PIDS in the News Archived (May 2015)

BUTUAN CITY, May 25 (PIA) - The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), in cooperation with the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) is set to hold the Seminar on Out-of-School Children (OOSC) in the country on May 26, 2015 at the C.P. Romulo Hall, NEDA sa Makati Building, 106 Amorsolo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City.
According to PIDS president Gilberto M. Llanto, this event aims to present to key education stakeholders the findings and recommendations of the Philippine Country Study on OOSC that was conducted in line with the UNICEF/UNESCO Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children.
The Philippine Report containing the findings and recommendations shall also be launched and distributed during the event. Updated with the most recent data available, the Report provides insights on who the OOSC are in the country, the barriers and bottlenecks to their schooling, a review of policies and strategies, and the ways forward to address the issue, added Llanto.


Author: Jennifer P. Gaitano
Date: May 25, 2015
Source: Sun Star Cebu

In our country, it seems, we need to figure out how to keep boys in school and how to motivate them to complete their education
Girls outperform boys in practically all measures of education performance in the Philippines. From dropout, to graduation rates, to achievement tests, boys are underperforming. While many countries in the world need to bring more girls to school, in our country it seems, we need to figure out how to keep boys in school and how to motivate them to complete their education.
The evidence is overwhelming.
Boys are less likely to be in school than girls: among boys aged 6-11 the out-of-school rate is 7.47%; for girls it is 5.57% in 2013
Boys drop out at a higher rate than girls from primary school onwards. In secondary school, the dropout rates of boys are twice that of girls.
Girls scored higher than boys in every single subject on the National Achievement Test for grade 6 students in at least the past 10 years.
Functional literacy rate among boys 10-15 years old in 2008 was 7.5 percentage points lower (55.5%) than that of girls (63%).
Cohort survival rate is the percentage of entrants into primary or secondary school who complete the cycle. In 2013, the high school cohort survival rate of boys was 72.36%, while for girls, the rate was 81.83%. In primary school, the cohort survival rate was 75.14% (for boys) and 82.19% (for girls).
The APIS 2011 results suggest that for every 80 men, there are 100 women attending college or post-college schooling.
To summarize, compared to girls, boys drop out at higher rates, are less likely to graduate on time, are less likely to make it to tertiary education, and are less likely to be functionally literate. They also get lower scores in achievement tests across all subjects.


Table 1: Education Statistics by Gender
Table 1. Education Statistics by Gender
Indicator Boy Girl Source
Out of school rate 6-11 years old 7.47% 5.57% APIS* 2013
Out of school rate 12-15 years old 9.37% 4.29% APIS* 2013
Dropout rate high school 3.32% 1.64% DepEd BEIS 2013
Functional literacy 10-15 years old 55.5% 63% FLEMMS* 2008
Cohort survival rate high school 72.36% 81.83% DepEd 2013
Cohort survival rate elementary 75.14% 82.19% DepEd 2013
National Achievement Test (Grade 6) Percent moving toward mastery or higher level of mastery 57.71% 65.46% DepEd 2011
*Conducted by the Philippine Statistical Agency (PSA); Annual Poverty Indicator Survey (APIS); Functional Literacy, Education, and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS)

The chronic underperformance of boys is a problem that needs government attention. Having a society with generations of under-educated boys means large economic costs, as well as potentially dangerous social imbalances that could be harmful for women.

When the woman in a family is the better educated and has larger potential income outside the home, she is expected to do both full-time work and fulfill traditional home and child-care duties. Taken to the extreme, research in other countries has found that well-educated and highly paid women who are in unequal partnerships with their spouse are vulnerable to domestic abuse.
What might be causing the chronic underperformance of boys?

While we have a lot of data to show how wide the gaps are, we do not know much about what causes them. This is a problem that stems from many factors.

Schools are a natural place to start looking for a solution. Motivation to go to school appears to be lower among boys. When asked why they do not go to school, boys in the 12-15 year old age range are more likely to say that, that is because of a lack of personal interest (56.19%) than girls (35.68%).

