ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | October 20, 2023

October 20, 2023

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ECCP at Work

Marcos suspends Maharlika fund implementation

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has stopped the rapid push to bring to life the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) this year, directing the key people concerned to stand down and further study the plan. Land Bank of the Philippines, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin said that “upon the directive of the president, the Treasurer of the Philippines, in coordination with [Landbank] and DBP, is hereby directed to suspend the implementation of the IRR (implementing rules and regulations)” of the law that created the MIF. 

Policies needed to close digital divide – DTI

Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba emphasized the need to equip the country’s workforce to be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities brought by AI. The trade official explained that another challenge is the skills divide, noting that students and educators may have varying levels of digital literacy and proficiency that would affect their ability to effectively use AI tools. Aldaba stressed the need for policies that will address the digital divide, ensuring equitable access to technology and digital learning resources for all students teacher training, saying this is crucial for a developing country like the Philippines.

FOREIGN PLEDGES  HIT P427B: BOI investments double to P734B

The Board of Investments (BOI) has approved  P734 billion  investments from January to September, up by 102 percent from P362 billion during the same period last year, according to Ceferino Rodolfo, undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Rodolfo said  80 percent of the approved investments or  P427 billion are foreign direct investments (FDIs). He said FDIs now account for 60 percent of the total direct investments, up from 20 percent last year while the share of local investments has gone down to 40 percent from 80 percent last year.

Govt aims to boost digital finance

The government is determined to fuel the country’s growth momentum by building a policy environment that is conducive to sustainable digital finance, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said. “We are establishing a fertile policy space that allows for a sustainable digital finance ecosystem to take root and thrive,” Diokno said. With this, Diokno shared five Infrastructure Flagship Projects that will boost digital connectivity: Digital Transformation Centers, National Government Data Center, National Broadband Program, Road Transport Information Technology Infrastructure Project Phase II and the Philippine Identification System.

CAAP taps intl body  on aviation safety

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) entered into a management service agreement with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Under the agreement, CAAP will receive assistance to achieve higher strategic and compliance outcomes for aviation safety, capacity and efficiency, security and facilitation, environmental protection and economic development through ICAO’s Capacity Development and Implementation Bureau.

IMF: 6% and above growth will have to wait till 2025

Based on the Regional Economic Outlook (REO) of the Asia and the Pacific region report released on Wednesday, IMF said the country is expected to post growth of 6.1 percent in 2025. “This year’s growth is a bit weaker for many factors including, you know, kind of initially underspending in the government of course, the impact of monetary tightening and the weaker external global environment which is very similar to many Asean countries. For next year we are expecting a pickup because you know, service exports are doing quite well,” IMF Asia Pacific Department Division Chief of regional Studies Shanaka Peiris said. However, Peiris said inflation is expected to remain a concern in the Philippines. He reiterated the IMF views that the government’s inflation target will not be met until the first quarter of next year.

EV industry anticipating upside surprise in vehicle penetration over next 5-10 years

In an appearance on ANC’s Market Edge program, EVAP President Edmund A. Araga said new EV companies entering the market as well as expansion by current entrants will drive the expansion. In the first quarter, Mr. Araga said that the EV industry booked a 15% year-on-year increase in sales to 2,536 units. Citing a report from the Land Transportation Office Operations Division, he said that the number of EVs registered last year was 15,300. However, Mr. Araga said adoption remains hindered by mistrust of new technology and the difficulty of shipping units in. He added that it remains difficult to ship EVs into the country. “There are a lot of lined up orders… that (dealers) have to address,” he said.

New jobs and offshoring seen to help boost IT-BPM job generation

Amit Jagga, senior vice-president and country leader for the Philippines of IT-BPO company Concentrix, said that the good part is that the industry has already been able to achieve its target for 2022 as stated in the industry roadmap of IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP). Under the roadmap, the IBPAP hopes to create 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2028. “The number of new skills that are coming into the Philippines, like generative artificial intelligence, is generating new jobs for the Philippines as we are getting more and more projects in that area,” Mr. Jagga said. “Philippines is one of the popular hubs across the world from an offshoring arbitrant’s perspective so that is also helping the Philippines,” he said.

