April 28, 2023
ECCP at Work
The ECCP has hailed the Philippines' improved ranking in the latest World Bank Logistics Performance Index (LPI), noting that “seamless and sustainable” trade is essential amid an increasingly globalized world. The 2023 World Bank LPI noted the Philippines ranked 43rd out of 139 economies. This is 17 notches up from 60th place in the previous index results which were released in 2018. The report noted that economies are ranked based on indicators related to Customs, Infrastructure, International shipments, Logistics competence and equality, Timeliness, and Tracking and Tracing. The ECCP said, it “further supports measures that will aid logistical efficiency as well as customs and trade facilitation.”
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s economic team has kept this year’s growth target to as much as 7% despite increasing global headwinds that forced other institutions to cut or stay cautious about Philippine growth prospects. The DBCC said domestic consumption and brisk tourism should boost the economy to a 6% to 7% range in 2023, despite persistent food, energy and transport inflation.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual is supporting calls for the temporary removal of electric vehicles (EV) import tariffs for five years. Pascual said this move is part of the DTI’s mandate to promote electric vehicles, lower their prices, and reduce the country’s oil consumption.
The DOE said the implementation of tariff commitments under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) benefits the power sector. DOE Secretary Raphael Lotilla said energy-related trade in services would further improve the business climate in the energy sector and will help the push for exploration, development and utilization of the country’s indigenous energy resources. Lotilla also said RCEP will benefit the energy sector as it is capital-intensive where local capital may not be sufficient.
The Philippines has the second highest proportion of green investors in Southeast Asia, but more still needs to be done to encourage investments in green finance, according to a survey of Milieu Insight. Milieu Insight’s survey covered a total of 4,800 respondents or 800 each in the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, to understand consumer interest in green finance in the region.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez has filed a measure that would reduce restrictions on foreign participation in the country’s rice and corn industry. Rodriguez filed HB No. 7709, which would amend Presidential Decree (PD) No. 194—a 1973 law meant to liberalize, with ownership restrictions, foreign investments in the development of virgin lands into farms. There was no mention of land ownership or development in HB 7709, but Rodriguez wants to delete sections of the decree that preclude foreign ownership of land, require financial capacity and prevent monopolies or restraint of trade.
Renewable energy (RE) capacity hit 8,255 megawatts (MW) in 2022, up from 7,914 MW a year earlier, with solar adding the most new capacity, the DoE said. RE accounted for 29% of the energy mix by capacity at the end of 2022, the DoE said in its Renewable Energy Act implementation status report.
The cash utilization rate of government agencies reached 98% at the end of the first quarter, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said. Data from the DBM showed that the National Government, local governments and state-owned companies used 98% or P835.5 billion of the P852.79 billion in notice of cash allocation issued in January to March. This was slightly lower than the usage rate of 99% a year earlier. At the end of March, the remaining unused allocations totaled P17.29 billion.
The new e-travel platform will completely eliminate the need for arriving passengers from abroad to line up in a separate queue for their health check. This was confirmed by Bureau of Immigration spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval in a Viber message to the BusinessMirror. “It’s [e-travel platform] automatically integrated with the BOQ [Bureau of Quarantine]. Starting May 1, passengers can go straight to the Immigration counters.” There may be instances though that the arriving passengers will be referred to the BOQ, she said, “if the system shows a red QR code, i.e. they did not fill out the e-travel form.”
The digital sector’s contribution to the Philippine economy slipped in 2022, even as its gross value added (GVA) breached P2 trillion, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported. Citing preliminary data, the PSA said the digital economy contributed 9.4% to gross domestic product (GDP), equivalent to a GVA of P2.08 trillion, last year.
The Philippines’ ranking in a global good governance index worsened after it dropped three spots to rank 66th out of 104 countries. The country’s overall score slipped by 0.015 point to 0.469, the third lowest in the East Asia and the Pacific region, according to the Chandler Institute of Governance’s 2023 Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI) released on Wednesday. This was the Philippines’ worst performance since the annual index started in 2021, when it ranked 61st. The country placed 63rd in 2022. The Philippines scores went down in key areas such as leadership, laws and policies, and financial stewardship.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has bankrolled the University of Santo Tomas (UST)’s ambitious research and development (R&D) project to develop a yeast-based oral vaccine against COVID-19. The DOST, through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), has given a P4.4-million grant to the UST R&D seeking to develop an anti-COVID-19 oral vaccine using the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii as a delivery platform. The DOST said the R&D seeks to tap saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast that has already been approved for human consumption worldwide, as a vaccine delivery system meant to induce a person’s immune response.
The country’s agricultural imports rose by nearly 23 percent year-on-year to $19.3 billion in 2022 as the Philippines stepped up its food purchases last year, according to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). PSA data showed that among the major commodities imported by the country last year, cereals accounted for the largest share of the import bill at $3.98 billion or 20.6 percent of the total. Residues and waste from the food industries, meat and edible meat offal, animal or vegetable fats and oils, and miscellaneous edible preparations were the other major food imports of the country last year.
