November 19, 2021
ECCP at Work
Tourism Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat announced on November 19 that the IATF has “approved in principle” their recommendation to allow the entry of fully vaccinated tourists from Green List countries/territories/jurisdictions once guidelines are approved by the IATF.
The inter-agency task force handling the country's COVID-19 response has allowed face-to-face classes in areas under Alert Levels 1 to 3, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said in a statement Wednesday. It said this would be done under certain conditions. "Limited face-to-face classes are now allowed under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3, subject to certain conditions, such as (1) 50% indoor venue capacity, (2) no opposition from the local government unit concerned, and (3) participation of fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching personnel and students only," the statement said.
The country's Food and Drug Administration has approved the amended emergency use authorization granted to four COVID-19 vaccine brands to be used as booster shots and additional dose. FDA Director General Eric Domingo said Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac could be used as homologous vaccines — or using the same type of vaccine for the third shot. Single-dose Sputnik Light can be given as the booster or additional shot regardless of the brand of the first two shots, he pointed out.
For the eight straight session, the policymaking Monetary Board decided to maintain the key rates of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as latest baseline forecasts show inflation remain manageable while economic output is gaining solid traction. The BSP’s overnight reverse repurchase facility remains at 2 percent. The interest rates on the overnight deposit and lending facilities were likewise kept at 1.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
Malacañang has entrusted the decision on how and when to expand the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Health (DOH). Education Secretary Leonor Briones said parents, students, and school authorities can expect the decision-making process to move faster now after the Office of the President approved the recommendations from the two agencies to be given a free hand in guiding and assessing additional schools to join the resumption of limited face-to-face lessons.
Several foreign chambers and business groups called for the immediate passage of a bill that is expected to boost broadband services across the country. In a joint statement, private sector organizations urged the enactment of the Open Access in Data Transmission bill soon. It seeks to build up more broadband infrastructure by attracting more firms to invest in the data transmission and broadband industry. ECCP is one of the signatories of the statement.
The country is on track to achieve the higher end of the government’s full-year economic growth target, the country’s finance chief said, while restrictions are expected to ease to alert level 1 by the start of 2022. Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, said in a speech read for him by finance undersecretary Gil Beltran at the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Expo that the accelerated rollout of the vaccination program in the third quarter of the year, and the calibrated opening of the economy have led to the strong economic performance.
To revive the country’s pandemic-hit tourism sector, the Department of Tourism (DOT) on Tuesday said it is planning to implement international tourism bubbles with Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. During a briefing by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on implementing guidelines on the de-escalation to Alert Level 2, Tourism Assistant Secretary Christopher Morales said the DOT is now in talks with the IATF and other countries for possible international travel bubbles.
The Philippine economy could grow by 7.1% next year amid stronger private consumption and government infrastructure spending, according to IHS Markit. In a report, the London-based market intelligence provider said easing coronavirus restrictions would support an economic rebound this quarter. The economy grew by 7.1% in the third quarter, faster than the 4.7% median estimate by economists in a BusinessWorld poll.
Economists believe that with the gradual recovery of the economy, borrowings by the risk-averse private sector will soon start rising to augment savings and restart businesses. The latest global debt monitor report of the Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF) showed that as the government borrowed more for its COVID-19 war chest, public debt as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) jumped to 57.4 percent at the end of the third quarter from 47.9 percent a year ago.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said the Asian Development Bank (ADB) remains committed to support the Philippines’ return to high economic growth by ramping up investments in public infrastructure amid the pandemic. Roger Mercado, DPWH acting secretary, said in a statement talks with Kelly Bird, ADB country director for the Philippines, has confirmed the bank’s commitment to provide continuing support to infrastructure development programs and help facilitate the economy’s rebound from the pandemic by accelerating job generation.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) fell short of its P171.22-billion collection target for October as mobility restrictions to curb the Covid-19 spread trammeled economic activity. BIR Deputy Commissioner Arnel SD. Guballa told the BusinessMirror government’s tax haul for the month settled at P162.99 billion, 4.81-percent short of the target for the month.
While the Philippines needed to reopen its borders to jumpstart the travel and tourism sector, its readiness to dismantle COVID lockdowns was among the last in Asia Pacific, according to UK-based think tank Oxford Economics. Oxford Economics’ lockdown easing scorecard assigned an overall reopening score of negative 0.1 for the Philippines, ranking 10th out of the 14 countries covered by its report released on November 16.
Economists see the Bangko Sentral ng PIlipinas keeping interest rates steady for more than a year as a sluggish economic recovery keeps a lid on underlying inflation, according to a Reuters poll that had a significant minority of economists expecting a hike by end-2022. As economic growth is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels in the Southeast Asian nation, respondents to a Nov. 9-15 survey also predicted the BSP would leave its benchmark rate at a record low of 2.0 percent at its meeting set for Thursday and through the end of next year.
An estimated 1.6 million tourism-related jobs in five Asia-Pacific region countries were lost last year from the “catastrophic” business disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new study from the International Labor Organization (ILO). Of the said figures, almost half came from the Philippines, where employment in the tourism sector contracted by 28 percent—significantly higher than the 8 percent in the non-tourism sector.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) have teamed up to ensure financial technology (fintech) companies are properly regulated and taxed, while encouraging their growth and continued innovation, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement. Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, instructed the SEC and BIR to closely monitor fintech firms and find out what new digital business models they have been adopting to determine how they should be regulated and taxed.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) urged local businesses, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to forge stronger ties with big companies, including foreign ones, located in ecozones. Charito Plaza, PEZA director-general said at the Global Biz Forum with the Philippine Chamber for Commerce and Industry on November 8 that products and services produced in the Philippines are world-class and can be part of the global supply chain of major exporters.
The World Bank has approved a new contingent credit line to help strengthen the country’s institutional and financial capacity to manage risks from climate change, natural disasters and disease outbreaks. In a statement, the Washington-based agency said the Fourth Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with a Catastrophe-Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT-DDO4) provides $500 million funding that the Philippines can quickly tap to manage financial impacts brought about by disasters and disease outbreaks.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has included the Philippines among 21 high-priority countries for financial and technical assistance for water and sanitation projects. In a Nov. 15 statement, USAID said the Philippines, Guatemala, Rwanda and Zambia were added to the original 17 high-priority countries during fiscal year 2021.
The Department of Finance urged businesses to quickly adapt to the digital economy for them to thrive under the “New, Better Normal,” especially if the country eases to Alert Level 1 status by the start of the new year. According to Finance Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil S. Beltran, the ecosystem for the digital push is being shaped by several government measures to support innovation.
Importers and exporters must brace themselves for a worsening shipping and logistics situation that may persist even until 2023, as industry players do not see immediate signs of improvement. Royal Cargo Inc. (RCI) President Elmer U. Sarmiento explained that recent developments both in local and international trade could further prolong and aggravate the already stretched global supply chain.