ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | March 19, 2024

March 19, 2024

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

A promising future for BARMM's agriculture (Last of 3 parts)

Since the Bangsamoro Transitional Authority took office in 2019, there has been a growing focus on supporting the agriculture industry in the BARMM. One such initiative is the Bangsamoro Agricultural Enterprises Program (BAEP)- CRESCENT (Creating Responsible, Sustainable and Competitive Enterprises) in the BARMM Agri-business sector, implemented by ECCP.

PHL external debt up 12.7% to $125B in 2023 

Debt service fueled by higher interest rates pushed up the country’s external debt in 2023, according to the latest data released by the BSP. The country’s external debt increased 12.7% to $125.4 billion as of end-December 2023 from the $111.27 billion posted in the same period in 2022.

Big reduction in PH trade gap seen unlikely in 2024

A significant decline in the Philippines’ trade deficit is unlikely this year despite the “tentative” recovery in exports, as the government works to meet the infrastructure and food needs of the country. Latest government data showed the country’s merchandise trade gap amounted to $4.22 billion in January, 24.7% less than the $5.56-billion deficit recorded a year ago.

Charter’s political provisions not on House’s table–Solon

The House of Representatives is targeting to wrap its deliberations on its proposed economic Charter amendments before its Holy Week break this week. “We hope to have final approval before our scheduled adjournment on Wednesday, barring any last-minute delay,” Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio D. Gonzales Jr. said. Gonzales reiterated Congress has no intention to make any changes in the political provisions of the Constitution.

PEZA, FDA to create green lane for medical locators

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have agreed to study the provision of a green lane for PEZA locators in a bid to improve the country’s drug and medical device manufacturing ecosystem ahead of developing pharmaceutical economic zones.

Remittance growth slows to 2.7% in Jan–BSP 

Growth of remittances from Filipinos abroad slowed to 2.7% in January 2024, according to the latest data from the BSP. The data was in contrast to the 3.8% growth posted in December 2023 and 3.5% in January 2023.

NG to do ₱6.97-T projects under TRIP program–Neda

The national government is set to undertake P6.97 trillion worth of infrastructure projects under its Three-year Rolling Investment Program (TRIP), according to NEDA. The TRIP, which was recently approved by the Neda Board Interagency Committee on Infrastructure), is set to finance 2,762 projects and programs (PAPs) between 2025 and 2027.

GOCC subsidies down 18%

The national government’s subsidies to state-run and -owned firms slid by 18.4 percent in 2023, according to data released by the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr). The recent cash operations report showed that financial support to government-owned and -controlled corporations totaled to P163.54 billion last year compared to last year’s P200.41 billion. The top recipient was the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) with P50.75 billion.

BSP net profit falls in 2023

The BSP’s net income fell by 59.9% last year amid higher expenses. Preliminary data from the central bank showed that its net profit declined to P25.53 billion in 2023 from P63.73 billion in the previous year. The BSP’s expenses surged by 68.3% to P244.21 billion last year from P145.13 billion in 2022.

Congress gets ‘Cha-cha’ consensus, says Marcos

Both chambers of Congress have finally come to terms with the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution, President Marcos said over the weekend. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is set to approve on third and final reading the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the Charter.

State firms spent better in February 

State agencies recorded a better spending rate as of February as the government ramped up the release of its cash allocations (NCAs) to fund various projects and utilization rate improved to 88% from 86% in the comparative period. Latest data from the Department of Budget and Management showed that notices of cash allocation rose by 15.6 percent to P609.96 billion as of end-February from P527.46 billion in the same period last year.

Government posts P88 billion surplus

The Marcos administration snapped eight consecutive months of budget deficit after it recorded a surplus of P88 billion in January as revenue collections outpaced spending. The government posted a higher budget surplus of P88 billion in January, nearly double the P45.7 billion recorded in the same period last year. This is also the first time in eight months that the government reverted back to a surplus after the P66.8 billion excess in April 2023.

Senate OK’s Bulacan ecozone bill

In a 22-0-0 vote, senators approved third and final reading Senate Bill No. 2572, which will create the Bulacan Airport City Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority,  a body that will manage and operate the ecozone with the aim of attracting more foreign investment and creating jobs. Under the measure, the ecozone authority will be given a capital stock of P2 billion, with most shares being paid for by the national government.

