PIDS in the News Archived (February 2014)

A crackdown on rice smuggling in the Philippines is behind a run-up in prices of the country's staple food, some traders and analysts say.

Smugglers had been "absolutely helping" to keep prices down for consumers by boosting the national supply, said Roehlano M. Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. But the crackdown on smuggled rice in recent months has driven up prices, Mr. Briones said, because the government hasn't compensated with an increase in legal imports.

The conflict comes from a government policy that aims to have domestic farmers grow all the rice the nation needs by the time President Benigno Aquino III leaves office in 2016, even though the archipelago is short on space for irrigated land. Population growth makes the goal still harder to achieve, but the idea of the nation's being able to feed itself is popular among voters

Still, average Filipinos"both sellers and consumers of rice"are unhappy about what they are paying for the grain at a time global prices are down. Rice is plentiful because of good harvests from India and Vietnam, the world's two biggest exporters, in recent years. While the price of rice fell in most countries last year, it rose by around 5% in the Philippines, according to the nation's Bureau of Agricultural Statistics.

The tension has been playing out in much-watched televised Senate hearings exploring the world of smuggled rice, most of it coming from Vietnam. The amount smuggled was estimated to have been 2.6 million tons in 2013, about one-seventh of the total produced domestically.

The focus on rice prices comes as the Philippines finds itself in danger of punitive action by the World Trade Organization. Rice-exporting countries say its insistence on strictly limiting imports contravenes WTO rules.

Evidence of the rice-smuggling crackdown is seen in an increase in seizures and prosecutions. The Bureau of Customs reported in January that it had seized 1,936 shipping containers filled with smuggled rice worth 725 million pesos ($16.25 million) in the previous three months. That led to "a drastic reduction" in the amount of illicit rice making it into the country, according to Customs Deputy Commissioner Agaton Teodoro Uvero.

Author: Trefor Moss And Isabella Steger
Date: February 26, 2014
Source: The Wall Street Journal Online

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto tagged yesterday the National Food Authority (NFA) as inutile for failing to protect local farmers through subsidized rice importations as it incurred a staggering P180 billion in debt.

Saying that the P180 billion debt could not be written off, Recto said Filipinos are already paying for this debt as we speak (through) increased interest expense on the debt.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, whose Senate agriculture and food committee that heard testimonies of government officials on the NFA indebtedness and rice-related issues such as gather unabated rice smuggling in public hearing the other day, said the P180 billion debt was incurred by the NFA in the past administration.

Since it is the taxpayers who will pay these debts, Recto said it is time for the national government to think of stopping the financial hemorrhage of the NFA.

Recto also strongly suggested that government managers should think of imposing tariffs on rice importations since a study of Dr. Roehlano Briones, senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, a government think tank, showed that it is time for government to simply forget its international commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO) that imposes quantitive restrictions on the importation of rice.

Bawal mag-import ng bigas, basically. Limited lang and you pay 50 percent (in tariff), Recto said when asked what a quantitative restriction means.

(It is prohibited to import rice, basically. It (quantity) is limited and you pay a 50 percent tariff.) Recto said that the price of rice went down last year and that last December, we are paying 80 percent more than what other consumers in other jurisdictions, he added.

The NFA failed in its mandate. We had 18 years to improve the agricultural sector based on our (international) commitment. And what do we get in return? We have P180 billion in debts. Prices of rice went up and it did not help our farmers, he explained.

Author: Mario B. Casayuran
Date: February 26, 2014
Source: Tempo Online

GOVERNMENTS generally tend to implement a number of measures or programs to help those with short- or long-term financial or economic problems.
These include the provision of emergency health care (an example of this would be the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office providing financial aid to a beneficiary for his or her hospitalization); relief operations in the wake of a natural or man-made disaster, like a huge fire in a shanty area; the unemployment-benefit programs of some Western countries, which are designed to help people get through a tough period until they get back on their feet; and conditional cash-transfer (CCT) programs.
Each measure or program is designed to fulfill a specific need and hopes to lift its beneficiaries out of the awful circumstances they are in and put them on the path to a better (preferably middle-class) life, as well as to help in the fight against poverty. None of them are designed to make the beneficiaries feel more comfortable with their current condition.
The Aquino administrations CCT program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), is designed with those goals in mind. The millions of poor families enrolled in this program are required to keep their school-age children in educational institutions. The 2014 budget for this program is P62 billion; approximately P105 billion has been spent since 2012.
No doubt the 4Ps has helped many poor households, but if its goals are for the long term, then there is a problem. Consider: Studies show that, in 2011, more boys (22 percent) than girls (8 percent) tended to drop out of school at 15 years old throughout the region. Sixty percent of 18-year-old boys were working instead of studying. The Philippine Institute for Development Studies has said school attendance among 4P families falls drastically as a child grows older, from 93 percent for those who are 13 to just 33 percent for those who are 18.
The success of the 4Ps should not be ignored. The program, however, is only the first step, and the country is waiting for the government to make the second step: genuinely prepare the beneficiaries"and others like them"for jobs.
Perhaps, part of the solution lies in the idea that the 4Ps should somehow be integrated into the existing training programs already implemented by the government. As the first step, the 4Ps is there to help our young people stay in school to receive their basic education. Once thats accomplished, the obvious next step should be to provide them with job skills.
Meanwhile, the older 4Ps beneficiaries"the parents of these young people"might also want to start providing for their families. A joint private- and public-sector partnership, including additional and continuing financial incentives, would better keep the childrens education and jobs training going while offering a way for their parents to help contribute to their families well-being. Both short- and long-term goals must be addressed.

Author:
Date: February 26, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

The poverty situation in the country did not significantly improve despite of the six-percent economic growth posted from 2003 to 2006, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). PIDS Supervising Research Specialist Danileen Parel noted that the education and infrastructure services in an area are both closely associated with its poverty situation. Parel said poverty is highly concentrated in rural areas where level and quality of education and infrastructure are very poor. Her findings showed that about 80 percent of the poor live in rural areas. Meanwhile, the National Capital Region (NCR) has the least number of poor households, which is 0.88 percent in 2003 and 1.18 percent in 2006.

The study also showed that access to electricity among poor households is only 52.73 percent in 2006, while access to potable piped water is 66.37 percent in the same year. It is miniscule compared to 80 percent of the non-poor households who have access to electricity and piped water. Parel also described the linkage of poverty and education. Fifty percent of the heads of poor household have no formal education, while almost 40 percent of them finished primary education. Only less than 0.5 percent of the poor have earned a bachelors degree. Showing the linkage of poverty to lack of infrastructure services and basic education, Parel stressed that poor communities, especially in rural areas, must be provided with basic education and infrastructure services so that poverty reduction could be better achieved.

Rural-urban linkages should be strengthened to narrow the large gap between the rural and urban areas. Such linkages would enable rural households to take advantage of urban development like higher access to public goods, and more accessibility to human and physical capital and infrastructure, said Parel. Parel also suggested more investments in areas where poverty is high. It can be through improving infrastructure services and providing basic education to poor communities.

Author: Edu Lopez
Date: February 25, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

Low consumer awareness is one of the main reasons why many Filipinos, especially the poor, have not fully taken advantage of the 25-year old Generic Drugs Act and the five-year old Cheaper Medicines Act, a study published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed.

According to the joint study of PIDS and the Department of Health titled The Impact of the Cheaper Medicines Act on Households in Metro Manila, there is a perception that generics are of poorer quality compared with branded medicines.

The study also said that while many people were aware of the Generics Act, most respondents thought the Cheaper Medicines Act covered mainly generic medicines.

The Cheaper Medicines Act is intended to achieve universally accessible, cheaper, and quality medicines by pursuing an effective competition policy in the pharmaceutical sector. Under the law, an executive order was issued imposing maximum retail prices on a number of drugs.

The Generics Act, meanwhile, aims to promote, require, and ensure the production, adequate supply, distribution, use, and acceptance of drugs and medicines identified by their generic names.

Adoracion Fausto, one of the authors, said during a recent forum that while the increase in the number of generic drugstores and the use of celebrity endorsers helped improve the image and acceptability of generic medicines, a more integrated communication campaign by the DOH was needed to promote the benefits of the two laws.

The study found that government physicians have a positive influence on the use of generics because they are required by law to write prescriptions using generic names.

However, private physicians, who have an option to write in brand names in addition to generic names, seem to contribute to the generic medicines image of poor quality, especially among higher social classes.

It is important to study physicians behavior because whatever the doctors say, the patients will follow, Fausto said.

Author: Angela Celis
Date: February 24, 2014
Source: Malaya

The ASEAN-Korea Center will host an international conference to review the past and future of relations between the 10-member regional bloc and Korea at the Lotte Hotel, downtown Seoul, Wednesday.

Dignitaries and guest speakers including Le Luong Minh, secretary general of ASEAN and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se will attend the conference titled Ushering in a New Era of Collaboration and Co-prosperity: ASEAN Community and its Implications on ASEAN-Korea Relations and East Asia Cooperation.

Chung Hae-moon, secretary-general of the center, will open the conference, which will be co-hosted by the Malaysia-based Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute.

Minh will deliver the keynote speech, followed by Myanmars Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin who will speak on the goals of ASEAN and its vision, with the ASEAN Economic Community soon to be launched in 2015. Minister Yun will give a special speech on ASEAN-Korea relations and their way forward.

The conference will have four main sessions including 25 Years of Partnership between ASEAN and Korea: Achievements, Prospects, and Challenges, and Launch of the ASEAN Community and Prospects of ASEAN-Korea Cooperation: What Lies Ahead?

The list of guest speakers includes Kim Sung-han, professor of Korea University and former vice minister of foreign affairs; I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia; Thitinan Pongsudhirak, professor of Chulalongkorn University; Josef Yap, former President of the Philippines Institute of Development Studies; and Bernardo Villegas, professor of the University of Asia and the Pacific among others.

The conference will assess milestones such as the establishment of the Dialogue Partnership in 1989 and entry into full force of the ASEAN-Korea FTA in 2009, as well as look at the prospects and significance of the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community next year.


Author: Kim Ji-soo
Date: February 24, 2014
Source: The Korea Times

AS much as 80 percent of poor Filipinos live in the rural areas, said a report released by state-owned think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS).

This was based on the analysis of the 2003 and 2006 rounds of the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) where 12,500 households were surveyed to determine poverty reduction at the household level undertaken by PIDS Supervising Research Specialist Danileen Parel.

She said poverty is highly concentrated in rural areas where level and quality of education and infrastructure are very poor.
Parels data showed that the National Capital Region (NCR) has the least number of poor households, which is 0.88 percent in 2003 and 1.18 percent in 2006. She said education and infrastructure services in an area are both closely associated with its poverty situation.

In terms of infrastructure, access to electricity among poor households is only 52.73 percent in 2006, while access to potable piped water is 66.37 percent in the same year. It is miniscule compared to 80 percent of the nonpoor households who have access to electricity and piped water.

