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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | November 22, 2021

November 23, 2021

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ECCP at Work

COVID-19 Alert Level System goes nationwide on Nov. 22

The Inter-Agency Task Force has integrated the remaining 24 areas in the country into the new COVID-19 Alert Level System. This is part of Phase 4 of the nationwide implementation of the alert level system under Executive Order No. 151.

1st, 3rd days of nat'l vax drive working holidays: NTF

The National Covid-19 Vaccination Drive on November 29 and December 1 will be working days so as not to disrupt economic activities while the government ramps up vaccination against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said workers will be allowed to go to vaccination sites without cut on their salaries.

Rollout of additional Covid-19 doses starts for A2, A3 groups

The government on November 22 officially rolled out the first phase of additional and booster shots administration to senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals. The provision of additional doses will benefit about 8.2 million elderly (A2) and 8.4 million adults with comorbidities (A3).

PH seen growing fastest in Asean-5 in 2022

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs expects the Philippine economy to grow the fastest in Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-5 next year, despite some uncertainty to be wrought by the “wide open” 2022 presidential elections. In a November 18 report, Goldman Sachs Economics Research projected the Philippines’ gross domestic product (GDP) growth to hit 7.3 percent, within the government’s 7 to 9 percent target.

Oxford raises Philippines' GDP forecast to 4.6%

The Philippine economy is seen growing 4.6 percent this year following the stronger than expected performance in the third quarter and as recovery continues to pick up pace. After the past six downgrades, Oxford significantly raised its GDP forecast to 4.6 percent from 3.4 percent. However, its original forecast was a high of eight percent.

DOH says all regions at ‘low risk’ from COVID

All regions in the country are now at low to minimal risk from coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Department of Health (DOH). In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the national risk classification remains at low risk, consistent with those of its regions. All regions are now at minimal to low risk is classification, with negative two-week growth rates and average daily attack rates (ADAR) of less than seven per 100,000 population.

Fitch cites potential credit rating cut

Rising public debt could lead to a credit rating downgrade for the Philippines in the next few years, Fitch Ratings said.  The rating company would consider the country’s public debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio in the medium term, especially as finances in the Asia Pacific improve. Rating downgrades could occur for countries such as India, Japan and the Philippines, which are on negative outlook.

Low BSP rates to stay— for now, say economists

Economists expect the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to keep the record-low policy rate at 2 percent up to next year despite upside inflation risks lingering from global supply chain bottlenecks and elevated oil prices. With headline inflation returning to the BSP’s inflation target band of 2-4 percent and the economy only beginning the recovery process from the COVID-19, Goldman Sachs Economics Research expects the BSP to be patient in normalizing policy settings, keeping the policy rate on hold until late 2022.

Slower inflation in store for PH

The country’s inflation rate may slow substantially for November due to moderating prices combined with what the central bank described as “negative base effects” since this month’s level is being compared to the same period last year when prices were surging. Adding to the decelerating prices reported in the last two months, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Deputy Governor Francisco Dakila Jr. said the policy-making Monetary Board decided to lower its forecast for the full year consumer price index.

BSP sees pick-up in bank lending

Bank lending is seen picking up further amid the gradual reopening of the economy as mobility restrictions are eased with the steady decline in daily COVID infections, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Household loans are expected to pick up together with lending for production activities amid improving consumer demand as the government continues to accelerate the rollout of vaccines against COVID.

PH eyes sovereign green bond issuance

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on November 19 said the Philippines’ maiden green bond offering is in the pipeline, to raise government financing for climate projects. The Philippines recently launched a sustainable finance roadmap to provide a framework that will create a synergy between public and private investments in greening the financial system.

World Bank approves $500M line for PH for disaster response

The Philippines can immediately release funds to mobilize response in the aftermath of a natural disaster or at the onset of a disease outbreak through a new $500-million loan extended by the World Bank (WB). The World Bank approved the Philippines’ fourth disaster risk management development policy loan with a catastrophe-deferred drawdown option (CAT-DDO 4), a fast-disbursing credit line.

IMF urges PHL to find ways to fund climate change projects via revenue

The Philippines needs to find a way to sustainably fund climate change mitigation and adaptation via enhanced revenue generation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. The focus should continue to be placed on identifying in the budget those investments that support climate mitigation and adaptation objectives.

More debts: ADB OKs $600M loan for universal health care in PH

With the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) law in full swing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended a $600-million loan to the Philippines to ensure health access for all Filipinos. The ADB said the newest financing to support the Department of Health’s (DOH) build universal health care program would “support the government’s initiatives to improve the financing and delivery of health services and implement measures to monitor the performance of health service providers.”

Green-list leisure tourists green-lit ‘before Dec’

Tourism stakeholders welcomed the reopening of the Philippines to international travelers from Green List countries, as the government cut the new quarantine schemes for vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers. After almost two years, foreign visitors from the Green List countries will soon be allowed to enter the Philippines without need for a quarantine period.

Aviation sector to recover to pre-pandemic level by ’23

With the easing of travel restrictions, the Philippine aviation sector is on the road to recovery but is expected to face hurdles as it will take two more years for the industry to return to pre-pandemic operations. Local airline operators have reopened more routes and increased flight frequencies, after more than 20 domestic destinations have streamlined their travel procedures for vaccinated passengers and the inbound flight cap for international flights also increased in Manila and other key airports. The easing of restrictions will slowly improve passenger traffic, but it will take time to attain the pre-pandemic volume which experts estimate will be by 2023.

PHL to see smallest income growth from RCEP

Joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will only increase the country’s income by less than a percent in 2030, according to data released by economists from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In an Asian Development Blog, economists led by Cyn-Young Park who is the Director for Regional Cooperation and Integration for ADB’s Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department said the Philippines will see its income increase by $3 billion or 0.39 percent in 2030 due to the RCEP.

EO removing PPA revenue share in cargo handling endorsed

The Export Development Council (EDC) has endorsed the draft executive order (EO) that seeks to repeal a 41-year-old regulation giving the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) a share in cargo-handling revenues, a move that would eventually lower the cost of port services.

Diokno cites need to further lift Pinoys' financial literacy

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno highlighted the need to further boost Filipinos’ financial literacy especially now that digital transactions have increased, noting not only its advantage to individuals but the economy. Diokno said the central bank and its partners in the private sector aim to “proactively supplement traditional financial literacy programs with digital skills-building to improve financial resilience.”

Philippines creates its own pandemic response scorecard

The Philippine government has created its own scorecard to assess its pandemic response as it extends the fourth phase of its national action plan against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) introduced the scorecard on Monday as it criticized global indices showing the Philippines scored poorly in handling the COVID-19 outbreak.

PH pandemic scorecard improves in October: NEDA

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the country has been improving in managing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) while safely reopening the economy based on the National Action Plan (NAP) IV scorecard. NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon presented the country’s NAP IV scorecard for October which is at 4.83, better than the 4.42 score in September. The NAP IV scorecard gauges how the country is doing in infection management, vaccine rollout, and socioeconomic recovery in a particular month.

Work options for unvaxxed workers up to employers: DOLE

Employees who are still unvaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) have options to be able to work and get paid, an official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Monday. In a virtual forum, Labor Assistant Secretary Ma. Teresita Cucueco said this is possible through arrangements with their employers.

House extends availability of 2021 budget until December 2022

The House of Representatives on Monday approved on second reading a proposal that would extend the availability of the 2021 national budget until December next year. The lower chamber approved through voice voting House Bill 10373, authored by ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap, that would amend Section 62 of the General Provisions of Republic Act 11518 or the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of Fiscal Year 2021.

P3.4B revenues lost to pork tariff cuts

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has so far collected P3 billion from swine meat imports on higher volumes but estimates it has foregone some P3.4 billion in revenues as of mid-November under a reduced tariff system, the Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement. The said the measure was implemented starting in the second quarter of the year to boost the supply of pork and stabilize its retail prices in the domestic market.

Foreign gov’ts eyed to retire PH coal plants

The Department of Finance (DOF) is eyeing the possible role of foreign governments in fast tracking the decommissioning and repurposing of coal-fired power plants, especially where overseas companies have a significant stake in the continued operations of these facilities, according to a statement released by the agency. 

Allowing int’l tourists big boost to revenues, jobs

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat anticipates the approval this week of the guidelines on allowing foreign tourists from countries in the green list for implementation as soon as possible. Puyat hopes this would help gradually revive the tourism industry whose contribution to the economy declined to 5.4 percent from 12.8 percent in 2019. This would also restore some of the 1.1-million jobs lost or displaced by the pandemic.

Caution abounds despite decline in COVID cases

Businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala is cautiously optimistic despite the recent decline in the number of new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. Case loads are down to a fraction of the record high 23,000 daily new cases last September 18 and infection rates are now sub 10 percent. Clearly the vaccines are working. Economic indicators are similarly are consequently picking up with the relaxation of alert levels and the easing of mobility restrictions. But caution of course abounds, Zobel, chairman of Ayala Corp., told the Pilipinas Conference 2021.

House OKs bill on LGUs' share of nat'l taxes for health services

The House of Representatives approved on second reading a proposal mandating all local government units (LGUs) to earmark at least 15 percent of their annual national tax allotment share for health services. Through voice voting, the chamber passed House Bill 10392, which seeks to amend Section 287 of the Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure the appropriation of at least 15 percent of the share of LGUs from all national taxes or revenues for health services.

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