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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | September 10, 2021

September 10, 2021

ECCP Online

PH economy post-Covid will be different: Diokno

A changed economy is seen for the Philippines post-pandemic, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno forecasts the economy to regain its previous vigor starting in the last quarter of 2022. After five consecutive quarters of contraction, the domestic economy was able to expand in the second quarter of 2021, with a growth print of 11.8 percent, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). Authorities are optimistic for an economic recovery this year, with the target range set between 4 and 5 percent.

 

MMDA to IATF: Let economy move

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairperson Benhur Abalos on Thursday asked the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to ease restrictions on fully-vaccinated individuals in the National Capital Region (NCR) to get the economy going. The NCR registered around 56 percent of its population or 5,492,344 individuals who have completed their doses as of Wednesday, while 84.21% of the eligible population or 8,262,558 individuals have received first vaccine shots.


GCQ deferment ‘matter of days’

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has assured the public and business sectors that the “granular system (has been) deferred only by a few days” as the guidelines for its implementation are being finalized because of “continuing discussions to address all concerns.” He added that the government prefers granular lockdown than hard lockdown to allow more economic activities and more people to go about their jobs while keeping Covid-19 cases from spreading. Lopez said if the guidelines can be finalized soon, easing into a general community quarantine (GCQ) with granular lockdowns of areas hard-hit by Covid may happen after the 15th of the month.


BSP: Banking industry 'still sound and resilient' despite increase in bad loans

Banks in the country are still capable of withstanding the spike in non-performing loans (NPL) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, assured the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). The central bank chief also said that no bank has so far availed of the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Law, a measure which allows them to sell soured loans to asset management firms. Diokno also noted the banks’ move not to use the measure for now as they were given “some leeway” until year-end, adding institutions are still evaluating where they stand at the moment.


NDRRMC: Jolina leaves 1 dead, over ₱230M initial agri, infra damage

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said a 21-year-old male from Buenavista, Marinduque died by drowning in the aftermath of tropical cyclone Jolina. It’s also verifying reports that two have died, four were injured, and 14 are missing in Naro, Masbate. Meanwhile, farmers and fisherfolk in Luzon and the Visayas suffered losses worth over P206 million due to Jolina, according to initial estimates of the agency. Jolina caused damage to agriculture worth ₱179.57 million in Eastern Visayas, ₱436,610 in Western Visayas, ₱16.5 million in the Bicol region, and ₱9.56 million in Mimaropa, the NDRRMC reported. On the other hand, the agency pegged infrastructure damage in Mimaropa, the Bicol region, and Western Visayas at ₱24.68 million.


PH logistics sector to receive investment boost with lower entry barriers – OECD

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is urging the Philippines and its neighbors in Southeast Asia to lower entry barriers in logistics to increase competitiveness and aid in economic recovery during the pandemic. This would also boost foreign direct investments (FDI) that were crucial to supporting growth, according to a series of reports released by the OECD on logistics competitiveness and regulatory regimes within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or Asean. Key recommendations in the report included the gradual increase in foreign ownership limits, which the Philippines caps at 40 percent for public utilities.


Exporters seek refund after DENR relaxes wastewater standards

Electronics exporters fined for noncompliance with wastewater standards are now asking the government for reimbursements after the rules were relaxed. Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines, Inc. (SEIPI) President Danilo C. Lachica said the copper standard on industry wastewater was reverted to one PPM or parts per million of total copper starting in the third quarter. The electronics exporters industry group had been appealing to the government for a review of these revised wastewater guidelines that tightened the copper standard to 0.04 PPM of dissolved copper. SEIPI earlier said the standard was comparable with Thailand’s drinking water, not treated industrial wastewater.


Trade deficit balloons to $3.29B in July

Data from the agency revealed the difference between total exports and imports stood at $3.29 billion during the month, up from $2.13 billion in July last year. The latest deficit is smaller than the $3.39 billion tallied this June. Total export sales climbed by 12.7% in July to $6.42 billion, noted the PSA. All exported commodity groups registered positive growth rates during the period except for machinery and transport equipment, which logged a 5.4% decline. Coconut oil performed best among the groups with an annual 207.7% growth rate.


Gov’t urged to open up economy amid MECQ extension in NCR

In light of the rising prices of basic commodities recorded in August, Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo appealed to the government to reopen the economy amid a move to extend the stricter modified enhanced community quarantine until Sept. 15 in Metro Manila.  Quimbo expressed support to impose granular lockdowns on high-risk areas, arguing that such an approach will respond to the safety as well as financial concerns of Filipinos amid the current pandemic. The granular lockdowns, she said, are well-supported by members of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases)-Sub-Technical Working Group on Data Analytics as heard during the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability meeting


Lack of guidelines delayed NCR granular lockdowns — NTF

Officials of the National Task Force against the coronavirus disease yesterday said the pilot implementation in the National Capital Region of the general community quarantine with granular lockdowns was deferred until later this month due to the delay in the completion of the guidelines, as well as concerns raised by Metro Manila mayors. NTF spokesman Restituto Padilla said Metro mayors raised last-minute concerns about the pilot implementation of the system during their consultation meeting with the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the technical working group.


‘Bakuna Bubble’ raised in ASEAN meet

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community had started to map out recovery plans in which the Philippine panel put forward the Bakuna Bubble proposal of the private sector. Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion presented the proposal to the 53rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting as an option in opening the economy safely. Lastly, Concepcion proposed the first ASEAN Exchange on Covid-19 where member countries can share best practices to save both their countries’ lives and livelihood.