Around 50 percent of the heads of poor household have no formal education, while almost 40 percent of them finished primary education. Only less than 0.5 percent of the poor have earned a bachelors degree.
Showing the linkage of poverty to lack of infrastructure services and basic education, Parel stressed that poor communities, especially in rural areas, must be provided with basic education and infrastructure services so that poverty reduction could be better achieved.

Rural-urban linkages should be strengthened to narrow the large gap between the rural and urban areas. Such linkages would enable rural households to take advantage of urban development like higher access to public goods, and more accessibility to human and physical capital and infrastructure.

Parel suggested more investments in areas where poverty is high. It can be through improving infrastructure services and providing basic education to poor communities.

Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: February 24, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

The agri-industry alliance Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) scored former agriculture officials and trade experts yesterday for sowing fear of possible retaliatory trade sanctions should the Philippines continue to impose quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice.

SINAG researchers said the Philippines has 22 previous and existing dispute settlement cases at the World Trade Organization, but no sanctions were ever imposed against the country even if it was found in alleged violation of certain WTO commitments.

It is clear that fear mongering only serves the interest of smugglers who continue to insist on permit-less importations, the group stressed in a statement.

If we follow the assumptions of so-called trade experts, there would have been global trade chaos given the number of cases filed by WTO-member complainants against each other. More than the Philippines, trade sanctions and penalties should have long been imposed on the US and EU since both of them - including our major trading partners - have hundreds of dispute cases between them, SINAG chairperson Rosendo So said.

The group issued the statement amidst desperate attempts by smugglers " through trade liberalization advocates " to sow fears of imaginary sanctions should the Philippine government maintain quantitative restrictions on rice imports.

But imposing sanctions is not how the WTO operates. Under WTOs Dispute Settlement Mechanism, the first option is for disputing countries to settle their concerns among themselves. The operative process is therefore consultations between the governments concerned, and even when the case has progressed to other stages, consultations and mediation remain the principal option, So stressed.


Author: Michael Punongbayan
Date: February 24, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

Officials of the Agriculture department and the National Food Authority are at loggerheads with the Cabinets economic chief and a UP think tank on the issue of rice imports.

Agriculture officials joined by some populist senators have taken the position to protect the producers at the expense of the consumers, a move they recommended during hearings by the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food the extension of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)-World Trade Organization (WTO) special treatment of rice or quantitative restrictions, which expired in June 2012.

The recommendations are in stark contrast with the positions of the University of the Philippines economists, all of whom have called for the abolition of import quotas citing the increasing cost of rice in the market.

Dr. Roehlano Briones of the UP School of Economics and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the top think tank in Southeast Asia, said that consumers will benefit from cheaper rice with the removal of the QR and the levying of moderate tariffs.

The country should not seek for an extension for the QR in rice imports. Any licensed importer should be allowed to make its own commercial decisions, subject to payment of tariff and compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary standards, said the economist, whose views are echoed by National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Director General Arsenio Balisacan, who has also pushed for the abolition of quantitative restrictions with some tariff protection.

The Philippine Statistics Authority-Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (PSA-BAS) has reported that rice today sells between 13% to 14% higher than at the same period last year. Well-milled rice now retails for 40.06 pesos per kilogram, while a kilo of regular-milled rice, on the other hand, now retails for 36.75 pesos.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala have repeatedly argued for the extension of the QR, testifying in ongoing Senate hearings that this was needed to protect the countrys 2.5 million farmers. The Senate hearings, which have shifted its focus from spiraling rice prices to ongoing rice smuggling controversies, resume today.

However UP-trained economists have repeatedly pointed out that the protection of rice producers have come at the expense of consumers, who are the losers under current rice importation policies. Former NEDA Chief and Professor Emeritus Gerardo Sicat of the at the UP School of Economics, said that the losers in this corrupted world are consumers as those who benefit from governments protectionist policies are producers who can exclude market competition with government help as well as rice smugglers who make huge profits when high tariffs are in place.



Author:
Date: February 24, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima believes that rice quotas imposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and National Food Authority (NFA) allowing government to monopolize the importing of rice may have violated the terms set by the World Trade Organization (WTO). In her 12-page confidential opinion dated December 16, 2013, a copy of which was obtained by The Manila Times, de Lima advised Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and the NFA that the Quantitative Restrictions (QR) on rice can no longer be imposed until negotiations for its extension are concluded. De Lima said that in issuing her opinion, she risked being held in contempt by a Manila court that is hearing a petition against the restrictions. For that, she said the document should not be made public. Said opinion could be construed as an unlawful intrusion into the exercise of judicial powers and functions pertaining to a separate and coordinate branch of government and could subject this Department to criticism for violation of the independence of the judiciary, not to mention the judicial courtesy accorded to all courts, she wrote on page two of her opinion.
She added that the document is only for Alcalas information and guidance.On December 14, 1994, the Senate, through Resolution 97, pursuant to Section 21, Article VII of the Constitution, concurred in the ratification by the President of the Agreement establishing the WTO, she said. The WTO first granted the Philippines a 10-year special treatment for rice starting in 1995. Before the arrangement ended in 2005, an extension was granted in 2004. It lapsed on June 30, 2012.

Even before current negotiations for a second extension until 2017, the country had twice been denied appeals to postpone the special treatment expiration. The DA and the NFA, however, insist that the authority to implement the QR remains in effect during the course of the negotiations and unless challenged by WTO member countries. With the expiration of the special treatment provision under the agreement, the DOJ cautioned the DA and the NFA against insisting on the continued implementation of the quantitative import restrictions and discretionary import licensing.
Therefore, it is our opinion that the WTO provisions on the lifting of QRs as well as their exceptions, and the provisions on negotiations for its extension are already effective and should be complied with, de Lima said.
It is not for nothing that the Philippine Government gave its consent to the WTO, she pointed out.

Annex 5 of the WTO agreement cites that the special treatment holds only during the 10-year implementation period from 1995 to 2005, and until the extension of that period, which ended on June 30, 2012.



Author: Joel M. Sy Egco And Jing Villamente
Date: February 23, 2014
Source: Manila Times

Majority of Filipinos, particularly the poor, have not fully taken advantage of the benefits of the Generics Drugs Act, 25 years after the law was enacted, and the Cheaper Medicines Act , which was passed five years ago.

Separate evaluations of the Generics Act of 1988 (Republic Act 6675) and the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008 (Republic Act 9502) by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that low consumer awareness hampers adoption of these laws.

The PIDS-DOH study titled The Impact of the Cheaper Medicines Act on Households in Metro Manila found there was low awareness of the law, and while many people were aware of the Generics Act, most respondents thought the Cheaper Medicines Act covered mainly generic medicines.

This is compounded by the perception that generics are of poorer quality compared with branded medicines.

The Cheaper Medicines Act is intended to achieve universally accessible, cheaper, and quality medicines by pursuing an effective competition policy in the pharmaceutical sector. Under the law, an executive order was issued imposing maximum retail prices on a number of drugs. The Generics Act, meanwhile, aims to promote, require, and ensure the production, adequate supply, distribution, use, and acceptance of drugs and medicines identified by their generic names.

Adoracion Fausto, one of the authors, aid during a forum co-organized by PIDS and DOH last February 13, that although the increase in the number of generic drugstores and the use of celebrity endorsers like Vilma Santos and Susan Roces had helped improve the image and acceptability of generic medicines, a more integrated communication campaign by the DOH was needed to promote the benefits of the two laws.

The study found that government physicians have a positive influence on the use of generics because they are required by law to write prescriptions using generic names. However, private physicians, who have an option to write in brand names in addition to generic names, seem to contribute to the generic medicines image of poor quality, especially among higher social classes.


Author: Bernie Magkilat
Date: February 22, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

IT HAS been 25 years since the passage of the Generic Drugs Act and five years since the Cheaper Medicines Act, but majority of Filipinos, particularly the poor, have not fully taken advantage of the laws benefits.

Separate evaluations of the Generics Act of 1988 (Republic Act 6675) and the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008 (Republic Act 9502) by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) and the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that low consumer awareness was among the reasons for the low take-up. This is compounded by the perception that generics are of poorer quality compared with branded medicines.

The Cheaper Medicines Act is intended to achieve universally accessible, cheaper, and quality medicines by pursuing an effective competition policy in the pharmaceutical sector. Under the law, an executive order was issued imposing maximum retail prices on a number of drugs.

The Generics Act, meanwhile, aims to promote, require, and ensure the production, adequate supply, distribution, use, and acceptance of drugs and medicines identified by their generic names.

The Pids-DOH study titled "The Impact of the Cheaper Medicines Act on Households in Metro Manila" found there was low awareness of the law, and while many people were aware of the Generics Act, most respondents thought the Cheaper Medicines Act covered mainly generic medicines.

Adoracion Fausto, one of the authors, said during a forum co-organized by Pids and DOH last February 13, that although the increase in the number of generic drugstores and the use of celebrity endorsers like Vilma Santos and Susan Roces had helped improve the image and acceptability of generic medicines, a more integrated communication campaign by the DOH was needed to promote the benefits of the two laws.

The study found that government physicians have a positive influence on the use of generics because they are required by law to write prescriptions using generic names. However, private physicians, who have an option to write in brand names in addition to generic names, seem to contribute to the generic medicines image of poor quality, especially among higher social classes.

"It is important to study physicians behavior because whatever the doctors say, the patients will follow. In doing so we can develop ways on how to mobilize them and make them advocates of the Cheaper Medicines Act," Fausto said.

To correct consumer perception on the quality of generic drugs, the study said information on why and how drug prices were reduced should be provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to address quality and efficacy issues.

In response, FDA acting director-general Kenneth Hartigan Go said the agency was already implementing several reforms to address not just perception but also real problems. These reforms include strengthening FDAs capacity through recruitment of qualified personnel, so it can expand the scope of its work.

"For example, FDA should be able to do foreign compliance [with] current good manufacturing practices inspection. This way, the FDA can determine where the drugs came from and whether the factory [complied with] current good manufacturing practice," Go stated.


Author:
Date: February 21, 2014
Source: Sun

THE Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food has invited four experts who conducted a study on technical smuggling of agricultural commodities over the past 24 years to a hearing on Monday.

These experts"Prudenciano Gordoncillo, Cesar Quicoy, Julieta de los Reyes and Arvin Vista"are from the College of Economics and Management of the University of the Philippines at Los Baos.

They were commissioned by Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), to undertake the study funded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research of the Department of Agriculture.

Saguiguit said the trailblazing study, titled An Assessment of Smuggling on Selected Agricultural Commodities in the Philippines, was published this year by Searca as a policy brief.

He said the study will provide policy-makers with an exhaustive analysis of technical smuggling and provide them options in minimizing the economic problem.

We hope that the studys findings and recommendations will serve as a useful guide for instituting policy reforms toward stringent regulations and remedial options to address this important problem, he said.

Saguiguit said Searca and its cooperating institutions are now focusing on such studies as a guide in the formulation of policies that are important to agricultural and rural development.

