November 05, 2021
ECCP at Work
Metro Manila will be placed under a more relaxed Alert Level 2 starting Friday, November 5 until November 21. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the national government’s pandemic task force, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF), approved the relaxing of restrictions in the National Capital Region on Thursday, November 4.
More Filipinos found themselves out of work in September amid lingering quarantine restrictions. PSA chief Dennis Mapa announced that 4.25 million workers aged 15 and up lost their jobs during the month — up from August’s 3.88 million tally. The national unemployment rate now stands at 8.9%, rising from 8.1% the month prior.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has cited 'logistical bottlenecks' among the reasons why millions of COVID-19 vaccines remain unused. Only around 60 million of the 87 million COVID-19 vaccines distributed nationally have been administered as of Nov. 2, data from the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC) showed. The Philippines has so far gotten over 108 million doses.
The Board of Investments (BoI) is unlikely to meet its target to approve P905 billion in investment pledges this year, as a fresh surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) dampened investor sentiment. Ceferino S. Rodolfo, Trade undersecretary and BoI managing head, said P376 billion in investment pledges were approved as of last September, while another P200-225 billion worth of pledges will be given the go signal before the year ends. This is still far from the P905-billion target for this year as reflected in the General Appropriations Act.
The Philippine central bank will continue to keep its accommodative policy to support the economy’s recovery, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno. Given the manageable inflation outlook, and with non-monetary government measures helping to ease some of the supply-side pressures, the priority for monetary policy remains in keeping stimulus in place to aid the recovery. The BSP has maintained policy rates at record lows in its September review, even as it raised inflation outlook further beyond target to 4.4% for 2021. Inflation in September eased to 4.8%, although still above the 2-4% BSP target.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said countries should employ a “blended approach” in the application of climate change finance for beneficiaries. For one, grants should be used to improve the capacity of local communities in climate-vulnerable areas to undertake mitigation and adaptation measures. Investments, meanwhile, should focus on programs and projects that will unlock more business opportunities, create new jobs, and lead to energy self-reliance in the long run. Subsidies, another crucial element of climate finance, will address the financial costs and risks of communities transitioning to a climate-resilient economy.
As the September Labor Force Survey (LFS) shows jobs are beginning to solidify even though ranks of the unemployed increased, the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means recommended that the national government pick the “lowest hanging fruits” to stimulate job growth amid the pandemic, as unemployed persons still increased by around 370,000, largely due to seasonal effects in agriculture, which lost around 862,000 jobs. According to Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, there is a need to assist growing sectors such as the BPO sector in recruiting employees by directing local public employment and services offices and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to craft agreements and collaborate with such sectors.
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian revealed that legal studies are on the way to explore possibly allowing foreign companies to own and operate solar plants in the Philippines. At a forum organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Gatchalian said that the country was losing an estimated $30 million in foreign investments (around Php1.52 billion) for the establishment of solar farms due to constitutional limits prohibiting foreign firms from owning and running such facilities
Local and foreign business groups urged lawmakers to approve the remaining economic reform measures, including the amendments to the Public Service Act (PSA), in the homestretch of the 18th Congress’ third regular session. The business chambers asked the legislators to complete the passage of the bills that can help the country in its bid to post-pandemic economic recovery. Meanwhile, the groups lauded the government for the enactment of measures that can encourage more investments and generate more jobs. The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines is one of the signatories of the letter to Congress leaders.
Port development in Mindanao will stimulate the logistics industry and position the southern island as a viable hub for imports that will then be transshipped south to north as an alternative to importing through Manila, Ricardo F. Lagdameo, chairman of this year’s Davao Investment Conference (ICon 2021) said. Donna May Lina, executive board director at logistics conglomerate OneLGC, also stated in the same forum that Mindanao is viable as an import hub given its current economic landscape, location, and human resources. Tony S. Peralta, chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Business Council, said Royal Cargo, Inc., an ECCP member, recently commenced shipping from Davao City to the US West Coast. In relation to this, Malou G. Monteverde, president of the Davao City business chamber, stated making Mindanao a key logistics center requires government action on port upgrades.
