Philippines Update: October 10, 2018

Philippines Update | October 10, 2018
Authors: Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez, Kim Yaeger, Riley Smith
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

December 5, The 1st Asia-Pacific LNG Investment Summit

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

US and Philippines to announce FTA talks

The U.S. and the Philippines plan to announce the start of free trade negotiations by November of this year. The joint decision by the two allies will seek to bolster the bilateral economic relationship amid uncertainty over security ties. The move toward starting talks comes after both sides resolved some ongoing trade policy irritants under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), including those related to e-commerce. A meeting between USTR and the Department of Trade and Industry to issue a joint declaration to formally initiate negotiations would kick off the process of getting US congressional approval. According to Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, President Duterte's meeting with President Trump in November 2017, helped fast-track a shared interest to start negotiations. 

The Philippines is looking for a more permanent preferential trading arrangement with the United States, upgrading the current Generalized System of Preferences scheme wherein the U.S. reviews zero-tariff privileges given to more than 3,000 Philippine products every three years. Manila also plans to push for duty free access to the U.S market for its exports of footwear and garments under the FTA, to help revive the country's garment industry, which was dealt a blow in 1995 by the phaseout of a quota system that guaranteed a market for Philippine exports.

On the other hand, the U.S. wants to export more agricultural products to the Philippines, which ties in with President Rodrigo Duterte's recent policy of liberalizing food imports to rein in stubbornly high inflation. The U.S. ranks among the Philippines' major trading partners. In 2017, bilateral trade totaled around $20 billion, with the U.S. registering a $3.2 billion trade deficit. The successful conclusion of a bilateral FTA could help rebuild Manila-Washington ties and allow the Philippines to join Singapore as the only ASEAN nations with an FTA with the United States.

World Bank, Asian Development Bank revise down Philippines economic outlook

The World Bank revised the Philippines economic outlook in 2018 downward from 6.7% from 6.5%. Philippine economic managers were aiming for 7% to 8% for the growth to trickle down to the most marginalized sectors. In a similar move, the Asian Development Bank downgraded its economic growth outlook for the Philippines this year to 6.4% from an earlier estimate of 6.8 percent amid slower agricultural output, higher inflation and global monetary tightening.

Growth slowed in the first half of 2018 due to weak exports of electronics and lower production from agriculture and fisheries due to unfavorable weather conditions. Inflation would likely settle at 5 percent in 2018 and 4 percent in 2019, exceeding the government’s official target of 2 percent to 4 percent this year. Rising global prices for oil and other commodities contributed to underlying inflationary pressures. Reforms to replace quantitative restrictions on rice, with resulting tariff revenue to be invested to improve domestic rice farming, would help stabilize food prices over the medium-term. But the investment outlook remained positive for this year and next. Both multilateral lenders projected the Philippine economy to remain robust at 6.7% growth in 2019 and resilient, helped by its sound external payments position and relatively low national government debt. The economy would benefit from the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program, with infrastructure spending rising 47 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2018. Data showed that as of August 2018, 44 of 75 projects began implementation. The share of expenditure allocated to public works is set to increase from 13.3% in 2018 to 14.8% in 2019.

President Duterte revokes amnesty of opposition Senator Trillanes

By Proclamation 572, President Duterte revoked the grant of amnesty to former military officer now opposing Senator Trillanes raising questions on the limits of presidential power. The grant of amnesty to LTSG Antonio Trillanes IV was declared void ab initio (void from the beginning) because he did not comply with the minimum requirements to qualify under the Amnesty Proclamation. The proclamation ordered the Department of Justice and Court Martial of the Philippines to pursue all criminal and administrative cases filed against Trillanes in relation to the Oakwood Mutiny and the Manila Peninsula incident. The Armed Forces and National Police were also ordered to employ all lawful means to apprehend former LTSG Trillanes. Senator Trillanes sought sanctuary in the Senate and petitioned the Supreme Court for a restraining order but the highest court of the land referred the matter back to lower courts. Two Makati courts handle Trillanes cases. Judge Andres Soriano of Regional Trial Court 148 will hear the coup d’état offense while Judge Elmo Alameda of Regional Trial Court 150 will hear the rebellion charge. The Duterte proclamation triggered a media frenzy while the President was in Israel early September and provoked real time discussions on the legality of the proclamation and government actions based on it. Legal experts view this proclamation as a violation of the right against double jeopardy and critics view this as politically motivated. Senator Trillanes is among the most vocal critics of Duterte in Congress.

 
 
 
 
 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements
World in 'deep kimchi' if trade war lasts: Philippines finance minister
U.S.-China trade war dims Asia's 2019 growth outlook: ADB
Swapping Goods: The costs and potentials of a PHL-US bilateral free trade

Regional Affairs
Philippines, China 'serious' on joint exploration — Chinese envoy

National Affairs
Philippine President Duterte Arrests Critic, Ending Three-Week Showdown
‘Most peaceful ever’: Comelec holds Brgy, SK polls in Marawi
Maybe next year: Federal Charter frozen till after polls
Landslide near quarry site buries 20 homes, kills 3 people in Naga, Cebu
Confronting The ‘Killer’
Veteran tourism exec takes over scandal-rocked Tourism Promotions Board
Manufacturers vow 3-month price freeze
The body count of mayors in the Philippines is going up as Duterte's drug war rages on
DBM: no spending slack from poll ban
Palace supports ‘option’ to extend martial law in Mindanao after Isulan blast
Philippines: Duterte faces new ICC complaint over 'drug' killings
D.O.F. vows ‘more jobs’ under ‘trabaho’ bill, but open to P.5-billion safety net
Pentagon to return bells captured in the Philippines over 100 years ago
Philippines' Duterte sacks 20 for graft in military medical buys

Market Development
HP to release 3D printer for metal parts as it eyes manufacturing industry
Cargill introduces digital nutrition technology in PHL

ASEAN
Philippine peso to hit P58 vs $1, inflation to jump – Capital Economics

Customs
Philippines' Duterte boosts imports to fight inflation
House passes rice tariffication bill
Duterte to sign order to tame price hikes
After visiting Manila international ports, customs chief declares no congestion
Ways & Means Democrats urge Lighthizer not to open trade talks with the Philippines
BOC to craft order on regulation of foreign shipping lines
Senate to probe drug smuggling at Customs
BOC chief continues to enjoy President's confidence amid shabu shipment issue

Defense & Security
Philippines' Duterte shops for arms on controversial Israel trip
Philippines' Duterte eyes arms deals on Israel trip

Economics
Philippines raises key rates again to fight inflation
PHL growth to slow, still ‘robust’ — ADB
P20 wage hike eyed in NCR
FMIC, UA&P: Philippine economy may 'rebound' in H2, but not without 'bumps'
ADB raises Philippine inflation forecasts for 2018, 2019
NFA Council OKs imports of 500K MT more of rice
NG posts P2.6-B Aug fiscal deficit; 8-month gap is P282B
PHL extols sustainable tourism advocacy in Japan expo
Peso sinks to a new 13-year low ahead of Monetary Board meet
Ompong farm damage climbs to nearly P27B
Big oil traders say $100 coming as Opec tries to fill Iran gap
PHL had ‘zero real wage growth’–WB report
Senators nix publication, book taxes in TRAIN 2
World Bank cites dev’t tasks ahead for PHL
‘With its focus on infra, PHL on track in journey to 4th industrial revolution’
NFA says rice dealers do not want to sell lower-grade grains
Analysts expect fresh 50bp rate hike
Gov’t sets road show in London
‘Senate’s TRAIN 2 to address concerns over job losses’
Fitch downplays corporate tax cut’s lure
House sends proposed mining tax reform back to DoF
GMA, who opened up mining in 2004, backs tax on sector
H1 oil import bill up 32.8% on high prices, weak peso
PHL could import more rice to ease high prices
SBMA setting up Subic airport for international flights
PHL posts $1.27-billion BOP surplus, its first for 2018
BOC releases seized rice, food items to DSWD for Ompong victims
Not all tax reforms approved by yearend
Remittances grow 5%, as peso hits 2005 low
BSP signals ‘strong monetary action’ on Sept. 27
‘Trabaho bill’ to force semicons to shed 140,000 jobs–industry bloc
P36-billion cut from DOH budget to shed 15,000 jobs of health workers
Verbal tiff of lawmakers, concerns over projects stall budget talks in House
Foreign business chambers backs longer Trabaho bill discussions
TRAIN 2 to deter mine investment | BusinessWorld
8 months on, BOI still 60% off target of P680 billion
BSP okays currency risk protection scheme rules
SSS leads backers of Package 2 of tax reforms
Analysts split on impact of delaying tax reforms
Central bank opens FX hedging facility
Inflation storm brewing
Philippines not yet growth ‘outperformer,’ but still a ‘very recent accelerator’
IPO rule tweaks favor small investors
Philippines' current account buffer deteriorates further in H1
It’s that bad: Export leader says a ‘flat’ growth is fine
With no ‘BBB’ funds for water, scarcity feared
Tax perks bill to cause bigger trade gap: JFC
DoF flags tax reform bill’s fiscal impact
Foreign business groups welcome infrastructure drive, but worry about changing incentives regime
Cryptocurrency exchanges resort to irregular practices for demand
Cabinet readying draft of inflation-busting EO
Draft EO by Cabinet scraps NTBs on food
P10 billion for NFA rice procurement
Carriers mull over flight cuts to lessen tourist visit to Boracay
Peso closes at 54.13
June fuels first-half FDI surge
House OK’s second tax reform
No currency sword of Damocles over the Philippines for now
PHL trade deficit swells by more than 170% in July 2018
Read his lips: No additional sugar importation–not yet
DPWH to do P2.76 billion worth of projects in UP campuses
House OKs ‘Trabaho’ bill on 3rd, final reading
PHL needs more airports, but officials grapple with timing, viability concerns
Higher taxes, prices: Business outlook lowest in 8 years
Work on 3 Manila bridges spells more traffic problems
Rising prices weigh on business
Electricity rates drop this month
PHL economy seen to withstand further tightening
Inflation puts PHL at center of Asian emerging market crisis
Higher inflation seen to plunge more Pinoys into poverty this year
Philippines importing 250,000 MT rice to pull down rising prices
More Pinoys stuck in low-quality jobs–experts
August inflation fastest in nearly a decade
NAIA consortium says proposed terminal fee hike is not a ‘gov’t guarantee’
Nonmonetary options listed to fight inflation
Energy regulator to clarify rules on microgrids in cooperative franchise areas
House approves TRAIN 2 on second reading
Survey finds CEOs still bullish amid challenges
Finance sees GDP growing by about 6.8%
Israel, Philippines sign agreement for attracting foreign investment
Poll sees fresh multiyear-high inflation
Fiscal perks overhaul seen keeping investors on edge
DOF sees August inflation hitting 5.9 percent, cites supply-side challenges
Petrol prices up: P0.95 a liter for gas, P1.20 for kerosene
DOF bullish 2018 growth to be ‘close to 6.8 percent’
‘Tepid’ Q3 growth seen on prices, weak exports
SRA sees higher sugar output in CY 2018-2019
NFAC okays importation of rice for Zambasulta
What did DBM, House agree on? Just a ‘transitory cash-based system’
House OKs bills on 4Ps, Consumer Act, workers’ leave 
Maiden report flags key financial risks
House, Executive agree on ‘hybrid’ budgeting
Banks show bigger returns in Q2 despite slower asset growth
BSP signals further rate hikes likely, ‘as needed’
Gov’t lines up priority infrastructure for 2019
Spending surge boosts budget gap
7-month national government deficit rises 36% to P279.4 billion
Fish traders behind price spikes focus of BFAR
Inflation’s pain on poor spurs call for task force
PHL, China set meeting on infrastructure projects fund
Runway mishap sparks calls for new airport, Senate probe
PHL seeks $1.96-B ADB funding for devt projects
House to resume budget work
Telecom stakeholders cite ways to improve dismal PHL record
Malampaya template pitched for joint exploration in West Philippine Sea

Energy
Philippines' Aboitiz to buy stake in Ayala's thermal unit for $579 mln
DOE pushes oil, gas exploration with new contracting round
DOE to expand contracting program for oil and gas exploration
Matchmaking to produce tie ups between microgrid developers, co-ops
After disaster, Philippines to review all small-scale mining proposals
ABB in multi-million Philippines geothermal deal
Lawmakers seek more deliberations on bill seeking franchise for Solar Para sa Bayan
DOE says no takers for 995 areas under QTP electrification program
PH, Israel firm to ink oil exploration deal
Energy circulars on uniform electricity bill, RE use inked
Senate OKs creation of world-class PH energy think tank
DOF: Mining royalty remains on gov’t agenda
China Poised to Win Major Victory in Sea Dispute With Help of Philippine Resources Deal

Financial Services
Rural banks, microfinance go digital for expansion
Which Asian banks will lose steam amidst the silver population takeover?
BSP Gov. Espenilla to take two-week break for treatment
Philippines Welcomes China’s United Digital Asset Exchange (UDAX) into Growing Crypto Market
ASEAN taxation cooperation via automatic information exchange
Cryptocurrency trading rules eyed
Philippine SEC Adopts ASEAN Green Bonds Standards
Gov't sets December pilot test for the national id system
Asian countries vie to set up region's 'crypto valleys'

Food & Agriculture
Rules for implementing the sweetened beverage tax
Initial rice crop losses due to typhoon Ompong estimated at P4.97 billion
Army chief tapped to head grains agency
DTI seeking to cancel permits of traders found selling only premium rice
Domestic chocolate processors propping up cacao industry
Palace sees passage of rice tariffication in Sept
Trade dep’t touts list of 41 firms agreeing to suspend price hike
Philippines, Papua New Guinea begin farming cooperation
Palace readies EO to ease food import process
Negros pilot project boosts sugarcane output to 80-100 tons per hectare
GOCC Legaspi Oil aims to bring Davao coco oil mill back to full capacity
Bill adding farmers to PCA board hurdles House panel
FAO, Philippines continue to strengthen partnership on achieving food security, nutrition and agricultural development

Health & Life Sciences
6,700 govt nurses to lose jobs

ICT
Constant 'relearning,' non-routine abilities key to future job security – PIDS
Philippines migrates to Digital TV
Philippines feels the heat from hackers
Asian Development Bank pushes digital technologies for development in APAC
Millennials, digital technology change the property market
Philippines channels India with ID system
Philippines Plans ID System to Get Its Poorest Residents on the Map
Cable SMEs oppose govt deal with co-ops
Electronic imports up 16% in H1
AT&T, Telenor eyeing third telco bid – DICT
DA introduces ICT-based tool for Ilocos farmers
ECs pledge to deliver internet to rural areas
Deal taps power co-ops for rural internet services
PH ranked 9th in cyberthreat risks
Unsure of Digital Payments? BSP Creates New Unit to Better Regulate Fintech Services
Dominguez: Prioritize telecoms reforms

Infrastructure
House resolution seeks to block national franchise for solar firm
Boracay main roads to be ready by Oct. 26 ‘soft opening’ — DoT
San Miguel Holdings parent SMC’s backing needed for Bulacan airport
New P2.5 billion Clark runway seen to ease NAIA congestion | Philstar.com
Davao Int’l airport upgrade to start next year
Contract to build Iloilo dam project signed with South Korean company
To ease traffic gridlock, Philippine subway builder eyes ferries

Insurance
2 storms, Florence and Mangkhut, different as water and wind

Legislation
Review costs of shift to federalism: biz groups
Nograles to DBM, DBCC: Revert to old budget system then we’ll talk
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

World in 'deep kimchi' if trade war lasts: Philippines finance minister Reuters 26th Sep 2018
The world economy will be in “deep kimchi” if the current trade war between the United States and China drags on, the finance minister of the Philippines has warned, acknowledging his country is one of the first in the firing line. The Philippines sells around 15 percent of its goods to China. Its currency is down nine percent this year despite a run of interest rate hikes and growth has slowed to its weakest in three years. The price of oil, one of it main imports, has risen over 80 percent in the last 15 months, fuelling worries about a dreaded fiscal and current account “twin deficit”.

