COVID-19: THE ADVISORY

COVID-19 UPDATES:

October 01, 2020

Solon pushes for higher DOLE 2021 budget to create 3M jobs amid pandemic

A lawmaker is pushing for the restoration of ₱40 billion in the Labor Department’s 2021 budget that will provide emergency employment to three million Filipinos amid the pandemic. During the plenary deliberations on Wednesday on the 2021 proposed budget of the Department of Labor and Employment, Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Ferdinand Gaite asked if the department’s budget was enough to help workers who lost their job because of the global health crisis.

 

Government borrows ₱540B from central bank as total debt sustains climb

The Duterte government has asked for a fresh credit line from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas worth ₱540 billion to support budget needs as the pandemic drags on. BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said Wednesday that the national government sought the amount as budget support, hoping to plug the country's ballooning fiscal deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The loan line must be settled by December 29, 2020 at zero interest.


BIR to offer no more extensions for registering online business

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said it will not extend the latest registration period for online sellers, after the deadline was moved twice. “There will be no extension. Enough time was given to register,” BIR Deputy Commissioner for Operations Arnel SD. Guballa said in a text message Wednesday.


FCDU loans decline on reduced need for capital

Foreign currency loans disbursed by local banks fell in the second quarter as capital needs dropped due to slower economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Outstanding loans disbursed by foreign currency deposit units (FCDU) of banks stood at $17.968 billion as of June, down 1.7% from the $18.271-billion level seen at end-March, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a statement on Wednesday.

 

Philippines stock investors pin their hopes on consumer spending

Philippine stock investors, the hardest hit in Asia by the pandemic, are counting on a seasonal pickup in consumer spending to help recoup some of their losses as 2020 draws to a close. The last three months of the year account for over 28% of annual personal spending in the Philippines, where household consumption makes up about 70% of the economy, according to data from the government and the World Bank. That could be a tailwind to stocks, some market watchers say. 


Fitch sees Philippines economy contracting by 8%

Fitch Ratings now expects a deeper economic contraction of eight percent for the Philippines amid the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic. “The continued spread of COVID-19 in the Philippines has necessitated renewed lockdown measures in and around the capital of Manila, which are likely to depress economic growth by much more than Fitch Ratings had anticipated,” the debt watcher said in a report in August.

September 30, 2020

EU notes low GSP+ utilization by electronics industry

A trade official from the European Union said that the Philippine electronics exports sector must invest in micro and nano technology to retain a competitive advantage. Electronics remain the top-traded goods between the Philippines and the European Union and that the electronics industry had a GSP+ utilization rate of 56% last year. 


Senate panel debates red-tape curtailment powers beyond emergency period

A senate committee on Tuesday weighed the President’s legal authority to expedite the issuance of permits and sanction officials who fail to do so in deliberations over a bill seeking to endow the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) with the power to issue subpoenas or find respondents in contempt. The Committee on Civil Service, Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation was discussing Senate Bill No. 1844, and how ARTA’s powers stem from Presidential authority.


National ID rollout to focus on areas with few active COVID-19 cases

The government will focus on 32 provinces and cities with low active case counts for the coronavirus when pre-registration for the National ID system starts next week, economic planners said. In an online briefing Tuesday, National Economic and Development Authority Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said the government has narrowed down the priority provinces to minimize the risk of further spreading coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

 

Power sector ordered to offer more grace periods after Bayanihan II passage

The Department of Energy (DoE) has ordered the extension of grace periods and staggered payment schemes for power after the government maintained its declaration of a state of calamity due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan II), requires the entire electricity value chain — from generation companies to power utilities — to offer at least a 30-day grace period and allow installment payments of electricity bills falling within the period of a community quarantine.


BSP sets rules for debt moratorium

The mandatory debt moratorium will be applicable to multiple existing, current, and outstanding loans by individuals and entities to give relief to borrowers amid the coronavirus crisis. Memorandum No. M-2020-074 signed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno provides the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the loan moratorium which will be applied to credit disbursed by BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFI) including banks, quasi-banks, nonstock savings and loan associations, credit card issuers, trust departments, pawnshops, and other credit-granting entities supervised by the central bank.