The Philippines is proceeding with its adaptation and mitigation programs on climate change on the ground, despite the delay in the annual $100-billion climate financing pledge made by developed countries in 2020. The Philippines has submitted as its nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement a projected greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction and avoidance of 75 percent from 2020 to 2030 for agriculture, wastes, industry, transport and energy sectors.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) partnered with the Philippines and Indonesia to launch an Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) which aims to fund the early retirement of coal-run power plants and replace them with renewable energy alternatives. The Philippines has an opportunity to pilot the ETM facility in Mindanao, where the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plant is being rehabilitated. As the Agus-Pulangi power plant increases its generating capacity, the government can gradually purchase coal-fired power plants in Mindanao and repurpose them through the ETM facility.
Over 6.1 million individuals fully vaccinated against Covid-19 are expected to get additional jabs. Of this group, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said over 1.56 million are frontline healthcare workers, who will be given “booster” shots. The remaining 4.6 million individuals are senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, who will need a third dose to be fully protected against Covid-19.
The government is considering the expansion of pediatric vaccination among under 12 years old by next year. However, the vaccination processes in the country always require the recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC). As of November 2, a total of 40,419 minors with comorbidities have received their vaccine shots, while the nationwide vaccination for the rest of the pediatric population aged 12 to 17 formally started on November 3. It has a target population of 12,722,070, of which about 1,272,207 have comorbidities.
Starting November 4, commercial establishments and the public are now allowed to operate and go out at any time in Metro Manila after the Metro Manila Council (MMC) lifted the standardized and unified curfew in the National Capital Region (NCR). In a news release, MMDA Chair Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said the lifting of curfew would reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission by spreading out the influx of mall goers, especially during the holidays.
The Duterte administration seeks to amend the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the build-operate-transfer (BOT) law. To pursue the amendments of the BOT IRR, President Rodrigo R. Duterte designated Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua as the chairman of the BOT IRR Committee. The amendments aim to facilitate the development of well-structured PPPs that deliver high-quality services to the people, protect the public from excessive payments and undue guarantees arising from PPP projects, and promote the interests of Filipinos, who ultimately pay for the costs and returns of private proponents of PPP projects.
The Philippines eyes administering booster and third COVID-19 vaccine doses to priority groups by November 15. The country's vaccine supply is enough to accommodate the rollout of additional and booster shots, as reported by Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje. However, authorities would have to wait for guidance from the policy team, the revised emergency use authorization of vaccines that would be used, and the recommendation of experts advising the World Health Organization.
Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, who chairs the House Committee on Ways and Means, has filed a bill in the House of Representatives to lower the excise tax on fuel products for six months, including zero tax for diesel, with the revenue to be foregone by the government estimated at more than P55 billion. This House Bill 10438 will provide “immediate relief” from rising global oil prices.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement will improve gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.84 percentage points and the balance of trade by $51.7 million by the end of the decade. This will increase overall welfare by $573.7-M, contributing to 0.84% real GDP growth, and lowering poverty incidence by 4.97% in 2030.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) partners have pledged $665 million to support climate-resilient infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia. The funds contribute to the planned $7-billion financing for low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure projects in the region. The partnerships will be part of a new green recovery platform supporting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) catalytic green finance facility put up by the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund and managed by ADB.
The Philippines incurred around P506.1 billion in losses and damages over a 10-year period from climate-related hazards, despite contributing only 0.3 percent of the planet’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). The DOF said in a statement yesterday the staggering amount from 2010 to 2020 is equivalent to an annual average of P48.9 billion, which is about 0.33 percent of the annual average gross domestic product of the Philippines.
The easing of restriction to Alert level 2 in the National Capital Region (NCR), which will allow most businesses to operate, and restaurants to increase the capacity of allowed diners is a good move, especially now as we enter the Christmas season and there is a surge in consumer spending. The Philippines should consider further reopening of hotels, travel and tourism, like in other ASEAN countries such as Thailand and Singapore, to slowly recover and rebuild the economy. Increasing the capacity of public transport will also support the revitalization of business.
Manufacturing conditions in the Philippines reached a seven-month high in October, but material shortages weigh on growth. The IHS Markit Philippines manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose fractionally to 51 in October, from 50.9 in September, registering above the 50 no-change threshold that separates expansion from contraction. After contracting sharply in 2020, the manufacturing sector is expected to grow by 19.1 percent on the year in 2021
The country’s financial system remains strong in the first half of 2021 amid the pandemic and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has lined up several reforms to ensure the sector’s continued resilience. The central bank identified these reforms as the transfer of significant ownership in banks and non-bank financial institutions with quasi-banking license (QBs); climate change, environmental and social risks; digital banking operations; open finance framework; fraud management; and customer due diligence.