ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | February 3, 2023

February 03, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

IMF maintains PHL growth forecast

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) kept its growth projection of 5% for the Philippines this year, even as it slashed the forecast for the ASEAN-5 grouping amid a looming global economic slowdown. “Our projections, which pre-date the release of the fourth quarter 2022 GDP estimates, point to (Philippine) growth slowing down to 5% in 2023 due to a tighter policy stance and the confluence of global shocks, including spillovers from the war in Ukraine and tighter global financial conditions,” IMF Representative to the Philippines Ragnar Gudmundsson said.

Ease of doing business still firms’ top concern in PH

The president of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) said that the ease of doing business remains a top private sector concern in the country, placing first among the top 10 considerations of local companies. MAP president Benedicta Du-Baladad made the point during her speech at the business management group’s inaugural meeting and induction ceremony for its set of officers this year, drawing from the results of a survey they conducted among members in November last year. “We duly noted that ease of doing business remains to be a top concern. Other [concerns] are economy, energy, climate, change, competitiveness of global industries, education, agriculture, infrastructure, ESG (environmental, social and governance) and dealing with [local governments],” she said.

World Bank approves $600-M loan for PH’s financial sector, economic recovery

The Philippines is set to secure a $600-million fresh loan from the World Bank. The lender said proceeds are eyed to bolster the country's economic rebound from the pandemic. The multimillion-dollar financing would cover three policy reform areas: strengthening the financial sector, expanding financial inclusion, and improving disaster risk finance. "Policy actions that strengthen the stability of the financial sector – including banks and insurance companies – will help Filipino families, businesses, and investors withstand financial shocks and enhance their resilience by ensuring that problems in these financial institutions are detected at an early stage without severe disruptions to the economy," said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank country director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand.

2023 growth not seen to breach 6%

Local think tank First Metro Investment Corp.-University of Asia and the Pacific (FMIC-UA&P) Capital Market Research expects GDP growth to average 6 percent this year, while Standard Chartered Bank said in a briefing on Tuesday that growth could settle at 5.3 percent in 2023 before increasing to 6 percent in 2024. “The continued uptrend of revenge spending should spur increased economic activity and growth in 2023. On the other hand, the 2023 momentum should pave the way to offset inflation, through adjustments in interest rates, government subsidies, and the like,” FMIC-UA&P Capital Market Research said in its latest Market Call report.

Investment grade still at risk as debt-to-GDP ratio stays above 60% in 2022

The national government’s outstanding debt, as a share of the economy, remained within alarming levels in 2022, keeping the threat to the country’s creditworthiness. The Philippines’ debt-to-GDP ratio, a gauge of the government's ability to settle its liabilities, settled at 60.9% in 2022, the Department of Finance reported Thursday. This was notably a better showing than the 63.7% ratio recorded in the third quarter of 2022. But it was slightly higher than the 60.5% ratio recorded at the end of 2021.

PHL ends 2022 with P13.42-T debt

THE NATIONAL Government’s outstanding debt stood at P13.42 trillion at the end of 2022, easing from the previous month’s record high and helped in part by the peso appreciation against the US dollar, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said on Thursday. In a statement, the BTr said P13.42-trillion outstanding debt was lower by 1.7% or P225.31 billion than the record-high P13.64 trillion at end-November due to the peso’s strength and net redemption of local government securities.

PHL-UK trade ties tightened through economic briefing

The British Embassy-Manila considers the timing of the visit as auspicious, as the two countries’ bilateral relationship is strengthening, and British private-sector interest in the Philippines continues to grow. The Filipino delegation was led by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, accompanied by Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Bangko Sentral Governor Felipe Medalla, Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Rosemarie Edillon, and Treasurer Rosalia de Leon.

PH seen to post slower growth of 5%

The Philippines is seen to post a slower growth in 2023, according to a report released yesterday. However, strong domestic demand is expected to continue driving expansion for the period. According to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2023, the Philippines is projected to post a growth of five percent this year, even lower than the government’s growth assumption of six to seven percent for 2023. This is coming from a strong 7.6 percent growth in 2022, amid global headwinds such as the slowdown in major advanced economies. The report showed the country is expected to post a faster growth of 6.1 percent next year.

JAO eyed to facilitate food trade

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it will assist in the streamlining of processes and requirements and harmonizing the overlapping mandates on importation and exportation in the processed food sector. ARTA Secretary Ernesto Perez said in a statement this will involve the drafting of a joint administrative order (JAO) with other agencies. Perez and officials of the Better Regulations Office (BRO) and Compliance Monitoring and Evaluation Office (CMEO) met with Philip Young of the Export Development Council’s (EDC) – Networking Committee on Agri-Policy (NCAP) who brought up the bottlenecks the group’s members have encountered in transacting with concerned agencies.