DoF, NEDA back looser lockdown

Instead of enforcing stringent lockdowns that limits parts of the economy, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government should provide greater mobility to vaccinated people to promote inoculation in the country as well as allow more sectors to function. Similarly, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the economy could only achieve growth and employment targets for the year if parts of the country no longer revert to an enhanced community quarantine — the strictest lockdown level — and the quarantine status is relaxed after Sept. 15.


Philippines’ growth for 2021-22 ‘encouraging’: NEDA

The Philippine economy’s performance this year and next year remains 'encouraging’, the country’s top economist said in a report to President Rodrigo Duterte. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua, who also heads the National Economic and Development Authority, said the country can avoid the pandemic’s “long term scarring effects” if the economy grows 4 to 5 percent this year, and 7 to 9 percent in 2022. He said if the country achieves these growth rates, the economy can return to its pre-pandemic level by 2022 or 2023. Chua also said that the country was able to create 2.5 million jobs since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic before the virus’ Delta variant hit the country. 


DOF to Senate: Pass economic reform bills

In a 2022 budget briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) by the Senate finance committee, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III pushed for the approval of the pending amendatory bills to the Foreign Investments Act, Public Service Act, as well as the Real Property Valuation Reform Act and the Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act, which are the remaining packages 3 and 4, respectively, of the Duterte administration’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. He said these legislative measures will help achieve a “strong economic rebound” from the pandemic, along with the congressional passage of the Capital Market Development Act of 2021.


‘PSA bill even more restrictive’

Philippine business groups and foreign chambers have opposed proposals at the Senate to make the Public Service Act (PSA) more restrictive than when it was legislated during the Commonwealth rather than relax it. In a joint statement, the business groups said some senators are proposing amendments to broaden the 60-40 rule and apply it to most forms of common carriers, airports, dams, roads and railroads, seaports, and telecommunications. The four natural monopolies are electricity distribution and transmission, water distribution, and sewerage pipeline systems. All other public services would be open to foreign ownership up to 100 percent.


Business groups revive calls for passage of economic bills

In a joint statement, over 40 private sector groups called on Congress to pass the following pending bills: amendments to Public Service Act (PSA), the Retail Trade Act (RTA) and the Foreign Investment Act (FIA). The said measures, which have been tagged as urgent previously, are seen to ease the restrictions on foreign direct investments (FDI), the groups said. This will then lead to more investments, job opportunities and competition, in addition to diversifying the economy and improving the services offered, they added.


August inflation highest in more than 2 years

Inflation soared to a 32-month high of 4.9 percent in August as bad weather and higher transport costs pushed prices of fish and vegetables higher, the government reported. Last month’s rate of increase in the prices of basic commodities was the highest since the 5.1 percent recorded in December 2018. In the eight months to August, the inflation rate averaged 4.4 percent, above the government’s 2 to 4 percent target band.


Gov't backtracks: Metro Manila to stay under MECQ, GCQ with alert levels deferred

Metro Manila will stay under the second strictest lockdown level, modified enhanced community quarantine, until Sept. 15 as the government postponed the region's supposed shift to a looser lockdown, Malacañang said.  The Palace earlier announced that the capital region's 13 million people would shift to general community quarantine with alert level system from Sept. 8 to 30.  The inter-agency task force on COVID-19 "deferred the pilot implementation" of this shift, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.


Unemployment rate eases in July, but job quality remains a concern amid pandemic

The number of jobless Filipinos declined to 3.073 million in July, but job quality remains a concern as more employed Filipinos are still seeking additional work, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported. Preliminary results of PSA’s July 2021 round of the monthly Labor Force Survey (LFS) showed the unemployment rate at 6.9% in July, down from the previous month’s 7.7% which translated to 3.764 million jobless Filipinos. This was also lower than the 10% jobless rate in July 2020, when 4.569 million did not have work. The July unemployment rate was the lowest since the 5.3% logged in January 2020.


Neda chief: Fear of Delta shrinks number of Filipinos looking for jobs

The results of the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) quarterly labor force survey (LFS) in July showed that the number of jobless Filipinos dipped to 3.07 million from 4.14 million in April and 4.57 million in July 2020. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said that the recent surge in COVID-19 cases blamed on the more infectious Delta variant may be deterring job-seekers. National Statistician Dennis Mapa added that 7 percent of July LFS respondents, or about 2.08 million Filipinos, said that they did not look for work due to COVID-19.


Monetary easing still ‘on the table,’ says BSP

The BSP kept the key policy rate steady at a record low of 2% in August as it warned of the impact of renewed lockdown measures and a surge in COVID-19 infections on the economy’s nascent recovery. Amid the impending policy normalization of the US Federal Reserve, the BSP stressed its monetary decisions will be mainly driven by domestic data, particularly inflation outlook. Fed officials have already signaled they could start tapering down asset purchases within the year. Nomura in August said the Philippines is among the 10 “troubled” emerging markets that are vulnerable to changes in monetary policy in the US and slowing growth in China.


Comelec public works ban for polls to start March 25

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the public works ban for the May national elections will run from March 25 to May 8, 2022. The commission’s spokesman James B. Jimenez said the public works ban covers disbursement and spending as well as construction activity. Works are typically frozen around election season in order not to influence the outcome of the polls. The intent is to deny politicians access to resources that may be used to improperly aid their campaigns. During the ban, spending activity is largely limited to emergency and maintenance works and salaries, with a few exceptions. The Comelec may be appealed to for other exceptions not listed.

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