House passes CREATE MORE legislation on final reading

A bill seeking to amend a law designed to revive the post-pandemic economy or House Bill No. 9794 was approved on final reading by the House of Representatives on Monday. CREATE MORE (CREATE to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy) cuts the corporate income tax to 20% from 25% previously, provides duty exemptions, value-added tax (VAT) exemptions on imports, and VAT zero-rating of local purchases for domestic-market and export companies.

Rice inventory drops to 17-month low

The country’s rice stocks in February fell to their lowest level in more than a year despite higher imports recorded at the start of the year. In its latest report, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said total rice inventory as of Feb. 1 stood at 1.51 million metric tons, slightly lower than the 1.52 million MT recorded in the same period last year. The rice inventory last month was the lowest in 17 months or since the 1.45 million MT recorded in September 2022, PSA data showed.

BARMM puts up data center 

The Bangsamoro government established its data center inside the Bangsamoro government center in Cotabato City, opening up the next step to a centralized data management system. The Information and Communications Office (ICO) said the data center aims to build and establish a reliable and secure data center to house all Information Systems, Websites, Information Communication Technology (ICT) management systems, applications, and data among the ministries, agencies, and offices.

Worker shortage, rising costs to slow healthcare growth

The expansion of the country’s healthcare industry may slow this year on rising costs and shortage of medical practitioners even as the demand for health services among Filipinos is on an uptrend. Based on the latest McKinsey & Co. report, the growth in the Philippine healthcare industry may slow to 2.8 percent this year from 6.6 percent in 2023. It said that the supply-and-demand gap in nursing alone is expected to reach a shortage of approximately 90,000 nurses by 2028.

MIC explores investments in coconut oil mills, refineries

The Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC) is looking into investing in the agro-industries sector, specifically coconut oil mills and refineries. “The MIC Board approved discussions with the Department of Finance-Privatization Management Office to explore investment opportunities in government assets, particularly in coconut oil mills and refineries,” it said. Around 80% of the country’s total coconut production is processed into copra, the feedstock for coconut oil mills, according to the Agriculture department.

Philippines’ San Miguel secures bank financing for $3-billion airport

Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp said on Monday it has already secured financing from banks for its P170.6 billion ($3 billion) operation and overhaul of the country’s main airport. Banks have already committed to financing the project, on top of an equity share from the consortium, San Miguel President Ramon Ang told reporters after signing a 15-year concession agreement.

President signs law to save dying PH salt industry 

President Marcos enacted on Mar. 11 Republic Act No 11985, also known as “Philippine Salt Industry Development Act” primarily crafted to redeem the salt industry from the brink of extinction as part of the administration’s “overarching agenda to foster rural development and bolster rural incomes.” The law  aims to establish a comprehensive roadmap to implement programs for the development and management, research, utilization, and business modernization of the Philippine salt industry. 

PH urged to create unemployment insurance

Southeast Asian countries should increase protection of workers whose jobs are dependent on the environment amid the impact of climate change, said the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In a sustainability and inclusivity report on Southeast Asia, the OECD also called on the Philippines to speed up the process of developing an unemployment insurance program asabout 11.5 million or 27.1 percent of workers in the Philippines are in “environmentally-linked sectors.”

Malampaya proponent awards drilling contract

Prime Energy Resources Development B.V. announced the $69.9- million contract for Malyampaya phase four was awarded to Noble, one of the largest offshore drilling contractors in the world. Noble will use its deepwater drillship Noble Viking to drill two Deepwater development wells in the Camago and Malampaya East fields, as well as a third exploration well, Bagong Pagasa, approximately 15 kilometers north of Malampaya. 

Energy efficiency starts with one light bulb

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, author of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, rallied on  the private sector to continue  investing in technology including in lighting, to accelerate compliance to the law, not just on the industrial and commercial levels but more so on the household level. Gatchalian  said innovators need to demonstrate actual savings to consumers of switching to energy efficient appliances.

IP applications rise on increased awareness, innovations

Intellectual property (IP) filings in 2023 rose  2.5 percent  year-on-year due to  increased awareness of IP and more innovations. The IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) said in a statement it received 49,832 applications of trademarks, patents, utility models and industrial designs last year from 48,600 in 2022, mostly from pharmaceuticals, health and cosmetics and agricultural products.

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