Philippines Update: April 26, 2018

Philippines Update | April 26, 2018
Authors: Riley Smith and Joyce Lin
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

May 2: Roundtable Discussion on Infrastructure Development in the Philippines

May 2-4: Mission to the 2018 ASEAN Directors-General of Customs Meeting

May 14: ASEAN Presidents' Luncheon Series on Blockchain with Professor David Lee Kuo Chen

May 31: Workshop on Investment Arbitration in ASEAN

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

DTI Provides Clarification on Submission of Input for TRAIN 2

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez gave a presentation on the second package of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, which is also called the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) 2, at the Wallace Business Forum on April 17. During the presentation, Secretary Lopez elaborated on the type of input on TRAIN 2 that DTI would like to receive from companies. He urged that any input conform to the basic principles that the Department of Finance (DOF) has already laid out regarding investment incentives, namely that these incentives be recognized as being performance-based, targeted, time-bound and transparent. Secretary Lopez also emphasized that any input for TRAIN 2 should be supported by empirical data. He also clarified the areas on which the DTI is open to input. These three areas are:

  • Transitioning those currently receiving 5% tax on Gross Income Earned (GIE);
  • Incentives for 100% Export-oriented activities;
  • Other incentives to be included in the menu of incentives under TRAIN 2.

Currently, foreign-owned companies that are Philippines Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) locators, or whose activities are export-oriented but also fall under the 2017 Investment Priorities Plan (IPP), are eligible for the following investment incentives:

  • A four-year income tax holiday (ITH) for corporate income tax for non-pioneer firms, and a six-year ITH for pioneer firms and those that located in less developed areas. The Implementing Rules and Regulations for the Special Economic Zone Act of 1995 (here) lays out the difference between pioneer and non-pioneer firms.
  • PEZA offers a special tax rate of 5% of gross income earned (GIE) in perpetuity to businesses located in PEZA's economic zones, after their income tax holiday expires. The same applies to select investment promotion agencies.

Under the proposed TRAIN 2 package, the 5% GIE given to investors in perpetuity would be replaced by a special corporate income tax (CIT) rate of 15% from the 5th year to the end of the project life. According to Secretary Lopez's presentation, the menu of incentives under the proposed TRAIN 2 package also includes:

  • A 50% tax allowance for investment (of actual capital expenditure incurred in 3 years);
  • Double deduction for R&D and training expenses; additional deduction for labor expense;
  • 100% deduction for infrastructure development;
  • Deduction for reinvestment allowance to manufacturing industry;
  • Enhanced net operating loss carry-over (net operating loss for first four years from the start of commercial operations may be carried over in next 10 consecutive taxable years);
  • Accelerated depreciation.

These incentives would be available to those companies whose activities fall under a new Strategic Investment Priorities Plan (SIPP), which the DOF has said would differ from the current IPP by focusing on the sectors that are expected to provide the best benefits for the Philippines.

As a follow-up to the 2018 Philippines Business Mission, the Council requested member company input on the proposed second tax reform package, which is also called the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) 2. TRAIN 2 is one of the main areas of focus for the 2018 Work Plan for the Philippines Committee. It was also one of the main discussion topics during the 2018 Philippines Business Mission. The Council has taken the member company input that it received and drafted a letter to the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives conveying the private sector's feedback to TRAIN 2. A copy of the draft letter can be found here. If you have any comments, edits, or additions to the draft letter, please send it to Riley Smith (rsmith@usasean.org) by COB Monday, April 30.

Update on Efforts in Philippine Congress to Amend 1936 Public Service Act

On March 19, the Senate Committee on Public Services, Economic Affairs and Finance jointly submitted a bill ( Senate Bill No. 1754) to amend the 1936 Public Service Act (Commonwealth Act No. 146). The bill is one facet of a multi-pronged effort by different branches of the Philippines Government to liberalize certain sectors and industries in the national economy with the aim of improving the country's economic competitiveness and its ability to attract foreign direct investment. If passed, the bill will limit the concept of public utilities to transmission and distribution of electricity, water works, and sewerage systems.

At the heart of the matter is the fact that the 1936 Public Service Act lists what are considered public services but provides no explicit definition of what constitutes a public utility. Consequently, all public services listed in the Public Service Act - which includes electricity, water, transportation, telecommunications and other essential services - must comply with the nationality requirement laid out in the Constitution. According to that requirement, foreign firms can have only up to a 40% equity stake in corporations operating in the specified sectors. However, Senate Bill No. 1754 would designate only electric power distribution and transmission, water pipeline distribution, and sewerage pipeline systems as public utilities, meaning only these sectors would fall under the foreign equity rule. Other major changes introduced by the act include:

  • Expanding the means by which public service providers can exercise their authority (previously, this was only possible through Certificates of Public Convenience or Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity);
  • Allowing administrative agencies to fix a "maximum ceiling" for the rates for public services;
  • Increasing the severity of penalties for violations of the bill's provisions.

The Philippines House of Representatives already submitted their version of a bill ( House Bill No. 5828) to make amendments to the 1936 Public Service Act. The House's version was approved on its Third Reading on September 8, 2017. The Senate's bill will be scheduled for second reading when the Senate resumes on May 14. The two versions were similar in their definition of public utilities and other proposed amendments, but differed in stipulating the severity of penalties for violations of the bill's provisions. Given the differences between the House and Senate versions, once the bill passes the Senate, a bicameral conference committee will be formed to reconcile the differences. 

NEDA and Philippines Competition Commission to Devise National Competition Policy

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary for Planning and Policy (OIC), Rosemarie G. Edillon, announced on April 12 that the agency is pushing for major reforms with the aim of ensuring that state-owned and private firms can compete on equal terms. NEDA, with assistance from the Philippine Competition Commission, will formulate a National Competition Policy this year. The policy aims to flesh out competition strategies in the country's economic blueprint, guided by pro-competitive laws and regulations. These include the Governance Act of 2011 and the Philippines Competition Act. In particular, Undersecretary Edillon said that state support such as subsidies should be reserved only for government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCC) that operate in non-profitable or non-commercially viable markets that private firms eschew. Subsidies to government financial institutions and government corporations hit an all-time high of P131 billion (US$2.5 billion) in 2017. While the level of subsidies to government corporations for the months of January and February were comparable to that of 2017, the level of subsidies increased to P35 billion (US$670 million) in 2018 March, a drastic change from P8.4 billion (US$161 million) in 2017 March. Meanwhile, the Governance Commission for GOCCs, the oversight body for GOCCs, has already commenced an initial review of GOCC profiles.

