ECCP at Work

ECCP@Work Featured Articles | January 9, 2024

January 09, 2024

ECCP Online

ECCP at Work

ECCP welcomes Go as economic affairs chief

The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) has welcomed the appointment of Secretary Frederick Go to the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Investment and Economic Affairs (OSAPIEA). “We look forward to continuing to work with him [and the entire economic cluster] on increasing investments and facilitating the ease of doing business in the Philippines,” it remarked.

Govt urged to focus on agriculture in 2024

ECCP Executive Director Florian Gottein recommended that the government must focus on building farm-to-market roadmap projects nationwide to address food security. Gottein also emphasized increasing finance on critical agricultural infrastructures to increase farmers' production.

PBBM signs Ease of Paying Taxes Act into law

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11976 or the Ease of Paying Taxes Act which aims to modernize and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of tax administration and strengthen taxpayer rights. The new law introduces administrative tax reforms and amendments to several sections of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997. It also updates the Philippine taxation system, adopts best practices and replaces antiquated procedures.

PH records lowest 2023 inflation rate of 3.9% in December, meets DBCC assumption of 6.0% for full year 2023

The Philippines’ overall inflation rate further decelerated to 3.9 percent in December 2023––the lowest rate recorded in 2023. This brings the year-to-date (YTD) headline inflation rate to 6.0 percent, the same as the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC)’s assumption of 6.0 percent for full year 2023. “Our whole-of-government approach of maintaining price stability, implementing timely non-monetary policy measures, and addressing supply gaps have paid off,” Finance Secretary Diokno said.

Unemployment rate falls to 3.6 percent in November

The Philippines' unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in November, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said. This was lower compared to the 4.2 percent rate reported in October. This translated to 1.83 million jobless Filipino workers in November compared to 2.09 million in the preceding month. Meanwhile, there were more underemployed Filipinos in November. There were 5.79 million underemployed in that month, up from the 5.6 million in October.

BOI eyes P1.5T investments

The Board of Investments (BOI), after missing its target in 2023,  has set a conservative aim  of P1.3 trillion to P1.5 trillion investment registrations in 2024, banking on renewable energy and equipment manufacturing, mineral processing as well as infusions from preferential trade and traditional partners like the United States, Japan, Korea and the European Union. This early, the BOI has a pipeline of P930 billion investments  for possible registration.

PH still energy insecure

According to PIDS’ latest policy note, the government must also implement reforms that will enable grid expansion and modernization, promote further competition in the market, assess the electrification program for unserved areas and pursue a clean energy transition. “The Philippines is currently energy insecure, as evidenced by certain indicators on energy sufficiency, reliability, resilience, affordability, accessibility and sustainability,” according to the report, Evaluating energy security in the Philippines: an indicators-based assessment. “Policy reforms and specific actions are needed to improve these indicators and enhance energy security,” it added.

Water security roadmap awaits NEDA approval

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary and Water Resources Management Office (WRMO) head Carlos Primo David said the roadmap had been submitted to the NEDA Board. “In Executive Order (EO) 22, which created the WRMO, it included the provision that’s important, which is to craft the integrated water resources management program. That report is now with the NEDA Cabinet cluster. After the NEDA, it’s going to be public,” he said.

Philippine builders may benefit from state’s renewed infra dev’t plan

Listed construction companies are expected to post better results this year amid a growing state focus on infrastructure development and with the Philippine central bank widely expected to start cutting interest rates, analysts said. Infrastructure spending increased by 66% to P122.1 billion in August from a year earlier as the government fast-tracked projects, the Budget department said in October.

Lawmakers urged to OK bills on ‘blue economy’

In the face of heightened global efforts to combat climate change, a lawmaker on Tuesday underscored the critical need for the 19th Congress to enact new legislation ensuring responsible management of the nation’s seas and coasts. Given the archipelagic nature and high vulnerability of economies like the Philippines to the severe impacts of climate change, Rep. LRay Villafuerte of Camarines Sur stressed the urgency for lawmakers to pass legislation that promotes sustainable development and safer use of the blue economy.

Congressmen to prioritize bills on tax refunds, lower tax on stock transactions

The House of Representatives is set on prioritizing the approval of proposed changes to the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law as well as stock transaction taxes this year to streamline the country’s current tax system. “President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s explicit instruction, as reiterated to me recently, is to do it (CREATE law amendments) without delay,” Albay Rep. Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda, head of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in a Viber chat.

