ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | May 31, 2022

May 31, 2022

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

Foreign chambers urge passage of transportation safety board creation bill [mention]

In letters sent to the House and Senate leadership, the members of the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) urged Congress to expedite the ratification of the reconciled version of the Bicameral Conference Committee of Senate Bill 1077 and House Bill 9030, proposing the creation of a "Philippine Transportation Safety Board" or PTSB. The letter stated, "This important reform bill creating the PTSB is ready for immediate passage. With the bicameral conference committee of both chambers having been convened, the JFC eagerly awaits the ratification of the reconciled version. Once ratified by both houses the bill can finally be endorsed for enactment by the President."

Call for passage of ‘ease of paying taxes’ law backed [mention]

The call by foreign and domestic business groups to pass the proposed “Ease of Paying Taxes” bill has received “strong” backing from House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda. In a statement, Salceda said the passage of the measure will enable incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno to pursue his digitalization and modernization priorities for the tax agencies. In a letter to the Senate dated May 18, 2022, chambers of commerce and business groups, including the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, requested the passage of several bills that have already been passed or approved at the Lower Chamber and just require the Senate’s counterpart approval. The Ease of Paying Taxes bill, which Salceda principally authored, was atop the list of measures proposed in the letter.

Business groups laud new economic team [mention]

Business groups yesterday cheered the announcement of the new administration’s economic team who will work to push for the country’s recovery and sustainable economic growth. Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion also welcomed the appointment of Management Association of the Philippines president Alfredo “Fred” Pascual as incoming Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon said the country’s largest business organization welcomes the appointment by president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno as secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF), BSP Monetary Board member Felipe Medalla as central bank chief, Philippine Competition Commission chairperson Arsenio Balisacan as National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) head and Pascual as DTI secretary.

PEZA pushes review of investment laws

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is recommending a review of existing laws affecting investments and institutionalizing the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement under the new administration. In a Viber message yesterday, PEZA director general Charito Plaza said that among the recommendations of the PEZA to the new administration is to “review investments, trade and economic related policies and laws.” She said the PEZA wants the review to include the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act, which reduced the corporate income tax rate and introduced changes to the incentives system. She said there is a need to look into the investment promotion agencies’ incentives and authority. 

E-payments boost gov’t revenue collection efficiency

The electronic payment system dubbed “EGov Pay” is helping the government collect revenue more efficiently, with the digitization of transactions now being implemented in close to 500 agencies. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno said at a briefing on Thursday usage of EGov Pay rocketed by 467 percent to more than 91,000 transactions in 2021 from around 16,000 transactions in 2020. In terms of value, transactions surged by 300 percent to a total of P246 million in 2021 from P61 million in 2020. Diokno said that, in the first four months of 2022, the number of transactions already reached 50,000 with collections totaling at P243 million. “The sustained increase in the use of EGov Pay, even after mobility restrictions were lifted, proves the shifting preference of consumers towards greater adoption of digital payments,” the BSP chief said. Most payments made through EGov Pay involved fees for government clearances and also taxes.

DOF: Tax reform, ‘Build’ among legacies

The Build, Build, Build program, the enactment of the law that clears the way to the long-sought return of the coco levy funds to the country’s 2.5 million coconut farmers, and the series of tax reforms are among the lasting legacies of the Duterte administration on the economic front, the country’s finance chief said. Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, said these initiatives plus other key economic accomplishments under the term of President Duterte marked the country’s turn towards more inclusive growth and prosperity. The DOF pointed out thatseveral of the game-changing reforms carried out by President Duterte had languished in the congressional shelves for decades and were only enacted into law during his term.

Investors anticipating PH growth blueprint from new economic team

Philippine shares would track movements overseas and upcoming announcements from President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s economic team, led by incoming Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno. The benchmark Philippine Stock Exchange Index bounced from deeper losses, albeit it still ended last week down 0.3 percent to 6,726.14.

More Filipinos are opening basic deposit accounts — BSP

More Filipinos opened basic deposit accounts (BDA) in the final quarter of last year, boding well with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' goal of encouraging more people to open bank accounts. Central bank data released Monday showed the number of BDAs in the country hit 7.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2021, up 19% year-on-year. Introduced in 2018, the BDA is a deposit product that has a low account opening balance requirement of P100 or less, no maintaining balance, no dormancy charges, and simple identification requirements. The BDA was created to meet the needs of the unbanked and low-income sector and foster greater financial inclusion. In terms of value, total deposits in these BDAs amounted to P5.1 billion as of end-2021, a 7.6% increase from a year ago.