ADB tapped as advisor for major infrastructure

The Department of Transportation has tapped Asian Department Bank (ADB) as an advisor to fasttrack the privatization of two big-ticket rail projects and the modernization of the country’s main gateway the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and bundled regional airports. Representatives of DOTr and of the ADB-Office of Public Private Partnership (PPP) yesterday formally signed a contract for advisory service for modernization and capacity expansion of NAIA and bundled regional airports, Metro Manila Subway (MMSP) operation and maintenance (O&M) provider and North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR) O&M provider. Jaime Bautista, DOTr secretary said ADB will help the agency develop the terms and reference to find  the right private sector that will take over the O&M of these major rail and airport projects.

Nearly P30B needed for total energization

At least P29.5 billion is needed for total energization by 2028, according to the National Electrification Administration (NEA). The agency said P1.5 million is required on the average to energize a sitio.

UN says strong domestic demand to support Philippine growth this year - BusinessWorld Online

Strong domestic demand may help support Philippine economic growth this year despite a potential global recession, according to the United Nations (UN). In its report, the UN forecasts Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) expanding by 5% this year, slower than the 7.7% forecast it gave in January 2022. This forecast is below the government’s 6-7% target for the year. UNESCAP also projects Philippine GDP to expand by 6.1% in 2024, also below the government’s 6.5-8% target.

Factory activity highest in 7 months - BusinessWorld Online

Factory activity in the Philippines continued to expand, hitting a seven-month high in January, as firms ramped up production levels due to an uptick in foreign demand. The S&P Global Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose for a third straight month to 53.5 in January from 53.1 in December. This was the Philippines’ highest PMI reading since 53.8 in June 2022.

PEZA approves P6.4-B investments in January

Factory activity in the Philippines continued to expand, hitting a seven-month high in January, as firms ramped up production levels due to an uptick in foreign demand. The S&P Global Philippines Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose for a third straight month to 53.5 in January from 53.1 in December. This was the Philippines’ highest PMI reading since 53.8 in June 2022.

PHL, Finland stage 7th political confab

THE governments of the Philippines and Finland successfully concluded their seventh political consultations on January 25. The local delegation was headed by Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and Asean Affairs Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, while the State Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Johanna Sumuvuori led her country’s delegation. During the consultations the Philippines apprised the Scandinavian country on internal political and economic developments and in the region, the West Philippine Sea, and on the outcome of the Asean-European Union Commemorative Summit held in Brussels last year.

SRA: Imported sugar to be classified as reserve stock

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said imported sugar arriving in the country will be classified as a reserve in a bid to bring down market prices of the commodity. “Usually, when the sugar gets to the Philippines, it's classified as reserve. The government's main idea is to have the physical sugar available in the Philippine. So when it's here, it classified as reserve,” SRA Board Member Pablo Luis Azcona said. 

Free trade deals undermined PHL food security, says group

Agricultural groups, including the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), are pinning their hopes on an “independent” Senate that will assess the merits of the country’s membership to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Currently, the issues related to the regional trade pact are being threshed out at the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The group said “it’s now time to change the narrative”, noting that all previous Philippine governments from former President Fidel Ramos to former President Rodrigo Duterte have all echoed the “neo-liberal dogma” of imports at all cost and let the so-called “market forces” decide.

Rex Gatchalian named new DSWD secretary

President Marcos has named Valenzuela City Rep. Rex Gatchalian as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), replacing Erwin Tulfo, whose appointment was bypassed twice by the Commission on Appointments (CA). Gatchalian, who represents the city’s first district, took his oath as DSWD chief before Marcos yesterday. “Mr. President, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be able to serve the country in a much larger capacity,” Gatchalian said on Twitter.

Duterte lists basic education ills, lays reform agenda

Changes to the K to12 program to make it more responsive to the times, more than half of school facilities needing repairs, private schools closing down, and the need for a more inclusive system. These issues and more are facing learners and teachers, said Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte in her report on the basic education system on Monday. Duterte said out of 327,851 school buildings, 189,324 need repairs, including over 89,000 needing major work. Of these structures, 21,727 are no longer safe. With around 28.4 million enrolees for 2022-2023, there was a substantial decline in private school enrolment, resulting in some 1,600 private schools closing down.

PH ranks 116th in global corruption index, still among 'significant decliners'

The Philippines ranked 116th in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2022, which assesses the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories globally. The latest rank is just a notch higher than the Philippines' 2021 standing, with Transparency International still listing the country as among the "significant decliners" in the Asia-Pacific region. The country's latest CPI score was 33, unchanged from the previous year and its lowest score in the index. It dropped from the 2014 score of 38, the country's highest. Transparency International defined the scale as zero meaning "highly corrupt" and 100 as "very clean."

DFA, DMW plan transition concerning OFW assistance

The Philippines is preparing to handover the full responsibility of assisting overseas FIilipino lavoratrice to its newly established migrant workers department this year. According to a joint circular between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Migrant Workers, the DFA said it will continue to provide Assistenza to Nationals (ATN) and legal services to OFWs until March 31 this year, “pending the full turnover of ATN functions to the DMW.”

