November 07, 2023
ECCP at Work
ECCP Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RE & EE) Co-Chairman Jose M. Layug said that biomass would encourage local governments to convert waste to energy. “In the PDP plan, waste management is a big issue in this administration,” said Layug. Aside from waste-to-energy, Layug mentioned the need to regain resource attention towards geothermal energy.
Inflation eased in October to 4.9 percent, slower than the 6.1 percent recorded in September, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. This was even lower than the Bangko Sentral forecast of 5.1 to 5.9 percent. The BSP made an off-cycle move last month, raising its benchmark rate by 25 basis points in a bid to tame inflation, which had quickened for the second straight month.
The Philippine government has finalized the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for its first-ever sovereign wealth fund, less than a month after it was suspended to supposedly improve the fund’s organizational structure. The suspension came after the LANDBANK and DBP had already remitted P50 billion and P25 billion, respectively, for the initial funding of the sovereign wealth fund as required under the law. Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin had said Mr. Marcos had wanted to carefully study the IRR “to ensure that the purpose of the fund will be realized for the country’s development with safeguards in place for transparency and accountability.”
The Philippines is on track to achieve its growth and fiscal targets in the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework (MTFF) due to the “better-than-expected” revenue and spending performance, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said. The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) said it “maintains optimism” on reaching its macroeconomic goals this year. The DBCC said it expects to exceed its revenue target this year.
Analysts said that a recovery in government spending and steady household consumption likely drove the GDP growth in the July-to-September period. However, the pace of economic expansion may have been tempered by persistent inflation and high borrowing costs. Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa, senior economist at ING Bank N.V. Manila, gave a 4.2% GDP growth forecast for the third quarter due to the expected “modest rebound” in government spending.
The government has approved 16 strategic investment projects worth P336.3 billion for green lane processing as of end-October, according to the Board of Investments (BOI). In July, the government officially launched the green lanes for strategic investments, which were established through Executive Order 18 (EO 18). EO 18 is a government-wide response to enhance the ease of doing business in the country by expediting, streamlining, and automating government processes for strategic investments. Moreover, the EO also mandates the DTI-BOI to establish a one stop action center for strategic investments, which shall serve as the single point of entry for all projects qualified as strategic investments.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the land-based transport sector in the Philippines are projected to quadruple by 2050, the World Bank said. “Economic and population growth along with rapid urbanization has led to an increase in the number of vehicles per capita in the Philippines which will grow fivefold between year 2020 and 2025, from 114.7 per 1,000 people to 672.9 vehicles per 1,000 people,” it said in a background paper. The transport sector accounts for 13% of the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emissions and is the largest source of urban pollution, according to the World Bank.
The data showed national government borrowings declined to P84.578 billion in September 2023, the lowest since the P51.601 billion posted in December 2022. The BTr data showed domestic net borrowings contracted 75.248 percent to P92.067 billion in September from the P371.96 billion in the same period last year. Based on BTr data, the government’s borrowings reached P1.66 trillion in the nine-month period.
Even if the Philippines reduces its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75 percent, the country will still fail to meet its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) as well as net-zero targets, according to the World Bank. “Full implementation of the accelerated decarbonization measures will lower GHG emissions from the transport sector, but it will not enable the transport sector to achieve its NDC target, more so achieve net zero emissions,” the report stated.
The government is now close to rolling out its improved electronic visas (e-visa) for travellers from India and other countries. The Department of Tourism (DOT) earlier said it is eyeing the implementation of the e-visa as well as the reduced visa requirements to attract more tourists from its target markets, which include China and India. With the full implementation of the plan, DOT expects to attract 52 million visitors to the country in the next five years.
Undersecretary Ma. Cynthia C. Hernandez, executive director of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center of the Philippines, discussed PPP policies and infrastructure projects that support the transition to a sustainable economy and climate resilient PPPs. The Undersecretary also discussed the PPP project pipeline, which features 6 projects that have been approved during the current administration. These include the following: the UP-PGH Cancer Center Project; the upgrade, expansion and operation and maintenance of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport; the Dialysis Center PPP Project for the Renal Center Facility of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center; the upgrade, expansion and operation and maintenance of the Laguindingan International Airport; and, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) Extension Project.
