PIDS in the News Archived (June 2015)

The oft cited limited funding access as a deterrent for growth of the countrys small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should really be a non-issue currently in light of the excess liquidity flooding the market. Funding supply and demand gap estimates of different agencies vary from a low P70 billion of the Philippine Exporters Confederation to a high of P270 billion by NEDA/Philippine Institute for Development Studies. The stark conclusion, however, remains the same: theres a surfeit of loanable cash that needs to be put to productive use.
So why have these available funds from the banking sector failed to benefit SMEs, where financing may as well be a life-and-death concern? The foremost obstacle is the lack of substantiated clean information regarding individual SMEs, making the segment an increased credit risk. In addition, banks favor efficiency; why put in the same amount of effort at probable higher costs to process SME loans when resources are better maximized with larger loans and their equivalent higher returns at a reduced risk?
Solving the Gordian knot to effect social and economic inclusion will involve efforts in multiple arenas, including regulatory for refinements to the Magna Carta for MSMEs and increasing banks commitment to social responsibility. Valiant private sector efforts in cooperation with government agencies, however, should hopefully make a tangible dent on this funding distribution issue.
FINEX SME Plus
A few years back, FINEX Foundation for Entrepreneurship (FFEI), the SME foundation of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), developed a web-based portal, FINEX SME Plus, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) with the intent of providing an online window that will allow MSMEs to apply for a business loan with participating banks, reach out to other firms for possible synergistic collaboration, and avail of expertise from registered FINEX business consultants in growing their business.
To increase the portals ability to respond to MSME basic needs of access to finance, education, and markets, FFEI partnered with Dun and Bradstreet (D and B) Philippines and AIR21 Global, Inc. for a sleeker, muscled revamp of the online window aimed at increasing traction from MSMEs and assisting participating banks in processing MSME loans. For a more intimate grasp of the picture, separate focus group discussions (FGD) were held with participating banks and SMEs.
In the FGD held recently, SME representatives outlined items on their wish list, including wanting to see comparative bank offers, different loan types available with banks equivalent document requirements, and downloable application forms and submission function to start off the loan application, among others. To further assist banks in evaluating applicants effectively and to reduce processing time, D and B Philippine President and Air21 CEO, Shiela Lina, expounded on D and Bs intended service of providing MSMEs a certification seal, which will assure banks that the applicants information has been properly validated. This should contribute significantly to reducing the banks discomfort with spotty MSME information during loan application.
Made for SMEs
More than answering the primary need for funding, FINEX EVP Victor Dela Dingco reiterates that his brainchild, FINEX SME Plus, is envisioned to become a true online community where MSM entrepreneurs can interact for business solutions, find legal assistance through MyLegalWhiz, avail of accounting services through the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), consult with various business specialists from FINEX, and avail of educational resources. The FINEX SME Plus revamped portal will be launched in the Third FINEX SME Forum in July 15, 2015 at the Dusit Thani Hotel Makati. Admission is free.
Given that 99.58 percent of business enterprises operating in the Philippines are classified as MSMEs, which employ nearly two-thirds of the labor force, MSMEs are a considerable market given the right business model. In the long run, the FINEX SME Plus online portal is envisioned to tangibly contribute to furthering the MSMEs role as a multiplier for economic and social benefits.//
Evangeline Navarro is a serial entrepreneur and investor, a finance teacher; and a student at heart on how money and resources affect people. She can be contacted at evangeline.navarro@gmail.com.


Author: Evangeline Navarro
Date: June 28, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

The countrys steep corporate income tax (CIT) remains a deterrent to higher inflow of foreign direct investments (FDI), with the Philippines failing to keep up with the faster pace of CIT drops globally, economists said.
Dr. Erlinda Medalla, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow, made the observation during the Manila launch of the World Investment Report for 2015 of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development.
The report, with the theme Reforming International Investment Governance, focused on two key issues: reforming the rules of international investment and coherence of international tax and investment policies.
In the context of the Philippines, Medalla noted that the uncompetitive tax system is a significant factor turning off foreign investors, and plays a part in investors decision to divert FDI to neighboring countries with more competitive tax regimes.
Among the countries in Southeast Asia, we have the highest corporate income tax at 30 percent; and that is already a decline from a previous 35 percent. The trend globally is for the decline in CIT and although were following, were still lagging behind, Medalla said.
Citing figures from Asia Briefing Ltd., Medalla pointed out that among the 13 Asian countries surveyed, the Philippines has the third-highest CIT after India and Myanmar.
Were still higher than most [countries] because others had faster CIT declines. If youre an investor and the tax in the country where you put your money is among the highest in the region, it has a direct impact on the profitability; they would really choose to invest more in a place where taxes are competitive, the economist added.
Thailand reduced its CIT rate from 30 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2012 and 20 percent currently. Vietnam also lowered its CIT rate from 25 percent to 22 percent this year. Senate Bill 2149 seeks to adjust the tax brackets for individual income tax and to reduce the CIT by 2 percent yearly for three years.
However, with government officials fearing the measures impact on the states coffers, lawmakers decided to defer the measure and aired doubts that it will still pass in the present Congress.
For Medalla and Philippine Institute for Development Studies President and former National Economic and Development Authority Deputy Director General Dr. Gilberto M. Llanto, reforms can be done in a measured way to balance revenue collection and attractiveness as an investment destination.
Its about time we do some reforms. Of course, the government is not keen on those reforms because of revenues, but they have to think of ways to compensate. Maybe they can do some studies to show that initially, revenues may go down but because of economic activities that lowering the CIT will induce, perhaps, its worth it, Medalla said.//


Author: Catherine Pillas,
Date: June 25, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

CEBU, Philippines - Department of Education -7 director Juliet Jeruta has issued a memorandum authorizing the conduct of a mandatory drug test on public school teachers in at least 19 school divisions throughout Central Visayas.
In a report over dyLA, teachers who will refuse the test owing to some reasons, old age for example, will be asked to give official explanation.
Jeruta said the drug test will now become a mandatory requirement for those teacher-applicants.
Prior to DepEd-7s memorandum, there have been proposals to submit public school teachers to a random drug test.
DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, who was in Cebu yesterday for two events, said he welcomes the move but stressed that this should be done right in order to prosecute whoever is found positive of illegal drugs.
If we have to do it, we want to do it right, Luistro said in an interview with the media at the Casino Espaol de Cebu where DepEd signed a memorandum of agreement with the Cebu Provincial government for a donated lot.
Luistro said there were cases in the past of forced drug testing that were junked by the court due to technical issues.
We cant prosecute if we are going against human rights, he said.
Luistro said they are willing to conduct drug tests, but we have to do it carefully, with respect to the rights of the teachers.
As far as Im concerned, I think it is possible to do that, but we have to respect the rights of the teachers, he added.
Calls for a random drug test on school teachers became ripe when one in Badian town was arrested for alleged illegal drug dealing. The Cebu Provincial Board even went to the point of urging DepEd to submit its teachers to drug test.
Challenge to business sector
Meanwhile, Luistro challenged all business sectors to be a tool in the elimination of out-of-school youth in the country by providing them access to education.
Luistro challenged the Philippine Business for Social Progress, as part of its corporate social responsibility, to conduct a survey or census as to the percentage of out-of-school-youth nationwide.
The survey would be done to all corporations, buildings, and households aiming to list down any child who is not in school.
It is possible for the Philippines and for the Visayas to ensure that there will be no more out-of-school youth especially from 5 to 15 years by providing them access to education, said Luistro, the keynote speaker of yesterdays 27th Visayas Membership Meeting of PBSP.
With the survey, Luistro said DepEd can initiate effective and sustainable programs like alternative learning system.
In 2008, he said the number of out-of-school youth was estimated at 11 percent or 2.9 million of school children from ages 5 to 15 years old.
A 2013 study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed that the number of out-of-school youth went down to 1.2 million from 2.9 million.
Garnering around 5.5 percent of that age sector, Luistro pointed out that the number of out-of-school Filipinos aged 5 to 15 years old dramatically gone down below a million in the past two years.
Apart from survey, Luistro also challenged PBSP to help DepEd draft curriculum with inputs of business-community skills.
In past decades, the critique of the curriculum is that our graduates are not ready of the needs of business. Business sector do not complain if you get graduates who are not tailor-fit for industry needs today, he said.
Around 300,000 students are expected to enroll June next year and the figure will still increase in the succeeding years with an estimated 600,000 new enrollees in Visayas alone.
In the past decade, the graduate of grade 10 who will go to college will be just around 56 percent. But next year, our target is that our graduates will be provided with two more years ready to go to college and the same time ready to start their business or enter the world of work, said Luistro, adding that DepEd will also partner with other local government units and private entities.
Further, Luistro asked business sectors to free up their firms, allowing their employees to teach part time in the implementation of the senior high school program and to open up corporations and firms for emersion and on the job training of senior high school students.
PBSP executive director Rafael Lopa said they are committed to support DepEds programs.//


Author: Liv G. Campo and Kristine B. Quintas
Date: June 25, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

Philippine Institute of Development Studies, through a UNICEF-supported study, reported at a recent forum that the number of out-of-school children in the country has dropped to 1.2 million from 2.9 million in 2008.
In a presentation to Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Department of Education (DepEd) officials, teachers, NGOs and education advocates, PIDS senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert and UP-Diliman Prof. Clarissa David cited DepEds works in the passage of the Kindergarten Law (2011), implementation of the K to 12 program and the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) project as the major contributors to the progress.
DepEd welcomed recommendations from the study to step up cooperation cooperation among the department, LGUs, schools and parents to track and monitor childrens school attendance and the various reasons for student dropout.
We have seen significant progress in the education sector since the Global Initiative started in the Philippines in 2010. I congratulate the DepEd for its efforts and progress made so far. We have high hopes on reaching all children, especially those in marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable settings, to have an improved quality of learning, and that the education system will retain those children who are already in the system, said UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander at the presentation of the report.
Backed by UNICEF and the UNESCO Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, the report also calls on the DepEd and all partners to continue intensifying the campaign for Early Childhood Education and on-time school entry in Kindergarten, in collaboration with the DSWD through help from LGUs and NGOs, as well as engaging parents through parent education.
While there is definitely positive development, we have a long way to go to achieve universal primary education in the Philippines. We need to continue paying attention to what goes on in the classroom, quality of learning and focus on the processes and changes that occur through the K to 12 implementation. Identifying out-of-school children requires local and school level efforts, and schools need to be empowered to seek out those children with adequate resources, Sylwander said.//


Author:
Date: June 18, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

Philippine Institute of Development Studies, through a UNICEF-supported study, reported at a recent forum that the number of out-of-school children in the country has dropped to 1.2 million from 2.9 million in 2008.
In a presentation to Education Secretary Armin Luistro and Department of Education (DepEd) officials, teachers, NGOs and education advocates, PIDS senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert and UP-Diliman Prof. Clarissa David cited DepEds works in the passage of the Kindergarten Law (2011), implementation of the K to 12 program and the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) project as the major contributors to the progress.
DepEd welcomed recommendations from the study to step up cooperation cooperation among the department, LGUs, schools and parents to track and monitor childrens school attendance and the various reasons for student dropout.
We have seen significant progress in the education sector since the Global Initiative started in the Philippines in 2010. I congratulate the DepEd for its efforts and progress made so far. We have high hopes on reaching all children, especially those in marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable settings, to have an improved quality of learning, and that the education system will retain those children who are already in the system, said UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander at the presentation of the report.
Backed by UNICEF and the UNESCO Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, the report also calls on the DepEd and all partners to continue intensifying the campaign for Early Childhood Education and on-time school entry in Kindergarten, in collaboration with the DSWD through help from LGUs and NGOs, as well as engaging parents through parent education.
While there is definitely positive development, we have a long way to go to achieve universal primary education in the Philippines. We need to continue paying attention to what goes on in the classroom, quality of learning and focus on the processes and changes that occur through the K to 12 implementation. Identifying out-of-school children requires local and school level efforts, and schools need to be empowered to seek out those children with adequate resources, Sylwander said.//


Author:
Date: June 18, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

SENATE Majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to make public the list of the beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

Cayetano made the call after the Asian Development Bank (ADB), one of the institutions recognizing the program of the government, reported that only 30% or P19 billion of the P62 billion allocated for the monthly cash distribution under the CCT program did not go to intended beneficiaries.

Bakit sine-centralize ng DSWD ang pagpili sa kung sino bibigyan, ang sabi nila para walang pulitika pero naging mas inefficient. Ngayon, sa P62 billion, halos 8% o P5 billion ay napupunta sa administrative cost. Yan po ang briefing samin sa Senado last budget hearing, said Cayetano in a radio interview over dzMM.

According to Cayetano, only the DSWD has the power to identify the families who will benefit from the program.

P5 billion nito ay sa mga taong pipili at magma-manage kung kanino mapupunta samantalang may mga barangay tayo, may municipality, may city (local government) kung saan mas efficient na sila mamimili, sila dumaan at io-audit na lang ng CoA (Commission on Audit) at DSWD, he added.

The senator stressed that it is important to bare the list to show the detailed names, provinces or districts of the families receiving the money.

Nagkaroon na rin ng CoA report yan na nagkakaroon ng mga pamilya na doble o triple ang kinukuha, kung hindi ako nagkakamali kalahating milyon na pamilya ang sinasabi. Kaya lang, noong nagpaliwanag ang DSWD, paano mo naman hindi tatanggapin na sila ang may hawak ng data? Cayetano said.

Ang isang malaking problema ng Kongreso, nagre-rely din tayo sa data ng DSWD dahil sa laki at sa dami ng mga pangalan and I dont think na itinu-turn over ang database.

Cayetano however praised the program and gave credit to DSWD employees who really work hard but stressed there are things that still need to be done.

Ang gusto, umabot ng P100 bilyon yan yung sa estimate na ipinakita sa amin in the next two years, he said.

In the latest report, the ADB has clarified that the CCT program implemented by the DSWd went to the poor, explaining that its previous statement that non-poor families received cash grants was based on previous data.

In a statement, ADB country director Richard Bolt clarified that the figure in the Learning Lessons publication of ADBs Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), which is based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices.

It is unfortunate that this reference was not clearAs such, we are confident that the issue raised is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program, he added.//

Author: Marlon Purificacion
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: Journal Online

MANILA - The country director of the Asian Development Bank on Friday said the Philippine government has already addressed leakages in the conditional cash transfer program.
In a letter to ABS-CBN News, ADB Country Director Richard Bolt said the figure in the "Learning Lessons" publication of ADB's Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies.
He said the PIDS used 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices.
"The targeting issue raised in the PIDS report has been addressed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and conditional cash transfer program and related ADB support. As such, we are confident that the issue raised is dealt with in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program," he said.
The ADB official also noted that the Independent Evaluation report is "strongly positive and supportive of the program and its achievements including improved health outcomes and increased school participation, as well as its likely effect on the employability of the beneficiaries, and their chances for breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty."
The ADB report earlier said nearly P19 billion of the conditional cash transfer program's P62 billion budget did not go to the poor.
It also said the CCT program needs to improve the selection of its beneficiaries.
The ADB said the conditional cash transfer program dubbed the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program improved health outcomes and increased school participation among children 6-14 years old.
"While the long-run impacts of the program on poverty have yet to be analyzed, it is expected to improve the employability of the poor, enhancing their resources and capacity to respond to environmental shocks. This is crucial for this country where direct damages of natural disasters cost more than 0.5% of gross domestic product every year," it said.
Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman earlier said the government is already working to address errors in screening beneficiaries for the CCT program.
She said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has already delisted more than 100,000 families.
She said the first household targeting survey was done in 2009 during the Arroyo administration.
She also clarified there are a number of families who may be considered non-poor but actually have the same living conditions as those below the poverty line.
CASH FOR THE POOREST
Inspired by similar efforts in Latin America, the conditional cash transfer program is designed to help reduce poverty.
Under the program, a family with a maximum of three children can get up to 1,400 pesos monthly for five years. Part of the amount comes as a health grant and the rest educational assistance.
To qualify, a family must belong to the poorest of the poor based on a government identification system.
There must also be children up to 18 years old and/or a woman pregnant by the time a family is assessed by the DSWD.
In exchange, pregnant women must go through pre-and post-natal care and the childbirth administered by a professional.
Children up to five years old are required to undergo checkups and vaccines.
Those between six and 14 years old must receive deworming pills twice yearly while those between three and 18 years old must be in school attending at least 85 percent of the classes every month.
As of March this year, the program has covered 4.4 million families including 11 million school children.//


Author:
Date: June 26, 2015
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA, Philippines - An anti-tobacco advocate is seeking a health promotion law to institutionalize campaigns on the harmful effects of smoking.
Health promotion must be institutionalized to ensure the continuity of the campaign despite a change in leadership in government, according to Emer Rojas, New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) president.
As we are heading towards unitary sin tax by next year, we have to take advantage of the full benefits of the tobacco levy by increasing capacity to raise the peoples awareness on healthy lifestyles, he said.
Poor Filipinos would mostly benefit from the law since tobacco consumption is higher among those in the lower socio-economic class compared to developed countries, Rojas said.
Increase in taxes imposed on the tobacco industry must be used on education and awareness so as to reduce if not to prevent the rise in non-communicable diseases, he said.
In 2012, the same year that the sin tax became law, the prevalence of smoking among the poorest of the poor was at 40 percent and 25 percent among the rich, Rojas said, ca survey of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.//

