ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured News Articles | June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

2.76 million unemployed Filipinos in April

An estimated 2.76 million Filipinos were out of work in April, fewer than 2.87 million the month prior, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported Friday. PSA chief Dennis Mapa also reported a national joblessness rate of 5.7%, down from 5.8% in March. Most areas in the Philippines, including Metro Manila, were under the loosest Alert Level 1 in April.

Incoming DTI chief told: Encourage more production to ‘keep prices down’

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez is urging incoming DTI chief Alfred Pascual to “keep prices down” by having the country produce more goods amid the high inflation rate of over 5.4 percent facing the next administration. DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the outgoing DTI leadership has met with Pascual last week. “The undersecretaries of DTI with Sec. Lopez had a meet-and-greet with him last week and we had some small talk and some short briefings with him. He asked us questions and he also asked us to ask him questions about himself,” Castelo told ANC in an interview on Wednesday.

Consumer confidence soars to four-year high

Consumer confidence in the next 12 months soared to its highest level in more than four years after dipping in the second quarter,  according to the results of the latest consumer expectations survey (CES) conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Based on the Q1 2022 CES released Friday evening, the overall consumer outlook index for the next 12 months soared to 30.4 percent from the previous quarter’s 23.6 percent. According to the BSP, the respondents attributed their brighter year-ahead outlook to expectations of more available jobs, additional and high income, good governance as well as higher salary.

PHL debt is still manageable — WB

The Philippines’ outstanding debt remains manageable despite breaching the internationally accepted sustainable threshold, the World Bank (WB) said, but stressed the need for a solid fiscal consolidation plan and high economic growth. “We think the debt is still manageable. Most of our debt is long term, domestic and peso-denominated,” Kevin C. Chua, World Bank senior economist in Manila, said during a briefing on Wednesday. The Philippines’ debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio reached 63.5% as of the end of the first quarter of 2022. This was above the 60% threshold considered as manageable by multilateral lenders for developing economies,

2022 growth seen falling below government target

The Philippines will likely fail to achieve its economic target for this year due to a weak external environment and inflationary concerns, but its growth rate will still be among the fastest in East Asia and the Pacific. In its latest economic update, the World Bank retained its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for the Philippines at 5.7 percent, the same as its April outlook. This is the same growth pace the Philippines had in 2021. However, this is way below the government’s revised seven to eight percent expectation for 2022.

BPO sector surpasses revenue, employment targets set for 2022

The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry has hit the employment and revenue growth targets it set for itself this year, the industry association said. The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) said in a statement on Wednesday that it is ahead of schedule on its targets, having already exceeded the 2022 goals of 1.43 million full-time employees (FTEs) and $29.1 billion worth of revenues. “The number of FTEs in the country increased by 120,000 in 2021, bringing the sector’s total headcount to 1.44 million and registering growth of 9.1% compared to 2020. The industry also recorded revenue of $29.49 billion in 2021 or a 10.6% jump from the previous year,” the IBPAP said.

Marcos Eyes Long-Term Measures For Agri Sector

The incoming president, who campaigned on a promise to bring down the price of rice, said putting institutionalized programs is necessary to ensure growth in the agriculture sector for the benefit of local farmers. President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is planning to implement long-term measures to improve the agriculture sector in the country. For Marcos, putting institutionalized programs is necessary to ensure growth in the industry for the benefit of local farmers, which is among the priorities of his incoming administration.

P10 Minimum Fare, Fuel Tax Suspension Pressed

A transport group said the government’s decision to allow the P10 minimum fare in 2018, when diesel prices was only P40 per liter, enabled jeepney drivers and operators to “survive” what was considered then an unbearable fuel cost. As fuel prices continue to skyrocket, transport groups are renewing their call for the reimposition of the P10 minimum fare, months after the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) rejected their petition for a fare hike. The Kilusang Mayo Uno, meanwhile, has asked President Duterte to suspend fuel excise tax before he steps down from office. Incoming finance chief Benjamin Diokno has flatly rejected the idea.

PH ranks 33rd among 121 nations in COVID-19 recovery

The Philippines ranked 33rd among 121 countries in terms of COVID-19 recovery, the Department of Health said Sunday. Based on the Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index, the country has had a consistent decline in new cases, with low to no confirmed fatalities in the past weeks despite opening its borders to international tourists since February. “This remarkable recovery reported by independent external observers is being balanced by safety protocols managed by the Department of Health (DOH) and our partners,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

Wage hikes in 14 regions to take effect in June — DOLE

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Sunday said that 14 pay hikes are scheduled to take effect in the month of June. According to Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III in a statement, this comes after 14 regional wage boards have already issued their respective wage orders granting pay hikes ranging between P30 and P110.

Expect no fuel tax suspension under Marcos admin; Diokno to push for 'efficient, timely' aid

The administration of president-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is not looking at suspending excise taxes on fuel products any time soon, but the incoming finance chief acknowledged lapses in the implementation of assistance to drivers who have been bearing the brunt of higher oil prices. Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor and finance chief-designate Benjamin Diokno said despite the new round of pump price hikes effective June 7, it would be unwise to cut taxes on fuel.