A Unicef report in 2011 revealed that 87% of elementary school teachers and 76% of high school teachers are women. By comparison, in Thailand it is 55% for high schools and 60% for elementary schools.
In many African countries (where the education disparities are in favor of boys), the number of male teachers is overwhelming when compared to the number of female teachers. Having male role models can positively influence boys motivation to stay in school, and the acute absence of them in schools might be part of the problem. There is scope for attracting (and hiring) more males to the teaching profession.
Household economics is another important factor. Boys can work for money at a younger age than girls. The same Unicef report cited above says that the gaps between boys and girls are reduced when socio-economic circumstances get better. This means that reducing poverty through programs like the governments conditional cash transfer (the 4Ps) can help reduce dropout rates among older boys. We should consider giving larger incentives for boys to stay in school, particularly when they are older and able to work for pay.
There are many other possible causes. The first important step to take is to systematically investigate the potential causes of the underperformance of boys. A gender analysis of available school and social sector data can help us gain a comprehensive picture of the extent and causes of underperformance of boys. "Rappler.com
Clarissa C. David is a Professor at the UP College of Mass Communication and a fellow of Social Weather Stations Inc. She is also the 2015 Outstanding YoungScientist awardee for social science. Jose Ramon Toots Albert is a Senior Research Fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies and served as Secretary General of the National Statistics Coordinating Board.


Author: David, Clarissa and Albert, Jose Ramon
Date: May 31, 2015
Source: Rappler.com

MANILA " The number of out-of-school youth in the country has dropped to 1.2 million from 2.9 million in 2008, a study by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said.
In a presentation to the officials of the Department of Education (DepEd), PIDS Senior Research Fellow Jose Ramon Albert and University of the Philippines Professor Clarissa David said the passage of the Kindergarten Law, the implementation of the K-12 program and the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) were major contributors to the progress.
The study also recommended a stronger cooperation among the DepEd, local government units, schools, and parents to track and monitor school attendance and the various reasons and tendencies for student drop-out.
The report also called on the DepEd and its partners to continue intensifying the campaign for Early Childhood Education and on-time school entry in Kindergarten.
The PIDS study was backed by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children.
UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander said that while there has been positive development in the Philippines, there is still a long way to go before universal primary education can be achieved here.
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-12 implementation, she said.
A million children still out of school is a staggering figure, and its impact will be big. We need urgent, intensive and concerted efforts by the DepEd and all education stakeholders to bring our children to school, the official added.//


Author:
Date: May 30, 2015
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

A POLICY paper by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is calling for the creation of a more favorable environment for housing finance in the country, as well as the adoption of appropriate policies and mechanisms to correct housing market dysfunctions.
One of the underlying issues with housing policies in the Philippines, for instance, is the traditional perception that a housing finance system is based primarily on the provision of government subsidies, resulting in a highly-segmented and unsustainable program that does not benefit those who deserve it most.
PIDS senior research fellow Dr. Marife Ballesteros noted in her latest study on urban housing subsidies that, despite policy changes through the years, the public sector housing program still does not address the problems on scale.
Ballesteros explained that subsidies for housing programs, whether through upfront grants, government direct funding, low interest mortgages, tax exemptions or underpriced risk insurance, could have been put into more efficient use by the government.
Overall, direct subsidy to the low-income housing sector has been limited, said Ballesteros, adding that in an effort to reduce losses from financial transactions, government has further restricted financing to the low-income sector through lower exposure of funders and the higher loan ceilings on socialized and low-income packages.
Fiscal costs greater concern
Ballesteros stressed, however, that an even greater concern than subsidy flows are the fiscal costs associated with losses incurred by government financial institutions (GFIs).
She noted that in the mid 90s, the main administrator of government-subsidized housing finance programs, the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation or NHMFC, was considered technically insolvent and irreversibly illiquid.
The corporation incurred net losses of P64 million in 1993, which increased six-fold by end of 1995 to P340 million. The fiscal impact of these losses was huge, Ballesteros said.
Problems with government housing finance persist, with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) putting on hold its housing loan program in 2011 due to total unpaid loans of P11 billion for 17,000 house-and-lot packages nationwide.
It had been providing housing loans since 1954, previously to GSIS members only but later began extending loans to developers.
The institution eventually went into real estate development, buying land and building houses and selling these as house-and-lot packages.
GSIS did not have adequate manpower to support its various financing activities, however, which resulted in its failure to collect payments.
As of mid-2014, GSIS reported that its housing loan remedial and restructuring program had only restructured about P1.5 billion worth of accounts covering 3,000 borrowers.
Ballesteros said that, moving forward, more effective institutional and policy changes have to be made.
Subsidy interventions in the financial system, for instance, should be focused on low- to middle-income households, or those who are able to fulfill obligations resulting from small loans.
Subsidy can be provided through a point system that rewards the need for housing and savings effort.
She added that government should also avoid large potential future fiscal liabilities such as unfunded pension liabilities or bailouts of failed housing finance institutions.
A 2011 study by Prof. Toby Monsod of the University of the Philippines School of Economics also found that subsidies, apart from being implicit, have been highly regressive.
The Monsod study pointed out that it was the higher-income borrowers that benefited most from the Pag-IBIG Funds subsidies and guarantees, the costs of which were effectively borne by Pag-IBIGs lower-income, self-employed member-savers.
These lower-income members do not qualify for housing loans, and receive lower returns on their mandatory contributions because of interest subsidies and default leakages.//


