PIDS in the News Archived (May 2014)

MAKATI, May 30 -- The Philippines dynamic, vibrant and globally competitive workforce is a sweet spot for the countrys economic future. But the lack of an integrated and coherent government policy and strategy to support the services sector is a threat to its competitiveness given the constantly innovating global economy.

To address this, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and are co-organizing the National Workshop on Services on June 2 and 3 at the SGV Conference Hall, AIM Conference Center, Benavidez corner Trasierra Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati City.

The Workshop, organized with the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Trade Centre, will be the first major multistakeholder conference on the Philippines services sector since the 2006 Services Congress. Local and international experts, industry practitioners, and government officials will exchange views and analyses on how the Philippines can maximize the potential of its services sectors in the global economy.

This is not the first time that PIDS is promoting the services sector. In 2005, the Institute, with support from the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), organized a two-day seminar titled Services industry: growth driver for economic competitiveness held in September as the highlight of that years Development Policy Research Month. The proceedings of the seminar were disseminated in a volume, The Global Challenge in Services Trade: a Look at Philippine Competitiveness, published by PIDS and GTZ.

We recognize the role of services as the dominant driver for global growth, PIDS president Gilberto Llanto said. We hope to seek new approaches to the unresolved issues that prevent the country from fully maximizing the economic contributions of this sector. We hope that by tapping the key stakeholders of the services sector, we can develop a coherent and stable services policy, he added. Llanto said the workshop is part of the governments preparation for the countrys second chairmanship of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Manila in 2015.
- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=2131401447539#sthash.IeGbVyj3.dpuf

Author:
Date: May 30, 2014
Source: PIA

Key transport and customs officials, economists as well as supply-chain executives will gather for the Mindanao Shipping Conference 2014 on June 18 at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City.

Among the topics at the whole-day conference are Mindanaos shipping and trade prospects; the regions role in sustaining Philippine economic growth; governments logistics strategies for Mindanao; the impact of ASEAN economic integration on the transport sector; and Bureau of Customs policies in support of trade facilitation.

Delegates will get a chance to participate in high-level networking with shipping industry executives, manufacturers, importers and exporters.

Event organizer PortCalls has invited experts to offer their insights into opportunities Mindanao offers to investors, especially in the area of trade and transport.

Heading the list of speakers is Dr. Cayetano Paderanga, Jr., former socio-economic planning secretary, who will discuss Philippine macro-economic prospects for the next three years, as well as his forecast for Mindanao trade.

Leon M. Dacanay, Jr., regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority for Region 10, will speak on growth in Mindanao maritime trade, particularly cargo volumes, direction of trade and how shippers should respond.

The state of preparedness of the Philippine logistics industry as the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integrate next year will be the focus of Dr. Adora Navarro, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, as she discusses the benefits and pitfalls of the regional event.

From the private sector, Augustus Adis, president, PIE-MO Industries Association, will point out the needs of Mindanao shippers and cargo service providers while Jose Manuel de Jesus, president and general manager of Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT), will discuss technological and systems innovations and container throughput at MCT.

Capping the event will be Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero, deputy commissioner for the Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group of the Bureau of Customs, who will speak on customs reforms toward greater trade facilitation. Uvero will brief conference delegates on new BOC measures in place to cut red tape, combat corruption and smuggling.

Mindanao Shipping Conference 2014 is supported by Smart Infinity (Gold Sponsor); Fast Logistics and Seda Centrio (Bronze Sponsors); and Isuzu (Exhibitor).

Conference partners are the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce, Phividec Industrial Authority, PIE-MO Industries Association, Philippine Exporters Confederation (Region X), and Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association.

Author:
Date: May 29, 2014
Source: Davao Today.com

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 29 (PIA) " The Regional Development Council (RDC)-9 conducted a forum on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) on Tuesday to enlighten all stakeholders in the region on the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration.

RDC-9 Acting Chairperson, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA)-9 Regional Director Teresita Socorro C. Ramos and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-9 OIC-Regional Director Dr. Sitti Amina M. Jain brought in four experts in trade and economics to help participants better comprehend the ASEAN Integration.

First to speak was DTI-Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen M. Perlada who gave the ASEAN Integration overview and the countrys Free Trade Agreements with neighbouring ASEAN and non-ASEAN countries; the benefits of that these agreements bring not just to the country but to the region in general.

DTI Assistant Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo followed, focusing on Advancing Philippine Engagement in AEC and Enhancing Philippine Competitiveness, Empowering Business.

Rodolfo, head of the DTIs Industry Development and Trade Policy Group, said, ASEAN 2015 is a continuing process, a journey, and an evolution rather than a revolution. This goes beyond 2015.

He said ASEAN 2015 envisions a united ASEAN where 10 countries work as one to become a very competitive region in the world economy by becoming a single market and production base. This will also bring equitable economic development in the region.

Dr. Erlinda M. Medalla of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), on the other hand, talked about achieving AEC 2015 through Trade Liberalization and Facilitation, and was followed by Dr. Adoracion Navarro, also of PIDS, touching on Infrastructure and Logistics as the country moves towards AEC 2015.

Dr. Navarro revealed that there is much to be done in terms of infrastructure and facilities in the country. She mentioned the need to improve seaports here in Mindanao as it is nearer to the BIMP-EAGA region. She said Cambodia has better infrastructure and facilities than the Philippines and this should serve as motivation to upgrade the countrys facility to meet all challenges of AEC integration.

Present during the forum are the business sector leaders, local chief executives and concerned government agencies in the region. (FPG/MVC/PIA9-ZBST) //

Author: Michael Vincent D. Cajulao
Date: May 29, 2014
Source: PIA

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, May 28 (PIA) --- Key transport and customs officials, economists as well as supply-chain executives will gather for the Mindanao Shipping Conference on June 18 at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City.

Among the topics at the whole-day conference are Mindanaos shipping and trade prospects; the regions role in sustaining Philippine economic growth; governments logistics strategies for Mindanao; the impact of ASEAN economic integration on the transport sector; and Bureau of Customs (BOC) policies in support of trade facilitation.

Delegates will also get a chance to participate in high-level networking with shipping industry executives, manufacturers, importers and exporters expected to attend the gathering.

Event organizer PortCalls has invited experts to offer their insights into opportunities Mindanao offers to investors, especially in the area of trade and transport.

Heading the list of speakers is Dr. Cayetano Paderanga, Jr., former socio-economic planning secretary, who will discuss Philippine macro-economic prospects for the next three years, as well as his forecast for Mindanao trade.

Leon M. Dacanay, Jr., regional director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for Region 10, will speak on growth in Mindanao maritime trade, particularly cargo volumes, direction of trade and how shippers should respond.

The state of preparedness of the Philippine logistics industry as the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integrate next year will be the focus of Dr. Adora Navarro, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), as she discusses the benefits and pitfalls of the regional event.

From the private sector, Augustus Adis, president, PIE-MO Industries Association, will point out the needs of Mindanao shippers and cargo service providers while Jose Manuel de Jesus, president and general manager of Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT), will discuss technological and systems innovations and container throughput at MCT.

Capping the event will be Atty. Agaton Teodoro Uvero, deputy commissioner for the Assessment and Operations Coordinating Group of the BOC, who will speak on customs reforms toward greater trade facilitation. Uvero will brief conference delegates on new BOC measures in place to cut red tape, combat corruption and smuggling.

Mindanao Shipping Conference 2014 is supported by Smart Infinity (Gold Sponsor); Soonest Global (Silver Sponsor); Fast Logistics, Petron, Seda Centrio and Smart Communications (Bronze Sponsors); and Isuzu (Exhibitor). (Liza Almonte/PortCalls/PIA-10)//

Author:
Date: May 28, 2014
Source: PIA

DAVAO CITY (Mindanao Examiner / May 28, 2014) - A member of the local legislative council has expressed alarm over the rising teenage pregnancy in Davao City and the country as well, and joined calls to advance the rights and welfare of women and girls for a comprehensive, accessible and people-oriented health care.

Councilor Leah Librado, who heads the Committee on Women, Children and Family Relations, said the rise of teenage pregnancy is a microcosm of the bigger problem resulted from poor state of health and education in the country.

"This is not only a reproductive issue as there is an underlying socioeconomic and political issues we need to address here," she said.

According to Philippine Institute of Development Studies, the country is far behind in reaching its Millennium Development Goal target by year 2015 in providing better access on reproductive health. It said the country only achieved 3.3% far from its 8.6% target.

"I can see the need to strengthen the information drive with regards to teenage pregnancy perhaps, include in the school curriculum the subject pertaining to Adolescent Health Care. The schools must also be encouraged to boost their guidance counseling mechanism as this would help teenagers to process their thoughts and emotions with regards to adolescent sexuality, behaviors and relationships, Librado said.

Librado also stressed the need to fully implement the local Reproductive Health bill version - the Women Health Care Clinic Ordinance of Davao City which was approved in 2010.

The ordinance, she said, aims to provide reproductive health care which include adolescent and youth health services and education and counseling on sexuality, sexual and reproductive health. It mandates the creation of a Women Health Care Clinic under a Special Health Services Division of the City Health Office.

The clinic is expected to develop and undertake reproductive health programs for adolescents including information that will enable them to understand their sexuality and sexual responsibility.

Librado said the city has enough laws, but what we need is to implement the them to materialize its objectives. She said there are also laws that need to updated and amended.

"I am amenable to the need of revisiting our Womens Development Code because this was approved ahead of national laws like the Magna Carta of Women, RA 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and Chiclren law and the Republic Act 10354, or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. Subsequently, we need to update and reconcile those laws with our own WDC."

"Not only today that we show our action to assert our rights for health, everyday we need to safeguard that right because this is our basic human rights," she said.//

Author:
Date: May 28, 2014
Source: Mindanao Examiner

RESEARCH and Development (R and D) is a critical component of national development. It concerns the production of knowledge and requires individuals to develop technical competencies. In the 1990s, R and D in our country was dismal. The Philippine government, except during the administrations of Ferdinand Marcos and Fidel V. Ramos, spent less than 2% of the Gross National Product (GNP) on R and D. In contrast, industrialized countries such as Japan and South Korea have been spending more than 5% of their GNP on R and D since the 1940s or 1960s.

Locally, only a few academic quarters were making noise for R and D. Almost all the universities and colleges maintained publications units without identifying clear-cut research programs. We had very few R and D personnel and experts and local patents. Not all inventions of Filipinos had commercial value. Looking at the cross-country R and D statistics, one can find a lot of information on other Asian countries but hardly any on the Philippines.

In 1997, President Ramos commissioned the R and D study with a research team from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), which I was a part of. This study revealed mixed outcomes. The upside was that the Ramos administration earmarked at least 5% of GNP to the R and D sector. R and D was included in the list of priority industrial activities receiving fiscal incentives from the Philippine government. Apart from the Department of Science and Technology (DoST), which was revived, several national agencies of the government were either retooled or reorganized to be able to support R and D activities. Last month, I was delighted to attend a DoST-organized research seminar workshop that familiarized at least 100 government employees and academics, mostly from Manila, with strategies for publishing research articles in high-impact journals. The downsides are what the education, industrial and state managers need to reflect upon because they resound in different parts of the Philippines.


Author: Liberty I. Nolasco
Date: May 28, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced that all is set for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) forum in Zamboanga City on Tuesday.

The DTI spearheads the preparation for the holding of the forum, being the designated chair of the AEC Task Force.

The Task Force on Asean Integration of the Regional Development Council in Zamboanga Peninsula will lead the one-day event.

DTI Regional Information Officer Lowell Vallecer said the resource speakers of the forum are representatives from DTI central office and from the National Economic and Development Authoritys (Neda) Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

Vallecer said they would include DTI Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo, who will talk on the topic, Advancing Philippine Engagement in AEC: The Philippine Status of Commitments.

Vallecer said DTIs Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen Perlada will discuss about Asean Integration: An Overview, and the Philippine Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

The speakers from PIDS are Dr. Erlinda Medalla and Dr. Adoracion Navarro who will discuss about Achieving AEC 2015: Trade Liberalization and Facilitation, and Infrastructure and Logistics: Moving Toward AEC 2015, respectively.

DTI Regional Officer-in-Charge Dr. Sitti Amina Jain earlier said that the underlying objective of the forum is to raise the level of awareness about the AEC and its implications to our economy both at the regional and national levels.

Jain said all local chief executives in the region had been invited to attend the forum, which is a very important event.

Also invited are the regions business leaders and industry captains, regional and provincial heads of National Government agencies, the academe, non-government organization, members of the press, and consumer organizations.

The AEC will have the following key features or characteristics: a single market and production base; a highly competitive economic region; a region of equitable economic development; and a region fully integrated into the global economy.

