November 03, 2023
ECCP at Work
After over a year of taking the helm of the Department of Agriculture (DA), President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has turned over leadership of the agency to fishing tycoon Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. Laurel owns Frabelle Fishing Corporation, a deep sea fishing company supplying fresh, frozen, and processed seafood products to the domestic and international markets. Militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas earlier raised alarm after reports surfaced that Tiu will take over the agency. The group said that Laurel's company is involved in massive conversion in a form of reclamation of coastal areas and municipal waters.
The Philippines will emerge as the fastest growing economy in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) despite an expected slowdown over the next two years, a regional bank said. Malaysian banking giant Maybank said the gross domestic product (GDP) growth of the Philippines may slow to 5.2 percent this year before rebounding to 6.5 percent next year. Despite the slowdown, Maybank said the Philippines would be the fastest-growing economy in the region, with economic growth expected to average four percent this year and 4.7 percent in 2024.
Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the administration is prioritizing a multipronged approach and a whole-of-society strategy to tackle poverty. “We note that the SWS September survey was conducted after a series of typhoons hit the country, which also affected food prices and directly impacted families who lacked the means to cope with the increase in prices,” Balisacan said. To address the immediate needs of those affected, Balisacan said the government has put in motion a range of short-term measures.
The European Union (EU) is providing export opportunities for Philippine agricultural products such as coconut oil, bananas, pineapples, among others, according to the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport). Theresa Sederiosa, chief trade and industry specialist in the Industry Development Division at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Region 7, said key agricultural products eligible for preferential market access to the EU under the GSP+ scheme are coconut oil, bananas, pineapples, tuna, as well as products derived therefrom. Sederiosa also underscored the need for exporters to comply with any product-specific rules that apply to products to be placed on the EU market.
The Department of Trade and Industry is looking to begin by the third quarter next year the pilot phase of the subsidy program for buyers of electric vehicles (EV)—part of the government’s efforts to promote environment-friendly transportation. “This is actually going to be funded by the [United Nations Industrial Development Organization] and the [Global Environment Facility] through a project we have with them,” Trade Undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba said. Aldaba said the government is looking to provide subsidies of P500,000 per unit for EVs in the public utility vehicle sector, P20,000 per unit for three-wheelers and P10,000 per unit for e-bikes.
The Philippines’’ overall agricultural output likely shrank in the third quarter as bad weather affected crop production and farmers grappled with rising costs, analysts said. “The third-quarter agricultural performance could be a contraction close to 1% to 2%,” Roy S. Kempis, retired Pampanga State Agricultural University professor, said. Mr. Kempis said heavy rains in the third quarter caused widespread flooding, which damaged crops and aquaculture assets in several provinces.
“Right now, we have one. It’s an American company. But we need more,” CDC President and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera told reporters last week. She said that some foreign investors have expressed interest in investing in the freeport, “but again, some are looking at our policies.”
Manila Electric Company (Meralco) has started seeking bidders to supply 1,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity needed to meet the growing demand of its customers. “Through its bids and awards committee for power supply agreements, Meralco calls on interested power generation companies to participate in the competitive selection process,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. The competitive selection process aims to find new suppliers for the electricity that was supposed to be supplied by Excellent Energy Resources, Inc. and Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd.
“The air sector is a global industry; it is not a very localized one. So, we do follow regulatory standards. Even if the DoE (Department of Energy) has not set that target, we are bound by international guidelines,” Alexander G. Lao, president and chief commercial officer of Cebu Pacific, said. The budget carrier has committed to help the aviation sector achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, Mr. Lao said. Cebu Pacific is aiming to integrate SAF across its commercial network by 2030 while the company is also working to establish a long-term supply agreement with green fuel suppliers. SAF is being put forward to help decarbonize the aviation industry as it emits lower carbon emissions compared with conventional fossil-based jet fuel.