DTI-Export Marketing Bureau Director Bianca Pearl R. Sykimte said the Marcos administration would face difficulties hitting the country’s $126.8-billion exports target for 2023 as the figure was ideated before geopolitical tensions flared up. Sykimte said it would be “most likely difficult” to hit the exports target under the PEDP because these were crafted in a situation where there were still no geopolitical tensions, inflation was stable and before China posted a less favorable economic recovery. Despite the decline, however, she underscored that the country’s export performance year-to-date is “sort of in the middle of the pack” compared to its peers in the region. “We’re about 6.6 percent down; other Asian countries in terms of export performance are down by 7.8 percent,” Sykimte said citing Malaysia as example.
In a department circular issued last week, the DOE mandated all employees interested in using e-bikes to seek approval from the DOE’s E-Bike Program team, and complete a preorientation seminar and face-to-face training sessions. Training sessions will be facilitated by e-bike program instructors, including e-bike shop technicians, experienced cyclists or “by someone with extensive knowledge and experience with e-bikes.” The DOE e-bike team, led by the Energy Utilization Management Bureau, is also tasked with preparing and implementing related policies, including the user manual of an e-bike. The DOE likewise said regular inspections, battery maintenance, cleaning, parts replacement and servicing would be conducted.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa said officials expect prices to remain stable, predicting that levels won’t reach the P52 per kilogram level as observed earlier. “Because we have enough production in other areas whose prices are not that high, it will balance out even though prices are a bit high in other areas,” he said in a radio interview. “Because we have enough production in other areas whose prices are not that high, it will balance out even though prices are a bit high in other areas,” he said in a radio interview. So far, palay output slightly rose by 0.21 percent to 3.79 million metric tons (MT) in the third quarter of 2023, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed.
Wind, natural gas, and solar power projects make up most of the projects in the medium-term pipeline, the Department of Energy (DoE) reported, citing data on “indicative” projects compiled as of August. Of the 60,362.16 megawatts (MW) of indicative power projects, about 83% or 50,366.96 MW are renewables dominated by wind power projects with total capacity of 34,080.50 MW. Natural gas, solar, and hydropower projects accounted for 8,320 MW, 7,987.60 MW, and 7,811.86 MW, respectively. This was followed by coal-fired power plants with 1,520 MW and geothermal with 413 MW. Meanwhile, oil-based and biomass projects had capacities of 155.20 MW and 74 MW, respectively.
The Board of Investments (BoI) said it has endorsed for expedited permits a P10.85-billion wind power project of Singapore’s The Blue Circle (TBC) in Paete and Kalayaan, Laguna. “TBC, through its subsidiary, is currently developing a wind power project to spearhead its efforts in increasing its presence in the Philippines, with an overall portfolio of more than 2.5 gigawatt worth of renewable energy projects in development in the entire country,” the BoI said. The project — Kalayaan 2 Wind Power Project — will be carried out by Laguna Wind Energy Corp. (LWEC) and is set to start commercial operations by 2026. “In addition, the wind power project aims to harness renewable wind resources to power industries and promote sustainable and greener economic growth,” the BoI said.
“It’s a challenge. We agree it’s going to be a challenge. It will take all of our efforts, whether on government or private sector,” DOE director Patrick Aquino said. Aquino said the government would have to partner closely with the private sector to attain the 50 percent EV target by 2040. “So it’s going to be a whole of society approach,” he said. Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla earlier said the market for EVs in the country has grown significantly and is expected to grow over the coming years. “President Marcos has challenged us to imagine a future where, by 2040, 50 percent or more of all vehicles on our roads are electric, cutting our carbon dioxide emissions by 1.9 million tons,” Lotilla said.
Another prospective bidder has acquired the bidding documents for the P170.6-billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Public-Private Partnership (PPP) deal, the chief of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Monday. During the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (Ejap) Infrastructure Forum, Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said Limak Group of Turkey bought bid documents for the deal, bringing the total number of prospective bidders to eight. “We are now in the process of one-on-one meetings. We’re expecting that they will be able to meet our deadline to submit their proposals by December 27. We have given them the bidding documents —the terms of reference—that they will need to follow, we just hope that all of them will submit their best and final offer by December 27,” he said.
The aviation sector in Asia-Pacific, including the Philippines, is now on its path to full recovery as early as next year as passenger volume continues to show momentum post-lockdown, according to S&P Global Ratings. “Demand-supply dynamics are favoring aviation-related sectors in Asia-Pacific,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Isabel Goh. According to data from Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, the carriers in the region serviced 194 million passengers in the first three quarters, showing growth of more than 200 percent year-on-year. The country’s main international gateway accommodated 206,050 flights as of September, up 31 percent from a year ago. MIAA is optimistic that it would achieve year-end projections of 45 million passengers and 275,000 flights served as Naia continues to welcome more guests.