Asean, which stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is composed of the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.//

Author: Bong Garcia
Date: May 26, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

SURVEYS on unemployment rates in the Philippines are a tricky business. One must not believe half of them if he or she wants to keep himself or herself sane and well-informed. There are aspects in society that need to be raised and considered for study if survey companies want to give an accurate picture of the whole situation. One cannot simply make generalizations and put these forward as gospel truth.
Take people with disabilities (PWDs), for instance. No one mentions them in these employment surveys. The Philippine Magna Carta for Disabled Persons defines them as people suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Many belong to the poorest section of society.
Did you know that there are close to 500 million people worldwide who suffer from one form of disability or another, and only a fraction are actually employed? No matter how educated or academically accomplished PWDs are, misconceptions and stereotyping often get in their way.
In the World Economic Forum in East Asia (WEF-EA), held in Manila last week, Rex Adivoso Bernardo, a PWD advocate from Camarines Norte province, reportedly said only 10 percent of employable PWDs find decent jobs. The rest who are lucky enough to sign a contract or begin a business often end up doing menial work. Not that theres anything wrong about that, but stereotyping, as in the case of blind people, have consigned many of them to being masseurs. Also, Bernardo claims that many PWDs have undergraduate or graduate degrees, but these seem to be not enough.
Separate studies by the Asian Development Bank and the Philippine National Statistics Office in 2005 said 10 percent to 30 percent of PWDs get regular paying jobs, while more than 50 percent are in the informal sector. This sector is made up of self-employed, independent producers, and distributors of goods and services. Many in this sector are not registered, and often beyond the reach of social, labor and legislative safety nets. The rest satisfy themselves by just depending on family and government support.
Employer perceptions vary. A 2011 survey among a little over 200 employers belonging to different industries revealed four ways by which PWDs are taken or rejected for employment:
1. Negative Stereotype, where PWDs suffer from low productivity or absenteeism.
2. Added Business Value, which relies on perception (e.g., morale booster, if the PWD will bring prestige to the company).
3. Added Cost and Efforts at Management are PWDs that need further training and guidance.
4. Social Cost, where PWDs provoke negative reactions from both co-workers and clients.
According to the same survey, the education sector"which, ideally, is the frontrunner and enemy of discrimination"is also the most hesitant to include the handicapped in their workforce. Female PWDs suffer double discrimination because of their gender and handicap. Studies show that male PWDs are often preferred than females.

A 2013 study by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies said: Schelzig [2005] estimated that only less than 10 percent of more than 100,000 employable PWDs registered with the DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment] were wage-employed. The International Disability Rights Monitor, however, reported that 57.1 percent of the PWDs in the Philippines are employed, 30.9 percent of which are engaged in agriculture, such as farmers, forestry workers or fishermen; while 10.8 percent are laborers or unskilled workers.
The Philippine Magna Carta for Disabled Persons is a clear example of how the Philippines views its disabled constituents. But it requires stricter implementation. Employers should not treat handicapped people as less than whole. If theres any truth to the flawed perception, we might as well do away with elections.//

Author:
Date: May 26, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

A study from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) underscores the vast potentials possessed by the Philippines to become the heart of services trade in Asia Pacific.

The study authored by Dr. Ramonette Serafica, research consultant of the state think tank, found out that services sector has significantly contributed to the Philippine economy in increasing employment, investment, and revenue generation.

The sector represents 44.15 percent in gross exports in terms of service value added, but there are still vast opportunities left untapped to fully exploit its role in the economy.

The countrys services sector identified in the study includes the information technology-business process outsourcing industry, ship repair, and overseas Filipino workers.

The main source of the countrys comparative advantage in the IT-BPO industry is its pool of skilled, semi-skilled, and low-skilled workers as well as technological changes in ICT and business models that are leaned toward outsourcing and offshoring.

A strong labor force, strategic geographical location and deep offshores are plus factors for the country when it comes to the ship repair sector.

Nevertheless, Serafica noted in her study that despite the countrys decades of experience as a supplier of labor, there should be a comprehensive services export initiative to help facilitate the overseas expansion of other services and an umbrella program dedicated to services exports that would help create the country as a valuable brand in services trade.

The author also noted that based on the World Banks services trade restrictiveness index (STRI), the Philippines has one of the most restrictive policy environments for services

She suggested that a government policy on innovation and human resource development (HRD) be implemented to further create an environment conducive to improving competitiveness.//

Author:
Date: May 26, 2014
Source: PIA

SURVEYS on unemployment rates in the Philippines are a tricky business. One must not believe half of them if he or she wants to keep himself or herself sane and well-informed. There are aspects in society that need to be raised and considered for study if survey companies want to give an accurate picture of the whole situation. One cannot simply make generalizations and put these forward as gospel truth.
Take people with disabilities (PWDs), for instance. No one mentions them in these employment surveys. The Philippine Magna Carta for Disabled Persons defines them as people suffering from restriction or different abilities, as a result of a mental, physical or sensory impairment, to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being. Many belong to the poorest section of society.
Did you know that there are close to 500 million people worldwide who suffer from one form of disability or another, and only a fraction are actually employed? No matter how educated or academically accomplished PWDs are, misconceptions and stereotyping often get in their way.
In the World Economic Forum in East Asia (WEF-EA), held in Manila last week, Rex Adivoso Bernardo, a PWD advocate from Camarines Norte province, reportedly said only 10 percent of employable PWDs find decent jobs. The rest who are lucky enough to sign a contract or begin a business often end up doing menial work. Not that theres anything wrong about that, but stereotyping, as in the case of blind people, have consigned many of them to being masseurs. Also, Bernardo claims that many PWDs have undergraduate or graduate degrees, but these seem to be not enough.
Separate studies by the Asian Development Bank and the Philippine National Statistics Office in 2005 said 10 percent to 30 percent of PWDs get regular paying jobs, while more than 50 percent are in the informal sector. This sector is made up of self-employed, independent producers, and distributors of goods and services. Many in this sector are not registered, and often beyond the reach of social, labor and legislative safety nets. The rest satisfy themselves by just depending on family and government support.
Employer perceptions vary. A 2011 survey among a little over 200 employers belonging to different industries revealed four ways by which PWDs are taken or rejected for employment:
1. Negative Stereotype, where PWDs suffer from low productivity or absenteeism.
2. Added Business Value, which relies on perception (e.g., morale booster, if the PWD will bring prestige to the company).
3. Added Cost and Efforts at Management are PWDs that need further training and guidance.
4. Social Cost, where PWDs provoke negative reactions from both co-workers and clients.
According to the same survey, the education sector"which, ideally, is the frontrunner and enemy of discrimination"is also the most hesitant to include the handicapped in their workforce. Female PWDs suffer double discrimination because of their gender and handicap. Studies show that male PWDs are often preferred than females.

A 2013 study by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies said: Schelzig [2005] estimated that only less than 10 percent of more than 100,000 employable PWDs registered with the DOLE [Department of Labor and Employment] were wage-employed. The International Disability Rights Monitor, however, reported that 57.1 percent of the PWDs in the Philippines are employed, 30.9 percent of which are engaged in agriculture, such as farmers, forestry workers or fishermen; while 10.8 percent are laborers or unskilled workers.
The Philippine Magna Carta for Disabled Persons is a clear example of how the Philippines views its disabled constituents. But it requires stricter implementation. Employers should not treat handicapped people as less than whole. If theres any truth to the flawed perception, we might as well do away with elections.//


Author:
Date: May 26, 2014
Source: Select Article Source

Our countrys favorable image abroad hangs by a thread its based on P-Noys reputation for reform and honesty. P-Noy must have had this great responsibility in mind when he appointed another de facto Agriculture Secretary with powers over the National Food Authority or NFA. He surely must know enough about the goings on at NFA that made him effectively castrate Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

P-Noy finds it hard to fire people he once trusted enough to appoint to high office. He didnt have the heart to fire Alcala so he sent out a broad hint of his displeasure by appointing Kiko Pangilinan to effectively be the other Agriculture Secretary. He than gave Kiko control over the agencies that matter in the department including those on top of rice and coconut. Cleaning up the NFA is now Kikos headache.

My colleague at the Opinion page, Jarius Bondoc just revealed what looks like a billion peso overprice in the trucking services for the recently imported rice stock from Vietnam. If Kiko is sniffing out where massive corruption at NFA is, Jarius gave him a good place to start looking.

According to Jarius, corruption is embedded in the contract for the first 200,000 tons to be delivered before months end. The deal is for a total of $439 per ton, which Jarius explains, includes a tong-pats (kickback) of $30 per ton. Jarius reports that NFA has assigned the hauling to a favored firm in Manila. Cargo handling is more than double the usual rate. Theres kickback of P1.08 billion, NFA insiders murmur.

Thats just in the hauling. What about the price of the rice itself. Why bid out such a large volume at once, 800,000 metric tons, at a time when international rice prices are expected to go down as these are going down now?

Delivery of the rice will be in staggered basis anyway. Wouldnt it make more sense to price the rice based on international prices on delivery date? Pegging the price right away for all 800,000 metric tons may just peg our price at a level higher than it should be. Besides, NFA said the importation is for buffer stock which suggests not for immediate need.

Google international rice prices and you can come out with these facts: Thailand 5 percent broken rice today (May 1, 2014) quoted at about $375 per ton, down about $5 per ton from a week ago, down about $10 per ton from a month ago and down about $160 per ton from a year ago.

Vietnam five percent broken rice today shown at about $390 per ton, unchanged from a week and a month ago, up about $10 per ton from a year ago.

The same googled source reports that The National Food Authority (NFA) of the Philippines awarded contracts to supply 800,000 tons of 15 percent broken well-milled white rice to two of Vietnams state-owned companies. http://www.oryza.com/reports/oryza-wri/oryza-white-rice-index- percentE2 percent80 percent93-index-hovers-around-450-ton-impact-el-ni percentC3 percentB1o-be-blunted
According to the Official Gazette, The rice contracted by NFA is long grains white rice well-milled with 15 percent brokens. VINAFOOD II will supply 600,000 metric tons at $436.50 per metric for 200,000 MT for Lot 1, $437.75 per metric ton for 200,000 MT for Lot 2, and $439.25 for 200,000 MT for Lot 3. Meanwhile, VINAFOOD I will supply the remaining 100,000 metric tons, with a bid of $436 for Lot 1 and $439 per metric ton for another 100,000 metric tons for Lot 2.

Hmm how come the published international price for Vietnamese five percent broken is pegged at $390 per metric ton and we bought 15 percent broken at $436.50? Maybe thats the overprice in local handling that Jarius was talking about. And why buy Vietnamese when the Thais are selling five percent broken at $375/ton. One more thing hindi ba the more broken, the price should be cheaper?

The not so funny thing is that the Official Gazette justified the NFA buying price saying the NFA was able to save on its budget because all the prices offered were lower than the approved $477.28 per metric ton. Come on guys... Show savings against prevailing international price and not against a price NFA itself budgeted or set. Bobolahin pa tayo and it is all in the Official Gazette.

One other possibility which the NFA is also not telling us is that this importation isnt really for buffer stock but partly panic buying. If these are for buffer stock, that means we are not in a hurry and can wait for the prices to go down.

International prices are certain to go down because there is a world over supply. And Thailand is set to dump their hoard from a controversial rice buying project that drained the Thai government coffers and helped bring down the Yingluck Shinawatra government.

Most likely, NFA is in a worse stock situation than is politically tenable to admit. The fact that the price of rice has been escalating in the local market for months now seems to indicate a tightening of supply and NFA does not have sufficient stock to release to calm the market down.

There is an interesting study by PIDS, a government economic think tank that explains what is going on. The articles interesting kicker head: Bakit nagmahal ang bigas noong 2013? At bakit mahal pa rin?

The short answer to that question is: somehow, someone goofed. Someone promised P-Noy rice self sufficiency last year, failed to deliver and also failed to import enough to cover the shortfall. Basic law of supply and demand at work here, the PIDS study authors wrote low supply, high prices.

Here is how the study authors traced the problem of high local rice prices: The rice price spike experienced in the third quarter of 2013 alarmed the public. The retail price of rice shot up to P36.28 in December from P32.37 in June 2013, or a 12-percent increase in six months.

Speculations spread about the cause of the spike, the most popular of which was the hoarding by private traders. The Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary himself has been quoted as blaming rice cartels for price manipulation.

These cartels were perceived to be in connivance with rice smugglers in an unholy alliance. It is easy to blame rice traders and smugglers for price manipulation, but it is another thing to produce evidence for this accusation. Price manipulation would entail restriction of supply from all sources, including from outside the country, which is not exactly consistent with the problem of rampant smuggling in the imagination of the public.

Oo nga naman. We may even owe the rice smugglers an apology. If it were not for them, the price of rice in our local markets would have been even higher, thanks to NFA and DA incompetence.

The PIDS study traces the problem to the inadequacy of supply starting from mid-2013 attributed to the reduction in imports due to government policy. Such reduction was neither compensated by a commensurate increase in domestic production nor by a timely release from the buffer stock.

The study explains what happened: Comparing National Food Authority (NFA) and Bureau of Agricultural Statistics-Philippine Statistics Authority data for 2012, imports fell by 638,000 tons in 2013. This drop was in line with the goal of the DAs Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP). This program sought a target of 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by the end of 2013 by raising domestic production and curbing imports.

However, production targets were set at unreasonably high levels to achieve self-sufficiency by 2013. The palay production target for 2013 was 20 million tons of paddy from a target of 18.5 million tons in 2012. Since 2012, however, actual palay production fell far short of the target. While palay production did hit 18.44 million tons in 2013, up from 18.03 million tons, the increment of 439,000 tons (or an equivalent of 287,000 tons of milled rice) was not enough to counter the effects of the reduction in imports.

