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ECCP@Work Featured Articles | April 14, 2023

April 14, 2023

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ECCP at Work

Export earnings drop for third straight month

The country’s export earnings contracted for the third consecutive month in February, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Figures from the PSA showed the country’s export earnings declined 18.1 percent in February. In January and December 2022, export earnings contracted 13.1 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively. Export revenues fell during the period mainly due to the 2.2-percent contraction in earnings from electronic products.

IMF hikes Philippine growth outlook

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Philippines to post the fastest growth in emerging and developing Asia this year, despite a global economic slowdown. In its latest World Economic Outlook (WEO) released here on Tuesday morning, the IMF raised its 2023 gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection for the Philippines to 6%, from the 5% forecast given in January.

Higher oil prices unlikely to ‘disturb’ BSP inflation outlook, says Medalla

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is confident headline inflation will return to within its 2-4% target by the fourth quarter this year amid a recent spike in global oil prices and still-elevated core inflation.

BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla told BusinessWorld that even though higher global oil prices is an upside risk to inflation, it won’t “disturb” the central bank’s main scenario.

Trade deficit narrows, output growth slows

The country’s trade deficit narrowed in February as exports fell at a faster pace versus the decline in imports, the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed. Also yesterday, the PSA reported  factory output in February recorded a year-on-year increase of 7.2 percent, slower than the double-digit growth rate of 11.2 percent in the previous month.  In February 2022, the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) recorded a faster hike of 69.8 percent.

According to the PSA, the trade deficit in February fell to $3.88 billion, posting a 2.7 percent decline. In January 2023, the trade deficit recorded an annual growth of 27.1 percent to $5.73 billion, and in February 2022, it posted a year-on-year increase of 47.2 percent to $3.98 billion.

Infra facelifts done before SONA: DOTr

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) yesterday said maintenance and infrastructure improvements and facility expansions in at least 18 airports and 20 seaports are set to be completed either by June  or before the second state of the nation address (SONA) of President Marcos Jr. in July. DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista  updated the President and several Cabinet members yesterday in Malacanang on the status of aviation, maritime railway and road network projects being undertaken by the agency.

Marcos orders review of LRT fare hikes’ inflation impact

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said Tuesday that the Palace has ordered a review of the inflation impact of two commuter rail fare hikes the department had approved in late March. The Palace decision effectively pushes back the implementation date of the fare hike for Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2. The DoTr had approved the requested fare increase of P2.29 on boarding and an additional 21 cents distance for every kilometer traveled.

Tourism industry aims to fill vacancies through job fairs, workshops

The Hospitality industry will hold job fairs and workshops nationwide throughout the year to address labor shortages that have affected the tourism industry since the pandemic’s onset, the Tourism department said.  The Department of Tourism (DoT) said that its national tourism job fair “Trabaho, Turismo, Asenso” will continue on its third leg on May 11, in partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

Flexible work seen in favor across industries

Current employees are indicating heightened interest in flexible work arrangements, pointing to a broader trend of job holders becoming more empowered about where and how they work, workplace consultancy Great Place to Work said. “It is evident through employees’ verbatim comments that they clamor for more flexibility at work,'' Great Place to Work Managing Partner and Principal Consultant Antoniette Mendoza-Talosig told BusinessWorld in an e-mail. “It is now important for employees to have a say in where and when to work.” Great Place to Work said the desire for flexible and remote work is evident across various industries.

Skills dev’t seen correlating to company success

Investing in skills and development programs has been linked to productive work environments, according to workplace consultancy Great Place to Work. “What we are seeing is that training and development programs build cultures of trust and learning that are important for employees to stay productive,” Great Place to Work Managing Partner and Principal Consultant Antoniette Mendoza-Talosig told BusinessWorld in an interview.

NAPC eyes to release action agenda vs. poverty in June

The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) on Tuesday announced it targets to release the action agenda to reduce poverty in the country by June this year. During a Laging Handa briefing, NAPC Lead Convenor and Secretary Lope Santos III said the commission is already formulating the National Anti-Poverty Action Agenda, which shall be aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2023 -2028 in accelerating poverty reduction in the country from 18.1 percent (2021) to 8-9 percent (2028). Santos said a whole-of-government and whole-of-nation approach shall be implemented to pursue the poverty reduction objectives.