Philippines' NFA to be Consolidated Due to Concerns over Low Rice Supply

Recent actions by the National Food Authority (NFA) have stirred an already controversial debate on the management of the Philippines' rice sector. Per a now published memorandum from Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. to President Duterte, the NFA sold rice originally meant for Eastern Visayas, a natural-disaster prone area, to Bulacan traders. The NFA has defended this decision, arguing that the rice stock sold was around three years old and would have been either thrown out or sold at a reduced price otherwise. The memorandum furthermore criticized the NFA's lack of supervisors at ports where rice is imported and its favoring of certain provinces to sell to. The NFA also disputed these accusations, claiming that its jurisdiction does not cover supervision of rice imports and that it cooperates with government officials to sell rice throughout the Philippines. In the wake of these accusations and concerns over a low rice supply, President Duterte announced plans to move the NFA under the Office of the President.

The Philippines has faced criticism in the past for overlooking corruption within the NFA and rice sector, and these recent events have only exacerbated the NFA's infamous reputation in regulating rice imports and sales. While President Duterte has pledged to provide 700,000 sacks of rice to make up for the sold stock, the structural problems of corruption and inadequate supervision of imports remain. In fact, some government officials have expressed concerns that the NFA's guidance is needed in developing the rice sector, and implementing reform within the NFA might be a better option than moving it under the Office of the President. The Council will continue to monitor developments and what they might mean for rice exports and domestic consumption.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

As a follow-up to the 2018 Philippines Business Mission, the Council requested member company input on the proposed second tax reform package, which is also called the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) 2. TRAIN 2 is one of the main areas of focus for the 2018 Work Plan for the Philippines Committee. It was also one of the main discussion topics during the 2018 Philippines Business Mission. The Council has taken the member company input that it received and drafted a letter to the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives conveying the private sector's feedback to TRAIN 2. A copy of the draft letter can be found here. If you have any comments, edits, or additions to the draft letter, please send it to Riley Smith (rsmith@usasean.org) by COB Monday, April 30.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
IMF chief flags debt risk as ‘Belt and Road’ advances

National Affairs
Philippines to deport Australian nun who angered President Duterte
Government tax-reform program to level playing field–DOF
Firing execs bare resolute Duterte, shallow bench | BusinessMirror
Philippines decries European Parliament's 'interference'
Duterte's drug war lieutenants get key posts in Philippine police reshuffle
Duterte spooks foreign investors with tax 'sword of Damocles'
DTI identifies programs that will help workers affected by Boracay closure

Defense & Security
Why the New US-Philippines Military Pact’s First Project Launch Matters
Philippine police hold riot drills as Boracay closure challenged
What’s Next for the Philippines’ New Police Helicopters?
Japan Tank Landing Ship Set for Philippines Voyage
Philippines' new police chief vows to pursue drug war
Philippine-US war games expanded to include Japan, Australia
Philippines' Duterte sets window for peace talks with communist rebels

Economics
S&P hikes Philippine economic growth projections until 2019
Policy rates could rise this quarter 
Government spent higher for infrastructure, personnel services in January-March
Economic managers revise assumptions
Economic growth likely breached 7% in Q1–report
PHL debt to ADB rose to $7.75 billion last year
State revenues, spending top Q1 targets
Moody’s Analytics sees faster Q1 growth
Economist poll bares view of 4.1% inflation
Economy at risk of overheating
Remittance growth slowest in 3 months
WB tags better jobs as economy’s ‘missing link’
Firms see robust sales despite TRAIN
WB sees PHL sustaining growth pace

Energy
Senate panel moves to reinforce natural-gas industry in PHL
Sabang Renewable Energy to build Philippines 1st hybrid-powered grid
Legarda cites LGUs that have committed to clean energy sources
DOE wants total electrification by 2019, but co-ops fear getting wiped out by big players
4 int’l roadshows slated on 14 petroleum blocks

Financial Services
DBCC hikes share of foreign loans in debt portfolio
Digital transactions to boost economic expansion
Palace names new SEC Commissioner
Bangko Sentral launches InstaPay
Authorities in Philippines warn that Cryptocurrency fraudsters will face long time in jail
IC starts building up health insurance database as part of push for reform measures

Food & Agriculture
Philippines hopes to pass rice tariffication law in 2018
PHL’s stiff meat trade rule stays
Shuffling NFA Council won’t solve rice loss
Philippines gets China grant to boost rice production
Sugary beverage tax raises P6B in Q1

Health & Life Sciences
3,671% spike in measles cases alarms DOH
Confusion, blame game fuels Philippines vaccine scandal
Stronger FDA could emerge from dengue-vaccine probe
Department of Health launches anti-measles campaign

ICT
Gov't mulls wider range of sanctions for 3rd telco's unmet commitments
DTI promotes IT-BPM to Japan IT Week
PHL businesses ride the wave of digital transformation
PH cited for improvement in Internet speed

Infrastructure
Infra, capital spending 32.4% higher in March
Philippines approves San Miguel's $14 bln airport project
China's ‘Silk Road’, seen to fund Philippine infrastructure, hits snags — report
Execution is biggest hurdle for ‘BBB’ plan
Philippines looks beyond China for public works
Infrastructure, other outlays top target

Manufacturing
Manufacturing sector powered GDP growth in Q1–Neda
Higher tax continues to dampen demand for cars

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

IMF chief flags debt risk as ‘Belt and Road’ advances BusinessWorld 13th Apr 2018
BEIJING — International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that China’s Belt and Road initiative is showing signs of progress, but warned of potential debt risks for partner countries involved in joint projects. One challenge is to ensure that Belt and Road only travels where it is needed, and the second is to focus on sound fiscal policies, Ms. Lagarde said in prepared comments in a speech at a Belt and Road conference in Beijing on Thursday.

