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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | July 30, 2021

July 30, 2021

ECCP Online

Metro Manila will be placed under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20, IATF spokesperson Harry Roque says

Metro Manila will be under the general community quarantine with "heightened" and additional restrictions from July 30 to August 5. It will then be placed under enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20. Additionally, the travel ban on 10 countries is also extended to August 15.

Household spending seen rising 4% this year

Consumption is likely to recover with a 4% increase in household spending this year, although the consumer and retail sectors are only expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022, Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research said. Total household spending is expected to hit P10.6 trillion this year, which is still lower than the P11.1 trillion logged in 2019 prior to the pandemic, it added. By 2022, household spending is projected to grow by 5.1% to P11.2 trillion. 

DOF bares as much as P43-billion potential revenue with lifting of mining freeze

The government’s lifting of the nine-year-old moratorium on new mining projects is expected to boost mineral production by around P15 billion more every year until 2023, and up to an additional P43 billion annually until 2027, the Department of Finance (DOF) disclosed. If not for the pandemic, Finance Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresa S. Habitan said the extractive industry in the Philippines was poised to grow in the long-term at an annual rate of 10.3 percent from 2020, mainly driven by the oil and gas sector’s annual growth rate of 26 percent on the back of the Philippines’s relatively slow transition to decarbonization.

DOH notes rise in Covid-19 cases in PHL

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the increase in cases was observed mid-July after a slowdown in cases before. Vergeire said that nationally, the two-week growth rate (TWGR) is now seen to be positive with an increase in average daily attack rate (ADAR). The Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), Regions 6, and 11 at high risk ADAR while six regions seen to have trend reversal to positive TWGR. In NCR, 11 areas have positive TWGR; Makati, Las Piñas, and Pasay at high risk ADAR; Las Piñas at critical risk utilization rate (ICUR) while Makati at high risk.

PHL government debt posts new high of P11.166 trillion

The Bureau of the Treasury reported on Thursday that the national government’s debt stock rose by P94.91 billion or 0.9 percent from P11.07 trillion as of end-May. Year-to-date, this was also 14 percent higher than the end-2020 level of P9.795-trillion. Still making up the bulk of the debt stock are domestic borrowings at 71.1 percent while the rest came from foreign sources. Domestic debt as of end-June jumped by 28.2 percent year-on-year to P7.94 trillion from P6.19 trillion.

Vaccine experts set to issue guidelines for Covid booster shots

The Vaccine Expert Panel (VEP) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will soon be coming out with its initial guidelines for the use of Covid-19 “booster shots.” The DOST currently has an ongoing study to review the duration of the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines, which is currently being administered locally.  Some vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer-BionTech are already recommending the administration booster shots. 

Virology, CDC bills passed

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading two priority measures of the Duterte administration — the creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines Act and the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control Act (CDC). The two measures were passed during Wednesday’s plenary session or two days after President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call to pass the said bills during his final State of the Nation Address (SoNA).

Vaccine demand may be met only in October – Galvez

During a meeting of the government’s pandemic task force last Wednesday, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. admitted that while the volume of vaccine deliveries is large, the supply would be inadequate if the inoculation is opened to the A1 to A5 groups. Galvez reported that the Philippines has so far received 31.36 million doses of COVID-19 shots. He said the shots can be administered to 17.3 million individuals, noting that most of the vaccines are given in two doses while the one developed by Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose jab.

Philippines' COVID-19 risk classification back to 'moderate': DOH

The Philippines' COVID-19 risk classification is back to "moderate" from low risk as growth in cases swelled in the past 2 weeks, the Department of Health (DOH) said. The growth rate of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines jumped to 1 percent in the past two weeks from a -10 percent rate some 3 to 4 weeks ago, Health spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said. From July 22 to 28, the Philippines' average daily reported COVID-19 cases was at 1,013, which is 285 cases higher than the average the prior week, she said in an online press conference.

