ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | September 29, 2023

September 29, 2023

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

Aviation stakeholders push for privatization of airports

At the 2023 Aviation Summit organized by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and the Asian Business Aviation Association, speakers all agreed that air travel is recovering quickly and there is a need to upgrade the facilities and the processes in Philippine airports, especially the country’s main gateway, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Senator Grace Poe, who also spoke at the summit, meanwhile lamented that the government has been slow to privatize the airport and even changed minds midway.

Expanded bill vs economic sabotage approved on second House reading

The House of Representatives approved on second reading a measure that seeks to serve as a “permanent deterrent” to hoarders and price manipulators of basic commodities by imposing a life sentence as the maximum penalty for offenders. With the viva voce approval of House Bill 9284, or the Anti-Agri-fishery Commodities and Tobacco Economic Sabotage Act of 2023, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the legislative chamber has just put more teeth into the country’s anti-smuggling law.

PH, UAE hike cargo, passenger services 

The  Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed an agreement that will double the cargo and passenger air services to address the rising travel demand between the two countries. Carmelo Arcilla  executive director of the Civil Aeronautics Board, told reporters on the sidelines of the ECCP Aviation Summit in Makati City yesterday, UAE and the Philippines last week concluded their two-day air talks and agreed to increase the current Manila to UAE flights from 18 to 21 flights, which is on top of the allocations for Cebu and Clark International Airport.

Marcos suspends LGUs' pass-through fees for cargo vehicles 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered local government units (LGUs) to stop charging pass-through fees for vehicles transporting goods using national roads. Marcos issued Executive Order No. 41 directing all LGUs not to collect any toll from cargo vehicles passing through any roads funded by public money. "In the interest of public welfare, all LGUs are further strongly urged to suspend or discontinue the collection of fees such as, but not limited to, sticker fees, discharging fees, delivery fees, market fees, toll fees, entry fees, or Mayor's Permit fees, that are imposed upon all motor vehicles transporting goods and passing through any local public roads constructed and funded by said LGUs," the Palace said in a statement on Friday, quoting the EO.

NEDA chief expects better Q3 growth

Asked if third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) would be better than the second-quarter print, Mr. Balisacan said: “That’s what we’re expecting.” The disappointing second-quarter growth was mainly attributed to weaker consumption and a decline in government spending.Data from the Budget department showed that the cash utilization rate of government agencies hit 93% as of end-August, behind the year-earlier pace of 95%. Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman earlier said that the economy could have expanded by 5.3% in the second quarter if not for underspending.

Cebu Pacific expects ‘green’ fuel cost to drop as suppliers scale up

Alex B. Reyes, chief strategy officer of Cebu Pacific, said the industry remains positive about adopting SAF, though prices remain high for the time being with SAF production still low. “As more investment goes in… as you put technology behind it, you scale up, prices will go down over time,” Mr. Reyes told reporters on the sidelines of the 2023 Aviation Summit. The airline’s short-term target is to incorporate more SAF in regular operations, Mr. Reyes said, adding that for this year almost all of the company’s flights have been fueled with a blend of SAF. “Our view is, let’s develop all of the policies and incentives to make sure that there is a response from the market rather than mandate it, it should really come from the producers. There is nothing like the profit incentive to drive that kind of growth and investments,” Mr. Reyes said.

PHL warned of inflation risk from unrestrained spending

“Given the present level of inflation and the inflationary pressure accumulated in the past three years, the risks associated with maintaining a high public spending strategy are not insignificant and, perhaps more importantly, growing over time,” the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) said in a report this month. In 2022, government expenditures increased by 10.35% to P5.16 trillion. “The government constantly runs the risk of exacerbating inflationary pressures and, by extension, heightening the severity of economic contractions,” the CPBRD said.

PHL climbs to 56th spot in global innovation rankings

The Philippines is one of the middle-income economies that posted a significant improvement in its ranking in the 2023 Global Innovation Index (GII) of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The Philippines is banking on innovation to “sustain rapid and inclusive growth.” The government unveiled its National Innovation Agenda and Strategy Document (NIASD) 2023-2032. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. called on the academe and the private sector to assist the government in implementing the NIASD. He stressed the importance of the support of private stakeholders in mainstreaming the culture of innovation, which he said will be spearheaded by scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, engineers, and private citizens.

DOE: Oil prices show signs of cooling, but markets still volatile

The agency, according to Secretary Raphael Lotilla, observed a downward trend in petroleum prices. “But, of course, you know that it is volatile and we have to always be ready because we are already moving towards the winter months, normally  prices will increase. We have to manage our expectations that this will continuously go down because there are a lot of external factors involved,” Lotilla said. The series of upward price adjustments in the past 11 weeks were triggered by global production cuts recently implemented by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec). Saudi Arabia and Russia have extended their oil export cuts by one million daily and 300,000 barrels per day, respectively.

Marcos rejects rice tariff cut proposal

The chief executive made the decision following a meeting with the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). “It was not the right time to lower the tariff rates because the projection of world rice prices is that it will go down,” he added. The DA earlier noted the spike in rice prices despite the sufficient supply of the staple. The chief executive attributed to smugglers and hoarders who manipulated prices. 