DA to help farmers lower production cost as rice prices rise

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday assured intervention to help farmers lower production costs, which is considered a major factor in the rising market prices of rice. In a teleradio interview, DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said the department is closely coordinating with the group of rice farmers as prices increased to as much as PHP5 per kilogram.

Net FDI inflow fell 46% in Jan to $448 million

The net inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI) to the Philippines fell by 46 percent in January to $448 million from $824 million in the same month last year. In a statement, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said  the January result was due to the decrease in nonresidents’ net investments in debt instruments and equity capital. Meanwhile, nonresidents’ reinvestment of earnings increased slightly.

Gov't to hold aid drives, Kadiwa caravans, job fairs on Labor Day

Government agencies led by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will be holding three major activities to honor the Filipino workers in connection with the celebration of the 121st Labor Day on May 1. In a statement Tuesday, the DOLE will be showcasing the Kadiwa ng Pangulo Para sa Manggagawa, the awarding of government assistance to workers, and the conduct of nationwide simultaneous job fairs during the celebration early next month. The activities will be held in 16 regional sites, with the National Capital Region (NCR) as the main event site. The labor department will host the Kadiwa ng Pangulo Para sa Manggagawa to help workers access commodities at lower prices, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Work on 20 new seaports complete by June – DOTr

Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista on Tuesday said the government aims to complete some 20 seaports across the archipelago and finish maintenance work on 18 airports by June, or just before the State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in July this year. Bautista said at a press briefing in Malacañang that he updated the President on various maritime, aviation and road projects during a transportation sectoral meeting with the Chief Executive in the Palace.

Trade deficit narrows, output growth slows

The country’s trade deficit narrowed in February as exports fell at a faster pace versus the decline in imports, the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed. Also yesterday, the PSA reported  factory output in February recorded a year-on-year increase of 7.2 percent, slower than the double-digit growth rate of 11.2 percent in the previous month.  In February 2022, the Volume of Production Index (VoPI) recorded a faster hike of 69.8 percent. According to the PSA, the trade deficit in February fell to $3.88 billion, posting a 2.7 percent decline.

Govt aims to revitalize hog sector via programs

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has launched two programs aimed at revitalizing the swine industry, which continues to reel from the devastation caused by African swine fever (ASF). The DA unveiled its Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABay ASF) to strengthen monitoring and control against ASF at the barangay level as well as the Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) to hasten hog repopulation in ASF-affected areas, according to Bureau of Animal Industry Deputy Program Coordinator Samuel Joseph Castro.

Dairy agency bats for P1.2-billion budget

THE National Dairy Authority (NDA) said it proposed a P1.2-billion budget for 2024, mainly to import dairy cattle and develop stock farms. “The plan is to bring in animals then we will breed them in stock farms, so that we are able to distribute island-born (cattle) to farmers,” NDA Administrator Gabriel L. Lagamayo told BusinessWorld. The proposed funding will finance the import of 2,000 dairy cattle and develop two stock farms. Philippine production is equivalent to only 1% of its milk demand and needs to import the rest.

Marcos urged to enhance El Niño mitigation plan

Speaker Ralph Recto yesterday urged President Marcos Jr. to order the upgrade of the government’s Roadmap to Address the Impact of El Niño (RAIN) to ensure that the weather phenomenon will have minimum impact on the country’s food, electricity, and water supply. Recto noted the warm spell will worst hit the agriculture sector, which is under the jurisdiction of the President who is the concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Economy likely slowed sharply in Q1

PHILIPPINE economic growth likely slowed sharply in the first quarter as consumption weakened amid elevated inflation and rising borrowing costs, analysts said. “While we believe private consumption continued to be a key driver of growth given its high share, the momentum has likely been slowing as the reopening boost has faded while high inflation remained a headwind,” Makoto Tsuchiya, assistant economist at Oxford Economics, said in an e-mail. He said first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) had likely expanded by 4.4%, much slower than the 8.2% a year earlier and 7.1% in the fourth quarter of 2022. The government is targeting 6-7% GDP growth this year.

PH employment rate improves

In February 2023, the Philippines recorded a significant decrease in the unemployment rate, with only 4.8 percent of the population out of work. This marks a remarkable improvement compared to the same period in 2022 when the unemployment rate was at 6.4 percent. This positive trend can be attributed to more Filipinos joining the workforce, with the labor force participation rate rising to 66.6 percent from 64.5 percent the previous month and 63.8 percent in February 2022. Moreover, the employment rate has maintained its previous month's rate at 95.2 percent, which is higher than the 93.6 percent recorded in the previous year. The youth employment rate has also improved, with 90.9 percent of young people employed in February 2023 compared to 89.2 percent in January 2023 and 85.7 percent in February 2022.

Philippines OKs 2nd COVID-19 booster for general public

Most Filipinos adults are now eligible to receive second booster shots against COVID-19, the Department of Health announced Wednesday. “We’re just waiting for the release of implementing guidelines, then we’ll start administering the second booster for the general population,” Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing. The development came after the country’s Food and Drug Administration updated the emergency use authorization granted to COVID-19 vaccines and the Health Technology Assessment Council issued a positive recommendation. For months, only health workers, immunocompromised individuals, and senior citizens were allowed to take their fourth vaccine shot.

DA eyes hydroelectric plants, cloud seeding to combat El Niño effects

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said that it will employ a variety of projects to battle the El Niño phenomenon, ranging from hydroelectric plants to cloud seeding. The DA said that it will reactivate the inter-agency El Niño Task Force in an effort to mitigate the phenomenon’s effects on the agricultural sector. This is after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) urged the public to brace itself for the dry season.

Marcos orders DA: Revive El Niño task force

President Marcos has ordered the Department of Agriculture (DA) to revive the inter-agency El Niño Task Force to address the possible impact of the drought on the agriculture sector. In a recent interview, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and deputy spokesman Rex Estoperez disclosed that Marcos gave the directive after the DA submitted its report on the agency’s preparation to minimize the damage of the dry spell to the farm sector. “The instruction of the President is for us to be prepared. That’s why we are preparing for mitigating measures in case El Niño affects the country. We reactivated our El Niño Task Force,” Estoperez said.

MAP launches campaign vs children malnutrition

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has laid out initiatives that will complement the Philippine Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Project (PMNP) as the business group aims to contribute to the improvement of the overall nutritional status of Filipino children. “As a business group, we can have greater impact acting collectively in the fight against malnutrition and child stunting,” MAP President Benedicta Du-Baladad said at a media briefing held in Taguig City on Wednesday. Du-Baladad also noted that MAP hopes to expand its role beyond “fund generation and philanthropy to a shared responsibility in addressing malnutrition in the country, participating in the programming and governance of nutrition strategies and interventions.” The PMNP, which was crafted with the funding aid from the World Bank, is a “multisectoral community participatory approach,” which aims to address the “multi-faceted” problem of malnutrition.

World rice price hike won’t affect PHL much

THE national government remained confident that the slight elevation in world rice prices would not significantly affect domestic prices. The All Rice Price Index of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations showed the commodity’s prices slowed to 3.2 percent in February but remained 17.6 percent above its average last year. Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and Regulations Mercedita A. Sombilla told BusinessMirror on Wednesday that buffer stock volumes are still pegged at 350,000 metric tons as prices remain stable. “Rice prices are stable (and) went up because of fuel/fertilizer cost. I don’t think there is an alarm. World prices are slightly elevated but Vietnam is harvesting soon,” Sombilla said.

NFA steps up rice purchases to beef up stocks

The National Food Authority (NFA) said it continues to buy rice from planters at P19 per kilogram in its bid to beef up its buffer stocks. The NFA also said its branches nationwide are always open to accommodate farmers who want to sell their unmilled rice to the agency. The food agency is also offering its drying facilities to local planters. While Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law removed the marketing functions of the NFA, it is still mandated to maintain a buffer stock for emergencies. According to the NFA, local government units have been assisting the agency in procuring rice supplies for its buffer stock.

Trust fund for proposed water agency pushed

Lawmakers are pushing for the creation of a trust fund under the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to finance water sustainability projects in the country. Davao City Rep. Paolo Z. Duterte said the bill creating the Department of Water Resources (DWR), as the lead agency tasked to secure the country’s supply of water and effectively manage the delivery of this vital resource, should include the creation of a Water Trust Fund (WTF) in the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr). House Bill (HB) 3727, which Duterte filed with Benguet Rep. Eric G. Yap, seeks to address concerns over a looming water and sanitation crises in the country by creating the DWR and the Water Regulatory Commission (WRC). Duterte said that under HB 3727, remittances from non-tax revenues related to water management, including raw water pricing, permit fees, registration fees, supervision and regulation enforcement fees, filing fees, testing fees and other service income from the use of water resources will form part of the WTF.

BSP sees no need to tap IMF lending programs

There is no need for the Philippines to tap the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) lending programs, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) chief said on Wednesday. BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla said the country needs more official development assistance (ODA) from multilateral lending institutions. Asked if there is a need to tap the IMF lending program, he replied: “Right now, I don’t think so.” “We’re relying very heavily on ODA from the World Bank and ADB (Asian Development Bank), and direct commercial borrowing from abroad,” Mr. Medalla said on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank spring meetings here.

Bridging program pushed to address graduates’ skill gaps, online learning issues

The government may have to consider a bridging program to help students who graduated at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to sharpen or learn skills necessary for the workplace, Rizal 4th District Rep. Juan Fidel Nograles said on Thursday. Nograles made the suggestion in response to a Commission on Human Rights (CHR) report that students who relied on distance learning or online classes during the pandemic lacked soft skills needed in real-world scenarios. What the bridging program can do, according to Nograles is to help students with soft skills like communication and critical thinking. “The results of the report, while expected, is troubling, and we in government should actively work to address the gaps that have been identified,” he said.

Marcos OK’s creation of single operating system for gov’t transactions

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has approved the creation of a single operating system for government transactions, as part of efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country, the Palace said on Wednesday. The Presidential Communications Office said officials from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) told the President that they were working on a single system that would streamline the processes and transactions of all government agencies. During the meeting, Mr. Marcos said the agencies should also consider how the single system would be implemented in local government units (LGUs).

Vehicle sales jump 24% in March

New vehicle sales rose by an annual 24% in March, fueled by strong consumer demand, an industry group reported. A joint report by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) showed vehicle sales reached 36,880 units in March, nearly a fourth higher than the 29,685 units sold in the same month a year ago. Month on month, March vehicle sales increased by 19.3% from the 30,905 units sold in February

DOTr to complete 18 airport maintenance projects by July

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) aims to complete 18 airport maintenance projects and about 20 ports before President Marcos delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said most of the projects that may be finished by June are aviation, road sector and maritime projects. The projects were reported to Marcos during a sectoral meeting at Malacañang yesterday.

DBM releases P43B for senior citizen health insurance

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it approved the release of P42.93 billion to cover the health insurance premiums of senior citizens for one year. Around 8.6 million enrolled senior citizens are expected to benefit from the release, the DBM said. Under the 2023 budget, about P79 billion is allocated to cover health insurance premiums for indirect contributors, including seniors. All senior citizens are covered by the National Health Insurance Program of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. At the end of February, the DBM said 61.4% or P3.23 trillion of the 2023 national budget has been released to national agencies and local government units.

PHL general population can now get COVID vaccine 2nd booster shot

The Department of Health (DoH) on Wednesday said the general public can now get their second booster shot of coronavirus vaccine after the Food and Drug Administration and health authorities gave the green light.  At a livestreamed press briefing, Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the guidelines for the rollout of more second booster doses is now being finalized. “As we see an increase in cases among unvaccinated individuals, we continue to remind our people to get our jabs done and boosters done to remain protected against the virus,” she said. Previously, only health workers, senior citizens, and those with conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus were given priority to take their fourth vaccine doses.

April 17 tax deadline will not be extended, says BIR chief

This year’s April 17 deadline for filing and payment of income taxes will not be extended, the Bureau of Internal (BIR) chief said on Wednesday. “There is no reason for non-compliance because the processes have been made simpler and more convenient,” BIR Commissioner Romeo D. Lumagui, Jr. said in a statement, citing the introduction of the “file and pay anywhere” scheme and the availability of tax assistance centers nationwide.  “There is also no reason for an extension because any delay in the filing and payment of taxes will result into inadequate funding of government programs,” he said.  

Fitch Solutions maintains 5.9% PHL growth forecast

Fitch Solutions said on Wednesday that it maintained its 5.9% growth forecast in 2023 for the Philippines with inflation cooling though interest rates remain elevated. “We are forecasting GDP (gross domestic product) growth to slow from 7.6% in 2022, to 5.9% in 2023, slightly more downbeat than the official government forecast range of 6-7%,” Fitch Solutions Country Risk Analyst Low Shi Cheng said in a Webinar. Despite cooling inflation, pressures remain high which could result in the central bank raising borrowing costs further and weigh on consumption and investment growth, he added.

El Niño task force reactivated at DA

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it has reactivated its El Niño task force to mitigate the impact of the expected dry spell on crops. “When there is a calamity, whether it’s El Niño or typhoons, the biggest hit is always to agriculture,” Agriculture Deputy Spokesman Rex C. Estoperez told reporters. Mr. Estoperez said that the task force consists of representatives from the various DA agencies and led by a steering committee of undersecretaries and assistant secretaries and assisted by a technical working group.

PHL pork import forecast downgraded on weak demand

Philippine pork imports will be lower than initially expected this year due to weak domestic demand and high international prices, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said. In a report, the USDA estimated Philippine pork imports at 525,000 metric tons (MT), down 12.5% from its previous forecast issued earlier in 2023. The USDA said the forecast was revised due to the “effects of food inflation, which leaves little purchasing power for pork.

Unsolicited railway proposals in the works for 2 commuter lines

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) said on Wednesday that it has received unsolicited proposals for two commuter rail systems for Metro Manila, which it plans to evaluate within the year.  “We are in the process of identifying other railway lines. There are four operating lines now, the next operating line will be MRT-7 (Metro Rail Transit Line-7),” Transport Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said on the sidelines of the General Membership Meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines. The active commuter rail lines in Metro Manila are Light Rail Transit Lines 1 and 2, MRT-3, and the Philippine National Railway’s lines serving the capital.

Regulators, banks grapple with risks arising from social media, digitalization

Regulators and banks in the Philippines need to develop a system on how to immediately respond to issues on social media that may affect public confidence, in order to prevent social media-driven bank runs as seen in the United States, experts said. Fitch Asia-Pacific Financial Institutions Director Tamma Febrian said that social media has allowed information “to flow at a speed that was unthinkable a decade or two ago,” and has helped lenders market financial products to customers quickly. “On the other hand, both social media and digitalization could also increase contagion risks by compounding the effect at which a negative news could have on a bank with seemingly weak fundamentals, as demonstrated by the rapid demise of SVB (Silicon Valley Bank),” Mr. Febrian said in an e-mail interview with BusinessWorld.

Multilateral banks urged to boost climate investments

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno on Tuesday called on multilateral development banks (MDBs) to boost climate investments by expanding private sector participation.

In his speech at the 2023 Intergovernmental Group of Twenty-Four (G24) ministerial meeting in Washington D.C., Mr. Diokno said the role of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in supporting countries, especially emerging markets, is crucial in addressing multiple global crises. “The polycrisis we’re facing threatens to reverse the years of progress we’ve made towards poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Together, we must be decisive in tackling these challenges,” he said.