Budget gap narrows in November

The National Government’s (NG) budget deficit narrowed to P93.3 billion in November from a year ago, amid tepid revenue growth and a decline in spending. Data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) released on Thursday showed the fiscal gap shrank by 24.8% from the P123.9-billion deficit in November 2022. Month on month, the November deficit widened from the P34.4 billion in October.

Recovering tourism industry exceeds target, draws over 5.5 million visitors in 2023

The Philippines’ tourism industry has been recovering faster than expected since taking a hit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said on Tuesday. In its year-end report, the DOT said that the country welcomed over 5.4 million tourists in 2023. “A total of 5,450,557 international visitors entered the country from January 1 to December 31, 2023,” the DOT said. It added that among the 5.4 million visitors, 91.8 percent (5,003,475) were foreigners, while 8.20 percent (447,082) were overseas Filipinos. This figure is around 650,000 more than the DOT’s projected 4.8 million international visitors for 2023.

CHED confirms discontinuation of SHS Program in SUCs, LUCs

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has officially announced the discontinuation of the Senior High School (SHS) Program in State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs). In a Viber message, CHED Chairman J. Prospero de Vera III confirmed the issuance of a Memorandum from the Office of the Chairperson dated December 18. The memorandum stated the "discontinuance" of the SHS Program in SUCs and LUCs.

Airlines may sustain growth amid travel pickup

Airline companies in the Philippines are expected to sustain their gains this year as airport investments including the rehabilitation of the country’s major gateway drive investor sentiment, analysts said. “It is a positive sign that major airlines are investing in fleet and network buildup,” Juan Paolo E. Colet, managing director at China Bank Capital Corp., said in a Viber message on Wednesday. “In addition, airport investments and efficiencies, such as through the privatization and rehabilitation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), will help create more favorable conditions for the airline industry.”

Marcos seeks to remove PH from FATF gray list within 2024

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday ordered agencies to immediately resolve several issues flagged by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) by January 2024, a year after the initial deadline imposed by the intergovernmental organization. The country was placed in the FATF’s gray list in June 2021 after the foreign body “found that we have strategic deficiencies” in terms of the entry and exit of suspected illegal funds, said Matthew David, executive director of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Renewables seen to offset the rise in electricity prices

The price and supply of electricity in the Philippines are seen to be challenged this year due to warm weather but may be offset by the power capacity expansion from renewables. Jose M. Layug, Jr., president of Developers of Renewable Energy Advancement, Inc., said he is anticipating supply challenges, especially during the summer months. “No matter how we tried to maintain all these coal-fired plants, the point is they are already old so you should expect these power plants to break down very often and that’s why we need new capacities,” he said in a virtual interview.

Supply woes, geopolitics to crimp 2024 exports growth

The Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI) said it expects flat growth for electronics exports in 2024 due to supply issues and geopolitical factors amid hopes by local exporters that the electronics industry will drive the country’s exports earnings this year. In a viber message sent to the BusinessMirror on Tuesday, SEIPI President Danilo C. Lachica said the semiconductor and electronics industry is seeing a “flat” growth this year due to “Inventory correction, Global Economic and Political factors.”

Miners expect ‘green transition’ minerals to drive industry growth

Miners are expected to perform well in 2024 due to increased demand for transition minerals used by the renewable energy industry, mining officials said. “The government is pushing for local mineral processing of energy transition metals such as nickel and copper and the Philippine metallic mining industry would like to participate and take advantage of opportunities presented by this development,” Michael T. Toledo, chairman of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP), said in a Viber message. Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga has said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will encourage exploration for critical minerals this year, with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) instructed to gear up for enabling projects undertaken with foreign mining partners.

BoI planning push to encourage more biofertilizer use in rice, corn farming

The Board of Investments (BoI) said on Tuesday that it will support a biofertilizer company in its capacity expansion by helping to promote the expanded use of its products and encouraging investment to develop the industry. “Encouraging potential technology adaptors to invest in this industry, the BoI and other stakeholders aim to strengthen the information dissemination and education campaign for farmers to facilitate the shift from traditional fertilizer to biofertilizer,” the BoI said in a statement. The BoI added that it will support the commercialization of the Bio-N fertilizer product which promises to raise crop yields by 11%.

Sectors for Maharlika funding identified 

The MIC held its meeting on January 3, where president and chief executive officer (PCEO) Rafael Consing Jr. presented the following sectors that may potentially be tapped by the MIF to achieve multigenerational commercial, economic and social development value creation: infrastructure; oil, gas and power; agroforestry industrial urbanization; mineral processing; tourism; transportation; and aerospace and aviation.

