October 27, 2023
ECCP at Work
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that it will be pursuing investment in electric vehicle (EV) technology and seek partnerships in building energy-efficient ships. “Our country also plans to enter the global EV value chain. Climate change has compelled the shift to green products such as EVs,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said in his keynote speech at the 12th Arangkada Philippines Forum on Wednesday. He said the Philippines will push for foreign EV technology transfer, noting the potential to leverage Philippines’ large reserves of key minerals like nickel, copper, and cobalt. He said access to technology will unlock activities like “the assembly of pure EVs, plug-in hybrid EVs, hybrid EVs, and fuel cell EVs.”
The food company behind Mega Sardines also solidified its Mega Bigay Sustansya (MBS) program with its partnership with Reach Out and Feed Philippines Inc. (ROFP), its "long-standing partner responsible for program facilitation," and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, through the Mindanao Organization for Social and Economic Progress for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). MBS 2023 will include a school-based feeding initiative that spans 120 days and will reach DepEd elementary schools in Sto. Tomas, Batangas; Quezon (Lucena, Sariaya, Caluag); Tacloban (Tacloban City, Tanauan, Ormoc); and BARMM. For a "holistic" feeding program, Lim said they would reach out to educate families through teacher-children-parent workshops, offering basic nutrition and meal management training to teachers, parents of beneficiaries and the beneficiaries themselves.
Cebu Pacific is working to establish a long-term supply agreement with green fuel suppliers as the budget carrier targets to operate more flights powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). “The first stage is really to try and integrate these into our operations. A lot of the delivery flights have been partly powered by SAF,” Alexander G. Lao, president and chief commercial officer of Cebu Pacific, told reporters in a press briefing here. “In terms of the supply arrangements, [they] are, as of this time, more exploratory by nature. We are looking at sufficient production. We are looking at how both Shell and Neste will ramp up their aviation fuel production,” Mr. Lao said. For this year, Cebu Pacific said that it is targeting to assess market acceptance and engage with stakeholders to develop future SAF supply ahead of its planned integration into regular commercial flights by 2030.
The Philippine government is looking to lower gasoline prices by urging fuel retailers to increase the ethanol blend to 20% on a voluntary basis, from the current mandatory 10%, the Department of Energy (DoE) said. Increasing the ethanol blend — which the government considers a “price mitigation measure” — could cut gasoline prices by as much as P1 per liter, Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said at a Palace briefing. Mr. Lotilla said the government will focus on ethanol imports, which are “cheaper” than the local ethanol. Local production of ethanol only supports 48% of the current 10% blend, he added, “therefore, the utilization of the highest share of imported ethanol will result in lower pump prices because of the increased blend.” Mr. Lotilla said they have discussed the proposal with local oil companies and hopes to get approval from the Bioefuels Board by end-2023.
The People’s Survival Fund (PSF) Board, which is led by Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, approved new climate adaptation projects worth P539 million. “I commend the Board and its members for its efforts to expedite the approval of the new projects, allowing us to fully utilize the disbursement of one billion pesos allocated to the PSF,” Mr. Diokno said. Established under Republic Act 10174 in 2012, the PSF is an annual fund that finances climate change adaptation programs and projects in the country. It is intended for local government units (LGUs) and accredited local/community organizations to implement climate change adaptation projects that will better equip vulnerable communities to deal with the impacts of climate change.
In a statement on Tuesday, IBPAP President and CEO Jack Madrid said the flagship organization of the IT and Business Process Management (IT-BPM) industry recognizes the need to maintain a “heightened state of alertness,” as there are “inherent” risks from its dependence on digital technologies and systems that host substantial volumes of sensitive data. “The Philippine IT-BPM industry, which is projected to generate revenues of $35.4 billion by the end of 2023, acknowledges that a successful cyberattack could potentially lead to substantial losses,” the IBPAP head said in a statement on Tuesday. Given the vital contribution of technology and the IT-BPM industry to the economy, the organization is urging the government to ensure that robust data privacy and cybersecurity laws are established to deter cyberattacks and threats across sectors. Among these recommendations, Madrid noted, is for the government to approve and implement the National Cybersecurity Plan 2023-2028, which he said outlines the Philippines’s overall strategy in combating cyber threats that could “cripple” the economy and national security.
