COVID-19: THE ADVISORY

COVID-19 UPDATES:

July 03, 2020

Gradual recovery seen to begin this month

There are mixed opinions regarding the Philippine economy's growth post-pandemic. NEDA Secretary Karl Chua expects the economy to recover starting this month with its reopening and government spending that will propel an 8-9% growth in 2021. Benjamin Diokno, BSP Governor, thinks that it will be a slow recovery generally, with the pace differing in each industry. Mr. Diokno still expects GDP to shrink in the third quarter before bouncing back in the fourth. Other economists from First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and UA&P said that given the easing of restrictions, if there is positive GDP growth by the third quarter, the economy can be close to normal by the fourth.


BIR, Customs collections rise in June

Tax collections from both the BIR and BoC started to pick up in June, but still wasn't able to meet targets for the first 6 months of 2020. Combined, both the government agencies were able to collect P270.77 billion last month, a reversal from the contractions for May and April; the BoC was able to exceed its target of P40.74 billion, but the BIR fell short of its target of P284.8 billion. Overall, the collections of both agencies for the first half of the year fell by 16%, resulting in only P1.15 trillion compared to P1.375 trillion , as compared to last year's collection. Both agencies have lowered their collection targets for the year to P1.744 trillion and P542 billion  for the BIR and BoC respectively.


Gov’t considering easing cap on dine-in, hotel operations

According to Ramon Lopez, Trade Secretary, the government is considering increasing restaurant dine-in capacity and resetting the level of permitted hotel activity in areas under GCQ. The Trade Department, according to Mr. Lopez, is working on increasing the current levels of business activity in areas under GCQ and even requesting for earlier shifts to MGCQ for some areas, stating that health protocols will be in place should this push through. Mr. Lopez is set to present this to the IATF-EID and is looking at increasing the types of services that can be performed by salons and barbershops.

July 02, 2020

Permanent business closures estimated at 200, Labor dep’t says

DOLE has tallied about 200 permanent business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic that gravely affected supply chains for almost all businesses. In addition to this, 3,000 other businesses were also tallied as temporarily closed, affecting over 100,000 employees. Mr. Bello of DOLE is set to meet with legislators on the continuation of the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP), a cash subsidy program for workers affected by the pandemic but has been stopped in April due to budget constraints.


BSP okays payment system oversight rules

The BSP is set to exercise cooperative oversight with other regulators for activities and interlinkages between payment systems and other financial market infrastructures. With this framework in place, the BSP gets to assign systems which are systematically and prominently important as well as have the authority to accredit and revoke the accreditation of a Payment System Management Body (PSMB). The Philippine Payments Management, Inc. (PPMI) has also been accredited to support the BSP in its monitoring and facilitation of digital payments in line with the framework.


Peso inches up on stronger manufacturing data

The Philippine Peso came out strong after the release of strong June manufacturing data and weaker dollar value because of COVID-19 infections in the US. According to RCBC Chief Economist Michael Ricafort, the manufacturing data released was the highest in four months since February. IHS Marikit, on the other hand, specified that this data shows the movement toward stabilization in the Filipino goods-producing sector.

July 01, 2020

Cebu City stays under strictest ECQ, Metro Manila still on GCQ

Cebu City and Metro Manila remain under ECQ and GCQ respectively as announced by President Duterte on June 30. Despite Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella mentioning that his city's recovery rate is faster than that of the national rate, Cebu City is still kept under ECQ for national and local government officials consider it as the new epicenter of COVID-19 in the Philippines. The following areas are now under GCQ as well: Benguet, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Leyte, Ormoc, Southern Leyte, and Talisay City, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in Cebu province.


PHL debt nears P9 trillion in May

As of the end of May, the country's outstanding debt has reached nearly P9 trillion as the government issued more domestic securities and availed additional foreign loans to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from these, the Bureau of Treasury also noted that the peso weakened to P50.585 in May and this has added P7.65 billion to the country's external debt. The government has been borrowing from local and external lenders to fund its biggest deficit seen to reach 8.4% of the country's GDP for the year.


New ‘digital cities’ seen to attract P70B in investments

25 cities have been identified by the government and private sector as new cities for outsourcing development in line with the efforts to redirect development to rural areas. These cities are called "digital cities" - Batangas City, Malolos City, Tacloban City, and Zamboanga City to name a few - and these are estimated to attract P70 billion in investments from business process outsourcing companies in the next few years. A five year program is planned for these cities to improve their internet connectivity as well as digital education for the talent pool. 

June 30, 2020

Quarantine rules still in effect even sans Bayanihan law: Palace

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, nationwide quarantine protocols are still in effect despite the expiration of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, which grants President Duterte special powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a call for the extension of this act, but Congress has closed its session last June 6 without being able to do so. Roque assures the public that the administration continues to address the threat of COVID-19.


