PIDS in the News Archived (March 2014)

POOR households lost a significant portion of their buying power owing to natural disasters, a study on the impact of natural disasters on income and poverty revealed.
At the minimum, poor households lost 7 percent of the buying power of their income owing to typhoons.
The study by Danilo C. Isarael and Roehlano R. Briones, senior research fellows of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), revealed that said income loss varies depending on the frequency of natural disasters, implying that assistance to poor households may be differentiated by the government based on the number of times they are affected.
Use of a general framework for studying the impact of natural disasters at the household level was developed based on a study by Lindell and Prater that said the physical impact of a natural disaster on households is determined by geographical and natural factors, hazard agent characteristics, hazard mitigation practices and emergency preparedness practices.
Under the said framework, it was suggested that after the physical impact, the social impact of a natural disaster on the household follows.
A case study was conducted in Pasay City to estimate the relationships among natural disasters, household income, and household poverty using the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) Household Profile Survey of 70,326 households.
Pasay City was among the hardest-hit areas by floods, including those caused by typhoons in the National Capital Region.
The 2011 CBMS Household Profile Survey indicates that the average annual income of households was P96,509; 76 percent of households heads are male; average age of the household heads was 42.8 years; 51 percent of the household heads were married; average number of years of schooling of the household heads was 10.93 years; the average household size was 3.85 members; 3 percent of the households received cash remittances from overseas workers and 49 percent of the households were recipients of a government program.
Of the households, 29 percent of the households were affected by a typhoon or flood in the last 12 months; 71 percent were not affected; 5 percent were affected once by a typhoon or flood; 7 percent were affected twice by a typhoon or flood and 17 percent were affected more than twice by a typhoon or flood.
In conclusion, the PIDS research fellows said the occurrence and frequency of typhoons have significant and negative effects in household per-capita income, citing the case of Pasay City.
These effects, they said, would have significant and negative impacts on poor households in the city whose poverty situation would likely worsen with natural disasters.//


Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga
Date: March 07, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

RESIDENT Aquinos much ballyhooed rice self-sufficiency policy is a failed policy. Its fairly obvious that the country didnt become self-sufficient in rice in 2013, the target date of the Department of Agricultures Food Staples Sufficiency program for the country to achieve achieve self-sufficiency.

The DA even boasted that the country would be exporting rice in 2013. Ha, ha, ha.

Sure, the DA had a secret weapon: raise the price of rice by curtailing imports and dampen the demand. Voila! The country can be declared self-sufficient because the price of rice has risen so high that demand for rice has been dampened. The fact that rice has become unaffordable to poor consumers be damned. With high rice prices, the balance between demand and supply has been achieved. The government can claim the country is self-sufficient in rice. Pogi na naman ang Aquino government.

But even shafting consumers hasnt been enough to achieve rice self-sufficiency. The DA has projected that NFA would need to import about 850,000 to 1 million MT this year. The DA has conveniently blamed typhoon Yolanda for not achieving its self-sufficiency target. A lame excuse, because Yolanda didnt affect rice production that much.

If not for the smuggling, rice prices would probably be rising much faster.

Rice self-sufficiency is a pa-pogi policy that masks greed and venality. It makes a mockery of President Aquinos Daan Matuwid. Why?

Because under its rice-self sufficiency policy, the DA has justified its bigger budget for irrigation, seeds acquisition, and the like. That means more funds to skim off, since theres no economic rationale for the bigger budgets for rice production. As agricultural economist Roel Briones stated when the rice self-sufficiency target was first unveiled by the DA, rice self-sufficiency is impractical, costly, and infeasible.

While theres money to be made from throwing money at irrigation and rice production projects, theres even more money to be made on the demand side of the equation: curtail demand by restricting imports through the NFAs monopoly on rice importation and make more money by awarding import licenses.

See the beauty of the scheme? Restrict rice imports under the guise of rice self-sufficiency, dampen demand through higher prices, and then make money by awarding coveted licenses to import.

This makes the Filipino people double-losers: rice prices are at least 40% higher than if theres free trade in rice. Millions of Filipino rice consumers, including farmers who are net consumers of rice, are worse off. Filipino manufacturers become less competitive as their workers have to spend more for their primary source of calories.

Filipinos as taxpayers are losers too. Not only do they have to pay for the wasteful rice production projects of the DA, they also have to pay for the losses of the National Food Authority, which it incurs by selling prices below market ostensibly to poor families. The problem is that cheap NFA rice doesnt end up with the poor, but in the commercial market where it is diverted by unscrupulous but well-connected traders.

Assuming conservatively that imported rice is cheaper than domestic rice by PHP5 per kilo, this means that welfare losses amount to at least PHP60 billion a year (PHP5 times the average consumption of 120 kilos of rice per person a year times a population of 100 million). The welfare losses are greater than what the government spends on the Conditional Cash Transfer program.

There are other losses too. The restrictive import environment makes smuggling attractive and rampant. The government loses out in uncollected tax revenue. Jess Tanchanco, the former NFA Administrator, told me jokingly that Cebu is now the new rice granary of the Philippines due to you know what. We have to thank the DA for this economic miracle.

The NFAs use of Quantitative Restrictions or QRs is a violation of the countrys commitment to the World Trade Organization. Legally, there should be no more quantitative restrictions. This is the position of the Department of Justice and thats why they will have a hard time prosecuting David Tan, alleged rice smuggler. Since the country is in violation of its WTO commitments, it can be penalized by the WTO, adding to the costs of maintaining quantitative restrictions on the importation of rice.

Opportunity losses must be counted too. The money that the government is wasting on rice production projects and in subsidizing huge NFA losses is better spent in increasing production of high value agricultural crops, such as cacao, vegetables, and fruits.

Rice self-sufficiency is not the same as food security. One can achieve the latter without necessarily being self-sufficient in rice. A country can have food security through trade, just as what affluent Malaysia has done. Malaysia relies on imports for as much as 35% of its needs.

The claim that rice is thinly traded and one cant rely on imports is hogwash. If the country has the money, it can rely on international trade to meet its rice requirements. The market will respond.

Moreover, the country can forge treaties of cooperation and rice security with its fellow Asean members, Thailand and Vietnam, the two biggest rice exporting countries in the world, to assure its rice supply in case theres a rice supply crisis.

What we need is not rice self-sufficiency, but income security and food security. Instead, despite, or because of, the DAs rice self-sufficiency policy, widespread hunger persists. The DA has been more successful in being the source of controversies involving graft and corruption, from the fertilizer scam to the alleged Napoles-National Agribusiness Corporation plunder of the national treasury, than they have been in producing food and reducing hunger.

One wonders why President Aquino remains protective of the DA despite the failure of its rice self-sufficiency policy and the many graft controversies surrounding the agency.

Why is this another failed policy? Because the other failed policy is the governments total log ban policy, another pa-pogi government policy that increased the incentive for illegal activities. However, I will reserve discussing this other failed policy in another column.//

Author: Calixto V. Chikiamco
Date: March 30, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

MAKATI CITY, March 31 -- The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) continues its research dissemination effort through a Seminar-Forum on the PIDS Economic Policy Monitor (EPM) which focuses on labor policy for jobs expansion and development.

According to a release, the seminar-forum has the theme The Jobs Challenge: Choosing between the Beaten Path and Its Alternative. It will be held on April 3, 2014, 1:30 to 5:00 pm, at the Romulo Hall, NEDA sa Makati Building, PIDS.

The EPM is a regular publication series of PIDS that provides an analysis of macroeconomic trends in the country and an in-depth study of socioeconomic issue that has critical significance for sustained and inclusive growth. The forum aims to provide a venue for representatives from government, labor sector, employers sector, and civil society groups to give their insights and comments to the issues relating to the subject matter of the forum.

The seminar-forum is divided into two parts. The first part will feature (1.) the highlights of the Asian Development Banks (ADB) Asian Development Outlook 2014, to be presented by Dr. Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, Senior Economist, and (2.) The Philippine Economy in 2013 and Prospects for 2014, to be presented by Dr. Gilberto Llanto and Dr. Adoracion Navarro, President and Senior research Fellow, respectively, of PIDS.

The second part will tackle the theme of the EPM through a presentation titled Labor Policy Analysis for Jobs Expansion and Development which will be given by Dr. Vicente Paqueo and Dr. Aniceto Orbeta, Jr., Visiting Research Fellow and Senior Research Fellow, respectively.

Attached is the tentative program of the seminar-forum for your reference.

For more information, please contact Gizelle Manuel or Phidel Vineles at telephone number 893-9585 locals 5032 and 5033 or 892-4059, or email gmanuel@mail.pids.gov.ph or pvineles@mail.pids.gov.ph. (PIDS)//

Author:
Date: March 31, 2014
Source: PIA

MANILA, Philippines - State think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is pushing for a comprehensive review and amendment of the Philippine Cabotage Law to foster competition in the local shipping industry paving the way for lower shipping costs.

