ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | August 15, 2023

August 15, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

Finance chief optimistic of reaching 6% GDP growth target

Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said this year's economic growth target is within reach, citing the government's aggressive "catch-up" plans."An aggressive catch-up plan for infrastructure projects, quicker response by GOCCs (government-owned and controlled corporations), and strong and deliberate spending by resource-surplus local governments are essential parts of the solution to the relatively weak second quarter growth performance of the Philippine economy," the finance chief added.The country’s economic growth slowed to 4.3 percent in the second quarter of the year from the 6.4 percent expansion in the first quarter.

Agencies ordered to draft catch-up spending plans

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it issued a circular directing government agencies to submit their spending catch-up plans next month. The DBM acknowledged, though, that preliminary data indicated that the implementation of programs was ongoing or were encountering billing or payment concerns or other issues. Nevertheless, the department “will be requiring all agencies to periodically undertake a data analysis which will cover programs and projects with historical trends of low disbursement and those with anticipated delays.” The analysis needs to include a comparison of project performance against targets, and a delivery and execution strategy to address delays.

Partnerships essential for PH growth – Pascual 

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual underscored the importance of partnerships with stakeholders, particularly MSMEs, for the growth of the Philippine economy. Pascual emphasized that these collaborations would help local products and services become internationally competitive. As such, he said that partnering with the private sector was needed the creation of job opportunities and MSME growth. Partnerships with government agencies, meanwhile, are the most crucial part for the growth of MSMEs as they produce an "enabling environment." "We need our partners in government, such as the Department of Agriculture, to improve the output of our farmers, and we are ready to help in logistics and further processing of our agricultural products," Pascual said.

New tech to shape next green auction 

Renewable energy industry players expect new technologies to shape the country’s next green energy auction, with the inclusion of solar storage hybrid technology among those being pushed. Renewable energy industry leaders also believe that the next GEAP promises to feature larger capacities from new technologies such as floating solar. Floating solar, for one, is expected to figure prominently in future auctions.

Gov’t urged to consider uniform tariff structure

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) urged the government to keep tariffs low and uniform for agricultural and food products to keep food prices affordable for more Filipinos. The MAP said that the government should consider a tariff structure that “reduces incentives and opportunities for corruption and smuggling by unifying the minimum access volume (MAV) and non-MAV tariff rates.” It said that tariffs should be kept “relatively low and uniform across all goods with a maximum 10-15%” to ensure the affordability of food prices

DOTr commits to timely completion of infra flagship projects in Visayas 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is working closely with local governments and stakeholders in the Visayas to implement several infrastructure flagship projects, including the new Cebu Container Port and Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).During the recent post-State of the Nation Address Philippine Economic Briefing in Cebu, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista cited several big-ticket transport projects in the pipeline approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in the region. The order follows President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Proclamation No. 297, which lifts the country’s public health emergency due to the COVID-19 last July 21.

DTI, BARMM team up to boost halal industry

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has partnered with the government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to develop the country’s halal industry, seeing the sector as a viable vehicle for growth in the region. A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed between the two parties on Thursday, with Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual highlighting the commitment from both sides in ensuring economic growth and development in the region. The DTI also said that the partnership was targeting to assist more than a hundred micro, small, and medium enterprises through capacity building, business counseling, and mentorship.

PHL may miss full-year GDP target after Q2 miss 

Philippine economic growth is expected to remain lackluster in the second half, making it increasingly unlikely it will meet the government’s 6-7% growth target this year, analysts said. Disappointing gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the second quarter prompted several analysts to slash full-year projections. Philippine economic expansion slowed to 4.3% in the April-to-June period, from 6.4% in the first quarter and 7.5% a year ago. It was well below the estimates of 21 economists in a BusinessWorld poll with a median forecast of 6%. This was the slowest print in over two years, bringing average growth to 5.3% in the first half.