Experts call for mass access to mental health care amid COVID-19 pandemic

In a webinar,  experts from various institutions call for better access to mental health care given the country's current situation. Dr. Rene Samaniego, former President of the Philippine Psychiatric Association, emphasized the need for all workers to have access to COVID-19 testing while also receiving adequate emotional and moral support. Dr. Jasmine Vergara, from the WHO, also discussed her organization's stress management guide, which encourages living by our values and looking after each other to manage stress better. Finally, a representative from the Philippine Red Cross shared the initiatives done particularly to returning OFWs and people who were infected by COVID-19.


BPOs face slowing growth this year

A poll conducted by the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) showed that many BPO companies expect a flat growth or a contraction this year. According to Rey Untal, President and CEO of IBPAP, the smaller BPO companies and those concerned with the travel, hospitality, and tourism sectors are the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also acknowledged the limitations of a work-from-home setup for the BPO industry, stating internet reliability and data security as the biggest barriers. Despite this, there is still  growth seen in logistics, financial services, and e-commerce industries which contribute to the outsourcing industry.


ADB grants PHL loan to improve property tax valuation, collection

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a P1.32 billion loan to support the government's Comprehensive Tax Reform Program through generating more revenues in local governments. In particular, this project named the Local Governance Reform project seeks to improve property valuation systems of local government units, utilizing digital tools for transparent reporting and updating tax maps. Through this, local assessors will also be trained to help them be more competent when it comes to these new measures in place.

June 29, 2020

DOT welcomes P58-B tourism recovery fund

Congress approves a P58 billion stimulus package for the Tourism Response and Recovery Program (TRRP) to revive the country's tourism sector. With this, tourism stakeholders will be able to avail of 0% interest loans and working capital. In line with this, the Department of Tourism has also waived the accreditation fees for establishments. DOT-accredited establishments can apply for a certificate of authority to operate online; this ensures that the establishment follows minimum health standards.


Another rate cut still on the table — analysts

According to analysts from Nomura Global Markets Research, the BSP will still cut its policy rate by 25 bp in the third quarter of the year to 2%, this is after the BSP has reduced its rate in the previous week as a fiscal stimulus measure to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research sees the cut by the BSP as the last one for a while, expecting other monetary policy tools to provide better economic support for the country. Despite the crisis, Mr. Benjamin Diokno, Governor of the BSP, still states that the country's liquidity position has improved.


PH secures €250 million worth of loans from French development agency

The Philippines has secured a P14 billion loan from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) to help stimulate economic activity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This loan, along with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), seeks to fund the Inclusive Finance Development Program (IFDP) and the Expanding Private Participation in Infrastructure Program (EPPIP) which aims to expand the country's financial services and infrastructure respectively. The AFD is also set to finance the Technical Assistance (TA) Program with the BSP and Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines to strengthen the financial inclusion in the country as well as the digitalization of the country's financial institutions. 


BOC-NAIA Adopts Online Declaration Filing

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) port of NAIA encouraged stakeholders to file their goods declaration through the Customer Care Portal System (CCPS), an online filing for the declaration of goods as a preventive measure amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to BOC Spokesperson Atty. Maronilla, this measure is done not only for health protection, but also to protect the integrity of the entire process.The BOC has also previously stated that they will pursue more information and communications technology projects given the current situation which includes online inventory monitoring, online payments, and electronic tracking to name a few. The CCPS can be accessed through this link:  https://client.customs.gov.ph/.


PPEs, Medical Equipment Imports No Longer Duty-, Tax-Free

The imports of PPEs and other medical equipment are now subject to payment of duties and taxes given the lifting of the Bayanihan to Heal as One (BHAO) Act last June 24. However, a recent Customs Administrative Order (CAO 07-2020) has provisions on the exemption of medical equipment imports that have arrived and have been cleared by the BOC for three months after the ending of the BHAO Act, unless extended by Congress.

June 26, 2020

BSP slashes policy rate to record low

The BSP has cut benchmark rates by 50 basis points (bps) that is effective today, June 26, and brings cumulative reductions for the year to 175 bps so far. This was done because, according to BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno, there is a continued need to bolster economic activity and support financial conditions given how uncertain the COVID-19 pandemic will affect economies further. The accommodative stance of the BSP will hopefully ease the cost of borrowing and ensure ample credit and liquidity in the financial system. On the other hand, inflation outlook for this year and next year have both been raised by 0.1% to 2.3% and 2.6% respectively. The next policy review for the BSP is scheduled for August 20.


Government plans to borrow P205B in July

According to the Bureau of Treasury, the government is seeking to borrow P205 billion from the domestic market in July through Treasury bills (T-bills) and Treasury bonds (T-bonds). The auctions for these are to be held every week for T-bills, and fortnightly for T-bonds. For June, the Treasury was able to raise a total of P223.71 billion through T-bills and T-bonds as well. The general budget deficit of the Philippine government is that it spends more than the revenue it generates to fund programs like the Build, Build, Build.

