September 01, 2021
In a briefing Tuesday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they have observed a “steep increase in new cases” in the recent week. From August 24 to 30, the DOH noted an average of 17,013 cases per day, up from 14,886 in the previous week. On Monday, the country posted another all-time high in new COVID-19 cases at 22,366. OCTA Research fellow Guido David told CNN Philippines that new infections may even reach 25,000 next week. Cases will continue to increase a little further before going down, he added.
A proposed measure seeking to provide tax relief on critical medical supplies — like medical oxygen was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives on third and final reading. Voting 202-0-0, House Bill No. 8895, also known as the Public Health Emergency Importation Tax Exemption Act, was approved by lawmakers during Tuesday's session.
Electronic commerce (e-commerce) growth in the Philippines will grow dramatically as Filipinos shift to online from offline purchases, are more willing to try new products from new online sellers and have become adept in using digital wallets. Facebook and Bain & Company’s annual SYNC Southeast Asia report said Southeast Asia’s online consumer spending continues to gain momentum when measured by e-commerce gross merchandise value (GMV), which is projected to reach $132 billion this year which is 1.8x higher than the $75 billion recorded in 2020.
The national government’s outstanding debt as of end-July has reached P11.61 trillion, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said in a statement yesterday. The BTr said the outstanding debt rose by 4 percent from the previous month’s level of P11.17 trillion, due to peso depreciation and the net availment of both domestic and external debt.
Inflation in August likely exceeded the Philippine central bank’s target as prices of food staples and utility rates rose, Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said on Tuesday. The consumer price index probably rose by 4.1% to 4.9% last month, faster than the 2-4% target of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), he told reporters in a Viber group message. If realized, price increases would have been much faster than the 2.4% a year earlier and 4% in July, when inflation was within target for the first time this year.
The business groups are looking forward to the passage of the Creative Industries Development Act, which is seen to further expand the creative sector’s economic contribution. For its part, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has vowed to support the creative industry—a sector seen generating high-value activities and job opportunities—in its bid to recover post-pandemic.
There is now a community transmission of the more contagious Delta variant in the Philippines, the World Health Organization's representative to the country confirmed on Tuesday. The Department of Health earlier confirmed community transmission — wherein the sources of the infection can no longer be traced — in Metro Manila and Calabarzon. But said it more data is needed to say if the situation is the same nationwide. Based on the biosurveillance report released on Aug. 27, nearly 69% of the 748 samples reviewed were confirmed to be Delta infections. The total stands at 1,789 Delta cases or 14.12% of the variant cases in the country.
The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is studying a proposal to restrategize the implementation of COVID-19 lockdowns — from wider community quarantine restrictions to a more localized approach. In the government's Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said officials are eyeing a shift to granular lockdowns, where local government units can strengthen their case detection measures.
Establishments that offer personal care and dine-in services in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine should be allowed to reopen only for vaccinated customers, a Cabinet official said on Saturday. Lopez said his proposal could convince more people to get vaccinated and help restore jobs. Around one million workers in the restaurant industry and over 200,000 employees in the personal care services sector have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Lopez.
Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion on August 30 said limiting the mobility of the unvaccinated may be done for the common good as he received support for his proposed “bakuna bubble” from various businesses such as malls, restaurants, retailers, gyms and salons as a way to safely open the economy and prevent its collapse.
The European Union on Monday recommended that its member states reimpose travel restrictions on US tourists over rising covid infections in the country. The European Council, which represents the bloc's 27 governments, said it was taking six territories off its list of locations exempted from restrictions on non-essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic. "Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and the United States of America were removed from the list," a statement said.
The Government is still proceeding with a plan to privatize state-owned mines, with Basay Mining Corp. being the first in line, as it looks for new sources of revenues amid the prolonged pandemic, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said. Last year, the Department of Finance (DoF) chief ordered the Privatization and Management Office (PMO) to review all government-owned mines ahead of a plan to sell these assets to raise more revenues.
The impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on banks in the second quarter as assets grew at a slower pace and bad loans piled up. The latest edition of BusinessWorld’s quarterly banking report showed the combined assets of 42 universal and commercial banks (U/KBs) rose 2.71% to P18.657 trillion in the April-June period, from P18.165 trillion in the same three months of 2020.
Retailers are asking for expedited vaccine deliveries as the industry is running out of cash reserves after three major lockdowns since March 2020. “The retail industry — stores, fastfood and restaurants — are on a verge of collapse,” Philippine Retailers Association Vice-Chairman Roberto S. Claudio said in an e-mail on Saturday. “Retailers have lost 85-90% of our pre-pandemic levels.”
The International Finance Corp. (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is ramping up investments in East Asia and the Pacific economies to as much as $5 billion to help the region rebound from the pandemic and combat climate change, a top official said. “For the next year, we’re targeting long-term investments of $4-5 billion across East Asia and the Pacific [for a] green, resilient and inclusive growth,” IFC’s newly appointed Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific Kim-See Lim told BusinessWorld in an interview on Aug. 20.
In its latest Market Call report, First Metro Investment Corporation-University of Asia and the Pacific (FMIC-UA&P) Capital Markets Research said growth this year, at best, could reach 5 percent or lower by year-end. The think tank said the 11.6-percent GDP growth in the second quarter brought some optimism but, on a quarterly basis, growth still contracted at 1.4 percent.
Moody’s Analytics, the research arm of Moody’s Group, particularly said the Philippines—along with Indonesia—will struggle most with less effective Covid-19 policies due to vaccine shortages and ineffective social distancing measures. This, the think tank said, creates much uncertainty on the timing of a rebound. In a separate research note, Fitch Solutions announced that they have revised their growth forecast of emerging Asia downward from 7.9 percent to 7.8 percent, saying the region’s recovery has been constrained by low Covid-19 vaccination rates and the emergence of the more transmissible Delta virus variant.
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said that the mobility of the unvaccinated can be limited, and it is justified if done for the common good. This was his stance as he garnered support from the country’s SMEs and top business group leaders for his proposal to allow only fully-vaccinated individuals to drive the economy in the NCR. "Restricting full mobility of the unvaccinated is the price to pay, but this is not permanent since things can change when we get better. In any angle, this is justified since this simply aims to benefit the common good,” he added.