Chaired by Sen. Cynthia Villar, the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food is in the midst of an inquiry into the smuggling of rice, which Herculano Joji Co, president of the Philippine Confederation of Grains Associations and former Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, claimed had intensified since the country acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The data collected and analyzed by the team of Gordoncillo from local sources and from Indonesia and Singapore, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Statistical Database and the UN Commission on Trade, showed that instead of abating, technical smuggling blossomed under a regime of trade liberalization and globalization.

The Gordoncillo study showed that from 1986 to 2009, the value of rice that entered the country through technical smuggling was $1.2 billion, followed by refined sugar at $448 million, beef at $428 million, onion at $259 million and pork at $117 million.


Author: Marvyn N. Benaning
Date: February 22, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

Last week, reacting to the result of a Social Weather Station survey showing that joblessness had risen to 27.5% in the last quarter of 2013, President Aquino convened a full Cabinet meeting, which he rarely calls. An action plan for poverty reduction was tackled, reportedly for almost eight hours.

Judging from the post-meeting media briefing, given by Arsenio M. Balisacan, National Economic and Development Authority director-general, the P-Noy government appeared to have grudgingly come to terms with the intractable problems of jobless growth and endemic poverty.

The sobering assessment, in sum: Despite the relatively high level of economic performance (GDP growth around 7%) touted as the second highest in Asia next to Chinas, the P-Noy government will not have substantially reduced the high levels of poverty and unemployment-underemployment incidence when it ends its six-year term in June 2016.

In fact, Balisacan projected that a major reduction in the countrys poverty incidence may be attained " through sustained economic growth " in the next 10 or, he hastened to add, even better in 20 years.

His projection reflected the finding of a research-study, done by the state-funded Philippine Institute for Development Studies, that the country will not meet its target, under the UN Millennium Development Goals, to reduce poverty incidence by half, from 33.2% in 1991 to 16.6%, by 2016.

The target, the PIDS study says, may be achieved only by 2025. At best, Balisacan surmised, poverty incidence can be reduced to 20-23% in 2015 and further to 18-20% by 2016.

For the failure to meet the MDG target, Balisacan blamed the fact that from 1994 to 2009 the poverty level hardly changed. He described that period as a lost decade for poverty reduction but didnt provide details.

Since 2009, he pointed out, poverty incidence declined modestly from 27% to 25.2% in 2012.

Some progressive economists and social scientists have attributed endemic poverty to the failure of successive governments to sustain the economic-growth momentum in the mid-1950s to early 1960s " when the country was considered as next to Japan in terms of development. Specifically, they underscore the twin failures to industrialize and to carry out thoroughgoing agrarian reform.


Author: Satur C. Ocampo
Date: February 22, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

The government is always claiming that the number of poor is decreasing but it cannot deny the phenomenal growth of informal settlers across the country, especially in Metro Manila, in the past decade. According to a study cited by the government-funded Philippine Institute for Development Studies, about 5 percent of Metro Manila residents were living in informal settlements in 2003. The figure went up to more than 10 percent in 2009. Two years later, the Department of Interior and Local Government submitted a report to Malacanang placing the number of informal settlers at 2.7 million or about 25 percent of Metro Manilas population.

What did these figures prove? First, they highlighted the utter failure of the governments Balik Probinsiya, social housing, and relocation programs. Second, poverty cannot be adequately measured by family income and household consumption. And third, wealth disparity has worsened between the rural and urban regions, and among the social classes.

It is convenient to blame runaway population growth for the rapid rise in the number of the poor; and in fact, this argument is consistently used to justify population control measures. But this reasoning puts the blame entirely on the poor without addressing the historic inequities and structural defects in society. It must be emphasized that babymaking is not a supreme evil that must be exorcised.

Perhaps a better way to explain the poverty situation in Metro Manila as a starting point is to link it with other social catastrophes such as super typhoon Yolanda and the devastation these caused in the provinces. Weather disturbances and environment disasters are undeniably great factors that contribute to the cycle of inter-generational poverty in the country.


Author: Mong Palatino
Date: February 21, 2014
Source: Bulatalat.com

Efforts to modernize customs administration will likely affect the brokerage profession, but Customs brokers that are willing to adjust to the winds of change can find new opportunities in the emerging world order, according to a newly released study prepared by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS). The PIDS said with the ongoing economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region, the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such union.
But attempts to introduce greater efficiencies in customs and trade through the passage of a new customs and tariff modernization act face resistance from organized customs brokers. Arguments against some provisions of the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act of 2013 filed in the current 16th Congress say some of its provisions entail changes that could adversely affect the role of service providers such as customs brokers. Brokers fear that their role in the envisioned customs modernization in the country will be significantly diminished, if not permanently eliminated, said the report entitled How Should We Move Forward in Customs Brokerage and Trade Facilitation? The customs brokers stress that they have a vital role in facilitating efficient, effective and secure international trade, according to Gilberto Llanto, lead author of the study.

Results of roundtable discussions and interviews conducted by the authors with other stakeholders, including officials from the Bureau of Customs as well as importers and exporters, clearly (point) to the declining relevance of the customs brokers services. Overall, the discussions showed that while customs brokers see themselves as an essential part of trade facilitation, the direct users of their services think differently. They do not see any value added from the Customs brokers services, the report said. The diminishing role of customs brokers, it added, is the result of an environment where customs administration is modernizing, and computerization is replacing the traditional and direct interaction of brokers with staff from the BoC. Moreover, a more transparent customs administration is emerging to efficiently process a significantly growing volume of trade transactions. In addition to the Asean integration, another development pushing customs modernization in the Philippines is the governments ratification in 2010 of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures. The RKC is regarded as the blueprint for modern and efficient customs procedures in the 21st century, providing international commerce with predictability and efficiency required by modern trade.


Author: Ed Velasco
Date: February 20, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

Efforts to modernize customs administration will likely affect the brokerage profession, but Customs brokers that are willing to adjust to the winds of change can find new opportunities in the emerging world order, according to a newly released study prepared by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS). The PIDS said with the ongoing economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region, the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such union.
But attempts to introduce greater efficiencies in customs and trade through the passage of a new customs and tariff modernization act face resistance from organized customs brokers. Arguments against some provisions of the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act of 2013 filed in the current 16th Congress say some of its provisions entail changes that could adversely affect the role of service providers such as customs brokers. Brokers fear that their role in the envisioned customs modernization in the country will be significantly diminished, if not permanently eliminated, said the report entitled How Should We Move Forward in Customs Brokerage and Trade Facilitation? The customs brokers stress that they have a vital role in facilitating efficient, effective and secure international trade, according to Gilberto Llanto, lead author of the study.

Results of roundtable discussions and interviews conducted by the authors with other stakeholders, including officials from the Bureau of Customs as well as importers and exporters, clearly (point) to the declining relevance of the customs brokers services. Overall, the discussions showed that while customs brokers see themselves as an essential part of trade facilitation, the direct users of their services think differently. They do not see any value added from the Customs brokers services, the report said. The diminishing role of customs brokers, it added, is the result of an environment where customs administration is modernizing, and computerization is replacing the traditional and direct interaction of brokers with staff from the BoC. Moreover, a more transparent customs administration is emerging to efficiently process a significantly growing volume of trade transactions. In addition to the Asean integration, another development pushing customs modernization in the Philippines is the governments ratification in 2010 of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures. The RKC is regarded as the blueprint for modern and efficient customs procedures in the 21st century, providing international commerce with predictability and efficiency required by modern trade.


Author: Ed Velasco
Date: February 20, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

More poor Filipino children will have the opportunity to go to school and complete their primary and secondary education if the national government would strengthen the implementation of free public school education and enhance its job-generation agenda, according to a study released by state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

This is based on the study titled Schooling Outcomes in the Philippines, 1988-2008: Impacts of Changes in Household Income and the Implementation of the Free Public Secondary Education Act authored by PIDS Research Specialist Ma. Laarni D. Revilla.

The study stated that there is a need to strengthen Republic Act (RA) 6655, or the Free Public Secondary Education Act of 1988, and increase job opportunities of parents so that more children can stay in school, as well as increase their chances of completing their primary and secondary education.

The improvements in cohort survival rates indicate that more Filipinos were able to finish elementary or secondary schools. The increases in average years of schooling and in the proportion of population with higher educational attainment show that households were able to sustain schooling for a much longer period, Revilla said.

Thus, there is a need to strengthen RA 6655 as these types of reforms provide easier access to schooling. Finally, it is important to provide jobs to households so they can earn the income that they need to support and sustain their childrens schooling, she added.

Revillas study revealed there was a decrease in education inequality because of RA 6655. Her study showed the greatest decrease in education inequality was observed in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Soccskargen, Cordillera Autonomous Region.

Regions where education inequality posted the least declines were in the National Capital Region, Ilocos, Mimaropa and Northern Mindanao.


Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: February 19, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

TRADE officials, economists and businessmen are set to converge today at the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu to discuss next years implementation of a trade agreement that will encourage free flow of goods and services among countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo will lead todays forum and will be joined by other speakers to discuss the opportunities and challenges that the country may encounter once the Asean Economic Community (AEC) agreement comes into effect.

Participants of the forum will have a chance to address their concerns to each speaker during open forums scheduled in the morning and afternoon sessions.

Registration for the economic forum starts at 8 a.m. with Sun.Star Chairman Jesus B. Garcia and SGV and Cos Cirilo P. Noel opening the event at 9 a.m. The event is expected to run until 5 p.m.

Limited tickets to the event are still available at the entrance of the Cebu Grand Ballroom of the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. Domingo and three other speakers will discuss the AEC and its expected effects. Former secretary of Economic Planning Cielito Habito will address the direct implications that the AEC will have on the Philippine economy.

Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo of the Department of Trade and Industrys International Trade Group will kick off the afternoon session with a talk on the threats and opportunities that the AEC may have on specific local sectors.

Ceferino is at the forefront of the Philippine governments drive to inform businesses of the implementation of the AEC next year.

Following Ceferino, Dr. Josef Yap, former president of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, will deliver a talk on how Philippine businesses can take advantage of a region-wide free market.

A panel comprised of local local industry leaders will be present to discuss key points of each speech.

The panel will include Gordon Alan J. Joseph of the Cebu Metro Development Coordinating Board, Jay Y. Yuvallos, Philippine representative for Small and medium Enterprises in the ASEAN Business Advisory Council; Lito Maderazo, President of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Philip N. Tan, board member of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jose T. Ng, honorary trade representative of the Royal Thai Government; Cenelyn Manguilimotan, president of the Hotels, Resorts, and Restaurants Association of Cebu; Charles M. Streegan, president and CEO of Pacific Traders and Manufacturing Corp.; and Wilfredo T. Sa-a, Jr., managing director of the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology.

Manuel Pages of Pages Holdings will serve as master of ceremonies. (ARJ


Author:
Date: February 18, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Et ees a puzzlement, said actor Yul Brynner in the Broadway muscial, The King and I." He played the role of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s,

That line sums up the study The Puzzle of Economic Growth and Stalled Health Improvement. This is buttreessed by two other Philippine Institute for Development Studies papers: Explaining the Large Disparities in Health and Making Health Financing and Services More Inclusive.