BSP: ‘No unnecessary monetary tightening’

The central bank wants to make sure it does not unnecessarily tighten monetary policy, its governor said. The Philippines’ economic growth prospects remain firm and the banking system is in good shape, Governor Eli Remolona stated. Remolona said they continue to see the need “to keep monetary policy settings sufficiently tight to allow inflation expectations to settle more firmly within the target range.”

CREATE projects generate P1.02T in investment capital 

The total investment capital from projects approved under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act has reached P1.02 trillion as of October 2023, the Department of Finance (DOF) said. The DOF said this milestone also gained P572.98 billion worth of foreign direct investment pledges, with 910 CREATE-approved projects varying across priority sectors listed in the Strategic Investment Priority Plan.

Exportable agri commodities focus of new DA dev’t plan

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is seeking to expand agricultural and fisheries exports and has set into motion the drafting of the Philippine Agricultural Export Development Plan (PAEDP). According to a special order signed by Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr., the DA will create a national steering committee and technical working group to prepare the plan, create the mechanisms to facilitate exports, and ensure that activities and programs are aligned with the Philippine Export Development Plan (2023-2028).

Marcos wants PH to be 2nd in ASEAN in FDIs by 2028: DTI

The Philippines is aiming to become the second largest destination for foreign direct investments in Southeast Asia in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's vision, Trade Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said. The country has already overtaken Thailand and Malaysia in terms of attracting foreign capital and in the next four years, the Philippines will seek to overtake Vietnam and then Indonesia, Rodolfo said. Sectors attracting a lot of foreign investments currently are renewable energy, electronics manufacturing, software development and business process outsourcing. 

NAIA hits target; foreign arrivals double 

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has achieved its 45-million passengers target for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in 2023 and expects to sustain the growth as a new private consortium takes over the operations of  the country’s main gateway, by the third quarter. This developed as the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said it expects 15 million arrivals this year as it recorded 12.6 million arrivals in the country in 2023, more than double the 6.1 million arrivals recorded in 2022. 

NAIA upgrade winning bidder seen taking over by September 

The government is on schedule with the timetable of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) upgrade project, Transportation Secretary Jaime J. Bautista said, adding that he expects the winning bidder—based on the proposal to remit the most revenue—to take over operations and maintenance of the airport by September. Four groups have submitted bids for the P170.6-billion public-private partnership project to upgrade NAIA: Manila International Airport Consortium, Asia Airport Consortium, GMR Airports Consortium, and SMC SAP and Co. Consortium. 

COP28: Philippines at the forefront of energy transition 

The recently concluded COP28 held in Dubai puts the onus on UNFCCC signatory nations, which includes the Philippines, to set ambitious goals to shift energy systems from fossil fuel to renewables. In the Philippines and around the region, ACEN, the listed energy platform of Ayala Group, is leading the charge in the energy transition with a 30x to 4500MW of renewable capacity growth, accounting for 98% of the company’s generation portfolio in the past five years. ACEN aspires to reach 100% renewable generation by 2025, 20GW renewables capacity by 2030, and net zero GHG emissions by 2050. Aside from scaling up renewables, ACEN is also pioneering initiatives in early coal retirement, which includes the transition of the 246MW South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. (SLTEC) coal plant to cleaner technology by 2040.

End-Dec GIR up 6.56% as it reaches $102.5B 

The Philippines’s gross international reserves (GIR) reached $102.5 billion as of end-December 2023, according to the latest data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas     (BSP). This is higher by 6.56 percent than the $96.149 billion posted in the same period of 2022. “The month-on-month decrease in the GIR level reflected mainly the National Government’s [NG] payments of its foreign currency debt obligations,” BSP said.

PH anticipates higher agri exports to Japan

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is optimistic the Philippines will further increase its agriculture exports to Japan with the improved relationship of the two countries as the government participated at the ASEAN-Japan Summit in Tokyo last month where DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. discussed with Japanese officials the possibility of further opening Japan’s market for Philippine fish and tropical fruits. Japan is the second largest market for Philippine agri-food exports. In 2022, agri exports from the Philippines to Japan reached $916 million, a 2.4 percent growth from 2021’s $894.4 million. Meanwhile, as of the third quarter of 2023, local shipments of agricultural goods to Japan hit $679 million. 

