR said faking fuel marking test results will be slapped with imprisonment of between one year and two-and-a-half years.


Ten more cities added to vaccine priority areas

The Philippine government on Thursday identified more areas, dubbed Plus 10, to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout alongside NCR+8 (Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Batangas, Pampanga, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao). Asked on the vaccine allocation for Plus 10, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he has no information on this yet, but noted the new areas were "subject to more supplies."


NCR now low risk for COVID-19

Metro Manila, considered as the epicenter of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Philippines, is now considered as low risk due to the decline in new cases reported as well as its low average daily attack rate. “The NCR is classified as low risk because it is showing decline in cases by 23 percent in the last two weeks, while its ADAR is now at 5.7 only,” DOH – Epidemiology Bureau (EB) Director Dr. Alethea de Guzman said. But while the situation in the National Capital Region has greatly improved, four other regions in the Visayas and Mindanao are now at “high risk” due to growth in COVID-19 cases and high average daily attack rates (ADAR).


P8.7B loan to support PH COVID response

The 20 billion yen, or about P8.71 billion, disbursed by Japan to the Philippines will assist the country in its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response efforts, especially in providing emergency assistance to vulnerable sectors, the Department of Finance (DOF) said. The disbursement, which the Philippine government received this month, represents the third tranche of the Post-Disaster Standby Loan (PDSL-2) extended by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to the Philippines in September last year. The first and second tranches amounting to 10 billion yen each were released last October 27, 2020, and January 5, 2021, respectively.


DTI vows to support creative industry’s pandemic recovery

Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba said at a recent event that DTI Competitiveness and Innovation Group has been implementing a program which aims to scale up creative talents, startups, entrepreneurs and businesses implementing new business models and information technology tools such as artificial intelligence. Aldaba said that the Trade department is working with the Philippine Statistics Authority in coming up with the Philippine Creative Industries Satellite Account to address the lack of official industry data.


House eyes combination of Bayanihan 2, 3 in a bill

In a news conference, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said Congress can now approve the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act or the Bayanihan 3 into law as the Department of  Finance (DOF) already found P173 billion to fund the third tranche of the Bayanihan law. Salceda earlier called for an extension of Bayanihan 2 through a memorandum for the House leadership, which the House tax panel chairman says the leadership is actively exploring.


BSP seen to keep rates unchanged in today’s meet

Chidu Narayanan, economist for Asia at British bank Standard Chartered, said in a research note the BSP would likely keep its rates on hold through the entire 2021 and 2022, anchored on a “moderation in inflation combined with still-soft growth and subdued sentiment.” Narayanan said inflation this year had likely plateaued in the second quarter, after spiking sharply in the first quarter. This was while the imposition of renewed nationwide lockdowns in March had gnawed on activity, hurting demand, the economist noted.


Infra projects to create 1.6M more new jobs this year–Villar

The big-ticket infrastructure projects currently rolled out by the government will create an additional 1.6 million jobs this year, President Duterte’s infrastructure managers said. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar told the Asia Infrastructure Forum 2021 the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program had so far created 6.5 million jobs as public infrastructure spending was doubled to 5 percent of gross domestic product from an average of 2 percent during previous administrations.


DILG: LGUs without capacity to store Pfizer vaccines urged to team up with private sector

With more Pfizer vaccine deliveries expected this year, local government units are urged to seek the help of the private sector in meeting the stringent temperature requirement of the vaccines. The Department of the Interior and Local Government made the suggestion after the national government sealed a deal with Pfizer for 40 million doses of its vaccine, the country’s biggest procurement for 2021. Pfizer vaccines need to be stored in ultra-cold freezers with temperatures between -80°C and -60°C. Such storage equipment are not yet widely available nationwide.


Neda chief Chua sees ‘opening’ for MGCQ in NCR

The country’s chief economist on Wednesday said the declining number of COVID-19 cases alongside increasing mass vaccination would allow a less restrictive quarantine level in Metro Manila. Chua said that while the gradual economic reopening resulted in a net-job creation of 700,000 in April compared to year-ago levels when 75 percent of the economy stopped under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), they were concerned about the quality of available jobs, which have lower pay and shorter working hours.


