November 03, 2021
ECCP at Work
Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director-General Charito B. Plaza said the agency is guiding outsourcing firms to implement the new WFH scheme retained by the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) “while we send still our appeal to be based on revenues to prevent exposure of workers (to COVID-19).” The FIRB stood by its decision to continue to allow outsourcing firms operating within economic zones to keep work-from-home arrangements until March next year, but companies must have 10% of employees on site.
With the House of Representatives having “done its job” and passed the P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022, a congresswoman said senators must do the same as soon as possible so that President Duterte can sign the measure before the year ends to hasten the country’s recovery from the pandemic. Led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the House transmitted its version of the General Appropriations Bill to the Senate last Oct. 25, two days ahead of the target date set by the lower chamber. Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the chamber expects to pass the budget measure by the first week of December.
All local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR) are now classified as low risk for COVID-19, independent team OCTA Research reported. Of the 17 LGUs, OCTA noted that Navotas City is classified very low risk for the coronavirus. From October 25 to 31, the NCR’s average daily attack rate or number of cases per 100,000 declined to 5.72 from 6.36 during October 19 to 25. During the same period, NCR’s new COVID-19 cases averaged to 810 from 901. Meanwhile, the reproduction number, or the indication of how infectious a disease is, slightly increased to 0.53 from 0.49 on October 25, OCTA said. Metro Manila’s one-week growth rate is now -14 percent from -36 percent.
UK-based Oxford Economics ranked the Philippines as being most vulnerable to pandemic-induced shocks as a result of the low vaccination rate and prolonged mobility restrictions that prevent economic reopening. Philippines’ COVID-19 vulnerability score — at about 6 on a scale where 0 indicates the least vulnerability — ranked first among the 42 advanced and emerging markets covered by the think tank’s October 2021 scorecard.
In the Asian Infrastructure Finance 2021 report released on the sidelines of its recently concluded annual meeting, the Beijing-based AIIB noted that alongside last year’s record gross domestic product (GDP) contraction of 9.6 percent, the value of private sector-led infrastructure transactions fell to 33 percent to $2.4 billion. The AIIB nonetheless noted that the telecommunications, power and water sectors—deemed important during the pandemic-induced lockdowns that kept people at home—were able to build additional facilities last year compared to activity in 2019, pre pandemic.
Out of the 19 October inflation forecasts collected by the Inquirer last week, 10 projected the rate of increase in prices of basic commodities to have eased to 4.3 to 4.7 percent or lower than September’s 4.8 percent. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will release its October inflation report on Nov. 5. London-based Capital Economics had the lowest forecast of 4.3 percent year-on-year, although it was higher than the government’s 2 to 4 percent target range of manageable price increases conducive to economic growth and recovery.
The Philippines could miss a 2-percent growth in the real gross domestic product (GDP) if the country fails to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). PIDS research fellow Francis Mark Quimba said during his presentation to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Friday that Vietnam and the Philippines are the top gainers of RCEP in terms of change in real GDP, while China and Singapore are the least. Quimba said the growth will be driven by the reduction in trade costs due to tariff elimination and reduction under the free trade agreement (FTA) and increasing factory gate prices which translate to higher revenue and higher income for producers.
Fitch Solutions forecasts a 5.1 percent acceleration on household spending in the Philippines in 2022 from an estimated 3.5 percent this year, in line with the projected economic recovery starting this year. Citing data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country risk and industry research unit of Fitch Group, in a report dated October 28, 2021, said consumer confidence index in the country remains low at -19.3 in the third quarter but noted that this has significantly improved since the start of the pandemic. BSP data show that consumer confidence index in the third quarter of 2020 is at -54.5.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer, said vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 will start once local authorities have completed the necessary assessments and safety protocols on the measure. “(The) 5 to 11 age bracket, most likely, it takes time for the assessment and also we will also look at the experience in the United States. Once Pfizer submits the dossier for its approval here, I believe it will take only take a few weeks before the (Philippines) FDA can announce its decision. More or less, they might approve it by December,” Galvez said. Once approved, Galvez said they will follow the same procedure that was observed in inoculating minors aged 12 to 17.
The Philippines has received a total of 106,212,460 doses of Covid-19 vaccine, both procured and donations, as of Monday (1 November). The National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 received the latest delivery of 2,098,980 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Sunday night (31 October), allowing the government to surpass its target of 100 million doses delivery by the end of October. Data from the National Covid-19 Vaccination Dashboard showed a total of 59,316,764 doses have been administered nationwide, with 31,955,891 doses used as first shots and 27,360,871 as second doses. The average daily doses in the last seven days stood at 514,439.
Domestic growth is expected to remain in positive territory for the third quarter at 6.5 percent amid the diminishing low base effects and the impact of lockdowns, an economist said.GDP in the first half of the year stood at 3.96 percent. This, after the economy grew to positive territory in the second quarter of the year, the first after five consecutive negative prints since the first quarter of 2020, from -3.9 percent in the previous quarter. Taking into consideration Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort’s third-quarter forecast, average growth as of end-September would be around 4.8 percent, within the government’s 4 percent to 5-percent target for this year. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to report the third quarter GDP on Nov. 9.
The government's pandemic response task force should place Metro Manila under Alert Level 2 from Nov. 15 until the rest of the year in order to allow a better year for businesses still reeling from shutdowns, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said. Concepcion said Metro Manila "deserves an Alert Level 2", as well as other areas that have vaccinated more than 70% of their eligible local population. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said 86% of the National Capital Region's population is already fully vaccinated. He said that a transition to a lower alert level this month is "likely" due to the improving vaccination coverage in the region.
The National Capital Region's COVID-19 reproduction number (R0), or the number of individuals an infected person can pass the virus to, has inched higher but remains at low-risk, according to OCTA Research's latest report. The group's NCR COVID-19 update showed an R0 of 0.53 for the region, slightly up from 0.49 as stated in its Oct. 26 report.