ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | March 12, 2024

March 12, 2024

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

PH trade gap narrowed year-on-year in January

The country’s trade gap amounted to $4.22 billion in the first month of 2024, smaller than the $5.56 billion deficit recorded a year ago, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported. However, the January shortfall was larger than the $4.18 billion deficit in December.

2023 foreign direct investments hit $8.9b 

Net inflows of foreign direct investments (FDI) reached $8.9 billion in 2023, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. The figure, however, was down 6.6 percent from the $9.5-billion net inflows recorded in 2022.  FDI net inflows in December rose 29.9 percent year-on-year to $826 million from the $636-million net inflows in the same month last year.

PBBM: Deeper ties sought with Germans, Czech

In Germany, the President is expected to formalize a joint declaration of intent to strengthen cooperation in the maritime sector, a collaboration between the transportation agencies of both nations. In Czech Republic, President Marcos will sign a joint communiqué to establish a labor consultations mechanism, enhancing collaboration between Manila and Prague to support Filipino worker migration.

DTI rejects inclusion of hybrids in list of zero-tariff electric cars

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it does not support the reduction of most favored nation (MFN) tariff rates on hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) which is being explored as part of the review on Executive Order No. 12. He said extending the same tax breaks to HEV would defeat the purpose of the EO which is to increase the sales and use of fully electric vehicles in the Philippines.

CREATE MORE gets 2nd reading clearance in House

Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda said House Bill No. 9794, which was approved through viva voce voting, aims to build upon the successes of the CREATE Act and adapt to changing dynamics in the global economy. “CREATE MORE builds on the progress achieved by the CREATE Act and responds to emerging developments in the global economy,” said Salceda.

House think tank: Wage bill may hurt, more than help

In a policy brief, the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department expressed reservations about the proposals to increase the minimum wage in the Philippines. While such measures may aim to improve living conditions, they could have severe detrimental effects on the nation’s economy, could jeopardize the jobs of 11.9 million low-skilled workers, and increase unemployment, it said. 

Marcos to tackle trade, labor, energy, climate change in Germany visit

Apart from expanded maritime trade, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will tackle labor opportunities, climate change, and renewable energy during the former’s working visit here this week. The Philippines and Germany also share a mutual interest in their commitment to a rules-based international order, development cooperation, and peace and development projects in Mindanao.

'Government broadband program key to digital push'

Accessibility, affordability, consistency are equally crucial to social development and inclusivity as internet speed and reliability,” said Stratbase Institute president Dindo Manhit. “The program empowers citizens, businesses, and the economy, thus playing a pivotal role in the country’s digital journey.” According to global connectivity intelligence firm Ookla, the Philippines recorded an average fixed broadband speed of 93.05 megabits per second (Mbps) and a download speed of 93.31 Mbps in January 2024.

PH settles P1.60Tr debt in 2023

The national government paid a bigger amount of its debt obligations last year, the Bureau of Treasury data showed. Records showed that debt payments last year amounted to PHP1.60 trillion, 23.9 percent higher than the debt payment of PHP1.29 trillion in 2022. The amount exceeded the PHP1.55 trillion debt payment earlier programmed by the government. Of the total debt payments last year, PHP975.27 billion went to amortization, 23.4 percent higher paid in 2022 at PHP790.32 billion.

Irish firm wins gov’t contract to build 440 MW of wind power

The Department of Energy said it signed two wind energy service contracts with Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power to build wind projects with a combined capacity of 440 megawatts (MW) in Cagayan province and Leyte. Each contract has an operating period of 25 years. The two projects are the 100-MW Santa Ana Cagayan Wind Project and the 340-MW Panaon Wind Project on Panaon Island in Leyte.

Transpo chief assures no job losses as SMC takes over NAIA modernization
Personnel of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) will still have their jobs once the government turns over the operations and maintenance of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), the Department of Transportation said. "Part of the concession agreement is for the concessionaire to offer positions to existing employees of Manila International Airport Authority," Sec. Bautista said. MIAA employees earlier raised concerns over losing their jobs due to the rehabilitation projects. 

DTI sees Japan FTA talks as possible venue for tariff cuts on hybrid vehicles

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is open to discussing the expansion of tariff incentives for hybrid vehicles through free trade negotiations with Japan, according to Trade Undersecretary and Board of Investments Managing Head Ceferino S. Rodolfo. Mr. Rodolfo made the remarks after the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that it will review the extension and expansion of Executive Order 12 to include e-motorcycles and hybrid vehicles.

Naia rehab deal set for March 18 signing

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and San Miguel Corp. SAP & Co. Consortium are set to sign the P170.6-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) rehabilitation contract on March 18, signaling the official start of the much-needed upgrade of the country’s primary international gateway. He added that the consortium has assured the government of its financial commitment to the project with its  aggressive proposal of 82.16-percent revenue share with the government to win the contract.

