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ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | January 07, 2022

January 07, 2022

ECCP Online

Inflation softens in December to 3.6%

Prices of basic goods went up slower in December with the increase primarily driven by food and transport costs, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Wednesday, January 5. National Statistician Dennis Mapa said inflation stood at 3.6% during the month, compared to 4.2% in November and 3.5% in December last year. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier projected a range of 3.5-4.3% for inflation for the month. December’s pace brings the full-year inflation average to 4.5%.

Duterte lowers required paid-up capital for foreign retail enterprises

President Rodrigo Duterte lowered the required paid-up capital for foreign retail enterprises, amending the Retail Trade Liberalization Act. Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11595, amending RA No. 8762 or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000. A signed copy was released to reporters on Thursday, January 6. Under the measure, a foreign retailer shall have at least P25 million in paid-up capital, lower than the $2.5 million which was stated in RA No. 8762.

Number of unemployed Filipinos falls to 3.16M in November

Fewer Filipinos were out of work last November amid relaxed quarantine restrictions, latest figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. About 3.16 million persons aged 15 and up were counted unemployed by the PSA figure during the said stretch, an improvement from the 3.5 million accounted for in the previous month. This estimate led to a national joblessness rate of 6.5%, lower than the 7.4% recorded in October.

Metro Manila LGUs to ban entry of unvaccinated in malls, public transport under Alert Level 3

All local governments in the capital region are set to prohibit the entry of unvaccinated adults and minors in malls, restaurants, and public transport for as long as the region remains under Alert Level 3, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced. MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos said all Metro Manila mayors have "agreed in principle" that unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals must remain in their homes except for essential trips under Alert Level 3 or higher.

Good PH macro fundamentals intact despite COVID-19 scourge, says DOF

Last year’s wider budget deficit as a result of increased government spending to fight the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has augured well for the Philippines’ rebound from its pandemic-induced economic slump, the Department of Finance (DOF) said on Thursday, January 6. DOF Undersecretary and chief economist Gil Beltran also pointed to “a strong revenue performance,” which he said “enabled the country to maintain good macroeconomic fundamentals, attain manageable inflation, sustain low interest rates, and keep its investment-grade credit rating.”

Omicron ‘the beginning of the end of the pandemic’, but public has to remain careful – OCTA fellow

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 may be “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic, but the public must remain cautious, Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, an OCTA Research fellow said at the GoNegosyo Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, January 5. Citing a study, Austriaco, a Filipino-American priest who is also a molecular biologist,  said the Omicron variant is a “natural vaccine.”

Metro Manila now at ‘critical risk’ for COVID-19 transmission – Duque

Metro Manila is now at critical risk for COVID-19 transmission, based on the virus case trends, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Tuesday during the weekly taped briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte that aired late Tuesday night on January 4. According to Duque, Metro Manila now has the highest COVID-19 two-week growth rate (TWGR) at 1,475 percent and an average daily attack rate (ADAR) of 8.79.

2022 outlook remains bullish despite Omicron threats

The country’s economic outlook for this year remains rosy, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion said during the Laging Handa public briefing Tuesday, January 4. Concepcion remains optimistic despite the spike of Covid-19 cases following the holidays and the presence of the Omicron variant. He said his optimism hinges on the rollout of vaccines and booster shots against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

NEDA sees ‘promising’ 2022 despite Omicron

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the Omicron variant will not slam the Philippines’ growth prospects for the year, saying the fresh blow of tighter quarantine controls is only temporarily. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua admitted on Wednesday, Jan. 5, that the virus is not going to go away easily. But the good news is, Chua said “even as we temporarily impose more stringent restrictions to contain the spread of the Omicron variant, we have learned to manage the risks and live with the virus.”

Alert Level 3 in NCR won’t significantly impact businesses: DTI

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is expecting minimal impact on businesses as the National Capital Region (NCR) reverted to Alert Level 3 until January 15. DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the "Laging Handa" public briefing Monday that the difference in terms of allowed sectors in Alert Levels 2 and 3 is minimal and most business establishments are open but with lower operating capacity level.

Vax rollout, upward economic trends fuel PH recovery: BSP

The Philippine economy will continue its recovery in 2022 despite the continuous threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) as vaccination rollout and economic developments expand. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno, in his message during the first meeting for the year with members of the Tuesday Club, a journalists’ group, cited positive economic developments on trade, labor conditions, inflation, and domestic liquidity, among others.

NCR reaches 40% positivity rate, ‘very high’ reproduction number — OCTA fellow

The latest COVID-19 positivity rate in Metro Manila reached a “new high” of 40 percent, a fellow at independent monitoring group OCTA Research said Wednesday. January 5. “For the positivity rate [in the National Capital Region], we have reached a new high positivity rate yesterday. It’s the highest that we have seen so far, 40 percent,” Dr. Guido David said during a Go Negosyo forum.

PH 'relatively' slow in injecting Covid-19 boosters: NTF

National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said the Philippines is “relatively” slow in administering booster shots against the coronavirus disease 2019. In his report to President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People on Tuesday night, Galvez also noted that 2.5 million senior citizens have yet to receive their primary shots. The latest data from the NTF showed that the Philippines has administered 110,089,619 doses of Covid-19 vaccines nationwide – 57,254,482 were given as first doses, 50,627,196 as second doses and 2,207,941 were utilized as booster shots.

Non-monetary measures needed vs. impact of ‘Odette’ on prices

The effective implementation of non-monetary measures to address the impact of Typhoon Odette on the supply of necessities is the key to thwarting its effect on domestic prices, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday, January 5. “As with previous episodes of natural disasters, the effective implementation of non-monetary government intervention measures to ensure adequate domestic food supply must be sustained in order to mitigate potential supply-side pressures on inflation,” he told journalists in a Viber message. 

