ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | August 18, 2023

August 18, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

Approved foreign investment pledges jump by 28% in Q2

Foreign Investment Pledges approved by investment promotion agencies (IPAs) rose by an annual 27.8% in the second quarter, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed. Total foreign investment commitments jumped to P59.09 billion in the April-to-June period from the P46.26 billion recorded in the same period last year. This was the lowest level of foreign investment commitments since the P46.26 billion in the second quarter of 2022.The growth in foreign investment pledges was also the slowest since the 22.4% contraction in the third quarter of 2022.

Growth target still achievable, says NEDA 

NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said he believes the GDP growth target of six to seven percent for this year is still within reach. The Philippine economy grew at a slower pace of 4.3 percent in the second quarter compared to the 6.4 percent expansion in the first quarter this year, and 7.5 percent in the second quarter last year. This brought the average growth in the first half to 5.3 percent. Balisacan said the continued deceleration in inflation, or the rate of increase in prices of goods and services, would buoy consumer demand, investments, and the rest of the economy in the second semester

Auto industry starts second half of year with 33% sales surge 

Sales of automotive vehicles in the Philippines continued to rise at a double-digit pace in July, growing by 33.3 percent and signaling a strong start for the industry for the second half of the year. A joint report from the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (Campi) and the Truck Manufacturers Association showed that new vehicle sales reached 37,086 units in July, higher than the 27,813 units recorded in the same period a year ago. The July sales performance brought the local sector’s year-to-date sales to 239,501 units, indicating a growth rate of 31.1 percent compared to the previous year.

PHL recommends 500,000 MT rice imports to cover El Niño-related crop losses 

The Philippines’ Department of Agriculture is recommending additional rice importation of about 500,000 metric tons to cover potential crop losses from the El Niño dry weather condition, a senior official said on Wednesday. The additional importation by one of the world’s biggest buyers of the staple grain, which should be brought in by private traders, must arrive between November and January next year, Agriculture Undersecretary Mercedita A. Sombilla said. The recommended volume is on top of the additional approved rice purchases by private traders this year, of which 300,000 metric tons were supposed to arrive later this month, and another 300,000 metric tons in September. Ms. Sombilla said 89% of the Philippines’ rice imports so far this year came from Vietnam, with the rest from Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan and India, among others.

Updated DBM manual expected to ease LGU shift to digitalized budget process 

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said its updated Budget Operations Manual (BOM) for local government units (LGUs) will help provinces, cities, and municipalities adopt an eBudget system developed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The manual will help LGUs “improve and systematize the methods, techniques, and procedures employed in budget preparation, authorization, execution, and accountability,” as well as provide “technical assistance in local government budgeting,” the DBM said.  According to the DBM, the electronic Budget (eBudget) System for LGUs will assist local governments in preparing the different forms required in the budgeting process. The system will also facilitate the online submission of annual or supplemental budget reports and other reports.

MAP pitches tariff reforms for agri-food value chains |

The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) wants the government to reform the tariff structure of the Philippines in a way that strengthens sustainable agri-food value chains, especially domestic agricultural value-adding enterprises including processing, storage, and logistics, among others. In particular, the business group advocated a rational tariff structure where tariff rates on inputs do not exceed those on finished products. In a position paper dated August 3, 2023 but distributed to reporters on August 15, MAP said the government should review and reform the tariff structure of the Philippines amid the ongoing move by the Tariff Commission (TC) and the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

STARTING 2024: P17B set for govt workers’ salary hike

Government employees could be looking at a salary hike under the proposed 2024 national budget, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said. DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the adjustments in compensation packages in the public sector may be considered starting next year. In January, the last tranche of salary hikes for government employees was implemented, as mandated by Republic Act 11466, or the Salary Standardization Law of 2019, series of 2020. The modified salary schedule for civil personnel was implemented in four tranches, from 2020 to 2023. The budget secretary earlier said a sum of P48 million has been allocated from the approved Governance Commission for Government-Owned and -Controlled Corporations budget this year, aimed specifically at engaging specialist services for a comprehensive review of the Compensation and Position Classification System for the government sector.

NEDA: Imports temporary, focused on raising output 

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the government’s strategy for the economy is ultimately geared towards raising domestic production, adding that it is temporarily resorting to imports to stabilize prices. Mr. Balisacan said the government supports enhanced research and is coordinating agency efforts to raise productivity. Mr. Balisacan said the government must not see imports as a permanent solution, citing the need to invest in logistics and provide technological support to farmers.