Author: Sheila Crisostomo
Date: June 23, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman clarifies that figures in a recent ADB report assessing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program are outdated

MANILA, Philippines " Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Dinky Soliman said her agency is currently enforcing measures to maintain a clean database for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).
We have a Grievance Redress System (GRS) which captures and processes complaints about the program and the beneficiaries. Through this, we have already delisted more than 77,000 beneficiaries, she said in a press statement on Monday, June 29.
Soliman added that the DSWD also conducts regular spot checks nationwide as well as consultations with partner agencies and organizations to help improve the implementation of the program.
Soliman was reacting to a recent paper on Asian countries' inclusive growth recently released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which noted that improvements are needed in the [Philipppine] programs targeting system to reduce an estimate leakage rate of 30%.
This implied that families not falling under the non-poor category became beneficiaries of the Aquino administrations conditional cash transfer program.
ADB Philippine country director Richard Bolt, however, explained in another press statement that the targeting issue raised in the report has been fully addressed by the DSWD.
I wish to clarify that the figure in the Learning Lessons publication of ADBs Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute of Development of Studies, which is based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices, said Bolt, adding that it was unfortunate that this reference was not made clear.
As such, we are confident that the issue raised is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program, he added, saying that the ADB report is strongly positive and supportive of the 4Ps and its achievements.
During the Rappler Talk: Ending hunger and poverty in the Philippines on June 29, Soliman also said the leakage mentioned in the ADB report does not refer to corruption.
Targeting error means there were non-poor who were given [cash], and thats not corruption " thats an error in targeting, she emphasized. (READ: Lawmakers question DSWD's conditional cash transfer program)
According to her, there were only around 700,000 household beneficiaries when the data referred to in the ADB report was generated.
Now, we have expanded to more than 4.4 million. A number of steps have already been taken to address the problems that arose when it was still being started. Different institutions, including ADB, has even recognized the departments efforts in line with this, Soliman said. (READ: The costs and benefits of Pantawid Pamilya)
She also expressed appreciation for the clarification made by the ADB.
4Ps assessment
DSWD is currently conducting the second assessment of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR), which will identify whether a household is poor, near-poor, or non-poor through indicators specified by the department.
After this second round of assessment, we should be able to get a registry of who should be included in our programs, particularly the Pantawid Pamilya, Soliman said.
According to her, recent disasters rendered many families poor, homeless, and jobless, making them more in need of support from the government.
Soliman also said the public may report their complaints or ask questions about the 4Ps through the GRS. They may text or call 0918-912-2813, email4psreklamo@gmail.com, or notify the Tanggapan ng Reklamo Facebook page. " Rappler.com


Author: Mara Cepeda,
Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Rappler.com

We support calls for an investigation into the governments Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program and hope that this leads to a rigorous evaluation of its efficiency. The calls not only came from critics of the Aquino Administration, but also from its political allies. For instance, House Speaker Feliciano Sonny Belmonte Jr. was quoted in the media as saying that allegations of misappropriations must be checked.
Belmonte, along with other lawmakers, was reacting to a recent Asian Development Bank (ADB) report that said 30 percent of the CCT funds did not fall into the hands of the intended beneficiaries. The lender later clarified that the problem referred to was based on a recent report by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) involving 2012 data, and that since then, the government has cleaned up its list of beneficiaries. On Friday, the Palaces Official Gazette quoted Richard Bolt, ADBs Philippine country director, as saying: As such, we are confident that the issue raised is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program.
We are not as certain of this as Director Bolt. The report quoted by the ADB points out that the CCT has not been rigorously reviewed since it was ramped up by the Aquino government. That is true until today.
PIDS explained that the problems with targeting stems from the rapid scaling up of the program, which happened when the systems were still being developed. From 2009 when the improper targeting supposedly happened, the CCTs beneficiaries were only 630,000 households. By May 2015, the number of beneficiaries has jumped to 4.4 million households. Such rapid expansion even required the government to secure loans from the ADB and World Bank. This year, the CCTs budget is a whopping P64.7 billion.
Set of indicators needed
As we have said many times in this space, we have reservations about the effectiveness of a dole-out program, and that the better policy to address poverty is through job generation. Sometimes, though, the success of conditional cash transfer programs in other countries seems to support the claim that the CCT can help alleviate poverty, if effectively administered.
To date, however, we have heard only anecdotal evidence of the programs positive results from Secretary Corazon Dinky Soliman of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which administers the CCT. She claims that the decline in self-rated hunger and some success stories were proof that the CCT was working. But she also acknowledges that the self-rated poverty rate has remained unchanged.
The poverty incidence rate stood at 19.7 percent, according to the latest government statistics gathered in 2012. Poverty is measured every three years, and compared with 2009, the incidence rate was about the same at 20.5 percent.
A review of the CCT requires tracking several indicators, since movements in the poverty rate cannot be attributed to one factor alone. For instance, policymakers should look at school dropout rates. A condition for receiving the subsidy is for recipient families to send their children to school.
The dropout rates at the elementary level rose to 6.81 percent in school-year 2012-2013 from 6.02 percent in 2008-2009, which covered the period when the CCT officially started. The high school dropout rate also climbed, from 7.45 percent in 2008-2009 to 9.2 percent in 2012-2013.
There are other indicators that seem to question the efficacy of the dole-outs. All of these underscore the need for a thorough review of the CCT.//

Author:
Date: June 30, 2015
Source: Manila Times

THE governments conditional cash transfer program has mechanisms for rooting out ineligible beneficiaries from its database, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.

We have a Grievance Redress System (GRS) which captures and processes complaints about the program and the beneficiaries. Through this, we have already delisted more than 77,000 beneficiaries, Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said in a statement.

Ms. Soliman was responding to reports that the program, known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino, allegedly suffers a leakage rate of 30%. The leakage data was attributed to a study by the Asian development Bank.

In a separate statement, the DSWD said it clarified with the ADB that the study in question was based on 2009 data.

Philippine Country Director Richard Bolt was quoted as saying in the statement that the figure in the Learning Lessons publication of ADBs Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), which is based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices. It is unfortunate that this reference was not clear.

Mr. Bolt added that the problems related to beneficiary targeting raised in the PIDS report has been fully addressed by the DSWD and the conditional cash transfer program.

As such, we are confident that the issue raised is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program, Mr. Bolt said. --

Author: JE Villaruel
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: BusinessWorld

We have been hearing a lot about inclusive growth or how to make every Filipino benefit from our strong economy. What has been happening lately is the exact opposite: the benefits from our supposedly robust economy (courtesy of our OFWs and BPOs) are enjoyed only by the one percent of rich folks, mostly of the oligarchic families who had long been living off the fat of the land.
In the US and in Europe, they are talking of the widening gap between the one percent and the 99 percent. As is the case here, it means the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Unfortunately, anyone who points out the problem and calls for intervention to bridge the gap, is called a communist.
Putting ideologies aside, there is a good practical reason why we would want the poor to break out of poverty or at least have enough decent food on the table other than the leftovers from fast food restaurants called pagpag. In a word, survival theirs and everyone elses.
If they become even poorer and miserably hungrier than they already are, all bets are off. We can not feel secure if they dont rise up in revolution, there will be a crime wave spilling blood in our streets and in our homes. Indeed, our situation now is already living a bit too dangerously. The reason for our social compact, governments reason for being, is fading fast.
These thoughts came to mind as I read a story from abs-cbnnews.com about a study done by the ADB which headlined the finding that 30 percent of CCT or Conditional Cash Transfer beneficiaries are not poor. Wow! The first thing that comes to mind is a 30 percent leakage from this flagship anti-poverty program of government. Thats real bad news.
But wait a minute it isnt what it seems. It is more than a bit complicated and unfortunately, the news writer didnt capture the essence of the story. True, DSWD could do a better job of targeting CCT beneficiaries and weeding out fakes and the unqualified. But it isnt that bad.
Way back in December last year, Dr. Jose Ramon G. Albert wrote an article which revealed poverty among beneficiaries (at 58.1 percent) would be 6.4 percentage points higher (64.5 percent) without the CCT.
Doesnt this suggest some CCT households are not poor? Certainly, but independent evaluation by the Social Weather Stations shows most of these non-poor beneficiaries are nearly-poor.
This is why the reaction of Gov. Joey Salceda on Facebook to the ADB story of abs-cbnnews.com is instructive.
The 30 percent figure, I presume, must be empirically based, say on an ADB-commissioned random survey with at least 2,400 respondents. Then the issue is the definition of poor - if the recent number of 4Ps of 4.8m then it does exceed the 2012 FIES 4.2m poor.
But just imagine the definition. The next higher rank is lower middle which has 7m, and adding up = 11.2 million vulnerable or poor+near-poor. From a policy perspective, the 30 percent must be an acceptable buffer.
In last Annual Poverty Indicator Survey or APIS, Jose Ramon Gatmaitan Albert recommended that very policy of covering the near poor since the Philippine condition of 2.6m out of poverty but 2.8m into poverty resulting in higher poverty principally due to near-poor becoming poor. In short, we must go after also that 2.8m that slides into poverty.
For background, from P4 million in 2007 to support 6,000 households, the 2014 budget was P62.6 billion to assist four million households. According to the World Bank, our CCT or Pantawid has become the third largest CCT program globally, next only to Brazil (8.8 million households) and Mexico (6.5 million households).
Yes, poverty incidence has not changed, even with the CCT. Citing data from the 2013 APIS, conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Dr. Albert said the poverty rate (of 25 percent) could be as much 26.4 percent without Pantawid.
Even the extreme poverty rate (of 11.1 percent), the proportion of Pinoys whose income is less than needs for food, would be 1.4 percentage points higher without Pantawid (12.5 percent) in place.
Government officially defines poor according to income data and poverty thresholds. The PSA generates income data through a process of asking detailed information on income through surveys.
On the other hand, the DSWD, through their Listahanan, obtains information on facilities (such as electricity, toilets, walls, roofs) and assets (such as refrigerators, television sets, and the like), and on the basis of a statistical model estimates household income.
Dr. Albert concedes there are errors in identifying poor households, but DSWD has a process for delisting the non-poor, and also for having the poor who are not in its list to be enlisted, subject to verification.
In any case, Dr. Albert points out the World Bank estimates that more than four fifths (82 percent) of Pantawid beneficiaries are from the bottom 40 percent of income distribution, and more than half (53 percent) are from the bottom 20 percent.
Indeed, the World Bank has shown that when Pantawid is compared in targeting accuracy with other CCTs, the DSWD program performs better than all CCTs with a large coverage in the population (of more than 15 percent), except for that of Brazil.
In 2013, Pantawid beneficiary families received an average of P1,407 of monthly cash grants. Without the cash grants, these families had an average per capita income of P13,293, whereas the poverty line per person was P19,262.
While the CCT budget is large, what is received by beneficiaries is still not enough to help them get out of poverty. About half of cash grants are used for food, a quarter (25 percent) on education-related expenses, while seven percent is used on health, and close to nothing is used for recreation or alcohol.
The amounts have even been eroded by inflation: in the pilot program in 2006, maximum cash grants were a fourth (23 percent) of household income, but by 2013, this went down to less than a 10th (seven percent).
The mistaken notion is that the money given is a dole out. It isnt. It is an investment on our human capital. Far from being a dole out, the grant is given on the condition the family sends their children to school and regularly bring them to health centers.
Unless we have a population that is educated and healthy, there is no way we can graduate to developed country status. The gap between the rich and poor can only worsen. Our poor cannot break out of poverty unless they are educated and are healthy.
A study done by PIDS, a government think tank known for its independence, disproved the notion that CCT beneficiaries are encouraged to become mendicants.
Parents work to compensate for loss of income from children who attend school. When people publicly recognize the importance of education, families are convinced to keep their children in school. Households also respond by exerting more effort.
Indeed, CCT is a long term program, one that goes beyond the six year term of our Presidents. It is not fair to judge it in the short term, when it is still figuring out how to implement it best.
Train woes
Here is a letter from reader Rosie Sta Ana:
Dear Mr. Chanco,
Thank you for constantly reminding the administration about our public infra woes. Your column today is really an opener to those cabinet secretaries.
If I may add, please remind the management of LRT2 about the comfort rooms (CR) they built last year in almost all the stations of LRT2. It seems these were finished by end of December, but until now the doors are closed and work has stopped. We assume they have completed the work, but have placed their use on hold, why???
Everyday we see long lines of commuters queuing for the one and only CR in the stations (only one for females and males).
There are machines displayed in the stations for reading what they say one ticket for all the trains (LRT1/LRT2/ MRT). It had been there for months now and still not in use...???
Why did they prioritize acquiring these ticket machines over other more important things like maintenance of the coaches-- everyday we experience coaches without aircons/blowers, it is so hot in this weather and if you have asthma you feel youll get an attack while inside the trains.
When will the management of these public transport systems deal with these problems head-on???
More power to you and please continue being makulit with them!
Boo Chancos e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco



Author: Boo Chanco
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

We have been hearing a lot about inclusive growth or how to make every Filipino benefit from our strong economy. What has been happening lately is the exact opposite: the benefits from our supposedly robust economy (courtesy of our OFWs and BPOs) are enjoyed only by the one percent of rich folks, mostly of the oligarchic families who had long been living off the fat of the land.
In the US and in Europe, they are talking of the widening gap between the one percent and the 99 percent. As is the case here, it means the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Unfortunately, anyone who points out the problem and calls for intervention to bridge the gap, is called a communist.
Putting ideologies aside, there is a good practical reason why we would want the poor to break out of poverty or at least have enough decent food on the table other than the leftovers from fast food restaurants called pagpag. In a word, survival theirs and everyone elses.
If they become even poorer and miserably hungrier than they already are, all bets are off. We can not feel secure if they dont rise up in revolution, there will be a crime wave spilling blood in our streets and in our homes. Indeed, our situation now is already living a bit too dangerously. The reason for our social compact, governments reason for being, is fading fast.
These thoughts came to mind as I read a story from abs-cbnnews.com about a study done by the ADB which headlined the finding that 30 percent of CCT or Conditional Cash Transfer beneficiaries are not poor. Wow! The first thing that comes to mind is a 30 percent leakage from this flagship anti-poverty program of government. Thats real bad news.
But wait a minute it isnt what it seems. It is more than a bit complicated and unfortunately, the news writer didnt capture the essence of the story. True, DSWD could do a better job of targeting CCT beneficiaries and weeding out fakes and the unqualified. But it isnt that bad.
Way back in December last year, Dr. Jose Ramon G. Albert wrote an article which revealed poverty among beneficiaries (at 58.1 percent) would be 6.4 percentage points higher (64.5 percent) without the CCT.
Doesnt this suggest some CCT households are not poor? Certainly, but independent evaluation by the Social Weather Stations shows most of these non-poor beneficiaries are nearly-poor.
This is why the reaction of Gov. Joey Salceda on Facebook to the ADB story of abs-cbnnews.com is instructive.
The 30 percent figure, I presume, must be empirically based, say on an ADB-commissioned random survey with at least 2,400 respondents. Then the issue is the definition of poor - if the recent number of 4Ps of 4.8m then it does exceed the 2012 FIES 4.2m poor.
But just imagine the definition. The next higher rank is lower middle which has 7m, and adding up = 11.2 million vulnerable or poor+near-poor. From a policy perspective, the 30 percent must be an acceptable buffer.
In last Annual Poverty Indicator Survey or APIS, Jose Ramon Gatmaitan Albert recommended that very policy of covering the near poor since the Philippine condition of 2.6m out of poverty but 2.8m into poverty resulting in higher poverty principally due to near-poor becoming poor. In short, we must go after also that 2.8m that slides into poverty.
For background, from P4 million in 2007 to support 6,000 households, the 2014 budget was P62.6 billion to assist four million households. According to the World Bank, our CCT or Pantawid has become the third largest CCT program globally, next only to Brazil (8.8 million households) and Mexico (6.5 million households).
Yes, poverty incidence has not changed, even with the CCT. Citing data from the 2013 APIS, conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Dr. Albert said the poverty rate (of 25 percent) could be as much 26.4 percent without Pantawid.
Even the extreme poverty rate (of 11.1 percent), the proportion of Pinoys whose income is less than needs for food, would be 1.4 percentage points higher without Pantawid (12.5 percent) in place.
Government officially defines poor according to income data and poverty thresholds. The PSA generates income data through a process of asking detailed information on income through surveys.
On the other hand, the DSWD, through their Listahanan, obtains information on facilities (such as electricity, toilets, walls, roofs) and assets (such as refrigerators, television sets, and the like), and on the basis of a statistical model estimates household income.
Dr. Albert concedes there are errors in identifying poor households, but DSWD has a process for delisting the non-poor, and also for having the poor who are not in its list to be enlisted, subject to verification.
In any case, Dr. Albert points out the World Bank estimates that more than four fifths (82 percent) of Pantawid beneficiaries are from the bottom 40 percent of income distribution, and more than half (53 percent) are from the bottom 20 percent.
Indeed, the World Bank has shown that when Pantawid is compared in targeting accuracy with other CCTs, the DSWD program performs better than all CCTs with a large coverage in the population (of more than 15 percent), except for that of Brazil.
In 2013, Pantawid beneficiary families received an average of P1,407 of monthly cash grants. Without the cash grants, these families had an average per capita income of P13,293, whereas the poverty line per person was P19,262.
While the CCT budget is large, what is received by beneficiaries is still not enough to help them get out of poverty. About half of cash grants are used for food, a quarter (25 percent) on education-related expenses, while seven percent is used on health, and close to nothing is used for recreation or alcohol.
The amounts have even been eroded by inflation: in the pilot program in 2006, maximum cash grants were a fourth (23 percent) of household income, but by 2013, this went down to less than a 10th (seven percent).
The mistaken notion is that the money given is a dole out. It isnt. It is an investment on our human capital. Far from being a dole out, the grant is given on the condition the family sends their children to school and regularly bring them to health centers.
Unless we have a population that is educated and healthy, there is no way we can graduate to developed country status. The gap between the rich and poor can only worsen. Our poor cannot break out of poverty unless they are educated and are healthy.
A study done by PIDS, a government think tank known for its independence, disproved the notion that CCT beneficiaries are encouraged to become mendicants.
Parents work to compensate for loss of income from children who attend school. When people publicly recognize the importance of education, families are convinced to keep their children in school. Households also respond by exerting more effort.
Indeed, CCT is a long term program, one that goes beyond the six year term of our Presidents. It is not fair to judge it in the short term, when it is still figuring out how to implement it best.
Train woes
Here is a letter from reader Rosie Sta Ana:
Dear Mr. Chanco,
Thank you for constantly reminding the administration about our public infra woes. Your column today is really an opener to those cabinet secretaries.
If I may add, please remind the management of LRT2 about the comfort rooms (CR) they built last year in almost all the stations of LRT2. It seems these were finished by end of December, but until now the doors are closed and work has stopped. We assume they have completed the work, but have placed their use on hold, why???
Everyday we see long lines of commuters queuing for the one and only CR in the stations (only one for females and males).
There are machines displayed in the stations for reading what they say one ticket for all the trains (LRT1/LRT2/ MRT). It had been there for months now and still not in use...???
Why did they prioritize acquiring these ticket machines over other more important things like maintenance of the coaches-- everyday we experience coaches without aircons/blowers, it is so hot in this weather and if you have asthma you feel youll get an attack while inside the trains.
When will the management of these public transport systems deal with these problems head-on???
More power to you and please continue being makulit with them!
Boo Chancos e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco



Author: Boo Chanco
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

THE GOVERNMENTS conditional cash transfer program has mechanisms for rooting out ineligible beneficiaries from its database, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said.