Ang mabuting pangagatawan ay maiging kayamanan, says a Pilipino proverb. Health is wealth.

The economy capped its strongest two years of growth in 2013 "- the fastest two-year pace since 1955, Bloomberg reports.. A recovery in advanced economies may help President Aquino bolster growth to as much as 8.5 percent by 2016.

But overall health status indicators have not markedly improved commensurate with that growth,. PIDS notes. Preventable ailments
from heart disease to TB, diabetes and diearrhea, inflicted the heaviest toll in Cebu, City Health Departments Dr Daisy Villa said Thursday.

Deaths for under age 5 infants, out of every 1,000 live births was 29. That's way behind Malaysias 6, notes the latest UN Human Development Report. Sure, immunization coverage here, for one year olds, was a robust 88 percent "- but still behind Vietnams 98.

Equity is now a global benchmark, especially in health. But the gap between the richest and the poorest households, in health financing, access to services, and health status, has not markedly improved...( We must unlock this) puzzle of economic growth and health inequity.

Economic growth, international competitiveness, and financial stability fall short. The goal should be human development in a sustainable environment.

Persistent gaps between elites and poor, within an improving economy, breed political instability and disenchantment among the neediest. It spawns crime and other social pathologies.

The lynchpin is social participation. President Aquino created a club of the 30 poorest provinces. (They) that will receive increased funding between now and the end of his term in 2016, Inquirer reports.

PIDS pinpoints six factors spin off into large disparities in health status. First is widespread poverty. Second is severe underinvestment in health since the 1970s, while fertility rates ebbed far too slowly.

Insurgency disrupted access to health care. Growth of the economy has not created jobs. A country fractured into 7,120 islands at low tide, impinges adversely on the delivery of health resources.

Frequent disasters and environmental risks, aggravated by climate change, embed health inequity. Think supertyphoon Yolanda and the Bohol earthquake. All too often, officials scramble to resolve short-term, immediate, and emergency concerns of governing and management.

What can be done? Many opportunities exist to make growth more inclusive by improved health financing, regulation and planning, and service delivery.

Economic growth makes it possible for health budgets, to increase. (Local governments can break out of basketball syndromes) to squander Internal Revenue Allotments. And quit the political squabbles, as in Mayor Mike Rama versus Osmea underlings in the council.

Aquinos fledgling Universal Health Care program focuses on the poorest of the poor. There are promising health market innovations that can significantly improve supply-side response.

Such reforms need political spine, not spin. Only then can can we say Et ees (no longer) a puzzlement.

Author: Juan L. Mercado
Date: February 15, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

If the planned Philippines-European Union free trade agreement (FTA) materializes, it can help expand the variety of fisheries products exported to the EU and the other destinations of these exports.

Such will benefit fish processors and exporters and boost the Philippine economy, according to a position paper obtained from the Philippine Exporters Confederation (PhilExport).

However, PhilExport said not everybody will win, and safety nets will have to be provided for Filipino small-scale fishermen and small-scale fish processors and marketing agents who will face greater competition from imported fish.
In addition, domestic fish stocks and marine resources will have to be managed better to avoid the risk of over-exploitation, according to a recent study.

The Philippines and the EU signed a framework partnership and cooperation agreement in July 2012 and are expected to begin formal negotiations soon, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The agreement provides for a comprehensive framework for improved bilateral cooperation in various areas, including politico-security, economy, trade, culture, education and technology. The EU, along with Japan and the United States, is one of the worlds top three importers of fisheries and aquaculture products.

Fisheries products are an important and growing part of Philippine exports to the region. Fisheries shipments rose from a mere 8.8 percent of total exports to the EU market in 2001 to 2002, to 12.9 percent in 2005 to 2006, and then to 27.7 percent in 2009 to 2010. For canned tuna, for example, about 57 percent of the $253 million worth of the product exported in 2009 went to the EU market.

If fisheries tariffs are eliminated under the proposed FTA, it can help increase fish production and exports to the EU, particularly of seaweeds, fish corals, shrimp, prawn, other aquaculture products and processed products.
This will benefit the economy by boosting local production and improving the balance of trade with the EU.
It will also likely diversify the fisheries products exported to the market, presently dominated by processed products, particularly tuna.

At the same time, it is seen to increase the number of destinations. The Philippines biggest importer in the trade bloc is Germany, followed by the United Kingdom and Spain.

Study author Danilo Israel of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), suggested further studies on the impact of the proposed FTA, particularly on cushioning the consequences for poor fishermen and other small-scale players, and for the countrys diminishing fisheries resources.

He also urged the government to negotiate for the removal not just of tariffs but of non-tariff measures as well, since they significantly impede freer flow of fisheries products from the Philippines.

The administration should likewise implement the needed resource and environmental management that will allow sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources even with increased trade.


Author: Ed Velasco
Date: February 18, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

Efforts to modernize customs administration will likely impact the brokerage profession, but customs brokers that are willing to adjust to the winds of change can find new opportunities in the emerging world order, according to a newly released report.

The study noted that with the ongoing economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient, and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such union.

But attempts to introduce greater efficiencies in customs and trade through the passage of a new customs and tariff modernization act face resistance from organized customs brokers.

Arguments against some provisions of the Customs and Tariff Modernization Act of 2013 filed in the current 16th Congress say some of its provisions entail changes that could adversely affect the role of service providers such as customs brokers.

Brokers fear that their role in the envisioned customs modernization in the country will be significantly diminished, if not permanently eliminated, said the report, entitled How Should We Move Forward in Customs Brokerage and Trade Facilitation?

The customs brokers stress that they have a vital role in facilitating efficient, effective, and secure international trade, according to the study authors led by Gilberto Llanto of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. They consider themselves as safeguarding the interest of the government because they ensure the collection of the right amount of duties and taxes.

Results of roundtable discussions and interviews conducted by the authors with other stakeholders, including officials from the Bureau of Customs as well as importers and exporters, clearly [point] to the declining relevance of the customs brokers services.

Added the report: Overall, the discussions showed that while customs brokers see themselves as an essential part of trade facilitation, the direct users of their services think differently. They do not see any value added from the customs brokers services.

The diminishing role of customs brokers, it added, is the result of an environment where customs administration is modernizing, and computerization is replacing the traditional and direct interaction of brokers with staff from the BOC.

Moreover, a more transparent customs administration is emerging to efficiently process a significantly growing volume of trade transactions.

In addition to the ASEAN integration, another development pushing customs modernization in the Philippines is the governments ratification in 2010 of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures.

The RKC is regarded as the blueprint for modern and efficient customs procedures in the 21st century, providing international commerce with predictability and efficiency required by modern trade.

The BOC strongly believes that the country, as signatory to the RKC, should have customs procedures that comply with best practices and standards in the global markets, the report said.


Author:
Date: February 17, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

THE Philippines may have chalked up impressive growth last year, but it was not enough to reduce poverty, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan admitted on Monday. The economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2013, outperforming other countries in Asia.

The failure to bring down the number of poor Filipinos prompted the government to roll out an updated Philippine Development Plan (PDP), which aims to achieve inclusive growth during the remaining term of office of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.

Balisacan, who is also the secretary general of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), said the country is on track with respect to our economic targets, particularly in achieving rapid growth. However, he noted that such economic growth is not sufficient for poverty reduction.

He said it will take decades to root out poverty in the country. Balisacan said bringing the poverty level down to 16.6 percent from 25.2 percent in 2012 is an even bigger challenge than lowering the level of unemployment and underemployment. There is no country in the world in the history of nations that has reduced poverty significantly and over time without sustained economic growth. What we want to do and what we are proposing to achieve here is to ensure that the rapid economic growth that we have been achieving will redound to quicker and faster poverty reduction, he told reporters.

Balisacans admission came following a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), which showed that the Philippines will not attain its Millennium Development Goal target to reduce poverty by 2015.
Roehlano Briones, PIDS research fellow, said poverty incidence may decline by 3.3 percentage points in 2015, which is far below the MDG target of 8.6 percentage points.

Poverty will be lower by 7.8 percent by 2025. What will be attained, but only by 2025, is a 2.7 percentage point reduction in extreme poverty, sufficient to attain half of the 1991 level, Briones said in his study. Balisacan admitted that the poorest families, especially in the provinces, have been left behind.

Some cities or provinces have been experiencing economic growth, but the poorest families are being left behind perhaps because the growing sectors do not require the goods or services that the poor can provide. Worse, migrants are being attracted into these cities or provinces, but they too, are unable to participate in the growth process, he said.
According to him, the key to reducing poverty is to directly address the constraints faced by the poor, set against a backdrop of rapid and sustained growth.

This would entail skills training of people from low-income households in poor provinces so they can take advantage of employment opportunities. We need to improve the skill sets of these poorest families, undertake more aggressive employment facilitation for better job-skills match especially concerning the poor, Balisacan said. These strategies will require a narrow targeting where the beneficiary should be known by name, he said.

The government, he said, will make use of the data from the National Household Targeting System which identifies the poor households in these provinces. Balisacan explained that under the new development plan, success will not be gauged based on income. Multidimensional poverty incidence, unlike income poverty, looks at deprivation in various dimensions"health, education, access to water, sanitation, secure housing, etc. This indicator can then track the supposed outcomes of the different human development strategies, which impact on future income poverty, he explained.


Author: Catherine S. Valente
Date: February 17, 2014
Source: Manila Times

A study of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) showed that the Philippines is not likely to attain its targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to reduce poverty, cut maternal mortality rate and improve education.

Roehlano Briones, PIDS research fellow who authored the study titled Millennium Development Goals Scenarios to 2015 and Beyond: An Integrated Micro-Macro Modelling Approach, said the country has set its pace to post-2015 development agenda than MDG targets for next year.
The study said poverty incidence may decline by 3.3 percentage points in 2015, which is far below the 8.6 percentage point MDG target.

Poverty will be lower by 7.8 percent by 2025. What will be attained, but only by 2025, is a 2.7 percentage point reduction in extreme poverty, sufficient to attain half of the 1991 level, Briones said in his study.
For education, Briones said with the economys absorptive capacity for school graduates, unemployment may be reduced to 4.8 percent compared to 2013s 7.1 percent.
With respect to child mortality, the MDG target is nearly attained in 2015, though the critical value is actually passed in
2016, Briones said.

In the Base or business-as-usual scenario, MDG targets for household water and sanitation, as well as child health, will be met [or approximated] by 2015. However, those for education and maternal health will be attained in 2025 and 2021, respectively, he added.

The goal for poverty will not be achieved even by 2025. The national debt follows a downward trajectory over the
simulation period, he said.

The PIDS researcher noted that if the government increased outlays for education, health and infrastructure, it will lead to the earlier realization and achievement of the MDG targets in the respective sectors by 2016 and 2019.
He warned that financing through increased borrowing from international sources would lead to escalation of foreign debt.

Hence, government should be cautious about proposals for dramatic increases in social spending and infrastructure to quickly close development gaps, unless it is able to accompany increases in spending with commensurate tax effort, Briones said.