Tourist arrivals near 4M

Data from the DOT showed foreign tourists accounted for 3.65 million of total arrivals led by visitors from South Korea, which numbered 1.04 million to date or 26 percent of total arrivals. Visitors from the United States were next with 674,209 (26 percent) followed by Japan, 219,855 (17 percent); China, 192,312 (4.82 percent) and Australia, 185,653 (4.65 percent). Rounding up the top 10 are visitors from Canada, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia. “We are  optimistic of t meeting the target of 4.8 million if not exceeding it by the end of the year,” Frasco said. She said the liberalization of policies that would ensure the growth of  tourism had resulted to a very strong rebound of the industry in 2022,  having contributed over 6.2 percent of the country’s GDP.

‘Trabaho’ law to boost employment

President Marcos Jr. yesterday signed Republic Act (R.A. No 11962) or the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act  which aims to address unemployment, underemployment, and other challenges in the labor market. The President, in a speech after he signed the law in a simple ceremony in Malacanang, said the  priority legislative measure will improve the employability and competitiveness of Filipino workers   through upskilling and reskilling initiatives and lending further support to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and industry stakeholders. Under the law, the Trabaho Para sa Bayan Inter-Agency Council (TPB-IAC) will be formed and chaired by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general, and co-chaired by the secretaries of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan welcomed the signing of the “Trabaho Para sa Bayan Act” which he said supports the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 of the Marcos administration.

DA's 2024 budget to focus on food security, agri modernization

The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Thursday said its PHP167.5 billion proposed budget for next year would focus on investments that lower production costs, improve the value chains and promote agricultural consolidation and modernization. In a statement, the DA said its budget for 2024 is in line with the directives of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to boost the country’s local agricultural production for food security and economic growth. DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban thanked the lower chamber for the passage of the agency's budget. Meanwhile, Isabela Rep. Antonio “Tonypet” Albano, sponsor of the DA's budget, said the proposed budget “is a clear articulation of the administration’s agenda for agricultural development that is the very foundation of our nation’s sustained growth in the years ahead.”

Sugar farmgate prices drop, but retail still high

Based on the monitoring of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Metro Manila markets, retail prices of refined sugar ranged between P80 and P110 per kilo, washed sugar between P80 and P95 per kilo and brown sugar between P75 and P95 per kilo. “At present, our sugar supply is more than twice the level compared to last year but the retail is still the same. The farmgate price even dropped to P60 (per kilo). Yesterday, farmers were selling at more or less P58 (per kilo),” Azcona said. “It should be the DTI but since the start of February, we have been trying to arrest the retail price and bring down the price. At least we now have P85 (per kilo) in the market, but when you say SRP, it is only the suggested retail price.The enforcement is the problem,” he said.

‘Tawi-Tawi ready for tourism’

Tawi-Tawi’s readiness to welcome tourists, Frasco said, was a product of collaboration with the Department of National Defense and Department of the Interior and Local Government. The partnership would ensure that peace and order in Mindanao is preserved and tourism development is strategic, she added. Assuring Tawi-Tawi local government officials and residents, she said the province was “not far from the heart and mind” of President Marcos who “envisions tourism that is transformative where opportunities are abundant and livelihoods thrive because the government reaches out its hand of collaboration to the farthest reaches of our country so that no destination is left behind in the development of the tourism industry.”

DoE says still on track to hit renewables goal

“In summarizing the clean energy scenario for Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) 2020 to 2040, which is also the minimum for the Philippine Energy Plan for 2023 to 2050, we have 35% of power generation through renewables by 2030 and the RE lines up to 50% by 2040,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella said at an energy investment forum. “We are looking into a greater clean energy scenario where we have the penetration of offshore wind and nuclear, and another scenario where we have a higher penetration of offshore wind technology,” he said. Mr. Fuentebella said that the DoE has “integrated everything” into the updated energy plan which is set to be completed this month.

Funding approved for preliminary work on DoTr main office PPP

“The project is expected to address the current and future office space requirements of the DoTr, as it envisions to have all of its offices housed within a single location to eliminate unnecessary transport and coordination cost, improve internal administrative efficiency, and increase transparency and accountability through enhanced access by the public and other stakeholders of DoTr,” the PPP Center said in a statement. “The DoTr office building project is being proposed for PDMF support to ascertain its viability for PPP implementation,” it added. This will cover the preparation of the pre-feasibility study and preparation of bid documents and assistance, among others.

Visiting IMF team projects faster 2023 and 2024 growth for PHL

During a meeting with the lower chamber last Wednesday, Romualdez said the IMF, led by mission chief Mr. Jay Pereis, claimed the Philippine economy has the potential to catch up in the second half of the year and faster growth in 2024, despite signs of a global slowdown compared to 2023. The moderate pace of 4.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter brought real GDP growth to 5.3 percent for the first semester of the year, but economic managers are confident the target growth rate of 6-7 percent remains attainable. “This forecast is not only encouraging but also a testament to the resilience and hard work of our nation’s people, as well as the sound economic policies and reforms implemented by the administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.,” said Romualdez.

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