Poor kids manage some shut-eye along the streets. -- AFP

We have a Grievance Redress System (GRS) which captures and processes complaints about the program and the beneficiaries. Through this, we have already delisted more than 77,000 beneficiaries, Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said in a statement. Ms. Soliman was responding to reports that the program, known as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino, allegedly suffers a leakage rate of 30%. The leakage data was attributed to a study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Philippine Country Director Richard Bolt was quoted as saying in the statement that the figure in the Learning Lessons publication of ADBs Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), which is based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices. It is unfortunate that this reference was not clear. Mr. Bolt added that the problems related to beneficiary targeting raised in the PIDS report has been fully addressed by the DSWD and the conditional cash transfer program.

As such, we are confident that the issue raised is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program, Mr. Bolt said.

In a separate statement, the DSWD said it clarified with the ADB that the study in question was based on 2009 data.

It has been six years since the data being referred to was generated. Then, we only had 700,000 household-beneficiaries. Now, we have expanded to more than 4.4 million. A number of steps have already been taken to address the problems that arose when it was still being started. Different institutions, including ADB, has even recognized the Departments efforts in line with this, she added.

Secretary Soliman shared that the department is currently conducting its second round of National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) that will profile whether a household is poor, near-poor or non-poor through the indicators specified by the department.

The NHTS-PR, or Listahanan, will help us determine who and where the poor are. After this second round of assessment, we should be able to get a registry of who should be included in our programs, particularly the Pantawid Pamilya, she explained. --


Author: J. E. Villaruel
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: BusinessWorld

QUEZON CITY, June 25 -- Keeping children healthy and in school is now a reality among poor families who are beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the governments flagship poverty reduction program which invests in human capital, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday said.

Sa tulong ng programa, kaya nilang baguhin ang kanilang buhay tungo sa kaunlaran (With the programs help, they can change their lives for the better), DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said.

DSWD said that based on a research conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) in May 2015, the highest increase in school attendance among children five years old and below occurred among families headed by poorly educated individuals, which proves that mandatory kindergarten, coupled with the conditional cash transfer program delivered the largest benefit to the poor."

The PIDS study indicates that the expansion of Pantawid Pamilya significantly contributed to the increase in enrollment of pre-school and elementary students. As partner-beneficiaries, parents are required to send their 3-18 year old children to school, and they must attend at least 85 percent of the school days.

Moreover, the PIDS study showed that in 2008, only 47.2 percent of children in the poorest families attended preschool, compared to 82.1 percent of children in the upper middle-income families, amounting to a 34.9 percent difference. In 2013, the size of this difference shrank down to 5 percent because of large gains in getting children from the poorest families into kindergarten.

"By 2013, 92.2 percent of the poorest bracket families were attending kindergarten, almost equal to that of the richest at 98.3 percent. Since early education results in gains in primary school performance and beyond, the income gap results in early education gaps, which in turn results in overall achievement gaps between the rich and the poor, the study says.

DSWD data showed that from January to December 2014, attendance of 3-5 year old children in day care centers and pre-school, and 6-18 year old in primary and secondary schools achieved a 96.3 percent compliance rate.

This proves that given the opportunity, poor families have the capacity to rise above their situation and achieve positive changes, Sec. Soliman added.

Pantawid Pamilya is on its seventh year of implementation having started in 2008. As of 2015, the program has expanded to 41,519 barangays in 144 cities and 1,48 municipalities in 80 provinces with 4,424,705 registered active households nationwide.(DSWD)


Author:
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: PIA

The House of Representatives will look into an Asian Development Bank (ADB) report that said that nearly a third of the P62 billion allocated to the governments dole program did not actually go to the poorest of the poor.
Minority leaders Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said they would use the coming 2015 budget hearings to make Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman explain the ADB findings that P19 billion out of the P62 billion earmarked for the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, went to beneficiaries who were above the poverty standards set under the program.
In its report issued last week, the ADB said: Improvements are needed in the programs targeting system to reduce an estimated leakage rate of 30 percent.
In a statement, Soliman said the ADB report was based on 2009 data and remedial measures had already been put in place.
Congress will begin budget deliberations next month with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) proposing an increase in the CCT budget, the coverage of which has expanded five times from 800,000 in the Arroyo administration to 4.4 million in the Aquino administration.
The CCT program is exclusively for Filipino families belonging to the poorest of the poor who are eligible for doles of P1,400 a week for five years in exchange for their commitment to undergo health programs and make their children stay in school.
In its statement, the DSWD quoted ADB Philippine country director Richard Bolt as saying, I wish to clarify that the figure in the Learning Lessons publication of ADBs Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, which is based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices. It is unfortunate that this reference was not clear."


Author: Gil Cabacungan with Julie M. Aurelio
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The other weekend, on the eve of Fathers Day, our foreign news editor Patricia Esteves lost her father Pedro. We normally join colleagues in mourning, after we close the paper at night. But this time none of us in the newsroom could go to the wake, mainly because it was held in Dinalupihan, Bataan " a drive of a few hours from Manilas Port Area.
Our problem reminded me of my hope to see a RoRo service between Manila and Bataan in the near future. Last year it was reported that the government of Bataan planned to revitalize the ferry service between the province and Manila, with an Australian company said to be interested in operating a roll-on, roll-off facility.
Bataan officials said that if the RoRo project pushed through, travel time between the city of Manila and the envisioned ferry station between Pilar town and Balanga City would be cut down to just 30 to 40 minutes.
This would be a boon to Bataan, which has one of the countrys best travel destinations " the Dambana ng Kagitingan on Mount Samat in Pilar. The province already has a freeport and economic zone in Mariveles, where activities are sure to be boosted by a RoRo service.
Last year I went to Bataan during the Holy Week break. The drive around the peninsula was scenic, with views of mountain and sea " always a pleasant sight. But even in the super light holiday traffic, with numerous bantay-lakbay police assistance posts along the way, it still took us about four hours to reach Bagac, on the western side of Bataan.
In Bagac, it seemed the only decent meal to be had was in an overpriced tourist trap where the staff was clearly overwhelmed by the Holy Week crowd. Improved access to the province and tourism development will surely provide much better dining alternatives.
After the unsatisfying lunch, we headed for Mount Samat, to the giant cross near the summit from where you can see the Manila skyline across the bay. In Manila on a clear day, you can also make out the giant cross.
The war memorial was worth the long drive and the bad lunch. But a dramatic reduction in travel time through RoRo service, in your own car because local ground transportation is inadequate, will be a major tourism boost. Property developers may even see a leap in demand for housing in Bataan if a reasonably priced RoRo service is launched.
From Pilar, tourists should be able to hop over to neighboring Corregidor for more wartime memorabilia. There is a regular ferry cruise service from Manila to the island.
Last year reports said Bataan officials hoped to have the RoRo service launched in 2015. We still have half a year to wait for this.
Or maybe it will have to wait until a new government comes in. The RoRo service, hailed by investors, was initiated by the Arroyo administration. It was derailed by the current one, whose wealthy officials should take the bus to the provinces so they will understand how useful the RoRo is to poor travelers.
RoRo projects approved by President Aquinos first Department of Transportation and Communications secretary Ping de Jesus were suspended for a long time and nearly scrapped when Mar Roxas took over the DOTC.
* * *
With the same teka-teka team in the DOTC, people have given up hoping for any major improvements in transportation facilities within the final year of P-Noys term.
RoRo services will have to be an integral part of a transport and logistics program that the next administration must undertake if the country is to achieve sustained and perhaps greater economic growth.
A recent report said the state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies is calling for a comprehensive multimodal transport and logistics development plan. PIDS, in a policy note last April, said this is needed if the country wants to take full advantage of economic growth and enhance its position as a regional transport hub.
According to a World Bank blog, traffic jams in Metro Manila alone result in productivity losses estimated at a staggering P2.4 billion a day or more than P800 billion annually. Last year the city government of Manila, Ground Zero of traffic jams emanating from the nations principal port, imposed a truck ban for seven months. While motorists were happy, the economy suffered from curtailed port operations: PIDS estimated the resulting economic losses at P43.85 billion.
PIDS says freight train services can be revived, with a 24-hour, web-based booking system, although the train tracks must first be rehabilitated. Good luck on this; we cant install even five kilometers of rail tracks without the project getting derailed by corruption or incompetence.
Proposals of the think tank are similar to those pushed by foreign investors, including development of the Port of Batangas and further enhancement of services in Subic to decongest the Port of Manila.
Improved transport and logistics will not only decongest Manilas port but should also encourage people to move out of Metro Manila. If you can be in Manila within 40 minutes, people will enjoy residing in Bataan, with its fresh air and scenic sea and mountain views.
But pricing must be reasonable. Those investing in mass transport facilities and infrastructure must moderate their greed and resist the temptation to turn a profit ASAP. Sky-high tolls and transport fares discourage urban and port decongestion.
With reasonable costs, who wouldnt want to escape the urban blight in Manila?//


Author: Ana Marie Pamintuan,
Date: June 29, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

The Philippines lags behind its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) neighbors in attracting investment and must speed up financial literacy in the country in time for the integration of the Asean economic community, a US-aided study said.
Entitled Enhancing Access to Financial Services through a More Competitive Financial System, the paper is authored by former Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Mario Lamberte and his research associate, Ammielou Gaduena, as a component study of the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Lambertes study calls for policy reforms that will improve not only the level of financial education in the country but also the inclusion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in financial sector development.
The study stresses that if the country is unable to render proper reforms and policies in its financial sector to make it more competitive, the Philippines will be at a disadvantage when it becomes financially integrated with the rest of the Asean.
Foreign equity cap

In terms of foreign equity or foreign players participation in the local financial sector, the study found that banks from other Asean member-states (AMS) have made room for expanding their presence in the Philippines in the near term, while it remains a big challenge for Philippine banks to penetrate the AMS banking markets.
In the area of capital markets, the Philippines has the most restrictive commitments in terms of foreign equity limits for investment houses, requiring their board of directors to consist of at least 51 percent Filipino nationals.
The study said Philippine banks also show consistency in coming second to the last when it comes to cost-and-profit efficiency.
It suggests that the Philippines needs to do more to increase the size of its portfolio investment assets, particularly equity securities, and make them available to the rest of the Asean region and the world, it said.
Access to credit

Access to credit in the country is also seen as much more restricted compared with that of its neighbors, with the Philippines cited as ahead only of Myanmar in being at the bottom of the list among countries in the region. Meanwhile, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore consecutively sit at the top of the nine Asean nations ranking.
This means Philippine banks are not turning the money deposited by their customers into actual loans, it said.
The study hypothesized that Philippine banks are discouraged from looking for qualified borrowers, especially among SMEs, because of high intermediation tax and high reserve requirements on deposits.
Recommendations

The study recommends that to make the Philippine financial sector more competitive, intermediate taxes or reserve ratios need to serve as incentives and enable the banking system to perform its financial intermediation function much better.
This means that the BSP [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas] should reduce intermediation taxes, particularly the reserve requirement ratio, and unwind the SDA [special deposit account], it said.
At present, the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for banks stands at 20 percent, while the interest rate for SDA is at 2.50 percent.
Furthermore, the study recommends putting in place implementing policy reforms that will encourage the opening up of the insurance and capital markets to foreign players to facilitate further liberalization. Supporting a stronger merger and consolidation policy is also seen helping.
Continue the liberalization of the financial system, particularly by encouraging more foreign players to enter the domestic financial market, it said.
Lastly, the study supports enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs. They make up 90 percent of the countrys business sector, but they currently face difficulty in gaining capital in general as they often rely on informal sources, the study added.
BSP efforts

The central bank, on the other hand, said in its Annual Report for the Layman key measures made in 2014 include further alignment of regulations with the current Basel III requirements to improve the local financial sectors efficiency and competitiveness.
Such measures, it said, include strengthening corporate governance; introduction of measures to promote banking stability; provision of implementing rules and regulations of the law allowing the full entry of foreign banks in the Philippines (Republic Act No. 10641); and the adoption of a consumer protection framework to protect the welfare of financial consumers.
Also among the steps taken were the enhancement of the BSPs operational efficiency to keep prudential reports reflective of the amendments to regulations; sustained consultations with industry associations, other regulators and government agencies, and global and regional partners to ensure the responsiveness of the BSPs reform agenda; and improvement in its supervision of financial institutions.
The BSP said it has also implemented financial inclusion programs in the areas of microfinance, economic and financial education for the public, as well as consumer protection.
For instance, the central bank reported that as of end-September 2014, banks with microfinance operations numbered 179, serving 1.2 million borrowers with an outstanding loan portfolio of P9.4 billion.
The BSP added that it also spearheads implementation of the Credit Surety Fund (CSF), a fund generated from: contributions of well-capitalized and well-managed cooperatives/ nongovernment organizations (NGOs); a counterpart contribution from the local governments in the provinces where the contributing cooperatives/ NGOs are operating; and voluntary contributions from donor institutions.
As of end-December 2014, 37 CSFs have been organized in different provinces all over the country, it added.,,


Author: Mayvelin U. Caraballo,
Date: June 28, 2015
Source: Manila Times

GOVERNMENT needs to ramp up its efforts to get its share of the global medical tourism market, an industry player said.
Medical tourism in the country is picking up as more foreign patients seek medical services here. As a regional player, we are slowly catching up with our neighbors like Thailand and Korea, said Dr. Roderick Yalung, medical director of Regenestem in the Philippines.
He noted that a lot of hospitals and health and wellness centers in the country are now affiliated with institutions abroad, and that many medical centers and clinics have innovated and now use state-of-the-art facilities.
Yalung believes the Philippines is well positioned for medical tourism because we offer cheaper services yet high-quality medical attention, plus a variety of destinations to offer while patients recuperate.
He pointed out that a breast augmentation package would cost $8,000 to $10,000. This already covers hotel accommodations and round-trip fares plus a visit to a local tourism destination. The same amount would cover only the cost of the procedure, he said, in the United States.
We really have advantages, thats why the industry is calling on the government to fund medical tourism because this could be a revenue driver for the economy, Yalung said. Government support was a key factor in the thriving medical tourism industry in countries like Thailand, Korea and Singapore, he added.
In a 2010 study, the Philippines ranked 11th in the top 15 destinations for medical tourists in the world, with Thailand and Singapore in the top two slots.
According to a 2013 report by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, one of the problems is the lack of information such as medical tourist arrivals, expenditures, and services.
Yalung was recently in Cebu to open Regenestem, its first clinic in the Visayas and the second clinic in Asia of the Global Stem Cell Group, which offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date stem cell treatments. Regenestem Cebu is located at Block 88 of Oakridge Business Park on A.S. Fortuna in Mandaue City. It also offers services like cosmetic surgery, anti-ageing, dermatology, regenerative medicine, sports and arthritis medicine, and molecular orthopedics.
We decided to open in Cebu because of its robust tourism and we believe there is a ready market for these kinds of medical services, said Yalung.
He cited the presence of Koreans, Cebus top tourism source market. Rhinoplasty in Korea costs some $5,000, compared to $2,000 in the Philippines.
Currently, there are Regenestem clinics in Manila, United States, Mexico, Dubai, Argentina and Chile.//


Author: Katlene O. Cachod
Date: June 28, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Rappler presents The Scrum, our take on issues and personalities of the 2016 elections. Derived from a media term that refers to reporters surrounding politicians to press them to answer questions and respond candidly, The Scrum hopes to spark smart conversations on politics and elections.