PHL enterprises told: tap A.I. to drive biz growth

Philippine enterprises are encouraged to leverage on artificial intelligence (AI) built on confidence and transparency that can bring real value to their entities. Businesses, especially small-scale ones, are still quite afraid of AI without knowing that they will be left behind their competitors who have already embraced this cutting-edge technology, according to IBM Philippines President and Technology Leader Aileen Judan-Jiao. As a catchup, companies ought to adopt the hottest technology trend today called the generative AI that has been quickly gaining traction amongst the businesses, professionals and consumers. Additionally, it can be of use for the agriculture and transport sectors. Yambao said: “The Philippines is an agricultural country and we haven’t really utilized that. So now we can check up the crops, the yield, even irrigation and fertilization, [through AI drones].” Meanwhile, AI can help address the pressing problem of climate change and dealing with natural disaster preparedness, among other environmental issues.

Airfares to go up next month

People planning to travel by plane in September must prepare for higher fares following the hike in fuel surcharge approved by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB). In an advisory, CAB said it is raising the fuel surcharge that airlines can collect from their passengers to Level 6 next month, from Level 4 this month. Under Level 6, travelers must pay a fuel surcharge of P185 to P665 for domestic trips and P610.37 to P4,538.4 for international flights. When compared, this is just 190,000 short of the 22.41 million travelers the airport received in the first half of 2019. The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) believes that NAIA is headed in the right direction in terms of recovery, especially as the overseas market is picking up pace with the lifting of border restrictions. MIAA officer in charge Bryan Co said Filipinos are growing eager to travel to complete the trips they had to cancel at the height of the pandemic.

DoE: EV registrations could rise 30% this year

Registrations of electric vehicles (EVs) could rise 30% this year, the Department of Energy (DoE) said, citing projections from preliminary data. Patrick T. Aquino, director of the DoE’s Energy Utilization Management Bureau, said that according to Land Transportation Office data EV registrations totaled 9,666 in 2022.  According to Mr. Aquino, 2022 registrations consisted of 8,105 motorcycles and tricycles, 1,168 sport utility vehicles and other utility vehicles, 347 cars, 44 buses, and two trailer trucks.  He said the government has an EV registration target of around 100,000 by the end of the Marcos administration. “We hope the number will be 100,000 more or less by 2028,” Mr. Aquino said, with most of the total consisting of electric motorcycles. The Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) reported that 2,536 EV units were sold during the first quarter, exceeding the 426 sold in the entirety of 2022.

Curbing unemployment through investments in job-creating industries 

The recent release of data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) underscores the urgent need to address the country’s unemployment rate. According to PSA reports, in June 2023, the number of unemployed Filipinos increased by 159,000 on a month-on-month basis, bringing the total to 2.3 million. Unemployment rate inched up to 4.5 percent, slightly higher than 4.3 percent registered in May.Based on its latest employment data, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the government continues to push labor upskilling, putting emphasis on equipping the youth with the necessary skills needed for the workforce.

Agrarian debt condonation IRR due in Palace by mid-September

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is expected to receive the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the New Agrarian Reform Emancipation Act by the second week of September, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) said on Thursday. “We intend to finish the IRR by Sept. 10 and present it to the President by Sept. 12 or Sept. 13,” Agrarian Reform Secretary Conrado M. Estrella III told the House Appropriations Committee reviewing the proposed P5.768-trillion 2024 national budget.He said the committee tasked to create the IRR convened on Monday. Mr. Marcos signed Republic Act No. 11953 on July 7, which will condone debt incurred by land awardees. The law is expected to help 610,054 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) holding 1.17 million hectares of land.

NEDA: Imports temporary, focused on raising output

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the government’s strategy for the economy is ultimately geared towards raising domestic production, adding that it is temporarily resorting to imports to stabilize prices. NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, speaking before a Senate panel, was addressing remarks by Senators on the need to reduce reliance on imports.

PHL to issue permits for 35,000 MT worth of imported fish 

The Department of Agriculture (DA) signaled plans to import 35,000 metric tons (MT) of fish by outlining the procedures for obtaining sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs) and certificates of necessity to import (CNI) in those volumes, which it intends to distribute to commercial fishing companies and fishing associations affected by closed fishing seasons in various parts of the country. In a memorandum circular dated Aug. 15, the DA said that the species to be imported are frozen round scad or galunggong, bigeye scad, mackerel, bonito, and moonfish for sale in wet markets.