PIDS president Gilberto Llanto and PIDS senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro said in a study that revisions to the Philippine Cabotage Law would bring down domestic shipping costs.

A well-planned review and lifting of cabotage restrictions, Llanto and Navarro said, would help bring down domestic shipping rates in the country.

Under the present Cabotage Law, only domestic shipping lines could serve domestic routes.

The absence of competition has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as high prices, the authors said in their study.

The study recommended a serious review of lifting cabotage restrictions, especially in the light of the planned Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Single Shipping Market.

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It cited a study of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines (JFCCP), which showed the high cost of domestic shipping compared with the cost of shipping via foreign transshipment.

It is cheaper to send a container from Manila to Cagayan de Oro via Hong Kong or Kaohsiung (in Taiwan ) than to simply transport the cargo directly from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, the study said.

A 40-footer container domestic shipping, from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, costs $1,860, which is a lot expensive than foreign transshipment via Hong Kong $1,144 and via Kaohsiung $1,044. A local trader could save approximately 43 percent in shipping costs via transshipment to Kaohsiung than by directly availing of domestic shipping services.

The aging domestic fleet of the maritime transport industry is also a cause for concern.

Domestic vessels for cargo in 2007 were generally 20 years old. Moreover, average age of passenger vessels in 2012 is higher compared to the average age of five to 10 years old in the late 1990s, it added.

Even though the Philippines is the worlds fifth largest ship building country, domestic shipping lines continue to use smaller and even older vessels in transporting cargo, which are uncompetitive compared to those used by their foreign counterpartsthe small capacity of cargo vessels implies longer transit and more turnaround times in ports, resulting in higher shipping costs.

For comparison, the study cited that the domestic shipping is dominated by vessels that have a capacity of 200 to 300 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) compared with those of foreign container ships that can carry as much as 5,000 TEUs.

Thus, it underscored the need for the Maritime Transport Authority to examine very closely the likely effects of the removal of cabotage restriction on domestic shipping, trade, and movement of passengers and cargo.

Several developed countries have moved toward a more liberal cabotage regime. In New Zealand , for example, 21 vessels were engaged in coastwise trade in 2000, 19 of which were flying foreign flags.

Policymakers should seriously review and consider lifting cabotage restrictions, but in a phased-in and well-planned approach, the study said.

Fears of foreign players immediately dominating the local shipping industry may be unfounded. The lack of familiarity with domestic markets may not allow foreign shipping companies to do business in all sectors of coastwise trade.

The need for market adjustments by foreign competitors interested in engaging in coastwise transport will also give domestic shipping operators ample time to modernize their fleet and operations to be more competitive, the study said.

Competition provides a credible threat to those who refuse to modernize and maintain efficient operation, Llanto and Navarro said in the study.//

Author: Lawrence Agcaoili
Date: March 30, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

TO bring down domestic shipping cost in the Philippines, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) underscored the need for a comprehensive review and amendment of the Philippine cabotage law.

A recent study, authored by PIDS President Gilberto Llanto and senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro, argued that a well-planned review and lifting of cabotage restrictions will bring down the high cost of domestic shipping rates.

Under the present cabotage law, only domestic shipping lines can serve domestic routes.

The absence of competition has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as high prices, the study noted.

The study recommended a serious review of lifting cabotage restrictions, especially in the light of the planned Association of Southeast Asian Nations Single Shipping Market.

It cited a study of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines comparing the high cost of domestic shipping compared with the cost of shipping via foreign transshipment.

Domestic shipping, for instance, sending a container from Manila to Cagayan de Oro via Hong Kong or Kaohsiung (in Taiwan) would be cheaper than to simply transport the cargo directly from Manila to Cagayan de Oro.

Shipping of a 40-foot container from Manila to Cagayan de Oro costs $1,860, which is a lot expensive than foreign transshipment via Hong Kong, pegged at $1,144, and via Kaohsiung, which only costs $1,044.

This means that a local trader could save approximately 43 percent in shipping costs through transshipment to Kaohsiung than by directly availing himself of domestic shipping services.

Aside from the cost, PIDS also said the aging domestic fleet of the maritime transport industry is also a serious cause for concern. The study said domestic vessels for cargo in 2007 were generally 20 years old. Moreover, average age of passenger vessels in 2012 is higher compared to the average age of five to 10 years old in the late 1990s.

While the Philippines is the worlds fifth-largest shipbuilding country, PIDS noted that domestic shipping lines continue to use smaller and even older vessels, which are uncompetitive compared to those used by their foreign counterparts.

The small capacity of cargo vessels implies longer transit and more turnaround times in ports, resulting in higher shipping costs, the study said.

For comparison, the study cited that the domestic shipping is dominated by vessels that have a capacity of 200 to 300 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) compared with those of foreign container ships that can carry as much as 5,000 TEUs.

The Maritime Industry Authority, PIDS said, needs to examine very closely the likely effects of the removal of cabotage restriction on domestic shipping, trade and movement of passengers and cargo.

PIDS underscored the fact that several developed countries have moved toward a more liberal cabotage regime, citing New Zealand, where of the 21 ships engaged in coastwise trade in 2000, 19 were flying foreign flags.

Policy-makers should seriously review and consider lifting cabotage restrictions, but in a phased-in and well-planned approach, the study added.

Local players, the study added, should not be wary that their foreign counterparts will eventually dominate the local shipping industry, saying the lack of familiarity with domestic markets may not allow foreign shipping companies to do business in all sectors of coastwise trade.

The need for market adjustments by foreign competitors interested in engaging in coastwise transport will also give domestic shipping operators ample time to modernize their fleet and operations to be more competitive, the study said. Competition provides a credible threat to those who refuse to modernize and maintain efficient operation.//

Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga
Date: March 29, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

The Philippines should implement strong medium-term structural reforms to ensure growth, according to an expert in international business and investments during a seminar-forum at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) recently.
The country outperformed other emerging markets in Asia in the first half of 2013, noted Dr. Dan Steinbock, research director for international business at the India, China, and America Institute in the United States, during the Pulong Saliksikan on Navigating in uncharted waters: Advanced and emerging economies after the US Feds tapering at the Romulo Hall of Neda in Makati.

However, natural calamities such as last years typhoon Haiyan could derail the Philippines economic growth, highlighting the need for the government to adopt medium-term structural reforms. The impact of typhoon Haiyan prevented the economy from ending the year on a high note, Steinbock said.

The typhoon did affect agricultural production, which will increase price pressures in near term, and upside risks to core inflation, which could be exacerbated by strong aid-related capital inflows, he added. The current account surplus is enough to support the peso, but does not necessarily ensure an upside in growth.

There is a need for structural reforms to address issues on exports, regional maritime disputes, and natural disasters, Steinbock said. Moreover, the country should sustain its momentum, adding that it is important to know where the country is headed to even after President Aquino ends his term in 2016, Steinbock said. He lauded the countrys fiscal situation as shown by the decline in the debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, but said it was important to know if the result of fiscal reforms was truly structural.

With an overwhelmingly young demographic profile, economic growth must be accompanied by job creation to address the countrys unemployment rate, he said. The manufacturing sector should be a top priority for rapid industrialization, he added, noting Chinas refocusing on global manufacturing, which has vastly improved the Chinese economys growth potential.//

Author: Ed Velasco
Date: March 27, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

The modernization of customs administration is expected to create new opportunities for custom brokers who are adept and flexible enough to adjust to changing market conditions, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
A new PIDS study noted that efficiency gains from a modernized customs administration will result in a more efficient trade facilitation that can create a higher volume of trade.
This will then lead to a new demand for a type of expertise in customs rules and regulations that brokers should possess, the study said.
With the economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient, and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such integration, the study noted.
As a signatory to the Revised Kyoto Convention or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, the Philippines, through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), is required to institute customs procedures that comply with best practices and standards in the global markets.
PIDS president Gilberto Llanto, one of the authors of the study, pointed out that a significantly growing volume of trade transactions calls for a more transparent and efficient customs administration.
Computerization is replacing the traditional and direct interaction of brokers with BOC staff, making services of customs brokers less relevant.
Llanto noted that it will be more efficient and consistent with trade facilitation to allow traders to use various and modern options for releasing or shipping their goods.
However, attempts of policymakers to modernize and introduce efficiencies in customs administration are facing strong opposition from custom brokers who contend that these measures could significantly diminish, if not permanently eliminate, their role in the customs administration process.
Under the present setup, cargoes undergo mandatory assessments by licensed custom brokers. Moreover, only customs brokers can sign the import and export entry declarations.
However, in Section 108 in the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act, anyone " including importers and exporters " can now declare their goods or can designate a person to declare the cargo on their behalf.
Brokers interviewed for the study argue that this will not only endanger their jobs but will also jeopardize the processes, integrity of transactions, and the revenue collections targets of the BOC.
However, while customs brokers see themselves as an essential part of trade facilitation, the direct users do not see any value added from the customs brokers services.
For some import-export firms, mandatory use of customs brokers can be minimized or totally removed without affecting the flow of trade since the bulk of trade facilitation services are actually performed by freight forwarders that are in charge of efficiently transporting goods.
Since the customs brokers role is merely to formalize the transaction by affixing his or her signature on the documents as required by the Customs Brokers Act of 2004, customs brokerage can be integrated into the services of the freight forwarders, the study said.
The study pointed out that minimizing the role of customs brokers can be beneficial to both exporters and importers because this could result in minimizing costs arising from brokerage fees.
The proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization is expected to introduce greater efficiencies in customs and trade. However, proponents of customs modernization must also recognize that it is necessary to ensure that the proposed bill is not inconsistent with existing laws such as the Customs Broker Act of 2004.
The study recommended for BOC and oversight agencies to recognize that the primary indicator used to gauge the BOCs performance is its revenue collection effort and not the revenue collection targets per se.
They also need to consider that the role of the BOC is evolving under a globalized and liberalized trading environment especially in view of the ASEAN Economic Community where tariff walls will become a thing of the past. A more relevant indicator of performance will thus be the timely and efficient facilitation of the volume of trade, the study added.//

