ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | July 22, 2022

July 22, 2022

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

Foreign, local business groups list 24 priority bills

Foreign and business groups in the Philippines have called for the passage of 24 priority reform measures in the 19th Congress to boost economic growth in the country. The groups submitted their recommendations to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on July 20 in anticipation of the president’s first State of the Nation Address and the opening of the 19th Congress’ first regular session on Monday, July 25. It was copied to the incoming House Speaker and Senate President and key cabinet officials.

Infrastructure spending up in May despite election ban

Government infrastructure spending in May grew by 2.1 percent year-on-year to P80.5 billion despite the ban on public works for the national elections. Latest data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed government spending for infrastructure and other capital outlays during the month was higher by P1.7 billion than the P78.9 billion recorded in May 2021. The increase in state infrastructure spending was mainly attributed to the payments for the Malolos-Clark Railway Project and Phase 1 of the Metro Manila Subway Project as well as the capital outlay projects under the military’s modernization program, the DBM said. However, this was partly offset by lower disbursements due to the 45-day ban this year on public works as well as other one-off capital expenditures, including the construction of the Senate building.

Marcos picks Yogi Filemon Ruiz as acting Customs chief

Malacañang announced Thursday that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has sworn in Yogi Filemon Ruiz as the acting commissioner of the Bureau of Customs, perceived to be one of the bastions of corruption in government. Prior to his appointment as acting customs chief, Ruiz had been working in the bureau since 2017 as director of enforcement and security services which is in charge of the customs police. The challenge for Ruiz now is to follow Marcos’ marching orders from the campaign trail for his customs chief to make sure “there should not be any place for corruption.”

Fitch lowers PHL GDP forecast

FITCH RATINGS lowered its gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for the Philippines to 6.5% this year, from 6.9% previously, citing continued inflationary pressures due to high prices of food and other commodities. The revised forecast is within the Philippine government’s GDP growth target band of 6.5-7.5% this year. “We expect economic activity to remain strong over the next few quarters in those sectors and from infrastructure development. We forecast growth of 6.5% in 2022 and 6.3% in 2023, which would support the credit outlook,” Fitch Ratings analyst for the Philippines Sagarika Chandra said in a research note. Fitch Ratings’ 6.3% GDP forecast for 2023 is lower than the Development Budget Coordination Committee’s (DBCC) 6.5-8% target for 2023 to 2028.

Science, tech, innovation key to driving economic growth: NEDA

The interdisciplinary coordination of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) will act as a catalyst in driving economic growth and addressing global risks and challenges, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.   During the 44th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) held last week, NEDA’s response to the ASM resolutions underscored foresight planning and innovation as crucial to the growth and resilience of the country.  

Worries grow over PH COVID-19 economic scars

While the Philippine economy was expected to grow the fastest in the region in the next two years, it needs to address the scarring effect of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector as well as small businesses.While the Philippine economy was expected to grow the fastest in the region in the next two years, it needs to address the scarring effect of the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic on the education sector as well as small businesses. Despite lingering external risks, “the Philippines is one of the countries that we are quite optimistic about,” Amro chief economist Hoe Ee Khor told a press briefing on Wednesday. But Amro economist Andrew Tsang pointed to socioeconomic scarring wrought by COVID-19, which would manifest in the medium term or the next two to five years.

‘PHL most vulnerable to a strong dollar’

“Amongst ASEAN [Association of South East Asian Nation] economies, the Philippines is the most vulnerable to a weaker currency given it is the largest importer of food and energy and these goods account for around 44 percent of the consumer expenditure basket,” Oxford Economics lead economist Sian Fenner said. The economist also noted that after the US reported a stronger than expected May inflation print, the Philippine peso has become the worst performing ASEAN currency, depreciating 6.2 percent against a very strong US dollar.

Marcos names new TESDA chief; bowler Coo to PSC

President Marcos has named a former labor undersecretary as chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and a bowling legend as commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). Marcos has appointed Danilo Cruz as TESDA director-general and Olivia “Bong” Coo as PSC commissioner, the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) announced yesterday.

Short supply of food items to aggravate inflation

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) expects the short supply of some food items to aggravate already high consumer prices. In a report on Tuesday, the state planning agency said supply of chicken, highland vegetables, as well as rice will be “sufficient” for the rest of 2022. However, the  Neda said corn, fish, lowland vegetables and pork would experience supply deficits this year.

Coronavirus deepens Philippine learning crisis

This generation of students worldwide now risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14% of today’s global gross domestic product, because of coronavirus-related school closures and economic shocks, according to the World Bank. The pandemic and school closures not only jeopardized children’s health and safety with domestic violence and child labor increasing, but also affected student learning substantially, the multilateral lender said. In low- and middle-income countries, the share of children living in learning poverty — already above 50% before the pandemic — could reach 70% largely as a result of the long school closures and the relative ineffectiveness of remote learning, the World Bank added, citing an earlier report. “Unless action is taken, learning losses may continue to accumulate once children are back in school, endangering future learning.” This could erode the quality of Philippine manpower, which experts said is now struggling to compete with foreign labor in the global market.

DA subsidies under review

A review of the distribution of subsidies to rightful agriculture sector stakeholders and a masterplan for farm-to-market roads (FMR) are now being prioritized by the Department of Agriculture (DA). In a statement yesterday, DA Undersecretary-designate for consumer and political affairs Kristine Evangelista said there is a need to review the distribution of subsidies to aid local farmers, fishers and animal raisers. Earlier, agricultural groups urged President Marcos to prioritize food production subsidies over FMR road projects to mitigate the impact of rising costs affecting productivity in the sector. But the DA is still looking to submit a masterplan for FMRs to the administration’s economic managers as soon as it maps out priority production areas throughout the country, Evangelista said.

Marcos urged to support agri, manufacturing without relying on FDI

“Rather than relying on FDI inflows, which have not materialized despite the passage of investor-friendly legislation such as CREATE (the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises), government should focus on reviving and strengthening the domestic economy by providing support and incentives to key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing,” the Freedom from Debt Coalition said in a statement. These industries, it added, have been neglected for decades due to “ill-advised policies such as the infamous Rice Tariffication Law which failed to deliver its promise of cheaper rice even as it resulted in bankruptcy of millions of farmers.” The coalition also called for significant investment in human capital by ramping up spending on education, healthcare, housing, and nutrition.

Government eyes ways to temper rising sugar prices

THE government is currently exploring a number of options, including the importation of more sugar, to temper the rise in sugar prices, a senior Department of Agriculture (DA) official said Monday. “The importation of sugar is something the SRA [Sugar Regulatory Administration] is looking into, but we [may] have to come up with a new order to ensure our consumers will have access to cheaper sugar,” Evangelista told reporters in an interview in Quezon City. She also said the government is currently looking into the cost structure of producing sugar and is evaluating the necessity of adjusting the suggested retail price (SRP) for the sweetener. The BusinessMirror reported last month that the country’s sugar stocks will be depleted by August as demand for the sweetener has outpaced supply due to lower cane production and the delay in import arrivals.

PHL posts $1.57-B BOP gap in June; $3.1B in H1

Latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the country’s Balance of Payments (BOP)—or the summary of the local economy’s transactions with the global economy—hit a deficit of $1.57 billion in June this year. This is the second consecutive month that the BOP deficit has breached the $1-billion mark. In May, the country’s deficit was at $1.61 billion. June’s deficit is also significantly higher than the $312-million BOP deficit in the same month in 2021.

DepEd to craft limited blended learning plan after Marcos directive

The Department of Education (DepEd) is amending its strict order for the full return to face-to-face classes after President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said hybrid learning can continue in "very specific areas." Malacañang did not give details on the parameters that will allow online classes. The president said during a Cabinet meeting that he prefers that students attend in-person classes, but he instructed the DepEd to prepare the learning devices and other supplies that may be needed for blended learning. Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte, who previously didn't yield to appeals for blended learning, said they will craft a plan for in-person classes to be approved by Marcos.

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