PAGCOR expects to begin privatizing casinos by 2025 

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) plans to start privatizing 45 casinos by the third quarter of 2025, its chairman told a House of Representatives committee on Monday. “The privatization of PAGCOR’s 45 properties will commence during the third quarter of 2025 at the earliest,” PAGCOR Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Alejandro H. Tengco told the House Appropriations committee during its deliberations for the P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget. House Government enterprises and privatization committee Chairman and Parañaque Rep. Edwin L. Olivarez cited the agency’s conflicting roles as a regulator and casino operator. PAGCOR reported a net profit of P36.21 billion in the first six months, Vice-President Sharon SJ. Quintanilla told the committee, with funds surrendered to the government to help fund its projects amounting to P22.62 billion. GOCCs are required by law to remit at least 50% of their profits to the Treasury to finance government priority projects like universal healthcare and other nation-building exercises.

Farmers seek imposition of price controls on rice 

A non-government organization asked the government to impose price controls on rice, citing the need to deter traders from stockpiling rice instead of releasing inventory onto the market. “As long as there is (the Rice Tariffication Law, or Republic Act 11203) and the government does not take drastic measures to impose price controls or check the warehouses of traders… rice prices will continue to rise,” Bantay Bigas Spokesperson Cathy L. Estavillo said in a briefing. RA 11203, signed in 2019 liberalized rice imports, which used to be a government monopoly. Instead, importers had to pay a tariff of 35% on shipments of Southeast Asian grain to generate revenue for the government and finance the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

Government to spend P6 trillion for Luzon infrastructure projects

The government plans to spend at least P6.1 trillion for infrastructure projects in Luzon over the course of the Marcos administration’s term. During the Philippine Economic Briefing in Laoag yesterday, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government is committed to provide resources for Luzon’s infrastructure development in a bid to boost economic growth in the region. Based on the infrastructure flagship projects, 68 percent or 132 out of the 194 high-impact priority projects will be located in Luzon over the next six years.

CARS 2 proposed

Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corp. (MMPC) is seeking a second iteration of the Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy (CARS) citing its benefits to the industry and the economy. Imelda Abadilla-Brown,  first vice president of MMPC, told reporters the company is hopeful the government will give them at least five years of extension to comply with the volume requirement of the program when it lapses in 2024. CARS grants incentives to MMPC for Mirage, one of two models enrolled in the program. Abadilla-Brown said MMPC  projects to hit the 100,000- unit milestone before the end of the year and start availing of the volume incentives granted by CARS. It has produced more  more than 90,000 to date.

Abadilla-Brown said MMPC will ramp up production of the Mirage to meet the volume requirement of 200,000 units within the planned five-year extension. The plan is to produce  more than 20,000 units by next fiscal year. From from January to June, production hit more 14,167 units units,  significantly higher than the 9,230 units produced in 2022.

Oil firms raise prices for 5th straight week

Oil prices are up for the fifth straight week for a cumulative per liter increase of P7.75 on gasoline, P11.55 on diesel and P10.65 onr kerosene. This week, Seaoil raised per liter prices by P1.90 on gasoline, P1.50 on diesel and P2.50 on kerosene. Phoenix Petroleum, Clean Fuel and Jetti  adjusted per liter prices upward by P1.90 on gasoline and by P1.50 on diesel. Today’s adjustments were mainly caused by the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) forecast of a record global demand for fuel amid tightening crude production. Data from the Department of Energy (DOE) as of August 8 showed Manila price per liter of gasoline (RON95) stood at P71.40, diesel at P64.65 and kerosene at P76.05. DOE data also showed year-to-date adjustments as of the same period amounted to a total net increase of P11.50 per liter for gasoline, P7.10 per liter for diesel and P2.60 per liter for kerosene.