Reforms at the NFA have long been sought. Studies upon studies have been made to make the mission of NFA clear and save the taxpayers a lot of wasted money running into the billions of pesos every year.

But as Dr. Rolando Dy, the agri-business expert at the University of Asia and the Pacific puts it, no decision is a bad decision. NFA is such an unfortunate example. There is a wide array of past analytics and experts opinions, but little action. This is reflective of Filipino procrastination and fear. Doing what is right for the nation is sacrificed for political and economic imperatives.

In the meantime, the crooks in the agency make a mockery of P-Noys Daang Matuwid. If such corruption and incompetence is allowed under P-Noys watch, we have lost the only thing we have going for us in the eyes of the world: P-Noys reputation for honesty in governance.//

Boo Chancos e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

Author: Boo Chanco
Date: May 23, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The country can repeal the quantitative restriction (QR) policy on imports to support the rice-sufficiency goal in a bid to address the increase in rice prices.

A paper by Roehlano Briones and Ivory Myka Galang, senior research fellow and research analyst, respectively, of government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said self-sufficiency should be pursued with more realistic targets and more cost-effective support mechanisms to rice producers.

These support mechanisms include research and development and extension activities to generate and spread new rice farm technologies.

Briones and Galang considered this measure a permanent solution to the rice price spike that started in the third quarter of 2013.

The paper attributed the problem to the reduction in imports in line with the goal of the Department of Agricultures Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP). This program sought a target of 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by the end of 2013 by raising domestic production and curbing imports.

Such reduction was neither compensated by a commensurate increase in domestic production nor by a timely release from the buffer stock, it said.

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The paper said the increment of 439,000 tons in palay production last year was not enough to counter the effects of the reduction in imports.

Given import tightening from mid-2013, farm harvests improved in the fourth quarter as farmers possibly anticipated higher rice prices and thus planned for a higher level of output, it added.

The farmers made a profit from their correct forecast. These trends were advantageous for the farmers but clearly not for the consumers who took the brunt of higher rice prices. With less imports, the country missed taking advantage of the cheap rice available in the world market, the paper noted.

The authors said the National Food Authority (NFA) could still have forestalled the price spike had it offset the deficit from its buffer stock even it had tightened rice imports.

However, NFA releases were inadequate due to a limited stock, controls on the release of NFA rice and the agencys financial constraints that hindered it to respond quickly enough to use its buffer stocks and prevent the mid-year price spike.

A short-term solution to enable NFA to respond to a rice price surge is to allow it to sell rice from its buffer stock at the market price. This way, NFA would be able to recoup its cost from palay procurement and create a space for it to maneuver during an impending rice crisis, they said.

The paper also underscored the need to reform the functions of NFA.

NFA should focus on regulatory duties and management of the domestic food security stock and not on rice marketing and importation, it said.

Further, Briones and Galang pushed for the adoption of a more flexible policy toward imports.

Such a policy can take the form of tariffication, a reform that requires new legislation. Tariffication offers a level of protection to farmers while allowing automatic adjustment of import levels in response to domestic production fluctuations, they reasoned.

The paper also believed that rice importation should be done by the private sector, subject to payment of import duties, and in compliance with import licensing and permits to maintain food safety and environmental health.//

Author:
Date: May 26, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, May 25 -- The Philippines has vast potentials to be the heart of services trade in Asia Pacific, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) a study showed.

In a statement, PIDS said that a study authored by Dr. Ramonette Serafica, research consultant underscores the vast opportunities left untapped in the services sector.

The services sector has significantly contributed to the Philippine economy in increasing employment, investment, and revenue generation. It represents 44.15 percent in gross exports in terms of service value added, Serafica said. However, there are still vast opportunities left untapped to fully exploit its role in the economy.

The countrys strong information technology-business process outsourcing industry places the country in a comparative advantage as a net exporter of services, Serafica said.

The main source of the countrys comparative advantage is its pool of skilled, semiskilled, and low-skilled workers, Serafica said. Moreover, technological changes in information and communication technology and the business models of multinational companies that are leaned toward outsourcing and offshoring of services have leveraged the countrys human capital.

Serafica added that the Philippines has a strong potential to become a major hub in ship repair because of its strong labor force. Other plus factors are its geographical location which is ideal as a logistics hub for cargo and its deep seashores that make the country suitable as a ship repair hub.

The growing numbers of overseas Filipinos across the globe, more than 10 million to date, are a natural market for Philippine services, Serafica added.

Despite the countrys decades of experience as a supplier of labor, there should be a comprehensive services export initiative to help facilitate the overseas expansion of other services, Serafica said. There should be an umbrella program dedicated to services exports that would help create the Philippines as a valuable brand in services trade.

Serafica noted that based on the World Banks services trade restrictiveness index (STRI), the Philippines has one of the most restrictive policy environments for services. STRI is a gauge of a countrys degree of discriminatory restrictions in financial services, telecommunications, retail, transport, and professional services. Among the sectors included in the index, it is in professional services where the extent of restrictiveness [of the Philippines]is highest, Serafica said. In addition to restrictive policies, anticompetitive business practices also exist, she noted.

Serafica suggested that a government policy on innovation and human resource development (HRD) be implemented to further create an environment conducive to improving competitiveness.She cited a World Bank report where many countries both developed and developing are using innovation as the foundation of competitive industries from agriculture to services. This innovation involves the use of new technologies and practices as well as HRD policies that will ensure a high-quality labor force and a favorable labor market performance.//


Author:
Date: May 25, 2014
Source: PIA

THE countys vast potential in the services sector remains widely untapped, a research consultant of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
While saying the services sector has significantly contributed to the Philippine economy through increased employment, investment and revenue generation, there are still vast opportunities left untapped to fully exploit its role in the economy, Ramonette Serafica of PIDS said.
Exploring and maximizing opportunities in the services sector can eventually make the country the heart of services trade in the Asia-Pacific region, she said.
The services sector represents 44.15 percent in the gross exports in terms of service value-added.
In her study, Serafica said the countrys strong information technology business-process outsourcing industry places the country in a comparative advantage as a net exporter of services.
She said advantage is anchored on the countrys pool of skilled, semi-skilled and low-skilled workers.
She added that the technological changes in information and communication technology and the business models of multinational companies that are leaned toward outsourcing and offshoring of services have leveraged the countrys human capital.
The Philippines also has a strong potential to become a major hub in ship repair because of its strong labor force given the countrys geographical location, which is ideal as a logistics hub for cargo and its deep seashores that make the country suitable as a ship-repair hub.
The overseas Filipinos across the globe, estimated at more than 10 million to date, are a natural market for Philippines services, Serafica added.
Despite the countrys decades of experience as a supplier of labor, there should be a comprehensive services- export initiative to help facilitate the overseas expansion of other services, Serafica said.
There should be an umbrella program dedicated to services exports that would help create the Philippines as a valuable brand in services trade.
Based on the World Banks services- trade restrictiveness index (STRI), the Philippines has one of the most restrictive policy environments for services, Serafica noted.
STRI is a gauge of a countrys degree of discriminatory restrictions in financial services, telecommunications, retail, transport and professional services.
Among the sectors included in the index, it is in professional services where the extent of restrictiveness [of the Philippines]is highest, Serafica said. In addition to restrictive policies, anticompetitive business practices also exist, she noted. A government policy on innovation and human resource development (HRD) is needed to further create an environment conducive to improving competitiveness.
She cited a World Bank report where many countries, both developed and developing, are using innovation as the foundation of competitive industries from agriculture to services. This innovation involves the use of new technologies and practices, as well as HRD policies that will ensure high-quality labor force, she said.//

Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga
Date: May 25, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

Do you know what it feels like to go through your first period, without your mom by your side? How it feels to literally have to teach yourself how to use a napkin?

That was my mom speaking in front of 800 OFW dependents and families celebrating the World Migrant Workers Day in Iriga, Bicol on May 2010.

She surprised our lola who worked as a domestic helper in Hong Kong for 20 years to support her 10 children. I am no son of an OFW, but my mom, who was a daughter of one, had been working for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for as long as I can remember.

This is why the struggle of OFWs means a lot to me. (READ: HK domestic workers: A tribute to true heroes)

My mom was dedicated to her work and has a passion for helping OFWs. And growing up exposed to OFW stories of success and failure, I inevitably became passionate about it too.

But because of the way the media portrays them, or simply our susceptibility to "crab mentality," much of how we see OFWs and their children is wrong. I would've believed a lot of the misconceptions too if my mom hadn't educated me properly.
Myth 1: OFW children are all well-off and dont know the value of money
The OFW life is simply not always as glittery as it seems, and no one else knows that better than their children. Contrary to what many people believe, nobody understands the value of money better than many of these children.
You may have seen some spoiled OFW children, I have too. But to simply generalize it as some sort of phenomenon is rather unfair. You don't have to be an OFW kid to be spoiled. (READ: Nurturing an investment mindset for OFWs)
Often, we see OFW children showered with the latest gadgets and video games. The rise of social media didnt help either, where these kids could show off their new shiny phones and game consoles.
Ive learned that it is not always the case though. Contrary to what other people believe, Ive met a lot of OFWs who have salaries below US$400, barely more than what they couldve earned doing the same job here in the Philippines. Deduct their expenses abroad, the cost of remittance and other charges, and theyre left with barely enough money for what their family needs.
Take my mom for example.
Having to raise 10 children as a single parent, our lola had to leave them to work as a domestic helper in Hong Kong. They didnt have other relatives in Manila (they are originally from Bicol) so the 10 children had no choice but to take care of themselves.
Now tell me how the value of money wouldnt be slapped on your face in that situation where you have no choice but to feed yourself, budget, and make adult decisions at such an early age.
Now of course, I understand that my moms experience isnt really typical and doesnt really apply to everyone. But the essence of it is simple: Life is about sacrifice.
Nothing comes free, and we always have to sacrifice something. The degree of the sacrifice varies, but the rule of thumb is simple: the higher the value, the bigger the sacrifice.
Myth #2: OFW children are materialistic
In 2012, I got the chance to encounter OFW children in Bicol. In an effort to reach out to OFW kids, OWWA region 5 organized a teambuilding and camp for their scholars. It was a time to bond and share stories for the kids.
It was the closest encounter Ive had with them and realized they were just like any other kids.
They were happy, contented and proud of their parents " completely different from the way Ive seen them in the movies.
A lot of them even excelled in studies, grew out to be great young leaders in their communities, lived comfortable lives studying in private schools with all the latest gadgets and all.
All these got me thinking that maybe those movies were just exaggerating the apparently hard lives of these kids.
Truth be told, many OFW children have better living conditions than other kids, but research by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies in 2008 shows that OFW children put more premium on time and attention given to them by their parents, especially for those between the ages of 13-16. At those ages, they are already assigned new responsibilities.
On the second night of the camp, we were all called in for a pajama session.
Just like in any other teambuilding, we already expected it was probably the part where they would try to make us cry " and the boys were all so sure that it would not happen to them (you know, mans pride). My mom was the moderator, so it was kind of awkward and funny.
Before my mom started to talk, she had us watch a scene from the movie Anak " the part whereClaudine Barreto and Vilma Santos are fighting about whose fault it is that their family is all shrewed up.
The girls were so preoccupied watching, but the boys and I were just making jokes about it and were laughing in secret. At the end of the movie, she asked everyone to write letters to their parents abroad, while the song Anak played in the background.
It was too cheesy for me, and I started feeling really awkward.
I dont have an OFW parent so I didnt write a letter to anyone while everybody else did. The girls were already crying by the time they started writing, but the boys were obviously trying to fight their tears and joked around with me while writing. But they eventually gave in and cried.
All of their stories were heartbreaking, but one of them struck me hardest. It was the story of one of the boys " one of the jolliest in the group and the last one to cry. He told me that his father left before he was even born. He was already 17 then, but had only spent a total of 11 months with his father in his lifetime.
My heart was torn to pieces.
I know how its like to have no dad, and its torture. I can't imagine how much longing this kid feels to count every moment he got the chance to spend with his father, while many of us count the days before we could finally leave our parents and live by ourselves.
I cant even imagine how my mom and her siblings felt when our lola left them for 20 years.
You can tell me that other people have it worse, that other people have no parents at all. I wont argue with that, but you cannot take away the fact that these kids are facing an immense challenge.
There is no substitute for our parents care and guidance. Children don't just need money, but also emotional support.
I never understood what made my mom such a strong woman, but after listening to their stories " I get it now. So now I am writing this to remind myself that there is more to these children than meets the eye. " Rappler.com

Author: Don Kevin Hapal
Date: May 23, 2014
Source: Rappler

The Task Force on Asean Integration of the Regional Development Council, Region 9 (RDC-9) will hold a forum on the Asean economic community (AEC) on May 27, 2014 at the Grand Astoria Hotel in Zamboanga City.
The forum is designed to raise awareness about the AEC and its implications for the economy at the regional and national levels.
Expected to attend this important event are all local chief executives in the region as well as business leaders and industry captains, regional and provincial heads of national government agencies, members of the academe and NGOs, media, and consumer organizations.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the designated chair of the AEC Task Force, has been tasked by the RDC to spearhead the preparations for the activity.
In a press statement, Dr. Sitti Amina Jain, DTI-9 OIC/regional director, said resource speakers from the DTI head office in Manila will explain the rationale and principles of the AEC.
These resource speakers include Assistant Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo who will talk on the topic Advancing Philippine Engagement in AEC; The Philippine Status of Commitments. He will be joined by the DTIs Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen Perlada, who will talk about Asean Integration: An Overview, and the Philippine Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
Other speakers are from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), such as Dr. Erlinda Medalla and Dr. Adoracion Navarro who will discuss the topics Achieving AEC 2015: Trade Liberalization and Facilitation; and Infrastructure and Logistics: Moving Toward AEC 2015, respectively.
Quoting a passage from the Asean Economic Community Factbook, Dr. Jain said that AEC 2015, in a nutshell, is that aspiration of the Asean ten member-states for regional economic integration by the year 2015.
The AEC will have the following key features or characteristics: a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy.//

Author: Voltaire Palaa
Date: May 23, 2014
Source: Manila Times

MANILA - The Philippines has to attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs) to achieve shared growth for all Filipinos, according to the chairman of the country's largest telecom company.