June 25, 2020

PHL gloom to further deepen — IMF

The IMF expects the Philippine economy to have a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, projecting a 3.6% contraction in the country's GDP for 2020, the second lowest in history next to the contraction in 1985. This negative impact on the economy is attributed to the supply disruptions that were larger than expected as well as weaker demand in trading partners. The tourism and transportation sectors are seen as the most affected by the pandemic, while the BPO industry is likely to be more resilient. Despite strong macroeconomic fundamentals, timely policies will be the key to recovery for the Philippines.


DTI seeks P12 billion for e-vehicle manufacturing program

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), P12 billion is needed to fund the electric-vehicle manufacturing industry in the Philippines. It was emphasized that this budget is for manufacturing the electric vehicles in the country instead of importing them; the budget will be able to provide 72,250 public utility vehicles, 12,250 buses, 70,000 trucks, and 70,000 other utility vehicles. This is also in continuation of the Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program of the Department of Transportation that was initiated in 2017 to improve public transportation in the country.


PHL trade may benefit from easing restrictions

Philippine trade is expected to benefit from the easing restrictions in the world's largest economies when it comes to trade. According to the economist of RCBC, the reopening of the major trading partners of the Philippines could improve the country's imports and exports in the coming months provided that there is no heavy second wave of the virus. Economists from both ING Bank and UnionBank of the Philippines have expressed how the country's recovery will be slow, with the latter saying that Vietnam has become advantageous due to its effective response against the virus. The World Trade Organization has estimated a fall of 18.5% in global merchandise trade for the second quarter of 2020.




MEMORANDA AND CIRCULARS:

Anti-Red Tape Authority| Memorandum Circular 2020-03-A on Amendment to Memorandum Circular No. 2020-03 Dated 20 March 2020 Re: "Extension of Deadline of Submission of the Citizen's Charter and Suspension of Processing Times in the Delivery of Government Services in Luzon Area in Light of the Imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine" Click here to download
Bureau of Internal Revenue| Bank Bulletin No. 2020-08 on Reiteration of Relevant Policies on the Acceptance of Annual Income Tax Returns and payments Click here to download
Department of Information and Communications Technology| Department Circular No. 008 on Policy Guidelines on the Co-Location and Sharing of Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure for Macro Cell Sites Click here to download
Office of the President| Report to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, June 8, 2020 Click here to download
Department of Tourism| Memorandum Circular No. 2020-003 on Health and Safety Guidelines Governing the Operations of Tourist Land Transport Services Under the New Normal Click here to download


CLICK HERE FOR MORE

The ECCP has consolidated a list of companies
with available medical supplies.

Click here for the list.


GOVERNMENT HOTLINES:

DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM ADVISORY

Please be informed that the Department of Tourism (DOT) Central Office, Regional Office National Capital Region (NCR), and Regional Office IV-B are implementing a “Work from Home” work arrangement starting 16 March 2020 until further notice. For any immediate or urgent concern, you email the following:

 
Concern Office Email Address
Administration and Finance Office of the Undersecretary for Administration and Finance rching@tourism.gov.ph 
Budget and Accounting Concerns Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Finance lgrivera@tourism.gov.ph 
Biddings, Procurement/Purchasing, General Services, Maintenance, Motorpool/Vehicle, Cash Section, Property, and Supply Concerns Office of the Director for Administrative Service and Procurement Management  adminservice@tourism.gov.ph 
HR Concerns Human Resource Division dot.humanresourcedivision@gmail.com 
Contract preparation and other concerns Legal Affairs Service legalservice.dot@gmail.comloestevez@tourism.gov.ph 
Work and Financial Plans (WFP) concerns (for internal stakeholders) Planning Service saymilagros@gmail.commysay@tourism.gov.ph 
For Product and Market Development Concerns (Overseas travel and trade fairs, business/selling missions, concerns on Cruises, English as Second Language courses/schools, Dive Resorts/Programs, Medical and Health Tourism) Office of Product and Market Development opmd@tourism.gov.ph cruisesph@tourism.gov.ph divephilippines@tourism.gov.ph

INFOGRAPHICS:

PRESCRIBING IMPLEMENTING GUIDELINES FOR IATF RESOLUTION NO. 12 ISSUED BY THE INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES ON SOCIAL DISTANCING AND BUSINESS OPERATIONS | Click here to download Source: Department of Trade and Industry | Infographics: ECCP

TRACK COVID-19 CASES IN THE PHILIPPINES THROUGH DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH'S NCOVTRACKER | Click here
Source: Department of Trade and Industry | Infographics: ECCP


NEDA'S PROJECTED IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN THE PHILIPPINE ECONOMYSource: National Economic Development Authority's "Addressing the Social and Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic) Originally published on March 25, 2020, on BusinessWorld. Infographic by Bong R. Fortin.