Rappler presents The Scrum, our take on issues and personalities of the 2016 elections. Derived from a media term that refers to reporters surrounding politicians to press them to answer questions and respond candidly, The Scrum hopes to spark smart conversations on politics and elections.

Author:
Date: June 28, 2015
Source: Rappler.com

THE Philippines is lagging behind other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) both in attracting banks into the country and in penetrating the banking market in the region.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said the Philippines has attracted fewer foreign banks as compared to its counterparts in the region.
The report on the countrys financial system titled Enhancing Access to Financial Services through a More Competitive Financial System, showed that the Philippines was able to attract only three banks, one each from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, as of end 2013.
Other Asean countries were able to attract more banks from AMS than the Philippines.
For instance, two banks each from Malaysia and Thailandand three banks from Singapore had established their presence in Vietnam.
The report, which was presented by former PIDS President Mario B. Lamberte and his research associate, Ammielou Q. Gaduena, is a component study of the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (Complete) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
The authors have examined the actual penetration of domestic banks in other Asean countries.
Ten largest domestic banks, in terms of assets of each country, were considered, since these banks were in a better position to set up branches or subsidiaries in other countries.
For the Philippines, they identified Banco de Oro, Metrobank, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Land Bank of the Philippines, Philippine National Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., China Bank, Union Bank, Security Bank and United Coconut Planters Bank.
They also verified their presence in other Asean countries either in the form of a branch or a subsidiary.
Among the six AMSs, only the Philippine and Vietnamese banks did not have presence in other AMSs.
The report showed two Indonesian banks had each a branch in Singapore. Four Malaysian banks had a presence in other AMSs. Among them, Maybank appears to be the most aggressive in extending its presence in other AMSs.
Of the five domestic banks in Singapore, three banks had established their presence in other Asian countries.
Among them, only United Overseas Bank had branches and subsidiaries in the other five Asean countries. Three Thai banks had branches or subsidiaries in other countries in the region.
It noted that all the three global banks, namely, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Citibank, have presence in six Asean countries.
As to the banks sizes, in terms of total assets and deposits of banks in the six Asian countries, researchers have focused only on the first three largest banks of each country.
The three Singaporean banks stood out among the banks in the Asean in terms of total assets. A far second and third were the three banks in Malaysia and Thailand, respectively.
Philippine banks were among the smallest banks in the region. The total assets of the third-largest bank in Malaysia and Thailand were roughly three times higher than those of the largest bank in the Philippines, the report said.
The assets of the largest bank in the Philippines were even smaller than those of the third-largest bank in Indonesia, it added.
The PIDS said the Philippines has a lot of catching up to do to make its financial-services sector at least as developed as those of Malaysias and Thailands.
The Philippines has to enhance its capacity to contributeto the countrys development, which is even more compelling in light of Aseans plan to establish an integrated financial system.//


Author: Genivi Factao
Date: June 27, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) " There's no longer a 30% leak in the P62-billion conditional cash transfer program as earlier reported by various news agencies, citing a publication of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced this in a statement issued posted on its website on Saturday (June 27).
The issue came out in the Learning Lessons publication of the Independent Evaluation Department (IED) of the ADB, which was posted in the bank's website last Wednesday (June 24).
The figure was based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices, according to the DSWD, citing a clarification made by ADB Philippine Country Director Richard Bolt.
The DSWD statement quoted Bolt as saying on Saturday morning: "I wish to clarify that the figure in the "Learning Lessons" publication of ADB's Independent Evaluation Department is sourced from a 2013 study done by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), which is based on 2009 data and earlier poverty targeting practices. It is unfortunate that this reference was not clear."
Bolt said the issue raised in the PIDS report has been fully addressed by the DSWD.
"As such, we are confident that the issue raised is no longer the case in the ongoing conditional cash transfer program," Bolt said.
Bolt also pointed out said the IED report was strongly positive and supportive of the program.
DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said she appreicated this clarification.
Soliman added that the DSWD is starting a nationwide assessment of families to determine who are poor, near poor, and non-poor. This, she said, would become the basis for the listing of qualified beneficiaries of government programs, such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pinoy Program, as the CCT is formally known.
The program, which DSWD has been implementing for seven years now, cash grants to beneficiaries who comply with certain conditions, including having children who are going to school.
As of May 27, 2015, the DSWD said, the program has 4.4 million household-beneficiaries, spread out in 41,519 barangays in 144 cities and 1,483 towns in 80 provinces.


Author: Alexander Magno
Date: June 27, 2015
Source: CNN Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines needs to relax its restrictions on foreign ownership and unify its incentive-giving bodies to make it competitive in the region in attracting job-generating foreign direct investments (FDIs), state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
FDI inflows to Southeast Asia registered a five percent increase to $132.87 billion in 2014, according to the World Investment Report 2015 released by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) yesterday.
But among the member economies in the region, the Philippines ranked in the lower half of the subgroup, receiving $6.2 billion in FDI inflows last year.
The highest receiver of FDI was Singapore ($67.52 billion) followed by Indonesia ($22.58 billion), Thailand ($12.57 billion), Malaysia ($10.79 billion) and Vietnam ($9.2 billion).
The Philippines, as a laggard in attracting FDIs, should revisit the foreign equity limits of the Constitution, University of the Philippines economics professor and PIDS senior research fellow Erlinda Medalla said during the press launch of the UNCTAD report in Makati City.
Its definitely one of the stumble blocks or hindrance for FDI inflows. I think it is about time we relax foreign equity restrictions, she said.
Under the 1987 Constitution, foreign ownership in certain industries, particularly utility companies, is limited to 40 percent.
Congress, on break until the State of the Nation Address of President Aquino in July, is working on an economic Charter change.
PIDS president Gilberto Llanto said in the same briefing it is high time to pass the economic Charter change to have a new source of development finance for building necessary projects and generating employment.
It seems up to now, we have not made up our minds. Personally, we should really try to relax rules and allow entry because the experience of other countries who have done this earlier shows the benefits realized by allowing entry of foreign investors, he said.
The Philippines has already missed that because technology and capital expertise come from foreign investors. We dont have that, he added.
While the Philippines provides investment incentives that compare well with other countries, Llanto noted investors deal with too many regulating bodies giving such incentives while they deal with only one in other countries.
The problem though is in the case of the Philippines, there are several incentive-giving bodies like the Board of Investments, Philippine Economic Zone Authority and other authorities, he said.
There have been studies saying that locators, or foreign investors, do some forum shopping because there are different investment-granting bodies. So they try to extract the most, best (incentive), he added.
Thus, the Philippines should consolidate all these regulating agencies for efficiency and for consistency and in order to attract more FDIs, the PIDS official said.
He also said the Philippine government should also strike a balance in providing liberal investment schemes and imposing taxes, a turn-off for investors.
Keeping in mind that these guys bring out higher value and generate more employment, policymakers have to confront this and strike a balance between those two competing good objectives, Llanto said.//


Author: Danessa O. Rivera
Date: June 25, 2015
Source: Select Article Source

The government should reform the tax incentive regime in the country and establish a single promotion agency to handle all foreign and local investments, government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Study said Wednesday.

Id rather have one [incentive giving body] for efficiency and consistency. They [foreign investors] better talk to one for uniformity of procedures and standards, Philippine Institute for Development Studies president Gilberto Llanto said during the launching of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2015 World Investment Report Wednesday.

Llanto said unlike other Southeast Asian countries with only one incentive giving body, locators in the Philippines had to talk to different incentive promotion agencies.

Secondary is that locators do some forum shopping because there are different investment granting bodies, so they try to extract the most, he said.

He said to attract more foreign investors, the government tended to give more incentives resulting in higher tax responsibilities for its people.

The government currently has seven investment promotion agencies, including the Board of Investment, Clark Development Corp., Philippine Economic Zone Authority, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan, BOI-Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority.

The UNCTAD report showed the Philippines was among the ninth largest foreign direct investment recipient in East and Southeast Asia last year, after attracting $6 billion worth of foreign direct investments.

China remained the top recipient of FDIs in 2014, with inflows of $129 billion, followed by Hong Kong with $103 billion. Singapore received $68 billion; Indonesia, $23 billion; Thailand, $13 billion; Malaysia, $11 billion; and Vietnam, $9 billion.

Outward FDI from developing economies increased by 23 percent in 2014, to $468 billion. In contrast, net investment by developed countries was flat, primarily because a large expansion in cross-border mergers and acquisitions by some developed country multinational enterprises was offset by large divestments by others, UNCTAD said in the report.

FDI outflows from transition economies fell by 31 percent to $63 billion as natural-resources-based MNEs, mainly from the Russian Federation, reduced their investment abroad, it said.

Author: Gabrielle H. Binaday
Date: June 24, 2015
Source: Manila Standard Today

CEBU, Philippines " While the Philippines is already done as far as awareness is concerned in the recently integrated ASEAN market, it still needs to address critical issues in terms of providing market information on the multi-cultural consumer base.
Economist Gilberto M. Llanto of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) warned that if Philippine businesses will not be given proper information on the diverse culture of consumers of the ASEAN member countries, it could be one of the pitfalls in taking advantage of the 650 million market.
The different religions, traditions, and cultural affiliations making up the entire ASEAN market, is seen as one of the serious risks that the government should look into and develop an extensive information dissemination campaign especially for companies that are planning to make presence in every corner in the ASEAN.
Llanto said the next step the government should do now is to provide information to Filipino entrepreneurs on how to enter each country in the ASEAN, reiterating that this market, although huge in consumer value, has a very diverse market and approaches should be country-specific.
The obvious failure now in addressing the readiness of entrepreneurs to face the ASEAN integration, Llanto said is the absence of providing information externalities, and there should be a symmetry of (market) information, alongside with the giving awareness of the rules and regulations in ASEAN trading.
Market intelligence, per culture or per country is highly critical now, and very "expensive."
He said there are possibilities that capitalists in a particular country will hoard information just to guard their home-ground market.
"It is costly to acquire market information now. Information after-all is not free," said Llanto adding that while it could cost the entrepreneurs another millions of pesos to embark on deep market information study, it would be good for the government to invest in providing market information and share them to Filipino entrepreneurs.
The next step now, he said is to get to know the ASEAN consumers, as regulations and mutual agreements as well as compliance are nearing completion.
Llanto suggested in supporting entrepreneurs to participate in trade fairs within ASEAN, organize trade exhibitions to effectively connect with the market inside the Asean Economic Community (AEC).//


Author: Ehda M. Dagooc
Date: June 24, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

In 2012, the income share of the middle class can be estimated at about a third of total household income in the Philippines
When the Philippine Statistics Authority released the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth figures of 5.2 percent for the first quarter of the year, many analysts considered this to be lower than their expectations. During all quarters of 2012-2014, GDP growth was 5.5 percent or over.
The first quarter growth of 2015could have been much better had government not underspent. Still, the Q12015 growth is remarkable considering that private sector expenditures and investments continue to be robust.
Why is there so much attention to the GDP?
When a countrys economic production and growth (as measured by the GDP) is healthy, we expect to see low unemployment and increases in incomes as businesses demand more labor to meet the growing economy. An abrupt change in the GDP also has effects on the stock market. A healthy economy which indicates high consumption and production would translate into higher profits for companies, which in turn, would increase stock prices.
As an economy grows, we also expect household living conditions to move in a parallel direction, but prosperity is not felt uniformly. Growth is not necessarily inclusive. Some people are left out of growth processes. Others, especially many of our billionaires led by top three taipans Henry Sy, John Gokonwei, Jr. and Enrique Razon find their wealth growing even faster than the entire economy.
In a previous article, we pointed to the lack of changes in poverty and income inequality, despite the economic growth in the Philippines. The country is not alone in facing this malady. This September, the world is set to define a new set of development goals for 2030 called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While the SDGs are far too many for prioritizing action, they provide a framework for monitoring income inequality and inequities in opportunities, and for promoting social inclusion.
As the world commits to the SDGs, it is important for countries to examine the quality of their economic growth. One way of doing so is to study the middle class, whether this group is increasing, and if so, by how much? In this article, we give some facts about the middle class, and leave more details to a discussion paper we intend to release at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the governments think tank.
Why is the middle class important?
A number of researchers attest to the developmental role of the middle class.
The economic historian David Landes (1998) attributed Englands economic progress from the ascendancy of the great English middle class as far back as 18th century. Some economists such as William Easterly (2001) asserts that countries with large number of middle class tend to grow faster, conditioned on ethnic diversity.
In a special chapter of its 2010 Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific, the Asian Development Bank (2010) stressed the vital role of the middle class in fostering private sector growth in Asia and the Pacific. The ADB showed the phenomenal rise of the middle in developing Asia, but warns that a big chunk of the middle class is in the lower portion of income distribution, and this group may easily fall into poverty, and will deserve policy attention.
Who are considered middle class?
While it may seem as though the middle class is easy to define, there is no internationally accepted definition for it. Even the measurement of poverty is contentious as countries may set national poverty lines either from a relative sense (based on average incomes or consumptions), or from an absolute sense (typically based on determination of the cost of basic food and non-food needs for a minimum welfare standard). For the MDGs, an international poverty line has also been monitored using $1-a-day poverty lines based on purchasing power parity (PPP) 1990 prices, and recently updated to thresholds of $1.25-a-day (2005 PPP). Defining the middle class is even more contentious.
The think tank Pew Research Center defines middle class as adults whose annual household income falls on two-thirds to double of the national median income. Easterly defined the middle class as those lying between the 20th and 80thpercentile on the consumption distribution. Birdsall et al. (2000) considered households with income between 75 and 125 percent of the median per capita income comprising the middle class. All these definitions are based on a relative sense of the middle class, where thresholds are based on the income distribution itself.
Others suggest definitions of the middle class in an absolute sense, with reference to (absolute) poverty lines.
Martin Ravallion (2009), who used to head World Banks Research Group, defined the median value of poverty lines for 70 national poverty lines as the lower bound ($2 per person per day) and the US poverty line ($13) as the upper bound. The ADB report alluded to earlier defined the middle class as those with per capita daily consumption of $2-$20 in 2005 PPP US dollars.
In the local arena, Virola et al., 2013, used a cluster analysis on the income distribution based on the 2012 Family Income and Expenditure (FIES) conducted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). They yielded a definition of the middle class in the Philippines as those with per capita incomes ranging from about P64,317 to P787,572 (in 2012). Using this definition, Ronald Mendoza and Enrico Gloria pointed out that the middle class is over-taxed.
Alternative definition
In this article, we adopt an alternative definition of the middle class based on absolute thresholds, mirroring the ADB definition, but using some multiples of the official poverty lines.
We define the middle class as those with incomes between four to ten times the poverty line (which, on average, is 6,312 pesos to 15,779 pesos per person in 2012 prices).
For a household of five persons (which is the average family size in the country), the household is thus considered middle class if its total monthly family income ranges around 30 to 80 thousand pesos. The thresholds we use are somewhat arbitrary, but they serve to examine income distribution. For purposes of comparing the middle class with other segments of the income distribution, we decompose the income distribution into seven income groups:
a) poor: those who earn below the official poverty thresholds (averaging P1,578 per person per month)
b) lower income (but not poor): those with incomes between the poverty line and twice the poverty line
c) lower middle income: those with incomes between twice the poverty line and 4 times the poverty line
d) middle income: those with incomes between 4 times and 10 times the poverty line
e) upper middle income: those with incomes between 10 to 15 times the poverty line
f) upper income group (but not rich): those with incomes between 15 to 20 times the poverty line
g) rich: those with incomes greater or equal to 20 the poverty line.
How big is the middle class?
Using data sourced from the 2012 FIES, we estimate that in 2012, the middle class comprised about 3.6 million households. This magnitude constitutes about 3 out of every 20 households (see Figure 1).
In 2012, the income share of the middle class can be estimated at about a third (32.2 percent) of total household income in the country.
Figure 1. Distribution of Households and Shares of Total Household Income by Income Groups, 2012

In constrast, the poor, which comprised about 4.2 million households (19.1 percent of total number of households), had about one twentieth (5.6 percent) of total household income in the country.
On the other end of the spectrum, the rich, which comprised about 156 thousand households (0.7 percent of total households), had even more than the income share of the poor (7.1 percent of total household income). The low income class, the lower middle class and the poor have bigger absolute sizes than the middle class.
The low income class, which is easily vulnerable to falling into poverty in the wake of effects of natural disasters and other income shocks, is about a third of total households.
Examining the 2006 and 2009 FIES, we find that the relative size of the middle class to all households slightly declined in 2009 to 15.8 percent (from 16.2 percent in 2006), and increased to 16.7 percent as of 2012. We find marginal changes in the relative sizes of other income groups across the period 2006, 2009 and 2012.
If we were to aggregate the middle class with the lower middle and upper middle classes, this combined group would be about 9 of 20 families (45.1 percent in 2006, 44.6 percent in 2009, and 45.8 percent in 2012). The total share of their incomes of these three income groups is about two thirds of the countrys household income (65.1 percent in 2006, 64.7 percent in 2009, and 65.6 percent in 2012).
While the changes in the middle class, just like the minute changes in poverty incidence (i.e. the proportion of families that are poor) and the sizes of the other income groups, are not statistically significant, it is noteworthy that the changes in the size of the middle class are accompanied by changes (in the same directions) of the income share of the middle class.
All income groups, on average, earned higher nominal incomes from 2006 to 2009, with the middle class having a rise in nominal incomes by 26 percent (when inflation rose by 16 percent for the period). The increase in incomes across groups slowed down from 2009 to 2012, with the highest income group even garnering a lower average income in 2012 than in 2009.
However, the latter result might be taken with a grain of salt since households of Henry Sy, John Gokongwei Jr. and Enrique Razon are likely not going to participate in the FIES if these households were selected for interview. After all, average interview time for the FIES is five hours, and the PSA even conducts its FIES survey operations twice: in July of the reference year to obtain first semester data, and in January of the succeeding year to get the second semester data.
Table 1. Average Per Capita Income by Income Group, 2006-2012
Income Group Income
2006 2009 2012
Poor 9,528 12,229 13,707
Lower Income (but not Rich) 19,754 24,842 27,642
Lower Middle 39,597 49,183 54,410
Middle Class 83,989 104,112 115,866
Upper Middle 171,669 212,670 236,173
Upper Income (but not rich) 244,504 307,886 332,932
Rich 455,657 658,427 607,958
Source of basic data: Family Income and Expenditure Survey (2006-2012), Philippine Statistics Authority
What should be Done about the middle class?
Across countries where poverty has reduced considerably, especially in China, the middle class has grown rapidly in its share (of total national income), in absolute size, and in purchasing power.
In the Philippines, much attention has been on measuring and monitoring poverty, but poverty reduction has been practically unchanged.
The middle class also deserve some policy attention. If the middle class is to become much more prominent and a stable force for sustaining the growth of the Philippine economy, which of late, has been rather robust, the government will require interventions to further expand the middle class (by even greater spending in the social sector), as well as investments to boost incomes of those already in the middle class (and to prevent them for falling into poverty in the face of income shocks).
There will likely be unintended consequences to expanding the middle class and boosting the incomes of those in the middle class, but these challenges will ultimately provide opportunities for a more inclusive development and shared prosperity in society. " Rappler.com
Dr. Jose Ramon "Toots" Albert is a professional statistician. He is a Senior Research Fellow of the governments think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies(PIDS), and the president of the countrys professional society of data producers, users and analysts, the Philippine Statistical Association, Inc. for 2014-2015.
Raymond E. Gaspar is a Research Specialist at Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and is currently a Masters in Development Economics student at the UP School of Economics.
Martin Joseph M. Raymundo (not in photo) is a Research Analyst at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).