"The main reason . . . the inclusive growth is not inclusive as it should be is [that] we are mainly a consumption-driven economy, and it is time to switch that to an investment-driven economy. That is why FDIs are very important," Manuel V. Pangilinan of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT) told participants of a World Economic Forum (WEF) session on the Philippines' prospects.

"To promote inclusive growth we need to give emphasis to agriculture and services sector like tourism," Pangilinan said.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the countrys gross domestic product (GDP), fueled by the inflows of remittances from 10 million Filipinos working overseas. PLDT has largely benefited from the country's strong consumer spending, as mobile phone ownership is deemed a necessity.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan had said there is a need for increased investments from the private sector to generate high-quality and remunerative employment, which is vital in achieving rapid poverty reduction.

"Investing in manufacturing, tourism, information technology-business process management (IT-BPM), construction, logistics, and agribusiness can provide remunerative jobs for a great number of the poor, he said.

Data from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) show that the country's investment-to-GDP ratio stood at 19.7 percent in 2012, slightly higher than the 19.1 percent in 2011.

In contrast, Indonesia's investment rate stood at 33 percent in 2011, while that of Thailand and Malaysia at 27 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

Under the Philippine Development Plan 2011 to 2016, the Aquino administration is aiming for a 22 percent investment rate by 2016.

The Philippine economy last year grew by 7.2 percent, up from 6.8 percent in 2012. Despite the record expansion, unemployment barely budged at seven percent, whereas poverty incidence eased only slightly to 27.9 percent last year from 29.7 percent in 2012.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it would take 15 years of solid economic growth coupled with target anti-poverty measures to bring down the number of poor Filipinos.

Author: Darwin Amojelar
Date: May 22, 2014
Source: Interksyon TV5

The Task Force on Asean Integration of the Regional Development Council, Region 9 (RDC-9) will hold a forum on the Asean economic community (AEC) on May 27, 2014 at the Grand Astoria Hotel in Zamboanga City.
The forum is designed to raise awareness about the AEC and its implications for the economy at the regional and national levels.
Expected to attend this important event are all local chief executives in the region as well as business leaders and industry captains, regional and provincial heads of national government agencies, members of the academe and NGOs, media, and consumer organizations.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the designated chair of the AEC Task Force, has been tasked by the RDC to spearhead the preparations for the activity.
In a press statement, Dr. Sitti Amina Jain, DTI-9 OIC/regional director, said resource speakers from the DTI head office in Manila will explain the rationale and principles of the AEC.
These resource speakers include Assistant Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo who will talk on the topic Advancing Philippine Engagement in AEC; The Philippine Status of Commitments. He will be joined by the DTIs Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen Perlada, who will talk about Asean Integration: An Overview, and the Philippine Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
Other speakers are from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), such as Dr. Erlinda Medalla and Dr. Adoracion Navarro who will discuss the topics Achieving AEC 2015: Trade Liberalization and Facilitation; and Infrastructure and Logistics: Moving Toward AEC 2015, respectively.
Quoting a passage from the Asean Economic Community Factbook, Dr. Jain said that AEC 2015, in a nutshell, is that aspiration of the Asean ten member-states for regional economic integration by the year 2015.
The AEC will have the following key features or characteristics: a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy.//

Author: Voltaire Palaa
Date: May 23, 2014
Source: Manila Times

'Our country is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround in every sector, and we are intent on continuing this trend and making certain that each and every Filipino enjoys the full dividends of progress'
Several times a year, the World Economic Forum gathers leaders and specialists from all around the world " heads of state, academics, and entrepreneurs alike " in pursuit of a single, broad-based vision: to improve the state of the world. I cannot overstate our countrys gratitude for the opportunity to host all of you here, and it gives me great pride to say, on behalf of my countrymen, indeed: Welcome to the Philippines. Over the course of your visit, I am hopeful that you can make time in your busy schedules to visit our tourist attractions and historical landmarks, which make us one of the most fun countries on Earth. Above that, however, I am also very eager for you to experience firsthand the passion, the patriotism, and the kindness of our countrys greatest resource: the Filipino people.
Throughout our history, the great turning points that have allowed us to achieve national redemption and progress have been made possible by the collective efforts of the Filipino people"at times, despite the worst efforts of our leaders. Some of you may remember: Decades ago, our country was suffering from the cancer of tyranny and oppression that characterized martial rule.Before that period, the Philippines was always being compared to Japan"whether in terms of our economy, or even in sports. However, during the martial law years,our fate became dependent on the will and the whims of a dictator who put himself ahead of all other considerations.
Ultimately, it was the Filipino people who came together to unshackle our country from the chains of totalitarianism. We came together in a peaceful revolt, in what would be known by history as the People Power Revolution, and eventually, we overthrew the dictator. It was the Filipino people who then raised my mother to the seat of power, and gave her the confidence and the political capital to finally plant the seeds of recovery and return of democracy to the Philippines after decades of corruption and neglect.
In 2010, it was once again the collective efforts of our people that helped me get elected me into office, after they took a stand, and firmly decided to turn their back on almost a decade of corruption and impunity"a decade of lost opportunities. My countrymen flocked to the voting stations to vote for the simple but profound idea that was the backbone of our campaign, and that is where there is no corruption, there will be no poverty.
To this day, the Filipino people provide the strength to sustain this effort. That is why when many of you have praised the achievements of the Philippines, we always point out that the pursuit of large-scale reforms in every aspect of governance is the achievement of the Filipino people. They made the goal of achieving inclusive growth doable, and it is also they who will make it irreversible.
Dismantling culture of corruption
For the past four years, through the unwavering support of our people, we have enacted reform after reform. We overhauled systems that were prone to abuse. We reformed the way we do our budget"consulting as many stakeholders as possible, crafting the budget from the grassroots up, and implementing what we call the zero-based budgeting, which makes sure that all government spending will have corresponding and tangible benefits for our people. We have also empowered our people to take a more active role in governance by, for instance, putting up websites like Pera ng Bayan and Budget ng Bayan, which translate to the Peoples Money and the Peoples Budget, respectively. Through these sites, our people can report erring officials to the Department of Finance and its attached agencies, and they can also directly see how the government is spending taxpayer money. We likewise reworked the formula for success in business " from one that required connections to influential people, to one that gives value to hard work and innovation above all else.
We pursued all those who committed wrongdoing " regardless of their power, wealth, or influence. As you may have guessed, tangling with these very wealthy individuals and sectors with vested interests was not an easy task. But those in our administration were not shaken: Dismantling the culture of corruption was a promise we made to the people. If we truly wanted to improve the lives of our people, we could not possibly shirk away from this challenge. We had to take on all those who had a misplaced sense of entitlement " who believed that they had more rights than their fellow Filipinos.
So, we went after every individual who committed wrongdoing, and look at the results: My predecessor is now undergoing hospital arrest as she undergoes two serious charges, with another being evaluated by the Ombudsman. The Congress and the Senate removed a Chief Justice from office for failing to declare over 98 percent of his assets in his Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth contrary to our constitution and our laws. Our efforts were not limited to those in the highest positions; we want to institute integrity throughout the bureaucracy. This is why, through programs called Revenue Integrity Protection Services (RIPS), Run After The Smugglers (RATS), and Run After Tax Evaders (RATE), we have filed a total of 487 cases against those who allegedly committed offenses as of April 15, 2014.
These reforms, along with countless others, naturally expanded the resources available to government. The question was: What do we do with these resources we have freed up? To everyone in our administration, the answer was very obvious: We had to invest in our greatest assets " and that, once again, was the Filipino people.
This is why we undertook the large-scale expansion of our conditional cash transfer program. In the span of four years, we have more than quadrupled its budget. The program that we inherited covered just 800,000 families, or roughly around four percent of the population; now, we are assisting around 4.3 million families, or about 22 percent of the population and this constitutes the poorest of the poor. Through this initiative, we are incentivizing keeping children in school, because that is the primary condition of the conditional cash transfer.
Furthermore, just recently, we expanded the program in yet another aspect: Now, it covers families with children up to 18 years of age. We believe this will magnify the impact of this program: Based on studies conducted by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, the income of high school graduates is around 40 percent higher than those who only finish elementary school. The Conditional Cash Transfer Program ticks all the boxes: we give those in the margins the resources to meet their needs in the short-term, while making sure that they remain healthy, and that their children acquire the skills to become a productive part of the workforce.
Of course, the principle behind the CCT dovetails with the strategic investments we have made in education to enhance the skillsets of the next generation. Since taking office, our administration has cleared the accumulated backlog in classrooms, books, and chairs, which means that our students can go to school with the minimum expectation that they will have everything they need to succeed. Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of this achievement: In July of 2010, when we took office, we found that in order to accommodate all our students in our public schools, we needed to build 66,800 classrooms. The national budget, conceivably, could only afford to build around 8,000 classrooms per year. This meant that, if we continued business as usual, we would be leaving my successor with a backlog of almost 20,000 classrooms.
Clearly, this was unacceptable. And yet, despite these unfavorable conditions, our Education Secretary, my honorable brother, Armin Luistro stepped up to the challenge. By the end of 2013, he delivered not just 66,800 classrooms, but 66,813. He likewise erased the 2.5 million backlog in chairs and tables and the 61.7 million backlog in textbooks. Through a convergence of efforts, we have also replaced the ten year basic education program with with what we call the K to 12 program, which will give our students more time to learn and understand lessons that will better prepare them to enter the workforce. This program also aligns our education system with international standards, which is necessary for us to seize the opportunities that will arise from regional and global economic integration.
Our efforts in the field of health have also been massive. During our time in office, we have nearly tripled the budget of our Department of Health; this has allowed us to significantly increase the percentage of our population enrolled in PhilHealth, our national health insurance system, while also expanding the available services, as well as the list of diseases that can be treated for free especially for the bottom quintile. Nowadays, the poorest among our countrymen can simply walk inside any government hospital, show their PhilHealth card, and receive the treatment they need free of charge.
Fun destination
We are aware, however, that inclusive growth cannot be achieved simply by delivering to our people the services they rightfully deserve. Government must also actively find ways to create opportunities for the people. With this in mind, we have been hard at work to promote the Philippines as the most fun destination in the world, knowing full well that tourism is a sector that achieves inclusivity almost instantly"because even those without extensive training or education can take the jobs it generates. The results are clear: From 2001 to 2009, the term of my predecessor, the average annual growth of international tourists arrivals was at 5.1 percent; under our watch, from 2010 to 2013, this number grew to 11.6 percent. Considering that, on average, every international tourist spends almost a thousand dollars in the Philippines, the impact of our tourism efforts on our local economies has been nothing less than profound.
Another specific example: Armed forces are not usually seen as productive factors in any economy, but in our case, we want inclusive growth to reach every sector of society, including even our personnel in the security sector. To this end, we have been transforming idle land in certain military camps into plantations of bamboo, cacao, and palm oil, among others, to create more livelihood opportunities for our soldiers and retirees.
There is a simple idea behind all these initiatives: Our people are the be all and end all of this government, and we are not content with waiting for the benefits of growth to just trickle down the social pyramid. This is why, from the beginning of our term, most of our efforts have been targeting the poorest of the poor.
This year, however, we have expanded the scope of our efforts and are now likewise targeting those who are deemed near poor, or those who are one catastrophic illness or one natural disaster away from going below the poverty threshold. Our goal: To push them further and further away from the poverty line, and to empower them to improve their own lots in life.
All these results were made possible not simply by a committed government, but also, and more importantly, by the Filipino people. It has been their participation, their trust, and their confidence that has redounded to a government"and a country"that once again works for the people.
The result of all our collective efforts in the Philippines is what you see now: One instilled with a newfound optimism, one that believes in governments capacity to help its people, and one that is widely considered to be among the worlds emerging economies.
Good economics
We have always said that good governance is good economics, and the results of our reforms on the economic end are proving us right. In 2013, our economy grew by 7.2 percent " making us one of the fastest growing countries in Asia. This, we achieved despite the seemingly endless succession of natural and man-made disasters that hit our country late last year " which includes the Zamboanga Siege Incident in September, the Bohol Earthquake in October, and the Typhoon Haiyan in November.
Additional proof of our economic progress is the renewed perceptions of the international community. In the past year, for instance, all three major credit ratings agencies were unanimous: The Philippines is investment grade finally. Moreover, just two weeks ago, Standard and Poors gave us yet another upgrade " from BBB- to BBB. The World Economic Forum itself " and we thank you all " has drastically improved its outlook on the Philippines. From 2010 to 2013, we have moved up 26 places in your competitiveness rankings " from 85th to 59th. Not to mention, from 2010 to 2014, we have made great strides in the World Bank and the International Finance Corporations Ease of Doing Business Report and in the Heritage Foundations Index of Economic Freedom, improving by 36 spots and 20 spots in each one, respectively.
And we are set to build on our momentum and become even more competitive, as our manufacturing sector continues its revival, and as we continue to increase our infrastructure spending " more than doubling it, from around 200 billion pesos in 2011 to more than 400 billion 2014.
It is evident: Our country is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround in every sector, and we are intent on continuing this trend and making certain that each and every Filipino enjoys the full dividends of progress. All signs for the future are pointing upwards: According to United Nations population projections, in 2015, we will be hitting a demographic sweet spot that will last approximately for the next 35 years. Countries in such conditions post an average yearly growth of 7.3 percent over the next ten years. We are incredibly poised to take full advantage of the situation, having made strategic investments in education and skills training, which will equip our future workforce with the correct skills to fill the jobs that are and will be created.
In fact, we have equipped our Technical Education and Skills Development Authority with the resources necessary to help our people acquire the skills they need to be truly competitive in the job market. From 2010, we have increased their budget by a total of 77 percent, and the results have shown. According to the data of the Department of Budget and Management: From 2006 to 2008, only 28.5 percent of TESDA graduates were able to find employment. Compare this to the TESDA study of 2012, which showed that 62.4 percent of their graduates found employment. The improvement is even more stark when you look at specific industries: For instance, when it comes to the IT-BPO industry, TESDA graduates have an employment rate of 70.9 percent, while the electronics and semiconductor program has recorded an 85 percent employment rate. Note that these numbers are still improving: According to our TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva, the most recent batch of trainees for the semiconductor industry has posted a 91 percent placement ratio.
Our efficient allocation of resources has not just allowed us to offer better services and opportunities to our people; it has likewise empowered us to take an even more prominent role in the global community. We are very eager to work with all of you in the WEF and in the ASEAN Community through the Grow Asia Initiative, which aims to ensure food security for our region and our world in the long-term. In fact, we have just doubled down on food security with our appointment of Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, in the person of Secretary Francis Pangilinan, who I assume many of you will be working with soon enough. Apart from closely cooperating with our ASEAN neighbors in this regard, our country is also intent on taking advantage of advances in technology to further improve our agricultural output. For instance, we are mapping the topography of our floodplains and river basins through the use of LiDAR technology, which, among others, will help us take a more science-based approach towards building resilient communities.
Dealing with climate change
Truly, harnessing the power of technology benefits us in multiple ways. As our entire planet is confronted by the reality of climate change, there is no country in the world that can afford having a government ill-equipped to handle the effects of increasingly powerful weather disturbances.
Now, it is vital that everything we do " from the planning of our infrastructure to the reconstruction of the homes of our people"take into account the possible impacts of climate change. All our plans"whether they are local or national, are now being increasingly oriented towards a direction that includes resilience in the face of disaster. The most prominent example of this, perhaps, is how we are not simply rebuilding"but aiming to build back better"in the communities that were ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. We are reconstructing roads, energy infrastructure, and communities in a strategic manner, such that our people, our industries, and our economy as a whole, are not put at risk whenever a typhoon makes landfall. This is a vital direction to take for any country that wants to ensure its long-term viability, or in other words, its survival.
At the end of the day, however, we recognize that the power behind all our efforts " whether in pursuing inclusive economic growth, improving competitiveness, food security, or disaster risk management " comes not from any individual, but from our people. This is why inclusive growth is not just a mantra for us; it is the yardstick by which we measure any government undertaking. After all,it is a participatory public " one that is empowered, and one that gives government their trust and confidence " and a government that never misplaces that trust that ultimately makes equitable progress possible. It is a truly symbiotic relationship: As we empower our people to improve their lots in life, they empower us to battle the vested interests that remain in society. Ultimately, it is our countrymen who give us the confidence to continue blazing the path of reform.
For the longest time, it has been the patriotism, the willpower, and the wisdom of the Filipino people that has rescued our country from its darkest moments. And now that they have public servants in government fully committed to harnessing their power for good " for the betterment of the nation " our country has the social and economic momentum to go from success to success, and truly make waves throughout our archipelago, in the international community, and in the vast, immeasurable ocean of history. - Rappler.com

