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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | September 03, 2021

September 03, 2021

ECCP Online

Gov’t think tank backs stimulus to be directed to ‘green recovery’

The government should align the objectives of its stimulus package programs with the goal of bringing about a green recovery, in order to ensure that the rebound is sustainable, according to representatives from a government think tank. “We should tie up the conditions for stimulus packages that are being asked of the government, to ESG (environmental, social, and governance) metrics (following) green and inclusive recovery principles,” according to Adoracion M. Navarro, senior research fellow for the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), at a PIDS webinar Thursday.

Delta poses risk to construction rebound

The Philippine construction sector is expected to rebound “strongly” this year, but the outlook is threatened by the Delta-driven surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections and stricter lockdowns, Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research said. It also said in a note on Thursday that the Philippine construction industry is forecast to grow by 24.2% this year, bouncing back from the 25.7% slump in 2020. However, Fitch Solutions flagged downside risks arising from the Delta-driven virus surge and lockdown measures which may weaken the industry’s growth in the second half.

Concepcion eyes pilot testing of ‘bakuna bubble’

The proposed “vaccine bubble” designed for a safe reopening of the economy during the pandemic should be tested in local government units (LGUs) in Metro Manila with high vaccination rates, an adviser of President Duterte said yesterday. Under the proposed bubble, vaccinated individuals would be required to show their vaccine card, while the unvaccinated would have to present a negative antigen or RT-PCR (reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction) test before entering high-risk establishments such as restaurants, salons, coffee shops and gyms.

BSP can keep rates at record lows but PH recovery needs fiscal boost—Diokno

The central bank can keep domestic interest rates at their prevailing record-low levels longer to help the Philippine economy regain its footing despite stubbornly high inflation, the head of the agency said on Thursday. At an online briefing, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said the regulator continues to have ample monetary policy space and believes that the current accommodative policy settings represent appropriate stimulus to demand.

DOH: Daily cases in NCR may reach up to 43,000 by end-September

"Based on a set of assumptions, daily cases in NCR for September 30 may range from 16,000 to 43,000," the Department of Health said in a statement. The parameters included mobility, healthcare capacities, and the public's adherence to minimum health protocols, the department added. The DOH, however, explained that these figures "are used to guide the government" to better prepare for the pandemic response, especially with the threat of the highly contagious Delta variant — now present in all regions in the country.

3-week hard lockdown vs COVID-19 spike may not be doable: Palace

Malacañang on Thursday said it may be hard to pull off a 3-week hard lockdown in some areas to curb record-highs in COVID-19 cases. The Philippines passed the 2 million mark in coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a fifth of those recorded in the past month alone. Medical staff are overwhelmed and 103 of them have died during the pandemic, among some 33,500 coronavirus fatalities overall.

‘More integrated’ approach to COVID-19 to help boost PH economic recovery — Moody's Analytics

In a recent report, Moody’s Analytics cited the government’s acquisition of more COVID-19 vaccine doses and plan to open inoculation to the general public by October. Moody’s Analytics also noted the proposal to transition from wider community quarantine restrictions to granular lockdowns. The country’s pandemic response task force and its panel of experts are currently studying this more localized approach, which involves local governments further strengthening case detection measures.

Health officials detect Delta variant in all 18 PH regions

Health authorities have detected two cases of the Delta variant in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which means the highly contagious coronavirus variant is now present in all 18 regions in the country. The World Health Organization earlier said the Delta variant is now the dominant variant in the Philippines. Saloma said it will soon be easier to detect variant cases in other regions because sequencing equipment will be deployed in the Visayas and Mindanao by October or November. The machines will allow for the sequencing of 350 samples per week.

Policies to attract investments in RE key to phasing out coal

The Department of Finance (DOF) said the government is working on policies, such as the grant of incentives, that would attract more renewable energy (RE) investments in the country. In an online briefing hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez, said the DOF and the Department of Energy (DOE) are jointly conducting studies on the implementation of carbon pricing instruments to incentivize initiatives that can help in mitigating the effects of climate change. However, Alvarez said the government sees carbon pricing instruments at this time as not viable since the DOE still has concerns on the security of energy resources.