Author: Bernie Magkilat
Date: March 25, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

The modernization of customs administration is expected to create new opportunities for custom brokers who are adept and flexible enough to adjust to changing market conditions, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
A new PIDS study noted that efficiency gains from a modernized customs administration will result in a more efficient trade facilitation that can create a higher volume of trade.
This will then lead to a new demand for a type of expertise in customs rules and regulations that brokers should possess, the study said.
With the economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient, and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such integration, the study noted.
As a signatory to the Revised Kyoto Convention or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, the Philippines, through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), is required to institute customs procedures that comply with best practices and standards in the global markets.
PIDS president Gilberto Llanto, one of the authors of the study, pointed out that a significantly growing volume of trade transactions calls for a more transparent and efficient customs administration.
Computerization is replacing the traditional and direct interaction of brokers with BOC staff, making services of customs brokers less relevant.
Llanto noted that it will be more efficient and consistent with trade facilitation to allow traders to use various and modern options for releasing or shipping their goods.
However, attempts of policymakers to modernize and introduce efficiencies in customs administration are facing strong opposition from custom brokers who contend that these measures could significantly diminish, if not permanently eliminate,their role in the customs administration process.
Under the present setup, cargoes undergo mandatory assessments by licensed custom brokers. Moreover, only customs brokers can sign the import and export entry declarations.
However, in Section 108 in the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act, anyone " including importers and exporters " can now declare their goods or can designate a person to declare the cargo on their behalf.
Brokers interviewed for the study argue that this will not only endanger heir jobs but will also jeopardize the processes, integrity of transactions, and the revenue collections targets of the BOC.However, while customs brokers see themselves as an essential part of trade facilitation, the direct users do not see any value added from the customs brokers services.
For some import-export firms, mandatory use of customs brokers can be minimized or totally removed without affecting the flow of trade since the bulk of trade facilitation services are actually performed by freight forwarders that are in charge of efficiently transporting goods.
Since the customs brokers role is merely to formalize the transaction by affixing his or her signature on the documents as required by the Customs Brokers Act of 2004, customs brokerage can be integrated into the services of the freight forwarders, the study said.
The study pointed out that minimizing the role of customs brokers can be beneficial to both exporters and importers because this could result in minimizing costs arising from brokerage fees.
The proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization is expected to introduce greater efficiencies in customs and trade. However, proponents of customs modernization must also recognize that it is necessary to ensure that the proposed bill is not inconsistent with existing laws such as the Customs Broker Act of 2004.
The study recommended for BOC and oversight agencies to recognize that the primary indicator used to gauge the BOCs performance is its revenue collection effort and not the revenue collection targets per se.
They also need to consider that the role of the BOC is evolving under a globalized and liberalized trading environment especially in view of the ASEAN Economic Community where tariff walls will become a thing of the past. A more relevant indicator of performance will thus be the timely and efficient facilitation of the volume of trade, the study added.//

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

Efforts to modernize customs administration are expected to create new opportunities for custom brokers who are adept and flexible enough to adjust to changing market conditions. According to a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), custom brokers should realize that efficiency gains from a modernized customs administration will result in a more efficient trade facilitation that can create a higher volume of trade. This will then lead to a new demand for a type of expertise in customs rules and regulations that brokers should possess. With the economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such integration, the study said. Likewise, as a signatory to the Revised Kyoto Convention or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, the Philippines, through the Bureau of Customs (BoC), is required to institute customs procedures that comply with best practices and standards in the global markets. PIDS president Gilberto Llanto, one of the authors of the study, pointed out that a significantly growing volume of trade transactions calls for a more transparent and efficient customs administration. Computerization is replacing the traditional and direct interaction of brokers with BoC staff, making services of customs brokers less relevant. In addition, he said it will be more efficient and consistent with trade facilitation to allow traders to use various and modern options for releasing or shipping their goods. However, attempts of policymakers to modernize and introduce efficiencies in customs administration are facing strong opposition from custom brokers who contend that these measures could significantly diminish, if not permanently eliminate, their role in the customs administration process. Under the present setup, cargoes undergo mandatory assessments by licensed custom brokers.

Moreover, only customs brokers can sign the import and export entry declarations. However, in Section 108 in the proposed Customs and Tariff Modernization Act (filed as Senate Bill 168 in the 16th Congress), anyone " including importers and exporters " can now declare their goods or can designate a person to declare the cargo on their behalf. Brokers interviewed for the study argue that this will not only endanger their jobs but will also jeopardize the processes, integrity of transactions, and the revenue collections targets of the BoC. However, while customs brokers see themselves as an essential part of trade facilitation, the direct users do not see any value added from the customs brokers services. For some import-export firms, mandatory use of customs brokers can be minimized or totally removed without affecting the flow of trade since the bulk of trade facilitation services are actually performed by freight forwarders that are in charge of efficiently transporting goods. Since the customs brokers role is merely to formalize the transaction by affixing his/her signature on the documents as required by the Customs Brokers Act of 2004, customs brokerage can be integrated into the services of the freight forwarders, one respondent said. Other study respondents also pointed out that minimizing the role of customs brokers can be beneficial to both exporters and importers because this could result in minimizing costs arising from brokerage fees. //

Author:
Date: March 21, 2014
Source: The Daily Tribune

" A modernized program for the Bureau of Customs (BOC) will likely benefit custom brokers, a study by state-run think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said. The study showed that a modernized customs administration can create a higher volume of trade, which in turn can lead to a new demand for brokers with expertise in customs rules and regulations. "With the economic integration in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines must successfully implement seamless, efficient, and transparent trading procedures to maximize the potential benefits from such integration," the study said. A co-author of the study, PIDS President Gilberto Llanto, said a high volume of trade transactions require a more transparent and efficient customs administration. As a signatory to the Revised Kyoto Convention or the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, the BOC is required to institute customs procedures that comply with best practices and standards in the global markets. However, attempts to modernize customs procedures are being opposed by some custom brokers, who believe that these measures will adversely affect their role in the customs administration process. The brokers also said the proposed measures will also jeopardize the processes, integrity of transactions, and the revenue collection targets of the BOC.

The PIDS study, meanwhile, suggests that proponents of customs modernization should recognize that it is necessary to ensure that the proposed bill is not inconsistent with existing laws such as the Customs Broker Act of 2004. The study also reminded BOC and oversight agencies that the primary indicator used to gauge the BOC's performance is its revenue collection effort and not the revenue collection targets. "They also need to consider that the role of the BOC is evolving under a globalized and liberalized trading environment especially in view of the ASEAN Economic Community where tariff walls will become a thing of the past. A more relevant indicator of performance will thus be the timely and efficient facilitation of the volume of trade," the study said.

Author:
Date: March 20, 2014
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

The country shattered palay harvest records last year, with farmers producing 18.44 million metric tons (MMT) of the grain, the highest ever in the countrys history, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala has told National Rice Achievers (NRA) awardees during the recognition rites at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila, Pasay City. Alcala acknowledged that while the target of 20.04 MMT was not met, the figure was still good for 97-percent rice self-sufficiency. Recently, Asian Development Bank economist Lourdes Adriano and Dr. Roehlano Briones of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies said the Philippines cannot achieve rice self-sufficiency in the next 20 years. They urged the government to cut supply deals with rice-exporting countries like Vietnam, Thailand, the United States, Australia and others. Their arguments have been invoked by unregistered rice importers suspected of flooding the country with cheap subsidized rice from Vietnam, which also gets paddy rice from Cambodia, Thailand, India and other countries.
Alcala commended local chief executives of rice-producing provinces, towns and cities for supporting his departments drive to attain food self-sufficiency. He particularly thanked farmers and irrigators associations, as well as agricultural technicians, for their invaluable contribution in achieving the palay cropping record. We value your role in ensuring safe, nutritious, affordable and sufficient supply of food for the Filipino people, he said. He also urged governors to implement programs that would increase farmers production and income. Alcala has called for the integration of good agricultural practices in rice to improve the quality of palay as domestic and global competition intensifies. Appropriate modern technologies to boost overall production must likewise be used, he told farmers.
A total of P117.42 million worth of project grants and cash prizes were given out to the 2013 NRA awardees, led by 12 provinces, 48 municipalities, 10 irrigators associations, three Small Water Impounding System Associations and 496 Agricultural Extension Workers.
Each province received P4 million worth of project grants, while towns received P1 million worth. The IAs and Swisa each received P1 million and P500,000, respectively, while AEWs were each given P20,000 cash prize.//

Author: Marvyn N. Benaning
Date: March 21, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

Cagayan De Oro City " Health sector stakeholders gathered at the Xavier University in this city to discuss the best healthcare innovation practices to encourage the adoption of these practices, and address persistent disparities in health amid a growing economy.