Author: Kristyn Nika M. Lazo
Date: February 16, 2014
Source: Manila Times

The Philippines has not yet given up a proposal to forge a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) deal with Taiwan. Amadeo Perez Jr., chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), told reporters that while the Philippine side is not in a hurry to forge the proposed Philippine-Taiwan Economic Partnership Agreement (ECA) deal with the Taiwan, it has remained hopeful that the proposal will eventually materialize.
We are not in a hurry, it (FTA) is still being considered, Perez said.

According to Perez, the study being conducted by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies is almost finished, but the Department of Trade and Industry would like to study the proposal further. Taiwan is also conducting its own study and both economies will have to determine if the studies would jive with each other. Having an FTA arrangement with Taiwan would be beneficial to the Philippines.

We have a strong trading relationship with Taiwan, Perez said. Bilateral trade has been robust. Last year, two-way trade was estimated.at $7 billion of which the Philippines exports were expected to reach $3.5 billion to $4 billion.
But the biggest benefit to the Philippines is the $1 billion monthly remittance from OFWs in Taiwan, Perez said. There are an estimated 90,000 OFWs in Taiwan, making the Philippines the third largest supplier of foreign workers in Taiwan. Several years ago, a geographical free trade zone as proposed between Kaoshiung and Subic and Clark was proposed.

Both sides already started some discussions and studies but the planned FTA zone did not materialize until it was revised to become a comprehensive FTA deal involving the entire country and not just between freeport zones.
A full-blown FTA between the Philippines and Taiwan was explored early in 2013. The PIDS study will determine the parameters of the planned RP-Taiwan ECA. According to Perez, both parties have decided to abandon the earlier Subic-Kaoshiung economic corridor plan because its scope was very limited. Perez said that Taiwanese businessmen want flexibility on where they want to invest and most of them prefer to invest in areas that are close to ports like Batangas and Manila. Taiwanese firms also noted that there are only few ships that call on the Subic port compared to Batangas and Manila.

Talks for the establishment of the proposed Subic-Clark-Kaohsiung Economic Corridor started almost a decade ago with both parties already being close to signing the agreement during the 13th Philippines-Taiwan Joint Economic Conference (JEC) in December 2005.


Author: Bernie Magkilat
Date: February 16, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

Although Cebu has yet to fully maximize its potential to capture a sizeable chunk of the medical tourism market, players are starting to establish attractive products and services to lure medical tourists worldwide.
We already have implemented unified packages but we are adding more activities, said Cebu Health and Wellness Council (CHWC) vice-chairperson Jenny Franco adding that a website will also be set up to offer these packages online.

Aside from the huge balikbayan market, Cebu is gaining popularity to medical tourists from Singapore, Bahrain, Australia, United States, and Europe.

In the US for instance, Filipino-Americans are the major clients for dental services in Cebu, as well as the American travelers, because most of them do not have dental insurance. Besides, dental services in the US are much expensive, compared to the rates offered here.

Franco said the reason why Cebu is positioning to excel in attracting these light medical tourists, because we mix our offerings with holiday and vacation packages. Cebu, after all is a holiday destination.

Also included in the packages are promoting Yoga and meditation and art lessons, among others, she added.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), despite the effort of the private sector to make the country more attractive to medical tourists, the Philippines continues to get a miniscule share of the medical tourism markets even if its offers better prices specifically in surgical procedures than its Asian counterparts or competitors.

In a statement, PIDS recommended that in order for the Philippines to improve its status in attracting medical tourists, it has to form a coordinating body (council or board) among offices and agencies involved in the medical tourism industry. A marketing campaign for the 21 premier hospitals included under the Philippine Medical Tourism Program (PMTP) must also be crafted and implemented.

On their own, Franco said Cebu is trying to get ahead in capturing the medical tourists, as its target is not for the serious medical treatments, but Cebus positioning is to attract the active medical tourists whose interest are to seek dental, cosmetology treatments, beauty and wellness products and services.

PIDS record revealed that the Philippines is among the top 15 medical tourism destinations in 2010. The country is ranked 11th on medical tourism which has 80,000 medical tourists but tails behind Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.


Author: Ehda M. Dagooc
Date: February 13, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

EVEN if the national government invests heavily on poverty reduction through higher taxes and Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans, the Philippines will only be able to halve poverty a decade after the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.

In a research, titled Millennium Development Goals Scenarios to 2015 and Beyond: An Integrated Micro-Macro Modelling Approach, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) research fellow Roehlano M. Briones said attaining the MDG on halving the countrys poverty incidence to 16.6 percent could only be met by 2025, assuming there are massive investments and sustained poverty reduction for 10 years.
In 2012 the countrys poverty incidence rate per population was at 25.2 percent, only a slight decline from the 26.3 percent posted in 2009 and 26 percent posted in 2006. This still translated to a total of 23.75 million poor Filipinos.
The target for poverty incidence is unattainable even by 2025, Briones said. Poverty reduction is not fast enough to attain the MDG target by 2015, though an additional decade of sustained poverty reduction is enough to close the poverty MDG gap.
The study used two scenarios, the Human Development Infrastructure-borrow (HDInfra-borrow) scenario, which involves a 1-percentage-point increase per annum in government spending distributed between primary education and health expenditure, for years 2014 to 2025.

It also involves another 1-percentage-point increase per annum in government outlay for infrastructure for the same years. Briones noted that in 2012, a percent of gross domestic product is approximately P105 billion or $2.5 billion. The fiscal gap is closed by foreign borrowing.

The other scenario is the Human Development Infrastructure-tax (HDInfra-tax) scenario, which is identical to the HDInfra-borrow scenario, except the closure rule for government finance is changed, from foreign borrowing to tax revenues.
Briones said assuming that the government just continues its anti-poverty measures, poverty will be lower by 7.8 percent by 2025 and means that the target will not be attained even a decade past the milestone year, which is 2015.
What will be attained, only by 2025, is a 2.7-percentage-point reduction in extreme poverty, sufficient to attain half of the level in 1991, which was the base year for the MDGs.
With increased spending under the HDInfra scenarios, reduction in both official and subsistence poverty is faster than under the base scenario.


Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: February 12, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

A decade of stalemate with the World Trade Organization (WTO) have led member-countries including the Philippines to forge bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs).

Even if the Philippines views as beneficial the WTOs so called Doha Round affirmed last December in Bali, Indonesia, member countries actively pursue creation of more free trade zones. Some plans are stymied by similarity of products but the effort does not stop.

For instance, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo cited the particular significance of the Bali package to Philippine agriculture and customs procedures.

As a developing country, the Philippines will be able to implement measures that would ensure food security without getting into a WTO dispute if free trade agreements are reached with other countries. FTAs give more room for flexibilities in compliance with customs streamlining procedures.

The rules-based approach of the WTO also instilled discipline and transparency in the global trading system, which benefited all members.

In an earlier interview, Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. explained FTAs are actually neutral and that their benefits are in the industrys vision and action. FTAs introduce competition, break down barriers and protective walls forcing industries to shape up, compete and survive.

It is positive. The gains are significant both as a market for exports and as a source of investments, Cristobal said.

A policy note released by PIDS said that JPEPAs effects on the overall investment environment and capacity building need time to take root, and for the fuller and wider impact of the agreement to manifest.
The PIDS said early studies on the JPEPA conducted around the time of the bilateral negotiations had concluded that the agreements short-run impact on the gross domestic product (GDP) would be small but the dynamic benefits could be very significant.

The more substantial, positive impact was expected to come from an improved investment environment including clearer rules for engagement, increased transparency, and enhanced cooperation, the PIDS said.

Generally low tariffs were already in effect in the Philippines before the signing of the JPEPA but in terms of tariff reduction on the part of Japan vis--vis its bilateral partners, the Philippines was able to obtain the most tariff concessions among six other Asean countries, namely, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei and Vietnam.

On the whole the increase in export volume is remarkable. There are evidences to show immediate and very significant increase in exports; we have some indication that prospects for investments from Japan are positive and rising in the near future, the PIDS policy note said.

Author: Irma Isip
Date: February 12, 2014
Source: Malaya

A real inclusive growth is the clear solution to the economic inequities of the Philippines. And economists agree that job generation will bring the Philippines a step closer to inclusive growth, after the economy grew 7.2 percent in 2013 despite the recent calamities that struck the Visayas and the Zamboanga siege.

Economists are optimistic that despite the unequal distribution of growth in different sectors, the Philippines has a shot at inclusive growth through job generation.

Ernesto Pernia, a professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics, said the Philippines is moving toward inclusive growth at its present economic pace.

If this is sustained, then inclusive growth is not far behind because it will create jobs, Pernia said.

Philippine Economic Society president Alvin Ang shared Pernias sentiment, saying inclusive growth was achievable, if the economy generated enough jobs.

Ang, who is also an economics professor at the University of Santo Tomas, said the Philippines could reach its maximum growth potential if the government created an environment that would spur job creation.

Ang noted that while the economy is growing, the growth is not coming from areas where the poor are.

People are poor because they do not have jobs, he said.

Ang said the biggest contributor in the growth of the economy was the services sector.

The sector that grows so fast is the services, but it requires a certain level of education, knowledge and training, he said. Those who get these jobs are people who are transferring from lower income jobs to higher income jobs.

Ang said the challenge was to create low-income jobs for the less skilled workers who are from the poor sectors.

Economy is growing and that is a fact. But that fact says despite the growth, the problem is, it is not impacting the real poor, he said.

Data from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies show the working poor are concentrated in the agriculture/forestry/fishery sector.

A lot of areas are poor, the challenge to us is how to put jobs in that sector, Ang said.

He said it was the job of the government to create an environment where business can grow and create employment.

We have this big misconception that it is the government that creates the job, which is not, that is the job of the private sector, he said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank said the Philippines must generate 14.6 million good jobs by 2016 to uplift the economic status of jobless and underemployed Filipinos as well as new job seekers.

The World Bank said jobs should be generated for 3 million unemployed Filipinos, 7 million underemployed individuals and around 1.15 million potential entrants to the labor force annually from 2013 to 2016.

That is a total of around 14.6 million jobs in the formal and informal sectors that need to be created, sustained or improved in the next four years, the bank said in a report titled The Philippine Development Report: Creating More and Better Jobs.

The World Bank report predicted that by 2016, around 12.4 million Filipinos would still be underemployed and unemployed.

Ang said unless the growth pattern changed, the poverty and unemployment rate would stay at the present level.

He stressed the biggest structural challenge is the agricultural sector, where most of the poor are employed.

But not all hope is lost, according to Ang. While there are depressed sectors, there are areas that will push the economy to grow even faster, among them tourism, agriculture and manufacturing and services.
Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority said the country was poised to meet government assumptions and projections this year as the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Visayas would provide stimulus to push growth upward.

Neda director-general Arsenio Balisacan said business establishments in typhoon-affected areas would take time to recover and regain momentum, dampening growth in the first quarter of 2014.