DENR engaging with various stakeholders on mining concerns

The country’s environment chief on Thursday said her agency is engaging with different stakeholders — including those in the mining sector and communities — to balance the need for minerals with environmental, social and economic considerations. Revitalizing the mining sector — even though the industry only accounts for less than one percent of the country’s gross domestic product — is a priority of the Marcos administration.

No red, yellow alerts during Malampaya maintenance on Feb. 4 to 18: DOE

The Department of Energy on Thursday said there would be no red or yellow alert during the Malampaya Natural Gas Facility maintenance shutdown. Malampaya is scheduled to conduct maintenance from Feb. 4 to Feb. 18, the DOE said. Even without the Ilijan plant and some Lopez-owned power facilities, there will be enough power supply, DOE Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella said. However, since some plants will run on more expensive liquid fuels, Fuentebella said there might be some increase in the generation component in the next billing month of March. For summer, Fuentebella also reported a better forecast with only 1 week of yellow alerts, a huge improvement from the last DOE estimate where officials revealed that 7 months out of 12 for the year would encounter yellow alerts or thinning electricity reserve.

DOH to prioritize salute workers, seniors, immunocompromised in bivalent jabs

The Philippines will administer the first batch of bivalent COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable groups, the Department of Health said Thursday. Those who will be prioritized include healthcare workers, senior citizens and individuals with comorbidities, the DOH said.  This is in line with the conditions set by COVAX facility, the United Nations-backed international vaccine-sharing scheme, it added.

PH debt bloats to ₱13.42T in 2022

The country's debt further swelled in 2022 to ₱13.42 trillion due to double-digit increases in domestic and foreign borrowings, data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed Thursday. Last year's outstanding obligations were 14.4% higher than 2021's ₱11.73 trillion. This, as domestic debt rose by 12.7% or ₱1.04 trillion, while external loans climbed by 18.3% or ₱652.34 billion. During the year, the majority of the debt was still raised from local sources. But, according to the Treasury, the strengthening of the Philippine peso against the US dollar during the latter part of 2022 helped soften the jump in debt. Despite registering higher debt, the country's debt-to-gross domestic product t (GDP) ratio stood at 60.9% for end-2022, an improvement from 63.7% as of end-September 2022.

Maharlika fund can 'quadruple' through outside investors — national treasurer

National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon is confident the ₱75-billion initial capital of the controversial Maharlika fund could balloon and unburden the Philippines from its mounting debt. During a hearing on Wednesday, De Leon said that the Indonesia Investment Authority, the country's sovereign wealth fund, secured $20 billion in commitments and pledges from global investors and other sovereign wealth funds after injecting $5 billion in capital. Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian then asked the official if it would be possible for the Philippines' proposed investment trust to also "quadruple" its capital if it could entice others to co-invest.

BTr: PH debt eased to P13.42T as of end-Dec

Efforts of the national government’s economic managers to lighten the country’s debt burden appear to be gaining ground as the debt stock eased to P13.42 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2022, according to the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr). The BTr said the decrease of debt in December was mainly due to the appreciation of the Philippine peso against the US dollar as well as the redemption of securities exceeding the value of new issuances.

Wanted: Private Operators For NAIA, Subway

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said the government has to be creative in completing infrastructure projects even with its fiscal space tightened by pandemic spending. The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has taken the first step toward privatizing transport assets as it tapped a multilateral institution to look for a private operator for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and two railways. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said on Thursday, Feb. 2, the DOTr and Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed transaction advisory service agreements for the modernization and expansion of the NAIA, as well as for the operations and maintenance segment of the Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) and North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR).

Property recovery seen to continue; BPOs to drive office space demand

THE PHILIPPINE property sector’s recovery is expected to continue this year, as business process outsourcing (BPO) companies drive office space demand, Colliers said on Thursday. “For office, we are very positive. In fact, we are projecting positive net take-up. That means that the occupied spaces will outpace the vacated spaces,” Colliers Director for Research Joey Roi Bondoc told a news briefing. For offices, Colliers expects net take-up to reach 228,000 square meters (sq.m.) this year. Net take-up reached 110,500 sq.m. in 2022, a turnaround from the negative take-up in the previous two years. Colliers sees the office vacancy rate going up to 20.2% due to new office supply and muted take-up in upcoming buildings. As of the fourth quarter of 2022, the vacancy rate reached 18.8%.

NEDA Board Approves First PPP Under Marcos

The University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Cancer Center is envisioned to modernize the country’s health infrastructure on oncology services and cancer care. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved on Thursday, Feb. 2, the construction of a P6-billion cancer center, the first public-private partnership (PPP) project to secure the body's nod under the Marcos administration. The University of the Philippines–Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Cancer Center is envisioned to modernize the country’s health infrastructure on oncology services and cancer care, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.

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