ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | August 25, 2023

August 25, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

A golden opportunity for the Philippines 

Many of the positive attributes of the country as seen by Europe are things we have heard before. The Philippines is a large market, the second-largest behind Indonesia in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The economy is sound; the lower-than-expected GDP growth of 4.3 percent in the second quarter of the year, while perhaps disappointing in some respects, was nevertheless among the highest in the region. We have a young, technology-savvy population. And the Philippines is viewed as already being strong in a couple of areas of interest to European investors, such as the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and electronics manufacturing.

PH 'green' energy draws EU interest

The country's renewable energy sector has drawn more interest from European investors after the government removed the foreign ownership limits on RE projects, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) chief said. ECCP President Paulo Duarte said the RE sector is one of the key areas where the Europeans recently showed "strong interest." Duarte pointed out that the full liberalization of the RE sector and the recent "roadshow" of Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual in Europe attracted foreigners to invest in solar, wind and hydro systems in the Philippines. The ECCP signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with The Manila Times, which will provide the former with a space in the weekly columns of the newspaper's business section.

Philippines may still grow by 6% this year, says Remolona 

Despite a disappointing second quarter output, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Eli Remolona Jr. expects the domestic economy to pick up pace and attain a full-year growth rate of 6 percent, the lower end of the government’s target range for 2023. In a chat with business editors on Tuesday night, Remolona said while 7 percent, the upper end of the target, may no longer be feasible, “we think it (growth) would hit 6 percent.”One distinct factor that had caused the country’s second quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate to soften to 4.3 percent, Remolona explained, was government underspending, which was now being addressed.

More infrastructure projects included in flagship list 

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board has approved the inclusion of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project, Laguindingan airport upgrade, and an agriculture project in the list of priority or infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs). During a Palace briefing yesterday, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the NEDA Board approved the inclusion of three more projects under the list of IFPs, such as the TPLEX Extension Project, the Philippine Rural Development Project Scale Up, and the Upgrade, Expansion, Operation and Maintenance of the Laguindingan International Airport Project in Misamis Oriental.

PEZA sees amendments validating perks won by pre-CREATE locators 

Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Tereso O. Panga said amendments being proposed for the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) implementing rules are expected to strengthen the argument for the validity of incentives granted to locators before CREATE came into force. The departments of Finance and Trade and Industry recently approved the amendment of Rule 18 Section 5 of the CREATE implementing rules and regulations (IRR), which concerns value-added tax (VAT) rules for both domestic market enterprises (DMEs) and registered export enterprises (REEs). Under the amendment, transitory registered DMEs within an ecozone availing of the 5% gross income tax regime may now register as VAT taxpayers.

ADB cites PH economic gains from producing solar photovoltaic 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has cited economic gains for the Philippines should it aspire to establish a solar photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing industry. In its Renewable Energy Manufacturing: Opportunities for Southeast Asia report, scaling the production of solar PV in the country of 3 to 5 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, with around half of the output to be supplied in the domestic market, will have the potential to create significant economic value for the country. The report defined the 3 to 5 GW solar PV manufacturing scale as enabling economies of scale to achieve the “size of prize” by 2030. According to ADB, achieving a scale of 3 to 5 GW will require investment of USD150 million to USD250 million (PHP8.5 billion to PHP14 billion) for three to five years.

'Social safety nets' needed to cushion recent economic shocks

Economists and businessmen agree that the government can employ creative measures to cushion the lingering economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic as well as recent inflation surges. They were reacting to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report, saying high inflation and pandemic-spawned livelihood disruptions are “continuing to push people in Asia and the Pacific into extreme poverty.” In an interview, Carlos Manabat, chair of the economics department at the University of Santo Tomas, said policymakers should help struggling Filipinos raise their household incomes through entrepreneurship. 