The government has decided to extend for 90 days the deadline for the registration of SIM cards which was supposed to end April 26 under the SIM Registration Act, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced on Tuesday. But Remulla warned of social media unavailability for SIM card users who will fail to register during the extension period. “There’s a 90-day extension, but most of the services that come with the cellphones that are registered will be cut off with the telcos. So there will be social media unavailability for those who do not register in the next 90 days,” Remulla said.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said developing economies should enhance the resilience of their agricultural sectors to withstand the impacts of climate shocks and implement climate change interventions that strike a balance between mitigation efforts and agricultural production. NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan highlighted during the 2023 Asia Pacific Agricultural Policy Roundtable held last April 24 the importance of weighing other important socio economic objectives, even as an economy pursues the goal of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions for the promotion of sustainable rural development.
The Philippines will soon promote the use of extended reality (XR) as a new medium for skills development and learning, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said the nationwide promotion of XR will unlock skills for the Filipino workforce and ensure the country’s long-term economic growth and social progress.
If the Philippines aims to be one of the world’s top tourism destinations, the government must immediately improve and modernize the country’s major gateways, according to experts. In a recent webinar, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) Research Fellow Kris Francisco and Research Analyst Valerie Lim assessed the current state of the Philippine air transport infrastructure. It also reviewed government plans and programs seeking to improve the performance of the air transport sector, given its enabling role in high-value industries such as trade, manufacturing, and tourism.
Crop varieties adapted to drought and hotter temperatures are being developed to help farmers deal with climate change, the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) said. “These are varieties that can live despite minimal (access to) water or excessive heat,” BPI Spokesman Jose Diego E. Roxas said at a Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday. “Even though El Niño is threatening, these varieties (are available) because of expected severe changes in climate,” he said, adding that some of them are also resistant to pests and disease that may emerge due to the changing climate.
The Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday said it is formalizing the approval of the petition of the National Power Corp (Napocor) to increase the universal charge for missionary electrification (UC-ME). ERC Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta has confirmed the approval but said the actual order is still being circulated for the signature of other ERC Commissioners. The approval covers the petition of Napocor dating back to 2013 and 2014. According to sources, the approved rate is just a fraction of the petitioned P0.15/kwh for 2013-2014.
The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said the rollout of the automated fare collection system (AFCS) will feature an expanded choice for commuters to encourage competition among potential vendors of fare media. “In the long run sana mabigyan po natin ng pagkakataon na tayong mga mananakay ang mamimili kung ano ang gusto nating gamitin na [fare media] (we want to give our commuters the chance to choose the fare media they want to use),” Randolph Ian V. Clet, the DoTr’s AFCS Program Office project manager, said in a webinar on Tuesday.
The President’s economic team does not consider the rise in Covid-19 cases a threat to the country’s recovery and believes that a lockdown is not imminent. In a briefing on Monday, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno told reporters that “there’s nothing to fear” despite the recent report of the Department of Health (DOH) that new cases increased by 20 percent. Diokno stressed that with the availability of vaccines and the establishment of health protocols, economic recovery is expected to continue despite a higher number of cases. “I don’t think there will be another lockdown. They just issued the alert, plus the difference between the situation then and now is there are vaccines available and there’s a standard protocol for Covid cases,” Diokno said.
IN the face of a crisis in water resources, an economist- lawmaker urged government officials to maximize the budget allotted for local government units (LGUs) and local water districts, or “LWDs.” House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Jose Ma. Clemente “Joey” S. Salceda said key public officials“government economic managers and the Department of the Interior and Local Government [DILG]”should come up with guidelines and incentives for local government “water alliances” of multiple LGUs. “Apart from LWDs, LGUs also provide water to rural communities,” Salceda said through a statement his office issued last Monday. He pointed out that government is providing LGUs and LWDs some P18 billion in new water systems from the 2023 General Appropriations Act.
The share of renewable energy (RE) in the country’s power generation mix remained at 29 percent last year, according to a report released by the Department of Energy (DOE). The implementation status report for 2022 of the RE law of 2008 (Republic Act 9513) showed that coal-fired power plants remain the top source of power in terms of installed capacity, with a share of 44 percent at 12,441 megawatts (MW) in 2022. Installed capacity from RE increased by 4 percent from 7,914MW in 2021 to 8,255MW in 2022. The growth was mainly attributed to the entry of new solar, biomass, and hydro plants last year.
Improvements in the labor market and new policy reforms prompted the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to raise its expected number of workers hired-on-the-spot (Hots) during the DOLE-led job fairs. In a news conference last Wednesday, Labor Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma disclosed they are now targeting to achieve over 40-percent Hots rate among the applicants in the job fairs, which will start this weekend. The revised rate is significantly higher compared to the 5-percent to 10-percent Hots rate in previous job fairs the labor department organized.
Elevated inflation and high interest rates will not dampen the country’s performance in the first quarter, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). On Wednesday, BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla told reporters that GDP growth may be around 6 percent in the January to March 2023 period. This is lower than the 8 percent posted in the same period last year. “It will still be in the neighborhood of 6 [percent], lower than last year but not too much,” Medalla said. “Well, we never know, right? [My] experience with GDP is [it’s hard to] forecast. In fact, inflation is sometimes hard to forecast,” he added, in a mix of English and Filipino.
Rice farming is one of the main factors that increase the Philippines’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). In a recent forum, Neda Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said the agriculture sector is second only to transportation in terms of GHG emissions and accounted for 29.9 percent of all emissions in 2010. “In Asia and the Pacific, agriculture sector emissions are primarily from rice production, increased use of synthetic fertilizers and energy for irrigation and livestock production,” Balisacan said. “Rice cultivation is, likewise, one of the country’s drivers of agricultural emissions.”