Philippines may need ten years to bring debt-to-GDP ratio down to 40%

The Philippines may need at least 10 years before its debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio will return to its pre-pandemic level of 40%, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said. “Assuming that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 40% is the ideal health…It could take us a minimum of 10 years to get back [on track]. That is the effect of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019),” he said during a briefing on Wednesday. The Philippines’ debt pile ballooned to a record P12.76 trillion as of the end of April, reflecting the surge in borrowings to finance its pandemic response.

Duterte signs EO implementing coconut industry dev’t plan

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an executive order (EO) that will implement the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP). The development plan sets the direction for national programs establishing community-based enterprises and providing social protections for coconut farmers, farm workers, and their families. According to the EO, the government must “consolidate the benefits due to coconut farmers, especially the poor and marginalized, under various statutes, and expedite the delivery thereof, to attain increased incomes for coconut farmers, alleviate poverty, and achieve social equality.”

Incoming DICT Chief Wants Better Digital Police

“We need to build up a better digital police or a digital NBI that can go after these cyber criminals,” incoming Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy said. The Philippines needs to bolster its “digital police” amid the proliferation of online scammers, incoming Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) secretary Ivan John Uy said. Uy said the three agencies under the DICT – the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the Cybercrime Investigation Coordinating Center and the National Privacy Commission – work together in order to address this growing issue of scamming using text message or social media.

Philippine April trade gap narrows’

The Philippines’ April trade deficit narrowed month on month to $4.8 billion, as exports slightly picked up and imports grew at their slowest pace in 13 months amid the Russia-Ukraine war and supply chain disruptions. Preliminary Philippine Statistics Authority data showed the value of merchandise exports grew by 6% year on year to $6.129 billion in April, the fastest since 15.8% recorded in February. The export expansion was slightly up from 5.9% in March, but slower than 74.1% a year ago.

Wage hikes, fare increases likely to push inflation beyond target

Higher daily minimum wages and jeepney fares will likely drive inflation beyond the central bank’s target this year, analysts said. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reiterated it is keeping a close eye on the inflation spike’s second-round effects such as wage and transport fare increases. “The BSP is prepared to respond to a sustained buildup of inflation pressures and second-round effects that can disanchor inflation expectations,” BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said at the launch of the World Bank Philippines Economic Update June 2022 report on Thursday.

BSP plans to launch news sentiment index by 2023

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is targeting to launch a news sentiment index (NSI) by 2023, as it seeks to ramp up the use of big data in its monitoring activities. BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Thursday said the NSI would “capture relevant views or sentiment on key macroeconomic events that may affect the current and emerging economic and financial environment.” “The NSI will leverage on big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance the BSP’s monitoring activities for policy development and macro-financial surveillance,” he said.

FDI flows may be hindered by risk aversion

The foreign direct investment (FDI) market will be beset by risk aversion in light of the war between Ukraine and Russia, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said. UNCTAD said in its World Investment Report, carrying the title “International Tax Reforms and Sustainable Investment,” that developing countries need help from the international community as FDI flows dry up. In 2021, the report said global FDI flows improved 64% to $1.58 trillion, driven by a surge in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity and an increase in international projects.

Country seen paying price of dependence on food imports

The government’s economic managers pursued an inappropriate import-heavy model for achieving food sufficiency, which is now being disrupted by the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine crisis, a poultry industry executive said. “Our economic managers and the Department of Agriculture (DA) believe that the template for us is Singapore, which is 90% dependent on food imports and yet is food-secure,” United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) President Elias Jose M. Inciong said in a phone interview. The economic managers assumed that “we can depend on imports for food security. That’s why the agri-fisheries sector has been neglected since we got into the World Trade Organization. In short, the template is to depend on imports. Now, we are vulnerable and at risk. We are being made to pay for that policy in the coming months and years,” he added.

World’s largest solar farm to rise in PH

Tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. wants to put up the world’s largest solar power facility in the Philippines with a capacity of 2,500 to 3,500 megawatts, along with a massive battery energy storage system. Razon’s infrastructure arm Prime Infrastructure Holdings Inc. said in a statement on Wednesday that it would boost the country’s supply of renewable energy, which would also be used to provide power to Manila Electric Company (Meralco). The battery storage system is envisioned to have a capacity of 4,000 to 4,500 MW per hour.

PH manufacturing growth, external trade slowed in April

Domestic manufacturing growth slowed, while the value of two-way foreign trade declined month-on-month in April amid external uncertainties wrought by the prolonged Ukraine-Russia conflict and a slowing Chinese economy.

The Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) monthly integrated survey of selected industries (Missi) report for April released on Thursday showed the increase in the volume of production index (VoPI) fell to 3.4 percent from 352.3 percent a month ago and 157.8 percent a year ago.

Trade deficit numbers clip PH shares’ ascent

The wider trade deficit data prevented the local bourse from achieving a three-day positive streak, with the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) slipping on Thursday. The PSEi dipped by 0.16 percent, or 11.03 points, to end at 6,758.59 while the broader all-shares index dropped by 0.12 percent, or 4.18 points, to close at 3,600.66.