Eastern Communications launches new threat detector

As the Philippines struggles to deal with data breaches, Eastern Communications has brought in a cybersecurity solution that promises to detect and block even the most advanced and complex threat. Eastern Communications has introduced Sophos Central Intercept X Advanced (CIXA) to the market, expanding its menu of cybersecurity products available to enterprises. The solution combines advanced endpoint detection and response with anti-malware protection to spot cybersecurity vulnerabilities and block malicious attempts. Likewise, it employs machine learning, allowing it to understand new forms of threats and risks.

AC Motors partners with Bosch PH to open 20 new outlets in 2024 

For his part, Bosch Automotive Aftermarket ASEAN Vice President Marcio Coelho said, “we are proud to embark on the journey alongside our strong partner the Ayala Group, to reshape the car service scene today in the Philippines by incorporating integrated vehicle technologies and expand our global network of independent workshops, today already at 12,000 BCS across 150 countries.” “Together with AC Motors, we stand as a formidable proponent not just in prolonging a vehicle’s life, but in taking action to promote road safety by making effective, smart, and convenient maintenance easily accessible to everyone,” Bosch Philippines Managing Director Paulo Duarte said.

Cebu Pacific to place $12-B order for 100-150 aircraft

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific—which is looking at almost tripling its passenger volume in the next decade—is making an aggressive move to order 100 to 150 new aircraft worth about $12 billion from either Airbus or Boeing as it gears up for the projected growth in air travel amid ongoing regional airport projects. Michael Szucs, CEO of the Gokongwei-led airline, told the Inquirer on Tuesday that the order—the biggest one in Philippine aviation history—will be lodged on Friday to both jet manufacturers. Cebu Pacific wants to secure either Airbus’ A320 and A321 units or Boeing 737s. Proposals from Airbus and Boeing are expected to come in before the year ends. By the first quarter next year, Szucs said the airline would name the winner after evaluating which one would result in the “best economic outcome.”

Cash-free expo to push digital payments on small businesses

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Tuesday that it signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry to host the Cashless Expo 2023. The expo aims to push digitalization and financial inclusion for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), allowing them to grow their businesses through digital payments, BSP Deputy Governor and Payments and Currency Management Sector Head Mamerto E. Tangonan said in a speech on Tuesday. The expo supports the BSP’s Digital Payments Transformation Roadmap, which aims to digitize 50% of retail transactions by volume and value and to bring the banked population to 70% of all adults by the end of this year.

Sugar prices seen easing

“Given the lower mill gate prices of sugar at the start of the current crop year 2023-2024, which started in September 1, there should be downward adjustments in retail sugar prices,” said Jesus Barrera, PSMA executive director, in a statement. However, Barrera said “there is a lag time for the retail market to mirror lower mill gate prices as the sugar moves through the supply pipeline but nevertheless, there should be market adjustments in the retail prices. Otherwise, the drop in farm gate prices do not trickle down and benefit consumers.” September 10 and slightly went down to P2,702.73 per LKg on September 17. The group added sugar price at mill site on October 12 shows farm gate average prices sliding to slightly above P2,500 per LKg with only one mill selling at P2,700 per bag.

PHL seeks $5.7B worth of WB loans

In a statement, the DoF said Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno met with World Bank Group (WBG) Managing Director for Operations Anna Bjerde to discuss the programs and projects being considered for financing from fiscal year 2024 to 2025 and onwards. “A total of 20 pipeline loans amounting to $5.677 billion are expected to be signed between the Philippines and the WBG,” the DoF said. The $5.677 billion worth of loans will be focused on projects involved in “digital transformation, disaster risk management, climate, transportation, and energy, among others.” Ms. Bjerde was quoted by the DoF as saying the World Bank is “finding ways to speed up the approval processes and execution of the projects, which is key to ensuring that countries benefit sooner and development objectives are delivered quicker and better.”