Asian equities attract largest inflows in 7 years

Asian equities attracted their biggest inflows in seven years in 2023, encouraged by major central banks’ deceleration in rate hikes to prioritize economic stimulation amid diminishing inflation worries. Foreign investors bought a net $26.62 billion worth of stocks last year, the most since 2016. Indian, South Korean, and Taiwan stocks attracted a net $20.74 billion, $10.12 billion, and $3.45 billion in foreign inflows respectively. Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand all saw net outflow, although in December, these same seven Asian stock markets attracted about $12.59 billion in net foreign investments, the most since November 2022.

Industry group seeks balance in ‘holiday economy’
Government should ensure that its promotion of long weekends will not compromise the competitiveness of industries, according to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). “Long weekends provide benefits such as more opportunities for families for their recreation and social interaction,” PCCI President Eunina Mangio said. She added that long weekends encourage domestic travel, which should in turn spur increased spending on tourism that trickles down to the grassroots. However, the PCCI chief noted there are already 18 scheduled regular holidays in the Philippines for 2024 and increasing this number will “undoubtedly” increase labor costs for industries especially for manufacturing and business process outsourcing.

Red Sea attacks on vessels hiking shipping cost–experts

Attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea will put pressure on freight cost especially for cargo from Europe and Africa, according to the president of the Association of International Shipping Lines Inc. (AISL). “Those who import from Europe and Africa will be affected. It will now take longer as the journey will now be longer. In terms of transit times, it is expected to add 2 to 3 weeks as vessels will be going around the Cape of Good Hope. It will be a roundabout route. Delays are inevitable at this stage,” AISL President Patrick Ronas reported. Through the Philippine shipping industry’s lens, Ronas recommended that Philippine exporters check their carriers or shipping lines on the expected arrival of their goods to “manage expectations.”

Philippines’ top 1,000 companies post P16.7 trillion in revenues in 2022 

The top 1,000 corporations in the Philippines showed resilience in 2022 after posting a combined gross revenue of P16.68 trillion, surging by 21.2% in 2022 from P13.76 trillion in 2021 as economic activity picked up after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted. Thirteen sectors reported at least double-digit gross revenue growth, with the arts, entertainment and recreation sector’s revenues surging by 116.9% in 2022. The manufacturing sector, which had 290 companies included in the list, accounted for 34.6% of the total gross revenue of the Top 1000 companies in 2022. Meanwhile, the services sector continued to be the main engine of Philippine economic growth, accounting for 51.9% of the aggregate gross revenue in 2022. 

Corporate registrations hit new record in 2023 

A total of 46,445 firms successfully registered using the SEC Electronic Simplified Processing of Application for Registration of Corporation (eSPARC) from January to November last year, surpassing the previous record of 42,936 for 2022, data from the SEC showed. Of the total number of registrants, domestic stock corporations accounted for 74 percent or 34,140 of the newly registered firms. Some 9,727 or 21 percent are domestic non-stock corporations and 2,453 or five percent are partnerships, while the rest are foreign stock and non-stock corporations.

4 electric vehicle firms to set up shop in Philippines 

At least four foreign electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are looking to set up manufacturing facilities in the country, according to the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA). “As we speak, we’re in talks with several EV manufacturers. So the initial ones coming are into e-motorcycles because there’s lesser regulations for e-motorcycles,” PEZA director-general Tereso Panga said in a briefing. “But once the supply chain is present, we will also see EV cars manufacturing to also locate,” he added. Interested firms include EVT (Envirotech Vehicles) from the United States ao two Chinese EV manufacturers, and one Indonesian EV manufacturer. He said the EV firms are looking at the CALABARZON and Central Luzon area, particularly Pampanga and Cavite as potential locations for their facilities.

PH's largest data center is Asia's most energy efficient 

Launched last March by Singapore-based hyperscaler Digital Edge and its Philippine partner Threadborne Group, the Narra 1 data center in Biñan, Laguna, is nowhere near the massive facilities operating in North America or Europe but possesses several key innovations. Digital Edge chief development officer Jay Park explains that the new data center has leapfrogged far ahead of its Asian competitors, thanks to substantially lower power consumption levels that ultimately translate to lower costs for the firm and lower prices for clients. According to the firm, Narra 1 is the country’s first “carrier neutral” data center, meaning it is not affiliated with any telecommunications firm.