At least four innovative health programs were presented in a round-table discussion led by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the government policy think tank tapped by the Washington-based Center for Health Market Innovations for the implementation of the project dubbed Health Market Innovations.

More than 100 participants coming from the various local government units (LGUs), academic institutions, health offices, regional offices of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Center for Development offices of the Department of Health, and non-government organizations participated in the recent discussion.

PIDS president Gilberto Llanto said health innovations show the creativity of Filipinos in addressing the very large disparities in health.

It is indispensable for the country to deal with the very large under investment in health where government health staff stagnated at around 36,000 since year 2000, despite the countrys 1.7 million annual population growth, he said.

We need to innovate to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health, said Oscar Picazo, PIDS senior research consultant and board chairman of the Philippine NGO Support Program, Inc.

The Health Market Innovations project builds linkages among health innovators, funders, and policymakers. It also provides information for those who do not know that there are funders for better health care delivery, he added.//

Author:
Date: March 19, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

Health sector stakeholders gathered at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City to discuss some best healthcare innovation practices in a forum organized to encourage adoption of these practices and address persistent disparities in health amid a growing economy.

Four innovative health programs were presented in a roundtable discussion led by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the government policy think tank tapped by the Washington-based Center for Health Market Innovations for the implementation of the project Health Market Innovations.

More than100 participants from local government units, academic institutions, health offices, regional offices of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Center for Development offices of the Department of Health, and nongovernment organizations participated in the roundtable discussion last March 6.

PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said health innovations show the creativity of Filipinos in addressing the very large disparities in health. It is indispensable for the country to deal with the very large underinvestment in health where government health staff stagnated at around 36,000 since year 2000 despite the countrys 1.7 million annual population growth, he said.

We need to innovate to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for health, said Oscar Picazo, PIDS senior research consultant and board chairman of the Philippine NGO Support Program, Inc. The Health Market Innovations project builds linkages among health innovators, funders, and policymakers. It also provides information for those who do not know that there are funders for better health care delivery, he added.

One of the health innovations introduced was the EVAcoh Project (Eastern Visayas Area Cooperation in Health). The project aims to setup and operate social health enterprises using cooperatives community development funds, said Roberto Nebrida, executive director of the Philippine NGO Support Program, Inc.

The EVAcoh Project considers social health enterprises such as cooperative-based pharmacies as an innovative method of investment in the provision of health services and commodities. EVAcoh social health enterprises have served a total of 10,348 women of reproductive age, said Nebrida. Its total sales have reached a whopping PHP6.1 million.

Another innovation, RTI Internationals Wireless Access for Health Project(WAH), recognizes the benefits of wireless connectivity in enhancing health care planning and delivery in rural health units (RHU).The WAH project uses 3G wireless technology to improve health care by reducing time required for data reporting as well as improving access to accurate patient information at the RHU level, said Felipe Canlas, RTI International local project coordinator.It helps rural clinicians spend more time for patient care rather than spending half of their time on patient information recording and reporting, he explained.

Author:
Date: March 17, 2014
Source: PIA

GOVERNMENT think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has underscored the need for innovative health-care practices to address the very large disparities in health.
PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said that it is necesssary for the country to deal with the very large underinvestment in health, citing situations where government health staff stagnated at around 36,000 since year 2000 despite the countrys 1.7 million annual population growth.
We need to innovate to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for health, Oscar Picazo, PIDS senior research consultant and board chairman of the Philippine NGO Support Program Inc. said.
The Health Market Innovations project builds linkages among health innovators, funders and policy-makers. It also provides information for those who do not know that there are funders for better health-care delivery, he said.
PIDS pitched the call for innovative health practices as health stakeholders gathered at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City to discuss some best health-care innovation practices in a forum organized by PIDS last week.
The forum aims to encourage adoption of these practices and address persistent disparities in health amid a growing economy.
Four innovative health programs were presented in a roundtable discussion led by the PIDS, the government policy think tank tapped by the Washington-based Center for Health Market Innovations for the implementation of the project Health Market Innovations.
More than 100 participants from local governments, academic institutions, health offices, regional offices of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Center for Development offices of the Department of Health, and non-governmental organizations participated in the roundtable discussion on March 6.
One of the health innovations introduced was the Eastern Visayas Area Cooperation in Health (EVAcoh) Project.
The project aims to setup and operate social- health enterprises using cooperatives community-development funds, Roberto Nebrida, executive director of the Philippine NGO Support Program Inc., said.
The EVAcoh Project considers social-health enterprises such as cooperative-based pharmacies as an innovative method of investment in the provision of health services and commodities.
EVAcoh social-health enterprises have served a total of 10,348 women of reproductive age, Nebrida said.
Its total sales have reached a whopping P6.1 million, he said.
Another innovation, RTI Internationals Wireless Access for Health (WAH) Project, recognizes the benefits of wireless connectivity in enhancing health-care planning and delivery in rural health units (RHUs).
The WAH Project uses 3G wireless technology to improve health care by reducing time required for data reporting, as well as improving access to accurate patient information at the RHU level, Felipe Canlas, RTI International local project coordinator, said for his part.
It helps rural clinicians spend more time for patient care rather than spending half of their time on patient information recording and reporting, he explained.
WAH has been adopted in 66 RHUs in 38 cities and municipalities and 14 provinces in the country, serving 2,500 patients a day.
Sis. Eloisa David, OSB, chief operating officer of KaKaK Foundation, talked about the Mother Bles Birthing Clinics. The project, which has established 50 clinics since 2010, addresses the lack of access to affordable and high-quality maternity-care facilities, helping achieve the countrys MDG commitment of reducing maternal mortality.
The program promotes the legitimate rights of every mother on maternal health, especially those who are indigent and underprivileged, David, a physician and fellow of the Philippine College of Hospital Administrators, said.
In post-disaster situations, Xavier Universitys Sustainable Sanitation (SuSan) Center provides effective and sustainable sanitation solutions to evacuation centers through the distribution of urine diverting dehydration toilets (UDDTs). Moreover, the collected bio-waste from UDDTs can be recycled and used as soil amendments.
Every time there is a disaster, people donate clothes, food, soaps and water, while donating sanitary toilets is always an afterthought, said Gina Itchon, SuSan Center director. There was once a big evacuation center where 50,000 people were sharing a single toilet.
At evacuation centers in disaster-hit Northern Cebu and in Tacloban City, the SuSan Center had installed Arborloo toilets, or shallow pits that are abandoned once filled, which can then be planted with fruit or wood-bearing tree saplings.
Fr. Roberto Yap SJ, Xavier University president, said investments in human capital, education and health are important to make economic growth inclusive. Health disparities in the country tell us that the traditional way of health care is not enough, and health innovations must be explored, Yap said.
Celia Reyes, PIDS senior research fellow and health project director, said PIDSs role is to help in knowledge- brokering for a more inclusive health-care system.
PIDS is not only interested to showcase best practices on health innovations, Reyes said. The institute is willing to help you to link with innovators and with other stakeholders to scale up these health innovations, she told forum participants.//

Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga
Date: March 15, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

Iloilo City, Iloilo " Different sectors in the Western Visayas region have to prepare to meet the economic standards set by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), particularly when the Asean Free Trade Agreement is implemented signaling the start of the regions integration in 2015.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general, Secretary Arsenio Balisacan also said the region must assess its capacity to face the challenges posed by developments in the ASEAN economic community by 2015.

During the Western Visayas regional forum last March 11 in Iloilo City, Balisacan, likewise, urged the strengthening of the tourism industry in Western Visayas.
The region is home to world-renowned holiday beach destination Boracay Island as well as other potentially similar destinations in Panay, Guimaras and Negros Islands.
Tourism is Western Visayas biggest potential, said Balisacan citing how tourism has a substantial multiplying effect to the regional economy as it involves food, transportation and services.
For Western Visayas to be more competitive, Balisacan said there must be continuous upgrade of such strategic infrastructure as airports, seaports and road networks for easy access in the flow of people and materials.
Another key concern is the formal training of people in the services sector including hotel and restaurant workers.
Dr. Gilberto Llanto, president of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), also urged the strengthening of the English proficiency of students and young professionals which, he said, is integral to the competitiveness of the region in attracting more investors for business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, especially those catering to the US and Canada markets.
Ro-Ann Bacal, regional director of the Region VI office of NEDA (NEDA-6) said that participants of the regional forum came from both government and business sector of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental provinces.

