December 01, 2021
ECCP at Work
The overall global risk related to the new Omicron variant "is assessed as very high," according to a World Health Organization (WHO) technical brief released on November 29. Depending on how transmissible the variant is and whether it could escape immunity, "the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high," the WHO brief said.
Amid the increasing threat of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday urged the Philippine government to widen its biosurveillance activities among incoming travelers, regardless of their country of origin.
The Philippines failed to work its way up from the bottom of a global COVID-19 resilience ranking, settling at the last spot for the third month in a row. The country remained at 53rd place of the newest Bloomberg report - which captures, on a monthly basis, how effectively the "world's biggest 53 economies" are responding to the pandemic.
Despite the declining number of new novel coronavirus disease cases (Covid-19) in previous weeks, the government decided to defer further placing any area in the country under the Alert Level 1, the classification with the most relaxed quarantine restrictions.
Government and economic frontliners, as well as indigent Filipinos who have completed their COVID-19 shots within the last six months may get their booster dose as early as December 10, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said. Galvez stated. he is about to present the current target to President Rodrigo Duterte, in a bid to utilize country's stockpike of over 61 million doses.
International concerns over the possible spread of the more infectious Omicron Covid-19 variant prompted the government to reimpose mandatory facility-based quarantine for all arriving passengers in the country. Acting Presidential spokesperson Karlo B. Nograles announced on Sunday that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) suspended the implementation of its Resolution No. 150-A (s.2021), effectively imposing stricter protocols for all inbound travelers.
The Philippines is likely to grow by 5% this year, boosted by the stronger-than-expected rebound in the third quarter, according to S&P Global Ratings. However, S&P warned that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) could pose a new risk to the region’s recovery.
The Philippines hit a daily record-high of 2.55 million Covid-19 jabs on the first day of the government’s three-day National Vaccination Days, the National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF) said on November 30. Based on the data from the National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC), the country recorded a total of 2,554,023 doses administered on Monday.
The Department of Finance (DOF) under Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has beefed up its digitalization initiatives, which include facilitating trade online and making the filing of tax exemptions more convenient to better serve the public and improve its oversight functions and policy-making processes.
The House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill extending the availability of the 2021 national budget to December 31, 2022. The proposed measure allows different agencies to fully utilize the 2021 national budget of ₱4.5-trillion to implement priority government programs and projects.
In a recent presentation, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said the government’s vaccination drive remains on target to vaccinate around 70 percent of the country’s adult population by year-end. Chua said a total of 75.6 million doses have been administered, broken down into: 42 million doses administered as a first dose and 33.6 million as a complete dose.
Border control is crucial at this time in order to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 into the Philippines, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told BusinessMirror “guarding” the country’s borders will allow domestic economic activities to continue.
The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) is no longer appealing its bid, before the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB), to implement a revenue-based threshold for work-from-home (WFH) arrangements in the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) sector.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced over the weekend that they will be launching a “refreshed” financial inclusion strategy early next year. In a statement, the BSP said an updated version of the current National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI), which has served as the main guide of the country’s financial inclusion initiatives in the past six years, will be launched in January 2022.
The European Union (EU) hopes to increase trade with the Philippines to near pre-pandemic levels this year following a 17-percent drop last year. “In spite of a 17-percent decline in 2020 due to the COVID (new corona virus disease 2019) crisis, figures for 2021 look encouraging and we do hope to be close to the 2019 figures by this yearend,” said Maurizio Cellini, EU delegation head for trade and commerce in his speech at the 10th anniversary of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines Inc. last week.
The national government’s gross borrowings in January to October declined by six percent, as both external and domestic financing went down from year ago level, data released by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed. According to the latest cash operations report posted on the BTr website, the government’s gross borrowings in the first 10 months of the year totaled to P2.75 trillion, down versus the P2.92 trillion raised a year ago.
The National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 said negotiations for the procurement of 90 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine with pharmaceutical companies are underway. Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the NTF chief and vaccine czar, said Sunday the government is on its second wave of vaccine procurement deals with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Gamaleya Research Institute.
Despite the postponement of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Philippines vowed to continue to engage in domestic and international work towards the attainment of its national objectives. Due to the emergence of the new Omicron variant and the latest Swiss government’s travel restrictions, the highly anticipated meeting scheduled on November 30 to December 3 in Geneva, Switzerland was indefinitely postponed.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III pitched before foreign investors Friday the Philippines’ “game-changing undertakings” to ensure a strong, inclusive, and resilient recovery from the pandemic as he urged them to take part in these initiatives to help achieve a ‘sustainable and better future” for the Filipino people. These game changers include a fast-tracked digitalization program across the Philippine bureaucracy, the timely passage of the corporate tax reform law, the establishment of a national identification system, measures to improve the ease of doing business, the sustained modernization of the country’s infrastructure, and ambitious climate adaptation and mitigation projects, he said.
The tack to safely reopen the economy through localized lockdowns instead of blanket restrictions in the past would allow the Philippine economy to not only grow within-target in 2021 but also recover ground lost due the pandemic as early as the first quarter of 2022, President Duterte’s economic team said on November 26. Speaking before foreign business chambers, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua was more optimistic than most private-sector economists’ projections that gross domestic product (GDP) or economic output would match pre-pandemic levels only toward the end of next year, making the Philippines a laggard in the region alongside Thailand.
While the Philippines is starting to take concrete actions to counter the ill effects of climate change, it will still need significant support from the international community, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said. According to him, the country’s nationally determined contribution or NDC to the Paris Agreement would not only require a whole-of-nation approach, but the financial backing of private investors and donor countries.
Inflation this month is likely to be within target, as a stronger peso and oil price reductions tempered the rise in consumer prices, according to the Philippine central bank. The consumer price index would probably increase by 3.3% to 4.1% this month, based on estimates by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Governor Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters in a Viber message on November 29.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said Tuesday that it recently received from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) an updated road master plan that involves the development of 9,000 kilometers (km) of “high-standard highways” in the Philippines. The new master plan updates the Phase 1 road master plan for 2010, which focused on areas within a 200-km radius of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.
The Securities & Exchange Commission has facilitated the raising of P5.4-billion sustainable bonds following its efforts to promote sustainability in the Philippine corporate sector. This is according to SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong in his welcome remarks during the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’ webinar entitled “Sustainability Ensures the Future of Companies.”
The Department of Finance (DOF) is reviewing the viability of pursuing a fiscal consolidation plan that will minimize whatever long-term economic scarring may occur as a result of the coronavirus-induced crisis and the budgetary implication of the Supreme Court’s (SC) 2018 ruling that expands the share of local government units (LGUs) on national government taxes, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.
The Philippine economy is showing signs of warming up further as lending activities of large banks grew for the third month in a row in October and at their fastest yet, even as growth of the country’s money supply slowed slightly. According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), preliminary data show that growth in outstanding loans of universal and commercial banks— net of short-term loans to the BSP—revved up to 3.5 percent year-on-year.