Domestic air travel surges in Q1

Air travel within the country showed signs of strong recovery in the first quarter amid challenges due to the surge in COVID cases early in the year. Data from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) showed that domestic passenger traffic from January to March stood at 3.26 million, a 230 percent jump from the 988,212 recorded in the same period in 2021. Budget carrier Cebu Pacific and unit CebGo carried the most number of domestic passengers during the quarter with 1.87 million.

Tourist arrivals exceed 517,000 by late May

Foreign visitors have totaled 517,516 as of May 25, since the reopening of borders with minimal quarantine requirements in February, according to the Department of Tourism (DoT). The DoT said in a statement that the US was the top source of arrivals between Feb. 10 and May 25 with 104,589, followed by South Korea with 28,474 arrivals, and Canada 24,337. “Australian nationals, British, and Japanese were next on the list with 23,286; 20,846; and 13,373 respectively,” the DoT said. “Other foreign visitors during the early months of the year include Vietnamese, Singaporeans, Malaysians, Italians, Irish and French,” it added.

Pork producers slam EO extending lower tariffs

A government decision to extend the lower tariffs on pork imports until the end of the year will not bring the prices of meat down, and may even push back the recovery of the country’s hog industry from African swine fever (ASF),  according to the Pork Producers Federation of the Phils. Inc. “The whole swine industry is saddened by the issuance of the new Executive Order (EO 171) by President Duterte extending low tariffs for pork imports. This will push back recovery efforts of the hog industry as it will definitely affect the sector’s confidence to reinvest for increased production output,” Pork Producers president Rolando Tambago told The STAR in a Viber message. This sentiment was also echoed by National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. president Chester Warren Tan who said that the new EO may discourage hog raisers to go into production.

MB OKs amendments on currencies transfer

THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) announced the Monetary Board approval of further amendments to the rules on cross-border transfer of currencies, allowing international travelers to accomplish the new currencies declaration form (CDF) online. In a statement issued by the BSP over the weekend, the central bank said the amendments will offer “convenience” to declarants and provide faster, more efficient and timely capture of data on physical cross-border transfer of currencies.

NG subsidies to GOCCs in Jan.-Apr. drop 30.8%

THE national government extended less subsidies to government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) in the first four months of the year compared to a year ago. Latest data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed subsidies extended by the national government from January to April dropped by 30.8 percent to P24.39 billion this year from P35.26 billion in the same period last year.

Senators urged to approve RCEP

The Philippines could lose more than half of its import and export markets if it fails to ratify a free trade deal among 15 countries in the region whose economic output accounts for 30% of global trade, economic managers told the Senate on Monday. “If we don’t join RCEP, we miss out on more than half of the Philippines export markets, and around two-thirds of the country’s import sources,” Department of Agriculture (DA) Director Bien A. Ganapin said during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Monday, noting that Philippine exports to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member-countries are at 50.4% of total trade, while imports are at 67.3% of total trade. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and DA pitched the world’s largest free trade agreement (FTA) in a list-ditch effort to push the trade deal’s approval by the Philippine Senate.

Senators tackled the RCEP during the plenary, but gave no assurance of its ratification before the last session of the 18th Congress adjourns this week.

DTI nominee Pascual to focus on digitalization, tech investment

Incoming Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said his focus will be to promote the economy’s  digital transformation, adding that he expects to redirect the effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) towards technology industries, particularly data centers. Mr. Pascual said the digitalization effort will begin with his own future agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). “One of my priorities is to promote digital transformation of the DTI and all our functions as well as (the transformation of) micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and other enterprises,” Mr. Pascual said in a television interview on Monday. “Government agencies like DTI that do both regulation and development work will be more efficient and effective (with digitalization),” he added.