Author: Tara Yap
Date: March 13, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

THE Philippines is set to import 800,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year to ease pressure from decreasing stocks and lower inflation rate.

This is beside the 200,000 MT as part of the emergency stock requirement last year, brought by Supertyphoon Yolanda.

In an interview, Agriculture Undersecretary Dante Delima said the National Food Authority (NFA) Council has already given the go ahead for the importation of the 0.8 million metric tons (MMT) of rice.

The economic managers see it crucial that the volume should be imported to help stabilize prices and lower inflation rate, Delima said.

A total of 1 MMT of rice will be allowed to enter the Philippines this year, the biggest volume authorized by the Aquino administration so far.

Of the total volume to be imported this year, some 200,000 MT was part of the emergency stock requirement last year, while the 800,000 MT will be part of the new importation plan to be announced by the NFA within this month, he said.

The NFA has yet to make an official announcement for this years importation, including the terms of the tender.

To recall, the country has allowed the importation of a record 2.4 MMT of rice in 2010, making it the bigest importer of rice at that time. This was reduced to 860,000 MT in 2011, and was further trimmed to down to 500,000 MT in 2012.

That year, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the Department of Agriculture is looking into the possibility of doing away with rice imports in 2013 due to expectations of higher paddy-rice output for 2012.

However, the Philippines last year approved 205,700 MT of rice imports under the omnibus minimum access volume for rice, and an additional 500,000 MT of rice from Vietnam. The half-a-million metric tons of rice was meant to replenish the countrys buffer stock following spike in demand brought by Yolanda relief operations.

Last week Alcala said that any importation this year would be done under government-to-government deal.

Currently, only three countries, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, have existing rice-purchase agreements with the Philippines.

With the massive volume needed to arrive before the start of the lean season, however, the NFA may need private-sector participation, because of the sheer amount of funds needed.

The countrys total rice stock inventory as of January 1 was pegged at 2.12 MMT, or 14.7 percent, lower than the previous months inventory of 2.49 MMT and 15.8 percent below the 2.52 MMT recorded in 2013.

During the period, stock levels in commercial warehouses and in the households decreased by 22.8 percent and 11.8 percent, respectively, compared with the December 1, 2013, rice-stock inventory. Stocks in NFA depositories, of which 43.8 percent were imported rice, dropped by 8.4 percent.

Year-on-year, stocks in the households, in commercial warehouses, and in NFA depositories declined by 3.2 percent, 6.2 percent, and 53.7 percent, respectively.

Earlier reports quoted National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) as saying that higher prices of rice helped push inflation up to 4.1 percent in February 2014, from 3.4 percent a year earlier, Neda Director General Arsenio Balisacan, however, said that supply outlook for rice in the coming months is quite favorable, suggesting that prices of the grain may drop down in the coming months.

The Neda has been pushing for the importation since the early part of 2013 to arrest the rising prices and prevent a possible shortage.

Delima, for his part however, said that they have agreed with the recommendation of the economic managers to import rice because of shortfall in rice self-sufficiency targets and the unusual withdrawal of rice stocks in typhoon-hit areas.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has said that every Philippine president has promised to achieve rice self-sufficiency within his or her term.

Sadly, this promise has been repeatedly broken and unmet. The current [Aquino] administration, however, hopes to break the trend of broken vows and guarantees 100-percent rice self-sufficiency or zero imports starting 2013 through the Food Staples Sufficiency Program.

But the PIDS said its study show that the rice self-sufficiency target is unlikely to be achieved, whether in 2013 or even through the course of the decade to 2020.

Author: Alladin S. Diega
Date: March 11, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, March 6 (PIA) " Xavier University hosts the first Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) regional round-table discussion on health market renovations.

Oscar F. Picazo, PIDS Senior Research Consultant said these innovations will help address gaps in public health and aid the government in achieving the Millennium Development (MDG) targets through public-private approaches.

Recent Health Market Innovations like the Wireless Access for Health, EVAcoh Cooperative Pharmacies, Mother Bless Birthing Clinics, and Xavier Universitys Post-Disaster Sanitation Solutions were the highlights in the PIDS round-table discussion on Thursday, March 6.

These sessions are part of PIDS approach in short listing the schemes identified based on the health innovations impact, pro poor orientation, sustainability and innovativeness.

The project is focused on documenting, analyzing, disseminating and hopefully making linkages between funders and innovators on schemes involving public policies or programs that promotes private participation in health care, Picazo stressed.

Health Market Innovations is funded by Rockefeller Foundation, Gates Foundation and United Kingdom's Department for International Development, managed by the Center for Health Market Innovation (CID), which in the Philippines is implemented by PIDS starting 2010.

Picazo said health market innovations in the Philippines are quite intensive, and among the notable schemes identified in the first two years of the project are the Generics Pharmacy, National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI), Community Health Information Traffic System (CHITS), Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergencies and Disasters (SPEED) and more.

We have to think of new ways in doing things. Various schemes in the private sector, public-private partnerships, joint ventures and outsourcing in government indeed take care of the poor, Picazo noted. (JCV/PIA)//

Author: Jorie C. Valcorza
Date: March 06, 2014
Source: PIA

HEALTH care is one of the most important facets in the lives of each individual yet, it has been said that in the Philippines, especially among those living below the poverty line, illness is seen as a catastrophe.
Based on the study of the University of the Philippines National Health Institute, six out of 10 Filipinos who are ill just die for not ever seeing a doctor due to financial constraints.
The Department of Health, on the year 1992 through former Health Secretary and Senator Juan M. Flavier, first came with Traditional Medicine Program by virtue of Administrative Order No. 12. The program was set to promote and advocate traditional medicine in the Philippines.
The drafting of a traditional medicine law began on 1994 to institutionalize the Traditional Medicine Program and with the appreciation of President Fidel V. Ramos to include traditional medicine in the health and economy, a law was enacted on 1997.
Thus on 1997, the Senate and House Representatives of the Philippines enacted Republic Act No. 8423 "Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act (TAMA) of 1997" or An Act Creating the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) to Accelerate the Development of Traditional and Alternative Health Care in the Philippine, Providing for a Traditional and Alternative Health Care Development Fund and for other Purposes.
The law recognizes the importance of traditional or alternative medicine in providing essential health care to the people. Despite the medical treatment provided by the Western countries which at most could not be afforded by Filipinos living below the poverty line, traditional medicine which has been passed from generation to generation has become significant in our health care system.
In Davao Region, one famous name in the alternative medicine is the Dok Alternatibo Corporation (DACORP), which espouses natural healing.
DACORP is registered with the Food and Drug Administration. Its herbal products are distributed all over the country.
Dr. Vince Lambac, DMNH is one of the doctors of Dok Alternatibo.
The founder of Dok Alternatibo who is Dr. Edgar Delibo started the advocacy for alternative medicine because of his bad experience with hospitals. His wife was diagnosed with toxic goiter and asthma but they were disappointed because she was not healed even following the doctors advice. He later on discovered that herbal plants could be used as medicine. From then on, his wife started taking herbal medicines made by him and that started Dok Alternatibo, Lambac said.
According to Lambac, all diseases could be treated in the natural way because the essence of alternative medicine is that it detoxifies all the bad chemicals in the body through bringing back the nutrients in lesser expense.
Our seven-day detoxification program or total health restoration program has been proven effective in healing patients with any kinds of diseases, he said.
Lambac said that for those who have gallbladder stones, patients have to pay P200,000 in hospitals. With them, the cost is only around P10,000. In the case of diabetes, from P500,000 worth of treatment in the conventional way, their package costs P20,000 for total natural healing.
Drinking one glass of purified water, fulvic mineral solution made of water, honey, fulvic minerals, and peanut size wonder cream, taking in siling labuyo or chili and capsules of activated charcoal are just some of the recommendations for the total health restoration program.
He said that diabetes for example should be combated through eating sugar cane because sugar cane has fructose or the good sugar which the body needs unlike the sucrose and glucose present in the artificial sugar, which he said is bad for the health.
Filipinos in the past did not have diabetes because they used sugar cane as natural sweetener and not the artificial sugar that we use these days that causes diabetes, he said in the vernacular.
Cancer, he said, can be combated with natural herbs.
Our body should be chemical free for us to avoid cancer. The growth of our cells becomes atypical because of eating instant foods that are full of bad chemicals. Ang atong lawas gikan sa yuta ug kinahanglan walay chemical pud ang atong ipares niini (We all start from dust and the food we eat shouldnt have chemicals that are not natural to our body), he added.
Hypertension, meanwhile, according to Lambac is cured through taking in siling labuyo or chili which is already a natural capsule. Sili is an anti-oxidant made up of 38 vitamins.
Dengue is treated through drinking coconut water and the famous tawa-tawa plant found in Davao City.
He said that natural healing should be holistic. The best healer is still God. If you dont believe that you will be healed, there is no chance of you being healed.
He also said that a change of lifestyle should be done by everybody. Stop going for instant food, instant drinks and instant medicines. Lifestyle change is the best. Always opt for the natural.
For a total lifestyle change, Lambac suggested that instead of eating rice grown with chemicals, people should instead go for indigenous varieties such as brown, black and tanglad rice. Noodles should be avoided as well as eating all kinds of seafood because these are sea filters.
Cosmetics should also be made natural. For scalp, skin and hair care, coconut milk, molasses, activated charcoal and fulvic minerals are the best natural medicines, he said.
He admits that there are many who are riding on the natural medicine wagon and thus care should be taken when choosing what kind and brand.
To avoid being a victim of medical malpractice, always ask for an official receipt in buying herbal products, he said, this will show the details of the seller.
Lambac is a certified Doctor of Medicine under Natural Healing. He studied natural healing and learned the basics of patient handling and the effects of herbal medicines in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
Healing is also a way of teaching and as a teacher of natural healing, we teach our patients the essence and truth of alternative medicines unlike what others are doing, which is only to gain profit, he added. (MDC)//