ERC pleased with NGCP explanation on project delays

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) says it is pleased with the detailed explanation submitted by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) on the delays in the completion of its various transmission projects. The ERC had issued a show-cause order to NGCP on July 4, requiring an explanation for delays in the completion of 37 projects, in which 26 are still uncompleted and three have yet to commence.Aside from right-of-way issues, the COVID pandemic had also been previously cited by NGCP as among the factors that affected the completion of some of its projects.NGCP said that while access to funding was never a problem for the company, external limitations, including regulatory caps on capital expenditures, protracted permitting processes by the local government units, and difficult rights-of-way procurement have been the primary roadblocks to project completion.

DOTr seeks P1.4 billion for port expansion 

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will require a minimum of P1.4 billion to expand and upgrade a total of 14 roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) ports across the Philippines. Transportation Assistant Secretary Julius Yano said the DOTr is searching for financing partners and technical consultants who would work on the improvement of 14 ports connecting the three nautical highways. Based on estimates, Yano said the DOTr would require at least P100 million each to complete all of the upgrades.Yano said the DOTr wants to finalize the feasibility studies for the projects as soon as possible to include their cost in the 2025 budget. The agency sees the need to expedite the delivery of these plans given the contribution of the RoRo industry to trade and travel. For one, Yano said the government seeks to promote the use of nautical highways for interisland connectivity. Likewise, the DOTr believes that the nautical highways can be maximized to scale up cargo transport across the islands, particularly between Luzon and Visayas.

Milled rice output may improve this year 

The Philippine milled rice production is projected to slightly improve this market year (MY) ending June on favorable weather conditions and bigger planted area, according to  the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In its latest World Agricultural Production report, the USDA said the Philippines’ milled rice production may reach 12.6 million metric tons (MT) in MY 2022-2023, up one percent from 12.54 million MT from MY 2021-2022. USDA’s market year begins in July while the Philippine rice is cultivated throughout the year, with rice output produced quarterly. The highest rice outputs are accumulated in quarters four and one, which represent about 38 and 23 percent of total production, respectively. The USDA said it raised its production forecast due to higher-than-expected second quarter output.

DOTr signs consultancy contracts for 4 transport flagship projects

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has signed a consultancy contract for the implementation of four infrastructure flagship projects (IFP), particularly for the busway, railway, ferry and bus rapid transit (BRT) systems.  DOTr signed the contract for consultancy services with the Public-Private Partnership Center, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Isla Lipana & Co (PwC Philippines) and SyCip Gorres Velayo & Co. for the operation and maintenance and feasibility studies of its IFPs. These projects are the Cebu BRT, National Capital Region (NCR) Edsa Busway, Manila Bay-Pasig River-Laguna Lake Ferry System and the North Long Haul Inter-Regional Railway.

World-renowned metal products maker investing P300M in PH 

Aboitiz InfraCapital (AIC) Economic Estates on Thursday said that a Chinese high-precision metal products manufacturer is investing in one of its economic zones. AIC shared to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that Steelwell Industrial Hardware is investing PHP300 million to construct a 1.5-hectare manufacturing facility inside the LIMA Estate in Malvar, Batangas. The Shenzhen-based company is a world-renowned producer of metal products for industrial use. Early this year, AIC started the construction of the fourth phase of LIMA Estate, which is a 96-hectare industrial hub. AIC added that there is a strong presence of Chinese locators across its Economic Estates.

47-ha technohub to rise at New Clark City

A technology hub will rise inside the New Clark City, the flagship project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). In a statement Thursday, the BCDA said it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Tarlac provincial government to develop a technology hub in a 47-hectare parcel of land at New Clark City. The MOU was signed by BCDA president and chief executive officer Joshua Bingcang and Tarlac Governor Susan Yap at Camp John Hay, Baguio City last August 11. Under the MOU, the allotted land for the technology hub inside the new smart and green metropolis in Central Luzon shall be used to house complex technological facilities like hyperscale data centers as well as establishing and institutionalizing a hub for agro-industry, research and development, and logistics. The deal also grants usufructuary rights to the Tarlac provincial government for the use of the parcel of land at New Clark City.

BSP maintains policy rates

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas' policy-making Monetary Board (MB) kept for the third rate-setting meeting the BSP's key rates on the back of the projected continued slowdown of domestic inflation. With the latest decision, the BSP's overnight reverse repurchase facility remained at 6.25 percent, overnight deposit rate at 5.75 percent, and overnight lending rate at 6.75 percent.

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