Chua presses RCEP approval this week

The Philippines could secure goods—especially food, but also nonfood products—that are in short supply or not produced locally by joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and five partner-countries, as the war in Ukraine continued to disrupt the global supply chain, according to Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua. Chua said in a statement that Philippine agriculture could further improve with the help of the RCEP along with continuing efforts to fix structural issues in the sector, referring to policies and laws intended to boost productivity and output growth. RCEP is a free-trade agreement among the 10 members of the Jakarta-based Asean—the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Brunei—with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Chua noted that these countries cover about half of the Philippines’ export markets and two-thirds of the country’s sources of imports.

Viet-Thai tandem rice price hike to hurt PHL

Filipino consumers must brace for higher rice prices should the plan of Vietnam and Thailand to jointly raise export prices of the staple pushes through, experts and industry players said. Roehlano M. Briones, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, said Thailand and Vietnam’s latest plan is reminiscent of the proposed Organization of Rice Exporting Countries countries before, which had the goal of controlling the global rice market. Like the OREC, Briones said he does not see Thailand and Vietnam’s plan materializing this year, especially since other rice-producing and exporting countries like India and Myanmar are not part of the talks. “Nothing happened with OREC and I think nothing will happen with this as well, especially since they are only two countries. There is no India, Myanmar and Cambodia,” he told the BusinessMirror.

Oil price hikes mixed

Local fuel retailers have implemented another round of mixed price movements this week. The adjustments were caused by the European Union’s continued negotiations on whether to impose an outright ban on crude oil purchases from Russia. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), as of May 20, the latest average Manila price per liter of gasoline (RON95) is at P77.90, diesel at P76.20 and kerosene, P77.71. Caltex and Seaoil have loweredthe per liter prices by P1.70for gasoline but increased per liter costs by P1.20 for diesel and P2.45 for kerosene. PTT and Clean Fuel have also adjusted per liter prices downward by P1.70for gasoline but upward by P1.20 for diesel. The DOE said as of May 24, year-to-date adjustments of petroleum products stand at a total net increase of P25.55 per liter for gasoline, P29.10 per liter for diesel and P25.20 per liter for kerosene.

Gov’t urged to prioritize agri

Several farm groups have appealed for concrete government help amid continuing issues in the sector. With the looming global food crisis, groups led by food security advocacy group Tugon Kabuhayan called on local government units (LGUs) to help prioritize agriculture in their budget and expenditure programs especially with the forthcoming implementation of the Mandanas ruling. The group cited the computations of the Department of Finance that under the Mandanas ruling, a P234.6-billion increase in the National Tax Allotment of LGUs will be pushed starting this year. Tugon Kabuhayan said funding for agriculture is in preparation for the looming food crisis in the second half of the year that Agriculture Secretary William Dar warned about.

BSP 'inclined' to hike borrowing rates again in June

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is likely to raise interest rates again in June, Governor Benjamin Diokno said on Thursday. "I think I have signalled that we are probably inclined to have another 25-basis point adjustment on our next Monetary Board meeting which is on June 23rd," he said during a virtual briefing. The meeting is about one week away from the start of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos's administration, wherein Diokno will be serving as finance secretary. The BSP formally resumed its hiking cycle this month, where it increased borrowing rates by 25 basis points to 2.25% in a bid to curb surging inflation. It now sees inflation averaging 4.6% this year, above the 2-4% target range for the year.

ADB greenlights $400-M loan for PHL capital development

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday said it has given the greenlight for a $400-million policy-based loan to help the Philippines further develop the domestic capital market and increase financing for infrastructure projects. In a statement, the multilateral lender said the loan will assist the Philippines’ efforts to create an efficient domestic debt market, and boost institutional participation in the market, specifically insurance firms and pension funds. The ADB said the additional supply of long-term finance will help the country address an infrastructure financing gap estimated at around P2 trillion a year up to 2030.

DA issues 14-year roadmap for agri-fishery machinery industry

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has completed a roadmap to 2036 seeking to make the agri-fishery machinery assembly and manufacturing industry more competitive. The roadmap’s short-term goals are collaboration and partnerships within the industry, a phase running between 2022 and 2026. The medium-term phase — 2027 to 2031 — focuses on raising competitiveness, while the 2022-2036 portion targets machinery exports and the development of green technology and hybrid technology. Policy recommendations include the establishment of regional manufacturing networks and hubs to supply the machinery needs of the industry and strengthening regional research and development networks to address the mechanization needs of the industry.

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