ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | April 19, 2022

April 19, 2022

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

PH Competitors benefitting from RCEP 

The Philippines is losing out to its Asean neighbors in benefitting from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), according to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez. In a statement, Lopez summed up discussions of the International Trade Forum: The Importance of Philippine Participation in the RCEP Agreement” hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently where he emphasized the cost of non-participation in the RCEP Agreement. Lopez reported Singapore’s Trade Minister recently announced local businesses are already exploring opportunities brought about by RCEP, through the additional preferential market access they gained from China and Japan for products such as mineral fuels, plastics, chemical products, food preparations and beverages, among others.

COVID debt to take 40 years to settle 

The government’s pandemic-induced debt will be repaid over a period of four decades, the Department of Finance (DOF) said over the weekend. In an economic bulletin, the DOF said as of Jan. 14, 2022, the Philippines has borrowed P1.3 trillion and has received grants amounting to P2.7 billion to fund the anti-COVID-19 program along with 76.8 million doses of donated vaccines.

Growth seen slower, inflation likely higher

SB Equities Inc. has downgraded its growth outlook for the Philippines this year to 6 percent from a previous forecast of 6.5 percent, citing “a consumption drag and at least a modestly negative impulse from trade.” The Security Bank stockbrokerage subsidiary said inflation and trade pass- through due to rising commodity prices may dampen the recovery potential. “The reopening theme is playing out with improving mobility and better PMI (purchasing managers index) numbers, as such we do not anticipate a regression towards a negative path for growth, but rather a slower potential recovery than initially expected with consumption contributing around 75 percent to the GDP,” it said.

Faster rollout of booster shots urged amid new coronavirus variants 

The distribution of booster doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines should be accelerated in order to prevent new variants from driving another surge that may derail economic recovery, experts said. Steven T. Cua, Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association president, told BusinessWorld via mobile phone message last week that the group’s member companies and their employees are being encouraged to get their COVID-19 booster shots as soon as possible.

Duterte vetoes bill requiring SIM card, social media account registration 

President Rodrigo R. Duterte vetoed a bill that seeks to mandate the registration of all subscriber identity module (SIM) cards and social media accounts in the Philippines, less than a month before the Philippines holds a presidential election that critics say has been undermined by disinformation campaigns. In a statement on Friday, presidential spokesman Jose Ruperto Martin A. Andanar said that the inclusion of social media companies in the registration requirement was not part of the original version of the bill and “needs a more thorough study.”

Keep trade open to support vulnerable economies 

All countries are urged to keep their trade open to support vulnerable economies, especially net-importing ones that are bearing the brunt of rising commodity prices due to the Russia-Ukraine war. In a joint statement, the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, United Nations World Food Program and the World Trade Organization called for an urgent action on food security as global tensions have yet to see an end. “We urge all countries to keep trade open and avoid restrictive measures such as export bans on food or fertilizer that further exacerbate the suffering of the most vulnerable people,” the multilateral agencies said.

DOF: Local gov’ts ramping up infra-related borrowings 

Similar to the national government, local governments have been ramping up infrastructure development, hence borrowing more to build local public works and health facilities during the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. “Based on our data, financing for infrastructure projects is the most common loan purpose in the certificates we issued in fiscal years 2020 to 2022,” Niño Raymond Alvina, executive director at the Department of Finance’s Bureau of Local Government Finance (DOF-BLGF), told the Inquirer last week.

MB-approved foreign borrowings rise 69% 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monetary Board announced on Wednesday that it has approved a total of $4.80 billion of public sector foreign borrowings in the first quarter of 2022, 69 percent up from the $2.84-billion approvals in the same period in 2021. Broken down, the borrowings consist of one bond issuance amounting to $2.25 billion; and three project loans aggregating $2.55 billion.

Revenue from BOC fuel marking program hits P374-B

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday said it has so far collected a cumulative PHP374.13 in import duties and other taxes from compliant oil companies under the fuel marking program. In a statement, the Bureau said the total marked gasoline, diesel, and kerosene from September 2019 to March 2022 reached 39.316 billion liters. It added that diesel comprises 65.51 percent of the total tax-paid volume followed by gasoline with 38.97 percent and kerosene with 0.52 percent. As for location, Luzon recorded the highest number of markings at 73.66 percent, followed by Mindanao with 20.9 percent and Visayas with 5.44 percent. The BOC said it is now marking 28 oil firms since the program started September 2019.

Average daily cases in PH drop below 250

New coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases from April 11 to 17 totaled 1,674 for a daily average of 239 from 272 last week, according to the Department of Health. In its latest bulletin, the DOH said “this is lower by 12 percent than cases reported from April 4 to 10.” The agency also said there was one additional severe and critical case during the past week but 200 more deaths were also reported over the past seven days.

BIR not extending tax filing deadline

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will no longer extend the deadline for the filing of annual income tax returns (AITR), but will allow taxpayers to make changes to their documents until May 16. “The BIR has not extended the April 18, 2022 deadline for the filing of annual income tax returns and payment of corresponding taxes for 2021,” the BIR said in an advisory. Historically, taxpayers have until April 15 every year to submit their AITR, but the BIR extended the deadline to April 18 this year due to the Holy Week holidays. In spite of this, the BIR said it allowed taxpayers to file their tentative AITR until April 18. In turn, Filipinos who submitted their tentative AITR can amend them until May 16, 2022, without getting slapped with any interest, surcharge and penalties.

Agaton damaged P725.2M worth of crops

Damage to the agriculture sector due to Tropical Storm Agaton (international name: Megi) increased further to P725.2 million as of Monday morning, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported. Based on its latest bulletin, the weather disturbance has affected the livelihood of 19,424 farmers in Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and General Santos City), and Caraga. Agaton has wiped out 41,580 metric tons of agricultural produce covering 17,925 hectares of agricultural areas. “Affected commodities include rice, corn, high-value crops and livestock. These values are subject to validation,” the DA added. The rice sector sustained P672.2 million in losses. But Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) said it still had minimal impact on the country’s overall palay, or unhusked rice, output because Eastern Visayas accounts for only 5 percent of the annual production. 

Real estate tax valuation reform

As the clock winds down on the Duterte administration, the chances of the real property tax valuation reform measure proposed by the Department of Finance being enacted into law are looking dim. The bill aims to broaden the tax base used in ascertaining the property-related taxes of the national and local governments through a just, equitable and efficient valuation system. The expansion of the tax base would enable the government to increase its revenues without imposing new or additional taxes which ordinary taxpayers would eventually shoulder. The bill was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives in 2019 and is pending at the Senate.

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