PPA readies ports for cruise tourism boom

The  Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) said it has started building ports that are dedicated for cruise operations, as it anticipates an influx of tourists following the country’s win as the “Best Cruise Destination in Asia 2023” at the latest World Cruise awards. PPA General Manager Jay Santiago said the agency has “initiated and continuously conducts improvements of its port facilities, including the construction of dedicated ports for cruise tourism,” as it aims to provide safer and more convenient maritime transportation experience to tourists aboard cruise vessels. He noted that the PPA is expecting 40,000 additional passengers until the end of the year.

PHL posts P1.4T-approved investments under PBBM

In his presentation on the updates on investments leads during a sectoral meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. in Malacañang last Tuesday, DTI Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said several projects, which were approved by investment promotion agencies (IPA) are already set to be realized. “[The] BOI [Board of Investments] and PEZA [Philippine Economic Zone Authority] are building up a good pipeline of approved foreign-invested projects that will eventually be implemented as actual investments,” Pascual said. Citing data from DTI’s IPAs, he said there were $8.4 billion worth of approved investment during the first half of 2023 compared to the $1.1 billion in the same period last year.

PHL unlikely to hit 2024 growth goal

The Philippines is unlikely to hit its 6.5-8% gross domestic product (GDP) growth target in 2024, due to high borrowing costs and increasingly gloomy trade outlook. He noted the dimmer trade outlook and elevated interest rates to tame rising inflation are two major headwinds to the economy’s expansion next year. “We think that the trade cycle downturn has further to run. Growth in both the US and Mainland China, the Philippines’ two largest partners, is set to slow next year, which will limit any recovery in exports,” Mr. Low said.

Group projects EV sales to exceed 6.6M by 2030

EVAP Chairman Ferdinand Raquelsantos told reporters on the sidelines of the media briefing for the 11th Philippine Electric Vehicle Summit (PEVS) that by 2030, most of the manufacturers will no longer churn out combustion engines or ICE. In a televised interview last Wednesday, EVAP President Edmund Araga said, “With the advent of the Electric Vehicle Industry Development [EVIDA] law, there’s about 15 percent increase already starting this year, 2023. And now our projection is I think it would be more than double. Like 5 to 10 years from now, the proliferation and the number of e-vehicles on a roll would be sooner than expected.” To ease the supply woes, he said the group is seeking the approval of the Bureau of Customs on the Import Assessment System for the industry to expedite the shipments of electric vehicles.

Plane fares to rise in November

Airline passengers will have to pay more for their tickets next month after the Civil Aeronautics Board approved a higher fuel surcharge. In an advisory, the regulator announced that it raised the fuel surcharge to Level 7 for November from the current Level 6. For Level 7, passengers will pay a fuel surcharge of P219 to P739 for domestic flights and P722.71 to P5,373.69 for international flights. Airlines have been gearing up for the increasing passenger movement by beefing up their flight capacities for both local and international destinations.

CEB signs 5-year SAF supply deal 

Cebu Pacific (CEB) has signed a partnership with Neste, the world’s leading producer of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), for the supply of Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel for five years. “Carbon emissions are a pressing concern in the aviation industry. To this end, Cebu Pacific has laid out initiatives to address our emissions footprint, with a primary focus on integrating SAF in its operations. This will consequently minimize the environmental impact generated from our flights,” said Alex Reyes, CEB chief strategy officer. CEB said its partnership with Neste signifies its commitment to minimize its environmental impact and providing more sustainable travel for its passengers. This initiative aligns with the global aviation industry’s long-term aspirational goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

September BOP gap, at $414M, is widest since June

The September data was 626.32 percent higher than the $57 million posted in August 2023. However, this was 82 percent lower than the $2.3 billion in September 2022. “The BOP deficit in September 2023 reflected net outflows arising mainly from the National Government’s (NG) payments of its foreign currency debt obligations,” BSP explained. With the deficit in September, the BSP said, the cumulative BOP position registered a surplus of $1.7 billion in the first three quarters of the year. “Based on preliminary data, this development reflected mainly the improvement in the balance of trade and the higher net inflows from personal remittances, trade in services, and foreign borrowings by the NG,” the BSP said.

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