Author:
Date: May 22, 2014
Source: Select Article Source

Recovery in the European Union (EU) will boost the Philippine economy given strong trade and investment relations between the two.
In a recent forum organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Prof. Lino Briguglio of the Department of Economics, University of Malta, noted that economic conditions in the EU are likely to have an effect on the Philippine economy, given that the EU is an important trade partner and a major FDI (foreign direct investment) contributor.
The Philippines enjoys a trade surplus with the EU, he said. Total EU FDI stock reached just under '8 billion in 2011, making the bloc the largest investment partner of the Philippines. EU FDI accounted for about 30percentof the Philippines FDI stock, Briguglio said.
Briguglio, who is also director of the Small States Network for Economic Development of his university, noted how the Philippines was able to absorb the shocks that arose from the Eurozone crisis, as evidenced by its solid economic growth rates and its relatively low debt ratio.
The most important item of export from the Philippines to the EU are electronics, but other manufacturers and agricultural products are increasing their share (including coconut oil, fruits, and fish), the economist said. Services exports to the EU are dominated by transportation, travel services and IT services. The services trade between the Philippines and the EU fluctuates and shows no tendency for surplus or deficit, he added.
Other major EU- Philippines economic growth factors can be attributed to tourism and remittances from overseas Filipinos in EU countries.
It is not easy to exactly determine the effect of conditions in the EU on the Philippine economy, because there are many factors involved, including the Philippine banks balance sheets and their exposure to the Eurozone, which do not seem to have posed major problems, Briguglio said.
He noted that debt-to-GDP ratios of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were not too high, making these countries more resilient. The ASEAN as a whole is the EUs third largest trading partner outside Europe (after the US and China) with more than '206 billion of trade in goods and services in 2011, Briguglio said.
The largest investor in the ASEAN countries is the EU, with around '10 billion invested annually on average during the 2000-2012 period.
Briguglio noted with a stark observation how developing countries like the Philippines were able to stave off the effects of the European crisis: The lesson here is that countries that used to teach developing countries how to behave, themselves misbehaved, Briguglio said.
The forum was the third Pulong Saliksikan seminar of Briguglio at PIDS. The seminar series aims to give an opportunity to PIDS researchers and visiting experts to present their papers and research findings.

Author:
Date: May 18, 2014
Source: The Mindanao Current

MANUFACTURINGS MULTIPLIER effect is well recognized yet why has it languished?

Manufacturings contribution to total domestic output fell to 24% in the 1990s and 2000s from 26% in the 1980s and 28% in the 1970s.

In 2012, it accounted for 22% of the total domestic output of P6.3 trillion -- the highest by a sector of the economy. But its real contribution could be more than that.

Washington-based AFL-CIO Working for America Institute (WAI) said that aside from its sectoral contributions (industrial employment, production and investments), manufacturing also fuels activities in other sectors, and create jobs and lures investments, even in non-manufacturing sectors.

Citing National Association of Manufacturing estimates, the WAI said a dollars worth of manufactured goods creates another $1.43 of activity in other sectors. This is twice the $0.71 multiplier for services.
While its direct contribution and spillover effect to other industries are recognized by experts as means to achieve sustained and inclusive growth, the reality is, in the Philippines, the sector has been neglected.

Rafaelita M. Aldaba, a researcher at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, noted how manufacturings contribution to productivity, employment, and investment had weakened through the years.

From the 1980s up to the early 2000s, manufacturing growth was slow with an average of 0.9% in the 1980s and 2.5% in the 1990s. Modest growth was posted in the 2000s averaging 4.1%, she wrote in a research titled Why A New Industrial Policy for the Philippines is Critical.

Her study also showed how manufacturings contribution to total domestic output fell to 24% in the 1990s and 2000s from 26% in the 1980s and 28% in the 1970s.

In a BusinessWorld article titled: Why is manufacturing being neglected?, University of the Philippines economist Benjamin E. Diokno also noted a reduction in the share of manufacturing to total output.

The share of manufacturing to gross domestic product contracted from 23.5% in 1998 to 20.4% in 2012. The shrinking share of Philippine manufacturing ought to be reversed, he said.

In terms of employment generation, Ms. Aldaba said the manufacturing industry failed in creating enough employment to absorb new entrants into the labor force as its share to total employment dropped from 11% in the mid-1970s to 9% in the 2000s.

Ms. Aldaba in her study also noted that the manufacturing export base has become less diversified, with the countrys exports largely concentrated in three product groups: electronics and other electronics, garments and textile, and machinery and transport equipment.

Within these major product groups, exports are highly concentrated in low value-added and labor intensive product sectors. These goods are considerably dependent on imported inputs and have weak backward and/or upward linkages with the rest of the manufacturing sector, her report read.

For the industrial sector to become a major growth driver, the country needs to upgrade technology and structurally transform manufacturing, Ms. Aldaba said. Industrial policies geared towards improving the business environment, human capital investment, infrastructure and quality of governance is also crucial.

The sector offers brighter prospects given how foreign firms based in China are now looking into other Southeast Asian markets, Mr. Diokno said in his article.

With the costs of production rising in export-leading China, many foreign firms in China are scoping for places where they can relocate their factories. Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines have emerged as strong alternative factory sites, he said.

The Philippines, however, needs to deal with constraints such as a strong peso, poor infrastructure including inadequate, costly and unreliable power supply, and high cost of doing business, in order to attract these foreign firms. --

Author: Karen Joyce Q. Ang
Date: May 06, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

WITH THE continuous growth of the Internet and social media, the term Big Data has become the new buzzword in business and technology, shoving over data mining and other similar terms associated with the use of information from huge databases.
The term Big Data was first coined in 1997 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researchers Michael Cox and David Ellsworth to describe the challenge of processing and analyzing vast amounts of information generated by supercomputers.

Although Big Data doesnt pertain to any specific quantity, most tech industry players say it often refers to petabytes or 1,000 terabytes of data.

Research firm McKinsey Global Institute defined Big Data as any database whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage and analyze.

Thus, for data to be considered Big Data, they must have volume, velocity and variety.

Jose Ramon G. Albert, a research fellow at the government think tank, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, compared Big Data and the traditional sources of official statistics in a research note titled Big Data for measuring progress and development: Big insights or big issues?

There is undoubtedly a growing enthusiasm about this data revolution and its possibilities for making use of Big Data, especially for measuring and monitoring progress in societies, Mr. Albert said, citing Google Flu Trends as an example.

In 2008, Google established a near real-time flu tracker called Google Flu Trends that monitored Google searches on the flu. Jeremy Ginsberg and other researchers, writing in the science journal Nature in 2009, reported that Googles flu incidence estimate correlated strongly with the official statistics released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The article noted that what was astonishing was that the Google statistics on flu incidence were based on aggregates of searches related to flu with a delay of just one day, while CDCS official statistics were based on administrative reports from hospitals and took a week to put together.

Mr. Albert noted that while official statisticians are taking note of this emerging alternative data source, there is, however, some apprehension about Big Data since these are not tailor-made for statistical purposes and thus could yield inaccurate statistics.

Data sources in official statistics have been tried and tested mechanisms for ensuring credibility Big Data, however, are like a tsunami of digital exhaust that can be a messy collage of data points collected for distinct purposes but whose accuracy is difficult to establish, Mr. Albert explained.

Big Data are largely unstructured, unfiltered data exhaust from digital products such as online searches and social media, are unregulated, have high variety and velocity, and cost little or nothing. On the other hand, official statistics are structured and planned, regulated, based on high-volume primary data, and costly.

Nonetheless, Mr. Albert pointed out that the country has started to use Big Data in disaster risk management.

In June 2012, the government started a flagship project called Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH), which involved the development of Hydromet sensors, which are state-of-the-art weather tracking equipment, and high-resolution geo-hazard maps.

Project NOAH could give government lead-time of about six hours or less to act and thus could minimize the damage to lives, property, and livelihood from natural disasters.

Mr. Albert, in his research note, pointed out that these high-velocity and high-volume data have helped national and local governments prepare better for disasters.

There is evidence of how better access to information has saved lives. In 2011, Typhoon Sendong led to 676 deaths in Cagayan de Oro City, but a year later, a typhoon with similar strength (Pablo) had only one associated death reported, he said.

