August 24, 2021
The Bureau of Treasury reported a deficit of ₱121.2 billion for the month, which was 13.57% less than the ₱140.2 billion logged in July 2020. It is also lower than the ₱149.9 billion shortfall in June. "The fiscal performance for the period resulted from the 9.21% growth in revenue collection alongside a 0.69% modest increase in government expenditures," the agency said.
Weak personal and health security made Manila the least safe city compared to other Asean-5 cities included in the 2021 Safe Cities Index (SCI) released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU). Based on the data, Manila ranked 51st out of 60 cities in the 2021 SCI with an overall score of 52.5 out of 100. This is below the average score of 66.1 out of 100. Out of the 5 pillars of security used by the index measures safety, Manila’s lowest score was 46.4 for personal security where it ranked 55th, tied with Bangkok. This pillar measures crime and terrorism as well as the government’s efforts to respond to them.
Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) opened 4.47 million accounts for applicants who registered to receive the national ID system as of the end of June, the equivalent of 47% of the ID registration total. Some 1.23 million had received their Land Bank Agent Banking cards and are already using these cards for various transactions. The cards enable users to engage in branchless banking by transacting with LANDBANK partners, enabling them to withdraw money. The cards are issued for free.
S&P Global Ratings is expecting a “modest” increase in net general government (GG) debt next year assuming the Philippines needs to deal with further waves of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but such deterioration in debt metrics is unlikely to impact the sovereign rating. The ratings agency projected net GG debt at 45.4% of the overall economic output next year, higher than its baseline forecast of 44%, under a scenario of two more COVID-19 surges.
The Philippine central bank governor said there is no urgency to change policy rates, currently at record lows, as he vowed to support efforts to sustain the country’s economic recovery. This year’s growth target has been cut to 4% to 5%, from 6% to 7% expected previously. But the downgrade was still a significant improvement from last year’s record contraction of 9.6%. The central bank kept the rate on the overnight reverse repurchase facility at 2% for a sixth straight policy meeting on Aug. 12.
The National Government is proposing to allocate P1.18 trillion for infrastructure projects in 2022, as it expects the sector to drive the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The Executive branch has already submitted the record P5.024-trillion national budget to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House is expected to start hearings on Thursday (26 August), and is targeting to have the 2022 national expenditure program approved by Sept. 30.
The national government’s outstanding debt will further climb to a record P13.42 trillion by the end of 2022 even as next year’s gross borrowing was expected to be a smaller P2.47 trillion in accordance with the narrower budget deficit program. Documents on the proposed P5.024-trillion 2022 national budget showed that outstanding debt next year will further rise from the P11.73 trillion programmed by the end of 2021. The national government’s gross borrowings for 2022 will be smaller than this year’s P3.07-trillion program. Borrowings for 2023 would further decline to P2.31 trillion.
The Department of Budget and Management on Monday submitted the ₱5.024 trillion proposed budget for 2022 to leaders of the House of Representatives. The expenditure plan is 22.8% of the country’s economic output and higher by 11.5% than the ₱4.5-trillion budget for this year, DBM said. Social services will again get the largest slice of the budget pie in 2022 sectors-wise, with ₱1.922 trillion assigned for it or a 15.2% year-on-year increase.
Metro Manila is inching closer to its “population protection” vaccination target against COVID-19, with 43% of the eligible population having received two jabs from their local government units (LGU). As of August 22, 4,262,546 residents in the National Capital Region (NCR) have completed two doses, out of the eligible population of 9,800,000. The 9.8-million figure is 70% of Metro Manila’s total population. Meanwhile, 7,350,611 people in the metropolis – 75% of the eligible population – have received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot, according to Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos.
The House of Representatives is expected to receive Malacañang’s proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 when it resumes plenary session following a two-week suspension due to the imposition of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the National Capital Region. The House is also anticipating Malacañang’s submission of the National Expenditure Program (NEP) which contains the proposed national budget. Once the NEP is received by Congress, the House committee on appropriations will immediately begin budget deliberations.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III told reporters that 4.1 million Filipinos were injected with their first dose of vaccines between Aug. 6 and 19. The economic team had pushed for swifter mass vaccination during the 15-day ECQ in Metro Manila, which ended on Friday, to take advantage of tight movement restrictions aimed at suppressing the growth of Delta variant cases.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno laid out a list of measures aimed at preventing the abuse of the enhanced powers the bill would give to bank examiners, including strict limits on the use of deposit information. The central bank chief explained that, under the BSP’s version of the proposed law, any inquiry would be limited to the deposit account of the stockholder, owner, director, trustee, officer or employee of an entity that was subject to the supervision or regulatory power of the BSP, the representative or agent, the related party, or any of the conspirators of the person involved in the commission of fraud, serious irregularity or unlawful activity.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue has extended the deadline for the filing of returns and payment of taxes that fall within the period from Aug. 6 to 20 in areas under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and modified ECQ. The BIR said the deadline - which also covers the submission of reports and attachments - was extended for 15 days starting 20 August as the country deals with rising COVID-19 cases and the threat of the highly contagious Delta variant. The BIR said in case the ECQ and/or MECQ will be extended within or after the 15-day period, the deadline will also be expanded from the lifting of such quarantine status.
In its monitoring report for Aug. 15 to 21, OCTA said the enhanced community quarantine enforced from Aug. 6 to 20 helped reduce the COVID-19 growth rate in the national capital region. This refers to the weekly percentage change in the average number of new daily cases. It said that in the last seven days, the NCR averaged 3,819 new cases per day. This is a 24% rise from the previous average of 3,088 logged from Aug. 8 to 14. OCTA explained, however, that this percentage increase is lower than the 72% one-week growth rate recorded two weeks ago. The decline is also consistent with a decreasing reproduction rate, or the number of people infected by a single case, according to OCTA.
Maybank analysts Chua Hak Bin, Lee Ju Ye, and Linda Liu said the Philippines and Thailand will likely achieve herd immunity by May 2022, even as governments of both countries are targeting to inoculate 70% of their population against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by end-2021. They noted Singapore has already achieved herd immunity this month based on the current pace of vaccination, with Malaysia expected to follow by October. Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to attain herd immunity by July 2022 and August 2022, respectively.
The Department of Finance (DOF) expects the national government’s deficit to return to its pre-pandemic level by 2025 or even a year earlier, as the agency prepares a fiscal consolidation plan. Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, said the fiscal consolidation plan is an ongoing project which the DOF has started working on about a month and a half ago.
The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) wants government agencies to make use of a digital payments system to provide ease in transactions. ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica said this move is in line with Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act. “Transacting with the government has to be automated and electronically reachable end-to-end because if at any stage — submission of applications, receipt of assessments, payment, or release thereof — there is a need for physical processing at the concerned office, then it fails to achieve the goal of automation,” he said in a statement.