During a sectoral meeting with the Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday in Malacañang, the Chief Executive said he wants to increase the number of EVs used for mass transport and light cargo vehicles. “So, the President gave emphasis on the need, one, for having the charging stations in place,” Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said in a press briefing. The number of registered EVs is expected to increase this year after the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines (EVAP) reported it sold 2,557 units from January to June, or more than double the 1,072 units, it sold last year. DOE noted Marcos is pushing to popularize the use of EVs since it will allow motorists to reduce their transportation expenses from using vehicles, which use internal combustion engines.
The Monetary Board raised the key rate by 25 basis points to 6.5 percent after what analysts called a “hawkish pause” for four straight meetings. The last time the BSP fired off an off-cycle rate increase was on July 14, 2022, when the depreciation of the peso to record-lows forced monetary authorities to deliver a jumbo 75-bp hike. The MB was not supposed to convene for a policy meeting until Nov 16. However, BSP Governor Eli Remolona Jr. had repeatedly telegraphed to the market a few days ago that the central bank was not ruling out the possibility of additional tightening at an off-cycle meeting to prevent another year of above-target price growth.
In his speech at the DOE-United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Workshop for Offshore Wind (OSW) Development, Lotilla outlined the Philippines’s strategic plans to excel in the global shift towards clean and sustainable energy solutions. The government’s goal is to achieve 35 percent of renewable energy in the power generation mix by 2030, ultimately leading to a clean and sustainable energy future. Lotilla added that the government is now exploring variations of financing that offer a range of energy funding solutions, including a sovereign guarantee from the Philippine Guarantee Corp. With the support of the USAID-Energy Secure Philippines, Lotilla said the government is committed to enhancing the skills of Filipino workers to remain competitive in the global shift towards alternative energy development and technological advances.
“The proposed amendments to the CREATE Act will enhance the incentives, clarify the rules and policies on the grant and administration of incentives to qualified enterprises, and address issues affecting the country’s investment climate,” Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said in a statement. The DOF explained that one of the major reforms of the proposed CREATE to Maximize Opportunities for Reinvigorating the Economy or CREATE MORE bill is the streamlining of the state’s tax refund system for registered business enterprises (REBs). The CREATE MORE bill would have an explicit provision that would exempt transitory RBEs under the 5 percent gross income earned (GIE) regime from all national and local taxes, including VAT and duty incentives, according to the DOF.
In his speech during the 70th founding anniversary of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) in Quezon City, he said a big step towards addressing the issue is by fast tracking the modernization of the sector to boost its productivity. He noted the Department of Agriculture (DA), which he heads, has allocated P4.73 billion for large-scale agriculture and fishery mechanization and modernization. He also stressed the important contribution of private stakeholders, such as the FFF in ensuring the success and sustainability of such agricultural reforms of the DA. “This is the kind of uplifting synergy that we in government anticipate from our private sector partners who ardently champion social justice and actively contribute to our nation’s socioeconomic advancement,” the President said.
The BSP’s index, which tracks the prices of residential housing units, reached 162.2 in the second quarter, 14.1 percent higher compared to its level a year ago. “On a year-on-year basis, residential property prices in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Areas Outside the NCR (AONCR) increased by 15.4 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively, as prices of single-detached/attached houses, townhouses, and condominium units posted annual positive increases,” the BSP said in a report on Thursday. The BSP report also showed that the number of residential real estate loans (RRELs) during the reference quarter declined by 1 percent year-on-year due to a double-digit contraction in the loans acquired in the NCR.
Investment approvals by the Board of Investments (BOI) are expected to hit the original target of P1 trillion within this month, according Trade Undersecretary and BOI managing head Ceferino Rodolfo. “For this month, I think we will reach, by the end of today‘s board meeting we will be able to already reach P1 trillion for total approvals,” Rodolfo said in a panel discussion at the Arangkada forum. On top of the P1 trillion, Rodolfo said BOI was expecting about P300 billion worth of more approvals in the remaining two months of the year. In an interview on the sidelines of the forum, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual also expressed confidence in achieving the P1.5 trillion target.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is now “laying the grounds” to meet the requirements for integrating nuclear sources into the country’s energy mix, its top official said. At the same time, an executive of Aboitiz Power Corp. said the first step to adopting nuclear power would be to amend relevant laws governing the energy sector. Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said the agency had started crafting the National Policy and Strategy for Safety on Nuclear Energy, outlining the long-term commitment to achieving the fundamental safety objectives and applying the essential safety principles set forth by the International Atomic Energy Agency.