U.S.-China trade war dims Asia's 2019 growth outlook: ADB Reuters 25th Sep 2018
Developing Asia could grow more slowly than previously thought next year as the U.S.-China trade war inflicts damage on the region’s export-reliant economies, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Wednesday.

Swapping Goods: The costs and potentials of a PHL-US bilateral free trade BusinessMirror 22nd Aug 2018
OPPORTUNITY knocks only once and Trade Undersecretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo Jr. wants to tap on the door of the world’s second largest trader: the United States. “This is how it is: all governments muscle in global trade what is beneficial to their [respective] country,” Rodolfo said after a five-second pause. “For us, we’re also taking advantage.” The trade official can’t be blamed for saying this, as the rattling of the trade saber by the US against the world’s largest merchandise trader, China, ended with a whimper. Nonetheless, it’s a tough question for Rodolfo: Should the Philippines bargain free trade with the US at a time when Washington is enacting protectionist measures here and there?

Regional Affairs

Philippines, China 'serious' on joint exploration — Chinese envoy Philippine Star 28th Sep 2018
Despite the lack of agreement between the Philippines and China on joint explorations in the South China Sea until now, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua said both parties are keen on pursuing the proposed project. The Chinese envoy said discussions on the possible joint exploration in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea, are still ongoing. "We haven't come to a conclusion yet but both sides are serious in the possibility of joint exploration," Zhao said at the sidelines of the celebration of the 69th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

National Affairs

Philippine President Duterte Arrests Critic, Ending Three-Week Showdown World Street Journal 25th Sep 2018
Philippines police arrested the most prominent critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, capping a three-week showdown that has tested the limits of Mr. Duterte’s power and thrown into question the country’s judicial independence. Antonio Trillanes IV, a serving senator, was arrested Tuesday inside the Senate building, where he had been holed up since Mr. Duterte voided an amnesty and ordered the police and military to arrest him. The amnesty had been granted by a previous president for the senator’s role in a failed military uprising when he was a navy lieutenant. Opponents of Mr. Duterte say that he has strong-armed the country’s institutions into silencing Mr. Trillanes, singling him out from among more than 300 people granted amnesty after the 2003 revolt and another incident in which Mr. Trillanes and others occupied a luxury hotel.

‘Most peaceful ever’: Comelec holds Brgy, SK polls in Marawi BusinessMirror 24th Sep 2018
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) recorded its most peaceful election in Marawi City on Saturday (September 22), when it conducted its barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) with zero casualties. “No untoward incident has been reported and the Comelec now considers #BSKE2018 in Marawi to have been the most peaceful one in the recent history of Marawi City,” Comelec Spokesman James B. Jimenez said in a statement.

Maybe next year: Federal Charter frozen till after polls BusinessMirror 24th Sep 2018
EVEN some members of the Consultative Committee (Con-com) believe that their proposed federal Charter will be staying in the back burner at least until the end of the 2019 midterm elections. This, as the Senate and the House of Representatives are conducting budget deliberations and reelectionist lawmakers are preparing for their campaign for the May 30, 2019, midterm elections. Con-com member Arthur N. Aguilar told the BusinessMirror that he doesn’t see their draft federal Charter being talked about anymore in Congress until the new Senate and House takes shape after the elections. “Maybe if the new Senate is so inclined and the House is also so inclined, and the President still has his advocacy on federalism, maybe this time next year, it would be revived. But between now and then, I don’t see anything,” Aguilar said.

Landslide near quarry site buries 20 homes, kills 3 people in Naga, Cebu BusinessMirror 20th Sep 2018
Rescuers are now racing against time to save residents of two small communities whose houses were buried under tons of soil and rocks following landslides near a quarry site in Naga City, Cebu. As if this writing, at least three people, two elders and a child, are confirmed dead

Confronting The ‘Killer’ BusinessMirror 16th Sep 2018
WITH the rainy season far from over, the threat from the flood-borne leptospirosis continues to send chills down the spine of both the public and the health-care sector, which continues to fight an uphill battle against the deadly disease. This, notwithstanding the impressive number of successful cases of managing this dreaded flood-borne disease as compared to other countries, according to a ranking official of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI)

Veteran tourism exec takes over scandal-rocked Tourism Promotions Board BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
A CAREER government official  has been appointed as chief operating officer (COO) of the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the marketing arm of the Department of Tourism (DOT). Marie Venus Q. Tan, who has served in various capacities at the DOT, serves for one year as TPB COO, and took her oath of office from President Duterte on Wednesday. In an interview with the BusinessMirror, Tan said she was looking forward to working with the TPB staff, “who are professional people with integrity. I’d like to look to the future, move forward, and put those seeming scandals behind us.”

Manufacturers vow 3-month price freeze philstar.com 7th Sep 2018
Consumers can expect some reprieve from surging prices as manufacturers have agreed to hold off price hikes in the next three months, a trade official said yesterday. The administration is also preparing a budget of P83.85 billion for the implementation in 2019 of social welfare programs under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

The body count of mayors in the Philippines is going up as Duterte's drug war rages on Business Insider 6th Sep 2018
A Philippine mayor was shot dead on Wednesday as the number of officials killed under mysterious circumstances has risen to 11 since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016. Mariano Blanco, mayor of the town of Ronda in the Cebu province, was shot in his office at around 1:30 a.m. local time after four unidentified men broke in, Rappler reported, citing police officials. Blanco's death marks the 11th mayor killed since Duterte took office in June 2016. Six vice mayors have also been murdered in the same time frame, and many have been linked to Duterte's brutal drug crackdown. Official estimates put the death toll from Duterte's drug war at 4,729, though rights groups estimate the actual number could be as high as 20,000.

DBM: no spending slack from poll ban BusinessWorld 30th Aug 2018
THE DEPARTMENT of Budget and Management (DBM) expects state spending to continue improvement, even with the 45-day ban on such disbursements ahead of the May 2019 mid-term elections, its head said on Wednesday. Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the government took into consideration the 45-day disbursement ban before elections when it drafted its spending program.

Palace supports ‘option’ to extend martial law in Mindanao after Isulan blast BusinessMirror 30th Aug 2018
Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea on Wednesday said the government is considering the extension of martial law in Mindanao following a deadly explosion in Sultan Kudarat. The top Palace official said extending martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus remains an option. “It’s an option,” Medialdea told reporters in an ambush interview after the budget hearing of the Office of the President.

Philippines: Duterte faces new ICC complaint over 'drug' killings Al Jazeera 28th Aug 2018
Activists and families of eight victims of the Philippines "war on drugs" have filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC), accusing President Rodrigo Duterte of murder and crimes against humanity. The 50-page complaint calls for Duterte's indictment over thousands of extrajudicial killings during his crackdown on drugs, which the activists and families said included "brazen" executions by police acting with impunity. Critics of the campaign were being "persecuted", they said, and cases filed by victims' families had gone nowhere.

D.O.F. vows ‘more jobs’ under ‘trabaho’ bill, but open to P.5-billion safety net BusinessMirror 22nd Aug 2018
ALTHOUGH the Department of Finance (DOF) insisted that more jobs will be created in the long run under the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High Quality Opportunities (or what the House now calls “Trabaho”) law, it is amenable to including in the law a fund that will serve as a “safety net” in case of job losses. Finance Chief Economist and Undersecretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua told reporters in a Palace briefing on Wednesday that the inclusion of the fund under the measure—referred to as the second package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) does not mean that there will really be job losses. Nonetheless, he posed no objection to a safety net fund, but clarified in a chance interview that it was really Congress, not the finance department, that proposed it.

Pentagon to return bells captured in the Philippines over 100 years ago CNN 14th Aug 2018
Manila has long sought the repatriation of the church bells, which were taken by US troops in 1901 during a particularly bloody chapter of the Philippine-American War. The bells have deep significance for many in the United States and the Philippines. Some members of Congress and veterans' groups had opposed their return. Some lawmakers still do. In 2017, Congress passed legislation lifting a decade-long ban on returning the bells and the Pentagon consulted with various veterans' associations, according to the official.Congress was notified of the Pentagon's intention to return the bells last week. However, the congressional delegation from Wyoming, where two of the bells are located, slammed the decision to return the artifacts. The third bell has been kept on a US military base in South Korea. The defense official said that no specific date has been identified for the return of the bells, but that the Pentagon is committed to a timely resolution.

Philippines' Duterte sacks 20 for graft in military medical buys Channel NewsAsia 13th Aug 2018
MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has fired 20 people, including colonels and a general, over accusations of fraud and graft in purchases of military medical supplies, his spokesman said on Monday, the latest step in a sweeping battle on graft. Those sacked were accused of involvement in 17 cases of bogus purchases of supplies, drugs and equipment at inflated prices, the spokesman, Harry Roque, told reporters. Duterte was "personally aggravated and angered", having recently ordered that 50 million pesos (US$936,908) be made available to the main military hospital where the offences took place, Roque said. Military chief Carlito Galvez said he was angered to learn that men in uniform had profited by inflating the prices of prosthetics bought for soldiers who had lost limbs in battle.

Market Development

HP to release 3D printer for metal parts as it eyes manufacturing industry BusinessWorld 13th Sep 2018
HP INC., the largest maker of personal computers, is making a big push into the manufacturing industry with its first printer that can churn out 3D metal parts. HP is unveiling the Metal Jet printer, and some early customers, at a manufacturing trade show in Chicago on Monday. Engineering firm GKN Plc is using the printers in its factories to produce parts for companies including Volkswagen AG, one of the biggest automakers. GKN makes more than 3 billion components a year and expects to print millions of production-grade HP Metal Jet parts for customers as early as next year, HP said in a statement.

Cargill introduces digital nutrition technology in PHL BusinessWorld 6th Sep 2018
ANIMAL NUTRITION provider Cargill launched on Thursday its digital nutrition solutions portfolio under its Provimi brand in the Philippines. Provimi’s technology allows animal producers to provide ideal nutrition as it offers definite nutritional data to help achieve production goals. “I think there will be some resistance at first with the market embracing the idea of digital nutrition,” Cargill Premix and Nutrition Philippines Country Director Generoso Rene M. Romo, Jr., said during a press conference on Wednesday.

ASEAN

Philippine peso to hit P58 vs $1, inflation to jump – Capital Economics Rappler 26th Sep 2018
The London-based research firm sees the Philippine peso sliding to P58 in 2019 and inflation soaring due to Typhoon Ompong

Customs

Philippines' Duterte boosts imports to fight inflation Nikkei Asian Review 25th Sep 2018
Stubbornly high inflation has prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to order government agencies to step up food imports while enlisting police to crack down on price manipulators. Duterte, in an executive order signed on Sept. 21 but made public on Tuesday, directed the Department of Trade and Industry, National Food Authority and Sugar Regulatory Administration to ease restrictions on food imports and lift nontariff barriers to make commodities immediately available to consumers. Officials said last week that the move will eliminate middlemen who bloat prices.

House passes rice tariffication bill CNN 14th Aug 2018
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 14) — The House of Representatives has passed a bill lifting limits to rice imports and replacing it with a general tariff. Two hundred lawmakers passed House Bill 7735, or the proposed Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act, on third and final reading Tuesday. Only seven voted against, while two abstained. President Rodrigo Duterte mentioned the bill as a priority during his State of the Nation Address.

Duterte to sign order to tame price hikes The Manila Times Online 13th Sep 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign an Executive Order (EO) aimed at taming the soaring inflation in the country, his spokesman said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. added that the draft EO would be submitted by Duterte’s economic managers to the Office of the President after a meeting with his Cabinet on Tuesday in Malacañang. “The economic cluster group will submit to the Office of the President a draft Executive Order removing administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of fish rice sugar, meat and vegetables,” Roque said during a news briefing.

After visiting Manila international ports, customs chief declares no congestion PortCalls Asia 10th Sep 2018
Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña said there is no port congestion in Manila’s international terminals, saying yard utilization at Manila International Container Port (MICP) and Port of Manila (POM) is at normal rates of 86% and 88%, respectively.

Ways & Means Democrats urge Lighthizer not to open trade talks with the Philippines World Trade Online 5th Sep 2018
Six House Ways & Means Democrats, including the ranking member on the trade subcommittee, are urging the Trump administration not to sign a free trade deal with the Philippines. In a Sept. 4 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the six lawmakers note that the country has been singled out as a top candidate for a bilateral deal. Inside U.S. Trade reported earlier this month that talks with the Philippines could begin later this year.

BOC to craft order on regulation of foreign shipping lines PortCalls Asia 23rd Aug 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has created a team that will draft a customs administrative order (CAO) on the registration and regulation of international shipping lines calling the Philippines. “We will have a separate customs administrative order which will deal specifically with regulation and registration of shipping lines,” BOC Port of Manila deputy collector for Operations Atty. Ma. Lourdes Mangaoang said in a speech during the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines general membership meeting on August 18.

Senate to probe drug smuggling at Customs philstar 16th Aug 2018
The Senate will conduct its own inquiry into the continued smuggling of billions of pesos worth of illegal drugs through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which also prompted Sen. Manny Pacquiao to renew his call for the imposition of the death penalty on high-level drug traffickers. Pacquiao filed Senate Resolution 843 seeking an investigation into the smuggling of the methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu” through the BOC that was estimated by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to be around P6.8 billion.