Author: Jose Ramon Albert, Raymond Gaspar, and MJ Raymund
Date: June 24, 2015
Source: Rappler.com

State economists said the government can address its financial sector problems through creative ways by increasing the participation of foreign businesses in the economy without the need to amend restrictive ownership provisions in the Constitution.
Encouraging the entry of more foreign capital is needed to improve the countrys financial sector, a recent study presented by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
The study entitled Enhancing Access to Financial Services Through a More Competitive Financial System said that while members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations apply different degrees of restrictiveness on foreign financial players, the Philippines, however, has the most restrictive rules on foreign investments.

The Philippines requires the majority of board members of both companies and investment houses in the country to be nationals, and restricts the maximum equity share of foreigners to 51 to 66 percent.

Also, the country does not allow foreign ownership of land.

On other hand, Singapore and Malaysia allow foreign ownership of land and are the only Asean member states that apply this rule.

Its better to allow foreigners to buy land than stocks, former PIDS president Mario Lamberte said in response to the query on removing some legal restrictions on land ownership.

Lamberte, however, was mum on the issues relativeness to the recently ignored economic charter change (cha-cha) proposal in congress which seeks to remove the 60-40 equity limitation on foreign investments.

We should encourage foreign players to come here as subsidiaries, Lamberte said, adding that such liberalization policy should be combined with a strong merger and consolidation policy.

There must be something wrong in our financial system because it doesnt contribute much to our economy, Lamberte said.
According to the study, the Philippines trailed behind most Asean nations in banking development in 2012, with the country making only a third of the banking development of Malaysia and Singapore " and higher only than those of Indonesia and Myanmar.//


Author: Ted Tuvera and John Benedict Rivera,
Date: June 23, 2015
Source: The Daily Tribune

The Philippines financial services sector remains one of the lowest among other Asean member states, according to a study made by state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Data from PIDS indicated that the Philippines ranked seventh in terms of ratio of banking assets to gross domestic product and sixth in terms of banking assets per capita.

The country also had the smallest life and non-life insurance markets both in terms of assets and premiums among the Asean-5 composed of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Both markets are dominated by Singapore.

Even our largest banks are small compared to the smallest banks of other Asean member states, Mario Lamberte, team leader of Component 3 of the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project said in a forum recently.

The study showed that Banco de Oro, the largest bank in the country, has a total assets and deposits of $68 billion in 2013.
However, the bank is still small compared to the third largest bank of Indonesia, Bank Central Asia, with a total of 75 billion
dollars assets and deposits in the same year.

There must be something wrong in our financial system because it doesnt contribute much to our economy, Lamberte said.
The study suggests to unlock the power of the banking system to perform in financial intermediation function, continue the liberalization of the financial system by encouraging more foreign players to enter the domestic financial market, combine liberalization policy with a strong merger and consolidation policy, and introduce measures to support small and medium enterprises to scale up their operations.

COMPETE is a USAID-Philippines project under the Partnership for Growth, a White House initiative.

The project aims to expand access to credit for small and medium enterprises particularly through an improved system of credit information for SME lending, wider utilization of credit guarantees, and overall stronger borrowing capacity for entrepreneurs.//


Author: Giannina Acua,
Date: June 19, 2015
Source: The Daily Tribune

The Philippines financial services sector remains one of the lowest among other Asean member states, according to a study made by state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Data from PIDS indicated that the Philippines ranked seventh in terms of ratio of banking assets to gross domestic product and sixth in terms of banking assets per capita.

The country also had the smallest life and non-life insurance markets both in terms of assets and premiums among the Asean-5 composed of the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Both markets are dominated by Singapore.

Even our largest banks are small compared to the smallest banks of other Asean member states, Mario Lamberte, team leader of Component 3 of the Advancing Philippine Competitiveness (COMPETE) project said in a forum recently.

The study showed that Banco de Oro, the largest bank in the country, has a total assets and deposits of $68 billion in 2013.
However, the bank is still small compared to the third largest bank of Indonesia, Bank Central Asia, with a total of 75 billion dollars assets and deposits in the same year.

There must be something wrong in our financial system because it doesnt contribute much to our economy, Lamberte said.
The study suggests to unlock the power of the banking system to perform in financial intermediation function, continue the liberalization of the financial system by encouraging more foreign players to enter the domestic financial market, combine liberalization policy with a strong merger and consolidation policy, and introduce measures to support small and medium enterprises to scale up their operations.

COMPETE is a USAID-Philippines project under the Partnership for Growth, a White House initiative.

The project aims to expand access to credit for small and medium enterprises particularly through an improved system of credit information for SME lending, wider utilization of credit guarantees, and overall stronger borrowing capacity for entrepreneurs. //



Author: Giannina Acua
Date: June 19, 2015
Source: The Daily Tribune

THE Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) must monitor the performance of their members in terms of protecting investors and paying taxes, according to a policy note released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
This was among the recommendations in the the policy note titled Performance of Apec economies in ease of doing business (EoDB) authored by Asian Institute of Management and Policy Center economists Ronald U. Mendoza, Tristan A. Canare and former Philippine Economic Society President Alvin Ang.
The authors said that in light of the latest EoDB rankings which showed that 15 of the 21 Apec members dropped in ranking in protecting investors from 2010 to 2015, and eight for paying taxes.
While Apec, as a whole, is performing well in the EoDB [Apec 2011 and 2012], performance across the group is highly variable. Some Apec economies are among the top performers in the world, while others are still lagging behind, the authors said.
Better-performing economies could provide support through knowledge transfer to lower-ranked ones. This would not be limited to the Apec summit but would be followed through on several occasions, they added.
The authors also recommended that the Apec should follow through on these areas of doing business by sharing knowledge and best practices, as well as technology and workshops.
The economists suggested that representatives of better-performing Apec countries be allowed to observe the process being implemented in other lower-ranking countries and recommend improvements.
Further, the Apec must help promote sharing technology such as automation of submissions and processing of documents. The Apec, the authors also said, must conduct workshops on doing business for developing country members.
Lower-ranked economies could start reforming those that are easiest to reform"changes that do not require amending laws that takes a long time to implement. Then, gradually proceed to the more complicated reforms, the authors said.
The policy note also recommended that Apec countries that have registered lower performance in protecting investors and paying taxes in the EoDB rankings can study the possibility of creating a specialized agency that handles doing business improvement concerns.
The authors said this agency can be similar to the Philippiness own National Competitiveness Council which includes representatives from the government, the private sector, academe and other stakeholders.
There are important coordination and governance challenges to be overcome in advancing these reforms notably in countries with a high degree of government decentralization.
In October 2014 the World Bank released the Ease of Doing Business 2015 report where the Philippines ranked 95th out of 189 countries. In the 2014 Ease of Doing Business, the country ranked 108 overall.
The doing business report has 10 indicators"starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
This year, the Philippines ranked high, 16th out of 189, in getting electricity, and ranked 50th out of 189 in resolving insolvency.
Despite being ranked relatively high at 65th out of 189 in trading across borders, the World Bank noted that the imposition of the truck ban was having a reverse impact on the countrys performance in this indicator.
The change, the bank said, was making it more difficult to do business in the country. The truck ban, however, has recently been lifted by the city of Manila and this has improved the flow of goods nationwide.//


Author: Cai Ordinario,
Date: June 05, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

Conclusion
ENSURING water supply, according to experts, is critical to help farmers cope with the ill effects of El Nio. Experts, such as Dr. Roehlano Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), pushed for reforms in the water sector.
In fairness to the government, Briones said, it has a number of El Nio mitigation measures in place. These include the quick turnaround scheme, which calls on rice farmers to plant a third crop, as well as cloud-seeding operations.
But the most crucial, experts said, is finding ways on how to deal with water availability considering the decline in resources.
Problems [like El Nio] can recur and, in the long run, we will be facing greater demand for water, not less, Briones said.
But then, we also know that water-resource availability is not increasing but probably declining because of the state of our watersheds. Also, the availability of water will be less, rather than more stable, in the years to come because of climate change, he added.
The governments priority, Briones said, is to ensure the efficiency of the countrys irrigation system. A Pids study earlier noted that the actual irrigated areas for most irrigation systems in the country had all been consistently below the target.
The study, titled Appraisal of Methodology in Estimating Irrigable Areas and Process of Evaluating Feasibility of National Irrigation Administration Projects, said this has been due mainly to overestimation of irrigable areas by not fully accounting for built-up areas or urbanization, flooded areas during the wet season and elevated areas that cannot be reached by gravity irrigation systems.
Briones added that it also does not help that the countrys watersheds are already denuded. Figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization showed that the countrys forest cover declined to around 20 percent in 2007, from 90 percent in 1934.
Rolando Dy, executive director of the University of Asia and the Pacifics Center for Food and Agribusiness, said consumers must also be encouraged to eat farm products that require less water to produce.
We Filipinos should also partly change our consumption habits. Demand for water will only continue to rise if we continue to eat rice, which is water-intensive, Dy said.
He said Filipino consumers may consider eating banana and camote, which do not require a lot of water to grow.
To produce 1 kilogram of palay, Dy noted that farmers use 5 cubic meter (cum) of irrigation water. So for 4,000 kg of palay, a farmer must use 20,000 cum.
Dy said the government must seriously consider conserving water in small farm reservoirs"a strategy that is being done by India and Israel.
Our terrain is suitable for small farm reservoirs but we have very few of those, he said.
Despite all this, Philippine farm output manages to post growth but the increases are below the targets indicated in the Aquino administrations blueprint dubbed as the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that that local farm production grew 1.78 percent in the first quarter of the year.
The PSA said this is largely due to the good performance of the crops subsector which accounted for more than half of farm output in January to March. Figures showed that the output of the crops subsector rose by 1.65 percent during the period.
But PSA data indicated that rice production declined by 6.09 percent, to 4.75 million MT (MMT), from 5.06 MMT in the fourth quarter of 2014. In its latest forecast, the PSA said palay output could decline in the second quarter of the year due to the prolonged dry spell.
The countrys palay production could go down by 4.21 percent to 3.9 MMT in April to June this
year, from 4.07 MMT recorded in the second quarter of 2014. The PSA said harvest area in the second quarter may contract by 2.29 percent to 918,000 hectares, while yield may go down to 4.25 MT per hectare, from 4.34 MT per hectare.
Corn output is also expected to go down by 14.38 percent to 1.02 MMT, as harvest area is expected to decline by 13.84 percent to 335,810 hectares.
Alcala said that there will be enough food despite the threat posed by the El Nio weather phenomenon. Hindi po tayo mananalangin na lang para maipatupad ang mga interventions natin sa El Nio [We will not just pray; we will continue to implement our El Nio mitigation efforts].


Author: Alladin S. Diega
Date: June 09, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

Second of three parts
Citing data from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, a study conducted by government statisticians said the Philippines has experienced a total of 19 El Nio events, seven of which were considered strong, from 1950 to 2010.
Aside from its impact on food production, the study conducted by the government statisticians, led by former National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Chief Romulo A. Virola said El Nio also caused unemployment and significant reduction in productivity.
Experts, such as Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids) Senior Research Fellow Roehlano Briones, said there is a need for the government to rethink its governance framework in the water sector.
We certainly need to drastically reform how we are doing overall governance in the water sector, Briones said in an interview.
The priority, he noted, is the availability of potable water. Because of this, other sectors, such as agriculture, could be sacrificed whenever the Philippines is faced with water scarcity during a prolonged dry spell.
For instance, National Water Resources Board (NWRB) cuts off water for irrigation whenever the water level in Angat Dam hits critical level. Angat Dam supplies 97 percent of Metro Manilas drinking-water requirements. Farmers tilling some 30,000 hectares of land in Bulacan and Pampanga also rely on Angat Dam for irrigation.
During critically dry periods, such as El Nio events, the Philippine Water Code of 1976 requires that domestic water supply be prioritized over irrigation water supply.
William Ocampo, a 55-year-old, fourth-generation farmer in Porac, Pampanga, said he had to
delay planting rice seedlings due to the lack of
irrigation water. Ocampo said he and his neighbor-farmers had to wait 10 days because the volume of available water would not allow farmers to get water at the same time.
By August, the seedlings will be transplanted, Ocampo said. According to Briones, this situation could be avoided if only the countrys irrigation system is efficient.
A study by Pids identified some serious technical problems and issues in the countrys irrigation systems that need to be resolved immediately.
For years, the actual irrigated areas for most irrigation systems in the country had all been consistently below the target, the study titled Appraisal of Methodology in Estimating Irrigable Areas and Processes of Evaluating Feasibility of National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Irrigation Projects read.
The study said this has been due mainly to overestimation of irrigable areas by not fully accounting for built-up areas or urbanization, flooded areas during the wet season, and elevated areas that cannot be reached by gravity irrigation systems.
The study looked into four irrigation systems in the country, namely, Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System (Amris) in Bulacan, Balog-Balog Irrigation System in Tarlac, Pampanga Delta Irrigation System, and Casecnan-Upper Pampanga River Irrigation System (UPRIS) in Pampanga.
For the Angat-Maasim River Irrigation System, which has service area of 31,400 hectares, the study noted that actual irrigated area had declined to an average of about 17,500 hectares in the last 10 years from the original 22,000 hectares or so in the 1970s. According to the study, a total of 8,000 hectares of the 31,400 hectares target area in Amris is not irrigable.
About 3,500 hectares of the total area has an elevation of 19 meters and thus, cannot be irrigated from the Bustos dam, which has a maximum crest elevation of 18.5 meters. In addition, around 4,500 hectares of the Amris area had been built up with residential, commercial, and industrial infrastructure, said study authors Cristina David and Guillermo Tabios, both consultants of Pids.
The same set of issues persists in the Pampanga Delta Irrigation System, which has a design service area of 11,540 hectares. Based on the data from the NIA, only around 1,000 hectares, or 8 percent, of the target coverage area during wet season and 3,800 hectares, or about 30 percent, of the target coverage area during dry season. Using a geographic information system (GIS) map of this area, it was found that a total of over 6,000 areas cannot be irrigated because these places have either become urbanized, converted to fish pens, have higher elevation than the water source, or usually become flooded during the wet season.
Meanwhile, Balog-Balog and Casecnan irrigation areas cover or overlap within two watershed boundaries. Since both systems deliver water by gravity, the efficiency of the design of these irrigation systems, where the canal network traverses another watershed is questionable.
Aside from inefficiency in existing irrigation systems, non-governmental organization the Rice Watch Action Network (R1) said the lack of irrigation in other parts of the country is compounding the problem for farmers.
Despite the billions of pesos poured into the governments irrigation program since 2010, R1 said NIA has failed to meet annual targets for providing irrigation to new areas. The NIA is currently under the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Modernization.
Data from the NIA show that in 2013, out of the 108,145-hectare new areas it targeted to irrigate, the agency managed to achieve 55 percent, or 58,632 hectares. Also, out of its goal of restoring irrigation in 64,621 hectares, the NIA achieved 54 percent, or 34,574 hectares.
R1 said this failure of NIA to expand irrigated areas has contributed significantly to the inability of the country to produce enough rice. The Philippines continues to import rice due to weaknesses in the implementation of the governments irrigation program.
While constructing new dams and expanding irrigated areas will help boost food output and ensure water for the farm sector, other agriculture experts said changing consumption habits would help ease the pressure on dwindling water supply. To be continued