While there is reason to be excited about Big Data, there are issues that need to be examined given that much of Big Data include personal data with precise, geo-location-based information.

While users of technology routinely tick a box to consent to the collection and use of web-generated data and may decide to have some information put on public view, it is unclear whether they actually consent to having their data analyzed, especially if it can be to their disadvantage, Mr. Albert said.

Still, he explained that while Big Data are here to stay, there is a need to identify legal protocols and institutional arrangements to access Big Data holdings for development purposes.

The data revolution and the use of Big Data do not mean the end of official statistics, but the challenge is to explore how to make use of nontraditional data sources to complement traditional data sources, Mr. Albert said.//

Author: Judy Dannibelle T. Chua Co
Date: May 06, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

A forum on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) will be held in this city next week with the aim of raising the level of awareness on the AEC and its implications on the Philippine economy. Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Zamboanga Peninsula Director Dr. Sitti Amina Jain said the forum will be conducted on May 27 at the Grand Astoria Hotel in this city. Jain said the forum is under the aegis of the Task Force on ASEAN Integration of the Regional Development Council in the region.

Jain said DTI Assistant Secretary Ceferino S. Rodolfo will be the resource speaker during the forum in this city.
Asec Rodolfo will talk and discuss issues on Advancing Philippine Engagement in AEC and the Philippine Status of Commitments. DTI Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen M. Perlada will discuss issues on ASEAN Integration: An Overview, and the Philippine Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Dr. Erlinda Medalla and Dr. Adoracion Navarro from the Philippine institute for Development Studies (PIDS) will discuss topics on Achieving AEC 2015: Trade Liberalization and Facilitation; and, Infrastructure and Logistics: Moving Toward AEC 2015. DTI Undersecretary for the Regional Operations Group, Zenaida Cuizon-Maglaya will be the keynote speaker during the forum. Jain said all local chief executives in the region business leaders and industry captains, regional/provincial heads of national government agencies, the academe, NGOs, members of the press, and consumer organizations had been invited to attend the event.

Author: Nonoy Lacson
Date: May 20, 2014
Source: Manila Bulletin

A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) found that a decline in official rice imports led to surge in rice prices during 2013, not price manipulation by rice cartels. However, rice smuggling in the Philippines continues to run rampant thanks to the huge difference in global rice prices and local rice prices, and a reduction in official imports under the nations rice self-sufficiency efforts. While the Philippines tried to reduce imports in hopes of boosting local production, the result was smuggled rice imports and higher prices. PIDS researchers say the average domestic prices of milled rice increased to P34.16 per kilogram (around $764 per ton) in December 2013, up about 15% from about from P29.81 per kilogram (around $664 per ton) in January 2013 based on data from the Philippines Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS). Over the same period, the Oryza White Rice Index fell about 5% from around $475 per ton fob in January 2013 to around $450 per ton in December 2013. The National Food Authority (NFA) imported only 205,700 tons in 2013, down about 76% from about 843,700 tons imported in 2012 due to the rice self-sufficiency program initiated by the government. The program aimed at 100% self-sufficiency in rice production in 2013. Reduced imports and natural calamities put further upward pressure on Philippines rice prices. Trade sources say unofficial imports reached around one million tons in 2013. The surge in prices and rampant smuggling led the government to reconsider its decision on reduction in rice imports in 2014. The NFA will be importing 800,000 tons of rice from Vietnam between May and August 2014 to maintain buffer stocks and control price hikes. However, Vietnam rice exporters are reluctant to fulfill the tender as Vietnam rice prices rose after the tender was announced. USDA estimates the Philippines to import around 2 million tons rice 2014, including unofficial imports, while the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates it to import around 1.2 million tons. "

Author:
Date: May 20, 2014
Source: Oryza.com

MANILA, Philippines"The National Food Authority (NFA) is in the limelight again. Pointed questions have been raised on the manner of its rice importation.
Its buy high, sell low mandate has caused a massive debt of some P170 billion, most of that spent during the GMA years.
According to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), NFAs net worth was positive in the mid-1990s and turned negative since 2001, and massively deteriorated thereafter.
Nowhere in its mandate is NFA mandated to lose money.
What are the strategic roles of NFA? There are too many and they are conflicting. Its primary role is to maintain adequate buffer stock, especially during the lean season of July to September. In the process, NFA buys palay from farmers and imports to build its buffer stock.
By buying high, it aims to increase farmers incomes; by selling low, it makes rice affordable for poor families.
NFA also heavily regulates the rice industry. It licenses traders, millers and retailers. One needs an NFA permit to export specialty rice. NFA is also the sole authorized importer.
With all these control levers, why is NFA bleeding? It is because its mandate is confused. Experts know the problem all along.
Since the advent of the Cory Aquino administration, studies upon studies to reform NFA have been done: USAID, ADB, AusAid, World Bank, PIDS, UP Los Baos, etc.
Little has been done.
In fact, an ADB loan called Grains Sector Development project, which was approved in April 2000, was terminated in 2004 as the government backtracked on its reform commitments.
Policy and institutional reforms focused on (a) liberalized, more cost-effective grains pricing and import policies; (b) improved administration of grain buffer stocks; (c) restructuring of the NFA from a grains marketing monopoly into a public regulatory agency and separate private sector marketing corporations; and (d) a more targeted and effective food subsidy program for the poor.
Scholars (such as Drs. Fermin Adriano, Lourdes Adriano, Roehl Briones, Ramon Clarete, Cristina David, Cielito Habito, Flordeliza Lantican and Bruce Tolentino) have long pushed for reforms of NFA.
Why is reform so difficult? Who are the stakeholders?
The politicians and legislators. At the local level, they have their own vested interests to protect. At the national level, rice subsidy is popular. Some believe that the NFA is key to food security.

The farmers groups. They feel that by reforming NFA, they will be at the mercy of the traders. NFA monopoly protects them from private imports which will pull down palay prices. But how many farmers and co-ops really benefit? More traders probably gain from the transactions as they have cash to pay and volume delivery to NFA.
Consumers. Everybody wants cheap rice, never mind the cost to the taxpayers. The problem with this is that even the rich and middle class gain access to cheap rice.
NFA employees. They feel that they play a vital role in food security and in raising farmers incomes. They are also concerned with job security.
Administration officials and allies believe in the strategic role of NFA. Some, however, are engaged in rent-seeking and fund-raising.
Is there hope for the NFA to be a sustainable and effective body and a great place to work?
We in the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) agribusiness and countryside development committee feel that the NFA strategy and structure are muddled and unsound. They violate management principles. Its string of losses could have led to its closure long ago.
How do we restructure NFA and make it an effective agency and a good potential for public listing?
Here are some suggestions I gathered from many past reports and conversations.
Farmers and the Poor. Conduct a farmers registry, identify the poor, and direct support to them via income transfer a la Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
Poor consumers. Expand CCT to the poor, and intervene in some geographic areas with imperfect food markets such as Batanes.
NFA. Make it a fee-based logistics agency responsible for buffer stock.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Make the agency own the buffer stock and hire independent monitors of the quantity and quality of said stocks.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Allow it to handle industry registration and regulations.
Employees. A financially viable and professionally managed agency with little political interference will be a great place to work!
It is said that no decision is a bad decision. NFA is such an unfortunate example. There is a wide array of past analytics and experts opinions, but little action. This is reflective of Filipino procrastination and fear. Doing what is right for the nation is sacrificed for political and economic imperatives.
(This article reflects the personal opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stand of the Management Association of the Philippines or MAP. The author is chair of the MAP agribusiness and countryside development committee, and executive director of the Center for Food and AgriBusiness of the University of Asia and the Pacific. Feedback at and < rdyster@gmail.com>. For previous articles, visit .)


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Author: Rolando T. Dy
Date: May 19, 2014
Source: Philippine

MANILA, Philippines - Overall, the Philippines has shown its commitment to the Asean Economic Community (AEC) blueprint as indicated in the relevant measures it has implemented from 2008 to 2011, but there is still room to speed up its progress as 2015 nears.

These are the findings of a paper assessing the rate of Philippine compliance with the AEC program. The study titled The Asean Economic Community and the Philippines: Implementation, Outcomes, Impacts, and Ways Forward was conducted by the think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

It said there would be benefits for the Philippines if it could accomplish more of these AEC measures that address key institutional weaknesses bridling the competitiveness of the private sector.

The paper indicates that priority measures due for implementation focus mostly on the free flow of goods, particularly speeding up services liberalization, customs integration, ratification of transport protocols, and setting of standard and conformance measures and harmonized regulatory regimes for certain products.

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

Of these measures, services liberalization is expected to be the most difficult to undertake since it entails changing certain Philippine laws or constitutional provisions.
Critical measures for customs integration include developing advance ruling systems for tariff classification and value assessment, and implementation of the Asean customs declaration document.

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

On SME development, the review said: Simply put, the overall business environment in the Philippines is still not conducive to SME development. Costs of doing business are still high in the Philippines, and they are likely to be even higher for SMEs. But that also means that any improvement in the countrys business environment would yield even more substantial benefits to SMEs.

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

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

The AEC blueprint was adopted in November 2007 to serve as the master plan to guide the establishment of the AEC by 2015, particularly the trade blocs key characteristics and elements, as well as the action plans and strategic schedules to achieve them.//


Author:
Date: May 19, 2014
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines"Standard and Poors (S and P) recent credit-rating upgrade for the Philippines should be taken as a seal of good housekeeping for the Aquino administration.

However, the government is not out of the woods yet and much work still needs to be done to attract lasting investments that would translate to more jobs for Filipinos, a state-funded independent think-tank said.

There is a lot of work to do, in particular, in making the Philippines a good place to do business in, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said in a new policy paper.

S and P now rates the Philippines long-term peso and dollar debt at one notch above the firms minimum investment grade or two notches above junk status. This is the highest rating the country has ever received from any of the three major credit agencies.
Whether a good credit rating leads to inclusive growth or not remains to be seen, the report said.

The immediate effect of S and Ps new credit rating for the Philippines would be a notable increase in short-term portfolio investments in local stocks, bonds and deposit certificates.

PIDS said that while these investments could serve as harbingers of confidence in times of plenty, these flows could just as quickly reverse at the first sign of danger.

The governments goal, the paper said, should be attracting more lasting foreign direct investments (FDI) that have a more solid link to job creation.

While the Philippines has posted significant gains in improving the various ease-of-doing-business and competitiveness rankings since the start of President Aquinos term, the country still trails more than half of the world. For instance, in the World Banks annual Ease of Doing Business report, where the Philippines jumped 30 spots last year alone, the country still ranked 100th out of 189 nations covered. In the region, the country ranked 6th out of 10.

It will take time before the goodwill earned by the Philippines in the financial world translates to the real economy, the PIDS report said.

The government would do well to sustain the reform momentum by further widening the fiscal space through improved tax collection and the introduction of new tax measures such as the rationalization of investment incentives, it said.

Despite outperforming the rest of Southeast Asia in terms of economic growth in 2012 and 2013, unemployment remains stubbornly high in the Philippines.

Latest data showed that at the end of January, the countrys unemployment rate stood at 7.5 percent, higher than the 7.3-percent rate in January 2013. In a statement last week, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the government was targeting an economic growth rate of 6.5 to 6.7 percent by 2016. The government is also working toward an improvement in the quality of employment. By the end of Aquinos term, the underemployment rate should be brought down from the current 20 percent to about 17 percent.

Author: Paolo G. Montecillo
Date: May 19, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines"Blame last years price spike for milled rice to too little government imports amid a push for food self-sufficiency than to the negligible influence of rice cartels, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In a study published by the state think tank, senior researcher fellow Roehlano Briones and senior research analyst Myka Galang said a sharp drop in imports was a more logical and evidence-based explanation of the jump in prices.
According to PIDS, the average world price of milled rice dipped steadily month after month from an equivalent of P23.24 per kilo in January to P18.60 in December.

In contrast, the average domestic price rose steadily from P29.81 to P34.16. (For these numbers, Briones and Galang compared the price of Thai rice with 25-percent broken grains to its local counterpart).

This resulted in the differences between world and local prices shooting up over 12 months. The local price was 28 percent higher than global price in January and 84 percent higher in December.

The researchers noted a price spike in the June-December period"a jump of P3.82 from P30.34"while the supply was inadequate due to the reduction in imports.

In 2013, the National Food Authority imported 205,700 tons only, which were 638,000 tons less than the volume brought in in 2012.

Author: Ronnel W. Domingo
Date: May 19, 2014
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE sharp drop in imports last year is a more logical and evidence-based explanation to the increase in the price of rice, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.

A PIDS study said that blaming rice cartels for price manipulation cannot be considered a definitive explanation for the price increase.

The study recommends to focus more in increasing rice production through research and development and overhaul the National Food Authority (NFA) to improve regulatory duties and management of the domestic food-security stock.

Prepared by Roehlano Briones, PIDS senior research fellow, and Ivory Myka Galang, PIDS research analyst, the study cited the inadequacy of supply starting in mid-2013 due to the reduction in imports as the main cause of the rice price spike.

The retail price of rice shot up to P36.28 per kilogram in December 2013 from P32.37 in June 2013"a 12-percent increase in just six months.

