April 20, 2023
ECCP at Work
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is focused on the implementation of major expressways and bridges from 2023 to 2028 to address traffic congestion in major key cities in the country. DPWH is on track to increase the country’s high standard highways and expressways from 510 kilometers to 1,816 km based on the High Standard Highway Master Plan Phases 1 and 2 in the next five years, Maria Catalina Cabral, DPWH undersecretary, said in her presentation at the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines event.
The government has released P4.3 trillion of the 2023 budget, or roughly 82 percent of the record P5.268 trillion allocation this year, as state agencies move to implement their respective projects. Latest data from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) showed it has issued a total of P4.31 trillion of the 2023 budget as of end-March. This represents 81.9 percent of the national budget allocated for the year, a significant improvement from 69.4 percent in March 2022.
The Department of Trade and Investments (DTI) targets to exceed foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows of neighboring Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries during the term of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. In a forum in Taguig City on Wednesday, DTI Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said the country’s net FDI inflows from 2020 to 2022 reached USD28 billion. Rodolfo, who is also the managing head of the Board of Investments (BOI), said the Philippines surpassed the inward FDIs of Malaysia and Thailand in 2021, as the country logged record-high FDI inflows of USD10.5 billion.
The country’s balance of payments (BoP) surplus hit a two-month high of $1.27 billion in March, mainly driven by foreign currency deposits from the National Government and the central bank’s investments abroad. Data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed that the March surplus was bigger than the $754-million surfeit a year earlier. This is also a turnaround from the $895-million deficit in February. This is also the biggest BoP surplus since the $3.08-billion surfeit in January.
The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) is set to review the government’s macroeconomic assumptions and growth targets. Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman said economic managers will see if there is a need to tweak the medium-term macroeconomic assumptions, growth targets and fiscal program, in light of recent developments. “We’ll try to see if we are on track or if we adjust (the assumptions). First are targets, we’re trying to see if we can meet the targets in revenues and spending,” she said.
Senators are stepping up efforts to fast-track passage of amendatory bills to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) law, which is deemed crucial to ensuring better public-private partnership (PPP) projects in infrastructure, a pillar of the country’s development plan. Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Tuesday recalled that effort in recent years to change vague provisions of the BOT law “would not suffice due to the fact that the last amendment to the BOT law was enacted almost three decades ago.” Ejercito conveyed his observations as the Senate’s public works committee heard several measures on the matter.
The Department of Energy (DOE) released the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the second round of the Green Energy Auction Program (GEA2), paving the way for the auction to push through in June. The GEAP was designed to continuously trigger the increase in the country’s renewable energy (RE) capacity, which will help realize the government’s target of 35 percent RE in the energy mix by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.
The government is now bracing for the possible worst impact of El Niño, which is expected to hit the country by the last quarter of the year, by prioritizing the construction of water supply infrastructure in high-risk areas and initiating early water and power conservation efforts. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. met with officials of the Office of Civil Defense, National Irrigation Authority (NIA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and its attached agency the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to discuss ways to mitigate the effects of the long dry spell from El Niño.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. said the existing rice buffer stock of the National Food Authority (NFA) has been nearly depleted and will now last for less than two days. Marcos said the pandemic, typhoons and other calamities have greatly reduced the buffer stock, which should usually be good for at least nine days. “Presently, the buffer stock of the NFA is [good for] one and a half days only. In case of a typhoon, we probably will not be able to give [any rice] after two to three days,” the President said.
The Philippines and Japan have identified pilot areas in three regions to formally start their market-driven vegetable sector project. The Department of Agriculture (DA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) held the kick-off meeting and first joint coordinating committee (JCC) meeting to implement the Technical Cooperation Project on Market-Driven Enhancement of Vegetable Value Chain (MV2C-TCP) this year until 2028. This follows the completion of the project’s planning phase, in which a value chain survey and project’s roadmap were already prepared.
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the government will tap its Kadiwa ng Pangulo outlets to “indirectly control” prices and keep basic commodities affordable. In an interview with reporters in Bulacan last Wednesday, Marcos said the Kadiwa stores are “a reliable alternative” to private sector retailers for consumers. “We can dictate the price [of products] in the Kadiwa. We don’t have to follow market prices. That is what we have done when there was a shortage in onions, sugar and rice,” Marcos said in Filipino. “If there is a shortage or a drought, we can make sure the price of goods will remain low.”
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said the government is looking at the option of importing rice to beef up the country's supply in the event of natural calamities, such as typhoons and the El Niño weather phenomenon. Marcos, however, assured that the country has ample supply of the staple grain to keep the prices stable in the market. He also dismissed the possibility of a repeat of the rice crisis in 2018.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. pushed for more public-private partnerships (PPP) to improve healthcare delivery across the country. During the groundbreaking ceremony of the St. Bernadette Children and Maternity Hospital in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, Marcos said the government and private sector must work together to make healthcare more accessible and affordable to every Filipino. He also stressed the need for a whole-of-society approach to enforce effective health policies that leave no one behind.
The government is targeting to expand the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Housing (4PH) Program to include building other facilities in education as well as in healthcare, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said. Marcos made the statement following the historic simultaneous launch of six housing projects in six cities and municipalities in Bulacan province. Marcos said the scope of the flagship housing program could be expanded to include the construction of health and education facilities. He said the administration's goal is to build 1 million housing units annually until 2028 to address the housing backlog in the country pegged at more than 6.5 million units.
The Board of Investments (BOI) expects two projects in nickel processing with a combined investment cost of $10 billion. Ceferino Rodolfo, BOI managing head, declined to name the companies but said one is from China and is likely to register its project this year. The other company is still studying its plans. Rodolfo said the Chinese firm is in talks with mining companies and will engage in nickel processing using High Pressure Acid Leach (HPAL) technology and will manufacture a component of batteries for electric vehicles.
Sugar production may fall by as much as 15 percent in the next cropping season due to the impact of El Niño this year.“If the El Niño is severe, then production will suffer to the tune of minus 10 to 15 percent or 180,000 to 200,000 MT (metric tons) of sugar or four million 50-kilo bags,” United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) president Manuel Lamata said in a text to The STAR. Meanwhile, a mild case of El Niño could lead to a five percent drop in production, said Lamata.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has ruled out an extension of the registration of subscriber identity module (SIM), seven days before the deadline. DICT said that it had received a request from public telecommunication entities (PTEs) to extend the deadline, but said “at this point, there is no extension of SIM registration.” “With the April 26 registration deadline drawing near, we encourage everyone to reqister to promote the responsible use of SIMs and provide law enforcement agencies the necessary tools to crac