National Affairs

Philippines to deport Australian nun who angered President Duterte The Straits Times 25th Apr 2018
The Philippines has ordered an Australian Catholic nun to leave the country in 30 days after the immigration bureau revoked her missionary visa for joining protest rallies, an immigration official said on Wednesday (April 25). Patricia Anne Fox, a 71 year-old superior of the Notre Dame de Sion in the Philippines, a congregation of Catholic nuns, was detained for a day last week after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered her investigation for "disorderly conduct". He had accused her of engaging in illegal political activities outside of her missionary work. In a one-page order, immigration bureau head Jaime Morente asked Fox to leave the Philippines after "she was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa."

Government tax-reform program to level playing field–DOF BusinessMirror 24th Apr 2018
The government needs to rationalize the tax system for businesses in the country to level the playing field for the benefit of over 800,000 local corporations that have been paying regular taxes, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). DOF Assistant Secretary Paola A. Alvarez pointed out that, of the estimated 5,000 companies with registered activities in 14 investment promotion agencies (IPAs) in 2015, about 3,000 firms registered with the Philippine Export Zone Authority (Peza) claimed tax incentives amounting to more than P300 billion combined.

Firing execs bare resolute Duterte, shallow bench | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 23rd Apr 2018
SAY said it all when he quit: President Duterte is one tough cookie. Dominador R. Say was supposed to be the next one off the Commander in Chief’s chopping block. Say dodged the bullet when he resigned just days before his dismissal was made public last week. Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said the President has personal knowledge about his alleged corruption as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Undersecretary for Employment, Policy Support and Luzon-Visayas Regional Operations. However, Roque added he can’t say whether that accusation prompted the President to fire Say.

Philippines decries European Parliament's 'interference' The Straits Times 20th Apr 2018
The Philippines decried what it said was interference in its internal affairs by the European Parliament, which urged the Southeast Asian nation in a resolution to end "extrajudicial killings" and abandon plans to reintroduce death penalty. About 4,100 people have been killed by police in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took power in June 2016 in what the authorities say were shootouts during anti-narcotics operations. At least 2,300 drug-related deaths have occurred separately, at the hands of what police say are unknown assassins.

Duterte's drug war lieutenants get key posts in Philippine police reshuffle The Straits Times 19th Apr 2018
Police at the helm of the Philippine war on drugs were given top posts in the national force on Thursday (April 19), indicating no let-up in a brutal crackdown that has caused international alarm, and defined President Rodrigo Duterte's 21-month presidency. The job of national police chief was given to Oscar Albayalde, a strict disciplinarian who has been in charge of Metro Manila, where the vast majority of the thousands of drug war killings have occurred. He was succeeded as commander of the capital police by Camilo Cascolan, the architect of the controversial operational plan of the anti-drug campaign, "Double Barrel".

Duterte spooks foreign investors with tax 'sword of Damocles' Nikkei Asian Review 17th Apr 2018
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's administration received an impassioned plea from within its ranks on the night of April 11. "May I appeal to the government not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs, our industries and investors," Charito Plaza, director general of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, said before a crowd of foreign investors at the World Trade Center in Manila. Plaza was speaking to more than 2,000 executives at an event celebrating investors' contributions to the country's $305 billion economy over the last two decades. The speech could not have been timelier. Her audience is growing more anxious by the day. Congress is set to reconvene in May, and Duterte's allies have filed a bill for part two of his Comprehensive Tax Reform Program. The initiative is a major policy overhaul aimed at funding a $160 billion infrastructure drive.

DTI identifies programs that will help workers affected by Boracay closure BusinessWorld 25th Apr 2018
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) once again assured that it has identified initiatives to cushion the impact to workers and entrepreneurs of the island’s shutdown slated Thursday, April 26. DTI Regional Operations Group Undersecretary Zenaida Maglaya said the agency will assist affected workers and displaced micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to lessen the impact of the six-month closure order of Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan. “We recognize the importance of Boracay Island to our local entrepreneurs there. However, we would also like to ensure that the island maintain its pristine condition, which is why we have identified programs that will help local entrepreneurs,” Ms. Maglaya was quoted in a Wednesday statement. — Janina C. Lim

Defense & Security

Why the New US-Philippines Military Pact’s First Project Launch Matters The Diplomat 25th Apr 2018
This week, the first project under the new U.S.-Philippine military agreement signed under the late Obama administration was finally launched by both sides. Though the project was among a series that had already been mulled by officials previously back in 2016, it nonetheless constitutes progress given both the challenges that the U.S.-Philippine alliance has confronted under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as well as the evolving regional security environment. As I have been noting in these pages, Duterte’s rebalancing of the Philippines’ ties with major powers, most notably the United States and China, has raised questions about the evolution of the U.S.-Philippine alliance during his tenure (See: “The Limits of Duterte’s China-US Rebalance”). Though there have no doubt been challenges on this front, there has also been much more progress than is often appreciated in the defense realm thus far as well (See: “What Will US-Philippine Military Exercises Look Like in 2018?”).

Philippine police hold riot drills as Boracay closure challenged The Straits Times 25th Apr 2018
Philippine police preparing to shut down the Boracay resort island staged drills in riot gear on Wednesday (April 25), startling the laid-back beach community as workers mounted a last-ditch effort to halt the six-month closure. President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the holiday destination off limits to tourists from Thursday, saying the tiny island has become a "cesspool" tainted by dumped sewage. As part of police drills, officers in full riot gear clashed with bottle-throwing people playing the part of protesters on the white sand beach while concerned residents watched.

What’s Next for the Philippines’ New Police Helicopters? The Diplomat 25th Apr 2018
This week, the Philippines’ outgoing police chief flew on one of the service’s new helicopters that had been ordered last year right before his retirement. The development put the spotlight on both the growing role of the Southeast Asian state’s police force under President Rodrigo Duterte as well as a capability that has been the subject of controversy in the broader context of the Philippine security. As I have noted before, though much of the attention on security developments in the Philippines tends to be paid to the military, the recent capability boosts for the Philippine National Police (PNP) under Duterte given its enhanced law enforcement responsibilities, including within the war on drugs, has been notable too (See: “What Will Philippine Military Modernization Under Duterte Look Like in 2018?”). In addition to line items requested as part of the PNP modernization program, including the Capability Enhancement Program (CEP), the PNP has also received significant supplemental funding from the Duterte government as well, leading to some scrutiny from critics about its priorities.