Marcos OK’s creation of single operating system for gov’t transactions

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has approved the creation of a single operating system for government transactions, as part of efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country, the Palace said on Wednesday. The Presidential Communications Office said officials from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) told the President that they were working on a single system that would streamline the processes and transactions of all government agencies. During the meeting, Mr. Marcos said the agencies should also consider how the single system would be implemented in local government units (LGUs).

67% of Pinoy households have access to running water

More than half of Filipino households or 67 percent have access to running and piped water, a survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) last December showed. The SWS said the figure accounts for around 17 million households nationwide. It added that 58 eight percent of the households are billed for their monthly water consumption while nine percent are not billed. SWS said the median expense for water consumption of billed consumers is P320 and P300 for those not billed.

‘Amang’ damage to agri sector now at P12.34M

Initial cost of damage to the agriculture sector brought by tropical depression (TD) “Amang” is now at P12.34 million, according to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center. The DA attached agency said as of Thursday noon, the total cost of damage is equivalent to 664 metric tons of goods tended by 1,324 farmers and fisherfolk in 1,097 hectares of affected area. The current monitoring captured data from Camarines Sur and Sorsogon. Bulk of the recorded damage is from rice at P8.07 million, followed by high value crops at P4.15 million and livestock and poultry at P126,000.

Diokno: 2023 growth goal doable

The government’s growth target for the year remains “doable,” according to the country’s finance chief said. The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), however, is set to meet later this month to review if there is a need to revise its assumptions. “This year, the government expects the economy to grow between six and seven percent. And while slightly lower in recognition of the expected global slowdown, this target remains high but doable,” Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said at the Philippine Economic Briefing held on the sidelines of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings.“

Key senator expects ease of paying taxes legislation to hurdle panel this year

The proposed Ease of Paying Taxes Act may be approved on second reading before the end of the year, a senator who chairs the committee evaluating the measure said. “We are currently finalizing the committee report on the proposed Ease of Paying Taxes Act, and we are hopeful that the measure will be approved on second reading before the end of the year. This measure, envisioned to put in place a tax administration system that is effective and expedient, is particularly important as the government endeavors to enhance its revenue collection efforts to finance programs and projects necessary to sustain economic growth,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the Committee on Ways and Means, said in a Viber message.

CREATE incentives attract investments of over P414B

PROJECTS benefiting from incentives offered by the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Law have generated investment valued at P414.3 billion, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said. “From August 2021 to December 2022, total investment capital from approved priority activities with incentives under CREATE has reached P414.3 billion. This covers priority activities above P1 billion,” Mr. Diokno said in a statement after conducting an economic briefing in Washington, DC. Mr. Diokno and other economic managers are in Washington for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group.

LRT-1 Cavite Extension delays cost up to P4 billion

The Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) Cavite Extension is estimated to have incurred up to P4 billion in additional costs due to delays imposed by the pandemic, Light Rail Manila Corp. (LRMC) said. LRMC President and Chief Executive Officer Juan F. Alfonso said, “the cost will definitely be higher …  because of the pandemic … I think around P2-P4 billion additional cost.” On Thursday, LRMC said that the 6.6-kilometer first phase of the Cavite Extension project was 82.7% complete as of March 31.

Easing prices may spur BSP rate cuts

The Philippine central bank may cut the key policy rate this year if inflation continues to ease in the next six months, according to its chief. “We already have two very low month-on-month [inflation],” BSP Governor Felipe M. Medalla told reporters on the sidelines of an economic briefing in Washington D.C. on Wednesday evening (Manila time). “If that continues, then there’s a reason to pause.” “If April has a similar pattern, then we have four more of that, five more of that, we can even talk about cuts,” he said. If inflation eases month on month by 0.2 point in the next six months, “why not?”

Route investments from liberalization push to countryside, Marcos gov’t told

The Philippine Government should ensure that foreign investments spurred by the liberalization of key public services benefit the countryside, economists said on Thursday. “The amended Public Service Act is expected to push infrastructure further,” Leonardo A. Lanzona, who teaches economics at the Ateneo de Manila University, said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “However, its impact will be significant only if it is directed to increase infrastructure in remote rural areas.”

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