But we are optimistic that the Philippine economy will remain strong in 2014, especially that the outlook on the global economy is becoming more favorable and as the domestic economy remains robust, Balisacan said.

He said with clear indications of recovery from the global economic crisis, the Philippine economy, especially the industry sector, was in a good position to take advantage of wider export markets amid reforms and governments efforts to reduce the cost of doing business in the country.

Agriculture and industry sectors are expected to be vibrant this year, as the government promotes linkages between the two sectors to increase value added as a key strategy identified in the Philippine Development Plan midterm update, he said.

The construction of major infrastructure projects, particularly in the transport sector, is expected to add fuel to the growth this year and beyond.

Notwithstanding this vibrant outlook, we remain keen on the domestic and external challenges that the economy is facing, Balisacan said.

We are also aware that growth remains uneven, as some areas have higher growth potentials than others, he added.

Balisacan said the updated Philippine Development Plan noted the spatial dimensions of development in the pursuit of poverty reduction.

He said the combined impact of typhoons and other natural disasters that hit the Philippines in 2013 might have reduced the full-year real gross domestic product growth by at least 0.1 percentage point.

This is why the government has strengthened its strategies to improve disaster resilience, he said.



Author: Jennifer Ambanta
Date: February 11, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing poverty incidence by half by next year will be unattainable even by 2025, according to a discussion paper published by government think tank, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a discussion paper titled Millennium Development Goals Scenarios to 2015 and Beyond: An Integrated Micro-Macro Modelling Approach, PIDS senior research fellow Roehlano Briones said that while the Philippines has made considerable progress in attaining the MDGs, the goals for poverty, education, and maternal mortality are unlikely to be met by the 2015 deadline.

Ten years past the initial target, the Philippines will not still be able to cut poverty incidence by half.

The country has overcome serious macroeconomic difficulties since the start of the MDG period, when it still struggled with erratic growth, inflation, and balance of payments deficits. In the 2000s, it entered a period of relatively stable and moderate growth, Briones said.

Nevertheless closing all development gaps remains a daunting challenge. By the governments own reckoning, some of the MDGs are unlikely to be achieved by 2015, he added.

Briones looked into two possible scenarios in the country, one of which is the Base or the business-as-usual scenario, which represents a trajectory of economic and human development outcomes for the Philippines following past trends.

The study showed that under current trends and policies, the MDG targets for household water and sanitation, as well as child health, will be met by 2015.

However, Briones said that the country will likely miss the targets for poverty, as well as the education and maternal health MDGs.

The country is on its way to attain the education and maternal health MDGs, but beyond the first MDG period, i.e. 2025 for the former and 2021 for the latter, Briones said.

The target for poverty incidence is unattainable even by 2025, he added.

The study said that in the alternative scenario, massive increases in the expenditure for primary education, health and infrastructure, equivalent to 2 percent of gross domestic product, can lead to the earlier attainment of some of the MDGs, although still beyond the 2015-deadline.

Under the higher spending scenario, the education MDG can be attained in 2019, and the maternal mortality MDG by 2016, Briones said.

Likewise significant gains will be realized in terms of per capita income and poverty reduction by 2025, he added.

The paper also said that under the business-as-usual scenario, the national debt as a share of GDP is expected to have a downward trajectory from half of GDP to about one-third.

Under the higher spending scenario, Briones said that the same debt reduction path can still be achieved with tax financing the additional spending.

However, he said, that if the increase in spending will be financed by foreign borrowing, the national debt will rise to nearly two-thirds of GDP.

The analysis suggests that government should be cautious about proposals for dramatic increases in social spending and infrastructure to more quickly close development gaps, unless it is able to accompany increases in spending with commensurate tax effort, the study said.


Author: Angela Celis
Date: February 13, 2014
Source: Malaya

EVEN if the national government invests heavily on poverty reduction through higher taxes and Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans, the Philippines will only be able to halve poverty a decade after the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.
In a research, titled Millennium Development Goals Scenarios to 2015 and Beyond: An Integrated Micro-Macro Modelling Approach, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) research fellow Roehlano M. Briones said attaining the MDG on halving the countrys poverty incidence to 16.6 percent could only be met by 2025, assuming there are massive investments and sustained poverty reduction for 10 years.
In 2012 the countrys poverty incidence rate per population was at 25.2 percent, only a slight decline from the 26.3 percent posted in 2009 and 26 percent posted in 2006. This still translated to a total of 23.75 million poor Filipinos.
The target for poverty incidence is unattainable even by 2025, Briones said. Poverty reduction is not fast enough to attain the MDG target by 2015, though an additional decade of sustained poverty reduction is enough to close the poverty MDG gap.
The study used two scenarios, the Human Development Infrastructure-borrow (HDInfra-borrow) scenario, which involves a 1-percentage-point increase per annum in government spending distributed between primary education and health expenditure, for years 2014 to 2025.
It also involves another 1-percentage-point increase per annum in government outlay for infrastructure for the same years. Briones noted that in 2012, a percent of gross domestic product is approximately P105 billion or $2.5 billion. The fiscal gap is closed by foreign borrowing.
The other scenario is the Human Development Infrastructure-tax (HDInfra-tax) scenario, which is identical to the HDInfra-borrow scenario, except the closure rule for government finance is changed, from foreign borrowing to tax revenues.
Briones said assuming that the government just continues its anti-poverty measures, poverty will be lower by 7.8 percent by 2025 and means that the target will not be attained even a decade past the milestone year, which is 2015.
What will be attained, only by 2025, is a 2.7-percentage-point reduction in extreme poverty, sufficient to attain half of the level in 1991, which was the base year for the MDGs.
With increased spending under the HDInfra scenarios, reduction in both official and subsistence poverty is faster than under the base scenario.


Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: February 12, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) has identified priority measures that would address some key institutional weaknesses that hamper the competitiveness of the private sector. In its latest study on the Philippine compliance to the ASEAN Economic Community blueprint, PIDS has indicated that the priority measures due for implementation are mostly on the free flow of goods, particularly speeding up services liberalization, customs integration, ratification of transport protocols, and setting of standard and conformance measures and harmonized regulatory regimes for certain products. At the same time, the study evaluated the implementation of the 2010-2015 ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development which aims to improve the business and investment-enabling environment for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Of these measures, services liberalization is expected to be the most difficult to undertake since it entails changing certain Philippine laws or constitutional provisions. Critical measures for customs integration include developing advance ruling systems for tariff classification and value assessment, and implementation of the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document. Finalizing transport protocols and pacts refers to those under the ASEAN Framework on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit. It also requires upgrading the countrys infrastructure. The study revealed that the overall business environment in the Philippines is still not conducive to SME development. Costs of doing business are still high and are likely to be even higher for SMEs. But that also means that any improvement in the countrys business environment would yield even more substantial benefits to SMEs, the study noted. The study recommended to increase SMEs access to finance, allow them to penetrate new markets and maintain and expand existing ones, and raise their level of productivity and efficiency
It also urged to speed up the pace of implementation, noting that further delays would be costly for the country, since AEC measures are designed to be applied progressively over time, building one on top of the other.


Author: Edu Lopez
Date: February 09, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

The Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (ACEF), a loan and grant program, was one of the measures identified as a safety net for the agri-agro industry.
Yet, like several government support programs for farmers, ACEF was mismanaged, misused and misallocated, leaving small farmers and fishermen in the same poor conditions they used to be in 20 years ago.
Former Sen. Francisco Pangilinan, who headed the Senate Committee on Agriculture from 2010 to 2013, was appalled at how farmers and fishermen have become victims of government fund scams and corruption.
What is the average age of a farmer? 57, Pangilinan asked. What is the average school attainment? Grade 4. What is the average annual income? P23,000. Those figures alone show that our agriculture and fisheries industries have been neglected, abandoned and even used in scams.
The most recent scams that victimized farmers and fishermen were the P10.6-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam where bogus NGOs funneled back the funds to politicians and government officials, and the P728-million Fertilizer Fund scam where agricultural funds were diverted to the campaign kitty of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The P10.59-billion ACEF misuse has not yet resulted in filing of charges but a closer look at its utilization shows the program reeks of corruption (read part 1 of the series ).
Thats why in 2010, the Aquino administration put a stop to the release of ACEF, pending recommendations from the DA and the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization (COCAFM).
But its been three years since the fund has been frozen and meantime, the sectors that need the assistance are not getting any.
And with the ASEAN Economic Community starting next year, the use of ACEF is needed now more than ever.
Former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr., who studied the ACEF during the 13th Congress, said more than the corruption, government leaders should worry about the readiness of the agricultural industry, which means using the fund to improve competitiveness.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the country is ready for influx of imported products and goods.
In terms of the free trade I would say na we are really preparing and most of our industries are prepared on that because in terms of productivity, were not too far away. Siguro konti lang hahabulin natin, said DA Undersecretary for Livestock Jose Reano.
We have our continuous technical updating, training going on and research, he added.
But for Pangilinan, many agricultural and fisheries sectors are not competitive enough. He identified the critical products as rice, fish, coffee, corn, vegetables, fruits and poultry.


Author:
Date: February 11, 2014
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

The Philippines K to 12 basic education program is one of the crucial factors in boosting the countrys competitiveness and in generating quality jobs in the manufacturing sector, particularly the labor-intensive ones, a ranking official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said.

In the sixth Trade and Industry updates forum recently organized by the department, Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal noted in his opening remarks that education is a binding constraint in manufacturing growth.
Cristobal, who is also the board of Investments managing director, said the first of this series of forum was focused on education primarily for the stakeholders to understand how this program would fit in the development plans of the government in generating quality jobs.

The K to 12 policy was signed into law by President Aquino in May 2013, institutionalizing 12 years, instead of 10, of basic education.

DepEd Undersecretary for programs and projects Dr. Dina Ocampo said the K to 12 basic education framework will focus on the students needs such as life skills, self-actualization and the preparation for the world of work, entrepreneurship and higher education.

Ocampo said the new curriculum framework aims to holistically develop Filipinos with 21st century skills such as in the areas of information, media and technology, learning and innovation, communication and life and career skills.
Likewise, learning areas such as language, technology and livelihood education, mathematics and science and arts and humanities will also be included.

According to Ocampo, this program will address some national and global issues such as poverty reduction and human development; development of productive citizens who contribute to the building of a progressive, just and humane society; ensuring environmental sustainability, development of a strong sense of nationalism, among others.
The K to 12 curriculum now features learner-centered, research-based, standard and competence-based, inclusive, culture-responsive and sensitive, integrative and contextualized, relevant and responsive, flexible, information and technology-based and global education, Ocampo said.

However, Dr. Vic Pacqueo, a Philippine Institute for Development Studies fellow, said improving quality of Philippine education needs more than just increasing the required number of school years.
Pacqueo said there is a need to pass the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education Act bill pending in the senate to enable deserving students to access good quality post-secondary education.
It will also create a mechanism that will give incentives to high school students to perform well in basic education, he explained.

Author: Ed Velasco
Date: February 11, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

ALLEGATIONS of corruption, misuse, abuse, and neglect have marred the government's 19-year-old agricultural program meant to help prepare farmers and fishermen compete with their Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) counterparts in time for tariff-free trade in 2015.