ADB OKs $4.3B loan for Manila-Calamba railway project

The rollout of a 55-kilometer railway between Manila and Calamba City in Laguna province, aimed at cutting travel time to only over one hour, will be financed by a $4.3-billion loan approved by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In a statement on Thursday (June 9), the Manila-based ADB said the newest loan it approved for its host-country will finance the South Commuter Railway project, “a modern suburban railway line.” This rail project formed part of the North-South Commuter Railway network, which the ADB said was its “largest infrastructure financing in the Asia and Pacific region to date.”

BPO industry beats targets

The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry exceeded its 2022 growth targets a year early, creating 120,000 new jobs back when the government still allowed most BPO employees to work from home (WFH) without risking company tax breaks. But to sustain its growth prospects, the industry needs a law that will let BPOs work largely from home and still keep their tax breaks, said the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP).

WB sees external dark clouds hovering over PH economy

The World Bank expects the Philippines this year to match last year’s economic growth rate of 5.7 percent, although below the government’s goal amid lingering global risks spilling over locally. The Washington-based multilateral lender’s Philippine Economic Update report released on Wednesday (June 8) kept its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast in April, which was nonetheless less optimistic than the 5.9-percent 2022 growth projection it made in 2021. The estimate remained below the narrowed 7 to 8 percent target range of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).

Dominguez: 10 years needed to return to pre-pandemic debt-to-GDP ratio

It will take at least nearly a decade to return the Philippines’ public debt ratio to pre-pandemic levels, and the state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) suggested it would entail raising tax revenues while slowing down even on productive government spending. In a presentation before Department of Finance (DOF) officials on Wednesday, PIDS supervising research specialist John Paul Corpus said the think tank’s estimates had shown that “immediately reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio to its pre-pandemic level of 40 percent may be challenging given the large fiscal adjustments required.”

Food shortages are next global health crisis — expert

Growing food shortages may represent the same health threat to the world as the COVID-19 pandemic, a leading global health figure has warned. Rising food and energy prices, in part sparked by the war in Ukraine, could kill millions both directly and indirectly, Peter Sands, the executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

PHL urges continuous international aid to help contain financial stability risks

THE Philippines is urging the international community to continue helping low and middle-income countries in containing financial stability risks and achieving green and inclusive economic growth. Speaking in a recent forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN-Ecosoc), Finance Undersecretary Antonette C. Tionko said international cooperation must be strengthened as rebuilding the global economy amid the current and future external shocks will be “arduous.”

DENR backs ban on export of hazardous waste

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) expressed support to the country’s ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment, which would prohibit the export of hazardous waste and other trash from developed to developing countries. The Basel Ban Amendment, adopted by the parties to the Basel Convention, would restrain the member states of the European Union, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Liechtenstein from exporting hazardous wastes either for recovery, treatment, or disposal to developing countries or countries with economies in transition.

Rules on green housing sought

The Subdivision and Housing Developers Association Inc. (SHDA), while welcoming the inclusion of mass housing in the list of activities entitled to incentives, is seeking clear guidelines on what constitute green housing, smart cities, and smart communities. In a statement, SHDA national president May Rodriguez, said including mass housing under Tier 1 or base structure for incentives of the 2022 Strategic Investments Priorities Plan (SIPP) will ensure the provision of housing at a price point that will help clear the housing backlog. The SIPP provides green housing, smart cities, and smart communities are all eligible for incentives. However, according to Rodriquez, there is still a need to create guidelines and criteria for identifying what can be considered “smart housing and smart communities.” “Government and the private sector will have to develop specific guidelines and characteristics for smart housing and communities. But by incorporating the efficiencies from technological and building innovations with the fruits of green initiatives, our keywords are affordability, resilience, sustainability, and livability,” Rodriguez said.

Senior, PWD discounts pushed in online purchases

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants the discount privileges granted to senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) honored in e-commerce platforms. “Online shopping platforms need to reprogram their offering to incorporate a feature that allows discounts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement. The DTI urged e-commerce platforms to adopt the “Guidelines on the Provision of the Mandatory Statutory Benefits and Privileges of the Senior Citizens and Persons with Disabilities on their Purchases through Online (e-commerce) and Phone Call/SMS.”

World Bank: Global risks, major economies' slowdown cloud PH growth outlook

The World Bank retained its growth forecasts for the Philippines in its latest report, but not without flagging downside risks weighing on the country's economic outlook. "Growth is projected at 5.7 percent in 2022 and 5.6 percent, on average, in 2023-24, same as the projections made in the April East Asia and Pacific Economic Update," said the multilateral lender in its Philippine Economic Update published Wednesday. The forecasts are below the Development Budget Coordination Committee's target bands of 7-8% for this year and 6-7% for next year until 2025.  The World Bank said its latest estimate already takes into account the impact of higher inflation on household spending. Prices of basic goods rose 5.4% in May — the quickest pace since November 2018 - and officially pushed average inflation to 4.1%, past the central bank's 2-4% target.

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