Author: Alladin S. Diega,
Date: June 08, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

First of three parts
In Spanish El Nio means the little child. But there is nothing little in the weather phenomenon that bears the Spanish name.
In a May 27 article by Bloomberg, forecasters said changes in the weather caused by El Nio may have a global impact from the rice lands of the Philippines to the food markets of Mexico.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), El Nio is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. The NOAA said the weather phenomenon can cause increased rainfall in the US and in Peru, and drought in the West Pacific.
A study conducted by government statisticians, led by former National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) chief Romulo A. Virola, noted that the Philippines has experienced a total of 19 El Nio events, seven of which are considered strong, four moderate and eight weak, from 1950 to 2010.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration [Pagasa], some of the El Nio years that hit the Philippines were 1965-1966, 1968-1969, 1972-1973, 1976-1977, 1982-1983, 1990-1994, 1997-1998, 2002-2003 and 2009-2010, the report read.
While the primary impact of El Nio on the Philippines is drought, it has second- and third-order impacts, according to Pagasa. Citing the state weather bureau, the study noted that El Nio caused unemployment, food shortages and significant reduction in productivity.
Using data from 1970 to 2009, the study found
that palay production during strong El Nio years is on the average lower by 26.6 percent compared to nonstrong El Nio years. Corn production during strong El Nio years is on the average lower by 18.5 percent compared to nonstrong El Nio years.
Currently, the Philippines is experiencing a weak El Nio. Pagasa said this would prolong the dry season. In March the state weather bureau said the weak El Nio would not persist, and its impact may not be significant.
While the current El Nio episode may be weak, the weather phenomenon has already caused damages amounting to nearly P2.2 billion, according to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA). Rice crops suffered the brunt of the dry spell. As of May 21, 72,109 metric tons (MT) of palay, valued at P1.21 billion, had already been damaged.
El Nio had also destroyed 73,622 MT of corn, valued at P958.43 million; and 1,023 MT of high-value crops, costing P19.45 million. Rice and corn are two of the countrys major cash crops.
The DA data indicated that the dry spell affected a total of 25,086 rice farmers from nine regions. The biggest damage was recorded in Region 12, where 7,632 rice farmers lost a total of P532 million. Rice farmers in Regions 1, 2, 4B, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 also lost a significant amount of money.
The dry spell caused by El Nio also affected a total of 21,633 corn farmers mostly from Mindanao. Among the four corn-growing
regions that experienced below-normal rainfall, Region 12 recorded the biggest loss at P470.94 million. Nearly 11,000 farmers tilling 12,585 hectares of farm lands took a hit.
Losses were also reported by corn farmers in Regions 5, 10 and 11. More than 10,000 farmers in Region 10 indicated that they lost 35,468 MT of corn, valued at P463.42 million.
Despite this, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the damage is minimal compared to the annual rice and corn output of the Philippines. Alcala also assured that the government has already put in place the necessary measures to ensure that farmers would be able to cope with the ill-effects of El Nio and produce enough food for all Filipinos.
For one, the DA said it has reactivated its National El Nio Task Force, which is composed of regional offices and various attached agencies and bureaus. The department came up with an El Nio Mitigation and Adaptation Plan, which requires P1.8 billion to implement.
The DA said it has intensified its monitoring and reporting activities on the status of drought and dry -spell incidence to provide appropriate interventions in affected areas.
For irrigated agricultural lands, the DA said it has been coordinating with the National Irrigation Administration for better management of agricultural waters. Information, education and communication activities have also been conducted among farmers to employ water-saving techniques, such as synchronous planting, which make irrigation more efficient.
For rainfed agricultural lands, the DA has fast-tracked the implementation of small-scale irrigation projects and construction of rainwater harvesting and drainage facilities.
Before the onslaught of the El Nio phenomenon, the department said it has distributed drought-resistant palay seeds, and assisted farmers in the adjustment of their cropping season. The DA has already issued notices to release corn seeds from the buffer stocking program of the Agri-Pinoy Corn Program.
To effectively manage drought pests, the DA has trained and encouraged farmers to practice crop rotation to break the continuous food supply to the pests, hence breaking their life cycle. Farmers have, likewise, been encouraged to minimize the use of synthetic pesticides, and instead massively introduce bio-control agents to preserve the life of helpful organisms.
For this, the DA has requested the support of RCPC Trichogramma Laboratory to augment the need of Trichogramma for the control of stem borer in infested areas. Trichogramma is a parasitic species of wasp that kills eggs of stem borers.
Alcala and other government officials are crossing their fingers that the adverse impact of El Nio will be minimal, and would not cause a huge shortfall in the countrys food output. But the latest forecast from Pagasa could dampen hopes that the weather phenomenon would cause little destruction.
Pagasa said the current El Nio episode could persist until the first half of 2016. The state weather bureau said this could upset planting schedules in many parts of the country, including top rice and corn producers.
Earlier this year, some scientists had said there is little chance of El Nio happening this year. Unfortunately, this forecast is inaccurate, and has again highlighted the unpredictability of the weather. Economists and experts said this makes it more imperative for the government and even the private sector to revisit policies, particularly in the water sector.
Dr. Roehlano Briones, senior fellow of government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said there is a need for concerned
agencies to rethink the overall governance framework for the water sector.
As it is, whenever El Nio strikes the Philippines, economists said farmers usually give way to other consumers who use water for drinking and cleaning their households.
To be continued


Author: Alladin S. Diega
Date: June 07, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines - While small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are seen as one of the main engines of the Philippine economy, the sector has remained weak in the past decade due to financial and institutional constraints and stiff competition with larger enterprises.
Thus, developing a support system at the community level would address social issues and provide the necessary stimulus for SMEs to move forward, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
About 99.6 percent of Philippine-registered enterprises are SMEs, which contribute about almost two-thirds of the total jobs market.
In a study authored by Leonardo A. Lanzona Jr., a PIDS consultant and the director of the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development, the SMEs were found to have a low contribution to employment growth.
Research evidence shows small firms make a disproportionately large contribution to job creation, given the percentage of the workforce they employ, he said.
Lanzona said many small firms last relatively short, only three to five years.
Most SMEs are presently in the at risk or insulated categories, and adapting to the increasing competitive pressure brought by open regionalism remains to be their biggest challenge, he said.
Furthermore, Lanzona pointed out the lack of capital and financial support hinder SMEs to access better technology and quality inputs.
Hence, direct interventions toward poverty reduction in the form of public goods are expected to support SMEs and to raise growth, he said.
This intervention can be in the form of social enterprises (SEs) or small- and medium-sized commercial businesses that provide valuable social service to customers, and sustainable jobs and training for up to about 200 people.
It employs a blended workforce, consisting of non-government organizations (NGOs) and other community institutions working with production units, which are often from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Lanzona said these stakeholders are often struggling to maintain work in competitive labor markets due to their disability, mental illness, age, cultural background, housing status, or other barriers.
SEs operate in markets to address social needs and reduce inequality, recognizing that this has value. In addition, the ability of an SE to create new innovations can be used to link their production activities to the global value chain, he said.
The NGOs and international trade arrangements like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) could help these enterprises to reach the global value chain.
Lanzona said APEC can help in the technical know-how and infrastructure, including disaster relief and mitigation measures.
Meanwhile, NGOs, given their expertise and broad connection, can link these SEs and production units (household enterprises) into the global value chain, he said.//

Author: Danessa O. Rivera
Date: June 21, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA - Cancer survivors on Sunday appealed for a health promotion bill that will improve Filipinos' level of awareness on healthy lifestyles including the harmful effects of smoking.

The New Vois Association of the Philippines (NVAP) made the appeal as political candidates consider their platform for the 2016 national elections.

NVAP President Emer Rojas said a bill supporting health promotion may be financed through revenues from sin tax.

"As we are heading towards unitary sin tax by next year, we have to take advantage of the full benefits of the tobacco levy by increasing capacity to raise the people's awareness on healthy lifestyles," said Rojas. "The increase in taxes imposed on the tobacco industry must be used on education and awareness-raising so as to reduce if not to prevent the rise in non-communicable diseases."

Rojas, a laryngeal cancer survivor, said a health promotion law would help ensure that policies and measures are in place to protect public health especially from the different types of cancer caused by smoking.

He said poor Filipinos would mostly benefit from the law, since tobacco consumption is higher among the country's lower socio-economic class compared to the developed countries.

A survey by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies in 2012, the same year that the sin tax was made into law, placed the prevalence of smoking in the country among the poorest of the poor at 40 percent, while only 25% of smokers were considered affluent.

About 36% of smokers were identified to belong to the second lowest economic quintile.

"This means that 76% of the country's 17.3 million smokers were poor and the market that drives tobacco companies' profits to the roof. But the poor were also the ones that carry the most burden of smoking's harmful effects and do not have the means for treatment.

"While the government's universal healthcare program benefits from the sin tax revenues and have made great progress since then, we believe that health promotion should also be supported by the levy," Rojas said.

He noted that a law on health promotion would also address the issue of cancer and lifestyle diseases.

The University of the Philippines College of Medicine estimated that half of the country's annual 300,000 deaths are due to non-communicable diseases.

A total of P188 billion is also being lost every year from the top four killers of Filipinos (lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attack, and stroke), which are all smoking-related.
"Perhaps those who are now contemplating on running for government posts next year should also stop and take time to consider what is best for the people's health.

"We have long looked at smoking as a natural thing that people do when other nations saw the bigger picture " how it kills tobacco users and non-users, its effects on a country's economy, and how it encourages a culture of diseases and death," said Rojas.//

Author:
Date: June 21, 2015
Source: Interksyon TV5

The East Asian Development Network (EADN) recently held its annual forum, giving the podium to its young research grantees to elaborate on the progress of their individual work. Since 1998, the network has sought to develop the research capacity of participating institutions and individuals by providing the resources to carry out development-focused and policy-relevant research.

The Philippines, on its fifth year as EADN secretariat, welcomed research grantees and mentors from all over Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Malaysia.

The focus of the research studies at the EADN forum this year spanned diverse development issues, among them agriculture, migration, human capital formation, and finance.

This diversity, according to the welcome remarks of Philippine Institute for Development Studies president (PIDS) and EADN chairman and regional coordinator Gilberto Llanto, proves that there is still much to be explored in the field of development.
At the threshold of regional economic integration, what cuts across these development issues is the opportunity for regional cooperation.

Llanto added that EADN plays a crucial role in enabling the creation of well-informed policy-making.

PIDS board member Atty. Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla delivered a timely keynote address to demonstrate the value of research in various development areas.

In particular, Lotilla highlighted the need to cooperate for the sustainable development of the seas of East Asia, with opportunities ranging from management, exploration, and exploitation of resources; preservation of the environment, and coordination regarding science and research.

Majority of the public discourse focuses on the political aspects and territorial disputes, specifically when it comes to the South China Sea.

But it is undeniable that everyone benefits from addressing its challenges, whether they may be environmental, social, or economic.

He said the level of trust within the reason must be raised. To answer the sustainable needs of the people in the region, policymakers, aided by policy research institutes and networks like PIDS and EADN, must help identify areas of concern and opportunities for cooperation.

Fisheries and trade is one ideal area for cooperation. Depletion due to overfishing, destruction of habitat, and pollution threatens to damage the industry and contribute to the long-term breakdown of the ecosystem.

A potential security issue could as well arise in the event that a plunge in fish and revenues for traditional fishermen pushes them to enter piracy or human trafficking chains.

Coastal governments on an individual level, Lotilla warned, may not be able to address this alone.

Everyone has a stake in protecting and promoting sustainable development of marine resources in the region.
The profile of research studies presented at the forum evoked the theme of Lotillas speech, with each one looking into development policy areas critical to the respective countries of the researchers.

Each researcher was assigned a discussant to mentor them and provide guidance to mold their approach, improve their methodologies, and whittle the scope.

The EADN country coordinators included Dr. Sun Xuegong, Dr. Carunia Firdausy, and Dr. Siew Yean Tham. Dr. Mohamed Ariff, EADN representative to the Global Development board of directors, was also in attendance.

The cross-national discussion and exchange of expertise and insight ensured that each study received recommendations that encouraged the author to meet international standards and incorporate regional perspectives.//


Author:
Date: June 15, 2015
Source: The Daily Tribune

MANILA, Philippines - The International Labor Organization (ILO) is pressing its member countries to promote early education that will equip children with the basic skills to keep them from working at a young age and help them secure decent work in the future.

In the Philippines, some 2.1 million children aged five to 17 years are mostly in hazardous work, ILO said, citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

More than half of these children work on farms and plantations while the rest labor in dangerous mines, in streets, in factories and in private homes as child domestic workers.

A recent report of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) revealed that the incidence of out-of-school children in the Philippines was 4.43 percent in 2013, lower than the 6.73 percent rate in 2011 and the 11.7 percent rate in 2008.

Child labor is a complex issue rooted in poverty and the lack of access to decent work and social protection for adults, said Lawrence Jeff Johnson, director of the ILO country office for the Philippines.

A few pesos these children may earn while putting their health at risk or their lives in danger cannot change their future the way access to education can change their lives. Education opens doors to greater opportunities, he noted.

In its The World Report on Child Labour 2015: Paving the way to decent work for young people, ILO made a set of recommendations its 185 members can use to complement policies and programs aimed at addressing child labor.

Keeping children in school and receiving a good education until at least the minimum age of employment will determine the whole life of a child, ILO director-general Guy Ryder said.

It is the only way for a child to acquire the basic knowledge and skills needed for further learning, and for her or his future working life, Ryder said.

The ILO report underscored the importance of intervening early against child labor.

Results of the analysis indicate that those leaving school prior to the age of 15 years are generally at greater risk of never transiting to a stable job, which is defined as paid work with a contract of 12 months or more, it said.

At the same time, early school leavers who do manage to eventually transit take longer to do so and are generally less likely than more-educated youth to ever secure stable jobs, it added.

Based on ILOs recent estimate, there are 168 million child workers across the globe, with 120 million of them aged five to 14 years and 47.5 million aged 15 to 17 years engaged in hazardous work.

The results reinforce a central message of this report that in many countries, interventions addressing premature school leaving and child labor are critical to broader efforts towards ensuring decent work for young persons, ILO said.//


Author:
Date: June 14, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

QUEZON CITY, 12 June, (PIA) -- Starting this school year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development will implement new condition for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries enrolled at any level in high school.

Under the National Advisory Committee Resolution # 18 of DSWD which said that Pantawid high school beneficiaries in any level are required to reach the passing general weighted average (GWA) as prescribed by the Department of Education (DepEd).

DSWD-NCR Regional Director Alicia Bonoan said that they are encouraging Pantawid high school beneficiaries to persevere and finish their secondary education for them to have wider opportunities and break the cycle of poverty their families have been in for a long time.

Bonoan cited a study conducted by the PHILIPPINE Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) which revealed that the wage of high school graduates is 40% higher than those of the elementary graduates.

High school graduates can also avail of scholarships offered by the different colleges and universities as well as apply to be working students thus uplifting their economic conditions.

Meanwhile, Bonoan stressed that failure to pass will mean discontinued monitoring or will be delisted as beneficiary. DSWD will allow exemptions in special cases to be determined by the Grievance Committee.

In 2014, DSWD implemented the age expansion of Pantawid Pamilya children beneficiaries from 0-14; the program is now covering and monitoring 0-18 years old children for health, and education conditionalities with maximum of three (3) children per household.

The age expansion from 14 to 18 was implemented to allow them to graduate from high school in order to access them to better employment and other opportunities.