With an accumulated budget of P13 billion, the program called the Agricultural Competitiveness Enchancement Fund (ACEF) is meant to help small farmers and fishermen improve the quality and volume of their harvest by funding their expansion and training programs. Its aim is to make them competitive vis-a-vis the expected untramelled entry of imported goods as a result of ASEAN integration and trade liberalization.

everal farmers interviewed by the ABS-CBN Investigative team revealed that some Budget officials had asked for a commission, ranging anywhere between 15 and 35 percent of their loans as a condition for the release. Three of these farmers approached by Budget officials during the Arroyo administration backed out of the program because of this corrupt practice.

One of them was Gregorio San Diego, president of United Broilers Raiser Association, which operates from Laguna to Tarlac. Before he filed his loan application, he said he commissioned a feasibility study on how to improve raising chicken.

So we submitted all the requirements but waited two years for the loan to come, he told the ABS Investigative News team. Yun pala, may hinihintay sila....Eh yung kalakaran na sinasabi nila, kumbaga common knowledge naman ito sa industriya na may hinihinging regalo. Ang sinasabi nila, talagang pinakamababang-mababa na yung 10 percent. Wala ngang interest, wala ngang collateral, may hinihintay naman na manggagaling sa iyo. Magpaparinig lang na, 'kaya di tumatakbo yung papel ninyo, hindi kayo willing na magbigay'.

If a farmer-borrower had no connections at the Department of Agriculture (DA), San Diego said, government officials may ask anywhere between 30 and 40 percent cut.

They say it is lower than what the bank required, he said. But still, hindi naman ayon sa batas iyan, dapat makuha mo ito na wala kang gagastusin.

After senators discovered the anomalies, Pangilinan's oversight committee instituted some reforms, including imposing loan interests and collaterals, to ensure a speedy loan collection, but the Executive department had done little to recover funds, much less pump prime the agricultural sector through ACEF.

Two separate reports"one done by the Congressional Oversight Committee on Food and Agricultural Modernization (COCAFM) and the other by the PIDS"confirmed that the management of the P13-billion fund was marred by corruption, abuse, and misuse during Arroyo's term between 2000 and 2010. The two reports did not accuse the administration of Joseph Estrada of anything.

Author: Gerry Lirio
Date: February 10, 2014
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

(Speech delivered at the Thomas Lloyd Cleantech Congress 2014 in Frankfurt, Germany)

First of all, I congratulate the organizers of this years ThomasLloyd Cleantech Congress. Thank you for the warm hospitality and the excellent arrangements at the Messe.

A great man once said, Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation.

Those were the words of the late Nelson Mandela in 2005 before a Trafalgar Square assembly, calling attention to the great opportunity for change in 2005.

Nine years hence, we are still seeking solutions, not just to the daunting problems of poverty, but to the looming threats of global proportions brought about by climate change.
he Philippines is a leader in the use of renewable energy. In fact, the second in geothermal energy use. To scale up renewable energy development and address the countrys growing power needs, landmark laws such as the Philippine Biofuels Act of 2006 and the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 were enacted.

Early estimates indicate that we have more than 200,000 potential renewable energy resources that remain untapped.

The countrys National Renewable Energy Program has set out aggressive targets on renewable energy development from 2011-2030, aiming to nearly triple our existing capacity of 5,369 megawatts to 15,304 megawatts by the year 2030.

On a per technology basis, the targets are: 75 percent increase in geothermal capacity; 160 percent increase in hydropower capacity; additional 277 megawatts for biomass; 2,345 megawatts additional wind power capacities; and an additional 350 megawatts for solar. Our plan also seeks to develop the first ocean energy facility in the country in the medium term.

We have the legal framework that provides the necessary policy mechanisms such as the Feed-in Tariff, Net Metering, Renewable Portfolio Standards, Green Energy Option, Renewable Energy Market, and other fiscal incentives such as income tax holiday.

There have been challenges, however, in our efforts to fast-track the development of our renewable energy resources more aggressively. Impacts on electricity pricing have been a major consideration among our regulators, particularly as we already have one of the highest electricity rates in the world.

Recent events, however, have shown that conventional energy, which traditional views seem to favor, does not and cannot guarantee low electricity prices.

A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies reports that one out of five people or 130 million in ASEAN lack access to electricity. The same study said that 16 million Filipinos remain to have no access to electricity.

This is a market that can very well benefit from renewable energy development in the region.

Author: Loren Legarda
Date: February 08, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

TRADE and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo is scheduled to visit Cebu on Feb. 19 to deliver an overview of a critical trade agreement that will affect all Southeast Asian nations next year.The trade agreement seeks to create free movement of goods, services, manpower and investments among member-governments of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which includes the Philippines.

The terms of this envisioned Asean Economic Community (AEC) will be the subject of Domingos keynote address during an economic forum organized by the Sun.Star Media Group and SyCip Gorres Velayo and Co. (SGV and Co.) in the Marco Polo Plaza Cebu. he Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has already initiated information drives to inform the public of the AECs implementation in 2015. The drive is spearheaded by Ceferino S. Rodolfo, DTI assistant secretary for international trade, who will also be present at the economic forum.

Rodolfo, along with Dr. Josef T. Yap, former president of the Philippine Institute for Developmental Studies, will be on hand to discuss the potential opportunities and threats to specific industries that the AEC might bring to the country.
Local industry leaders will be on hand to react to the speakers and encourage discussion of key points of the AEC agreement. The event will be opened by Sun.Star Chairman Jesus B. Garcia Jr. and SGV Chairman Cirilo P. Noel.

Manuel Pages of Pages Holdings will serve as master of ceremonies. Tickets for economic forum are available at the Sun.Star offices on P. del Rosario St., Cebu City, as well as from the SGV offices at the 10th floor of the Insular Life building, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City. Limited tickets for walk-in participants will also be available at the event. (ARJ)

Author:
Date: February 07, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Last weeks report by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and Socio-economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan that the Philippine economy posted a remarkable growth in 2013 "with the countrys gross domestic product (GDP) hitting 7.2 percent" had many ordinary Filipinos shaking their heads in disbelief.
According to Balisacan, notwithstanding the successive natural disasters that struck Central and Southern Luzon last year, the country remained one of the best performing economies in the Asian region, second only to China, which grew by 7.7 percent. Balisacan claimed this was the countrys fastest growth since President Benigno Aquino 3rd came to power in 2010.
Whats quite suspicious though is that, despite this remarkable economic growth touted by the Aquino administration, average Filipinos have not experienced a commensurate improvement in their economic situation.
In fact, one in two Filipinos now say the national economy has worsened in the past year.
Half of the Filipino population (50 percent) consider the state of the Philippine economy as having worsened over the last 12 months, Pulse Asia reported in last months Survey on Quality of Life and State of the National Economy.
The Pulse Asia survey also showed that almost half of the Filipino population (43 percent) believe their personal quality of life has deteriorated in the last 12 months, with about the same number (45 percent) saying that they expect no change in their personal circumstances this year.
Today, these industries remain effective oligarchies or cartels that have impeded the growth and development of job-generating and poverty-alleviating small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
According to a paper released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, SMEs account for about 99 percent of total firms in the country. Yet, these SMEs account for only 35 percent of our GDP. In contrast, SMEs in Japan and Korea account for roughly half of their total GDP. Moreover, 61 percent of employment in the Philippines is generated by SMEs. Their counterparts in Japan and Korea account for 70 to 85 percent of employment.
This low GDP output and employment ratio of local SMEs can only mean that there are fewer jobs and even fewer good-paying jobs for most Filipinos, which exacerbates the poverty incidence across the country.
This also means that much of the recent economic expansion has been limited"Aquino administration officials admit"to a few industries like retail trade, real estate, BPO and the stock market, which do not provide enough stable and quality employment for the majority of the workforce.
According to the Asian Development Bank Outlook (ADO) report last October 2013, more than 25 percent of Filipino workers (or one in every four) are unemployed or underemployed, with 40 percent of the workforce (or almost half of Filipino workers) categorized as vulnerable" unpaid family workers and the self-employed, mostly in the informal economy.


Author: Atty. Dodo Dulay
Date: February 03, 2014
Source: Manila Times

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) has identified priority measures that would address some key institutional weaknesses that hamper the competitiveness of the private sector.

In its latest study on the Philippine compliance to the ASEAN Economic Community blueprint, PIDS has indicated that the priority measures due for implementation are mostly on the free flow of goods, particularly speeding up services liberalization, customs integration, ratification of transport protocols, and setting of standard and conformance measures and harmonized regulatory regimes for certain products.

At the same time, the study evaluated the implementation of the 2010-2015 ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development which aims to improve the business and investment-enabling environment for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Of these measures, services liberalization is expected to be the most difficult to undertake since it entails changing certain Philippine laws or constitutional provisions.

Critical measures for customs integration include developing advance ruling systems for tariff classification and value assessment, and implementation of the ASEAN Customs Declaration Document.

Finalizing transport protocols and pacts refers to those under the ASEAN Framework on the Facilitation of Goods in Transit. It also requires upgrading the countrys infrastructure.

The study revealed that the overall business environment in the Philippines is still not conducive to SME development. Costs of doing business are still high and are likely to be even higher for SMEs. But that also means that any improvement in the countrys business environment would yield even more substantial benefits to SMEs, the study noted.

The study recommended to increase SMEs access to finance, allow them to penetrate new markets and maintain and expand existing ones, and raise their level of productivity and efficiency.

It also urged to speed up the pace of implementation, noting that further delays would be costly for the country, since AEC measures are designed to be applied progressively over time, building one on top of the other.



Author: Edu Lopez
Date: February 09, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has urged government to boost its medical tourism industry to get a bigger share in the regional medical tourism market.

Oscar Picazo, PIDS senior research consultant for health, has underscored in a policy note that the Philippine medical tourism continues to get a miniscule share of the medical tourism market even if it offers better prices in surgical procedures than its Asian competitors.

Picazo said the Philippines is among the top 15 medical tourism destinations in 2010. The country is ranked 11th on medical tourism which has 80,000 medical tourists but tails behind Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Thailand has the topnotch position among the medical tourism destinations, with a total of 1.2 million medical tourists in 2010. Other ASEAN countries have shown exemplary performance, with Singapore having 600,000 and Malaysia with 350,000 medical tourists in the same year.

To improve the countrys status, Picazo recommends the establishment of a coordinating body (council or board) among offices and agencies involved in the medical tourism industry.

A marketing campaign for the 21 premier hospitals included under the Philippine Medical Tourism Program (PMTP) must also be crafted and implemented, said Picazo.

He said attractive websites should also be developed to promote medical tourism instead of relying on less enticing news items and blogs. Medical facilities should also work toward international affiliations for quality assurance and vibrant medical campaign.

Although Long Stay Visitor Visa Extension has been introduced, Picazo urges domestic airlines to develop medical airline packages so that more tourists will be enticed to visit the country.