BTr partially awards T-bills

The Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) on Monday partially awarded bids for the 91-day Treasury bills (T-bills) while partially awarding the 182- and 364-day securities. The 91-day T-bills fetched an average rate of 5.704 percent. The 182- and 364-day securities were capped at 5.945 percent and 6.325 percent, respectively. The auction was 2.7 times oversubscribed, with total tenders reaching PHP40.4 billion. The BTr raised PHP12.2 billion of the PHP15 billion offering.

Malacañang in no rush to implement the much debated Landbank-DBP union

The planned merger of Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines may be facing more hurdles than anticipated as Malacañang asked the overseer of state-run firms to study the proposal some more. In a memorandum dated July 26, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said the Office of the President (OP) was deferring action on a request of the Governance Commission for Government-owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) for the issuance of an executive order that approves the Landbank-DBP merger, with Landbank as the surviving entity.

NAIA bidding invite likely out next week 

An invitation to bid for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) could be issued next week, a Cabinet official said on Monday. The Department of Transportation and the Manila International Airport Authority will serve as co-grantors for the project, which will involve a 15-year concession with an option for a 10-year extension and cost P170.6 billion. The NAIA privatization project aims to address longstanding issues such as inadequate capacity at passenger terminals and restricted aircraft movement. It aims to increase annual airport capacity from 35 million to at least 62 million passengers and raise air traffic movement from 40 to 48 per hour. The project is also expected to improve the overall passenger experience and service quality to prevent long queues, lengthy waiting times and other inconveniences. The aim is to enhance the NAIA's role as a key economic and tourism driver for Metro Manila and the entire country.

STUDY UNDERWAY: Salary increase for govt workers eyed

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is setting its sights on bolstering the remuneration package for government employees, with plans for possible salary structure improvements, allowances and enhanced benefits. In a statement, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said yesterday P48 million has been allocated from the approved Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) budget this year, aimed specifically at engaging specialist services for a comprehensive review of the Compensation and Position Classification System for the government sector. The DBM has also earmarked P1.368 billion in the proposed National Expenditure Program for 2024 to support an increase of P1,000 in the uniform or clothing allowance for more than 1.3 million government employees. The DBM said it is also conducting a parallel review of the various benefits received across different ranks of the civil service spectrum to determine if there is a need to adjust them.

Fisherfolk call for EO to firm up reclamation freeze order 

Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), an organization of small fisherfolk, urged the government to issue an executive order (EO) to add teeth to its suspension of reclamation projects on Manila Bay. The organization wants the government “to release an executive order or immediate declaration of Manila Bay as reclamation-free zone,” Pamalakaya National Chairman Fernando L. Hicap said via telephone. Last week, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga said that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. has ordered the suspension of 22 reclamation projects in Manila Bay, pending a review of their environmental compliance and social impact. Mr. Hicap said the organization is not satisfied with the pronouncement and that the President should issue an EO as a way to block all ongoing Manila Bay reclamation projects.

ERC suspends order allowing NGCP to pass on franchise tax 

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it suspended an order that had allowed the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to pass on its franchise tax to consumers. The ERC said once the suspension is formalized, the NGCP franchise tax can no longer be passed on to consumers in the next billing month, the ERC said in a statement on Thursday. ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Monalisa C. Dimalanta said the decision will result in a reduction of about one centavo per kilowatt-hour. In July, the ERC said that it will review a 2011 order that had allowed the NGCP to pass on to consumers its 3% franchise tax.

Reserves to cushion impact from spillovers 

Ample gross international reserves (GIR) are needed to cushion the impact of an expected global slowdown, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Eli Remolona said. The country's gross international reserves stood at $99.7 billion in July, based on the latest BSP data, slightly higher than the $99.4 billion a month earlier. These consist of foreign investments, gold, foreign exchange, a reserve position in the International Monetary Fund and special drawing rights.GIR hit a high of $110.12 billion in 2020 but fell to as low as $95.1 billion in late 2022 as the central bank moved to defend the peso, which had fallen to a record low of P59 against the dollar amid aggressive monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve (Fed).

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