In Metro Manila, as of April 2015, a total of 112,789 children in high school, 258,375 in elementary and 42,900 in pre-school were monitored in education conditionality of the Pantawid Pamilya Program for SY 2014-2015. (DSWD-NCR/RJB/LFB/PIA-NCR)


Author:
Date: June 12, 2015
Source: PIA

WHEN classes opened in all levels this week, stories about persistent shortages in our public schools again surfaced. When commentators talk about the state of education in the country, few find cause to sing the education departments praises. Scarcity, instead, is the familiar refrain.
In 2014, government budgeted P307.58 billion for education, about 11 percent of the national budget. Education took such a high spot on the states priority list that the appropriation for it was bigger than the combined appropriations for social welfare, agriculture, transportation and communications, and health.
Yet initial reports suggest that many public schools continue to deal with a lack of classrooms, school furniture, textbooks and instructional supplies. Thousands of teachers positions remain vacant.
Why then did the Department of Education (DepEd), at the end of 2014, join four other national agencies with the largest unreleased appropriations? The Commission on Audit (COA) said that at the end of last year, DepEd still had some P2.27 billion in its budget that had yet to be spent. Which of its programs were delayed or shelved? Which school districts needs went unmet?
Scarcity in the public school system isnt just a matter of absent resources. Highly centralized policy, instruction and implementation processes were also partly responsible for shortages and overcrowding in public schools, said the Philippine Institute for Development Studies in 2009.
It recommended that the DepEd central office let go of the decision-making process in procurement and physical facilities, among others, and to let regional or division levels make judgment calls. It seems reasonable to expect they would know local needs better than the central office does.
Consider everything DepEd needs to do. That includes putting in place infrastructure and other needs of the new senior high school next year, and moving schools from locations at risk of floods, landslides and quakes. Under Republic Act 9155 or the Governance of Basic Education Act, principals, parents and local school boards are supposed to play a greater role in managing schools. Isnt it time the DepEd central office let them?//


Author:
Date: June 09, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

The Philippines ranks second among countries with the greatest risk of disaster, according to the 2014 World Risk Report by the United Nations University"Institute for Environment and Human Security. This does not come as a surprise given a myriad of factors that plague our geographic location as well as the absence of urban and regional plans to minimize, mitigate and mediate devastating results brought about by man-made and natural disasters. Our memories of the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda and the earthquake in Central Visayas are still fresh and we are continually reminded every time we encounter typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and even torrential rains that bring about chaos and gridlock in our lives. Lives are lost. Communities are washed away. People are jobless. Businesses are closed.
In Metro Manila alone, a strong and sudden downpour easily disrupts the lives of people. Talk about being stranded in a car, bus, train or jeepney for hours and not being able to eat, drink and, sadly, even pee! Throngs of people, if they have the chance, pass the time in malls or stay in fastfood restaurants until the water subsides. Food courts are jampacked, but could not serve new customers because supplies are depleted. This scenario highlights the need for resiliency not only of people but of businesses, as well.
Business resilience is the ability to rapidly adapt and respond to risks as defined by IBMs January 2009 Report titled Business Resilience: The Best Defense is a Good Offense. Many big businesses, such as companies listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange, and multinational corporations with a gamut of international certifications have business continuity plans (BCPs) in place. For example, the cloud has been the alternative for storage solutions for documents ranging from usual files to highly confidential documents.
But most micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which comprise more than 99 percent of the total number of businesses in the country and contribute about 65 percent of total employment, do not have plans for business continuity when disasters strike. When a disaster takes place, it is just expected that national and local governments would pour their resources on immediate relief and recovery efforts. There, however, is an apparent lack of support for businesses to recover from disasters.
Once the debris is cleared and homes cleaned, people must go back to work and be able to live the lives they had prior to the disaster but most of the time these people find their places of employment still not ready for business-as-usual. After the onslaught of a disaster, small business owners must face issues such as the lack of manpower, the absence of supplies and the threat of peace and order. This is according to a study by Marife Ballesteros and Sonny Domingo of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) on Building Philippine SMEs Resilience to Natural Disasters.
The disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) framework of the government has not been effectively translated into local and sectoral (or business) plans as stated in the PIDS study. MSMEs are highly vulnerable, have weak adaptability and limited access to a broader set of coping strategies that should be addressed both by the government and private entities. They do not have appropriate networks and must have a hotline in times of disasters. It is high time that they have something similar to a BCP, perhaps, as a requirement for business renewal. Moreover, the role of chambers of commerce and cooperatives as the voice of MSMEs in disaster planning and mitigation must be strengthened. These are just some of the ways to build business resiliency among MSMEs because once businesses operate after a disaster, then it is a good sign that recovery has finally arrived.
Brian C. Gozun, PhD is associate professor of the Decision Sciences and Innovation Department of the Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University,and is currently pursuing his postdoctoral fellowship in crisis management at the Innova Institute, La Salle " Universitat Ramon Lull, Barcelona, Spain. He can be reached at brian.gozun@dlsu.edu.ph. The views expressed above are the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.


Author: Brian Gozun
Date: June 09, 2015
Source: Manila Times

THE PROPORTION of out-of-school children (OOSC) to the total number of kids in the Philippines dropped significantly from 2008 to 2012, an improvement helped by government initiatives that include making kindergarten education mandatory.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin S. Lacierda made this announcement in a Monday press briefing in Malacaang, citing findings of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) regarding out of school children.

The report states that the proportion of out-of-school children to the total number of children in the Philippines dropped significantly from 11.7% in 2008 to 5.21% in 2012, Mr. Lacierda said, citing data from the Philippine Country Study on OOSC. The study was conducted in line with the UNICEF/UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Global Initiative on OOSC.

The report adds that this downward trend will likely continue, as a result of various government initiatives, Mr. Lacierda said.

These measures include the Department of Educations (DepEd) decision to make kindergarten mandatory and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), among others, the Palace official noted. The 4Ps gives poor families cash in exchange for keeping their kids in school and ensuring that they visit doctors regularly.

A policy note posted on the PIDS Web site, said that the sharpest decline took place between 2011 and 2012 when DepEd officially made kindergarten mandatory.

This meant that all students attending Grade 1 by 2013 should have at least one year of preschool experience, leveling off expectations of teachers regarding aptitudes and abilities when primary school begins, it said. --


Author: Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza
Date: June 08, 2015
Source: BusinessWorld

THE PROPORTION of out-of-school children (OOSC) to the total number of kids in the Philippines dropped significantly from 2008 to 2012, an improvement helped by government initiatives that include making kindergarten education mandatory.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin S. Lacierda made this announcement in a Monday press briefing in Malacaang, citing findings of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) regarding out of school children.

The report states that the proportion of out-of-school children to the total number of children in the Philippines dropped significantly from 11.7% in 2008 to 5.21% in 2012, Mr. Lacierda said, citing data from the Philippine Country Study on OOSC. The study was conducted in line with the UNICEF/UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Global Initiative on OOSC.

The report adds that this downward trend will likely continue, as a result of various government initiatives, Mr. Lacierda said.

These measures include the Department of Educations (DepEd) decision to make kindergarten mandatory and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), among others, the Palace official noted. The 4Ps gives poor families cash in exchange for keeping their kids in school and ensuring that they visit doctors regularly.

A policy note posted on the PIDS Web site, said that the sharpest decline took place between 2011 and 2012 when DepEd officially made kindergarten mandatory.

This meant that all students attending Grade 1 by 2013 should have at least one year of preschool experience, leveling off expectations of teachers regarding aptitudes and abilities when primary school begins, it said. --


Author: Kathryn Mae P. Tubadeza
Date: June 08, 2015
Source: BusinessWorld

MANILA, June 9 -- The Palace on Monday welcomed a report on the dramatic decline in the number of out-of-school children in the country from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 5.2 percent in 2012.

We are glad that attention is being given to this encouraging report, as it highlights the dividends of the governments investment in the Filipino people, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacaang.

The report, based on research conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), showed that the rate of out-of-school children to the total number of children between the ages of 5 and 15, was reduced to 5.2 percent in 2012 from 11.7 percent in 2008.

The report attributed the significant decrease in the number of out-of-school children to the passage and implementation of mandatory kindergarten and the K to12 Law; the increasing budget the Department of Education has obtained from the national government; and the expansion of the governments conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which requires families to send their children to school.

According to the report, national funding commitments to education have increased by more than 15 percent annually since 2010.

As a share of the national budget, education expenditures grew from 12 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2015, in view of the expanding Philippine economy, it said.

It stated that the governments decision to increase the Department of Educations budget, coupled with the investments in the CCT, is clearly paying off with growing evidence of considerably improved participation of children in primary education.

The report stated that these human resource investments should continue, so that no one, whether poor or non-poor, male or female, is left behind in education attainments as the country pursues a path of growth, prosperity, and development.

The results of the research were reported in the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children Philippine Country Study published by the UNICEF, and presented by the PIDS and the UNICEF in a recent seminar.//


Author:
Date: June 08, 2015
Source: PIA

MANILA, June 9 -- The Palace on Monday welcomed a report on the dramatic decline in the number of out-of-school children in the country from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 5.2 percent in 2012.

We are glad that attention is being given to this encouraging report, as it highlights the dividends of the governments investment in the Filipino people, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a press briefing in Malacaang.

The report, based on research conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), showed that the rate of out-of-school children to the total number of children between the ages of 5 and 15, was reduced to 5.2 percent in 2012 from 11.7 percent in 2008.

The report attributed the significant decrease in the number of out-of-school children to the passage and implementation of mandatory kindergarten and the K to12 Law; the increasing budget the Department of Education has obtained from the national government; and the expansion of the governments conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which requires families to send their children to school.

According to the report, national funding commitments to education have increased by more than 15 percent annually since 2010.

As a share of the national budget, education expenditures grew from 12 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2015, in view of the expanding Philippine economy, it said.

It stated that the governments decision to increase the Department of Educations budget, coupled with the investments in the CCT, is clearly paying off with growing evidence of considerably improved participation of children in primary education.

The report stated that these human resource investments should continue, so that no one, whether poor or non-poor, male or female, is left behind in education attainments as the country pursues a path of growth, prosperity, and development.

The results of the research were reported in the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children Philippine Country Study published by the UNICEF, and presented by the PIDS and the UNICEF in a recent seminar.//


Author:
Date: June 08, 2015
Source: PIA

MALACANANG welcomed Monday a report on the dramatic decline in the number of out-of-school children in the country from 11.7 percent in 2008 to 5.2 percent in 2012.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, quoting the report, said that this downward trend will likely continue, as a result of various government initiatives.
We are glad that attention is being given to this encouraging report, as it highlights the dividends of the governments investment in the Filipino people, he said in a press briefing.
The report, based on research conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), showed that the rate of out-of-school children to the total number of children between the ages of 5 and 15, was reduced to 5.2 percent in 2012 from 11.7 percent in 2008.
The report attributed the significant decrease in the number of out-of-school children to the passage and implementation of mandatory kindergarten and the K to12 Law; the increasing budget the Department of Education has obtained from the national government; and the expansion of the governments conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which requires families to send their children to school.
According to the report, national funding commitments to education have increased by more than 15 percent annually since 2010.
As a share of the national budget, education expenditures grew from 12 percent in 2009 to 14 percent in 2015, in view of the expanding Philippine economy, it said.
It stated that the governments decision to increase the Department of Educations budget, coupled with the investments in the CCT, is clearly paying off with growing evidence of considerably improved participation of children in primary education.
The report stated that these human resource investments should continue, so that no one, whether poor or non-poor, male or female, is left behind in education attainments as the country pursues a path of growth, prosperity, and development.
The results of the research were reported in the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children Philippine Country Study published by the UNICEF, and presented by the PIDS and the UNICEF in a recent seminar.//


Author:
Date: June 08, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

MINDANAO business leaders have called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign the newly Congress-approved Cabotage Law, which has already been forwarded to Malacaang for his signature.
They said the revised law, once approved, will foster competition among domestic shipping companies in the country and will pave way for a lower shipping costs.
"If it will be revised (Cabotage law), it will drive up competition among domestic shipping," Romeo Montenegro, director for investment promotions and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), said at the sidelines of 24th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) Davao Roadshow at Park Inn ByRaddison Davao Friday.
He said the competition will lead to competitive rates in domestic shipping since logistics costs are expected to drop once the amended bill is signed into law.
"If there is competition there will be competitive rates. Because currently, our domestic shipping rates are very high. It is more expensive to ship products domestically than to ship it abroad. For instance Davao to Indonesia is just $550 per TEU but if we do the same domestically it will cost around $1,200 to $1,300 per TEU," he added.
Under the Cabotage Law, only domestic shipping lines could serve domestic routes.
According to a study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), "the absence of competition has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as high prices."
Antonio T. dela Cruz, president of the Davao City Chamber and Commerce and Industry Inc., said he is looking forward to the approval of the amended Cabotage Laws since it has been a challenge for many of the local exporters and traders.
"We are looking forward that there will be an amendment to foster competition in the local shipping industry to pave way for a lower shipping costs," he said.
At present, the Senate and the House of the Representatives reached a consensus last week and finalized the version of Cabotage Law which was forwarded to Malacaang for the president's approval.
Under the proposed revision, foreign vessels will be allowed to pick up and deliver shipments straight to local ports across the country, eliminating the need to employ local shipping companies to transport goods between Manila and other domestic ports.//


Author: Ace June Rell S. Perez
Date: June 07, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

MINDANAO business leaders have called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign the newly Congress-approved Cabotage Law, which has already been forwarded to Malacaang for his signature.
They said the revised law, once approved, will foster competition among domestic shipping companies in the country and will pave way for a lower shipping costs.
"If it will be revised (Cabotage law), it will drive up competition among domestic shipping," Romeo Montenegro, director for investment promotions and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), said at the sidelines of 24th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) Davao Roadshow at Park Inn ByRaddison Davao Friday.
He said the competition will lead to competitive rates in domestic shipping since logistics costs are expected to drop once the amended bill is signed into law.
"If there is competition there will be competitive rates. Because currently, our domestic shipping rates are very high. It is more expensive to ship products domestically than to ship it abroad. For instance Davao to Indonesia is just $550 per TEU but if we do the same domestically it will cost around $1,200 to $1,300 per TEU," he added.
Under the Cabotage Law, only domestic shipping lines could serve domestic routes.
According to a study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), "the absence of competition has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as high prices."
Antonio T. dela Cruz, president of the Davao City Chamber and Commerce and Industry Inc., said he is looking forward to the approval of the amended Cabotage Laws since it has been a challenge for many of the local exporters and traders.
"We are looking forward that there will be an amendment to foster competition in the local shipping industry to pave way for a lower shipping costs," he said.
At present, the Senate and the House of the Representatives reached a consensus last week and finalized the version of Cabotage Law which was forwarded to Malacaang for the president's approval.
Under the proposed revision, foreign vessels will be allowed to pick up and deliver shipments straight to local ports across the country, eliminating the need to employ local shipping companies to transport goods between Manila and other domestic ports.//


Author: Ace June Rell S. Perez
Date: June 07, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

The Philippine APEC Study Center has tackled the issue of tax policies and its impact on improving a countrys business environment.
This developed as government-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) noted that while the Philippine ranking in the World Banks Ease of Doing Business 2015 report took the second highest leap to 95th, issues of infrastructure, and especially tax reforms are concerns the country has to prioritize to improve future rankings.
The government-run Philippine Institute for Development (PIDS) said at 95th slot, it is still way behind Malaysia at 18th place, Thailand at 26th and Vietnam at no. 78.

The PIDS, reviewing the latest World Bank rankings as part of the Philippine APEC Study Center Network for the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit 2015, cited the reports focus on scrutinizing each countries property rights, enforcement of contracts, and what it called collective actions.
PIDS further noted that APEC has also been prioritizing investor protection and a strong tax system.
PIDS honed it on what the World Bank had to say about the rankings in terms of tax policies and its impact on improving a countrys business environment.
(The reports) authors underline that when it comes to tax rates and systems, the administration of tax is equally, if not more, important, particularly when it comes to making it easier and simplified for people to comply with tax laws, PIDS noted.
On the issue of property rights and how these are protected, PIDS said this is more a policy to hook foreign investments and to make them stay.
This does send a strong message to investors, that an economy has capable institutions that can take care of their investments. Investor protection mechanisms enable a good business environment, thereby encouraging more investments.
Another vital institution crucial to doing business is infrastructure, the policy note added. One study points that infrastructure and regulatory reforms are the main improvements that developing countries can focus on. Others go as far to say that building strong infrastructure and regulatory institutions is more important for developing countries than focusing too much on tariffs.
PIDS said APECs objective in promoting ease of doing business is to market the region as location for cheaper, faster and easier and this can only be accomplished by pushing for regulatory reform.
The priority areas identified when the framework was launched in Singapore in 2009 include starting a business, getting credit, enforcing contracts, trading across borders, and dealing with permits, it said.
So far, progress has been uneven, said PIDS. For one, acquiring construction permits and getting credit are actually more problematic than putting up a business.
Many of the challenges encountered were political cycles, leadership commitment, communication with constituencies and stakeholders, inter-institutional coordination, and commitment to reforms, among many others, said PIDS.
PIDS said the World Bank has a new method of measuring performance by using Distance to Frontier (DTF). Basically, it measures performance between an economys current standing on a particular criteria and the best performance for that criteria. Examined by these measurements, the Philippines once again is second to Russia in terms of improved ranking, while performance for the rest of the APEC nations overall remains mixed.(LCC)
Under this DTF measure, PIDS highlighted the effective practices that would encourage a good business environment and these have been in fact approved by APEC. These are streamlining and simplification of procedures, creation of an electronic platform to make trade easier, and implementation of a single interface for transactions.//


Author: Lee C. Chipongian,
Date: June 07, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

MINDANAO business leaders have called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign the newly Congress-approved Cabotage Law, which has already been forwarded to Malacaang for his signature.
They said the revised law, once approved, will foster competition among domestic shipping companies in the country and will pave way for a lower shipping costs.
"If it will be revised (Cabotage law), it will drive up competition among domestic shipping," Romeo Montenegro, director for investment promotions and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), said at the sidelines of 24th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) Davao Roadshow at Park Inn ByRaddison Davao Friday.
He said the competition will lead to competitive rates in domestic shipping since logistics costs are expected to drop once the amended bill is signed into law.
"If there is competition there will be competitive rates. Because currently, our domestic shipping rates are very high. It is more expensive to ship products domestically than to ship it abroad. For instance Davao to Indonesia is just $550 per TEU but if we do the same domestically it will cost around $1,200 to $1,300 per TEU," he added.
Under the Cabotage Law, only domestic shipping lines could serve domestic routes.
According to a study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), "the absence of competition has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as high prices."
Antonio T. dela Cruz, president of the Davao City Chamber and Commerce and Industry Inc., said he is looking forward to the approval of the amended Cabotage Laws since it has been a challenge for many of the local exporters and traders.
"We are looking forward that there will be an amendment to foster competition in the local shipping industry to pave way for a lower shipping costs," he said.
At present, the Senate and the House of the Representatives reached a consensus last week and finalized the version of Cabotage Law which was forwarded to Malacaang for the president's approval.
Under the proposed revision, foreign vessels will be allowed to pick up and deliver shipments straight to local ports across the country, eliminating the need to employ local shipping companies to transport goods between Manila and other domestic ports.//