Author: Voltaire Palaa
Date: May 28, 2015
Source: Manila Times

PIDS vice president Dr. Adoracio Navarro, however, said that the risk of overlooking important opportunities remain if both the government and the private sector fail to address the challenges and issues hindering a truly inclusive growth.
Navarro told a recent Philippine Business and Economic Outlook seminar that the Philippines is generally in sync with the vibrant expansion of its Asian neighbors.
The primary growth drivers were household consumption and net exports. Net exports included miscellaneous services, which constituted 79 percent of total export services. On the supply side, the services sector contributed the most. Meanwhile, manufacturing contributed the most to overall growth, a trend that has consistently progressed following the revival of the sector in 2013, said Navarro.
Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) President and Chief Executive Officer Hans Sicat said the PSE is anticipating a robust 24 months ahead, in terms of infrastructure build, consumer spending, and in particular, the financial sector.
Sicat painted an image of accomplishments and ripe growth opportunities ahead for the Philippine financial sector. Were trading around 11 billion pesos on any given day. It means that the market is growing faster.
Upon measuring the behavior of publicly-listed firms and their ability to generate revenues and net income for the past three years, figures revealed that publicly-listed firms have grown faster than the economy since 2011. This means, assuming the belief that stock markets significantly represent the growth of the economy, the financial market has outperformed the growth numbers of the real economy, said Sicat.
Sicat considered the level of participation of the market plays relative to the size of the economy as an indicator differentiating developed and developing markets. All the numbers considered, the country is considerably no longer in the underdeveloped market bracket.
Out of all the sectors, mining and oil posted dismal numbers. The governments choice to focus solely on the green side of things, overlooking the business and employment generation of the sector, contributed to its laggard growth, he said.
Sicat explained that if the country can pull itself together, take advantage of the low oil prices, and help optimize mining operations, the sector could contribute one percent to the countrys GDP.
He allayed fears about bubbles in the burgeoning property sector. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas had put macro policy measures in place, and none of the banking institutions have so far hit any of the warning indicators.
The PSE is looking forward to major improvements in the financial sectors penetration rate. In the Philippines, only 31 percent of the population have some kind of banking account.//

Author: Edu Lopez
Date: May 24, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

MANILA - Private consumption and state spending will continue to drive the Philippine economy this year, but these are still not enough to meet even the lower end of the governments growth target, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said yesterday.
The state think tank also flagged several risks to the economic outlook, but highlighted strategies for the economy to expand seven percent beyond 2015.
The economy is seen to grow 6.8 percent this year, PIDS senior research fellow Dr. Adoracion Navarro said during the agencys seminar forum The Philippine Business and Economic Outlook for 2015 and Beyond in Makati City.
The biggest drivers for growth will be private and government consumption, she said.
The state think tanks forecast is a tad lower from the official target range of seven to eight percent this year.
Last year, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.1 percent, slower than the previous years 7.2 percent.
Among the risks PIDS highlighted for the economy is the decline in government revenues.
This is attributed to the lower oil importation, tax exemptions on de minimis benefits and productivity bonuses of workers and higher tax exemption ceiling on the 13th month pay, Navarro said.
This has serious implications on government spending for infrastructure and social services, she noted.
While the Philippines exhibited resiliency when the US Federal Reserve announced it will start easing its multi-billion dollar bond purchases in 2013, the PIDS still counted equity price risks and capital outflows among threats to economic outlook.
It also stressed that the long problem in infrastructure, weakness in exports and the impact of the El Nino phenomenon are among the major risks this year.
In her presentation, Navarro did not discount the fact the Philippines could sustain a seven percent growth beyond 2015 by working on several policy responses.
Among the policy responses recommended by the PIDS include ensuring the reliability of power supply and transport infrastructure, facilitating the transmission of resources from the financial to the real estate sector and closely monitoring regional and global developments.
Navarro also stressed that the Philippine government should take steps in narrowing down the saving-investment gap.
Mobilizing long-term capital could be done through massive market research and project development under infrastructure and agribusiness at the local government level, she added.//