PH surpasses Malaysia, Thailand in net foreign direct investment 

The Philippines has surpassed the net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows of Malaysia and Thailand in the first three quarters of 2023, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo said. He said the country’s 15.93-percent decrement in net FDI inflows from January to September last year was the lowest compared to the neighboring countries such as Indonesia, down by 18.75 percent; Thailand, down by 50.75 percent; and Malaysia, down by 61.31 percent. The less sluggish drop in net FDI inflows last year made the country surpass Malaysia and Thailand, according to Rodolfo, who is also the Managing Head of the Board of Investments.

PH manufacturing index moderates in Dec. 2023 but biz outlook improves

The S&P Global Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reported on Tuesday that the performance of Philippine-based factories moderated in December 2023 due to lower new orders and a drop in workforce numbers, but producers’ outlook was the highest since last August. The country’s manufacturing index in December 2023 stood at 51.5, easing from a score of 52.7 in November last year. Philippine manufacturing PMI in the last month of 2023 was above Association of Southeast Asian Nations' production index of 49.7. Indices above 50 show improvement in manufacturing condition, while below the neutral score mean deterioration.

PH secures 2 new free trade deals in 2023

The Philippines added two new free trade agreements (FTAs) this year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and its trade pact with South Korea. RCEP entered into force in the Philippines on June 2 following the Senate’s concurrence on Feb. 21, two years after the participating countries—10 ASEAN member states and FTA partners China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand—concluded the negotiations in November 2020. The country also welcomed another bilateral FTA as it signed the deal with South Korea on September 7, covering lower tariffs for automotive vehicles and autoparts from South Korea and tariff elimination for tropical fruits from the Philippines.


BIR imposes 1% withholding tax on online merchants

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has announced that online merchants with earnings amounting to more than PHP500,000 annually are now subject to a 1-percent withholding tax. BIR Revenue Regulation 16-2023, issued last December 21, said the withholding tax will apply to one-half of the gross remittances by electronic marketplace operators and digital financial services providers to the sellers or merchants for the goods or services sold through their platform. 

Allied biz groups pushing through with massive job-creation campaign

Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP), on Wednesday said “Project Jobs” is being jointly pursued with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (PHILEXPORT). Ortiz-Luis, who is also PHILEXPORT’s president, said job matching mechanisms will be put together once the secretariat has been established, and from there, companies under the three business groups’ respective banners can lay out their respective workforce requirements.

‘2023 good year for real estate sector’

REAL estate broker Leechiu Property Consultants Inc. said capital values across Metro Manila’s main commercial districts have sustained their levels despite local and global headwinds throughout the year. Some landmark deals in 2023 include a P1-million per square meter commercial lot in Legazpi Village, Makati City, and another commercial lot also in Makati transacting at over P1.5 million per square meter. The market, it said, exhibited significant growth, indicating a trajectory toward a more normalized real estate cycle. Pre-sales grew by 14 percent, and new project launches surged by 66 percent from the previous year.

Philippine builders may benefit from state’s renewed infra dev’t plan

Listed construction companies are expected to post better results this year amid a growing state focus on infrastructure development and with the Philippine central bank widely expected to start cutting interest rates, analysts said. “There will be faster growth this year as government public-private partnership projects pick up and easing inflation lowers construction and funding costs,” Cristina S. Ulang, research head at First Metro Investment Corp. reported. Infrastructure spending increased by 66% to P122.1 billion in August from a year earlier as the government fast-tracked projects, the Budget department said in October.

DTI: Small percentage of basic goods to increase SRPs

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has concurred with the request of some manufacturers to increase suggested retail prices (SRPs) of products under basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC). DTI Assistant Secretary Amanda Marie Nograles told trade reporters over the weekend that only a “small percentage” or 63 items out of 217 shelf keeping units (SKUs), will increase their prices this month. Nograles said manufacturers of the 63 items requested for SRP hike due to higher raw materials and other operation costs.

AboitizPower sees tight power market this year 

Aboitiz Power Corp. is optimistic about its prospects for this year despite challenging conditions in the power sector, which include global supply chain uncertainties due to geopolitical events, unavailable and insufficient transmission infrastructure, and the anticipated effects of El Niño on the production output of hydroelectric power plants. “While we see tight market conditions, we, at AboitizPower, are confident in our fundamentals and our diverse fleet of generation assets,” AboitizPower president and CEO Emmanuel Rubio said. AboitizPower said consumption is likewise projected to grow by 6.6 percent this year, which will require 600 to 700 megawatts (MW) of new or freed electricity stock.