PH expected to miss growth, inflation goals

Philippine economic growth will likely fall below target this year while average inflation could also end up higher than currently forecast, an S&P Global Rating economist said. GDP growth slowed to a lower-than-expected 4.3 percent in the April-June period from 6.4 percent in the first quarter, primarily due to a contraction in government spending. With growth at 5.3 percent year to date, analysts have warned that the government's 6.0- to 7.0-percent target could be missed. S&P Global also expects economic growth to come in below target next year, having forecast a 5.9 percent expansion for 2024 due to slower global demand, higher interest rates and the fading out of a post-Covid opening up.

DA seeks higher budget in 2024

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking approval of a P167.46-billion for next year,  6.15 percent higher than this year’s budget of P158.16 billion. DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban told a Congressional hearing yesterday  investments related to rice and fisheries production account for bulk of the increases and include “increased budgetary outlays for various activities that support the sustainable production of high value crops and corn.” The DA originally sought for P400 billion but the Department of Budget and Management only allotted P167 billion. The group added said DA’s budget proposal is “very meager compared to the budget allocation for military spending, debt interest payments and infrastructure.”

Investors place higher value on renewables

The renewable energy (RE) sector has seen greater interest and notable growth as investors are willing to place a higher value in cleaner energy technology compared to traditional utilities, according to a report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The report, Business Model Innovations Drive the Philippines’ Energy Transition, that was released yesterday said to grow faster and attract even more financiers, companies should focus further on renewables and execute their business plans. IEEFA said the government’s Green Energy Auction Program to generate maximum tariffs via competitive bidding for RE projects also grants cleaner technologies with more value.

Marcos OKs interconnection project to expand grid

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved the proposed interisland connection of Palawan and Mindoro Islands to expand the national grid. The chief executive made the decision, when he met with officials of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Power Corporation (NPC) in Malacañang on Tuesday. The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) had proposed the interconnection project with the use of submarine cables to improve the power supply in Palawan by connecting it to the main Luzon power grid. 

Neda to harness PRiSM for food inflation management

The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is studying the potential of utilizing the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM) as a tool to inform the government’s measures to manage inflation, particularly for the country’s staple. Neda sent a research team to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, to evaluate PRiSM. Based on the discussions, Neda found that PRiSM could provide validated rice field data to their registered stakeholders every 7th day of the succeeding month compared to the quarterly Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data.

IACAT to implement stricter departure protocols for overseas travelers in September 

The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) announced that it would be implementing stricter departure formalities starting next month in order to stem the rising number of human trafficking victims. The Department of Justice (DOJ), however, assured that the 2023 Revised IACAT Guidelines on Departure Formalities for International-Bound Filipino Passengers would not curtail the constitutionally guaranteed right of the people to travel “but to serve as a protective bulwark shielding our fellow citizens from the dire perils of human trafficking.” The revised guidelines will take effect on September 3. DOJ spokesman Jose Dominic Clavano said the revision was intended to encompass existing policies upheld by member agencies while conscientiously addressing emergent trends in human trafficking.

Government eyes October timeline for next-round salary hike 

The government is eyeing to complete the study for the possible next round of salary increase for public employees by October, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). This, after the initial comprehensive review conducted by the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) on the Compensation and Position Classification System “failed.”  “So they will repeat it hopefully, and we will have the study by October,”  DBM Undersecretary Leo Angelo M. Garcia said in a news briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday. The study, DBM said, will be necessary so it can determine the amount necessary for the proposed enhanced compensation package for government workers next year. This, after the last tranche of the salary increase under the Republic Act 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 was implemented last January. DBM has allocated an initial P16.95 billion for the planned compensation enhancement for public sector employees next year under its proposed 2024 budget.

ICT, satellite tech eyed to shape inflation policies

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is looking into the potential of the Philippine Rice Information System (PRiSM) in providing valuable insights for the government’s measures to manage inflation. During a study visit to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), it was pointed out that PRiSM can provide validated rice field data to their registered stakeholders every seventh day of the succeeding month, compared to the quarterly PSA data. PRiSM began full operation in 2018 to assist the Department of Agriculture in making well-informed decisions for policy formulation and planning. It collects rice field data through satellite Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensing, which is unaffected by cloud cover. NEDA said the data collected through the SAR has up to 95 percent overall accuracy vis-a-vis the ground validated data, with the help of PRiSM data collectors in the field across the country using a mobile application to record and upload data more efficiently.