Author: Ace June Rell S. Perez
Date: June 07, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

MINDANAO business leaders have called on President Benigno Aquino III to sign the newly Congress-approved Cabotage Law, which has already been forwarded to Malacaang for his signature.
They said the revised law, once approved, will foster competition among domestic shipping companies in the country and will pave way for a lower shipping costs.
"If it will be revised (Cabotage law), it will drive up competition among domestic shipping," Romeo Montenegro, director for investment promotions and public affairs of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), said at the sidelines of 24th Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon) Davao Roadshow at Park Inn ByRaddison Davao Friday.
He said the competition will lead to competitive rates in domestic shipping since logistics costs are expected to drop once the amended bill is signed into law.
"If there is competition there will be competitive rates. Because currently, our domestic shipping rates are very high. It is more expensive to ship products domestically than to ship it abroad. For instance Davao to Indonesia is just $550 per TEU but if we do the same domestically it will cost around $1,200 to $1,300 per TEU," he added.
Under the Cabotage Law, only domestic shipping lines could serve domestic routes.
According to a study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), "the absence of competition has resulted in high cost of transporting raw materials to manufacturing sites, finished products and agricultural goods to various destinations, and imported products to distribution areas, thereby increasing operational costs that are passed on to consumers as high prices."
Antonio T. dela Cruz, president of the Davao City Chamber and Commerce and Industry Inc., said he is looking forward to the approval of the amended Cabotage Laws since it has been a challenge for many of the local exporters and traders.
"We are looking forward that there will be an amendment to foster competition in the local shipping industry to pave way for a lower shipping costs," he said.
At present, the Senate and the House of the Representatives reached a consensus last week and finalized the version of Cabotage Law which was forwarded to Malacaang for the president's approval.
Under the proposed revision, foreign vessels will be allowed to pick up and deliver shipments straight to local ports across the country, eliminating the need to employ local shipping companies to transport goods between Manila and other domestic ports.//


Author: Ace June Rell S. Perez
Date: June 07, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is requiring high school students from beneficiary families of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to maintain minimum passing grades as a condition for eligibility for cash grants.
The DSWD National Capital Region and other field offices are preparing to implement the policy setting a General Weighted Average (GWA) in the compliance monitoring of CCT program beneficiaries for this school year.
According to Resolution 18 of the CCT program National Advisory Committee (NAC) issued last January, children in elementary who repeat a year level in school are allowed to continue with the program (but) children in high school are required by the end of the school year to reach the passing General Weighted Average prescribed by the Department of Education and/or promoted to the next year level.
Ma. Alicia Bonoan, director of DSWD-NCR, said the new policy will push CCT beneficiaries to finish their secondary education.
The Aquino administration has expanded the coverage of CCT program to include children of family beneficiaries aged 14 to 18 until they finish high school in preparation for the K to 12 program, which adds two more years to basic education.
Based on the study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PDIS), the wage of high school graduates is 40 percent higher than those of elementary graduates, so age expansion shall be implemented to give student-beneficiaries better access to employment and other opportunities.
In 2014, DSWD implemented the age expansion, expanding the coverage of CCT from 0-14 years old to 0-18 years old. //


Author: Rainier Allan Ronda,
Date: June 06, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is requiring high school students from beneficiary families of the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to maintain minimum passing grades as a condition for eligibility for cash grants.
The DSWD National Capital Region and other field offices are preparing to implement the policy setting a General Weighted Average (GWA) in the compliance monitoring of CCT program beneficiaries for this school year.
According to Resolution 18 of the CCT program National Advisory Committee (NAC) issued last January, children in elementary who repeat a year level in school are allowed to continue with the program (but) children in high school are required by the end of the school year to reach the passing General Weighted Average prescribed by the Department of Education and/or promoted to the next year level.
Ma. Alicia Bonoan, director of DSWD-NCR, said the new policy will push CCT beneficiaries to finish their secondary education.
The Aquino administration has expanded the coverage of CCT program to include children of family beneficiaries aged 14 to 18 until they finish high school in preparation for the K to 12 program, which adds two more years to basic education.
Based on the study conducted by Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PDIS), the wage of high school graduates is 40 percent higher than those of elementary graduates, so age expansion shall be implemented to give student-beneficiaries better access to employment and other opportunities.
In 2014, DSWD implemented the age expansion, expanding the coverage of CCT from 0-14 years old to 0-18 years old. //


Author: Rainier Allan Ronda,
Date: June 06, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Focusing on taxes and investor protection, as well as forming a specialized agency that will deal with concerns in doing business. These are among the recommendations made by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) to Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) members to improve the regions business environment and ranking in the World Bank Doing Business report.
The government think tank released a policy note, commissioned by the Department of Foreign Affairs, to provide an analysis of priorities that will be used by the Philippines to push for as APEC host economy this year.
In the Policy Notes authored by PIDS consultants Ronald U. Mendoza, Tristan A. Canare and Alvin P. Ang, APEC is urged to expand the current areas or indicators monitored for its member economies.
Currently, APEC members are focused on starting a business, dealing with permits, getting credit, trading across borders, and enforcing contracts.
While these areas are crucial in making doing business easier, additional focus on other criteria could also yield strong outcomes, particularly those focused on paying taxes and protecting investors, the policy note read.
Moreover, empirical and theoretical literature suggest that expanding priority areas have far reaching positive effects to economic growth and development, it added.
Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Based on WBs 2015 Doing Business report, 15 of the 21 APEC members dropped in ranking in protecting investors from 2010 to 2015, and eight for paying taxes.
APEC as a region has been performing well in the Ease of Doing Business report, but are varied individually.
In the latest rankings, Singapore remains on top since 2007, followed by New Zealand and Hong Kong. Other APEC members that made it to the top 10 are South Korea (5th), United States (7th), and Australia (10th).
Papua New Guinea was the lowest-ranked APEC country at 133rd, followed by Indonesia (114th), and Brunei Darussalam (101st).
Lower-ranked members are advised to establish an agency that will handle doing business improvement concerns, similar to the Philippines National Competitiveness Council (NCC), the PIDS said in the policy note.
Originally called Public-Private Sector Task Force on Philippine Competitiveness, the NCC was created through Presidential Executive Order No. 571 in 2006 to promote and develop national competitiveness.
The Philippines ranked 95th in the latest WB report, jumping 13 places from the 2014 ranking and a climbing 38 notches from 2013.
There are important coordination and governance challenges to be overcome in advancing these reforms notably in countries with a high degree of government decentralization, the policy note said.
The PIDS said the proposed specialized agency would have representatives from the government, the private sector, the academe, and other stakeholders.
It would also be tasked to coordinate with policymakers, government agencies, and businesses, and will also propose and study policy reforms.
Among that reforms lower-ranked economies could start with are those that are easiest to accomplish, like changes that do not require amending laws.
The APEC may also want to give attention to commonly implemented reforms that are not yet implemented in many of its members, the policy note added.
The PIDS also recommended that better-performing economies could provide support through knowledge transfer to lower-ranked ones within and outside the APEC Summit.
This may include: 1) allowing a representative from a better-performing country to observe the processes being implemented by the lower-ranked ones, and recommend process improvements; 2) sharing of technology on automation of submission and processing of documents; and 3) conducting a series of workshops..., the policy note said.


Author: Danessa O. Rivera
Date: June 05, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

A new cohort of Teach for the Philippines teacher fellows commit to the vision that by 2050, all Filipino children will have access to education

EDUCATOR. Teach for the Philippines started with only around 20 members. Now they have nearly 100 teacher fellows and 49 alumni. All photos from Bono Diaz/TFP

MANILA, Philippines " As a new academic year begins for some 21 million public school students nationwide, a new cohort of Teach for the Philippines (TFP) teacher fellows are deployed across 8 local government units.
These teacher fellows have decided to dedicate 2 years of their life to create social impact. Aside from teaching, they engage communities and transform the lives of countless students.
They are not volunteers, they are employed just like any other public school teacher. However, they are put through a rigorous selection process. Their assessment include not only their academic achievement but also their leadership abilities, commitment, resilience, and sense of civic responsibility.
TFP is a for-purpose, non-stock, and non-profit organization aiming to improve the quality of teaching in the Philippines. It is working in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and various local government units (LGUs) to provide all Filipino children with an inclusive, relevant, and excellent education.
Gab Kintanar a 2015 Teacher fellow who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Psychology chose to take part in working to end educational inequity. Teaching will prepare me in leading the change I want to see in my country because the classroom represents the diversity of Filipinos, Kintanar said.
For Nikki Santos, a 2015 teacher fellow who is now teaching in Bagong Pag-asa Elementary School in Quezon City, teaching is a way to serve the people.
I want to teach young kids not just so they can become who they want to be, but also so they can give back to our country in whatever means and potentials they have as a human being, she said.
Bridging the gap

Teacher fellows take a pledge during their induction ceremony.
It is a cruel reality how deprived of opportunities public schools are. Aside from the usual predicaments " congestion, lack of classrooms, equipment, and teachers " the quality of public school education is insufficient and uncompetitive.
Dropout rates in the elementary level have been increasing, according to statistics released by DepEd in October 2013.
Data showed an increase in the dropout rate from 6% in 2008 to 6.81% in 2012-2013. While the same movement goes for the secondary level, with rates jumping from 7.45% in 2008 to 7.82% in 2011-2012.
These children who drop out of school are losing their potential. The lack of personal interest is the most cited reason for dropouts, according to a study conducted by UNICEF and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
This is the gap TFP is trying to bridge. The organization recruits young leaders. Candidates undergo a 2-month intensive training at a Summer Institute and once teacher fellows acquire their education units, they are employed full-time in public schools.
For 2015, 45 teacher fellows were inducted. This batch will work in 23 placement schools across 8 LGUs: Quezon City, Marikina City, Mandaluyong City, Navotas City, Binan and Sta. Rosa Laguna, Cagayan de Oro in Misamis and Del Carmen in Surigao del Norte.
Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, a former house representative, activist, and journalist reminded the 2015 fellows, As teacher fellows transform their classrooms into spaces where public school children recuperate a sense of possibility in their lives, you yourselves are transformed into responsible leaders.
Started with about 20 staff, TFP is now close to 100 teacher fellows and 49 alumni. Over 50% of the previous batch decided to continue working in education. Some of them also decided to join TFP.

On K-12
TFP, as a partner of DepEd, supports the idea of giving the Filipino youth equal access to 12 years of free basic education, emphasizing that the K-12 prgoram will equip our citizens with the tools necessary to either enter university or begin vocational training."
If private schools have been attaining 12 years of basic education for a long time, as well as full school days, why is that not good enough for our public schools? Clarissa Delgado, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of TFP, said.
Why not give them the opportunity for the same education?
As lifelong advocates for education, teacher fellows share the same goals and values. They commit to the vision that by 2050, all Filipino children will have access to an excellent and relevant education. " Rappler.com

Marlly Bondoc is a student at De La Salle University-Manila and a Rappler intern.

Editor's note: We erroneously reported a decrease in the dropout rate. We apologize for the error and have made the necessary corrections.


Author: MArllly Bondoc
Date: June 05, 2015
Source: Rappler.com

The Philippines posted the second biggest rank improvement among member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) in terms of ease of doing business over the last five years, according to state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
According to the PIDS policy note authored by Ronald U. Mendoza, Tristan A. Canare and Alvin P. Ang, the Philippines made the second biggest jump next to Russia as it rose to 95th place from 144th during the 2010 to 2015 period, based on World Banks ease of doing business ranking.
In terms of World Banks distance-to-frontier (DTF) index, the Philippines similarly posted the second biggest improvement next to Russia, according to PIDS.
This index measures the distance of an economy from the best performance measured for a particular criterion, and is thus considered an absolute measure of doing business that, unlike the rankings, does not depend on the performance of other countries.
Among Apec member economies, Russia posted the largest increase in the DTF score from 54.8 to 66.7, followed by the Philippines (54.3 to 62.1).
Other Apec economies are also faring well in the WBs ease of doing business survey. Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand retained the top three spots in the survey.
But while the Apec as a group has been doing well, the performance across member-economies varies significantly.
Some Apec economies are among the top performers in the world, while others are still lagging behind. Better-performing economies could provide support through knowledge transfer to lower-ranked ones. This would not be limited to the Apec Summit, but would be followed through on several occasions, the policy note read.
Based on the analysis on international good practices, and the initial assessment of the doing business performance of Apec economies, the policy note authors put forward recommendations that may be considered by Apec officials.
For one, Apec is urged to expand the current areas or indicators monitored by the bloc for its member-economies beyond the priority areas, namely, starting a business, dealing with permits, getting credit, trading across borders and enforcing contracts.
While these areas are crucial in making doing business easier, additional focus on other criteria could also yield strong outcomes, particularly those focused on paying taxes and protecting investors, authors said.
Apec is also urged to allow a representative from a better-performing country to observe the processes being implemented by the lower-ranked ones, and recommend process improvements; share technology on automation of submission and processing of documents; and conduct a series of workshops but with focus on developing country members.
Lower ranked members are urged to establish a specialized agency that will handle doing business improvement concerns; coordinate with policymakers, government agencies, and businesses; and will propose and study policy reforms, similar to the Philippines National Competitiveness Council.//


Author: Amy Remo
Date: June 04, 2015
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

THEPHILIPPINE economy is expected to continue its robust expansion this year on the back of private consumption and government spending, according to a new forecast by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Dr. Adoracion Navarro, OIC-vice president and senior research fellow at the government think tank, recently presented PIDS Economic Policy Monitor 2014 and Prospects for 2015, which projects a higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.8 percent for the Philippine in 2015 compared to 6.1 percent posted in 2014.
Navarro said growth last year was a result of certain drivers on both demand and supply sides. Growth triggers on the demand side were household consumption and net exports, but their impact was lessened by lower government consumption that pulled down growth in the third quarter.
Notably, miscellaneous services, referring mostly to the business process outsourcing sector, contributed the most to export service growth, said Navarro.
On the supply side, the services sector contributed the biggest share to GDP growth in 2014, with all the subsectors under it performing well.
In the industry sector, manufacturing contributed the most to overall growth; this validates the ongoing revival of the manufacturing sector, said Navarro. But the agricultural sector slowed, with contractions in the production of coconut and coffee.
For 2015, Navarro said the outlook faces risks, such as the decline in government revenues. This is seen to come from smaller collections by the Bureau of Customs owing to lowerPRICES OF OIL imports, as well as reduced collections by the Bureau of Internal Revenue due to the tax exemption of workers de minimis benefits and productivity bonuses and the higher tax exemption ceiling on the 13th month pay.
This has serious implications on government spending for infrastructure and social services, said Navarro.
Another is the risk of equity price shifts and capital outflows from the impact of expansionary monetary policies of advanced economies, particularly the US, Japan, and the EU region. However, Navarro believes that based on previous experiences, the Philippines is resilient enough to withstand financial shocks.
There is also the potential risk from the overstretched infrastructure as exemplified by the tight power supply, and congestion at the ports, in airports and on land.
Another unwelcome possible development is the cooling of export growth as a result of the slowdown in the economies of the Philippines major trading partners, the growing competitiveness of neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and their increasing participation in global value chains.
Weather-related risks, meanwhile, can affect farm output, such as the El Nio effect that the country is currently experiencing.
Looking beyond 2015, Navarro said the report has a positive outlook on thePHILIPPINE potential to grow at a sustained GDP rate of seven percent.
To achieve this, PIDS recommends policies that ensure the reliability of power supply and transport infrastructure systems.
Moreover, the banking sector needs to facilitate the transmission of resources from the financial to the real sector.
At the same time, Navarro called for taking advantage of the decline in oil prices. Although thePRICE OF OIL appears to be normalizing, the expected normal level is still relatively low.
Equally important is to monitor regional and global developments, she continued. Look at how we can participate in opportunities to join global value chains, as well as see how the EU deflation could lower demand for our exports, the EU being a major trade partner of thePHILIPPINES . Philexport News and Features


Author:
Date: June 02, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

The number of out-of-school children in the country dropped to 1.2 million or 1.7 million less than the 2.9 million in 2008.
A study conducted by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) credited the implementation of the K to 12 (Kindergarten to Grade 12) basic education program and the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program) project as major contributors to this development.
The results of the study, which was supported by the United Nations Childrens Fund (Unicef), were presented to Education Secretary Armin Luistro in a recent forum by PIDS senior research fellow Jose Ramon Albert and professor Clarissa David of the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City campus.
The Department of Education (DepEd) welcomed recommendations from the study to strengthen cooperation among the department, local governments, schools and parents in tracking and monitoring childrens attendance and identifying reasons for dropping out.
Unicef Philippines representative Lotta Sylwander said, while significant progress in the education sector had been made, a million children out of school was still a staggering figure.
Sylwander said identifying out-of-school children required local and school level efforts. Schools had to be empowered to seek out those children.
But she expressed hope all children, especially the marginalized, disadvantaged and vulnerable, would gain access to education and remain in school.
The PIDS report, which was also supported by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children, called on DepED and partners to intensify the campaign for early childhood education and on-time school entry in Kindergarten.
Unicef is working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, DepEd and Early Childhood Care and Development Council Secretariat in providing children ages 3-5 access to early education. //


Author:
Date: June 01, 2015
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer