ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | January 6, 2023

January 06, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

Inflation quickens further to 8.1 percent in December on back of higher vegetable prices

Inflation for the month of December quickened further mainly due to the higher prices of select food items including onions and other vegetables, the state statistics bureau said. The consumer price index rose 8.1 percent, faster than the 8 percent the previous month and the highest since November 2008, the Philippine Statistics Authority said. Inflation of food and non-alcoholic beverages index in December was at 10.2 percent from 10 percent in November while the total food inflation at the national level rose to 10.6 percent from 10.3 percent the previous month, PSA data showed.

Philippine jobless rate fell further to 4.2% in November

The unemployment rate in the Philippines improved to pre-pandemic levels at 4.2 percent in the Labor Force Survey done in November 2022, from 4.5 percent in October 2022 and 6.5 percent in November 2021, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. The number of Filipinos who are of employment age and were actively looking for a job but failed to get hired decreased by about 65,000 to 2.18 million in November from 2.24 million in October. National Statistician Dennis Mapa said that the labor force participation rate — the number of working-age Filipinos who do have jobs or were available for jobs reckoned against the total population aged at least 15 years — was back to pre-pandemic levels at 67.5 percent in November from 64.2 percent in the previous month and a year earlier. 

'Critical' for PHL to sign FTA with Europe within two years - BusinessWorld Online

The Philippines must enter into a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) within a two-year window or become the last of three major markets in Southeast Asia deemed priorities by the EU, according to the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP). “The timeline here is critical,” ECCP President Lars Wittig stated. “I believe in order for the EU to succeed here in the Philippines, and for the Philippines to succeed with inclusive growth, the EU and the Philippines must ensure a free trade agreement (FTA) within the next 24 months.”

‘Keen’ European interest in shipping after foreign ownership cap removed

The shipping and telecommunications industry are likely to receive increased European investment following the passage of a law that removes the 40% foreign equity cap in various industries, according to the European Chamber of Commerce (ECCP). Republic Act 11647, which amends the 85-year-old Public Service Act, now allows 100% foreign ownership in airports and airlines, subways and railways, telecommunications, domestic shipping, and tollways and expressways after these industries were excluded from the definition of public utility. ECCP President Lars Wittig mentioned that “when it comes to shipping, we already know that the interest is keen, actually, I will say extreme.”

DBCC Affirms Moody's Forecast as Fastest Growing Economy in Asia Pacific

Members of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), chaired by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman, shared their positive outlook for the Philippine economy in line with Moody’s growth forecast for the Philippines in 2023. As approved by the DBCC, GDP growth in 2023 is expected to range from 6.0-7.0 percent. This is aligned with the Moody’s growth projection of 6.4 percent, which will make the country the fastest growing economy in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the forecast of Moody's, the country will be followed by Vietnam with 6.1 percent, China with 5.1 percent, India with 5 percent, Indonesia with 4.7 percent, Thailand with 3.9 percent, and Malaysia with 3.8 percent.

BoI approves P729-billion investments in 2022

The Board of Investments (BoI) approved an estimated P729 billion worth of new investments this year, as investor confidence in the Philippines improved despite global uncertainties. Figures provided by the BoI on 21 December showed that this year’s investments are 11% higher than the P655.4 billion approved investments in 2021. “The 2022 BoI approval levels clearly indicate that despite the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic especially in the first half of the year, coupled with global decline in investments due to the Russia-Ukraine War, investors continue to have strong confidence in the Philippine economy,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in a statement.

European businesses back Pascual as DTI chief

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) backs the confirmation of Secretary Alfredo Pascual as Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chief. In a statement on Thursday, Dec. 30, the Chamber appreciates the leadership of Secretary Pascual as well as his commitment to developing MSMEs which serve as the backbone of the Philippine economy. “ECCP also appreciates the Secretary’s vision and emphasis on enhanced digitalization and e-governance which will accelerate the country’s industrialization and economic transformation,” the business group said.