BIR suspends tax hike on private schools

BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay signed Revenue Regulations (RR) 14-2021 on Wednesday suspending certain provisions of RR 5-2021 that excluded nonprofit private schools from availing of the preferential tax and effectively increased the rate to the 25% regular corporate income tax. With RR 5-2021 suspended, non-profit private schools will now continue to enjoy the preferential tax rate of 1%, which has been lowered under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) for three years until June 30, 2021, from 10% previously.

Biz groups favor lockdown

Two of the country’s biggest business groups on Wednesday agreed to a possible third declaration of a hard lockdown to arrest the threat of a Covid-19 Delta variant spread, but asked the government for a lead time to avert an economic shock. A preparation, they said, is needed to protect the anticipated fourth quarter gains expected from Christmas and pre-election spending that a so-called “circuit breaker” may scuttle. The lockdown was proposed by the private OCTA Research Group that said it is needed to slow down the more transmissible Delta variant in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Tax reforms, GUIDE are still priorities even without Duterte’s push

The last twi packages under the comprehensive tax reform program, as well as a bill equipping state-run banks to lend more to distressed businesses are still priority measures, officials said, even if President Rodrigo R. Duterte did not mention these during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA). The two bills are part of the common legislative agenda of Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) that are targeted to be passed by yearend.

Think tanks see Delta further slowing PH economic recovery

The threat from the more contagious Delta variant of SARS Cov2, which could prolong the pandemic and quarantine restrictions, would make the Philippines among “losers” in long-term economic scarring and keep potential below pre-pandemic levels until 2025, according to think tanks. Due to risks from the Delta variant, Moody’s Analytics said the Philippines needed additional fiscal stimulus to do the heavy lifting. In a separate report, UK-based Oxford Economics said it expects the Philippines and India “to experience especially large losses given sharp falls in investment and higher unemployment rates” until 2025.

IMF raises growth forecasts for rich nations, dims outlook for developing world

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday maintained its 6% global growth forecast for 2021, upgrading its outlook for the United States and other wealthy economies but cutting estimates for developing countries struggling with surging COVID-19 infections. The divergence is based largely on better access to COVID-19 vaccines and continued fiscal support in advanced economies, while emerging markets face difficulties on both fronts, the IMF said in an update to its World Economic Outlook.

85% of economic agenda achieved, says Dominguez

The tax reforms enacted so far alongside the implementation of big-ticket infrastructure projects under the ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program allowed the Duterte administration to accomplish thus far about 85 percent of its economic agenda, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said. In a separate statement, Chua, who heads state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said proposed amendments to the Public Service Act, Retail Trade Liberalization Act and the Foreign Investment Act aimed at relaxing restrictions on foreign capital “will help generate more jobs and accelerate our economic recovery.” 

Galvez: PH needs additional 42.6 million COVID-19 vaccines to fill demand

The government still needs 42.6 million COVID-19 shots to address the supply and demand gap, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said. Galvez explained that around 70.8 million is the projected number of Filipinos eligible for vaccination. Of this, around 59.92 million belong to the targeted population, or those from A1 to A5 priority groups. However, the government has so far only received over 31 million vaccine doses, which translate to two doses for 17.3 million persons. This already includes more than 3 million shots of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Metro Manila to remain under GCQ with heightened restrictions until August 15

Despite calls for a hard lockdown to arrest the ongoing surge in Metro Manila, President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation of the National Task Force against COVID-19 to keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine with heightened restrictions until August 15. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said other areas under the same quarantine classification.

Biz chambers welcome Duterte's call to pass priority bills

Foreign business chambers on Tuesday welcomed President Rodgrigo Duterte's call for Congress to pass several priority bills. "The ECCP (European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines) welcomes the policy pronouncements of the administration in the SONA (State of the Nation Address) including the freedom of information, the establishment of the department of disaster resilience, and ease of doing business," said ECCP President President Lars Wittig. The group also expressed support to the government's goal to expedite economic recovery and revitalization.

Metro Manila Council open to another ECQ

The Metro Manila Council said it is ready to implement again enhanced community quarantine in the region amid threats posed by the Delta coronavirus variant. MMC chair Edwin Olivarez, however, pointed out that the next quarantine classification for the capital will still depend on the recommendations of health experts, data, and protocols to be implemented by local chief executives in their jurisdictions.