BOC chief continues to enjoy President's confidence amid shabu shipment issue PortCalls Asia 13th Aug 2018
Customs commissioner Isidro Lapeña still has President Rodrigo Duterte’s trust even after a shipment of illegal drugs potentially worth P6.8 billion worth may have apparently slipped past Bureau of Customs (BOC) personnel. “May tiwala siya kay General Lapeña, may tiwala siya sa PDEA [Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency]. Inaasahan niya na magkakaroon nang mas malapit na ugnayan ang PDEA at Bureau of Customs dahil nanggaling naman po sa PDEA itong si General Lapeña (The President trusts General Lapeña, also the PDEA. He [the President] expects closer coordination between PDEA and BOC, considering General Lapeña also came from PDEA [before being appointed BOC chief]),” Roque said in a press briefing on August 13.

Defense & Security

Philippines' Duterte shops for arms on controversial Israel trip the Guardian 2nd Sep 2018
The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, who once compared himself to Hitler and his bloody war on drugs to the Holocaust, will meet the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday on a first visit by a Filipino head of state to Israel. The hardline former mayor and prosecutor wants to buy weapons, after pivoting away from a previous reliance on US arms reduced by human rights concerns and diplomatic spats. Netanyahu’s government sold the Philippines radar and anti-tank equipment worth £16m in 2017.

Philippines' Duterte eyes arms deals on Israel trip The Jakarta Post 2nd Sep 2018
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday left for a visit to Israel and Jordan, pursuing a pivot away from his nation's long-time reliance on American military hardware and support.

Economics

Philippines raises key rates again to fight inflation Channel NewsAsia 27th Sep 2018
MANILA: The Philippines on Thursday (Sep 27) raised key interest rates for the fourth time this year as it aims to tame inflation that has spiked to a nine-year high and shore up its tumbling currency. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas again pumped the brakes, this time with a 50 basis point hike to 4.5 per cent, as worries grow the nation's economy is overheating. Consumer prices rose by a nine-year high to 6.4 per cent in August, with some analysts warning the September data, due out next week, could top seven percent. "The Monetary Board recognised that a further tightening of monetary policy was warranted by persistent signs of sustained and broadening price pressures," the bank said. It added that inflation for this year and next would likely surpass the monetary authority's own forecasts. The destruction wrought earlier this month by Typhoon Mangkhut, 2018's most powerful storm, is expected to further push up prices because of widespread damage to key agricultural areas.

PHL growth to slow, still ‘robust’ — ADB Business World 27th Sep 2018
THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (ADB) has slashed its Philippine economic growth projections for this year and 2019 following “stagnant” performance in agriculture and a merchandise export slowdown, even as investments continue to rise. The regional lender revised downwards its Philippine gross domestic product (GDP) forecast to 6.4% in 2018 and 6.7% in 2019 in its Asian Development Outlook Update published on Wednesday, from 6.8% and 6.9% in its April report. If realized, this year’s growth would be slower than the actual 6.7% clocked in 2017 and would fall short of the government’s 7-8% target. But while the Philippines “faces the largest downward revision to its growth forecast for this year — by 0.4 percentage points — followed by Malaysia by 0.3 points, the Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam by 0.2 points and Indonesia by 0.1 points,” it should still “post strong growth both this year and next,” the report read. Contributing to next year’s pickup, the report added, would be acceleration of state spending on infrastructure and social services, while “[t]he recent buildup of inflationary pressure should moderate next year as tighter monetary policy reins in inflation expectations.”

P20 wage hike eyed in NCR BusinessMirror 26th Sep 2018
LABOR Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said on Tuesday the regional wage board in Metro Manila is now considering a P20 minimum- wage hike. In a television interview, Bello said this was based on the initial monitoring of the  Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board-National Capital Region (RTWPB-NCR) of economic factors in its jurisdiction.

FMIC, UA&P: Philippine economy may 'rebound' in H2, but not without 'bumps' philstar.com 26th Sep 2018
The Philippine economy may improve in the second half of the year despite the slower-than-expected growth posted in the April-June period, but not without “bumps,” particularly in the inflation front. In its September report, economists at First Metro Investment Corp. and University of Asia and the Pacific said they “remain optimistic” for an economic “rebound” in the second half despite the surprise slowdown in the second quarter.

ADB raises Philippine inflation forecasts for 2018, 2019 Philippine Star 26th Sep 2018
The Asian Development Bank on Wednesday raised its inflation forecast on the Philippines as higher international oil prices — worsened by the local currency’s depreciation — build up more price pressures. In an update of its annual economic publication, the Manila-based institution said it expects Philippine inflation, which is now far higher than the rest of Asia, to average 5 percent in 2018, before tapering off to 4 percent in 2019. ADB’s latest inflation outlook on the Philippines was higher than its previous estimates of 4 percent for this year and 3.9 percent for next. “Inflation rates in Southeast Asia are mostly stable, except in the Philippines,” the Bank said. “A confluence there of cost-push factors — mainly elevated oil prices, food supply disruptions, and a new tax reform program — drove transport, electricity, and food prices higher,” it added.

NFA Council OKs imports of 500K MT more of rice BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
THE National Food Authority Council (NFAC) approved on Monday the purchase of an additional 500,000 metric tons of imported rice, on top of the 250,000 MT it greenlighted on September 4. But Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, who is also the chairman of the NFAC, said the imports would be brought into the country by the National Food Authority (NFA), and not the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), as earlier reported. The PITC is a government-owned and -controlled corporation (GOCC) attached to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

NG posts P2.6-B Aug fiscal deficit; 8-month gap is P282B BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
THE national government (NG) reported a fiscal deficit of P2.6 billion for August this year, with spending outpacing revenue growth, and pushing the eight-month total to a deficit of P282 billion. Data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed the government’s August deficit reverses the budget surplus of P28.8 billion recorded in the same month in 2017. Revenues collected by the government amounted to P256.9 billion, increasing by 11 percent, compared to the P230.4 billion registered last year. Spending, though, reached P259.5 billion, or 29 percent higher than the P201.6 billion in August 2017. This drove the cumulative budget deficit as of end-August this year to P282 billion, a 60-percent spike compared to the P176.2 billion recorded for the same period in 2017. According to the BTr, the year-to-date fiscal deficit of P282 billion comprises 54 percent of the programmed full-year deficit of P523.7 billion.

PHL extols sustainable tourism advocacy in Japan expo BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
THE PHILIPPINES intends to balance the needs of the business sector and the protection of the environment, as it encourages the practice of sustainable and responsible tourism. In separate speeches made to fellow tourism ministers as well as Japan travel agents and local media at last week’s Tourism Expo Japan 2018, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat said,  “for us in the Department of Tourism (DOT), it is not numbers that matter the most, but how to make a balance between business opportunities and social responsibility…. We will be advocates for an ecosystem of responsible tourists and destinations, and we will be champions of sustainable tourism to create a dependable source of income for Filipinos.”

Peso sinks to a new 13-year low ahead of Monetary Board meet BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
THE local currency sank further into the 54 territory on Monday on the back of external pressures pushing emerging market currencies downward.  Data from the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) showed the peso closed Monday’s trade at 54.23 to a dollar, weaker than the previous day’s trade close at 54.04 against the dollar. 

Ompong farm damage climbs to nearly P27B BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
FARM sector damage caused by Typhoon Ompong has reached P26.7 billion, the highest since Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan) wrought havoc in 2013 and caused P35 billion in production losses, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA). “This is now the highest damage to the agriculture sector since Yolanda. Yolanda was about P35 billion and we are now [at] about P26 billion,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a press conference on Monday. The latest damage assessment report by the DA showed that the rice sector suffered the brunt of the damage brought by Ompong. 

Big oil traders say $100 coming as Opec tries to fill Iran gap BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
MAJOR oil trading houses are predicting the return of $100 crude for the first time since 2014, as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and its allies struggle to compensate for US sanctions on Iran’s exports. With Brent crude already jumping to an almost four-year high on Monday, that’s exactly the kind of price surge President Donald Trump has been seeking to prevent by pressuring the Opec to raise production. Yet, the cartel and its allies gave mixed signals at a meeting in Algiers on Sunday, ultimately showing little sign they would heed US demands to rapidly push down crude prices.

PHL had ‘zero real wage growth’–WB report BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
THE absence of a real wage growth in the Philippines is among the major obstacles that could undermine the country’s efforts in turning the “American dream” of every Filipino into reality, according to the World Bank.   In a briefing on Monday, World Bank Philippines senior economist Rong Qian said there was zero real wage growth in the country between 2000 and 2016, which she found unusual for a developing country. 

Senators nix publication, book taxes in TRAIN 2 BusinessMirror 25th Sep 2018
SEVERAL senators, including key Senate leaders, signalled support for an emerging majority consensus for Congress to reject removal of the existing value-added tax (VAT) exemption on books and publications as part of the second-round reforms.

World Bank cites dev’t tasks ahead for PHL BusinessWorld 25th Sep 2018
THE PHILIPPINE economy needs to grow at least 6.5% annually if it is to turn “into a prosperous middle-class society free of poverty by 2040,” the World Bank said on Monday, describing this goal as challenging but attainable. “To achieve the national Ambisyon, the Philippines needs to triple GDP (gross domestic product) per capita in the next two decades. The Philippines has done it before but there are challenges,” said World Bank senior economist Rong Qian during a media briefing in Manila as she presented its report, titled Growth and Productivity in the Philippines: Winning the Future.

‘With its focus on infra, PHL on track in journey to 4th industrial revolution’ BusinessMirror 24th Sep 2018
ENERGY and automation giant Schneider Electric believes this administration is on track to walk the Philippines into the fourth industrial revolution, as the firm views “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program as the first step toward digitization. In a recent interview with Filipino reporters in Singapore, Schneider Electric Executive Vice President Peter Herweck said the government made the right decision when it chose to prioritize infrastructure. Infrastructure, he pointed out, remains to be one of the major factors for attracting investments. He was referring to the multitrillion-peso BBB centerpiece program of the Duterte administration, which seeks to lay down the most critical pieces of infrastructure—roads and highways, airports and seaports and transportation systems, power and telecommunications—for sustained growth in the next decade, with some projects coming onstream after President Duterte’s term ends in 2022.

NFA says rice dealers do not want to sell lower-grade grains BusinessWorld 24th Sep 2018
THE National Food Authority (NFA) said the market is running short of regular-milled rice, which it says should force a rethink of the private-sector led-importation rules to increase the availability of the affordable type of the staple. “Nobody wants to sell regular milled, which is not the whitest variety. Everyone wants to sell well-milled,” Judy Carol L. Dansal, Deputy Administrator for the grains agency’s Marketing Operations, told Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez during talks at the NFA headquarters last week.

Analysts expect fresh 50bp rate hike BusinessWorld 24th Sep 2018
THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) will likely raise interest rates by another 50 basis points (bp) this week, according to most analysts in a BusinessWorld poll, citing inflation fueled by damage from the storm that ravaged Northern Luzon the other week and unrelenting oil price hikes. All but one of the 16 economists polled last week said the central bank will introduce another aggressive rate hike on Thursday — an “inevitable” move amid risks that inflation could breach another multi-year high in September due to widespread damage caused by typhoon Mangkhut, locally called Ompong

Gov’t sets road show in London BusinessWorld 24th Sep 2018
THE PHILIPPINES will hold an investor road show this week in London to drum up interest in infrastructure, energy, and tourism opportunities in the country, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in a statement over the weekend. The Finance department said that Cabinet officials and some lawmakers will “update” British businessmen “on the progress of the Duterte administration’s economic reform agenda, particularly on its Comprehensive Tax Reform Program as well as the performance of the Philippine economy.”

‘Senate’s TRAIN 2 to address concerns over job losses’ BusinessMirror 24th Sep 2018
The Senate version of the second Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) is likely to be slightly different from the one submitted by Malacañang and that of the House of Representatives to address concerns over job losses and slow growth ensuing from rationalization of tax incentives, Senate sources indicated over the weekend. But Sen. Juan Edgardo M. Angara, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee tasked to review the TRAIN 2 bill, declined to give details, saying panel members have yet to start hearings on the administration’s tax bill. Senate panel start hearings the TRAIN 2 bill on Tuesday.

Fitch downplays corporate tax cut’s lure BusinessWorld 21st Sep 2018
LOWER CORPORATE INCOME TAX RATES are unlikely to provide a big boost to inbound investments, Fitch Solutions said, noting that a weak business environment hounded by red tape still deters investors from making big bets in the Philippines. Fitch Solutions, the research unit of Fitch Ratings, said the second tax reform package now awaiting legislative approval will not be a source of additional state revenues and is unlikely to lead to a deluge of foreign direct investments (FDIs).

House sends proposed mining tax reform back to DoF BusinessWorld 21st Sep 2018
A PROPOSAL to give government a bigger share in mining revenues goes back to square one, as House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo on Thursday asked the Department of Finance (DoF) to submit a new draft that would consider inputs from miners. “I will ask the industry to talk to the DoF… and let the DoF come back with a new draft in three days’ time; otherwise, we do our own,” Ms. Arroyo said at a hearing of the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee meeting.

GMA, who opened up mining in 2004, backs tax on sector BusinessMirror 21st Sep 2018
SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday vowed to pass a law that would allow the government to earn more revenues from the mining industry, as part of President Duterte’s priority legislative agenda. Arroyo declared this at the Committee on Ways and Means hearing on the unnumbered Substitute Bill to House Bills 422 and 7994, titled “An Act Establishing the Fiscal Regime for Mining Industry.”

H1 oil import bill up 32.8% on high prices, weak peso BusinessMirror 21st Sep 2018
THE country’s net oil import bill in the first half of the year amounted to $5.678 billion, up by 32.8 percent from $4.277 billion in the same period a year ago, mainly on account of higher oil prices in the world market. Bigger import volumes and a weak peso were also factors. Net oil import is the difference between the country’s net imports and exports. The oil import bill from January to June this year stood at  $6.31 billion, up by 34.4 percent from first half 2017’s $4.69 billion. “This was attributed to the combined effects of higher import cost and increased import volume of crude oil vis-à-vis last year,” the DOE explained.

PHL could import more rice to ease high prices BusinessMirror 21st Sep 2018
THE additional rice imports of the Philippines could exceed 250,000 metric tons (MT) to increase the availability of low-cost rice sold by the National Food Authority (NFA) and cut high retail prices. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol, who is also chairman of the NFA Council (NFAC), told the BusinessMirror that President Duterte has instructed him “to do whatever is necessary to ensure there is enough NFA rice in the market.”

SBMA setting up Subic airport for international flights BusinessMirror 21st Sep 2018
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—Hoping to regain Subic’s lost glory as a major port for commercial airlines, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is now setting up a multimillion rehabilitation program to procure various landing instruments and communications systems for the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA). SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said the agency started refurbishing the SBIA with a new P51-million Automated Weather Observation System (Awos), which provides continuous, real-time information on weather conditions.