New finance charge cap could cause lenders to tighten credit standards 

Banks may be more “selective” in granting credit card applications to compensate for compressed margins as a result of the finance charge limit set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said Alex G. Ilagan, executive director of the Credit Card Association of the Philippines. “[I]n the long run, it will also be detrimental to the consumers in several ways…. One, because when the margins are being compressed, naturally banks will be more selective in the issuance of credit cards,” Mr. Ilagan said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Monday.

September 29, 2020

Lopez says 90K businesses remain closed 

Some 90,000 businesses remain closed as of this month, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez revealed during his department’s budget hearing at the Senate on Monday. Lopez said the figure represents 6 percent of the 1.5 million micro, small, and medium enterprises registered with the Department of Trade and Industry, adding that about 4.4 million Filipinos remain jobless, with half of the number, or about 2.2 million, losing their jobs during the pandemic.


Senate OKs coconut levy bill on 2nd reading 

The Senate has approved on second reading a bill which would establish a coconut farmers and industry trust fund or coconut levy fund. President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed last year the coconut levy fund citing the need for stronger safeguards in the disbursement of funds.


Metro Manila to keep GCQ status until Oct. 31, Lanao del Sur to shift to MECQ

The country's capital region and COVID-19 outbreak epicenter will undergo another period of general community quarantine starting Oct. 1 to 31, while Lanao del Sur will tighten its restrictions, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Monday. Metro Manila has been under GCQ since June 1, excluding the two-week return to a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine in the first half of August. Under GCQ, public transportation is allowed to operate at a reduced capacity and most industries are permitted to open.


Senate panel OK’s foreign retailer rules

A priority measure aimed at further opening up the retail sector to foreign companies hurdled the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship on Monday, although a local retailers’ group warned this may further hurt micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) still reeling from the pandemic. The committee approved Senate Bill (SB) No. 1840, which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 8762 or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA) of 2000.


FIST measure hurdles Senate committee 

The Senate Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries on Monday approved the measure that will allow financial institutions to offload bad loans to asset management companies. The passage of Senate Bill No. 1849, the “Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer (FIST) Act,” is being pushed in anticipation of an increase in nonperforming assets (NPA) that are projected to reach P635 billion by the end of the year, as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.


Uncontrolled PH COVID-19 outbreak to cause deeper 6.9% economic slump, create 'new poor' – World Bank

The Philippine economy will see a deeper slump this year as the COVID-19 crisis remains uncontained in the country, pushing more people into poverty, the World Bank said. In its latest report, the World Bank said it expected a full-year contraction of 6.9 percent, with the worst-case scenario of a 9.9 percent 

September 28, 2020

Majority, minority blocs rally support for Cayetano's speakership

Leaders from both the majority and minority blocs of the House of Representatives are now rallying support for House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano's continued term until 2022. A total of 26 leaders have issued a joint manifesto of "recommitment" to the leadership of Cayetano, stressing a "pro-people" 2021 budget under his term. A copy of the manifesto was released on Sunday.


SEC to rate entities on risks vs laundering, terror finance

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wants to be more proactive in tracking money laundering and terrorist financing by rating the effectiveness of firms in preventing such activities. On Sept. 24, the regulator issued Memorandum Circular No. 26, which calls for the implementation of an anti-money laundering risk rating system.


Finance dep’t sticks with policy of keeping budget deficit at bay

Maintaining “manageable” fiscal deficits and the balance of payments while keeping interest rates conducive to investment will help safeguard the economic recovery, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in an economic bulletin. The DoF said the current account BoP (balance of payments), which swung to a P4.4-billion surplus in the first half, shows that the domestic economy “is back to net lender status” despite expanded government borrowing, which hit P2.5 trillion in August. It said a manageable BoP and budget deficit, which is expected to hit 9.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), will aid in the economy’s bounce back.