‘Lending to stay tepid while rates are high’ 

Bank lending to both households and corporate borrowers could remain tepid as long as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) keeps key policy rates high, according to US-based Global Source Partners. Due to the high rates, there has been “an accumulation of credit tightening,” which discouraged Filipinos and companies from borrowing and made businesses and consumers less optimistic this quarter and the next 12 months. 

DTI preps public hearings on bigger senior discount 

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is asking the general public, including stakeholders and retailers, to review the draft guidelines on increasing  special discounts to senior citizens (SCs) and persons with disability (PWD) from P65 per week to P125 per week, or a total of P500 per month. The 5-percent special discount for basic necessities and prime commodities is distinct from the 20-percent regular discount which covers different goods and services.

DOF: Revenue goals crucial to human capital investment

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto said he aims to achieve the P4.3-trillion revenue collection targets to provide more funds for education, upskilling and worker training, health care, and other human capital development programs that will improve the preparedness of Filipinos for quality job opportunities. Recto emphasized that the quality of jobs in the Philippines has continued to improve based on the latest Labor Force Survey results.

Recto seen getting solons’ nod as DOF chief

The confirmation of Ralph Recto as secretary of the Department of Finance (DOF) on March 13 is anticipated to proceed smoothly, Commission on Appointments (CA) Assistant Minority Leader Johnny Pimentel said on Sunday. The Constitution empowers the 25-member CA to scrutinize the competence, fitness, and integrity of Cabinet secretaries and other key presidential appointees, and to approve or reject them.

DOST seeks support for the passage of 5 priority scientific bills in Congress

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has sought the support of lawmakers and other stakeholders from the science community to get five science-related priority bills passed in Congress. The priority bills include Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Modernization Act, the Philippine National Nuclear Safety Act (PhilAtom), the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines (VIP) Act, the National Measurement Infrastructure System (NMIS) Act, the DOST Regional Office Act, and Science for Change Program (S4CP) Act.

Global meat prices higher in February–FAO report

International meat prices went up in February, with poultry meat quotations rising the most, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The FAO Meat Price Index in February rose by 1.8 percent from January. Aside from poultry, bovine meat and pig meat prices also registered increases. FAO attributed the increases due to heavy rains disrupting cattle transportation in Australia, rise in pig meat prices due to higher demand from China, and a tight supply situation in Western Europe. 

BSP keen on issuing license to digi-banks

In a recent briefing with reporters, BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona said increasing the number of digital banks from the six that have been given licenses is part of the digitalization strategies of the central bank. Currently, BSP Deputy Governor Mamerto E. Tangonan said only two out of the six digital banks are profitable. Nonetheless, he said, the other digital banks expect to realize a profit between five to seven years of operation.

BIR exempts more medicines from VAT

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) announced that more medicines used to treat cancer and mental illness as well as maintaining hypertension have been included to the list of value-added tax (VAT)-exempt drugs. According to the Revenue Memorandum Circular 23-2024 issued by the BIR on March 5, ten medicines for various diseases, including cancer, hypertension, and mental illness, have been exempted from 12 percent VAT.

‘Senate, House harmonizing proposals against agri smuggling’

The Senate and the House of Representatives are currently harmonizing their respective versions of the proposed Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act, a leader of the House of Representatives said. House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman Wilfrido Mark Enverga said a pre-bicameral conference has already taken place, where concerns were raised regarding the proposed Anti-Agricultural Economic Sabotage Act.

DOF bullish on property valuation law

A new law expected to widen the tax base and simplify real property valuation could be out this month as Department of Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto expects the proposed Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act (RPVARA) signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. as soon as the bill gets legislative imprimatur. Secretary Recto said he fervently seeks the President’s signature on the proposed RPVARA, tagged currently as Senate Bill 2386, after the Senate approved the bill on second reading last Tuesday.

Investors urged to keep PHL banks in portfolios

The Maybank Investment Banking Group (Maybank IBG) maintained a positive outlook on several Philippine banks, recommending investors to keep these banks in their portfolios. The Maybank IBG is optimistic of the recent digital initiatives of BPI saying this will lead to higher fees and lower costs for the bank. This will also be supported by branch and manpower rationalization efforts. 

Philippine banks’ January bad loan ratio climbs 

Philippine banks’ bad loan ratio worsened in January amid elevated interest rates, according to the central bank. The industry’s bad loan ratio quickened to 3.44% from 3.23% in December, according to data posted on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) website. Bad loans rose by 2.61% to P460.76 billion from a month earlier and by 13.73% a year ago.

Air passenger traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels, says CAB

The Philippine air travel industry soared in 2023, with passenger numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels, the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) said. Data from the CAB showed that domestic passenger traffic reached 28.96 million last year, up 28 percent from 22.50 million in 2022.

ERC to review effect of 3-way LNG firm merger 

The Energy Regulatory Commission  said it will review the effect of the $3.3 billion liquefied natural gas transaction between three of the country’s biggest power firms if there is any impact on consumer prices.

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