DOTr Proceeds With Privatization Of Airports

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista told reporters that the agency would engage investors who want to take over the operations and maintenance of regional airports up for privatization. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will push through with its plan to privatize a number of regional airports this year, kicking off with the one considered the gateway to Northern Mindanao, which has received renewed interest from a previous proponent. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista told reporters that the DOTr would engage investors who want to take over the operations and maintenance of regional airports up for privatization.

Revive 2018 consortium proposal for NAIA privatization upgrade – Concepcion

After the New Year’s Day glitch at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that resulted in hundreds of cancelled flights, former presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion suggested reviving the 2018 proposal to form a private sector consortium to rehabilitate the airport. According to Concepcion, founder of Go Negosyo, the rehabilitation project aims to decongest and increase the capacity of NAIA. It was to be implemented in three phases from 2021 to 2024. The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said domestic and international flights to and from NAIA on Jan. 1 were either delayed, cancelled, or diverted to other regional airports due to a power outage and technical issue in air traffic control, affecting thousands of passengers.

DOE bares priorities for 2023

The Department of Energy (DOE) has bared its key priorities for this year, foremost of which is pursuing contingency measures and activities to ensure energy supply during critical periods, including the summer months. “For the critical periods in 2023, which include summer, the DOE will pursue contingency measures and activities such as the preparation for the Malampaya scheduled maintenance in February,” the agency said. The agency had earlier expressed concern about supply in the summer months of 2023, when thin power reserves will be met with higher demand.

Customs delays full digitalization to 2024

The Bureau of Customs is expecting a hiccup in its bid to fully digitalize its processes and operations, likely to be completed in 2024 instead of early this year. Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz said the BOC has informed Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on the delay in the system overhaul in the agency to increase productivity and efficiency. Last October, Ruiz said full digitalization may happen in the first quarter of 2023. However, this is expected to be further delayed to 2024. “Some Customs processes that we need to digitalize involves a third party provider and there are still some court orders that we need to address,” Ruiz said.

IT-BPM firms can still transfer their registration to BoI until January 31

Information Technology-business process management (IT-BPM) firms have been given one more month to transfer their registration to the Board of Investments (BoI) from their existing investment promotion agency (IPA). The Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) issued Resolution No. 033-22 extending the Dec. 31, 2022 deadline for IT-BPM enterprises to transfer their registration to the BoI, from the IPA that handles the economic zone or freeport zone where their project is located, to Jan. 31, 2023. “There is an urgent need to extend the Dec. 31 deadline to give full effect to the intent behind the provisions to allow affected existing registered business enterprises (RBEs) in the IT-BPM sector to adopt, on a long-term basis, flexible work arrangements without adverse effects on their tax incentives,” the FIRB said in the resolution dated Dec. 23.

NG debt inches up to P13.6T as of end-Nov.

The National Government’s (NG) outstanding debt inched up to another record high of P13.644 trillion as of end-November, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said on Tuesday. In a statement, the BTr said the end-November debt was only up by 0.02% or P3.15 billion from the end-October level of P13.641 trillion, “primarily due to the effect of local currency appreciation against the US dollar on foreign currency loans.” Year on year, the debt stock rose by 14.35% from P11.93 trillion. The NG debt also jumped by 16.33% from the P11.73 trillion seen at end-December 2021.

NEDA simplifies rules for PPPs

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has issued new guidelines that aim to simplify the processing of public-private partnership (PPP) proposals. “The NEDA board has approved a new set of project processing guidelines that have to do with the PPPs. And the new guidelines will simplify the process and  substantially reduce the number of days, for example, upon which a proposal sits in one office,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said. He said through the new guidelines, the stages in the movement of the project would become more predictable and known to the public.

DOTr plan: Pedestrians, bikers get top priority

Bikers and pedestrians would be given the “highest priority” among road users with the government building them dedicated and safer lanes and wider sidewalks in the next six years, according to the Department of Transportation (DOTr). This is part of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2022-2028, which has been approved by the National Economic and Development Authority, the DOTr said in a statement on 21 December. The DOTr announcement came on the heels of a report last month by Move as One Coalition about the alarming number of road accidents involving bikers in Metropolitan Manila which led to the death of an average of 26 cyclists yearly from 2017 to 2021.