Increased foreign ownership for solar, wind seen requiring legislation

The Department of Energy believes new laws may be needed to relax the foreign ownership restrictions for wind and solar projects.b“The National Renewable Energy Board has looked into it — under the leadership of then-chair Monalisa Dimalanta. (But) we have a problem on the interpretation of the Constitution. It states (that) all-natural resources with energy potential should undergo service contracting,” Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said at a webinar organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines on 30 August. During the webinar, Mr. Fuentebella also addressed whether the department has plans to issue a permanent ban on new coal projects.

Customs exceeds August goal with ₧54-B take amid Covid

The Bureau of Customs reported that their revenue haul for the month of August at P54.05 billion was 1.86 percent higher than their P53.061-billion collection target. This was also a 21.79-percent jump from its P44.38-billion revenue take in the same month a year ago.  Citing a preliminary report from the bureau’s Financial Service, six out of its 17 collection districts, namely, the ports of San Fernando, Port of Manila, Surigao, Davao, Clark, and Limay, have hit their respective targets.

Not so fast, MMDA chief says on creation of NCR vax bubble

While presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder and Presidential Assistant for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion is pushing for the creation of a vaccine bubble in the National Capital Region (NCR), Chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) underscored the need to “hit a certain target of the vaccinated individuals” first before implementing the proposal. The targeted count of vaccinated individuals, he stressed, should be established at the onset.

DTI’s Lopez backs open trade in essential goods within ASEAN

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has proposed opening up regional trade for essential goods needed by countries to deal with the pandemic. He said at a Belt and Road Summit that the Philippines did not restrict exports of personal protective equipment such as medical-grade masks throughout the public health crisis. The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) committed to refrain from using trade restrictions, including non-tariff measures, on essential goods to prevent supply disruptions during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Philippines’ ODA portfolio hits $30B

Preliminary data from the National Economic and Development Authority showed the foreign aid portfolio consisted of $29.004 billion in loans from development partners and $1.688 billion in grants. The number of programs and projects supported by ODA went up 1.4% to 357 in 2020, comprised of 106 active loan agreements and 251 active grants. The Philippines has ramped up its foreign borrowings to finance its pandemic response.

Bank lending slips for 8th straight month in July

Outstanding loans issued by big banks dipped 0.7% year on year to P9.137 trillion in July, based on preliminary data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released last 31 August. The decline in July is softer than the 2% contraction in June, and matched the drop seen in December 2020. To recall, December saw bank lending fall for the first time since September 2006. Inclusive of reverse repurchase agreements, outstanding loans disbursed by big banks slid by 0.5%. Bank lending rose by 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis month on month, as July saw a further relaxation of restrictions in the capital region.

12.8% of Filipinos fully vaccinated; 4 months left to meet 'population protection' goal

Malacañang said 13.96 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since the government launched its inoculation campaign in March. This is equivalent to 12.8% of Filipinos. To achieve the lower end of the already-adjusted target, officials must fully vaccinate at least 36.04 million more people — triple the number of those it has fully inoculated so far — in just three months. 

2-week ECQ dragged down manufacturing in August

Manufacturing activity shrank in August, after registering growth in the previous two months, due to Metro Manila’s revert to the strictest quarantine classification during the period, according to global information provider IHS Markit Ltd. London-based IHS Markit said the Philippines’ purchasing managers’ index last month fell to 46.4 from 50.4 in July. An index below 50 means manufacturing activities contracted. IHS Markit said August’s decline was a 15-month low or the steepest since May 2020.

WHO monitoring new variant of interest called 'Mu'

Another coronavirus variant is now on the radar of the World Health Organization (WHO). "Mu" or B.1.621 was first detected in Colombia in January, and classified by WHO as a Variant of Interest (VOI) on 30 August. The international agency said the prevalence of this variant has declined globally, but it recorded that samples with the Mu variant is "consistently" increasing in Colombia and Ecuador.

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