Author: Merle Dawn S. Comidoy
Date: March 08, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

A Quezon City councilor wants a massive and broader information drive on generic drugs to educate the public.
Second District Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr. noted that the poor and underprivileged members of the society have not fully taken advantage of the benefits of the Generic Drugs Act and Cheaper Medicines Act.

Based on personal experience, Ferrer said that people lining up for medical assistance in his office showed disdain when it was suggested that they purchase generic medicines instead of the branded ones.

He said that it has been a common belief among the poor that generic medicines, although cheaper, are less effective than the labeled ones sold in big drugstores.

Ferrer said that a massive information dissemination campaign will help boost public awareness on the quality of generic medicines.
My office has always supported the use of generic medicines due to its supreme quality and low price but some of my constituents insist on being provided with branded medicines which they believed is more potent, Ferrer said.
In a recent study of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), the agencies found that there was a low awareness of the law.

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.

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.
Ferrer has supported the move of the DOH and the PIDS that would compel the national government and the local government units (LGU) in coming up with a vigorous campaign that will provide greater public acceptance of generic medicines.//

Author: Chito A. Chavez
Date: March 04, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

THE Ilonggos will be given the chance to air their side and commitment on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) economic integration in 2015.

The Regional Development Council and National Economic and Development Authority will sponsor a forum on the Asean Economic Community 2015 on March 11 at the Smallville 21 Hotel.

Speakers will discuss the challenges of creating a single market and production base for the 10-member countries with more than 600 million consumers; duty-free imports and stiff competition among countries within the Asean region.

Socio-Economic Planning Secretary and Neda Director-General Arsenio Balisacan will be the keynote speaker. The forum is dubbed Gearing Up Asean Economic Community 2015: the Critical Role of the Countrys Regions.

Other speakers are from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the topics are as follows: Overview of the Asean Economic Community by Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto; AEC Blueprint: Implementation and Effectiveness; Assessment for Philippine Agriculture by Dr. Roehl M. Briones; AEC 2015 and Small and Medium Enterprises by Dr. Rafaelita M. Aldaba; and Infrastructure and Logistics by Dr. Adora M. Llanto. (LCP)//

Author:
Date: March 04, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Pending bills seeking to curb monopolies and unfair competition in business got a boost from various government agencies and business groups, which said that such measures were long overdue and needed in the light of the impending economic integration of countries in Southeast Asia by 2015. The House committees on economic affairs and trade and industry have begun deliberations on the various antitrust bills that have been filed in the 16th Congress, and there appears to be little resistance to the measures that are intended to encourage free and fair economic competition.

The antitrust bills seek to prohibit the abuse of market-dominant positions and the excessive concentration of economic power by regulating unfair business practices and improper acts. These are intended to protect consumers and promote a balanced development of the economy. One of the authors of such a measure is Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who earlier said he considered the bill a House priority.

Belmonte, in his explanatory note to his bill, said the lack of genuine competition in certain industries impairs the public welfare and undermines the countrys credibility to provide a business climate that would entice investors. GDP growth A comprehensive competition policy would also help improve the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), raise wages and cause prices to drop, he said. Such measures, though, had been unsuccessful in previous congresses, with trade and industry committee chair Rep. Mark Villar noting that these bills had been filed in various forms since the 8th Congress, but had failed to pass into law. Economic affairs committee chair Rep. Enrique Cojuangco, for his part, noted that the antitrust bills would help the Philippines cope with the coming Asean economic integration....


Author: Leila B. Salaverria
Date: March 11, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Pending bills seeking to curb monopolies and unfair competition in business got a boost from various government agencies and business groups, which said that such measures were long overdue and needed in the light of the impending economic integration of countries in Southeast Asia by 2015. The House committees on economic affairs and trade and industry have begun deliberations on the various antitrust bills that have been filed in the 16th Congress, and there appears to be little resistance to the measures that are intended to encourage free and fair economic competition.

The antitrust bills seek to prohibit the abuse of market-dominant positions and the excessive concentration of economic power by regulating unfair business practices and improper acts. These are intended to protect consumers and promote a balanced development of the economy. One of the authors of such a measure is Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who earlier said he considered the bill a House priority.

Belmonte, in his explanatory note to his bill, said the lack of genuine competition in certain industries impairs the public welfare and undermines the countrys credibility to provide a business climate that would entice investors. GDP growth A comprehensive competition policy would also help improve the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), raise wages and cause prices to drop, he said. Such measures, though, had been unsuccessful in previous congresses, with trade and industry committee chair Rep. Mark Villar noting that these bills had been filed in various forms since the 8th Congress, but had failed to pass into law. Economic affairs committee chair Rep. Enrique Cojuangco, for his part, noted that the antitrust bills would help the Philippines cope with the coming Asean economic integration. ...

Author: Leila B. Salaverria
Date: March 12, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) is pushing for the phased liberalization of cabotage regulation to provide the much-needed competition in the local shipping sector which is crucial to reduce transport cost. A PIDS study revealed that domestic shipping cost is high due to lack of meaningful competition and the weak incentives for operators to modernize brought about by the protection long enjoyed by the local industry players through cabotage restrictions. While there are other reasons for higher shipping cost such as inadequate port facilities and inefficient port practices, these do not invalidate the need to lift cabotage restrictions, the study said. It is high time that policy makers seriously review and consider lifting cabotage restrictions in a phased-in and well-planned approach, said PIDS president Gilberto Llanto and senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro. There is a need for MARINA to study very closely the likely effects of the removal of cabotage restriction on domestic shipping, trade and movement of passengers and cargo, they added.

Llanto and Navarro pointed out that the study can examine whether or not a flexible cabotage policy that applies only to certain tonnages of cargo and passenger volumes could be pursued, and whether the reform path should involve a phased cabotage liberalization accompanied by regulatory reforms in the ports sector. Such reforms include the establishment of an independent port regulator, liberalization of port management, and greater private sector participation in port development. The PIDS study also recognized the various reservations to cabotage liberalization such as cut-throat competition and the loss of jobs arising from closure or weakening of domestic shipping and allied business activities. It, however, believed that fears of foreign players immediately dominating the local shipping industry may be unfounded. Market limitations such as market size, lack of familiarity with the domestic markets and institutional barriers may not allow foreign shipping companies to do business in all sectors of coastwise trade, it noted.

The study underscored the need for domestic shipping operators to modernize their fleet and operations to be more competitive while foreign competitors are undergoing market adjustments. Competition provides a credible threat to those who refuse to modernize and maintain efficient operation, it said. While there are still countries that maintain closed cabotage regimes, the general trend is to move toward a more open cabotage policy, the study said.//


Author: Edu Lopez
Date: March 10, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

THERE is a shortage of doctors and nurses in the citys public hospital. Compared to its actual population, the city is way off the ideal number of doctors and nurses to cater the healthcare needs of the city. Dr. Ignacio Moreno, City Health Office (CHO) consultant, said there are only 14 doctors in the CHO who are assigned on the field. He said these 14 doctors are tasked to visit on a rotational basis in the 56 barangay health centers, while three doctors are assigned at the CHO. Moreno said the doctors visit each barangay once a week and hold office at the barangay health center. They work on field four times a week and report to the office for the weekly meetings on Fridays. Moreno disclosed that J.R. Borja General Hospital (JRBGH) has 30 doctors with six to seven of them assigned in different departments.

He cited that the ideal number of doctor is one in every 20,000 people in the community, while one nurse is ideal for 10,000 persons per population. He said the city needs around 3,000 doctors considering its population has now reached approximately 600,000.
However, Moreno said JRBGH cannot cater to all its patients since it only offers primary care and minor surgeries while those cases the JRBGH couldnt offer are referred to other hospitals like Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC). But, hiring doctors in the city is hindered because of the availability of funds.

