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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | December 14, 2021

December 14, 2021

ECCP Online

'Impressive resilience': ADB expects faster PH economic growth up to 2022

The Asian Development Bank has scaled up its growth forecasts for the Philippines this 2021 and 2022, as the country’s economic rebound gains traction amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The regional lender’s Asian Development Outlook 2021 supplement indicates national economic output could expand by 5.1% this year and 6% next year — up from its 4.5% and 5.5% forecasts in September. The new 2021 projection dwells slightly above the economic team’s trimmed 4-5% growth target band for the year, while the expected figure in 2022 is at the lower end of the government’s 6-7% goalposts.

 

ADB okays $250M loan for vaccines

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $250-million loan to help the country secure more doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, the multilateral agency said yesterday. The ADB said in a statement the assistance will allow the government to purchase 40 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines for eligible children and booster shots for adults.

 

Revenue loss from tariff cuts hits P3.6B

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has foregone some P3.6 billion in revenues as of December 10 under the reduced tariff system for swine meat imports, data showed. 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. According to data shared by finance secretary Carlos Dominguez, from April 9 to December 10 this year, the dutiable value of swine meat importation reached P19.35 billion.

 

Closures, lost FDIs in electronics feared

After losing $100 million in investments and $20 million exports due to uncertainties that surrounded the tax reforms and the pandemic, the Philippines need to catch up and capture $110-million expansion projects of five companies in electronics. Dan Lachica, president of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries of the Philippines Foundation Inc. in a webinar on the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) on December 13 expressed fears of possible closure of some existing companies after the transition period of the law when they eventually lose their existing preferential tax rates.

 

Senate approves extension of 2021 budget validity on 3rd reading

The Senate passed on third and final reading on Monday a bill extending the validity of the 2021 budget until the end of next year. House Bill 10373, which amends Section 62 of the General Provisions of Republic Act 11518 or the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2021 was unanimously adopted by the Senate with 22 votes in support. Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance committee, said the extension is crucial for the government’s recovery efforts since the pandemic is expected to persist throughout next year with the looming threat of the Omicron variant.

 

Foreign chambers press Senate to finish work on PSA measure [mention]

Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) pressed the Senate to pass a bill amending Commonwealth Act 146 or the Public Service Act (PSA), citing the need to safeguard the economic recovery. In a statement on December 13, the foreign chambers said the bill can help maximize foreign investment that will create jobs, build infrastructure, and support the recovery. They noted that the bill remains pending with the Senate at the plenary amendment stage, after having hurdled the House of Representatives in March 2020.

 

ECCP urges gov't to ease restrictions in renewable energy investments [mention]

The government should make it more "accessible" for foreign companies to invest in the country's renewable energy space, an official of the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines said Thursday. More foreign investments in renewable energy such as wind or solar will result in lower prices and more jobs, ECCP president Lars Wittig told ANC.

 

FIA bill to create more jobs–Gatchalian

By easing the restrictions and requirements for foreign businesses in the Philippines, a senator on Sunday said the passage of the bill amending the Foreign Investments Act (FIA) of 1991 will help generate jobs for Filipinos. Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian said the recent ratification of the bill is “very timely” as the country is now opening up the economy.

 

Last push for 3 econ reform bills

As three key economic reform bills advance, government leaders are giving them a last-minute push, assuring there are safety nets for local investors. At a forum hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (BCCP) over the weekend, legislators briefed the BCCP members led by its chairman Chris Nelson on the status of the following: the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA), which is up for signature; the Foreign Investment Act (FIA) which has passed the bicameral committee and; the Public Service Act (PSA) which is on second reading in the Senate.

 

LIST: Countries under red, yellow, green travel restrictions

Testing and quarantine protocols remain for travelers coming from certain countries amid the pandemic, but these vary by risk levels. They are added to either the red, yellow, or green list. According to the Inter Agency Task Force, minors — regardless of their vaccination status and country of origin — will follow the testing and quarantine protocols of the parent or guardian traveling with them. The Philippines has put South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands on the red list starting Nov. 28 until Dec. 15. France is also red-listed from Dec. 10 to 15, and Portugal effective Dec. 12 at 12:01 a.m.

 

FDI net inflows up double-digit to $7.3-B

Net inflows of foreign direct investments (FDIs) continued their growth momentum in September 2021, recording a 30.4-percent expansion year on year to reach USD660 million from the USD506 million net inflows in September 2020. This brought the cumulative FDI net inflows for the first three quarters of 2021 to USD7.3 billion, higher by 43.8 percent than the USD5.1 billion net inflows in the same period in 2020, data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday showed.

 

More loans to push PH postpandemic rebound

The Philippines has secured a new $600-million loan from the World Bank, bringing the country’s total pandemic-related foreign borrowings, accumulated since March last year, to $24 billion, or about P1.2 trillion. This and another $300-million World Bank loan expected to be approved on Dec. 21 will add to the country’s total outstanding debt, both external and domestic, which has already ballooned to P11.97 trillion as of end-October from P8.22 trillion as of end-2019, or prior to the pandemic.

 

FDIs to PH beat 2021 goal in Sept

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is ratcheting up its full-year target for foreign direct investments (FDIs) as January-September net inflows jumped 44 percent year-on-year to $7.3 billion, breaching the $7-billion goal for 2021. “We’re revising it [2021 goal],” BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno told reporters. “The revised number will be announced next week, if not sooner.”

 

Omicron spreads faster and weakens jabs — WHO

The Omicron coronavirus variant is more transmissible than the Delta strain and reduces vaccine efficacy but causes less severe symptoms according to early data, the World Health Organization said December 12. The Delta variant, first identified in India earlier this year, is responsible for most of the world's coronavirus infections. The WHO said Omicron had spread to 63 countries as of December 9. Faster transmission was noted in South Africa, where Delta is less prevalent, and in Britain, where Delta is the dominant strain.

 

Govt debt payments hit 35-yr high in Oct

The national government’s debt payments as of October had already breached the P1 trillion mark, the highest in 35 years, based on data released by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr). In the January-to-October period, debt service soared to P1.053 trillion, exceeding all debt service payments since 1986. The figure was 18.48 percent higher than the P888.69 billion recorded a year ago.

 

Trade deficit balloons to $4.02 billion in October

The country’s trade-in-goods deficit widened in October as merchandise import growth outpaced the growth in exports, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Friday. Preliminary PSA data showed the value of merchandise exports grew by 2% to $6.41 billion. The October reading was a turnaround from the 0.9% drop in the same month last year, albeit slower than the 6.4% growth seen in September 2021. 

Renewable companies gear up for DoE’s green energy auction

Renewable Energy companies are weighing their participation in the Green Energy Auction Program (GEAP) after the Department of Energy (DoE) finally launched the rules governing the program after a lengthy delay. “We support GEAP as it aims to bolster the RE capacity share in the country’s energy portfolio. With our expansion plans, SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) is well-positioned to meet this demand,” Joseph S. Yu, SNAP Group President and CEO, told BusinessWorld in an e-mail.

 

PH eyes export of high-value products, services

Key stakeholders will focus on high-value products and services in crafting the new Philippine Export Development Plan (PEDP) for 2022-2027 while the country works to tap into its unrealized export potential. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency is spearheading the drafting of the new PEDP “with an overarching goal of transforming the Philippines from an exporter of commodities and intermediate goods to an exporter of high-value products and services.”

 

Regulation on 0% VAT for exporters’ local purchases signed

The new Revenue Regulation (RR) that will allow exporters to continue to avail of zero value-added tax (VAT) rating on their local purchases of goods and services will be issued soon, according to a Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) official. Larry Barcelo, Officer-in-Charge and Assistant Commissioner for BIR Legal Service, informed the House Committee on Ways and Means in an online public hearing on December 6 that the amendatory RR has been signed and will be published soon in a newspaper of general circulation.

 

DOF favors extending validity of pork MAV+

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III on Monday said he is in favor of extending the validity of the government’s 200,000 metric ton (MT) minimum access volume plus (MAV+) program for pork until the end of next year. The pork MAV+ program, under EO 133, is only applicable during the MAV year 2021-2022, which ends on January 31.

 

BSP to stand pat on rates anew — poll

The Philippine central bank is widely expected to keep its policy rate at a record low this week to support the economy amid uncertainty over the Omicron variant, according to analysts. All 15 analysts in a BusinessWorld poll last week said they expect the Monetary Board to maintain the overnight reverse repurchase rate at 2% at this year’s last policy-setting meeting on Dec. 16. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has not touched the benchmark interest rates since Dec. 17, 2020.

 

Agriculture trade deficit hits $2.4B in third quarter

Agricultura trade was in deficit by $2.4 billion in the third quarter, with imports of grain products worth over $900 million keeping the trade balance in the negative, the Philippine Statistics Authority said on December 13. The deficit widened 18.3% from a year earlier, with the growth in imports (15.8% to $4.16 billion) outstripping that of exports (12.5% to $1.76 billion).

 

PH reaches 53.2% full vaccination rate; only 42 areas under lockdown

The government has vaccinated 53.2% of its target population of around 77 million, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday. In his presentation during a briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte, Galvez noted that more than 41 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Dec. 12. He said Metro Manila has the highest percentage at 102.41%, which shows that there is no more vaccine hesitancy in the region.

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