Coal supply instability seen adding to urgency of energy transition

A consumer rights and energy advocacy group on January 5 said the Department of Energy (DoE) must press ahead with the renewable energy transition, citing risks to the imported coal supply. “Consumers keep getting caught in a web of power stability woes and volatile prices all because we depend on a finite and largely imported energy source,” Gerry C. Arances, convenor of the Power for People (P4P) coalition, said. P4P said the effects of the ban will eventually show up in consumers’ monthly bills. Coal accounts for more than half of the power generated in the Philippines in 2020, with imported coal having an 86% share of thermal coal used in the country. Of the coal imports, 96.88% is sourced from Indonesia, the DoE estimated in 2020.

DoE considering intermediate upgrade of biodiesel mix to 3%

The Department of Energy (DoE) said on Wednesday that Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) will not delay plans to increase biodiesel blend to 5% (B5) biofuel content, but added that it is considering an intermediate increase to 3% (B3) first. “We see no delay on the implementation of the B5 plan due to Typhoon Odette, although Energy Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos is calling for a meeting with the National Biofuels Board (NBB) to discuss increasing the current biodiesel mix of B2 to B3 first before we proceed to B5,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said at a media conference.

Gov’t told to engage firms in services trade talks

The government needs to consult local businesses to give it a defined set of commercial “offensive” interests before negotiating with partner countries on trade in services, the country’s main socioeconomic think tank said. “The government should engage with domestic stakeholders to negotiate effectively, identify the interests, competitive strengths, and weaknesses of domestic suppliers more accurately, and direct policy attention to the need for more supply capacity,” the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said in a report released in December.

Typhoon damage to fisheries P3 billion, tops in agri industry

Fisheries remained the most affected sector of agriculture, sustaining P3 billion worth of damage due to Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai), the Department of Agriculture (DA) said. The overall agricultural damage was P10.8 billion, affecting 356,486 farmers and fishermen over 399,531 hectares of agricultural land in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Lost manufacturing, construction jobs seen dampening Q4 growth

Jobs shed by the manufacturing and construction industries will likely temper fourth quarter economic activity, to bring the full-year growth estimate to 5-6%, offsetting gains from a pickup in business activity, First Metro Investment Corp. and University of Asia and the Pacific said in a joint report on Monday, January 3. “We remain sanguine over the growth prospects for Q4-2021, as more firms have reopened, and consumers headed back to malls and restaurants,” the institutions said.

Solon pushes for approval of bill on tax holiday for creative, amusement industry

A house of Representatives leader and chair of the creative industry committee called on colleagues to hasten the passage of a bill that will give tax relief as well as subsidies to the entertainment industry, which has been battered by coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Deputy Majority Leader Christopher V.P. De Venecia said the proposed Film and Live Recovery Act would relax the 10% amusement tax placed on cinemas, which suffered 19 months of closure from March 2020.

‘Energy resilience is national security’

The energy sector needs a serious upgrade if it is expected to help the Philippines become resilient to disasters, recover from the pandemic, and take the country to a new level of growth and digital transformation, according to a consumer advocacy group. “Breakdowns of power grids are not merely an inconvenience,” said Orlando Oxales, convenor of Citizen Watch Philippines. “These are economically devastating to all individual and enterprise consumers.”

Omicron cases to peak this month – DOH

The Department of Health (DOH) projected that another wave of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases may be experienced by the country by late January driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. In a television interview, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said: “For now, we have initial projections, which states that at about the end of January, cases will peak.” Vergeire, however, refused to provide the projected numbers saying these have yet to be finalized. The health official said, though, that what is certain in the numbers is that it is consistent with the assessment that the Omicron variant is eight times more transmissible than the Delta variant.

Rules on incentives for RE projects eased

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued the amended implementing rules and regulations of the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008, simplifying requirements in availing of incentives. Department Circular 2021-12-0042 signed by DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi last month also ensures proper availment of those incentives through an efficient government process for RE projects. Cusi said the amended policy would address the long-standing concerns of the RE law’s target recipients, including RE developers, fabricators and manufacturers regarding the availment of the law’s incentives.

Solon pushes for approval of bill on tax holiday for creative, amusement industry

A house of Representatives leader and chair of the creative industry committee called on colleagues to hasten the passage of a bill that will give tax relief as well as subsidies to the entertainment industry, which has been battered by coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Deputy Majority Leader Christopher V.P. De Venecia said the proposed Film and Live Recovery Act would relax the 10% amusement tax placed on cinemas, which suffered 19 months of closure from March 2020.

BSP eyes careful exit from easy policy

As central banks around the world have started taking steps to unwind policy support, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said the timing of the exit from its easy policy “remains very uncertain” but assured the transition would be done smoothly. “Given the nascent economic recovery, the priority for the BSP is to ensure the sustainability of the recovery and prevent long-term scarring effects,” Mr. Diokno said at an online briefing on Thursday, January 6.

Foreign chambers OK open-pit ban end [mention]

The Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) of the Philippines said the government’s decision to rescind the ban on open-pit mining has been “a long time coming” and will encourage more investment. The JFC said in a statement that it “welcomed the terms and conditions set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for open-pit mining operations to ensure these will be environmentally and socially sustainable.” “It’s been a long time coming and overdue. Metallic mining can be a major boost to the economy, particularly in rural areas in terms of employment and income,” Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Julian H. Payne said in a phone interview. Open-pit mining allegedly results in negative impacts on the environment, such as erosion and the leak of chemicals such as cyanide into surrounding water systems.

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