DBM seeks Duterte OK on PhP5-trillion National Expenditure Program

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has started seeking President Duterte’s approval on the proposed P5.024-trillion 2022 national budget. The budget department submitted on Monday the memorandum to the President to seek his approval of the 2022 National Expenditure Program (NEP). The Cabinet-level Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) earlier said the proposed 2022 national budget will continue to invest in building the country’s resilience amid the pandemic by prioritizing funding for  Covid-19 response measures, such as health-care development and social services, while also ramping up economic growth through investments in public infrastructure.

IMF cuts growth forecast for ASEAN-5 from 4.9% to 4.3%

In its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO), the IMF said the ASEAN-5 bloc is now projected to grow by 4.3 percent from its 4.9 percent forecast in April this year. The ASEAN-5 cluster consists of the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department Gita Gopinath said the world is experiencing a divergent recovery path, as the gap between advanced economies and emerging economies is growing farther apart. 

Health experts want hard lockdown amid Delta Covid-19 spike

Health experts are now pushing for an “early and hard” lockdown in Metro Manila and other areas with increasing infections to contain the local spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant. OCTA Research team member Ranjit Rye said the prompt implementation of the lockdown would minimize possible infections and the economic disruption caused by the Delta variant. He noted the declaration of the lockdown in the coming weeks may ensure Covid-19 cases remain in check and allow most businesses to continue their operation until the last quarter of the year. 

Neda pins recovery hopes on labor force

The country’s world-class labor force will make it possible for the Philippines to recover from this pandemic, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said on Tuesday efforts to pursue long-standing structural reforms will also be crucial in the country’s recovery. These reforms include the passage of key legislation such as the Public Service Act, the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, and the Foreign Investment Act, which were named by the President as priorities of the outgoing administration.

DBM: P5.97 billion of Bayanihan 2 funds expired on June 30

The DBM reported that total unobligated funds under Bayanihan 2 as of June 30 amounted to a total of P13.88 billion. Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday said DBM data showed underspending of Bayanihan 2 funds. However, the DBM said only P5.97 billion out of the P13.88 billion in unobligated Bayanihan 2 funds was reverted to the General Fund following the expiration of Special Appropriations and FY 2019 Continuing Appropriations under Bayanihan 2.  

PHL secures $400-million ADB loan to reduce youth unemployment

The Asian Development Bank approved a $400-million loan to expand a Philippine government program aimed at helping unemployed youth find quality jobs. Under the program, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will increase the job facilitation capacity of Public Employment Services Offices (PESOs) nationwide, as well as improve workplace skills development and labor market programs. The ADB loan will also finance the government’s unemployment insurance scheme, the P1-billion Tulong Trabaho Scholarship Fund of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and First Time Jobseekers law, which waives the fees of public documents for first-time job applicants.

Balance of payments deficit hits $312M

Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday showed the BoP deficit stood at $312 million in June, a reversal from the $80-million surplus logged a year ago. June also marked the second consecutive month that the BoP position was in deficit, although 78% slimmer than the $1.397-billion gap in May. It is the smallest shortfall since the $73 million in March.

Infrastructure spending exceeds first-half target

Data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed infrastructure and other capital outlays reached P426.6 billion between January and June, exceeding its P420-billion goal by 1.7%. Year on year, infrastructure spending surged 43% from P298 billion previously. DBM attributed the higher spending to DPWH’s infrastructure program to construct and repair roads, bridges and flood-control systems, as well as the Transportation department’s sustained rollout of various foreign-assisted projects.

Amid underspending in first half: Budget deficit falls below ceiling

The Philippines fell short of its budget deficit ceiling in the first half after missing its spending target by 10%, prompting analysts to warn that underspending could hamper the economy’s recovery. Preliminary data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed fiscal gap reached P716.1 billion for the January-June period or 30% lower than the P1.018 trillion programmed for the period. However, the budget deficit was 28% larger than the P560.4-billion deficit seen in first six months of 2020.

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