Cybersecurity awareness in the Philippines has to be scaled up to avert potentially costly and dangerous cyberattacks in the country, even if cybersecurity firm Kaspersky observed a notable decline in web threats so far this year. Vitaly Kamluk, head of Apac Unit of Kaspersky’s Global Research & Analysis Team, said more public awareness campaigns would help the country avoid online fraud and secure personal data on the internet. Kamluk suggested incorporating security-related lessons in schools and on television to help Filipino users recognize and deal with online scams. The telecommunications sector can also help by blacklisting, suspending or disabling accounts involved in spreading spam messages as “they have first-hand access to the channels through which such information is spread.” Kamluk also said the government may want to leverage the community response, a platform that allows citizens to report to local authorities any unwanted or unsolicited digital communication that tricks them into disclosing personal information or clicking links to infect their computers.
Inbound shipments of rice remain unaffected by a global shortage of the commodity, allowing a steady collection of rice tariffs that would be used to fund projects meant to boost local production of the staple grain, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said. Government data showed Customs collected P16.81 billion from rice tariffs in the January-August, up 6 percent year-on-year. This, despite eight-month import volume falling 15 percent compared with a year ago to 2.257 million metric tons (MT) as prices of the staple rose. The amount collected has already exceeded the P10 billion mandated to be allocated to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Law for projects targeted at improving local rice production. But local prices of the main staple have soared to a 14-year high in September despite the imports and a price cap placed on the commodity for roughly a month, stoking headline inflation to a four-month of 6.1 percent during that month.
The country's unemployment rate will likely continue to go down in the remaining months of the year as the demand for the Christmas season will help create more employment, an economist said on Thursday. "Unemployment rate is expected to seasonally ease further towards the Christmas holiday season [as] the seasonal increase in spending, demand, sales would temporarily require the hiring of more workers," Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) chief economist Michael Ricafort told the Philippine News Agency in a Viber message. According to Ricafort, the lifting of coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions is a big contributor to the projected decline in unemployment. Ricafort said, however, that there could be some slight pick up in the unemployment rate after the seasonal increase for temporary employment opportunities during the holiday spending rush. "[This] will be offset though by the fact that there would be more working days and fewer holidays upon crossing the new year," said Ricafort.
Maynilad Water Services Inc. is eyeing to spend P85 billion in capital expenditures (capex) over a 10-year period if its request to extend its concession agreement with the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) until 2047 is approved. “During this 10-year period of time, Maynilad expects to invest an additional P85 billion for capex implementation projects that will deliver the above-described service improvements and benefits,” the west zone concessionaire said. The capex will allow Maynilad to provide potable water to an additional 200,000 people to 11.8 million in 2047 from 11.6 million in 2037 within its concession area. During the additional 10-year period, Maynilad is also looking to implement three additional sewerage treatment plants which will increase sewerage coverage by 12 percentage-points from 76 percent to 88 percent and treat an incremental 221 million liters per day of sewage.
The Philippines continued to register the fastest growth in motor vehicle production in the ASEAN region as the country posted a 33.3-percent jump in the first nine months of the year. Based on data from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Automotive Federation (AAF), 84,929 motor vehicles were assembled in the Philippines from January to September, significantly higher than the 63,718 units recorded in the same period last year. The Philippines also posted the highest growth rate in motor vehicle sales at 26.9 percent, selling a total of 314,843 units, higher than the 248,154 units sold in the same period a year ago. Data from the AAF also showed that the Philippines’ motorcycle and scooter production jumped by 34.6 percent to 942,255 units, the highest growth among ASEAN countries tracked by AAF.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is piloting a digitalized procurement and distribution system this coming dry cropping season to reduce delays in the delivery of seeds, fertilizers and other farm inputs to farmers. In a statement the DA said the new system – a strategy adopted for the Masagana Rice Industry Development Program – would allow nearly real-time payouts to clustered farmers through cashless transactions from the previous 90 days to complete the procurement and distribution of seeds and fertilizers.The new system would identify a municipality where 15 biofertilizer and 15 seed companies would sell their goods to clustered farmers using the Intervention Monitoring Cards (IMC) held by farmers for their purchases, DA undersecretary for rice industry development Leocadio Sebastian said.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the transfer of the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) to the country’s socioeconomic planning agency from the Office of the President (OP) is expected to strengthen the links between human resource development for the government and the implementation of the country’s development blueprint. In a statement, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan welcomed the DAP’s transfer from the OP to the NEDA under Executive Order (EO) 45 issued by Malacañang last week. The EO for the transfer of DAP to NEDA was issued in line with the government’s rightsizing policy.