Japan Tank Landing Ship Set for Philippines Voyage The Diplomat 25th Apr 2018
Later this week, a Japanese ship will be docking in the Philippines for a port visit. Though the development itself has been classed as a routine development in bilateral ties, it is nonetheless significant when viewed from the broader perspective of advances in the Japan-Philippines defense relationship despite some remaining challenges for ties presented by the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. As I have noted before, Japan and the Philippines have a defense relationship that has continued on and strengthened in some areas in spite of the uncertainties and subsequent refocusing we have seen under Duterte (See: “A Big Week for Japan-Philippines Defense Ties”). This includes not only regular ports visits and exchanges, but also equipment and training as Japan looks to boost ties with the Philippines and other Southeast Asian states in the defense realm while Manila eyes ways to strengthen its limited military capabilities to address a series of challenges.

Philippines' new police chief vows to pursue drug war The Straits Times 20th Apr 2018
The newly named national police chief of the Philippines pledged on Friday (April 20) to keep up President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug war despite fresh international condemnation over killings. Director General Oscar Albayalde, who was sworn in Thursday, will now lead the narcotics crackdown that has killed thousands since Duterte came to power just under two years ago. "How to sustain the drug war? In order to sustain it, we will not change anything," Albayalde told reporters at his first press conference as police chief.

Philippine-US war games expanded to include Japan, Australia The Straits Times 19th Apr 2018
Annual US-Philippine military exercises involving thousands of troops will be expanded for the first time to include other countries, with Japanese and Australian forces invited to join what will be the 34th edition of the war games.The Philippines and the United States have been holding the "Balikatan" (shoulder-to-shoulder) drills annually to test the readiness of their militaries to respond to threats that include natural disasters and militant extremist attacks.The United States embassy in Manila said in a statement on Thursday (April 19) that Australia and Japan, two US allies with strategic partnerships with the Philippines, would join the exercises taking place in multiple locations on the main island of Luzon, starting on May 7.

Philippines' Duterte sets window for peace talks with communist rebels U.S. 21st Apr 2018
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday he had set a 60-day timeframe for peace talks he is seeking to revive with communist guerrillas, urging the rebels’ exiled leader to come home to hammer out a deal. The conflict between the government and the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the communist party, has raged for half a century and killed more than 40,000 people. Earlier this month Duterte ordered his cabinet to work on a truce to enable talks, but the communist rebels have rejected any preconditions. Ending the conflict was among Duterte’s priorities when he took office in 2016. But he abandoned peace efforts in November, infuriated by repeated rebel attacks during the talks. Earlier this month Duterte said the rebels must agree to a ceasefire, stop extortion activities and abandon their proposal of a coalition government, before resuming talks.

Economics

S&P hikes Philippine economic growth projections until 2019 BusinessWorld 26th Apr 2018
S&P Global Ratings has bumped up its growth forecast for the Philippines, inspired by bets that domestic consumption will pick up further this year, enough to offset a slowdown in exports and other shocks from a trade row between the United States and China, the world’s biggest and second-biggest economies, respectively. The credit rater now expects the Philippine economy to expand by 6.7% this year, faster than the previous forecast at 6.5%. If realized, this will match the growth pace clocked in 2017 but will fall short of the government’s 7-8% annual target until 2022, when President Rodrigo R. Duterte ends his six-year term, that is supposed to result in significant cuts in both unemployment and poverty rates within that period.

Policy rates could rise this quarter BusinessWorld 25th Apr 2018
THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) may consider raising rates this quarter in the face of quickening inflation and faster economic growth, analysts at the First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P) said in their latest joint report. “With inflation breaching the four-percent upper limit of the BSP target, it is now more likely that the Monetary Board will raise its policy rates by 25 basis points in Q2,” the economists said in the April issue of The Market Call.

Aklan. “We recognize the importance of Boracay Island to our local entrepreneurs there. However, we would also like to ensure that the island maintain its pristine condition, which is why we have identified programs that will help local entrepreneurs,” Ms. Maglaya was quoted in a Wednesday statement. — Janina C. Lim

Government spent higher for infrastructure, personnel services in January-March | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 25th Apr 2018
ASIDE from infrastructure, the Duterte administration also spent more for personnel services in the first quarter, breaching government targets. In a statement, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said spending for personnel services reached 206.6 billion during the first quarter of the year, for a 23-percent increase year-on-year. Meanwhile, infrastructure spending grew by 34 percent to P157.1 billion. Actual disbursements, which surged by 27 percent to P782 billion, exceeded the P755.8-billion target by P26.2 billion, or 3.5 percent. “The outlook on government spending remains sanguine, and we expect government spending to prop up the growth prospects of the Philippine economy as we aim for economic expansion at the rate of 7 percent to 8 percent in the medium term,” Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno was quoted in a statement as saying. “We will not let up in our efforts to limit underspending and continue with the efficient and accountable management of public resources,” Diokno added.

Economic managers revise assumptions BusinessWorld 25th Apr 2018
THE DEVELOPMENT Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) on Tuesday updated its key economic assumptions and fiscal program for the medium term, factoring in latest global developments and additional revenues from ongoing tax reform. The DBCC in its 172nd meeting at the Department of Budget and Management headquarters in Manila City raised the Dubai crude oil assumptions to $55-70 per barrel in 2018 from $50-65 per barrel previously, reflecting higher world market prices, while retaining the $50-65 per barrel target for 2019-2022. It also changed the peso-dollar exchange rate to P50-53 this year until 2022 from P49-52 per dollar previously. Despite the weaker exchange rate and higher oil price assumptions, the 2-4% inflation target over the medium term was kept.