House bill proposes major push to attract fintech firms

A bill filed in the House of Representatives is seeking to attract financial technology (fintech) companies away from more crowded markets elsewhere in Asia. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, representing Albay, said House Bill No. 7760, or the proposed Financial Technology Industry Development Act of 2020, will authorize the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to establish a Financial Technology Office (FTO) responsible for developing a Financial Technology Industry Roadmap, with the power to issue special investor resident visas for executives of foreign fintech firms.


BoC to audit imports of products widely used during pandemic

The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it hopes to complete by year’s end an audit of products that saw a dramatic surge in demand due to the pandemic to check on whether importers are eligible to claim tax exemptions. Vincent Philip C. Maronilla, Customs assistant commissioner heading the Post Clearance Audit Group, told BusinessWorld Sunday that the audit will cover goods that saw an increase in demand in the six months to June. The investigation will finish at the end of 2020, he said.


Exporters allowed to self-certify goods origin to access ASEAN perks

The Philippines started implementing an ASEAN-wide exporter self-certification scheme that allows businesses to claim their own origin declaration for lower or no duties under the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA). Beginning Sept. 20, the Philippines started using the ASEAN-Wide Self-Certification Scheme (AWSC), which means that exporters can issue their own origin declaration — certifying that their products meet the criteria used to deem that they have originated from a particular country.

 

Private sector drives EVs in PH

The private sector-driven electric vehicle (EV) industry in the Philippines has already generated ₱1.305 billion in investments with annual production capacity of 150,000 units of a wide range of electric vehicle models as the country aims to become a regional production hub for clean and environment-friendly vehicles. 

September 25, 2020

Internet, incentives top agenda items at upcoming PHL business conference

Philippine businesses will ask the government to improve internet connectivity and provide longer-term incentives in some of the potential recommendations at the upcoming 46th Philippine Business Conference and Expo (PBC&E). The conference will be held online on Oct. 7 and 8, during which the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) will present its resolutions to the government.


Consumer confidence plunges to all-time low, to stay bleak for the rest of 2020 – BSP

Consumer confidence among Filipinos took a nosedive in the third quarter, bogged down by lower incomes and high unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the consumer confidence index netted -54.5 percent, showing that more Filipinos saw their family incomes and financial situations worsen as the country remains in crisis.


Trade dep’t confident of retaining GSP+, EU concerns being addressed

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez is confident that the Philippines will retain its tariff perks with the European Union (EU), after the European Parliament voted in support of their removal. “This is not the first time that this happened. So we are addressing anyway their concerns — just giving them the right information,” he said in an ANC interview Wednesday.


Senate leaders file bill allowing President to expedite issuance of permits during nat’l emergencies

Senate leaders have filed a bill that will authorize the President to expedite the issuance of licenses and permits during times of national emergencies. Under Senate Bill No. 1844, the President will be granted the power to “suspend the requirements for national and local permits, license and certifications.”


PHL GDP contraction seen at 6.5% in 2020

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to contract 6.5% this year, with the Philippines struggling to contain the coronavirus, raising the risk of further lockdowns that will pose a drag on business activity, according to Maybank Kim Eng. “The Philippines and Indonesia are struggling to contain the virus outbreak and may relapse into periodic targeted or localized lockdowns,” it said in a report.


GSP+ withdrawal could worsen unemployment — MAP

The removal of tariff perks enjoyed by Philippine exports to Europe will hurt various industries and worsen unemployment, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said. The European Parliament last week called on the European Commission to start the procedure for suspending the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privilege enjoyed by the Philippines after the government failed to improve the country’s human rights situation.


House OKs creation of Department of Disaster Resilience

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading the measure seeking to create the Department of Disaster Resilience (DDR), which was among President Rodrigo Duterte’s priority measures from his last State of the Nation Address (SONA). With 241 affirmative votes, seven negative votes, and one abstention, lawmakers approved House Bill No. 5989 also known as the “Disaster Resilience Act.” 

September 24, 2020

DILG eyeing to deploy contact tracers on October 1

The government head of the Department of Interior and Local Government said Wednesday they are targeting to deploy hired contact tracers on October 1. “Iyan din ang period na mare-release ang budget sa atin,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a briefing, referring to the P5-billion funds for the recruitment of at least 50,000 contact tracers. The release of the budget is authorized under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.


ERC orders distribution utilities to expedite customer switching

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered distribution utilities to promptly process the applications of customers switching to other retail suppliers, on threat of penalty. According to the regulator, the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) scheme, a program allowing entities with large power needs to choose their own providers, is still being implemented in Luzon and Visayas.


Treasury rejects all tenders for 10-year bonds as yields go up 

The government rejected all bids for its offer of reissued 10-year Treasury bonds (T-bonds) on Tuesday as investors sought higher yields amid expectations the central bank will keep rates steady in the near term. The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) did not award any 10-year T-bonds on Tuesday even as tenders reached P44.507 billion, more than the P30 billion on the auction block. This, as the bonds fetched an average rate of 3.329%, up 60.5 basis points (bps) from the 2.724% quoted for the tenor at the Aug. 12 auction, where it made a full P30-billion award of its offer of the reissued papers.


BSP allows UITF distribution via third parties

Trust corporations will now be allowed to sell unit investment trust funds (UITFs) through individual and institutional agents to level their playing field with banks that have broad distribution networks, the central bank said. In Circular No. 1097 signed by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin E. Diokno, the central bank outlined the role of branches and marketing officers of trust corporations for the sale of UITFs.


Trade dep’t confident of retaining GSP+, EU concerns being addressed

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez is confident that the Philippines will retain its tariff perks with the European Union (EU), after the European Parliament voted in support of their removal. “This is not the first time that this happened. So we are addressing anyway their concerns — just giving them the right information,” he said in an ANC interview Wednesday.


Senate leaders file bill allowing President to expedite issuance of permits during nat’l emergencies

Senate leaders have filed a bill that will authorize the President to expedite the issuance of licenses and permits during times of national emergencies. Under Senate Bill No. 1844, the President will be granted the power to “suspend the requirements for national and local permits, license and certifications.”

September 23, 2020

PHL GDP contraction seen at 6.5% in 2020

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to contract 6.5% this year, with the Philippines struggling to contain the coronavirus, raising the risk of further lockdowns that will pose a drag on business activity, according to Maybank Kim Eng. “The Philippines and Indonesia are struggling to contain the virus outbreak and may relapse into periodic targeted or localized lockdowns,” it said in a report.


Gov’t seeking to automate port ticketing

The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said Tuesday that they are planning to implement an automated ticketing system at all ports by 2021, to cut out fixers and scalpers while improving maritime security. An auction for modern ticketing machines has been scheduled “before the end of the year,” the PPA and the DoTr said in a joint statement.


GSP+ withdrawal could worsen unemployment — MAP

The removal of tariff perks enjoyed by Philippine exports to Europe will hurt various industries and worsen unemployment, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said. The European Parliament last week called on the European Commission to start the procedure for suspending the Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) privilege enjoyed by the Philippines after the government failed to improve the country’s human rights situation.


Pag-IBIG Fund to miss 2020 housing loan target

The Home Development Mutual Fund, better known by its Pag-IBIG Fund branding, said it does not expect to achieve its loan target this year due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In a Laging Handa briefing, Pag-IBIG CEO Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti said the P100-billion housing loan target is at risk due to disruptions in lending activity due to the outbreak.


Telecom permit approvals top 900 in past month 

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said over 900 telecommunications permits have been approved over the past month, after it ordered local governments to release pending applications. In a statement Monday, ARTA said that 933 telecommunications permits have been approved. PLDT, Inc. and Smart Communications, Inc. reported that 661 documents have been released, including permits and barangay resolutions. Globe Telecom, Inc. said that 272 of its permits have been approved.


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.