Pandemic, inflation push 68 million more in Asia into extreme poverty 

The coronavirus pandemic and rise in cost of living have pushed close to 70 million more people in developing Asia into extreme poverty as of last year, the Asian Development Bank said, eroding efforts to combat deprivation. In a new report released on Thursday, the ADB said an estimated 155.2 million people in developing Asia, or 3.9 percent of the region’s population, lived in extreme poverty as of last year, 67.8 million more than would have been the case without the health and cost-of-living crises.Developing Asia was on track to grow 4.8 percent this year from a year earlier, faster than the previous year’s 4.2 percent expansion, the ADB said in July.But while economies in developing Asia were expected to make progress in addressing poverty, the ADB said 30.3 percent of the region’s population, or about 1.26 billion people, will still be considered economically vulnerable by 2030.

CCAP backs BSP's move to retain interest rate cap 

The Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP) on Wednesday expressed support to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monetary Board's decision to maintain the interest rate ceiling on credit cards. The BSP on Tuesday disclosed that the maximum interest rate or finance charge on the unpaid outstanding credit card balance of a cardholder remains at 3 percent per month or 36 percent per year. The monthly add-on rates that credit card issuers can charge on installment loans are maintained at a maximum rate of 1 percent while the maximum processing fee on the availment of credit card cash advances stays at PHP200 per transaction. The ceilings on credit card transactions are subject to review following a six-month period. The CCAP said it is collaborating with the BSP in assessing the interest rate ceilings.

Public bidding for NAIA rehabilitation now open 

The Department of Transportation (DoTr) and the Manila International Airport Authority issued on Wednesday the invitation to bid for the contract to rehabilitate, operate, optimize and maintain the NAIA. The contract will initially cover 15 years but can be extended by another 10 years. This project will be under a rehabilitate-operate-expand-transfer arrangement, as provided for under the Build-Operate-and-Transfer Law. he NAIA PPP project, which was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board in July, aims to increase the current annual passenger capacity of the airport from 35 million to at least 62 million. Under the indicative schedule, bids for the NAIA PPP project should be submitted on Dec. 27.

PH investment ecosystem showcased to Indonesian biz community

 Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno has assured the Indonesian business community that the Marcos administration is investing in public infrastructure, digitalization and human capital development for inclusive and sustainable economic growth. In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Diokno made the assurance during the Philippine Investment and Financial Briefing on Aug. 23 at the Philippine Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.He said some of the government measures implemented to make the country's policy environment conducive to public-private partnerships (PPPs) include revising the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) law to strengthen the financial viability and bankability of PPP projects; improving the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) guidelines on PPP approvals to ensure faster processing and approval of PPPs; and enhancing the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Joint Venture (JV) Guidelines to align with the revised IRR of the BOT law and the proposed PPP Act.

PBBM supports PSAC’s recommendation for easier visa processing for foreign students 

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. backs the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) recommendation to streamline visa applications for tourists and international students as well as the adoption of online platforms to make the Philippines attractive to foreign tourists. The President met with the PSAC Tourism Sector Group on Thursday in its 4th meeting at the Malacañan Palace, where the advisory council presented updates on previous recommendations and new proposals regarding the tourism industry. Among the PSAC’s new recommendations are the standardization of information application procedure and information on student visa requirements and accreditation of clinics for medical clearance and certificate requirements for foreign students. Also part of the recommendations is allowing online submission of student visa applications. The trade department said that the documentary requirements may be reviewed to simplify and reduce the number of requirements. It also recommended the automatic accreditation of at least Level 3 hospitals nationwide for tourists’ medical clearances.

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