P15B investments in retail pending

Some P15 billion investments in retail are pending at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and could multiply “a couple of times over” if equity thresholds are lowered. This was announced by Sen Aquilino Pimentel III who sponsored Senate Bill (SB) 1840 or An Act Amending the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000 at the Joint Advocacy Webinar: Unlocking the Economy to Create Jobs and Investments hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines. Pimentel said Congress is on track of having the bill passed although both Houses were not able to reconcile their versions at the first bicameral conference committee last May 31.


P2.1-B income lost daily during MECQ, says Chua

As much as P2.1 billion in income was lost in Metro Manila and nearby provinces for each day of modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) in April and May. NEDA Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the looser quarantine restrictions helped temper the losses, which are significantly lower than the P2.8 billion a day or total of P1 trillion in income lost during the longer and stricter lockdowns in 2020. Mr. Chua said the 6-7% growth target for 2021 and 7-9% next year can be achieved if the economy is reopened, the mass vaccination campaign picks up pace and recovery measures are implemented efficiently.

 

Fast-track vaccines to provinces – Duterte

President Duterte has ordered government agencies to fast-track the deployment of vaccines to the provinces as the number of COVID-19 infections in Mindanao continues to rise. National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said local governments have been scaling up their daily vaccination capacities as COVID-19 jabs are being consumed fast. He cited Cagayan de Oro, Ormoc, Negros and Iloilo, which he said consume 5,000 to 8,000 doses per day.


Reforms may boost LGU property tax haul by P113 billion

Local Government Units (LGUs) could boost their real property tax (RPT) collection by P113.4 billion with the implementation of a project that will digitize their tax valuation and collection processes, the Finance department said. BLGF Executive Director Niño Raymond B. Alvina said in a statement on Tuesday that the program aims to help at least 1,372 LGUs meet 100% of their collection and valuation targets by 2024, and train over 858 or 50% of 1,715 local assessors to use new digital tools.


Deficit narrows to P200B in May

The national government’s budget deficit narrowed to P200.3 billion in May as revenues posted a significant increase from its year ago level, data released by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed. According to a BTr statement yesterday, the budget shortfall marginally narrowed from the P202.1 billion incurred in May last year. Revenues surged by 69.26 percent, while expenditures posted a growth of 29.15 percent. To recall, tight quarantine measures were still in place in May last year.


‘Green infrastructure,’ new tourism products may boost inbound arrivals, domestic trips

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has drawn up new strategies and tourism products to achieve its revised arrivals and income targets for 2021 and 2022. Under its Reformulated National Tourism Development Plan (RNTDP) for 2021-2022, the DOT’s key strategic directions now include: “Ensuring responsive and timely policies in support of safe and fun tourism, Cultivating convergence to develop and promote sustainable domestic tourism; and Enhancing capacity among tourism workers to ensure employability and productivity.”


Livestock sector recovery eyed to pull agri growth up

Agriculture Secretary William Dar is eyeing a bounce-back in agriculture growth once the livestock sector gains full recovery. Dar noted that the economic performance of three main sectors in the Philippines -- Industry, Service, and Agriculture -- have all incurred a dip in their figure but agriculture has the least negative growth with only -1.2 percent. Dar said compared to industry and services sectors which gained -4.7 percent and -4.4 percent, respectively, agriculture is still projecting "almost in the neutral growth".


Prolonged pandemic to slow PH recovery

According to investment experts from HSBC Private Banking, the Philippine economy will grapple with more headwinds from the prolonged coronavirus pandemic as herd immunity may only be reached by 2024, likely becoming the third to the last territory in Asia-Pacific to finish the urgent race. HSBC expects the main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) to trade sideways from hereon toward 6,820 at year-end. As of HSBC’s midyear investment outlook briefing on Tuesday, the PSEi finished at 6,870.41, down by 269.3 points, or 3.8 percent so far this year.

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