More air infrastructure investments needed

More investments are needed in air transport infrastructure to meet the projected rise in travel demand and enable the sector to provide more benefits to the economy, according to state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). “While we are on the right path in identifying priority projects related to improving the capacity and technical capability of our airports, as well as enhance network connectivity of different airports, policymakers should also recognize the importance of time, as the current investments in air transport infrastructure may still be inadequate to respond to the projected increase in demand for air travel,” PIDS research fellow Kris Francisco and research analyst Valerie Lim said in a discussion paper, “Philippine Air Transport Infrastructure: State, Issues, Government Strategies.” According to the PIDS, the expected increase in air travel demand in the coming years makes it urgent to ramp up investments in the air transport sector.

DICT Chief: Phl needs integrated digitalization to accelerate economic recovery and growth [mention]

Cognizant of the need for accelerated and integrated digitalization to complement the ease of doing business, Department of Technology and Information Secretary Ivan John Uy reveals his plan to embark on digitalization in both local and national government. Speaking during the Eurepean Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Luncheon Meeting with Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy, he agreed that the need to have infrastructure that would pave the way to delivering service to the public is an urgent concern that must be addressed under his leadership.

DBM pushes for bill institutionalizing cash budgeting system

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is pushing the passage of a bill that will institutionalize the cash budgeting system. “For 2023, we will strive to do more, to do better and be better. On top of our list, we will pursue the budget modernization bill to institutionalize the cash budgeting system (CBS),” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said in a statement. “To fully reap the impact of CBS and ensure prudent fiscal management and improved budget reliability, there is a need to institutionalize the full implementation of the CBS,” she added. The latest administration’s version of the Budget Modernization bill is yet to be submitted to Congress, according to the DBM Fiscal Planning and Reforms Bureau.

ECCP expects PHL to deal with corruption ‘pragmatically’ [mention]

THE European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is confident that officials of the new administration will deal with corruption in a “pragmatic” manner, and called for improvement in the area of respect for contracts during the Marcos term of office, its president said. In a video call with BusinessWorld, ECCP President Lars Wittig said that “corruption remains a very big challenge” in the Philippines, but added that he had a positive view of the team put in place by the new government. “They are speaking the business people’s language, they are very pragmatic, and I think they will ensure that we will see significant improvement,” he said. Mr. Wittig also said that the Philippines needs to become more dependable in terms of the validity of contracts.

CAAP hopes Senate probe will look into air traffic control system replacement

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Thursday expressed hope that the Senate will look into replacing its outdated air traffic control system. This came as the upper chamber is set to investigate the New Year’s Day air traffic management fiasco at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport which disrupted domestic and international flights. “One aspect they should be looking at is that the system was purchased sometime [in] 2010. I think it is the right time to think of another CNS/ATM (Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management) that would back up or act as primary with our existing system,” CAAP Director General Edgardo Diaz replied when asked about what their expectations are of the Senate probe.

Marcos orders extension of tariff cuts until yearend 

SOME agricultural stakeholders expressed dismay over President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s executive order extending lower tariffs on pork, rice, corn and coal, saying the previous order failed to lower prices. Signed by Mr. Marcos on Dec. 29 and released on Wednesday, EO No. 10 kept the lower tariff rates for pork at 15% (in-quota) and 25% (out-quota), corn at 5% (in-quota) and 15% (out-quota), and rice at 35% (in-quota and out-quota) until Dec. 31. Coal will remain at zero duty beyond Dec. 31, but will be reviewed semestrally. There’s a need to extend the lower tariff rates to “maintain affordable prices for the purpose of ensuring food security, help augment the supply of basic agricultural commodities in the country, reduce the cost of electricity, and diversify the country’s market sources,” Mr. Marcos said in the order.

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