Experts expect AI to replace marketing tasks

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) will take over three in 10 jobs in the marketing industry in Asia-Pacific by 2027 due to efforts by companies to automate their operations. In an analysis, the International Data Corp. (IDC) said generative AI would gobble up 30 percent of the traditional marketing tasks in the region. The IDC interviewed chief marketing officers (CMOs) in Asia-Pacific and found out that more than a third of them are already employing generative AI in the workplace. By 2028, the IDC estimates that the largest corporations in Asia-Pacific will automate 30 percent of actions in the consumer journey. 

Metro Manila office space demand to reach over 300,000 sqm in 2024

Net absorption of office spaces in the Metro Manila market is expected to expand to over 300,000 square meters in 2024, driven by demand from the information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) sector, according to a real estate services firm. “New entrants and expansion of real estate requirements from the IT-BPM sector are expected to be reactivated in 2024,” Cushman & Wakefield said in its Asia Pacific Office Outlook 2024. It added that from 2024 to 2027, an average annual net absorption of 366,000 sqm is expected.

Telco permitting now cheaper, faster

Telco providers, particularly tower developers, are expanding their infrastructure portfolio to take advantage of the government’s policy to speed up the permitting process for the industry. Tower operator EDOTCO Philippines is investing P3 billion for capital expenditures in 2024, with EDOTCO Philippines country managing director Suraj Narayanan Kutty reporting that the company derives confidence from the implementation of Executive Order (EO) 32. EO 32 slashed the number of permits needed to construct towers. Mobile giant Globe Telecom Inc. also shared optimism for expansion with EO 32, as the telco believes such measures allow the industry to widen coverage.

BOC targets P1-trillion revenue collection in 2024

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) on Monday said it targets to collect P1-trillion in 2024, exceeding its more than P900-billion revenue last year. BOC assistant commissioner and spokesperson Atty. Vincent Philip Maronilla said this would be possible if the bureau would continue to improve its revenue efficiency processes. Maronilla noted that increased “trade and economic activities” in ports, particularly from Manila, Batangas, Cebu, Davao, and Cagayan De Oro caused a spike in revenue collections in 2023, subsequently helping the bureau to surpass its target of P901 billion. 

New lifeline subsidy for poor electricity consumers to take effect 

After being deferred last year, the new lifeline subsidy program for poor consumers will be implemented as 2024 kicks off, the Energy Regulatory Commission said in a press release. Through the new program, only Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps] and non-4Ps consumers who do not consume not more than 100 kilowatts per hour a month and have registered will qualify. 

BIR ramps up tax compliance and enforcement drives in 2023, results in higher collection performance

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has ramped up its tax compliance and tax enforcement drives in 2023, resulting in increased collection performance of PHP 2.34 trillion as of November 2023, exceeding the previous year’s collection of PHP 2.16 trillion by 8.6 percent. The improved collection performance was the result of intensified programs and initiatives to encourage taxpayer compliance, as well as the continuous implementation of tax enforcement activities.

House bill seeks to regulate use of AI in workplace

A neophyte lawmaker from Quezon City has filed a bill to regulate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for administrative or operational tasks in workplaces and also to protect the job security of employees. “There is a fear that the use of AI will result in displacement by substituting human workers who will then lose their jobs,” said the explanatory note for House Bill No. 9448, or the Protection of Labor Against Artificial Intelligence Automation Act.

BoC revenues hit P884B, exceed full-year target 

THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) surpassed its revenue target for 2023 amid improved collection, trade facilitation and anti-smuggling activities, the Department of Finance (DoF) said. Data from the DoF showed that the agency collected P883.624 billion as of Dec. 31, 2023, exceeding its P874.166-billion full-year target by 1.08%.

Philippine Finance chief sees 100 basis points rate cuts in 2024

Philippine Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno estimates that the central bank can cut its benchmark interest rate by a total of 100 basis points this year as inflation cools to within the 2%-4% target. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s target reverse repurchase rate may fall to 5.5% by the end of the year from the current 6.5%, Mr. Diokno told Bloomberg Television on Monday. Monetary easing may start at the second half, said the finance chief who sits in the policymaking Monetary Board.

Inflation remains top concern of Pinoys

Seven out of 10 Filipinos disapprove of the way the Marcos government handled inflation, which remains as the top national urgent concern that should be addressed by the administration, according to the fourth quarter Ulat ng Bayan survey of Pulse Asia. The survey, conducted from December 3 to 7, involved 1,200 adults nationwide and had a margin of error of ±2.8 percent.

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