Strong ties between hospitals and international health insurance companies will also build a responsive and transparent pricing of medical services, said Picazo.

With many Filipino physicians who have foreign credentials, Picazo adds that Philippine hospitals should get accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI) as the country is still lagging behind in terms of JCI-accredited hospitals among its Asian competitors.


Author: Edu Lopez
Date: February 07, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

THE PHILIPPINES has allowed private rice traders to import as much as 163,000 tons of the grain this year, nearly two-thirds of which can come from Thailand.
It remains unclear, however, if there will be takers for the full quota, given the high import tariff that comes with the government offer and concerns over doing business with Thailand, which is facing a prolonged political crisis.

Pre-determined quantities of rice are allowed to be imported by the private sector every year, in line with the countrys commitment to the World Trade Organization. The Philippines is one of the worlds biggest buyers of the grain.

We are now accepting applications and private rice traders can take advantage of the cheap rice being offered by Thailand, Dennis Arpia, senior executive assistant at the National Food Authority (NFA), told Reuters.

Private traders can apply to import up to 98,000 tons of rice from Thailand this year, with a duty of 40%, Mr. Arpia said. An importer is required to buy a minimum of 2,000 tons and a maximum of 5,000 tons.

The volume is a fraction of what Thailand can offer to buyers, but any demand at this time could help the country offload some of its huge stocks bloated by a controversial state rice-buying scheme.
In contrast, rice smuggling into the country became more rampant last year, averaging 50,000 tons each week, according to local media reports quoting a senior customs official.

The tariff is very high at 40%, said economist Roehlano Briones of the government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

The government must do away with those unreasonably high import barriers.

The Philippines, the worlds biggest rice buyer in 2010 with a record annual purchase of 2.45 million tons, may need to import as much as two million tons of the grain to meet 2014 requirements after several calamities, including strong typhoons in the last quarter of last year, destroyed crops and depleted stocks.


Author:
Date: February 06, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

Philippine Institute for Development Studies signed a memorandum of understanding with the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) for research collaboration and knowledge sharing. PIDS President Gilberto Llanto and DAP President Antonio Kalaw Jr. signed the MOU for PIDS and DAP, respectively. Under the agreement, PIDs and DAO shall cooperate to identify opportunities for research collaboration, implement seminars, conferences and workshops; develop cooperative mechanism and other forms of cooperation; and identify other forms of cooperation for research.

Author:
Date: February 06, 2014
Source: PIA

Two research institutes in the Philippines are among the top 20 think tanks in Asia and Pacific, according to the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program (TTCSP) report released Saturday. The Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) and Institute for Strategic and Development Studies were placed on 12th and 19th spot, respectively, in the recently released TTCSP Global Go To Think Tank Index. Aside from the Philippines, the list culled research institutes from Russia, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. However, China, India, Japan, and the Republic of Korea were excluded. State-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) was also cited to earn the 37th spot out of 50 Top Social Policy Think Tank in the world. PIDS, established in 1977, was also at 70th place of 80 Top International Development Think Tanks. It was also nominated in the Top Think Tanks in Asia in 2012.

Author: Ron B. Lopez
Date: February 03, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

After over a decade of mostly weak and often volatile economic performance, the Philippines became a growth stalwart in early 2012. Since then, the economy has registered one of the fastest GDP growth rates in emerging markets, according to global banking institution Deutsche Bank AG. The fact that the economy has been growing at the rate of six to eight percent appears even more impressive after taking into account chronic export weakness and periodic natural disasters, Diana del Rosario, Deutsche Bank economist for Malaysia and the Philippines, said.

But the big question remains: is there sustainable and inclusive growth in the second best performing Asian economy after China? Del Rosario said a 6.8-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate is seen for 2014, after the impressive 7.2 percent registered for 2013. But even if our conservative forecast materializes, 2014 would mark the third straight year when growth substantially exceeded its long-run average of about five percent, the economist added. Domestic demand remains the key growth driver. Private consumption " comprising over 70 percent of GDP " has been growing by about six percent lately, well above the four percent long-term average growth rate. Only five projects out of the 49 committed by the administration under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) scheme have been awarded.

But aside from awaiting the fulfillment of these costly infrastructure projects, the economy can leverage on the large inflows of remittances, improved incomes from the growing BPO industry, and thriving tourism sector by spurring the development of small to medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs account for about 40 percent of GDP but they are dominated by micro enterprises (with only one to nine employees).

A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) indicates that the growth of SMEs has been hindered by among others, poor access to financing and information.

Del Rosario said that strong growth would mean little for vast numbers of poor Filipinos if their lives, from income to accommodation, education to health care, do not see any material improvement.


Author: Ted Torres
Date: February 04, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies was named as the top think tank in Southeast Asia and one of the best in the world by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program recognized PIDS in the 2013 Global Go Think Tank Report, a comprehensive ranking of the world`s top think tanks that acknowledges the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.

It said for 2013, 6,826 think tanks from 182 countries were evaluated. PIDS was ranked 37th among the top 50 social policy think tanks in the world, surpassing the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore that was ranked 41st.

PIDS also managed to improve its position from 40th place in the 2012 report.

PIDS and ISEAS were the only Asean think tanks included in the world ranking of top social policy think tanks. PIDS was ranked 70th among 80 top international development think tanks, moving up from its ranking of 79th place in the 2012 report.

PIDS is a state-funded think tank devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. Since its establishment in 1977, it has been engaged in conducting long-term, policy-oriented studies to assist policymakers and planners in crafting development plans and programs that are based on sound research evidence.

PIDS said it has completed more than 800 studies that encompass a wide range of development issues such as trade, competition policy, housing and urban development, demography, poverty, agriculture, environment, public finance, information and communication technology, education, health economics and others.


Author:
Date: February 03, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

As 2015 ASEAN integration nears, the Philippines needs to undertake initiatives for building institutional capacity to strengthen its harmonization efforts towards ASEAN standards and conformance programs.

"The way forward for standards and conformance in the Philippines lies in capacity building and institutional development," said Veredigna Ledda, the supervising research specialist of Philippine Institute and Development Studies (PIDS).

In a Policy Notes, Ledda said ASEAN's standards and conformance initiatives will extend beyond 2015 and are expected to continue to drive change in related policies in the Philippines.

She said the Philippines has been actively developing national standards for the majority of the identified priority sectors, and a number of these standards are already equivalent to international benchmarks.

To build institutional capacity needed for standards and conformance in the country, Ledda stressed that the passage of the 2009 Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Act that led to the still ongoing reorganization at the Department of Health (DOH) is an "important, positive step."

The new law confers important powers on the FDA, including the power to immediately recall, ban or withdraw health-related products that do not pass safety standards or are found to be hazardous.

The agency is also empowered to conduct post-market surveillance procedures such as inspection of manufacturing and storage facilities for compliance.

Apart from strengthening existing infrastructure, Ledda said increasing the technical expertise of the country's regulatory and standards agencies will equip them to more fully support local firms, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and those seeking to explore markets abroad.

She said that among other steps, new sources of funding could be found for training activities that were previously sponsored by donor agencies and ASEAN dialogue partners.

"Domestic firms as well as foreign companies selling their goods in the Philippines would then benefit from administrative and procedural efficiencies, which may result in lower transaction costs and quicker time to market goods," she noted.

Moreover, Ledda said robust and well-functioning regulatory agencies would be better prepared to safeguard public interest and create recognition of the importance of standards.


Author:
Date: February 02, 2014
Source: Philexport News

Three Philippines-based think tanks were deemed as among the regions best according to the 2013 Global Go Think Tank Report released by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the University of Pennsylvania.

The three think tanks"Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Institute for Strategic and Development Studies (ISDS), and state-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS)"were included in the report.

The 2013 Global Go To Think Tank Index [GGTTTI] marks the seventh year of continued efforts by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide, the report stated.

Since its inception, our ongoing objective for the GGTTTI report is to gain understanding of the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies. Using this knowledge, we hope to assist in improving the capacity and performance of think tanks around the world, it added.

The ISIS and ISDS were included in the list of top think tanks in Asia and the Pacific"excluding China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea. ISIS ranked 12th, while ISDS was ranked 19th out of the top 40 in the region.

The government think tank PIDS, on the other hand, ranked 70th in the 80 Top International Development Think Tanks and ranked 37th out of the 50 included in the Top Social Policy Think Tanks.

The PIDS said it surpassed the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, which was ranked 41st. PIDS also managed to improve its position from 40th place in last years report.

The top 5 think tanks in the region were the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, followed by the Centre for Strategic Studies from New Zealand; Lowy Institute from Australia; Australian Institute for International Affairs; and East Asian Institute in Singapore.

The top 5 Top International Development Think Tanks were dominated by United States-based institutions, starting with the Brookings Institution; Center for International Development also from the United States; United Kingdom-based Overseas Development Institute; Center for Global Development in the United States; and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the United States.

The Top 5 Social Policy Think Tanks, on the other hand, are the US-based Brookings Institution; US-based Urban Institute; US-based RAND Corp.; Canada-based Fraser Institute; and Poland-based Center for Social and Economic Research.

This year, some 6,826 think tanks from 182 countries were appraised. The TTSCP assembled expert panels comprised of hundreds of members from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines.

Further, TTSCP added that new media"the web site and social-media presence"helped them communicate and disseminate information about the criteria for this years index to a wider audience.


Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: February 02, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

State-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) ranked as the top think tank in Southeast Asia and remains one of the best in the world, according to the 2013 Global Go Think Tank Report released by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) of the University of Pennsylvania.

The TTCSP report recently appraised 6,826 think tanks from 182 countries.

Based on the report, PIDS was ranked 37th among the top 50 social policy think tanks in the world. It surpassed the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore that was ranked 41st.

PIDS also managed to improve its position from 40th place in last years report.

Only PIDS and ISEAS are the ASEAN think tanks included in the world ranking of top social policy think tanks.

On the other hand, PIDS was ranked 70th among 80 top international development think tanks and has moved up from its ranking of 79th in the 2012 report.
The Global Go To Think Tank Report is a comprehensive ranking of the world`s top think tanks and acknowledges the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.

As a state-funded think tank, PIDS is devoted to independent research and innovative policy solutions. Since its establishment in 1977, it has been engaged in conducting long-term, policy-oriented studies to assist policymakers and planners in crafting development plans and programs that are based on sound research evidence.

It has completed more than 800 studies that encompass a wide range of development issues such as trade, competition policy, housing and urban development, demography, poverty, agriculture, environment, public finance, information and communication technology, education, health economics, and others.

PIDS has assumed leadership roles in regional knowledge networks such as the East Asian Development Network (EADN) and is also an active member of the Global Development Network (GDN).

PIDS has also conducted numerous seminars and conferences with representatives from international agencies such as the ADB, World Bank, and various United Nations agencies.

President Aquino, during his State of the Nation Address last year, quoted the policy recommendations of a PIDS study on the governments conditional cash transfer program, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), as the basis for his decision to extend the program.



Author: Donnabelle L. Gatdula
Date: February 02, 2014
Source: Philippine Star