Meanwhile, Oscar Picazo, Senior Health Research Consultant of PIDS, said the population in the Philippines has been increasing by 1.7 million per year. 1.7 million annual increases are like adding one small country to the population per year, Picazo said.
Picazo said while the population increases the health facilities in the villages and provinces remained the same. It is also a pity, he said that the country has around 45,000 doctors and around 20,000 of them are in Metro Manila. Of the 45,000 doctors in the country half of it is in Manila while only 5,000 are in Mindanao.

Dr. Gilberto Llanto, president of PIDS, said a lot of local government units are not efficient in the delivery of basic health services. Llanto added that from the national level up to the local level there are not enough funds to provide efficient healthcare.
He said the national government recognized this problem and is working to solve it. Llanto said the government is looking forward to working with the private sector to address the countrys problem on healthcare services.//


Author: Anjo Bacarisas
Date: March 05, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Policymakers should seriously review and consider lifting cabotage restrictions, but in a phased-in and well-planned approach, a study published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said.

In a policy note titled, Toward relaxing the cabotage restrictions in maritime transport, PIDS president Gilberto Llanto and senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro said that the present cabotage law is considered as one of the serious bottlenecks to Philippine economic growth.

Cabotage refers generally to the transport of passengers and goods. It is traditionally a shipping term but it is now generally used to refer to the right to carry cargo or passenger via sea, air, or land transport within a country.

The perennial inefficiencies in the maritime industry are linked to lack of competition due to barriers to entry, arising from the laws provision that allows only domestic shipping lines to serve domestic routes, the policy note said.

This has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products, and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as higher prices, it added.

The study said that Philippine exports also become less competitive in the international market, which translates to lower export revenues.

The policy note said that the very high cost of domestic shipping services provides a strong motivation for exporters and importers to push for the lifting of cabotage restrictions.

According to an advocacy paper of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines, it is cheaper to send a container from Manila to Cagayan de Oro via Hong Kong or Kaohsiung (in Taiwan) than to simply transport the cargo directly from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, the study said.

Moreover, a local trader could save approximately 43 percent in shipping costs by transporting cargo from Manila to Cagayan de Oro via foreign transshipment to Kaohsiung rather than by directly availing of domestic shipping services, it added.

The policy note said that the high cost of domestic shipping services has been attributed by previous studies to the lack of meaningful competition in the industry, which is in turn exacerbated by the countrys cabotage policy as more cost-competitive foreign vessels are restricted from engaging in coastwise transport.

Citing previous research papers, the policy note said that the domestic shipping industry is nearly cartelized.

According to (previous studies), 10 years after the start of deregulation in 1992, the maritime transport industry was still largely dominated by a few players, the report said.

In 2002, 50 percent of the primary routes and 70 percent of secondary/tertiary routes remained a monopoly, 90 percent of passenger and cargo markets were controlled by only five shipping companies, and almost all of the primary and secondary routes were serviced by these companies, it added.

The PIDS paper said that the protection long enjoyed by the domestic shipping industry through cabotage restrictions results in the lack of meaningful competition in the industry and weak incentives for operators to modernize and become competitive.

There are obviously other reasons for the high domestic shipping cost, such as inadequate port facilities and inefficient port practices. But this does not invalidate the argument for lifting cabotage restrictions and instead only underscores that cabotage liberalization should be accompanied by other needed reforms, such as improving port infrastructure and having an independent port regulator, the report said.

Author: Angela Celis
Date: March 10, 2014
Source: Malaya

THE GOVERNMENT think tank downplayed local shipping firms worries on proposed cabotage rule reforms, saying that firms will have enough time to adjust and become more competitive.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) countered industry suspicions in a study dated February 2014, where the research firm restated its support for cabotage law reform.

"[W]e argue that fears ... may be unfounded because market limitations such as market size, lack of familiarity with the domestic markets, and institutional barriers may not allow foreign shipping companies to do business in all sectors of coastwise trade," PIDS said in its study.

Authors Gilberto M. Llanto, PIDS president, and Adoracion M. Navarro, PIDS senior research fellow, argued that a well-planned lifting of cabotage would drive local firms to improve service and materials.

"The perennial inefficiencies in the maritime industry are linked to lack of competition due to barriers to entry, arising from the laws provision that allows only domestic shipping lines to serve domestic routes," the authors said.

They added that, as a "blanket removal of cabotage restrictions could be disruptive," the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) should probe its effects and factors -- such as tonnage, passenger volume, and whether cabotage lifting should be phased.

The study also noted that local shipping firms inefficiently use smaller, older vessels with a usual capacity of 200-300 twenty-foot equivalent units, versus the 5,000 TEUs of foreign ships.

Philippine regulation of cabotage, also called coastwise trade, stems from the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines (Republic Act 1937) and the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004 (RA 9295).

RA 1937 is patterned after the American-era Jones Act of 1920 and covers basic elements of coastwise trade such as franchising and discretionary powers of overseeing officials.

RA 9295, meanwhile, explicitly bars non-domestic firms from transporting cargo between domestic ports unless MARINA grants them a special permit.--

Mr. Llanto and Ms. Navarro added that reform is meant to align the Philippines with the international trend towards more liberal cabotage policy and that the focus is reciprocity with other states.

"This is not truly an argument against cabotage liberalization but can be viewed as an opportunity to move the debate away from protectionism and toward the demand for reciprocity in opening markets," they said.

For comparison, the study cited cabotage policy models in other countries, ranging from restrictive Japan to more relaxed Australia, and the oft-used case of Indonesias cabotage lifting experiment.

It added that past discussions on the looming Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration in 2015 included cabotage among the challenges to erecting a regional shipping market.

The bills proposing to amend cabotage law include House Bill No. 1789, HB 2563, and Senate Bill No. 1359.

Author: Anton Joshua M. Santos
Date: March 09, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is exploring deeper cooperation on fair trade practices, which support marginalized sectors and promote equality between men and women, according to Agriculture Undersecretary for Special Concerns Berna Romulo-Puyat.

Romulo-Puyat made the statement two weeks ago, after the country participated for the first time in the Sixth Berlin Agriculture Ministers Summit and Global Forum on Food and Agriculture (GFFA), which took place earlier this year.
A local wine company, Destileria Limtuaco and Co., has recently launched Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, which is largely produced by utilizing the calamansi rinds produced by female Mangyans from Oriental Mindoro, the DA official said, adding that initial sales from their calamansi help finance the group Mangyan Center for Learning and Development.
The group said they aim to preserve the Mangyan culture and language.
Romulo-Puyat served as panelist of the GFFA discussion on Empowering Women in Agriculture organized by Germanys Fair Trade Forum.
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Romulo-Puyat highlighted that the Philippines has embedded gender equality in both its culture and legal framework, with the country having been identified as having the smallest gender gap in Asia and fifth in the world.
She also said the Philippines government has implemented gender and development programs to support rural development, particularly for microfinancing and entrepreneurship.
In the latest Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum published earlier last year, the country rose by three notches to fifth in the global ranking due to some improvements in economic participation and opportunity.
According to the report, the Philippines topped all lower-middle income countries as well as the Asia-Pacific region, adding that the country is the only country in Asia and the Pacific that has fully closed the gender gap in both education and health.

According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), however, critical issues remain, such as maternal health, which is part of the countrys commitment to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

PIDS research has found evidence of inequality in maternal- and child-health services utilization across economic classes and across regions, which requires government intervention, the local think thank recently reported in its web site.

Gaps also emerge when gender issues intersect with the need to provide opportunities to certain sectors such as persons with disabilities (PWDs), PIDS said, adding that available data show that more women are unable to complete any grade in school, and the disparity is wider in rural areas, including being left in terms of employment.

Meanwhile, recent data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN reveals that 45 percent of the worlds population depends on agriculture, forestry, fishing or livestock production for its livelihood, and women, globally, represent 43 percent of the agricultural labor force, producing a large portion of the worlds food crops.

FAO also said households rely on women to cover a wide range of roles not only within the family as caregivers, but also as farmers and food producers all along the agricultural value chain, and added that women face overt and implicit discrimination in access to productive resources such as land and to services such as credit and extension.

Women also face wage discrimination in rural labor markets and are more likely than men to be in part-time, seasonal and/or low-paying jobs, the UN body said.

FAO also said that the gender meaning womens disadvantage in access to resources and services compared to men, reduces womens productivity and diminishes their contributions to the agriculture sector.

Author: Alldin Diega
Date: March 07, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

Regional industry roadmaps are seen crucial in strengthening the viability and competitiveness of local businesses in light of the economic integration of Asean economies by 2015, said state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

According to PIDS, having a specific roadmap will allow industries to maximize the growth and profit potential in the region.
There are cases when a particular sector is seen as promising but is not taking off because of certain government policies. These are part of coordination failures or market failures that are present and which government should need to address. These are also one of the areas where roadmaps are focusing on right now, said PIDS Fellow and Trade Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba.

This move is seen helping the government achieve its goals on job generation and inclusive growth, as it sustains the robust growth of the Philippine economy.