PHL posts $1.27-billion BOP surplus, its first for 2018 BusinessMirror 20th Sep 2018
THE country’s dollar transactions with the rest of the world made a turnaround in August from its consistent deficit this year, as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported a surplus in the country’s balance of payments (BOP) position. Data released on Wednesday showed the country’s BOP hit a surplus of $1.272 billion in August this year.  This is the first BOP surplus of the country for the year. It is also a reversal of the $7-billion deficit seen in the same month last year.

Economic managers, BBB team gear up for key briefing BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
MEMBERS of the Duterte administration’s economic and “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) teams are set to update economists and members of the regional financial community this week on the Philippines’s economic performance, developments in the fiscal sector and the status of the government’s infrastructure program. Led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the Philippine Economic Briefing (PEB) will be held on Tuesday (September 18, 2018) at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Complex in Pasay City.

BOC releases seized rice, food items to DSWD for Ompong victims BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has reported that seized food items in the bureau’s custody has been delivered to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for distribution to families affected by typhoon Ompong. In line with the directive of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III last week, Customs Commissioner Isidro S. Lapeña has ordered the immediate release of seized smuggled rice and food items for donation to those affected by typhoon Ompong.

Not all tax reforms approved by yearend BusinessWorld 18th Sep 2018
REMAINING TAX REFORMS targeted by the Executive will bag final approval in the House of Representatives this 17th Congress, a leader of the chamber assured on Monday, but not all will hurdle both legislative chambers by yearend as President Rodrigo R. Duterte (PRRD) requested in his third State of the Nation Address (SoNA) last July.

Cash sent home by OFWs recovers BusinessWorld 18th Sep 2018
CASH remittances recovered in July, the central bank reported on Monday, as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) likely took advantage of a weakening peso. Money sent home by migrant workers reached $2.401 billion that month, growing 5.2% from the $2.283 billion received in July 2017 and turning around from a 4.5% decline posted in June, according to data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

Remittances grow 5%, as peso hits 2005 low BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
MONEY sent home by Filipino migrant workers in July picked up its pace from the decline in June this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported on Monday, as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany sent more dollars during the month. The report on the slight uptick —5 percent—comes as analysts said the remittances that usually become more copious in the last quarter of the year are seen to provide the break badly needed to arrest the slide of the battered peso.

BSP signals ‘strong monetary action’ on Sept. 27 BusinessWorld 18th Sep 2018
THE CENTRAL BANK on Monday reiterated signals of “strong” monetary response to surging inflation when its Monetary Board meets next week, even as its chief said it was too early to tell how much damage from super typhoon Mangkhut, locally known as Ompong, would affect prices of goods. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said its Monetary Board will not hold an off-cycle policy review ahead of its Sept. 27 rate-setting meeting.

‘Trabaho bill’ to force semicons to shed 140,000 jobs–industry bloc BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
THE irony is real—and could be costly. The government’s second tax-reform measure, dubbed the Trabaho bill in the House of Representatives version, will force the semiconductor industry to lay off 140,000 workers once fiscal incentives are rationalized. This is according to Danilo C. Lachica, president of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation Inc. (Seipi). He added several multinationals are now locating their expansions outside the country, largely due to the uncertainty of keeping their tax incentives here. In defense of the government, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez stood firm that the Trabaho bill will not result in job losses, as several reform programs of this administration apparently make the country a preferred investment site.

P36-billion cut from DOH budget to shed 15,000 jobs of health workers BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
SENATORS took up the cudgels on Monday for 15,000 health workers about to be rendered jobless after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) cut P36 billion in the Department of Health’s (DOH) 2019 budget. The budget’s reduction, from P107 billion down to P71 billion, affects DOH field workers with funding for health human-resources deployment slashed from P9.59 billion in 2018 to P1.17 billion next year. Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon warned, “15,000 nurses and health professionals will be on the streets while we are evaluating,” when senators were informed by DBM Director Jane V. Abella at a hearing that the fund was transferred to the Miscellaneous and Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF) pending review by the DBM and the Commission on Civil Service.

B.S.P. notes funding solutions dearth for small business BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
BANGKO Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. said they are eyeing ways to further improve the financial access of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country. At the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MoA) to expand the Negosyo Center Financial Ecosystem on Monday, Espenilla said there is still “much to be done” in terms of providing financial access to MSMEs in the country.

Verbal tiff of lawmakers, concerns over projects stall budget talks in House BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
THE House of Representatives suspended the hearing for the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on Monday due supposedly to concerns over some projects that will be given to “select” lawmakers. The discussions over these “concerns” grew so heated, however, that at one point, according to one House leader, a certain lawmaker challenged another to a fistfight. House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told reporters on Monday that the budget deliberations remain stalled and there was no assurance that the measure will be deliberated on the floor this week.

Foreign business chambers backs longer Trabaho bill discussions BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
FOREIGN business chambers are in favor of a delayed passage of the second tax-reform measure to provide lawmakers and stakeholders more time to discuss the disputed provisions of the bill. Julian H. Payne of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (CanCham) said his group is rallying behind senators in their move to further study the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities (Trabaho) bill. Senators last week admitted it will be difficult to fast-track the passage of the second tax- reform measure.

TRAIN 2 to deter mine investment | BusinessWorld Business World 18th Sep 2018
THE Philippines is running the risk of losing mining investors if the government passes the bill raising the mining excise tax to 5% from 2% under the second package of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, according to the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (CoMP). If the bill passes, the Philippines will have the highest excise tax among top mining countries such as Chile, South Africa, Canada, Australia and Peru.

8 months on, BOI still 60% off target of P680 billion BusinessMirror 18th Sep 2018
THE Board of Investments (BOI) is still 60 percent away from its P680-billion target this year, as commitments to the agency declined double digits from January to August. In a document obtained by the BusinessMirror, investment pledges to the BOI fell 17.3 percent to P269.34 billion for the first eight months, from P325.78 billion during the same period last year. With only four months left, the BOI is still 60.4 percent away from its investment target of P680 billion for the year.

July OFW remittances expected to have edged up BusinessWorld 17th Sep 2018
REMITTANCES likely grew modestly in July from a year ago as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) reaped benefits of a weaker peso, a global bank said, giving their families more cash even with the same level of dollars they used to send home. HSBC Global Research said cash remittances likely grew by 5.1% in July. If realized, this would signal recovery from the 4.5% decline in such inflows in June but would ease from a 7.1% year-on-year pickup in July 2017.

Cagayan’s agriculture ‘totally devastated’; infra damage at P40M BusinessMirror 17th Sep 2018
TYPHOON Ompong, which exited the Philippines after leaving behind a trail of destruction—and killing at least 18 people—wrought billions in farm damage mostly in Northern Luzon, but Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade said damage to transportation infrastructure appeared to be much less, initially at P40 million, for Cagayan.

BSP okays currency risk protection scheme rules BusinessMirror 17th Sep 2018
A WEEK after declaring the reactivation of the Currency Rate Risk Protection Program, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) confirmed over the weekend it had approved the enhanced CRPP guidelines, making it more effective at easing the demand pressures in the foreign-exchange market.

SSS leads backers of Package 2 of tax reforms BusinessMirror 17th Sep 2018
THE Social Security System (SSS) along with several other government agencies have expressed their support for the proposed reforms in the corporate tax system, saying it would attract investments and create more jobs in the private sector, especially among micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). At a hearing of the House Committee on Ways and Means on the proposed corporate income tax (CIT) reform package or Package Two of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), SSS President and CEO Emmanuel F. Dooc said lowering the CIT rate spells additional disposable income for employers, which, in turn, would lead to business expansions and more jobs. In turn, this translates to more SSS members.

Analysts split on impact of delaying tax reforms BusinessMirror 17th Sep 2018
IF the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion 2 (TRAIN 2) will be delayed, the government may be forced to increase its borrowings to finance its infrastructure needs, according to local economists. This, after a number of senators expressed their misgivings about meeting the pre-Christmas timeline to approve what is known officially as Package 2 of the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program, with the reduction of corporate-income tax and the rationalization of tax incentives as key features.

Central bank opens FX hedging facility BusinessWorld 17th Sep 2018
THE BANGKO SENTRAL ng Pilipinas (BSP) has issued guidelines for a reopened facility allowing borrowers to hedge against foreign exchange (FX)-related risk. The BSP said in a statement last weekend that bank clients with obligations of at least $50,000 can avail of the Currency Rate Risk Protection Program (CRPP), which is designed to temper uncertainties due to foreign exchange (FX) exposure.

Inflation storm brewing BusinessWorld 14th Sep 2018
FILIPINOS queuing for hours to buy cheap rice from the government. Families eating fewer meals a day to save money. Locals venting their anger against President Rodrigo R. Duterte on social media. These are the images and stories that have dominated media coverage in the Philippines after inflation soared to more than six percent in August, far higher than the rest of Asia.

Hot money net inflow surges in Aug. — BSP BusinessWorld 14th Sep 2018
MORE FOREIGN FUNDS entered the Philippines in August to mark a four-month high, with hawkish cues from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) perking up investor appetite. Foreign portfolio investments posted a $225.85-million net inflow last month that was four times July’s $53.29 million and marked a turnaround from the $57.52-million net outflow recorded in August 2017. This tally is the biggest inflow seen since April’s $279.29 million, according to latest available central bank data.

Philippines not yet growth ‘outperformer,’ but still a ‘very recent accelerator’ BusinessWorld 14th Sep 2018
THE PHILIPPINES fell short on being an economic “outperformer” among emerging markets, according to a discussion paper from McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) which nevertheless noted that the country’s rapid growth in recent years signals its potential to be so in the medium to long term.

IPO rule tweaks favor small investors BusinessWorld 14th Sep 2018
SMALL INVESTORS can look forward to greater participation in companies’ initial public offerings (IPO) after the corporate regulator approved changes to listing rules in this regard. In a memorandum posted to its Web site on Thursday, the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) said the Securities and Exchange Commission has approved amendments to the Consolidated Listing and Disclosure Rules that, among others, increase local small investors’ (LSIs) maximum IPO subscription to P100,000 from P25,000 previously.

Philippines' current account buffer deteriorates further in H1 philstar.com 14th Sep 2018
The Philippines continued to invest more than what its national saving can finance after posting a wider current account deficit in the first half of the year, adding pressure on the nation’s weakening currency.

It’s that bad: Export leader says a ‘flat’ growth is fine BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
AN export sector leader has lowered his growth forecast for this year after July figures revealed exports only grew by 0.3 percent. Sergio R. Ortiz-Luis Jr. of the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) admitted in a recent interview with reporters he is no longer optimistic that exporters can hit their target of growing 5 percent this year. “[That is a] tall order, but I really do not know,” he said.

With no ‘BBB’ funds for water, scarcity feared BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Philippines is still at risk of experiencing a water crisis due to the bleak water-availability-per-capita situation in the country, according to experts. This grim scenario came from a policy brief released during the Arangkada Philippines Forum 2018 on Wednesday, authored by former Chairman of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System Ramon B. Alikpala and 3M Philippines Government Affairs and Markets Leader Christopher A. Ilagan. The authors used the projected population of 107 million for 2018 and the fixed renewable fresh water supply of 146 billion cubic meters (BCM) to arrive at the water per-capita availability of 1,553 cubic meters (m3) per year.

Tax perks bill to cause bigger trade gap: JFC BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE country will suffer from a larger trade deficit if the government insists on rationalizing tax incentives, as foreign exporting firms will most probably move their operations to neighboring Southeast Asian countries, according to the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines (JFC). In a news briefing on Wednesday, JFC members stood united in opposing the administration’s move to rationalize tax incentives. The measure is one of the two main objectives of the second round of legislation under the Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP). The House of Representatives, which approved it on third and final reading late Monday, has called it the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-Quality Opportunities, or “Trabaho” bill.

DoF flags tax reform bill’s fiscal impact BusinessWorld 13th Sep 2018
THE SENATE version of the second tax reform package that cuts corporate income tax rates and streamlines fiscal perks may result in bigger foregone revenues than the bill approved last week by the House of Representatives, a senior official of the Department of Finance (DoF) told reporters on Wednesday.

Foreign business groups welcome infrastructure drive, but worry about changing incentives regime BusinessWorld 13th Sep 2018
FOREIGN CHAMBERS welcome the government’s infrastructure development push and unveiled their annual list of recommendations to further push this drive, but believe efforts to streamline incentives would make the country less attractive to investments. “We are very happy with the increased acceleration of infrastructure projects,” Michael Kurt Raeuber, head of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines’ Infrastructure and Logistics Committee, said in an interview at the sidelines of the Seventh Arangkada Philippines Anniversary Forum, themed “Better Infrastructure for a Strong Economy,” at the Manila Marriott Hotel on Wednesday.

Cryptocurrency exchanges resort to irregular practices for demand BusinessWorld 13th Sep 2018
WITH digital-currency trading volume having plunged, some of the biggest crypto exchanges are turning to unorthodox practices to boost activity and win market share. Bitfinex, FCoin and OKex are encouraging startups to drive depositors to their online-trading platforms to get coins listed. Other exchanges, such as Binance and KuCoin, are embracing listing fees that can differ by project. Many exchanges are also rolling out their own “native coins,” which traders then use to vote on potential listings.

NFA readies rice stocks in areas to be hit by Ompong NFA working with LGUs to ensure rice ready for deployment BusinessWorld 13th Sep 2018
THE National Food Authority (NFA) said it has readied rice stocks in provinces expected to be hit by Typhoon Ompong, which has already entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility. In a statement on Thursday, the NFA announced that around 380,000 bags of rice have been deployed to various warehouses in Luzon, bringing the total tally to roughly one million. These bags will be distributed by accredited retailers for relief operations. To support these efforts, offices have also opened 24-hour operation centers

Cabinet readying draft of inflation-busting EO BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Economic Development Cluster (EDC) will submit to the Office of the President a draft executive order (EO) removing the administrative constraints and nontariff barriers on the importation of fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables, Malacañang said. Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said in a Palace briefing on Wednesday that this would mean that the draft order meant “simplifying the process of food importation.”

Draft EO by Cabinet scraps NTBs on food BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Economic Development Cluster (EDC) has submitted to the President a draft executive order (EO) that removes nontariff barriers (NTBs) on food items to temper inflation, which surged to a nine-year high in August. The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the EO will focus on fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables, which have been considered as the major contributors to inflation in the past two months. The Neda added that fish and seafood, rice and meat, and vegetables accounted for 2.4 percentage points of the 6.4-percent inflation rate in August.

P10 billion for NFA rice procurement BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Makabayan bloc on Wednesday filed a joint resolution that seeks to provide a P10-billion supplemental budget to the National Food Authority (NFA) and allow the grains agency to increase its palay buying price from farmers. House Joint Resolution (HJR) 28 eyes to raise the NFA’s current support price for palay, now pegged at P17 per kilogram, to P20 per kilogram to be able to procure more this harvest season. “The supplemental budget shall provide the NFA [with means to procure palay from famers], without [necessarily] exonerating its officials of their unauthorized diversion of procurement funds,” the resolution read.