Economic growth likely breached 7% in Q1–report | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 24th Apr 2018

The stellar performance of the manufacturing and construction sectors likely boosted Philippine economic growth to above 7 percent in the first quarter, according to a local think tank. In its latest Market Call report, First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC) and University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Capital Markets Research said this would allow full-year GDP to grow by as much as 7.5 percent. This falls within the government’s growth target of 7 percent to 8 percent this year.

PHL debt to ADB rose to $7.75 billion last year | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 24th Apr 2018
The Philippines’s total debt to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) increased by 9 percent last year, according to the annual report of the Manila-based multilateral development bank. In the report, the Philippines’s total debts for projects it financed through loans from the ADB’s Ordinary Capital Resources went up to $7.75 billion in 2017, from $7.11 billion in 2016. The Philippines is now considered ADB’s seventh-largest borrower out of the 40 countries that obtained loans from the Manila-based multilateral in 2017.

State revenues, spending top Q1 targets BusinessWorld 24th Apr 2018
STATE revenues and expenditures beat targets last quarter, the Department of Finance (DoF) announced on Monday, citing preliminary data from the Treasury bureau ahead of their scheduled official release today. The government’s budget deficit stood at P162.2 billion in the first quarter, smaller than expected due to “good revenue performance,” according to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III. “For Q1: BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) exceeded target by P61.3 billion while BoC (Bureau of Customs) by P307 million. Expenditures higher by P26.2 billion vs program,” Mr. Dominguez told reporters in a forwarded message from National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon.

Moody’s Analytics sees faster Q1 growth BusinessWorld 23rd Apr 2018
ECONOMIC GROWTH likely picked up pace last quarter though still slower than 2018’s full-year target, Moody’s Analytics said, citing improving exports that added to the boost from upbeat consumer spending and investments. Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) likely grew by 6.8% year-on-year, the sister company of Moody’s Investors Service said, ahead of official data due early next month. If realized, the pace will pick up from the downward-revised 6.5% clocked in October-December, as well as the 6.4% growth reported for the first quarter of 2017.

Economist poll bares view of 4.1% inflation BusinessWorld 23rd Apr 2018
BANK ECONOMISTS broadly expect inflation to settle above four percent this year as new taxes, a weaker peso and rising oil prices drive up the cost of basic goods and services, the central bank said. The latest survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) among private bank economists showed a 4.1% mean inflation forecast, using the 2012-based consumer price index (CPI), which if realized would breach the government’s 2-4% target band.

Economy at risk of overheating Malay Business Insight 17th Apr 2018
The economy is at risk of overheating, thus investment in both capital assets and human capital is urgently needed to increase the economy’s productive capacity, a report released by the World Bank said. According to the World Bank’s Philippine Economic Update, the economy is currently growing at its potential rate, and the average capacity utilization in the manufacturing industry remains high, with all major industries operating at near full capacity. It said  unemployment reached record lows in recent years, signaling less spare labor capacity  although underemployment remains high. “Potential signs that the economy is overheating include the rise of core inflation, the high capacity utilization rate in the manufacturing sector, and the tight labor market,” the report said.

Remittance growth slowest in 3 months BusinessWorld 17th Apr 2018
OVERSEAS FILIPINO workers (OFWs) sent more money home in February than a year ago even as it was the smallest increase in three months, the central bank reported on Monday. Such remittances totalled $2.267 billion for the month, up 4.5% from the $2.169-billion inflows tallied in February 2017, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said. However, February’s inflows were the smallest in three straight months. February’s year-on-year growth pace is likewise the slowest since a two percent increase recorded in November.

WB tags better jobs as economy’s ‘missing link’ BusinessWorld 17th Apr 2018
THE WORLD BANK said that better quality jobs and faster real wage growth are the “missing link” to reducing poverty and inequality in the country, even as the government pursues more aggressive infrastructure development. “The key challenge facing the government is not unemployment, but rather the poor quality of jobs in the labor market, as a large share of employment opportunities in the Philippines consist of low-paid jobs,” the World Bank said in the Philippine Economic Update report it released on Monday. The multilateral lender also said that the government should spend more on improving the country’s human capital, complementing state efforts to improve infrastructure.

Firms see robust sales despite TRAIN BusinessWorld 15th Apr 2018
FILIPINOS did not hold back on spending despite higher prices of goods in the first quarter of the year, but elevated input costs would continue to put pressure on the profitability of consumer companies. COL Financial Group, Inc. Vice-President and Head of Research April Lynn L. Tan said in a phone interview that the impact of the strong remittances, weak peso and the personal income tax cuts likely contributed to robust sales of consumer companies such as retailers, restaurant operators and food manufacturers in the first quarter of 2018.

WB sees PHL sustaining growth pace BusinessWorld 13th Apr 2018
THE WORLD Bank sees the Philippines sustaining last year’s economic growth pace well into 2019, but said much depends on “timely” government spending on infrastructure as well as a close watch on rising inflation pressures and the risk of overheating. The World Bank’s East Asia and Pacific Economic Update 2018 showed the Philippines can be expected to sustain the 6.7% gross domestic product (GDP) growth it achieved last year up to 2019 — thus keeping the multilateral lender’s January projection — before slightly moderating to 6.6% in 2020.

Energy

Senate panel moves to reinforce natural-gas industry in PHL BusinessMirror 25th Apr 2018
The Senate Committee on Energy is eyeing remedial legislation reinforcing the Philippines’s downstream natural-gas sector well in advance of the 2024 expiration of the Malampaya gas field franchise. Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, committee chairman, is calling a public hearing on Thursday to consult industry players and regulators as the panel moves to craft a law aimed at “establishing a stronger legal framework to develop and regulate the country’s downstream natural-gas sector.” Confirming the scheduled committee hearing, Gatchalian said the Senate panel needs to “clarify the government’s policy on our natural-gas resources given the complexity of the industry, the current lack of an institutionalized regulatory framework  and the need to replace the fuel sources of existing natural gas plants.”

Sabang Renewable Energy to build Philippines 1st hybrid-powered grid | Philstar.com philstar.com 25th Apr 2018
Local renewable energy developer Sabang Renewable Energy Corp. (SREC) is putting up the country’s first hybrid-powered micro-grid in Sabang, Palawan to reduce diesel consumption and generate savings on rural electrification. SREC – composed of Singapore-based WEnergy Global, Gigawatt Power Inc. and Vivant Corp. – broke ground on the hybrid micro grid project consisting of 1.4-megawatt peak (MWp) solar PV with a 2.3-megawatt hour (MWh) battery storage system and 1.2-MW diesel generators to power its 14-circuit kilometer distribution facility.The company claimed it is the first of its kind Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and Department of Energy (DOE) approved project in the country as well as in the ASEAN region.

Legarda cites LGUs that have committed to clean energy sources Manila Bulletin News 18th Apr 2018
Senator Loren Legarda cited local government units (LGUs) that have committed to pursuing resilient and sustainable development by shifting to the use of clean and renewable energy sources. Legarda, chairperson of the Senate committee on climate change, particularly hailed the local government of Negros Oriental for declaring that it will go coal-free.Through Executive Order 9, the Negros Oriental government declared that it “will cease the use of coal as an energy source due to the posing impacts of its high carbon emissions on health and global climate.”

DOE wants total electrification by 2019, but co-ops fear getting wiped out by big players BusinessMirror 16th Apr 2018
The Department of Energy (DOE) is now aiming to complete the electrification of the entire country by next year—or three years ahead of the original target—by easing the entry of private-sector players into the far-flung areas’ power markets. “We need to fast-track it. We need to accomplish it earlier, at the earliest 2019,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said in an interview. Cusi committed to implement the directive of President Duterte to remove the barriers to rural electrification. The President, in a meeting with Cusi and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairman Agnes  VST Devanadera, focused on the missionary electrification in the unserved areas of the country. The Chief Executive made it clear that he wanted to remove the barriers that are blocking the entry of the private sector to provide better options and more choices for communities.

4 int’l roadshows slated on 14 petroleum blocks Manila Bulletin Business 14th Apr 2018
The Philippines is targeting to kick off within this quarter planned international roadshows on the 14 petroleum blocks that it shall be offering to investors – that was following the go-signal already given by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi. It was disclosed to the media by Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella that Cusi “already approved the ERDB (Energy Resource Development Bureau) proposal, so they will already have their roadshows (for the petroleum blocks offer).” ERDB is the unit of the Department of Energy (DOE) advancing exploration and development of the country’s upstream oil and gas resources. The ERDB has already indicated that the target roadshows will be in Singapore, Australia, Texas in the United States and London in United Kingdom.

Financial Services

DBCC hikes share of foreign loans in debt portfolio philstar.com 25th Apr 2018
The Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) has increased the approved share of foreign borrowings in the country’s total loan portfolio for 2018, allowing the government to tap more foreign markets and diversify its funding sources. After the DBCC’s 172nd meeting yesterday, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced the financing program for fiscal year 2018 would now follow a 65-35 mix, in favor of domestic borrowings.This shows an adjustment from the 74-26 borrowing mix approved by the same committee during its previous meeting last December 2017.

Digital transactions to boost economic expansion BusinessWorld 25th Apr 2018
INCREASED digital transactions in the Philippines will provide a substantial boost to overall economic growth, the central bank chief said, at a time when the financial technology (fintech) market is seen growing by nearly a fifth annually. Citing industry data, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said transactions in the fintech space are expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, which could unlock more robust domestic economic activity.

Palace names new SEC Commissioner BusinessWorld 24th Apr 2018
MALACAÑANG on Monday said it has appointed Javey Paul D. Francisco as commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mr. Francisco, who has been director of the SEC Davao Extension Office since July 2007, is taking over the post vacated by Blas James G. Viterbo who resigned on Feb. 1 for health reasons.

Bangko Sentral launches InstaPay BusinessMirror 23rd Apr 2018
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Monday launched its latest automated clearing house that allows real-time electronic payments of up to P50,000 per day.Led by BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr., the country’s central monetary authority launched InstaPay, the second automated clearing house under the BSP’s initiative to boost electronic payments in the country.The BSP said private individuals, businesses and government institutions will be able to send and receive funds or make payments of up to P50,000 per transaction in real time via the newly launched InstaPay.

Authorities in Philippines warn that Cryptocurrency fraudsters will face long time in jail Smartereum 19th Apr 2018
The Enforcement and Investors Protection Department a section of the Philippines Security and Exchange Commission has issued a warning to fourteen cryptocurrency investment companies in the country to abstain from requesting funds from domestic investors. The commission gave this warning in a notice on its website on Wednesday 18th of April where it disclosed that ongoing investigation reveals that some individuals working for unregistered “online investment entities” are persuading members of the public to invest in their products claiming unrealistic returns ranging from 10% to 200% per month. The advisory body warns the general public to be wary of the unregistered online investment whose modus operandi involves asking prospective investors to deposit their initial investment funds to a specific bank account; Coins.Ph account, GCash or through a money remittance company or through face-to-face payments with one of the entity’s agents.

IC starts building up health insurance database as part of push for reform measures BusinessMirror 16th Apr 2018
The Insurance Commission (IC) is now conducting a comprehensive study of the health-insurance industry as part of preparations for the enactment of a law that will regulate the operations of health-maintenance organizations (HMOs) in the country. “We are now doing our own study on health insurance. It seems that the IC never collected any data on health insurance, so we have no ready data on health insurance. Our study is still ongoing,” Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa told the BusinessMirror. He said the comprehensive study on health insurance will enable the IC to fully comprehend how health insurance works in the country, as well as which sectors are still not covered by some form of health-care service.

Food & Agriculture

Philippines hopes to pass rice tariffication law in 2018 Rappler 25th Apr 2018
The rice tariffication bill aims to amend the present agricultural policy, which allows the National Food Authority to monopolize rice importation. The government expects the rice tariffication bill to be passed into law by the 2nd half of the year, according to Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia. Under the measure, the prescribed import volume would be removed and imports can eventually be opened to private traders. "We expect the tariffication of rice to be in effect later this year – maybe 2nd half of this year, because it's an urgent legislative measure. That means President [Rodrigo Duterte] wants it passed soon," Pernia told reporters on the sidelines of a Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) briefing in Manila on Tuesday, April 24.

PHL’s stiff meat trade rule stays BusinessMirror 21st Apr 2018
EXPORTERS to the Philippines, particularly those from the US, would have to contend with Manila’s stringent rules for frozen meat products for now, as the government stood pat on its decision to continue implementing its present two-tier meat-handling regime. The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), which recommended Administrative Orders 5 and 6, Series of 2012, is adamant the policy should remain in force despite continued pressure from Washington to scrap the “discriminatory” policy and align its regulations with international standards.

Shuffling NFA Council won’t solve rice loss | Philstar.com philstar.com 18th Apr 2018
Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco was removed Monday as National Food Authority chairman. He had just reported to President Rodrigo Duterte corruption at the NFA. Supervision of the food-security agency also was reverted from Malacañang to the Dept. of Agriculture. Both moves came after the sudden depletion of the NFA’s cheap rice for the poor. Neither move, however, pinpoints the cause of the shortage nor averts future repeats, supply experts say.

Philippines gets China grant to boost rice production philstar.com 13th Apr 2018
The Philippine government on Tuesday secured a RMB27.52 million (approximately P226.93 million or $4.36 million) Chinese grant that aims to modernize the Philippines’ hybrid rice center. In a statement released on Friday, the Department of Finance said the agreement will boost the country’s palay production. The deal will be implemented by the Department of Agriculture and will cover Phase III of the Technical Cooperation Project for the Philippines’ Agricultural Technology Center. This aims “to contribute in boosting the rice production capacity of the Philippines towards rice sufficiency by upgrading the Philippine Sino Center for Agricultural Technology’s hybrid rice technology research and demonstration center into a Modern Hybrid Rice Breeding Station and Technology Demonstration Center,” the DOF said.

Sugary beverage tax raises P6B in Q1 BusinessWorld 17th Apr 2018
THE BUREAU of Internal Revenue (BIR) collected about P6 billion from the new sugary drinks tax in the first three months of the year, in the tax’s first year of implementation. “For sugar-sweetened (beverages), we collected P6 billion,” BIR Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay told reporters on Monday. The BIR issued a Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) in January providing interim instructions for collecting the excise tax for sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). The RMC provides for the payment of the tax before the sweetened beverages are removed from the place of production. The memorandum also noted that SSB taxpayers are only allowed to pay manually over-the-counter at authorized agent banks in their Revenue Districts pending the tax’s inclusion in the BIR’s electronic payment platform. BIR Deputy Commissioner Marissa O. Cabreros said that the draft Revenue Regulation (RR) for the filing of SSB excise tax returns is now with the Department of Finance (DoF) for final approval.

Health & Life Sciences

3,671% spike in measles cases alarms DOH Business Inquirer 25th Apr 2018
The Department of Health (DOH) is urging parents to have their children vaccinated against measles following what health authorities said was an alarming surge (3,671 percent) in the number of measles cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mindanao. On Monday, health officials launched in Parañaque City a monthlong campaign, National Ligtas Tigdas Supplemental Immunization Activity, following the spike in transmission of measles among children and pregnant women.

Confusion, blame game fuels Philippines vaccine scandal Channel NewsAsia 25th Apr 2018
While Dengvaxia's maker Sanofi has said unequivocally that its world-first vaccination is safe, Philippine authorities disagree publicly over whether it could have contributed to children's deaths. The resulting confusion has prompted a dangerous plunge in vaccination rates in the Philippines for other diseases. It has also added to a swirling political battle, fanned by bloggers who back President Rodrigo Duterte and have an audience of millions of Facebook followers. "The blame game has taken over the main issue," Ronald Mendoza, dean of the Ateneo de Manila University's School of Government, told AFP. "It may be doing damage to public health rather than protecting it."

Stronger FDA could emerge from dengue-vaccine probe | BusinessMirror BusinessMirror 16th Apr 2018
EVEN as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman’s report recommending the prosecution of former President Benigno S. Aquino III and other officials in the previous administration over the Dengvaxia scandal awaits plenary verdict, senators are already eyeing remedial legislation arising from the inquiry. High on the list of recommendations ensuing from the joint inquiry by the Blue Ribbon panel chaired by Sen. Richard J. Gordon and the Senate Committee on Health chaired by Sen. Joseph Victor G. Ejercito is a proposal to promptly pass an enabling law separating the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from the Department of Health (DOH).

Department of Health launches anti-measles campaign philstar.com 13th Apr 2018
Amid rising measles cases nationwide, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday launched the “Ligtas Tigdas” campaign, which provides free vaccination against the potentially deadly infection among young children. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH is also readying a National Measles Supplemental Immunization Activity (SIA) in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in Mindanao in the coming weeks to curb the high incidence of measles. Duque said the SIA is set in the NCR from April 25 to May 25 and in Mindanao from May 9 to June 8. “Rest assured that the DOH is deeply committed to protect our children against serious and often fatal vaccine preventable disease like measles through the provision of vaccination,” Duque said. Vaccination has been proven to be the most effective public health intervention, according to Duque. Since the last measles mass immunization in 2004, Duque said measles transmission nationwide has significantly dropped.

ICT

Gov't mulls wider range of sanctions for 3rd telco's unmet commitments philstar.com 24th Apr 2018
To ensure that the new challenger won’t slack off, the government is planning a wider range of options in imposing sanctions on the third telecommunications player should the company fail to meet its committed level of service. The expanded penalties, contained in the revised draft terms of reference (TOR) for the selection of new telecom carrier, comes as the state seeks to improve services by breaking a longstanding duopoly. President Rodrigo Duterte had invited foreign firms, backed by a consortium of Filipino businesses, to take a role in the country’s wireless communications market to stir up competition.

DTI promotes IT-BPM to Japan IT Week BusinessMirror 24th Apr 2018
The Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) and the Philippine Trade and Investment Center (PTIC)-Tokyo, in partnership with the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), will hold an Outbound Business Matching Mission (OBMM) for the Information Technology-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector and its participation to the Japan IT Week 2018 at the Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo, Japan from May 9 to 11, 2018. Japan is the third-largest IT market in the world ($173 billion), after the US ($661 billion) and China ($179 billion). Japan’s ICT growth is predicted to grow by leaps and bounds as Japanese companies plan to invest in ICT toward fiscal year 2020. Progress in ICT investment is expected to push Japan’s GDP to ¥33.1 trillion in 2020. For the past years, the Philippines attended the Software Development Expo featuring only the services for development, operation and maintenance of software. This year, it will include various segments of the IT-BPM services covered under the Japan IT Week. Major component of the Bureau’s OBMM is the conduct of the business matching (B2B) with Japanese counterparts.

PHL businesses ride the wave of digital transformation BusinessMirror 22nd Apr 2018
Digital transformation—or DX—according to IDC, is the continuous process by which enterprises adapt to or drive disruptive changes in their customers and markets by leveraging digital competencies to create new business models, products and services. Simply put, DX seamlessly blends “digital and physical business and customer experiences while improving operational efficiencies and organizational performance.” This is the wave that Philippine companies are getting sucked into today. It has become a do-or-die decision for businesses in the Philippines, where migration to the digital is no longer just a concept, but a reality that should be accepted—the sooner the better.

PH cited for improvement in Internet speed Manila Bulletin Business 15th Apr 2018
A global leader in Internet performance testing said in a recent report that the country’s average download speed for mobile and fixed broadband continued to improve in February 2018, posting an increase of 70.30 percent to 12.67Mbps and 103.41 percent to 16.09Mbps, respectively. According to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index Report of February 2018, the download speeds improved from 7.44Mbps (mobile broadband) and from 7.91Mbps (fixed broadband) that were recorded in July 2016.

Infrastructure

Infra, capital spending 32.4% higher in March The Manila Times 26th Apr 2018
Infrastructure and other capital spending climbed in March, the Budget department reported, with government resources said to have been used for roads, police stations and schools. Data released on Wednesday put spending at P63.4 billion during the month, up 32.4 percent from the P47.9 billion recorded a year earlier. “This is on account of the implementation of road infrastructure projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways, completed construction of police stations by the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Philippine National Police, and repairs and rehabilitation of school facilities as well as purchase of office supplies and furniture for various Department of Education schools nationwide,” the department said in a statement.

Philippines approves San Miguel's $14 bln airport project Reuters 25th Apr 2018
The Philippines on Wednesday approved a $14 billion airport project proposed by its largest company by revenue, San Miguel Corp, a facility that that should help ease congestion at the country’s main gateway in Manila. San Miguel has pursued an aggressive expansion since 2008 to bolster revenues, adding infrastructure, mining, petroleum and power assets to its staple food and beverage businesses.

China's ‘Silk Road’, seen to fund Philippine infrastructure, hits snags — report | Philstar.com philstar.com 17th Apr 2018
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attended the China-sponsored “One Belt, One Road” Summit in Beijing last year, signalling Manila's interest in the multibillion-dollar fund earmarked by the Asian power for the infrastructure initiative aimed at linking Asia, Africa, and Europe. But there’s one problem: China’s ambitious plan to revive an ancient “Silk Road” is reportedly facing a serious financing obstacle, while attracting private investors to take part in the initiative remains a challenge. According to a report by the South China Morning Post dated April 16, funding infrastructure projects along countries in the Silk Road would be a hurdle, as these nations' debt levels are “far above recognized safety levels.”

Execution is biggest hurdle for ‘BBB’ plan BusinessMirror 16th Apr 2018
Execution “will be the decisive element” in the success of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program, economic experts said at a recent forum organized by Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) “The impetus for a massive infrastructure buildup is the country’s poor state of infrastructure, as evidenced by our poor performance in several global rankings,” said Dindo Manhit, president of Stratbase ADRi. “The Philippines is one of the lowest in terms of logistics performance, and the most problematic factor for doing business in the country is inadequate infrastructure supply.” Economist Dr. Alvin Ang presented his special study, “Financing Inclusive Infrastructure,” where he identified serious challenges that the government must overcome to deliver on the President’s infrastructure agenda.

Philippines looks beyond China for public works Nikkei Asian Review 19th Apr 2018
The Philippines wants a balanced diet of aid for its massive infrastructure push, a key official told Nikkei, aiming to avoid an unhealthy dependence on a China moving to deepen its involvement in infrastructure throughout Southeast Asia. "We want to strengthen our partnership with all countries" in bringing about a "golden age of infrastructure," said Mark Villar, secretary of public works and highways. "Our main commitment is to deliver projects with speed and the highest quality, under the principle of sustainable fiscal management," Villar explained. The archipelago nation plans to pour about 8 trillion pesos ($153 billion) into trains, ports and other infrastructure under President Rodrigo Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" drive. The goal is to improve productivity, as Manila-area traffic costs the Philippines an estimated 2.4 billion pesos per day. Public works spending is expected to hit 7.3% of gross domestic product in 2022, up from last year's 5.4%. The country will make active use of public-private partnerships, Villar said.

Infrastructure, other outlays top target BusinessWorld 26th Apr 2018

STATE infrastructure and other capital disbursements continued their year-on-year surge in March on the back of roadworks as well as repair and construction of government facilities, enabling such spending to exceed the first-quarter target, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) reported on Monday. In its disbursement assessment report for March, the Budget department said that the government spent P63.4 billion on infrastructure and other capital outlays, 32.4% more than the P47.9 billion recorded in the same month last year.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing sector powered GDP growth in Q1–Neda BusinessMirror 23rd Apr 2018
The manufacturing sector’s strong performance in the first three months of the year likely boosted the country’s GDP growth in the first quarter, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda). On Monday Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters that first-quarter GDP growth likely reached 7 percent. In order to reach the country’s full-year target of 7 percent to 8 percent, he  said GDP growth must reach at least 7 percent per quarter.

Higher tax continues to dampen demand for cars BusinessWorld 13th Apr 2018
AUTOMOBILE SALES fell for the third straight month in March as a higher tax rate that came into force in January continued to dampen demand, industry groups reported on Thursday. A joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and Truck Manufacturers Association showed that member companies sold 28,216 units last month, down 22.8% from the 36,561 in March 2017 and 7.8% from February’s 26,176 units. The first three months saw industry sales drop 8.5% to 86,037 from 94,026 a year ago.