These discussions were a product of the regional workshop and consultations on the Asean Economic Community (AEC) held in the cities of Cebu, Davao, and Butuan last year and early part of 2014 with research fellows from PIDS as resource speakers.

Aldaba noted that regional consultations were needed to touch base with regional industry officials.
These exercises are important in assessing coordination failures, issues that government should address and in formulating the industry roadmaps.

It is important that not only the manufacturers are consulted but the agriculture sector as well, she added.
PIDS Research Fellow Erlinda Medalla, meanwhile, brushed aside concerns about the possible negative impact of Asean integration on local businesses, explaining that this development is not new to market players.
She further described economic integration as a work in progress.

The concept or idea of an Asean Economic Community started a little over two decades ago. AEC has been part of the Philippine trade reality for the past two decades, she added.

Citing recent reports, PIDS noted in the statement that an executive order for the roadmaps is set to be soon signed by President Aquino.

Industries that submitted roadmaps were the auto assembly and auto parts, copper, chemical, paper, cement, ceramic tiles, iron and steel, biodiesel, electronics, creative, bamboo, shipbuilding, garments and textile, mining, medical travel, processed-food, furniture, mass housing, and information technology.

Tapped by the DTI-Board of Investments, PIDS led in the formulation of a comprehensive industrial roadmap that will facilitate the integration of these different industries, including small and medium enterprises, and transform manufacturing into a major source of growth and employment.

Author: Amy R. Remo
Date: March 07, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

While the Philippine economy grew by 7.2 percent in 2013, agriculture grew by only 1.1 percent.
Inclusive growth must include agriculture, which is the countrys largest and poorest sector. The National Statistical Coordination Board table below shows how agriculture grew compared with the other sectors:
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) promotes industry, while the Department of Agriculture (DA) promotes agriculture. In 2013, the DTI had a budget of P4 billion, which helped industry achieve a 9.5 percent growth rate. Much of their effort last year concentrated on improving manufacturing. They largely succeeded, because manufacturing grew from 5 percent in 2012 to 10.5 percent last year.
The DA had a P65-billion budget. But agriculture grew by only 1.1 percent. Though the DA budget was more than 16 times that of the DTI, agriculture grew at only a tenth of the industry rate. The fishery subsector"the poorest in the country"grew even less at 0.7 percent.
Analysis
The most valuable lesson I learned during my doctoral studies was what my professor, management guru Peter Drucker, told us: While it is important to do things right, it is much more important to do the right thing.
As far as corruption is concerned, DA is doing many things right. Much of the corruption happened during the previous administration. We only have to recall the alleged Napoles scam and the massive malversation of the Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
While corruption still exists, the current DA management has significantly reduced this with effective transparency and accountability measures. However, doing things right is not enough. More strategically, is the DA doing the right thing? One important mechanism for achieving this is the formulation and implementation of subsector roadmaps, with corresponding targets and timetables.
The DTI has already submitted 26 roadmaps for review to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), the government think tank. DA has not submitted any. The emphasis DTI has given to roadmaps far exceeds that of the DA.
Also, DTI has appointed a person for each industrial subsector, with relevant government agencies identified to ensure proper implementation. The DA should consider replicating the DTI model because it was largely responsible for last years manufacturing growth.
Management
Of course, doing things right is also important. The DA should expand this initiative from fighting corruption to improving management and service delivery.
When I was a DTI undersecretary in 1988, we introduced the ISO 9000 management system to enable us to export products. Many of our foreign buyers did not trust the consistency of our product quality. They therefore required ISO 9000 certification.
Acknowledging that the government should practice what it preaches, we embarked on ISO certification. Though the DA now has some of its units ISO certified, it should similarly implement the ISO management system thoroughly throughout the organization.
2014 budget
This year, the DA budget amounts to P80.7 billion. With a possible addition of P70 billion from the coconut levy interest earnings, the DA may be responsible for P150.7 billion.
With this large budget, it is imperative that the DA does things right. This can be done with the department-wide implementation of ISO 9000. More importantly, the DA should do the right things. This will be greatly helped by implementing public-private subsector roadmaps. With all these in place, agriculture will surely grow. And it will contribute significantly to our elusive goal of inclusive growth.

Author: Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: March 05, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE countrys infrastructure constraints have been causing inefficiencies in fertilizer prices nationwide, which in turn, have made some agricultural products more expensive than others, thus contributing to the unstable prices of food items.
This is according to a study released by the state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Titled The Role of Mineral Fertilizers in Transforming Philippine Agriculture, the study, prepared by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Roehlano M. Briones said infrastructure problems have made fertilizer prices expensive in some regions and cheaper in others.
The uneven pricing of fertilizer has also affected farm gate prices, making some agricultural products more expensive than others, contributing to the unstable prices of food items.
A more serious challenge is the persistence of apparent inefficiencies in fertilizer marketing, as seen in the large discrepancies in pricing across adjacent regions for the same product. The fact that markets are competitive does not preclude inefficiencies in the fertilizer-supply chain at least in some areas, owing to poor transport infrastructure, weak logistics systems and low investments, Briones said.
Data showed that across the country, retail prices of fertilizer based on the Dealers price index vary widely. Relative to the national average, the cheapest fertilizers are found in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley (in the north); Western Visayas (central) and Davao Region (south).
The most expensive fertilizers are in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Eastern Visayas" which also happen to be among the poorest regions of the country.


Author: Cai U. Ordinario
Date: March 03, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

On June 12, 2013, during the celebration of the 115th anniversary of the countrys proclamation of independence, President Benigno Aquino III said:

Let us not wait three hundred years, or three decades, or even three years, before we resolve to come together and gain freedom from hunger, poverty, or whatever threatens our sovereignty and security. It is not right for Filipinos to have to stand suffering for even one minute longer.

Before he became president, and during his campaign for the presidency in 2010, he declared, The first step has to be freedom from hunger. Once that is settled, the other empowering can take place.

President Aquinos dream has yet to be realized. People still go hungry, up to this day. Prices of rice and galunggong, according to the Philippine Statistical Agency (PSA), have gone up. And people could ill afford to buy food.

FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY. President Benigno Aquino III leads Independence Day celebrations at Liwasang Bonifacio. Screenshot from Rappler's livestreamFOR LOVE OF COUNTRY. President Benigno Aquino III leads Independence Day celebrations at Liwasang Bonifacio. Screenshot from Rappler's livestream

The PSA estimated that in 2012, the proportion of Filipino families in extreme poverty whose incomes are not sufficient to meet basic food needs stands at 7.5%, or about 10.4 million families. This is almost the same as figures in 2009 " about 7.9%, or roughly 10.9 million families.


Author: Marilen Daguilan
Date: March 01, 2014
Source: Rappler.com

Jose Ramon Albert has resigned as director general of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) after the government consolidated all its statistics units, including the NSCB, into a single body.
According to the NSCB, which is now part of the newly formed Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Alberts resignation took effect on Feb. 9.

Albert was appointed in September last year following the retirement of Romulo Virola in July. Albert announced that he would work as a senior research fellow for the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a state-owned think tank.

I leave the office with a sense of accomplishment, having significantly reached out to all our stakeholders and partners through improved coordination, and having implemented better communication schemes within the office, Albert said in a statement.

During his term, Albert introduced blogs"Beyond the Numbers and StatFocus"that appeared on the NSCBs website. Through the blogs, Albert would explain the meaning and relevance of the statistical reports being published by the NSCB and other government entities.

Described as a tech-savvy executive, Albert pioneered the release of NSCB reports through social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

Albert handed over his resignation after Malacaang signed into law a bill that consolidated all statistical agencies of government"the NSCB, the National Statistics Office, the Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, and the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics"into one entity, the PSA.

The PSA operates as an attached agency of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
The administration consolidated the agencies so that the the data would be managed more efficiently. It also hoped to streamline the gathering of data and speed up the release of reports to the public.

The government is still in the process of looking for a person to head the PSA. Carmelita Ericta, NSO chief, has been appointed interim national statistician or temporary head of the PSA.

Author: Michelle V. Remo
Date: March 03, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

A series of regional workshops on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations economic community cited the need to draw up more regionally tailored industry roadmaps to strengthen the viability of local businesses and industries.

Forum organizers Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the National Economic and Development Authority stressed the importance of drafting a roadmap for each region.

There are lots of potentials that can be tapped. The regional development plans may be updated and transformed into a roadmap similar to what the DTI [Trade Department] is doing. This will provide regional content or regional dimension to these roadmaps, said PIDS fellow and Trade assistant secretary Rafaelita Aldaba.

She said the government focused on job and employment creation and inclusive growth. She said to sustain growth at a high level, it has to be inclusive and hence the focus on creating jobs.

Aldaba said regional consultations were needed to touch base with regional industry officials and assess coordination failures that should be helpful in the process of formulating the industry roadmaps for both manufacturing and agriculture sector.

Author: Othel V. Campos
Date: March 01, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today