Carriers mull over flight cuts to lessen tourist visit to Boracay BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE Department of Tourism (DOT) will be asking the country’s various airlines to reduce their number of flights to Kalibo and Caticlan in an effort to limit the number of tourists going to Boracay Island. This developed as interagency Task Force Boracay finally determined the carrying capacity of the island, which was presented to President Duterte during the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “There is an excess in existing population, non-tourists in the island; there’s an excess in existing hotels and available rooms; and there’s excess in solid waste generated,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. in a press briefing at Malacañang on Wednesday. “There is sufficient water supply; there is, however, insufficient wastewater-treatment facilities.”

Peso closes at 54.13 BusinessMirror 13th Sep 2018
THE local currency closed at 54.13 to the greenback on Wednesday, a slight decline compared to the 53.94:$1 close on Tuesday. The last time the peso reached the 54 level was in December 2, 2005, at 54.15 to the US dollar. Per the web site of the Bankers Association of the Philippines, the peso opened on Wednesday at 53.9, then rose to 54.14 during the day’s trading and declined to 53.89.

June fuels first-half FDI surge BusinessWorld 11th Sep 2018
NET INFLOWS of foreign direct investments (FDI) to the Philippines increased anew in June, helping to fuel a first-half surge that pushed the tally closer to an official full-year forecast, according to data the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) released on Monday. FDI net inflows reached $831 million for the month, up 9.2% from the $761 million which the country received in June 2017, even as the latest inflows were less than the $1.645 billion recorded in May.

House OK’s second tax reform BusinessWorld 11th Sep 2018
WITH 187-14-3 votes, the House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading the second of up to five planned tax reform tranches that cuts the corporate income tax (CIT) rate and removes fiscal incentives deemed redundant. Among others, the House Bill No. 8083, or the “Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities” (TRABAHO) bill, will cut the CIT to 20% gradually from the current 30% in order to lure investments by putting the rate at par with much of Southeast Asia. At its current rate, the Philippines’ CIT is higher than those of Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam which have a 20% rate as well as Singapore’s 17%.

No currency sword of Damocles over the Philippines for now BusinessWorld 11th Sep 2018
THE PHILIPPINES is not expected to slip into a currency crisis anytime soon, Nomura economists said, citing little risk of such an event despite the recent weakness of the peso. In a report released on Monday, the global bank counted the Philippines among the “low-risk” countries in terms of risk of an exchange rate crisis according to its Damocles index, designed as an “early warning system” for such an event.

PHL trade deficit swells by more than 170% in July 2018 GMA News Online 11th Sep 2018
The Philippine trade deficit swelled by 171.7 percent to $3.55 billion in July 2018, from a gap of $1.31 billion a year earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority said on Tuesday. Exports grew by 0.3 percent to $5.85 billion from $5.83 billion year-on-year, while imports accelerated by 31.6 percent to $9.40 billion from $7.14 billion. The double-digit increase in imports was driven mostly by iron and steel shipments—up 135.5 percent due to infrastructure-related spending.

Read his lips: No additional sugar importation–not yet BusinessMirror 11th Sep 2018
AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol on Monday said there will be no additional sugar importations, as the current supply situation does not warrant it. Piñol clarified that the country will not import additional volume given the recent pronouncement of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) that opening importation of sugar to direct users is being considered as a measure to immediately address the runaway inflation.

DPWH to do P2.76 billion worth of projects in UP campuses BusinessMirror 11th Sep 2018
THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will carry out P2.76 billion worth of projects in various campuses of the University of the Philippines (UP), after signing a memorandum of agreement with the institution. In a statement, the DPWH said it has signed an agreement with UP to carry out 20 projects including the construction and renovation of school building facilities, dormitories, public restrooms, gymnasium, a water impounding lagoons, road network and an environmental research and outreach center.

June FDI post net inflows of $831 million BusinessMirror 11th Sep 2018
FOREIGN direct investments (FDI) posted net inflows of $831 million in June 2018, increasing by 9.2 percent from the $761 million recorded in the same month last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has reported. The Central Bank traced the rise in FDI net inflows largely to nonresidents’ net equity capital investments of $184 million during the month, a turnaround from the $67-million net withdrawals in June 2017.

House OKs ‘Trabaho’ bill on 3rd, final reading BusinessMirror 11th Sep 2018
THE House of Representatives (HOR) approved on third and final reading on Monday House Bill 8083, or the Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High-quality Opportunities or “Trabaho” bill. At least 187 House members voted in favor of the second tranche of the Duterte administration’s tax- reform series, while 14 other representatives voted against the bill. Three congressmen, meanwhile, chose to abstain from the vote.

PHL needs more airports, but officials grapple with timing, viability concerns BusinessMirror 11th Sep 2018
THE proposed airport modernization of the country’s three gateways will not be realized until after two years, at least with respect to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) and Clark International Airport (CIA). However, the P700-billion Bulacan Airport proposed by Ramon S. Ang, head of the conglomerate San Miguel Corp., remains in limbo due to certain constraints, even as Ang and company met with transportation officials recently on, among others, the “joint and solidary commitments” of the entities bankrolling the huge project.

Higher taxes, prices: Business outlook lowest in 8 years BusinessMirror 7th Sep 2018
LOCAL businesses are not happy with their prospects given recent economic developments, as firms surveyed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) complained about rising prices and higher taxes for the third quarter of the year. Business outlook on the economy turned sour in July to September this year, with the quarterly Business Expectation Survey (BES) of the Central Bank showing the overall confidence index (CI) of firms during the period slumped to 30.1 percent—the lowest level of business confidence since the first quarter of 2010.

Work on 3 Manila bridges spells more traffic problems BusinessMirror 7th Sep 2018
NO relief from traffic. Burdened with restrictions like number coding and bans on driver-only vehicles in certain places, Metro Manilans faced with busy routes that have been shuttered because of repairs on bridges such as Otis, now have to deal with even more challenges. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority on Thursday warned motorists and commuters of heavier-than-usual traffic in the areas surrounding three more vital bridges in Manila—Old Santa Mesa Bridge, Mabini Bridge, and Nagtahan Bridge. The MMDA has already given the green light to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to proceed with work here.

Rising prices weigh on business BusinessWorld 7th Sep 2018
BUSINESSES OPTIMISM softened this quarter from the past year amid rising commodity prices — marking the third straight quarter-on-quarter dip and the lowest point since 2010 — although the outlook for the next three months improved on expectations of higher consumer demand ahead as Christmas holidays approach. Results of the latest Business Expectations Survey conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) showed 30.1% of respondents remained upbeat in the third quarter, 9.2 points less than the 39.3% in the preceding three months and 7.8 points lower than the overall confidence index recorded July-September 2017.

Electricity rates drop this month BusinessWorld 7th Sep 2018
MANILA ELECTRIC Co. (Meralco) announced on Thursday a decrease in electricity rates for September by P0.1458 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in what the distribution utility described as a relief amid rising fuel and food prices. The drop to P10.0732 per kWh from P10.2190 per kWh translates in a P29.16 reduction in the monthly bill of a typical household consuming 200 kWh. The listed company attributed the decline to the lower charges at the electricity spot market, which brought down the power generation charge.

PHL economy seen to withstand further tightening BusinessWorld 7th Sep 2018
THE ECONOMY can withstand further policy tightening from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), even as it fired off its strongest response in a decade last month, according to the minutes of the Monetary Board meeting. “The Monetary Board believed that the series of policy rate adjustments thus far in 2018 will help reduce the risks to inflation, including those emanating from the ongoing normalization of monetary policy in advanced economies and its impact on the foreign exchange market, and bring inflation toward a target-consistent path over the medium term,” read the highlights of the Monetary Board’s Aug. 9 policy meeting.

Inflation puts PHL at center of Asian emerging market crisis BusinessMirror 7th Sep 2018
PHILIPPINE stocks and the peso led declines in Asia after Wednesday’s jump in inflation coincided with an intensifying emerging market sell-off, and Jefferies Hong Kong Ltd. downgraded the nation’s equities. The Philippine Stock Exchange index fell 1.5 percent at the close in Manila, taking its two-day decline to 3.1 percent. Around $7.2 billion in market value has been wiped from Philippine equities over the two days. The peso weakened 0.5 percent against the dollar and touched the lowest level in more than 12 years.

Higher inflation seen to plunge more Pinoys into poverty this year BusinessMirror 6th Sep 2018
MORE Filipinos may fall deeper into poverty this year, given the high commodity prices being experienced by households nationwide for the past eight months, local economists said, as the economy posted a nine-year high inflation rate on Wednesday. Data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed inflation reached 6.4 percent in August 2018. This has brought the average inflation for the year to 4.8 percent.

Philippines importing 250,000 MT rice to pull down rising prices BusinessMirror 6th Sep 2018
MANILA will be importing an additional 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice via open tender to beef up the National Food Authority’s (NFA) stockpile and arrest the spiking retail prices of the staple in the market. The NFA on Wednesday said the NFA Council approved half of its 500,000 MT rice-importation request last September 4.

More Pinoys stuck in low-quality jobs–experts BusinessMirror 6th Sep 2018
THE country’s employment numbers may have risen on account of the increase in the number of Filipinos employed in low-quality jobs, according to local economists. Based on the results of the Labor Force Survey (LFS) released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday, the country’s employment rate increased to 94.6 percent, the highest in a decade, while the unemployment rate was at 5.4 percent in July.

August inflation fastest in nearly a decade BusinessWorld 6th Sep 2018
HEADLINE INFLATION in August caught state economic managers and financial markets by surprise, shooting up to its fastest clip in almost a decade, according to official data the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) released on Wednesday. PSA data showed that the prices of widely used goods increased by 6.4%, higher than July’s 5.7% and August 2017’s 2.6%. The latest figure was the fastest since March 2009 when it registered 6.6%.

NAIA consortium says proposed terminal fee hike is not a ‘gov’t guarantee’ BusinessWorld 6th Sep 2018
THE CONSORTIUM proposing to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday said it is not seeking any government guarantees in its bid to develop and expand the gateway. The so-called “NAIA consortium,” composed of seven of the country’s biggest conglomerates, issued the statement in reaction to a concern raised by Senator Ralph G. Recto over its proposal to adjust airport terminal fees as part of the airport’s rehabilitation plan. In a statement on Wednesday, the NAIA consortium spokesperson Jose Emmanuel “Jimbo” F. Reverente said they are not asking for any guarantee or protection from the government in its P102-billion proposal, saying terminal fees should not be counted as such as “all airport proposals have provisions for terminal fees which are subjected to reasonable adjustment during the life of the contract.”

July sees sustained double-digit growth pace for manufacturing — state data BusinessWorld 6th Sep 2018
THE COUNTRY’s manufacturing activity sustained its double-digit growth pace for the seventh straight month in July, the government reported on Wednesday. Preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed factory output, as measured by the Volume of Production Index, increased 11.8% year on year in July, faster than June’s 10.6%, and a turnaround from July 2017’s 5.1% contraction. On the average, factory output volume has grown by 13.6% year-to-date, faster than the 4.48% recorded in 2017’s comparable seven months.

Nonmonetary options listed to fight inflation BusinessMirror 6th Sep 2018
The Economic Development Cluster (EDC) unveiled measures to ease high food prices after the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday that inflation surged to a nine-year high of 6.4 percent in August. The EDC recommended the following policy reforms to tame inflation: -replicate the issuance of certificates of necessity to allow imports to be distributed in the wet markets in Metro-Manila and to the other markets of the country; -immediately release 4.6 million sacks of rice available in warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA) to the market across the country and allocation of 2.7 million sacks of rice to Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; -import 5 million sacks of rice, which arrive over the next one-and-a half months and another 5 million sacks early next year; -to reduce the gap between the farm gate and retail prices of chicken, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry will convene poultry producers and set up public markets where producers can sell this directly to consumers; and open the importation of sugar to direct users to moderate cost to consumers.

Energy regulator to clarify rules on microgrids in cooperative franchise areas BusinessWorld 5th Sep 2018
THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it will amend its draft rules on microgrids to include provisions that will clarify whether the private sector can enter areas within the franchises held by electric cooperatives. The revised draft will also put in place a transition period for those that have already built microgrids, ERC Spokesperson Floresinda B. Digal told reporters on Wednesday during Powertrends 2018, an annual conference on the energy and power industry.

House approves TRAIN 2 on second reading Philippine Star 5th Sep 2018
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives yesterday approved the bill containing the second package of the administration’s controversial Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) program. Instead of TRAIN-2, the label the Department of Finance has attached to the measure, the House renamed it Tax Reform for Attracting Better and High Quality Opportunities or TRABAHO (jobs) to counter the public backlash TRAIN-1 has generated. TRABAHO proposes to cut corporate income tax from 30 percent to 25 percent and take away fiscal incentives, including tax exemption, from hundreds of businesses in export processing zones. TRAIN 1, on the other hand, imposed new and higher taxes on fuel, sugar-sweetened beverages and tobacco products. It also reduced income tax for millions of individual taxpayers.

Survey finds CEOs still bullish amid challenges BusinessWorld 4th Sep 2018
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICERS (CEO) in the Philippines remain confident about business prospects over the next 12 months despite mounting uncertainty from global trade tensions and monetary tightening, regulatory changes at home and the challenge posed by disruption, according to results of a survey conducted by PwC Philippines for the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) that were released on Monday.

Finance sees GDP growing by about 6.8% BusinessMirror 4th Sep 2018
Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he expected the full-year gross domestic product growth to be close to 6.8 percent, which was also the debt watcher’s forecast for 2018. That will be higher than the 6.7 percent posted in 2017 but below the government’s 7-8 percent target range.

Israel, Philippines sign agreement for attracting foreign investment Haaretz 4th Sep 2018
Israel Economy Minister Eli Cohen and Ramon Lopez, The Philippines’ secretary of trade and industry, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for mutual cooperation among their agencies to promote foreign investment in both countries. The deal is meant to strengthen the ability of Israel and The Philippines to encourage foreign investment by companies from other countries by exchange of information, providing business assistance to companies and cooperation within regional or international organizations. The memorandum is thus part of the broader move to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties between the two nations.The economy and industry ministries in both countries also agreed in principal to move to establish a joint economic committee to help strengthen economic and commercial ties between the countries.

Business picks up for factories in August BusinessWorld 4th Sep 2018
MANUFACTURING ACTIVITY in the Philippines saw “a modest improvement” in August as new business inflows and optimism picked up and more jobs were generated, even as production growth slowed and input costs and prices rose “at marked rates,” according to a survey conducted by IHS Markit for Nikkei, Inc..

Poll sees fresh multiyear-high inflation BusinessWorld 3rd Sep 2018
INFLATION likely zoomed to a fresh multi-year high in August due largely to higher food costs, analysts said in a BusinessWorld poll, boosting the case for another rate hike this month to douse surging prices. A poll among 14 economists late last week yielded a median inflation estimate of 5.9%, which if realized will mark another high coming from July’s 5.7% and from 2.6% in August 2017.

Fiscal perks overhaul seen keeping investors on edge BusinessWorld 3rd Sep 2018
THE PHILIPPINES still receives the least foreign direct investments (FDI) among Southeast Asian nations, a global bank has noted, pinning the blame on constitutional restrictions and uncertainty over a new system for tax perks. Restrictions on foreign participation in several sectors as well as proposals to remove fiscal incentives the government deems redundant may be discouraging more foreign capital from entering the country, HSBC Global Research said.

DOF sees August inflation hitting 5.9 percent, cites supply-side challenges BusinessMirror 3rd Sep 2018
THE Department of Finance (DOF) sees inflation for August hitting 5.9 percent, from 5.7 percent in July this year, with the main drivers to inflation being supply-side challenges. The inflation rate for August last year was at 2.58 percent. In its latest economic bulletin, the DOF said, “The inflationary momentum is easing as shown by the forecast deceleration in the month-on-month price change to 0.38 percent from 0.51 percent last month, even as the year-on-year change is projected to hit 5.9 percent.”

Petrol prices up: P0.95 a liter for gas, P1.20 for kerosene BusinessMirror 3rd Sep 2018
FOR the fourth consecutive week, prices of petroleum products will increase starting Tuesday, September 4. Oil firms announced on Monday that gasoline prices will go up by P0.95 per liter, diesel by P1.20 per liter and kerosene by P0.95 per liter.

DOF bullish 2018 growth to be ‘close to 6.8 percent’ BusinessMirror 3rd Sep 2018
THE Department of Finance (DOF) is optimistic the country can reach a growth of close to 6.8 percent by the end of the year, with the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) program as main driver for the growth.

Central bank flags even faster August inflation BusinessWorld 31st Aug 2018
THE OVERALL INCREASE in prices of widely used goods likely clock in around 5.9% in August — marking a fresh multiyear high — the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said in a statement on Friday, noting that food and utility costs maintained their ascent.

Money supply growth slows in July BusinessWorld 31st Aug 2018
GROWTH of money supply eased to its slowest pace in nearly three years in July amid smaller reserves held by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), even as bank lending accelerated in the same month. Domestic liquidity or M3, or the broadest measure of money in an economy, grew by 11% to P11.103 trillion in July from P10.004 trillion a year ago, slower than the 11.8% to P11.062 trillion logged in June.

‘Tepid’ Q3 growth seen on prices, weak exports BusinessMirror 30th Aug 2018
HIGH commodity prices and weak export earnings are expected to keep the country’s third-quarter economic performance weak at 6.5 percent or lower, according to a local think tank. In its latest Market Call report, First Metro Investment Corp. (FMIC)-University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Capital Market Research said inflation is expected to peak in August at 5.9 percent. The think tank also said the country’s export performance will recover sometime in the second half of the year and not immediately in the third quarter. “Third-quarter GDP expansion may remain tepid [i.e., 6.5 percent or less], unless inflation starts to slow down and exports begin to move to positive territory. With construction [especially infrastructure] and manufacturing remaining robust, the underlying growth momentum should hold up,” FMIC-UA&P Capital Market Research said.

SRA sees higher sugar output in CY 2018-2019 BusinessMirror 30th Aug 2018
THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said it expects sugar output in the next crop year to recover and grow by nearly 6 percent to 2.225 million metric tons (MMT). The SRA issued Sugar Order (SO) 1, which sets the sugar policy for crop year (CY) 2018-2019. SO 1 estimated that total sugar output in the next crop year would reach 2.225 million metric tons, higher than the 2.1 MMT produced in CY 2017-2018.  “We [hope for] more favorable weather this cropping season,” SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica told the BusinessMirror via SMS when asked about the agency’s estimate. The decline in the country’s sugar output in CY 2017-2018 has been attributed to “unfavorable weather conditions,” particularly the increase in rainfall over some sugar-producing provinces. Rains affect the yield of sugarcane, as wet canes have lower sugar content. At the start of CY 2017-2018, the SRA estimated that sugar production would reach 2.38 MMT. In January the SRA revised its forecast downward to 2.266 MMT due to bad weather.

NFAC okays importation of rice for Zambasulta BusinessMirror 30th Aug 2018
THE National Food Authority Council (NFAC) on Wednesday approved the immediate importation of 32,000 metric tons (MT) of rice by the private sector via the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme to augment the supply of the staple in the Zambasulta area. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the NFAC gave its go signal during a special meeting on August 29. The meeting was requested by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ease the tightness in rice supply in Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (Zambasulta).

What did DBM, House agree on? Just a ‘transitory cash-based system’ BusinessMirror 29th Aug 2018
BUDGET Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno clarified on Wednesday that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the House of Representatives agreed on a “transitory cash-based system” for the proposed 2019 budget. House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. earlier broke the news that the DBM and the lower chamber agreed on a “hybrid budgeting”system, which meant a combination of obligation-based and cash-based systems.

House OKs bills on 4Ps, Consumer Act, workers’ leave  BusinessMirror 29th Aug 2018
The House of Representatives on Wednesday endorsed for Senate approval three measures institutionalizing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), strengthening the Consumer Act of the Philippines and increasing the yearly service-incentive leave of employees. Voting 196-6-0, lawmakers approved on third and final reading House Bill (HB) 7773 institutionalizing the 4Ps and giving the poorest families cash grants up to a maximum of five years. HB 7773 seeks to reduce poverty and promote human capital development in the country by breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, promoting gender equality and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education.

Senate probe sought to avert spread of Zamboanga rice crisis BusinessMirror 29th Aug 2018
Two senators on Wednesday sought an inquiry in aid of crafting remedial legislation to avert repeat of the recent rice crisis that hit Zamboanga City, and check the eight-month surge of staple prices in other parts of the country. Sens. Francis N. Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV filed Senate Resolution 868, paving the way for Senate hearings amid calls to hold the National Food Authority (NFA) accountable, asserting the need to see to it that cheap and quality rice is available in the market. “The NFA must explain the said shortage, the alleged hoarding and how the situation in Zamboanga City reached calamity level,” the two senators stressed.

Maiden report flags key financial risks BusinessWorld 29th Aug 2018
THE CENTRAL BANK plans to roll out three new measures in a bid to better manage debt-related risks, at a time rising interest rates and exchange rate movements have been bumping up repayment costs. The 2017 Financial Stability Report published by the inter-agency Financial Stability Coordination Council (FSCC) said the biggest concern faced by the economy is its rising debt burden, amplified by volatile global financial markets. “What is clear is that interest rates are rising and emerging market currencies have been depreciating versus the United States dollar,” read the report that was published by the FSCC on Tuesday. “These must mean that debt servicing is now at a higher cost than in the past, separate from the issue of having more outstanding debt,” it explained.

House, Executive agree on ‘hybrid’ budgeting BusinessMirror 29th Aug 2018
THE leadership of the House of Representatives said on Tuesday that it has reached a compromise with the Executive Department for a hybrid budgeting system for the 2019 national budget, while there is also an agreement to restore the budget cuts of the Department of Education, Department of Public Works and Highways and Department of Health. In a news conference, House Majority Leader Rolando G.  Andaya Jr. said the agreement was reached following a meeting with House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Karlo Alexei B. Nograles, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III and Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea.

Banks show bigger returns in Q2 despite slower asset growth BusinessWorld 29th Aug 2018
THE COUNTRY’s biggest banks were more profitable in the second quarter even as growth in assets slowed and their capacity to absorb risky assets dipped. The second quarter edition of BusinessWorld’s Quarterly Banking Report showed the combined assets of the 43 universal and commercial banks (UK/Bs) operating in the country rose 9.85% to P15.39 trillion from P14.01 trillion recorded in the same three months last year. The asset growth pace seen in the April-June period was slower than the 10.97% logged in the preceding quarter and 13.93% in April-June 2017. This also snapped a two-year streak of double-digit growth in assets.

BSP signals further rate hikes likely, ‘as needed’ BusinessMirror 29th Aug 2018
THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) telegraphed its strong hawkish guidance on Tuesday, repeatedly saying it was “keeping [the] door open” to further possible rate hikes on the premise that the economy is still strong enough to handle higher interest rates. “We [have and will] keep the door open to take further policy action as necessary based on the data,” BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. told reporters attending the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines  Economic Forum on Tuesday. “What’s most important, more to this, is to send a very strong signal to the whole community that we are very committed to returning the inflation path back to target,” he added.

Gov’t lines up priority infrastructure for 2019 BusinessWorld 29th Aug 2018
THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION has lined up the start of P36.23 billion worth of large-scale flood control, road and railway projects next year, which marks the midterm of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno presented the flagship infrastructure projects for 2019 during the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines Economic Forum at the Ayuntamiento de Manila on Tuesday. For road and bridge projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the list consists of the P3.57-billion Improving Growth Corridors in Mindanao Road Sector Project, P2.34-billion Road Upgrading and Preservation Project and the P1.85-billion first phase of the Central Luzon Link Expressway Project. Also to be implemented by DPWH are the P2.2-billion first phase of the Metro Manila Flood Management Project and the P1.68-billion Flood Risk Management Project covering areas adjacent to the Cagayan, Tagoloan and Imus Rivers. Next year also marks the start of five railway projects under the Department of Transportation, namely: the P14.04-billion, 37.9-kilometer Philippine National Railway (PNR) North 1 linking Tutuban in Metro Manila and Malolos, Bulacan; the P2.91-billion 102-kilometer first phase of the Mindanao Railway Project that will run through Digos, Davao and Tagum cities in Mindanao; the P1.52-billion first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project that will include the first three stations along Mindanao Avenue, Tandang Sora and North Avenue, in Quezon City; and the P1.42-billion PNR South Commuter Solis-Los Baños Project.

Spending surge boosts budget gap BusinessWorld 23rd Aug 2018
THE GOVERNMENT’s fiscal deficit grew in July and in the first seven months, as spending increased faste than revenues, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said on Wednesday. The government posted an P86.4-billion fiscal deficit last month, 71% more than the P50.5 billion recorded in July last year. Overall revenues grew 24% year-on-year to P241.7 billion from P194.6 billion. Of this amount, tax revenues accounted for P217.8 billion, a 25% increase from last year’s P174.7 billion.

7-month national government deficit rises 36% to P279.4 billion BusinessMirror 22nd Aug 2018
THE national government has reported an P86.4-billion deficit for the month of July, with both expenditures and revenues posting double-digit growth for the month, data from the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) showed. The July deficit is bigger by 71 percent than last year’s P50.5 billion for the same month. It pushes the January to July 2018 deficit to P279.4 billion, up by 36 percent, from the P205 billion recorded in the same period for 2017.

Fish traders behind price spikes focus of BFAR BusinessMirror 22nd Aug 2018
THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is looking at the possibility that a fish cartel could have contributed to the high prices of fish in recent months. In a forum on Wednesday BFAR Assistant Director Sammy A. Malvas said they have received reports that prices of fish tended to rise significantly after these are brought to shore. He said, as an example, if round scad catch would cost P100 per kilo from the boat, prices would increase to around P120 to P140, or even P160 per kilo, when it reaches wet markets.

Inflation’s pain on poor spurs call for task force BusinessMirror 22nd Aug 2018
THE poorest consumers lost as much as P14 per day in the January-to-June period due to the high cost of various commodities, particularly food items, according to Ibon Foundation. In a forum on Wednesday, Ibon Foundation Executive Director Jose Enrique A. Africa said 50 percent of the poorest households already lost P1,159 to P2,596 in the first six months of the year due to inflation. Assuming there are 180 days in the first semester of the year, BusinessMirror estimates showed that this translates to a daily income loss of P6.44 to P14.42 per household.

PHL, China set meeting on infrastructure projects fund BusinessMirror 20th Aug 2018
PHILIPPINE and Chinese officials are set to meet in Beijing this week to continue discussions on ways to address the challenges in the preparation and implementation of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure projects that China has committed to support through official development assistance (ODA) loans and grants. The Department of Finance (DOF) said the meetings set from August 22 to 24 will include updates on the progress of the “first basket” of infrastructure projects for Chinese loan financing: the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project, the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project, the Philippine National Railways’s South Long Haul Project and the Davao-Samal Bridge Construction Project, along with the Binondo-Intramuros and Estrella-Pantaleon bridges that are being funded with grants from China.

Runway mishap sparks calls for new airport, Senate probe BusinessMirror 20th Aug 2018
THE latest runway mishap at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) that canceled dozens of flights and stranded thousands of passengers has sparked fresh calls to rush an alternate airport outside Metro Manila, even as senators want a full inquiry on the matter. House Transportation Committee Chairman Cesar V. Sarmiento of Catanduanes on Sunday said mounting another major airport will help mitigate the impact of any crisis happening at the Naia, and reduce heavy traffic in Metro Manila.

PHL seeks $1.96-B ADB funding for devt projects BusinessMirror 20th Aug 2018
THE Philippine government has proposed at least $1.96 billion worth of projects for financing by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other development partners. Based on the available information on the ADB web site, while there are around 18 projects in the “proposed” pipeline for the country, only 14 are Philippine-specific projects. The Philippine-specific projects will be financed by ADB funds, as well as by the Agence Francaise de Developement or the French Development Agency and the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, which is managed by the ADB. The two largest Philippine-specific projects are the Metro Manila Transport Project, Phase 1, which is set to receive a $500-million loan from ADB and the Inclusive Finance Development Program (Subprogram 1), which will receive a $300-million loan from the bank.  The Metro Manila Transport Project, Phase 1 will improve all major transport modes along Edsa, Metro Rail Transport Line 3, buses and private vehicles, as well as improve pedestrian facilities.

House to resume budget work BusinessWorld 20th Aug 2018
THE HOUSE of Representatives is scheduled to proceed with hearings on the Executive’s proposed 2019 national budget when it reconvenes on Aug. 28, despite confusion on a compromise with economic managers. An official schedule, dated Aug. 16, showed the Committee on Appropriations will resume budget hearings on Aug. 28, focusing on allocations for the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education. The committee will then tackle the proposed budgets of the Office of the President, Office of the Vice-President and the Department of National Defense on Aug. 29. The House targets to approve the budget by Nov. 30. House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. had initially said the hearings will resume over Congress’s Aug. 17-27 recess, after he had met on Aug. 14 with Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo and President Rodrigo R. Duterte in a bid to break a deadlock between the House and economic managers over the national budget framework. House Appropriations committee chairman Rep. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles of Davao City’s first district on Aug. 11 indefinitely suspended budget hearings as he opposed the new system.

Telecom stakeholders cite ways to improve dismal PHL record BusinessMirror 19th Aug 2018
Hence, the government must fast-track the selection process for the third telco player, pass laws that promote robust and fair competition, and reduce bureaucratic red tape, according to industry stakeholders polled by the BusinessMirror. They were responding to late Monday’s Open Signal report that showed Manila landed at the bottom spot in a 4G availability survey of 12 capital cities in the eastern region of Asia. Based on Open Signal’s report, 4G reach in Manila from March to May 2018 is the most dismal of 12 capital cities in the eastern region of Asia, with only 78 percent availability. The Philippine capital was beaten by Ho Chi Minh by a percentage point and by Phnom Penh by two points. Expectedly, South Korean capital Seoul topped the latest survey with almost 98 percent 4G availability, followed by Tokyo with over 96 percent and Bangkok with 92 percent.

Malampaya template pitched for joint exploration in West Philippine Sea BusinessMirror 19th Aug 2018
A COMMERCIAL transaction on a joint exploration with China in the West Philippine Sea should adopt the Malampaya model and must be done according to the Constitution, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said. The Philippine government and the Malampaya consortium have a 60-40 sharing of revenues for the gas deposits off the shore of Palawan. Current Foreign Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano had earlier said that the Philippine government would not agree on a deal with China on possible joint exploration unless it is as good as or greater the Malampaya model. Cayetano announced this month that the President has approved “in principle” the establishment of a technical working group on the joint exploration. He said China was also ready with its own technical working group and is hoping that the framework agreement between Philippines and China could be signed in September.

Energy

Philippines' Aboitiz to buy stake in Ayala's thermal unit for $579 mln Reuters 27th Sep 2018
Aboitiz Power Corp, one of the Philippines’ biggest electricity producers, struck a deal to pay $579 million for a stake in Ayala Corp’s thermal energy platform, the two companies said on Thursday. The deal will provide Ayala’s power unit, AC Energy, fresh funds to expand its domestic and offshore renewable energy businesses.

DOE pushes oil, gas exploration with new contracting round BusinessMirror 20th Sep 2018
The Department of Energy is encouraging downstream oil-industry players to participate in the DOE’s Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP).

DOE to expand contracting program for oil and gas exploration Power Philippines 20th Sep 2018
The Department of Energy is planning to conduct another round of its Philippine Conventional Energy Contracting Program (PCECP) to promote the country’s oil and gas exploration and development. The program aims to facilitate drilling for additional wells as the country registers only an annual average of five wells from 2007 to 2017.

Matchmaking to produce tie ups between microgrid developers, co-ops BusinessWorld 19th Sep 2018
Technology providers, project developers and investors from Asia, Europe and the US are looking to partner with electric cooperatives in bringing electricity to rural communities by building self-sustaining minigrids. The partnership matchmaking exercise will be conducted in a three-day business-to-business forum highlighting Philippines’ potential to implement minigrids through clean energy technology or a hybridization of the existing 374.5 megawatts (MW) of power plants that run on diesel fuel.

After disaster, Philippines to review all small-scale mining proposals The Star Online 18th Sep 2018
The Philippines has ordered a review of more than 100 proposals for small-scale mining sites across the country following a landslide that killed 62 people including illegal gold miners, its environment minister said on Tuesday.

ABB in multi-million Philippines geothermal deal Power Engineering International 18th Sep 2018
ABB has won a multi-million-dollar retrofit deal to upgrade six geothermal units at two power plants in the Philippines. The contract with Energy Development Corporation (EDC), one of the world’s largest vertically-integrated geothermal firms – and the geothermal producer in the Philippines – was announced today at POWER-GEN Asia in Jakarta.

Lawmakers seek more deliberations on bill seeking franchise for Solar Para sa Bayan GMA News Online 13th Sep 2018
Lawmakers across party-lines are urging the House Committee on Rules to return for further deliberations what is supposedly an “unconstitutional” bill seeking a 25-year franchise for the Solar Para Sa Bayan Corporation. In House Resolution 2182 filed on Wednesday, 15 legislators want the House Committee on Legislative Franchises to resume deliberations on House Bill 8179, which it already approved. The committee has given the nod to Solar Para Sa Bayan, including the mandate to construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain power technologies and mini grid systems in the country.

DOE says no takers for 995 areas under QTP electrification program BusinessMirror 6th Sep 2018
A top official of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) on Thursday said there are 995 areas managed by various electric cooperatives (ECs) that qualify under the Department of Energy’s (DOE) qualified third party (QTP) program. “There are 995 areas waived by ECs, but no takers as far as QTP is concerned. There are 11 areas with takers for QTP, but only six are operational,” NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said.

PH, Israel firm to ink oil exploration deal The Manila Times Online 5th Sep 2018
The Philippine government will sign an agreement with an Israeli oil company before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his four-visit day to the Jewish nation, Malacañang said on Tuesday.The agreement with Ratio Petroleum Limited, which will cover energy exploration in Palawan, will help ensure energy security in the Philippines.

Energy circulars on uniform electricity bill, RE use inked The Manila Times Online 5th Sep 2018
The Department of Energy (DoE) has signed two circulars on setting a uniform monthly electricity bill format and on the use of renewable energy (RE) in areas not connected to the Philippines’ main power grid. Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi signed the circulars on August 24 and they are scheduled for publication.

Senate OKs creation of world-class PH energy think tank Inquirer.net 24th Sep 2018
The Senate approved on third and final reading a bill aiming to foster greater energy security, sustainability, and affordability in the country. Under Senate Bill No. 1574, also known as the Philippine Energy Research and Policy Institute (PERPI) Act of 2018, a world-class think tank meant to bridge research and policy gaps in the Philippine energy sector will be established. “Finally, we are now one step closer to having our very own world-class think tank that will stand at the forefront of Philippine energy research and policy development,” Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who authored and sponsored the bill, said in a statement on Monday. Gatchalian also chairs the Senate Committee on Energy. He explained that the PERPI will be tasked “to conduct multidisciplinary energy research, incubate and develop cutting edge technologies, and serve as the sparring partner for the government during the energy policy-making process.”

DOF: Mining royalty remains on gov’t agenda Inquirer.net 21st Sep 2018
The Department of Finance (DOF) on Thursday reiterated the passage of the comprehensive tax reform program remained a priority of the Duterte administration, including the proposal to slap a royalty on all mining operations. The DOF’s proposal, which formed part of tax reform package “2 Plus,” is included in House Bill No. 7951 filed by new ways and means committee chair and Nueva Ecija Rep. Estrellita B. Suansing. Under the DOF-backed bill, a rationalized and single fiscal regime will be applied to all existing and prospective large metallic, nonmetallic mines, as well as small-scale mines. The proposed mining fiscal regime will thus cover all mines, regardless of whether the mine is located inside or outside a mineral reservation.

China Poised to Win Major Victory in Sea Dispute With Help of Philippine Resources Deal The Wall Street Journal 10th Sep 2018
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is negotiating an agreement with China to share oil and natural-gas resources in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, a deal that would be a major policy victory for Beijing. It would open the door for China to push for similar arrangements with other Southeast Asian nations that have challenged its expansive claims and potentially lock Western oil companies out of the resource-rich region. Mr. Duterte’s opponents and legal experts say joint development—which Beijing has long advocated—legitimizes China’s assertion that it has historic rights over almost the entire South China Sea, undermining a 2016 international tribunal ruling that invalidated those claims. It would also fortify Beijing’s control over the strategic waters, where tensions between the U.S. and China have surged.

Financial Services

Rural banks, microfinance go digital for expansion BusinessWorld 20th Sep 2018
Small banks and microfinance organizations in the Philippines are slowly moving into digital technology as they pursue operational efficiencies while seeking to offer more services to the unbanked and underserved portion of the country’s over 100 million population. Investments in digital technology, such as cloud-based systems, can instantly bear fruit for the microfinance sector as their revenues increase with wider reach and higher volume of transactions.

Which Asian banks will lose steam amidst the silver population takeover? Asian Banking & Finance 19th Sep 2018
India, Indonesia, and the Philippines will benefit from a favourable demographic shift whilst Korea and Japan will flounder. The varying pace of ageing across Asia will present varying opportunities and challenges to the region’s banks with Japan and Korea poised to fare the worst, according to credit rating agency Moody’s.

BSP Gov. Espenilla to take two-week break for treatment GMA News 18th Sep 2018
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. on Tuesday said he is set to take a two-week break to undergo treatment. "I'll be away for two weeks (September 19 to October 2) for treatment," Espenilla told reporters in a message via WhatsApp.

Philippines Welcomes China’s United Digital Asset Exchange (UDAX) into Growing Crypto Market BitcoinExchangeGuide 18th Sep 2018
The Philippines is becoming a hot cryptocurrency market for both local and foreign investors. Recently, a coin exchange platform based in China expressed its interest in joining the growing market.

ASEAN taxation cooperation via automatic information exchange BusinessWorld 9th Sep 2018
The Philippines took a big leap towards entering the AEoI arena back in July 2015 when it signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the US to exchange financial information on a reciprocal basis. By being a signatory to the IGA, the Philippines undertakes to implement the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) within the country, requiring Philippine financial institution to collect financial information relating to account holders that are classified as US persons. Like CRS, the financial information will be submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), which will, in turn, exchange the same with the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Cryptocurrency trading rules eyed The Manila Times 3rd Sep 2018
Cryptocurrency exchanges could be allowed to operate as trading platforms in the Philippines given growing global interest in virtual currencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said. SEC Commissioner Ephyro Luis Amatong told reporters last week that regulators were targeting the release of draft rules by the end of next week. “We see the need to regulate them as trading platforms,” Amatong said, given the SEC’s mandate to protect the investing public.

Philippine SEC Adopts ASEAN Green Bonds Standards Lexology 29th Aug 2018
The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved on 16 August 2018 the “Guidelines on the Issuance of Green Bonds under the ASEAN Green Bonds Standards.” These Guidelines aim to adopt the ASEAN Green Bond Standards (“GBS”) and provide for the rules and procedures for the issuance of ASEAN Green Bonds in the Philippines. The SEC said that compliance with the ASEAN GBS will enable local issuers to tap into the global green bond market which has been experiencing rapid growth over the recent years.

Gov't sets December pilot test for the national id system ABS-CBN News 24th Aug 2018
One million households in 3 regions would be the first to get national identification cards, by December, as the government begins its pilot test, officials said Friday. President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) into law last Aug. 6, establishing a single national id for all citizens which will be implemented by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Asian countries vie to set up region's 'crypto valleys' Nikkei Asian Review 20th Aug 2018
The race to establish cryptocurrency hubs in Asia is gathering pace, with several countries easing regulations and unveiling projects to lure financial technology companies. Japan is ahead of the game for now, but opportunities to catch up is also growing fast. The Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in northern Philippines is building the "Crypto Valley of Asia," a $100 million blockchain hub that aims to mimic Zug in Switzerland, the birthplace of Ethereum that is now home to almost 200 blockchain companies.

Food & Agriculture

Rules for implementing the sweetened beverage tax Business World 19th Sep 2018
The TRAIN Law recently introduced new excise taxes on cosmetic procedures and sweetened beverages. Under the TRAIN Law, excisable sweetened beverages are non-alcoholic beverages of any constitution (liquid, powder or concentrates) that contain or use caloric sweeteners, non-caloric sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. However, sweetened beverages using purely coconut sap sugar and steviol glycosides are exempt from this tax.

Initial rice crop losses due to typhoon Ompong estimated at P4.97 billion Business World 17th Sep 2018
LOST RICE production accounted for the vast majority of the initial estimates of agriculture damage due to Typhoon Ompong (international name: Mangkhut), reckoned at P4.97 billion out of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) preliminary crop damage estimate of P4.99 billion Monday. The DA's Disaster Risk Reduction Management's damage assessment covers 175,485 hectares of agricultural land in the Ilocos, Central Luzon and Calabarzon regions with the volume of lost production at 251,933 metric tons.

Army chief tapped to head grains agency The Manila Times Online 17th Sep 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte has offered the position of National Food Authority (NFA) administrator to the retiring commanding general of the Philippine Army.

DTI seeking to cancel permits of traders found selling only premium rice Business World 17th Sep 2018
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it will seek to revoke the business permits of rice retailers who do not offer more affordable types of rice.Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the proposed policy will help increase the supply of regular-milled. The DTI will sign this week a memorandum of agreement with the National Food Authority (NFA), which has sole authority to issue licenses to retailers selling rice sourced from the NFA’s warehouses.

Domestic chocolate processors propping up cacao industry Business World 17th Sep 2018
Domestic processors of cacao, some of which are operated by farmers themselves, have propped up bean prices, offering a safety net for growers at a time of fluctuating global prices for the commodity. Valente D. Turtur, Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. (CIDAMI) executive director, said while the world market price for cacao has been volatile, farmers “have been enjoying better prices” because of the increasing number of processors buying their harvest directly.

Palace sees passage of rice tariffication in Sept The Manila Times Online 15th Sep 2018
Malacañang is hopeful the Senate will pass the Rice Tariffication Bill within the month amid the increasing prices of commodities and the developing rice crisis in some areas in Mindanao.

Trade dep’t touts list of 41 firms agreeing to suspend price hike Business World 13th Sep 2018
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said 41 manufacturing and retail firms have agreed to delay price increases as an inflation-control measure. These include makers of canned goods including sardines, corned beef and other meats, whose prices are heavily weighted in inflation calculations. These products are among the basic necessities and prime commodities covered by a three-month price freeze. They also include makers of bottled water, detergent, instant noodles, coffee, processed milk, candles, bread, soap, condiments, batteries and candy.

Philippines, Papua New Guinea begin farming cooperation philstar.com 13th Sep 2018
Amid a rice shortage the country is facing, the Philippines sent 19 farm technicians to Papua New Guinea to train local farmers under a rice cooperation agreement between the two countries.

Palace readies EO to ease food import process Business World 12th Sep 2018
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte may issue an executive order (EO) to address inflation by removing “administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers” on the import of basic goods. In a briefing at the Palace on Wednesday, Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said that one of the agenda items at the Tuesday Cabinet meeting evening was measures to address food inflation. “The Economic Cluster Group will submit to the Office of the President (OP) a draft executive order removing administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables,” Mr. Roque said. “They will simplify the process for importing food products,” he added.

Negros pilot project boosts sugarcane output to 80-100 tons per hectare Business World 10th Sep 2018
THE BPI Foundation and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines said that its P10-million partnership has helped boosted sugarcane farming productivity in Negros Occidental from the previous 40 to 60 tons average per hectare to current 80 to 100 tons per hectare. The project, known as Climate-Proofing Agricultural Landscapes (AgriClima) which is now on its second year, is focused on small sugarcane farmers in Negros Occidental, aims to establish agricultural production that is climate-resilient and will eventually raise farm incomes.

GOCC Legaspi Oil aims to bring Davao coco oil mill back to full capacity Business World 10th Sep 2018
Legaspi Oil Co., Inc., a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC), has taken back the management and operation of a coconut oil mill here and is aiming to return production volume up to 600 metric tons per day (MTD). He said maximizing the mill’s capacity would benefit coconut farmers in the Davao Region because they can sell their copra directly to Legaspi Oil, cutting out middlemen. The GOCC will set up more copra buying stations near coconut plantations to make it easier for the farmers. At present, there are only two, located in Maco, Compostela Valley and Mati City, Davao Oriental.

Bill adding farmers to PCA board hurdles House panel Business World 5th Sep 2018
A BILL including coconut farmer representatives to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) board was approved at committee level at the House of Representatives. The House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization on Wednesday passed a consolidated bill deriving from House Bills 8079 and 8052, intended to serve as a companion bill of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Act, which regulates the disposal of coconut levy funds

FAO, Philippines continue to strengthen partnership on achieving food security, nutrition and agricultural development Food and Agricultural Organisation, United Nations 29th Aug 2018
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Philippines have launched the new FAO Country Programming Framework (CPF) 2018 – 2024, a six-year plan that will contribute to achieving greater food security and improved nutrition, and further develop the country’s agricultural sector.

Health & Life Sciences

6,700 govt nurses to lose jobs The Manila Times Online 1st Sep 2018
Some 6,755 contractual government nurses assigned in rural areas and poor towns will lose their jobs next year due to the P8.4-billion budget cut on the Health department’s Health Human Resources Deployment (HHRD) under the proposed 2019 national budget, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. of Camarines Sur said Friday.

ICT

Constant 'relearning,' non-routine abilities key to future job security – PIDS Rappler 24th Sep 2018
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the government’s primary socioeconomic policy think tank, has released an extensive study on how the emergent technologies of today are changing the landscape of work due to their disruptive nature. The study, called “Preparing the Philippines for the Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Scoping Study,” enumerates all these emergent technologies that embody the fourth industrial revolution – artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, data analytics, blockchain, cloud technology, to name some – and discusses what they are, their benefits to society, but also the potential disruptions they may cause.

Philippines migrates to Digital TV OpenGov 24th Sep 2018
Digital TV Awareness Seminars are being held around major island groups covering topic such as policy and regulatory interventions, frequency spectrum assignment and antenna technologies. The promotion is part of the Public Communications Strategies of the Department.

Philippines feels the heat from hackers The ASEAN Post 24th Sep 2018
Among all ASEAN member countries, the Philippines is said to be the most susceptible to cyberattacks. Despite the dire warnings, the republic’s media and entertainment giant ABS-CBN still fell victim to a hack recently. The company took down two of its online stores and admitted that sensitive personal data of 213 customers of the ABS-CBN store (store.abs-cbn.com) and UAAP store (uaapstore.com) may have been exposed to attackers.

Asian Development Bank pushes digital technologies for development in APAC OpenGov 5th Sep 2018
New tools like mobile communications,robotics, and AI are bringing profound changes to the way people live, work,interact, and do business. Support is given through reliable ICT infrastructure, skilled human resources, and enabling policies and regulatory environments. During a 2-day forum held at the Asian Development Bank(ADB) Headquarters in Manila, ADB President Mr Takehiko Nakao shared that the bank is helping countries in Asia and the Pacific leverage digital technologies for development. This is being done while ADB is implementing digital reforms within its own institution.

Millennials, digital technology change the property market BusinessMirror 4th Sep 2018
Millenials and the use of online technology such as the property portals are the major developments in the Philippine property sector. It is regarded as one of the country’s last remaining offline-focused industries.

Philippines channels India with ID system The ASEAN Post 29th Aug 2018
The aim is to replicate the success of India’s biometric ID program, the largest in the world, which has enrolled about 1.2 billion people since its launch in 2009. Known as Aadhaar, or foundation, the ID is used for everything from opening a bank account to registering a marriage. In the Philippines, Southeast Asia’s worst saver, the program is key to the central bank’s financial inclusion push, which centres around using mobile-phone applications and online payments systems to draw more people into the banking system. At least 10 million people can’t open bank deposit accounts because they don’t have identity documents and cards. For financial technology companies like Globe Telecom Inc. and Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, the national ID system - known as Phil-ID - is a boon in a country where 70 percent of the population own a mobile phone. “This legal recognition is essential to citizens, assuring them of their most basic human rights such as their right to access financial services,” said Lito Villanueva, managing director at FINTQnologies Corp., the financial technology unit of PLDT Inc.-backed software company Voyager Innovations Inc. A nationwide ID program will reduce the company’s risk and transaction costs and help its goal of bringing 30 million people into the formal financial system by 2020, he said.

Philippines Plans ID System to Get Its Poorest Residents on the Map Bloomberg 29th Aug 2018
Mayalyn Magracia is one of millions of undocumented Filipinos. “Like an alien,” is how the housekeeper in Manila describes what she felt when she discovered she had no birth record. That was over a decade ago, when Magracia hoped to find work in a factory or restaurant. Having no birth certificate made it impossible to apply for a government-issued identity card to land a regular job. President Rodrigo Duterte’s solution to this is a new biometric system that will give Filipinos like Magracia a national identity card, opening up access to everything from government services to bank accounts and jobs. As head of the statistics office, Lisa Grace Bersales is in charge of rolling out the 30-billion peso ($563 million) program, which was signed into law earlier this month.

Cable SMEs oppose govt deal with co-ops The Manila Times Online 27th Aug 2018
A deal between the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and electric cooperatives allowing the co-ops to become Internet Service Providers (ISPs) has raised alarm in the local cable industry. In a statement issued over the weekend, the Federation of International Cable TV and Telecommunications Association of the Philippines (Fictap) expressed its disapproval of the government’s move to tap the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (Philreca) to expand the reach of broadband services to rural areas.

Electronic imports up 16% in H1 The Manila Times Online 25th Aug 2018
Electronic imports increased by 16.49 percent to $13.46 billion in the first six months of 2018 from $13.46 billion in the same period last year, the Semiconductor and Electronic Industries in the Philippines Inc. (Seipi) said. According to data on the group’s website, imports in eight sectors saw increases in the first half from their year-ago figures.

AT&T, Telenor eyeing third telco bid – DICT The Manila Times Online 24th Aug 2018
US-based AT&T and Norwegian firm Telenor have expressed interest in challenging the PLDT-Globe duopoly, the country’s acting Telecommunications chief said on Thursday. “We are not yet sure if they will submit a bid [but]… they’re interested, so they’re here,” Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Officer-in-Charge Eliseo Rio told reporters following a public hearing on draft rules for the third telco search.

DA introduces ICT-based tool for Ilocos farmers The Manila Times Online 24th Aug 2018
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has introduced an information and communication technology (ICT)-based and comprehensive decision-support tool to Ilocos Region farmers called Rice Crop Manager (RCM). With this, the DA-Regional Field Office 1 (DA-RFO1 for Region 1) recently conducted a three-day training workshop on RCM advisory service held at Fiesta Garden Resort in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.

ECs pledge to deliver internet to rural areas The Manila Times Online 22nd Aug 2018
Two electric cooperative (EC) groups have pledged to help deliver internet services in rural areas in the Philippines. The Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca) and the National Association of General Managers of Electric Cooperatives (Nagmec) said on Monday they were “all in” in helping the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to provide internet connection in remote areas. we bring broadband to our areas,” he added.

Deal taps power co-ops for rural internet services The Manila Times Online 20th Aug 2018
An agreement aimed at providing internet services in rural areas has been signed by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), National Electrification Administration (NEA) and the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (Philreca). Under the memorandum of agreement (MoU) signed last Friday, the DICT has tapped electric cooperatives for the “last mile” of the government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP).

PH ranked 9th in cyberthreat risks The Manila Times Online 19th Aug 2018
The country has emerged as the 9th most attacked country worldwide in terms of cyber threat risks in the second quarter of 2018, up from its 44th place in the same period in 2017, a cybersecurity firm said last week. Kasperky Lab said in a statement the country’s web malware infections online have ballooned by 242 percent to 10.6 million in the second quarter compared to the recorded 3.1 million a year earlier.

Unsure of Digital Payments? BSP Creates New Unit to Better Regulate Fintech Services Entrepreneur.com.ph 16th Aug 2018
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has created the Financial Technology Sub-Sector (FTSS), a unit in charge of overseeing the BSP’s digital payments programs as well as regulating registered financial institutions that offer electronic products and services. “A new subsector within the Financial Supervision Sector has been created to conduct the effective oversight of fintech and other innovative alternatives,” said BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr. in an event on July 27 that focused on the country’s payments and settlements system.

Dominguez: Prioritize telecoms reforms The Manila Times Online 16th Aug 2018
The government should prioritize regulatory improvements over finding a challenger to the PLDT-Globe duopoly, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said on Wednesday. “The third telco is one way of improving [the industry]. Another way is to have a better regulatory environment and I think that is the priority rather than a third telco,” he claimed during a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.

Infrastructure

House resolution seeks to block national franchise for solar firm Business World 13th Sep 2018
A RESOLUTION seeking to block a bill granting a franchise to Solar Para sa Bayan Corp. has been filed at the House of Representatives, with the resolution’s backers claiming that the franchise conflicts with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). House Bill 8179 will grant the Solar Para sa Bayan a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain distributable power technologies and minigrid systems. According to House Resolution 2182, the franchise violates Section 59 of the EPIRA Law, which provided that “only those which are in remote and unviable villages that the franchise utility is unable to service for any reason shall be opened to other qualified parties.” iThe bill, the resolution’s backers said, will also duplicate the functions of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

Boracay main roads to be ready by Oct. 26 ‘soft opening’ — DoT Business World 13th Sep 2018
THE tourism department said the rehabilitation of Boracay is expected to be complete by December 2019 and that major roads will be ready more than a month before the resort island reopens to visitors. Oct. 26 marks the end of the six-month period during which the island was closed to visitors, to facilitate an environmental rehabilitation.

San Miguel Holdings parent SMC’s backing needed for Bulacan airport Business World 10th Sep 2018
THE Department of Finance (DoF) questioned the financial capacity of San Miguel Holdings Corp., which hopes to build a proposed P735-billion airport in Bulacan as an alternative gateway to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). In a Senate hearing on Monday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said San Miguel Holdings, a unit of San Miguel Corp. (SMC), only had total equity of P60 billion in 2016. However, the construction of the Bulacan airport will require San Miguel Holdings to infuse around P200 billion in equity.

New P2.5 billion Clark runway seen to ease NAIA congestion | Philstar.com philstar.com 7th Sep 2018
The Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) intends to build a new runway for the Clark airport which would serve as the quickest solution to address runway congestion and closure of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during times of emergency.

Davao Int’l airport upgrade to start next year Manila Bulletin News 6th Sep 2018
The P40.57 billion six-year modernization project of the congested Davao International Airport will start next year, an official of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) 11 here said. The modernization project is one of 75 projects targeted under President Duterte's "Build, Build, Build" initiative.

Contract to build Iloilo dam project signed with South Korean company Business World 3rd Sep 2018
THE National Irrigation Administration (NIA) on Monday signed a contract with a South Korean builder for the construction of a dam in Iloilo province worth P11.212 billion. In ceremonies at NIA’s headquarters, the agency through its Administrator Ricardo R. Visaya formally closed the deal with representatives from Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd. The Jalaur River multipurpose project will include a 109-meter high dam, a 38.5-meter afterbay dam, a 10-meter catch dam, and an 80.74-kilometer canal.

To ease traffic gridlock, Philippine subway builder eyes ferries The Jakarta Post 27th Aug 2018
IRC Properties Inc, has submitted an offer to run and upgrade the rickety Pasig River ferry service in addition to their $3.7 billion underground system venture in Metro Manila’s Makati City. The ferry system would help drain traffic from Makati City while the subway gets built, said Anthony Tiu.

Insurance

2 storms, Florence and Mangkhut, different as water and wind AP News 16th Sep 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nature expresses its fury in sundry ways. Two deadly storms — Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut — roared ashore on the same day, half a world apart, but the way they spread devastation was as different as water and wind. Mangkhut made landfall Friday on the northeastern tip of Luzon island in the Philippines with top-of-the-scale Category 5 winds of 165 mph. Florence had weakened to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds by the time it arrived at North Carolina's coast. Economics play a role in a storm's impact. As a developing country, the Philippines is much poorer than the southeastern United States, which means houses tend to be less sturdy and first responders less well equipped, among other factors. This is one reason why, when disaster does strike, the effects can be devastating. In 2013, one of the most powerful storms on record, Typhoon Haiyan , killed 7,300 people and displaced more than 5 million when it swept across the islands of the central Philippines. Straddling the famous Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is also bedeviled by volcanoes and earthquakes, and while there are considerable patches of poverty in North and South Carolina, it is not the same as the rural area where Mangkhut hit. Munich Re's Rauch said about 30 to 50 percent of storm damage is usually insured in the United States but often less than 10 percent in developing countries, meaning nine-tenths of the people hit will end up shouldering a bigger economic burden.

Legislation

Review costs of shift to federalism: biz groups Malaya 13th Aug 2018
Several business groups appealed to legislators to weigh carefully the costs, risks and uncertainty associated with the proposed shift to a federal system of government. The groups – Cebu Business Club, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. -- have supported the call of the economic managers to study the risks in the shift to federalism. “We believe in the need to adhere to the public finance principle ‘funds follow function’. We echo the concerns of fiscal and economic experts about the ambiguous provisions on the division of revenue and expenditure responsibilities between the proposed federal government and its federated regions,” the groups said in a joint statement issued yesterday. The groups said reports indicate an alarming cost to the would-be multi-level government under a federal system citing preliminary estimates that range from P72 billion of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies to P130 billion of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Nograles to DBM, DBCC: Revert to old budget system then we’ll talk Malaya 13th Aug 2018
THE House of Representatives will resume committee deliberations on the proposed P3.757 trillion national budget for 2019 once fiscal managers junk the “extremely restrictive” cash-based budget system and revert to the old obligation-based budgeting structure. Rep. Karlo Nograles (PDP-Laban, Davao City), chairperson of the House committee on appropriations, told the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) to amend the proposed 2019 General Appropriations bill and stick to obligation-based budgeting. “They just have to amend it (general appropriations bill). All they have to do is amend it. Amend the budget in favor of reverting to obligations-based (budgeting),” Nograles told radio dzBB. Under the cash-based budgeting system, agencies have only one year with a three-month extension after the fiscal year to settle payments for goods and services delivered. In the old obligations-based budgeting, funds for the fiscal year are valid for two years.