The ability of rice traders to influence the market price of rice is negligible according to the study.

Citing a 2014 rapid appraisal conducted by Beulah de la Pea, strong competition prevails at all levels of the rice-supply chain. Farmers can freely choose their buyer among a number of buying stations and agents present in their community, the study said.

The rice imports dropped by 638,000 tons in 2013 owing to the Department of Agricultures Food Staples Sufficiency Program (FSSP).

The program aims for 100-percent rice self-sufficiency in 2013 by raising domestic production and curbing imports.

But the increase in rice domestic production in 2013 was not enough to reduce imports, the study noted.

While palay production did hit 18.44 million tons in 2013, up from 18.03 million tons, the increment of 439,000 tons was not enough to counter the effects of the reduction in rice imports.

The study said the country failed to take advantage of cheap rice available in the world market because of import reduction. This led to a shortage of the rice supply, which raised the market price of rice.

In November 2013 the domestic price of rice per kilogram was P33.55, 28 percent higher than the world price of P18.63 per kilo, the study added.

The NFA could have abated the price spike had it offset the deficit from its buffer stock, the study noted.

This would have been possible if the stock were not limited, yet the total NFA stock in June 2013 was already low to begin with. The NFA is also facing intense pressures to reduce its liabilities and subsidy. The buy high and sell low business model of NFA has placed intense pressure on its finances which amounted to $4.39 billion in total liabilities.

A permanent solution is to repeal the QR [quantitative-restriction] policy on imports to support the rice self-sufficiency objective, the study said. Rice self-sufficiency should be pursued with more cost-effective support mechanisms to rice producers such as research and development and new rice farming technologies.

Moreover, reforming the NFA is recommended, the study said. It should focus on regulatory duties and management of the domestic food security stock and not on rice marketing and importation.

Author: Jonathan L. Mayuga
Date: May 17, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

ANNING, China"The Philippines is studying a proposal to join the Maritime Silk Road, which is being pushed as a priority initiative at the 8th Pan-Beibu Gulf Economic Cooperation Forum held Thursday in this city.

Danilo Israel, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies and a government representative in the forum, said Manila had recently received a copy of the concept paper about the Maritime Silk Road.

The proposed Maritime Silk Road is a cooperation that aims to link all seaports in China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to create a thriving economic maritime corridor.

We have no position yet. Were still really in the early stages. The opinion coming from the Foreign Affairs Department is that while the intent is economic, there seems to be some impression that it is also partly security on the part of China, he said in an interview at the sidelines of the opening of the forum.

Israel said while some countries had doubts on the initiative, others like Sri Lanka and Cambodia seem to be gung-ho at the prospect.

We need to give it very serious and due consideration. We just cannot set this aside for reasons on security. Given that we have ongoing disputes and a number of issues that deal with China, we must tread carefully. The Philippines would like to take all matters related to [this] using the Asean platform, he said.

He said the Philippines still had no clear idea what China intended to achieve, in the long run, with the proposed maritime cooperation as it also involves navigational links. He said the Philippines sits on a very strategic geo-political location.

We have just started reviving our relations with the US. The somewhat active relationship could have an effect on how the situation pans out on the geopolitical aspect of things, he said.

He said as the maritime cooperation partly touched on the maritime access in the South China Sea, the Philippines should engage in meaningful talks with China.

PIDS presented Thursday afternoon, in a closed door meeting with other regional think tanks, an initial study on the economic impacts of the Maritime Silk Road to the Philippines and the Asean.

Author: Othel V. Campos
Date: May 16, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

A forum on the ASEAN economic community (AEC) is scheduled to be conducted on May 27, 2014 at the Grand Astoria Hotel, Zamboanga City under the aegis of the Task Force on ASEAN Integration of the Regional Development Council, Region 9 (RDC-9).

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the designated chair of the AEC Task Force, had been tasked by the RDC to spearhead the preparations for the activity. In a press statement, Dr.SittiAmina Jain, DTI-9 OIC-Regional Director said that the underlying objective of the forum is to raise the level of awareness about the AEC and its implications to our economy both at the regional and national levels.

Dr. Jain disclosed that resource speakers from DTI Head Office in Manila will be on hand during the forum in the persons of Assistant SecretaryCeferino S. Rodolfo who will talk on the topic, Advancing Philippine Engagement in AEC; The Philippine Status of Commitments. He will be joined in by the DTIs Bureau of Export Trade Promotion Director Senen M. Perlada who will tackle ASEAN Integration: An Overview, and the Philippine Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

In the afternoon, speakers from the Philippine institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in the persons of Dr.ErlindaMedalla and Dr.Adoracion Navarro will discuss the topics Achieving AEC 2015: Trade Liberalization and Facilitation; and, Infrastructure and Logistics: Moving Toward AEC 2015, respectively.

She also disclosed that DTIs Undersecretary for the Regional Operations Group, ZenaidaCuizon-Maglaya had been invited to give the keynote message during the forum.

All local chief executives in the region had been sent invitation to attend this very important event. Also invited are the regions business leaders and industry captains, regional/provincial heads of national government agencies, the academe, NGOs, members of the press, and consumer organizations.

Quoting a passage in the ASEAN Economic Community Factbook, Dr. Jain said thatAEC 2015, in a nutshell, is thataspiration of the ASEAN ten-member states for regional economic integration bythe year 2015. It will have the following key features or characteristics: (1) a single market and production base, (2) a highly competitive economic region, (3)a region of equitable economic development, and (4) a region fully integrated into the global economy.

ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is composed of the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Lao PDR. (lsv/dti9)

Author:
Date: May 15, 2014
Source: Zambo Times

Slum poverty in the Philippines cannot be simply addressed by traditional poverty programs such as cash transfers. The government needs to take regulatory actions that cut across administrative boundaries, a study published by the Asian Development Bank said.

The ADB publication titled, The Environments of the Poor in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, said that while many countries have made progress in reducing poverty, living standards for many poor people remain a major challenge due to the worsening environment degradation and increasing vulnerability to climate change.

The book compiled several papers on countries in the three regions, one of which looked into the situation of those individuals located in slum areas in the Philippines.

The paper titled, Slum Poverty in the Philippines: Can the Environment Agenda Drive Public Action? mentioned that Metro Manila is home to about two million slum dwellers, which make up 16 percent of the citys population in 2010.

However, it said that households in slum areas are not necessarily income poor.

The report, authored by Philippine Institute for Development Studies Senior Research Fellow Marife Ballesteros, said that in 2010, more than 50 percent of the urban slum population in Manila live above the poverty line and can spend between $2 and $4 per day, but still reside in poor environments.

The slum-dwellers who live above the poverty line usually make minimum salaries or wages and work casually. They continue living in the slums because there is no alternative shelter in the city and they cannot afford the cost of travelling from distant, less expensive, peri-urban regions for work and income earning opportunities in urban centers, the study said.

At the same time, not all the poor live in slums. Some are scattered around the city in areas with similar physical environments as the slums " a deficit of infrastructure and an insecurity of tenure, it added.

The publication said that on a daily basis, slum dwellers are confronted with congestion, substandard housing, and a physically deteriorated environment that lacks public services altogether or has them only in a poorly maintained state.

The study noted that some slums have been formed in hazardous places, such as fault lines, unstable slopes, and rivers banks, among others.

These locations are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. These environmental conditions lead to deepening poverty and rising inequalities through the following channels, it said.

The report added that climate change is expected to increase illness in slums through increasingly severe and frequent natural hazards.

The slum environment requires people with low income to pay more for basic services. It also requires them to pay for services to defend themselves from the likely effects of climate change in their living environment, the study said.

Unfortunately, these problems do not motivate the government to act since the government does not look at shelter deprivation as part of urban poverty caused by the environment. Shelter deprivation is mainly perceived as income poverty, it added.

The publication said that government programmes on shelter are mostly directed to improving affordability of individual households, while less attention is given to settlement planning and infrastructure development.

The threat to settlements brought about by climate change are mainly translated into activities and strategies for disaster response rather than effective prevention, it said.

The report argued that slum poverty cannot be simply addressed by cash transfer programs.

Slum formation and growth is not the simple result of rapid urbanization or income poverty, but also of a weak regulatory environment for urban planning, land development, and land markets. Insufficient government spending on infrastructure is also a major factor in slum formation, it said.

The study said that the solution to slum poverty involves giving adequate attention to town planning to ensure appropriate land use planning and proper implementation of building codes and environmental laws.

The provision of space for housing low-income families and the expansion of urban infrastructure to underserved, informal settlements should be an integral component of town planning, the report said.

Unlike in rural areas and smaller towns, where space allows more opportunities for the poor to change their environment, in metropolitan cities and slums individual households adaptation to climate change induced flooding and heat waves, and to congestion cannot substitute proper town planning, it added.

The study concluded that adaptation requires government investment and regulatory actions, which is only effective through a strong presence of the national government, specifically for concerns that cut across boundaries of lower administrative or political units.
- See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/business/not-exactly-poor-2m-live-slums#sthash.mfMgmA83.dpuf

Author: Angela Celis
Date: May 15, 2014
Source: Malaya

MANILA, Philippines " Various digital data by-products from electronic devices, social media, search engines, sensors, and tracking devices " also known as Big Data " have developmental uses.
A paper by Dr. Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), stressed that Big Data can complement traditional data sources in relation to the governments national development plans and disaster-risk management goals.

Albert cited how Big Data served as a useful source in tracking flu incidence.

In 2008, Google established a near-real-time flu tracker called Google Flu Trends that monitored Google searches on the flu, he said. It was reported that flu incidence estimate from Google correlates strongly with the official statistics released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Inasmuch as the country is frequently hit by natural disasters, with an annual average frequency of 19 to 20 tropical cyclones, Albert highlighted the use of Big Data in disaster risk management.

The Philippine governments flagship project called Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Noah) has helped national and local governments to become more prepared for disasters, he said.

The high-velocity and high-volume data through Project Noah have helped national and local governments to become more prepared to disasters, Albert said.

In 2011, Typhoon Sendong led to 676 deaths in Cagayan de Oro City, but a year later, when Project NOAH was already in place, there was only one associated death reported in the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo.

However, there are issues that need to be examined in the use of Big Data. Issues on privacy, security, intellectual property, accessibility for development purposes, and accountability have to be addressed to prevent the misuse of Big Data, Albert said.

Much of Big Data includes personal data with precise, geo-location-based information. We are well aware that e-commerce sites are watching our shopping preferences; search engines are examining our browsing habits; social media sites are inspecting our personal data, including our social relationships and what we share; and mobile service providers are collecting data on who we talk or send text messages to and possibly what we say to them, Albert said.

He added that legal protocols and institutional arrangements should be identified to access Big Data holdings for development purposes.

Current efforts are being initiated by Senator Bam Aquino toward the establishment of a Big Data center in the Philippines, he said. If it will be similar to Jakartas Pulse Lab, a public-private partnership scheme for its establishment is required.

Moreover, investments on capacity building is critical to train Big Data users to identify useful and quality information given that information that can be harnessed from Big Data is increasing by 2.5 quintillion bytes per day, Albert said.

Author:
Date: May 15, 2014
Source: Rappler

It is essential to improve the competitiveness of all services in the country in order to transform the economy and achieve broad-based growth, a policy note published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said.

According to the publication titled, Formulating the Philippine Services Strategy for Inclusive Growth, there are still vast opportunities left untapped to fully exploit the role of the services sector in the country.

Competitive services are necessary for inclusive growth. Services do not only directly contribute to the creation of jobs and value added in the economy but affect the performance of other sectors through critical intersectoral linkages, the policy note, authored by PIDS consultant Ramonette Serafica, said.

If services are inefficient, costly, of poor quality, and inaccessible especially to the poorer segments of the population, inclusive growth would not be attainable, it added.

The report said that in addition to restrictive policies, anti-competitive business practices also exist, and such practices undermine the efficient supply of services in the country.

Gains are greater when comprehensive sectoral reforms are undertaken that not only remove discriminatory measures but also create a pro-competition environment, the policy note said.

As part of the services strategy, a trade-related audit of the laws and regulations affecting the services sector should be conducted with the view of removing measures whose policy objective is no longer relevant or could be achieved by less restrictive measures, it added.

The policy note said that in order to further create an environment which is conducive to improving competitiveness, strategies involving government policy on innovation and human resource development (HRD) are needed as well.

Innovation is broader than just science and technology. It involves the use and dissemination of new technologies and practices that improve productivity, it said.

Creating an overall climate that encourages innovation includes appropriate incentives and mechanisms to support innovators, removing obstacles to innovative initiatives, establishing responsive research structures, and fostering a creative and receptive population through appropriate educational systems, added.

The policy note said that many countries, both developed and developing, are using innovation as the foundation of competitive industries from agriculture to services.

HRD policies meanwhile cover the quality of the labor force and the regulation of the labor market.
- See more at: http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/business/gov%E2%80%99t-think-tank-cites-need-improve-competitiveness#sthash.jswedCZp.biEDXC29.dpuf

Author: Angela Celis
Date: May 12, 2014
Source: Malaya

Various digital data by-products from electronic devices, social media, search engines, sensors, and tracking devices " also known as Big Data " have developmental uses.
A paper by Dr. Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), stressed that Big Data can complement traditional data sources in relation to the governments national development plans and disaster-risk management goals.

Albert cited how Big Data served as a useful source in tracking flu incidence.

In 2008, Google established a near-real-time flu tracker called Google Flu Trends that monitored Google searches on the flu, he said. It was reported that flu incidence estimate from Google correlates strongly with the official statistics released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Inasmuch as the country is frequently hit by natural disasters, with an annual average frequency of 19 to 20 tropical cyclones, Albert highlighted the use of Big Data in disaster risk management.

The Philippine governments flagship project called Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Noah) has helped national and local governments to become more prepared for disasters, he said.

The high-velocity and high-volume data through Project Noah have helped national and local governments to become more prepared to disasters, Albert said.

In 2011, Typhoon Sendong led to 676 deaths in Cagayan de Oro City, but a year later, when Project NOAH was already in place, there was only one associated death reported in the aftermath of Typhoon Pablo.
However, there are issues that need to be examined in the use of Big Data. Issues on privacy, security, intellectual property, accessibility for development purposes, and accountability have to be addressed to prevent the misuse of Big Data, Albert said.

Much of Big Data includes personal data with precise, geo-location-based information. We are well aware that e-commerce sites are watching our shopping preferences; search engines are examining our browsing habits; social media sites are inspecting our personal data, including our social relationships and what we share; and mobile service providers are collecting data on who we talk or send text messages to and possibly what we say to them, Albert said.

He added that legal protocols and institutional arrangements should be identified to access Big Data holdings for development purposes.

Current efforts are being initiated by Senator Bam Aquino toward the establishment of a Big Data center in the Philippines, he said. If it will be similar to Jakartas Pulse Lab, a public-private partnership scheme for its establishment is required.

Moreover, investments on capacity building is critical to train Big Data users to identify useful and quality information given that information that can be harnessed from Big Data is increasing by 2.5 quintillion bytes per day, Albert said.

Author:
Date: May 13, 2014
Source: NewsBytes

EDUCATION-RELATED degrees topped the list of the most offered graduate programs in the Philippines in 2012 based on a recent policy note published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). The state think tank said masters degrees in Education were offered in 62%, or almost three-fifths, of the higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Philippines based on available data from the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd). Higher degree courses in Public Administration and Business Administration followed, both of which are offered in 34% and 29%, respectively, of all tertiary education institutions offering masters degree programs nationwide.//

Author:
Date: May 14, 2014
Source: BusinessWorld

An Asian Development Bank study showed that population in Philippine slum areas will go up to 12 million people including those who are not income poor or those who live within $2 per day.

According to Marife Ballesteros, a senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, some Filipinos live in the slum area live with $4 every day.

Household in slums are not necessarily income poor, Ballesteros said.

More than 50 percent live above poverty line and can spend between $2 and $4 per day but reside in poor environments, she added.

Ballesteros said by 2020, slum population in Urban Philippine is expected to increase to 6.5 million citizens and in 2050 it will increase to 12.9 million Filipinos.

She explained that such behavior was because there was no alternative shelter in the city and they cannot afford travelling from a distant, less expensive, peri-urban regions for work.

Living in the slums, according to Ballesteros, will worsen poverty.

On a daily basis, slum dwellers are confronted with congestion, sub-standard housing and Physical deteriorated environment that lacks public service... these environmental conditions lead to deepening poverty and rising inequalities, she said.

Data showed that in 2020, about 1.7 million Filipinos will live in the slum areas of large towns outside metro manila while 6.2 million Pinoys will squeeze themselves in Metro Manila.

By 2050, this population will grow to 10.1 million and 8.9 million, respectively.//

Author: Jennifer Ambanta
Date: May 14, 2014
Source: Manila Standard Today

IN 2013 the Canadian government released a report called MetaScan 3: Emerging Technologies, which listed new technologies and described how they could shape, and even disturb, different sectors of society, including the agricultural industry.
According to the report, new food and drinks could be grown inside glass or plastic vats"which need only algae, sugar, sunlight or specific nutrients"at factory-level quantities by 2028. Research is being conducted toward developing in vitro meat or tubesteak, similar to how human organs are grown in laboratories today.
Advances in synthetic biology will make these biofactories possible. This growing field of biotechnology is empowering scientists to design climate-resilient and other specialized food strains of animals and plants and reengineer biological systems that produce better raw materials for industrial purposes.
More farms will be transformed by the digital revolution. Farmers will be able to monitor air, soil, water and crop conditions from afar by using high-resolution sensors. Radio-frequency identification, global-positioning-system and biometric technologies will help track the movement and vital signs of livestock and keep tractors, tillers and other farm infrastructure well-maintained.
Fully automated farms could become a reality if these technologies are paired with advanced robotics and cloud-computing applications. In fact, Japanese engineers developed in 2010 a robot that correctly identifies and harvests ripe strawberries. Units of the robot are set to go on sale this year.
The report says full-scale automation of farms is scientifically viable by 2018 and could be cheap enough to be adopted by 2021. Fleets of agricultural robots, or agbots, and farm drones could plant, harvest, plough, weed and irrigate one day.
While other countries anticipate technology-driven change, Philippine agriculture still lags behind, bogged down by lackluster growth and low productivity. Since the 1980s agricultural growth has averaged only 2.05 percent, lower than developing Asia (3.4 percent) and even Sub-Saharan Africa (2.5 percent).
According to a 2013 Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) policy note, the Aquino administrations goal of inclusive growth requires the speedy transition from traditional farming to agribusiness. The PIDS emphasized that, while our farms need more irrigation and access-to-market roads, the government must also provide more extension services, like research and development, and technology transfer, such as those mentioned in the Canadian report.
It is unfortunate that such recommendations are still being made, nearly two decades after the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 8435, or the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997. This law provided a clear policy direction to how the government must intervene to raise productivity and modernize agriculture, as the country became part of the World Trade Organization.
In February a new Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Engineering was created and tasked with creating a new five-year National Agri-Fishery Mechanization Program.
Recently, four key agencies of the Department of Agriculture"the National Food Authority, the Philippine Coconut Authority, the National Irrigation Administration, and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority"were moved to the Office of the President and placed under the supervision of a new Cabinet secretary.
The government appears to be doing something, but theres really little serious and substantive action to solve our agricultural woes. Our long-term tranquility hinges on our farms future.

Author: Senator Edgardo Angara
Date: May 12, 2014
Source: BusinessMirror

It is essential to improve the competitiveness of all services in the country in order to transform the economy and achieve broad-based growth, a policy note published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said.

According to the publication titled, Formulating the Philippine Services Strategy for Inclusive Growth, there are still vast opportunities left untapped to fully exploit the role of the services sector in the country.

Competitive services are necessary for inclusive growth. Services do not only directly contribute to the creation of jobs and value added in the economy but affect the performance of other sectors through critical intersectoral linkages, the policy note, authored by PIDS consultant Ramonette Serafica, said.

If services are inefficient, costly, of poor quality, and inaccessible especially to the poorer segments of the population, inclusive growth would not be attainable, it added.

The report said that in addition to restrictive policies, anti-competitive business practices also exist, and such practices undermine the efficient supply of services in the country.

Gains are greater when comprehensive sectoral reforms are undertaken that not only remove discriminatory measures but also create a pro-competition environment, the policy note said.

As part of the services strategy, a trade-related audit of the laws and regulations affecting the services sector should be conducted with the view of removing measures whose policy objective is no longer relevant or could be achieved by less restrictive measures, it added.

The policy note said that in order to further create an environment which is conducive to improving competitiveness, strategies involving government policy on innovation and human resource development (HRD) are needed as well.

Innovation is broader than just science and technology. It involves the use and dissemination of new technologies and practices that improve productivity, it said.

Creating an overall climate that encourages innovation includes appropriate incentives and mechanisms to support innovators, removing obstacles to innovative initiatives, establishing responsive research structures, and fostering a creative and receptive population through appropriate educational systems, added.

The policy note said that many countries, both developed and developing, are using innovation as the foundation of competitive industries from agriculture to services.

HRD policies meanwhile cover the quality of the labor force and the regulation of the labor market.

Author: Angela Celis
Date: May 12, 2014
Source: Malaya

EIGHTEEN universities and colleges in Northern Mindanao are applying for tuition increases ranging from 2 to 15 percent to the Commission on Higher Education (Ched-10) for academic year 2014-2015, two of which are community colleges.
According to Ched-10, the schools have complied with the requirements of Ched Memorandum Order No. 3, series of 2012, for application for increase such as consultation with the students, parents, and alumni, deliberation of miscellaneous fees, and others.
The moving average annual inflation rate of education is Cheds mechanism to check and filter the increases, whether to implement them or not, said John Banaynal, education program specialist of Ched-10.
There is an independent study conducted by Ched on the effects of the increase and what should be the reasonable rate [for the tuition fee], he said.
The said study is assisted by the University of the Philippines-Philippine Institute of Development Studies (UP-PIDS). Included in the discussion is the provincial office.
This years inflation rate is 7.21 percent. This means that schools proposing for an increase that is higher than the inflation rate will less likely be approved and will be asked to recalculate the increase, Banaynal said.
Just because the parents, students, and alumni approved the raise, it does not automatically mean that the increase will be approved. The application can still be disapproved, he added.
However, to schools that did not have an increase last year but are asking for an increase more than the inflation rate such as Northern Bukidnon Community College in Manolo Fortich and St. Peters College in Balingasag in Misamis Oriental, there might be considerations to accept them, Banaynal noted.
No school in the city proposed for a raise greater than the inflation rate.
It is better if the schools will ask for an increase to cover for the costs of operating the school, Banaynal said.
He added that Ched also has stepped up monitoring of schools and implementation of policies. Banaynal assured that miscellaneous and other fees are also monitored.
He, however, clarified that additional charges for freshmen is not a tuition increase, but a new fee. This fee is also monitored, he said.
Over the past six years, 37 schools have raised their tuition fees, some of them didnt annually apply for the raise.
The following are the schools and their proposed percentage of increase:
Misamis University, Ozamis City (2.75 percent); St. Michaels College (3.75 percent); Liceo de Cagayan University (3.99 percent); Cagayan de Oro College (4 percent); Christ the King College de Maranding, Lala, Lanao del Norte (5 percent); Misamis University, Oroquieta City (5 percent); Christ the King College, Gingoog City (5 percent); Capitol University (5 percent); Lourdes College (5 percent); La Salle University, Ozamiz City (5 percent); Xavier University (5 percent); Northern Bukidnon Community College, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon (10 percent); St. Peters College, Balingasag, Misamic Oriental (10 percent); North Central Mindanao College, Maranding, Lala, Lanao del Norte (10 percent); San Agustin Institute of Technology, Valencia City (10 percent); Fatima College, Mambajao, Camiguin (13.35 percent); Southern Capital College, Oroqueta City (15 percent); and Iligan Medical Center College (15 percent).
Oplan Balik Eskwela 2014

For the upcoming start of classes, Ched-10 sent a memo to the universities and colleges dubbed as Oplan Balik Eskwela 2014 in line with the implementation of CMO No. 9 s. 2013 known as enhanced policies and guidelines on student affairs and services programs.
Leonora Gomez, education specialist of Ched-10, said the memo was to remind the higher education institutes to submit a report of their affairs which will be [reported] to Manila.
After Ched central office, the reports will be forwarded to the Office of Student Services.

Author: Riz P. Sunio
Date: May 12, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu

A LAWMAKER has called on the government to enforce measures ensuring that micro, small, and medium enterprises have the same rights to financing as big corporations, saying supporting MSMEs can promote sustained economic growth and reduce poverty. In a recent privilege speech, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez batted for the strict and full implementation of Republic Act No. 9501, or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, to remove the constraints to funding assistance for MSMEs. "For the last 30 years, MSMEs have struggled to be given equal footing as their bigger brothers, particularly on the matter of access to credits from banks, both from the commercial and government financial institutions to help them start or grow their businesses," said Rodriguez. "But sadly, despite numerous programs that are supposed to address this issue, we still receive complaints about the difficult access."

The MSME sector is seen as the critical driver of a country's economic growth. In the Philippines, it accounts for 99.6 percent of total establishments, contributes 61.2 percent of the country's total employment, and provides 35.7 percent of total valued added. He added that the MSME sector has been extensively constrained from exporting, acquiring new technology, and engaging in innovation by the lack of financial support. "Many MSMEs are unable to qualify for bank loans, because they lack the necessary track record and collateral." With the government's backing, MSMEs can generate more jobs for undergraduates, out-of-school youths, housewives, and persons with disability, said Rodriguez. A recent study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, he said, "concluded that the country's MSMEs fare poorly in terms of access to credit, technology and skills compared with peers in other ASEAN member-states." A study commissioned by the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) indicated that half of the total loans lent by the banking sector to SMEs came from government financial institutions and the other half from private banks. Of the private banks' share, half was accounted for by only one bank-Planters Development Bank.


Author:
Date: May 03, 2014
Source: Sun Star Cebu