December 03, 2021
The National Economic and Development Authority is proposing a 10-point policy, which includes a pandemic flexibility bill, that would accelerate and sustain economic recovery. Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the following are not covered by the NDRRMC law but can be part of the pandemic flexibility bill: data privacy relaxation, electronic transaction, national government and local government alignment and health preparedness.
The country’s chief economist is pushing for yearly booster shots which the government can still provide for free next year but would have to be partly shouldered by the private sector by 2023. The government may also have to give away movement perks to the vaccinated while penalizing those who opted to not be jabbed.
The government will hold another three-day nationwide round of anti-COVID-19 vaccination drive starting December 15 after 7.6 million individuals were inoculated during the first round that was extended until December 17.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III yesterday said lawmakers are eyeing to ratify the reconciled version of the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 “within the next 10 days.” The bicameral conference committee, which is co-chaired by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara as chairman of the Senate finance committee, is expected to convene over the weekend after the Senate approved on third and final reading its version of the proposed 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on Wednesday.
The Philippine government is planning to add more countries to the "red list" amid the threat of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said December 2. Vergeire explained that their assessment would include the incidence rate which covers the frequency of COVID-19 infection in specific areas for a given period after an Omicron variant was detected.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Thursday approved new testing and quarantine protocols for international travelers coming from countries outside the red list. The new protocols will be effective starting December 3. They include requiring fully vaccinated individuals to present negative results of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests conducted 72 hours before leaving the country of origin.
The national government’s outstanding debt stood at P11.97 trillion as of end-October 2021, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) reported December 1. In a statement, the BTr said the national government’s total debt slightly increased by 0.46 percent from the previous month’s level of P11.92 trillion, primarily due to the net issuance of domestic securities.
The new variant of concern called Omicron could be highly transmissible, evade antibodies from vaccines, and possibly exhibit the same characteristics as the Delta variant, according to infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine Unit of San Lazaro Hospital. However, Solante said he believed that the current vaccines against COVID-19 could still be effective against Omicron.
The manufacturing conditions in the Philippines in November reached an eight-month high amid easing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) restrictions in the country. The IHS Markit Philippines manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose marginally to 51.7 in November, from 51 in October, registering above the 50 no-change threshold that separates expansion from contraction.
The Philippines will start giving COVID-19 booster shots to all fully vaccinated adults on Friday, Dec. 3, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said. Initially, the administration of third doses was only approved for priority sectors — health workers, senior citizens, and immunocompromised individuals.
Even with recent moves of the country’s pandemic task force to temporarily tighten border restrictions, the Department of Tourism is keeping its hopes high for the industry’s recovery. The Tourism department cited COVID-19 vaccination of tourism workers - with 77% of them already inoculated against the virus as of Nov. 26 - is among the measures that they are currently focusing on along with the national government’s overall goal of vaccinating the general public.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has exceeded its collection target for the month of November by 13.39 percent. The BOC said in a statement yesterday that, in spite of the restrictions brought about by the pandemic and its effects to the overall trade environment, the agency raked in P58.79 billion for the month, surpassing the target of P51.85 billion. The preliminary collection figure also exceeded the November 2020 collection of P43.7 billion by 34.52 percent.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Wednesday said economic activity is improving but the emergence of new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) variants may cloud the pace of recovery. According to the Department of Health, 36.4 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Nov. 30. The Philippines aims to fully vaccinate 54 million people by the end of the year. While 96% or 9.4 million of Metro Manila’s target population is now fully vaccinated, the vaccination rates in poorer regions remain very low.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has expressed optimism on the country’s growth prospects for 2022, as cases fall and vaccination rates rise in recent months. In a speaking engagement on Wednesday, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the recent economic and health developments in the country show good indicators that the economy is on its way to a “strong recovery” in 2022.
The Duterte administration will complete 18 of its 112 flagship projects by the time the President’s term ends in June 2022, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). In a presentation at the virtual Arangkada Philippines Forum on Wednesday, Neda OIC-Undersecretary for Investment Programming Jonathan L. Uy said 94 other projects are expected to be completed after Duterte steps down from the Palace.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) aims to increase the number of operational rail stations in all of the country’s train systems by 26, to have 87 stations by the end of the Duterte administration. Timothy John Batan, DOTr undersecretary for railways, said the agency started in 2016 with 61 operational stations. The number of those contracted and ongoing construction would have increased from zero to 92 stations.
The “Filipino First” mentality that guided the crafting of the 1987 Constitution will not propel the Philippines to a higher economic growth path that is needed to eradicate poverty, according to a framer of the country’s charter. In the first plenary of the virtual Arangkada Philippines Forum on Wednesday, constitutionalist and economist Bernardo M. Villegas said removing restrictions to foreign investments would allow the country to recover from the pandemic and help eradicate poverty.
Business cautious amid Omicron scare [mention]
Foreign businessmen are cautious over the country’s quick economic recovery with the omicron variant of the new coronavirus disease 2019 sending uncertainty globally. For Lars Wittig, president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), part of that recovery rests in the hands of the next administration.
Foreign chambers said the next government needs to open the economy further to foreign direct investment (FDI) in order to supercharge the recovery from the pandemic and alleviate poverty. The JFC is pushing for the passage of amendments to the Foreign Investment Act, the Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
The Philippines’ decarbonization drive is viewed as a “massive” investment opportunity because of the sheer volume of renewable capacity needed to make significant progress towards a green economy, McKinsey & Co. said. The Philippines currently has about 26,000 megawatts of installed power capacity of all types. Mr. Agarwal did not elaborate on the assumptions behind the 100,000 MW estimate, or whether the projection contemplates renewable sources working side by side with non-renewable ones.
Experts said the Philippines’ trade relations with the European Union (EU) is crucial as it navigates the challenges of recovering economically from the coronavirus pandemic. During the Pilipinas Conference 2021 on Nov. 23, Dr. Ana Isabel Sanchez Ruiz, deputy head and head of the Political, Press and Information Sector of the delegation of the EU to the Philippines, emphasized that the entry of investors in the country’s market is key to its economic recovery. Lars Wittig, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP), said “the Philippines was showing the greatest improvement in the overriding environment despite COVID-19.” Wittig added that the pandemic also showed that investments are much more resilient in the Philippines than the comparable countries in the region. However, it has to step up in terms of vaccination.
The Philippines’ recovery to its pre-pandemic economic output may be delayed to 2023, an analyst said on Wednesday as the world grappled with the possible effects of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Jon Canto, acting managing partner at global management consulting firm McKinsey and Company said they are looking at multiple scenarios, with the best outcome being a return to pre-pandemic levels by the third quarter of 2022. But Canto also warned that Omicron may delay recovery to 2023.