Author: Danessa O. Rivera
Date: May 20, 2015
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA " The Philippine governments contribution to economic growth this year could face headwinds.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the countrys gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to grow 6.8 percent this year, faster than last years 6.1 percent but lower than the government's target of 7-8 percent for 2015.
The government is scheduled to announce first-quarter GDP numbers next week. GDP is the amount of final goods and services produced in the country and as such measures economic performance.
During the state-run think tanks annual forum on the Philippines growth outlook on Tuesday, PIDS vice president Adoracion Navarro said the domestic economy faces several risks, foremost of which is fiscal constraints on government spending.
"We expect a decline in revenues in oil importation. There will also be a general decline in the Bureau of Internal Revenue's (BIR) revenues because of the tax exemption on de minimis benefits and higher tax exemption ceiling on 13th month pay," Adoracion said.
"These will have serious implications on government spending on infrastructure and social services," she added.
To recall, government spending slowed last year after the Supreme Court declared legislators pork barrel funds as illegal, as well as parts of the Aquino administrations Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
Hans Sicat, president of the Philippine Stock Exchange, said the BIRs aggressive campaign to boost tax collections has its downside.
"The sad fact is that our tax authority has decided on its own to be doing illegal moves by changing in midstream how it interprets various regulations," Sicat said.
"A lot of institutions have filed cases against the Bureau of Internal Revenue. This is not actually good policymaking on the side of the fiscal authority. Thats not the way to run fiscal policy in this country," he added.
Besides government spending, Navarro said the fate of the Philippine economy would also depend on global demand, the return of the El Nino dry spell, as well as lingering domestic infrastructure bottlenecks.


Author: Rain Castro
Date: May 20, 2015
Source: Interksyon TV5

THE PHILIPPINE economy could grow at a faster pace this year but will still likely fall below the official target in the face of various risks, a state think tank said in a forum it conducted in Makati City yesterday.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) sees the local economy growing at 6.8% in 2015, faster than the 6.1% clip last year but below the states official target of 7-8%, PIDS Officer-in-Charge and Vice-President Adoracion M. Navarro said in her presentation during the think tanks The Philippine Business and Economic Outlook for 2015 and Beyond forum.

The biggest drivers are private consumption and government consumption.

Several risks, however, could weigh on the countrys growth prospects this year, Ms. Navarro said.

Revenues may decline this year as customs collections suffer from the slump in oil prices. Ms. Navarro also said the Bureau of Internal Revenues collections would take a hit from revenue losses from additional exemptions on de minimis benefits and the increase in the tax-exemption ceiling for bonuses. This has serious implications on government spending for infrastructure and social services, she said.

Monetary policy normalization among advanced economies may also trigger equity price shifts and capital outflows, Ms. Navarro said.

The Philippines, however, will likely withstand financial shocks as the economy has shown resilience from volatilities elsewhere.

At the same time, the economy, she said, also faces some downside risks from its overstretched infrastructure, as evidenced by tight power supply and congestions in Manilas ports.

Exports could likewise suffer this year as the countrys major trading partners experience a growth slowdown and as Southeast Asian neighbors boost their competitiveness and responsiveness to global value chains.

Weather-related risks like El Nio and storms could also hurt farm output, Ms. Navarro said.

Moving forward, Ms. Navarro said the Philippines has the potential to grow at a faster pace. Beyond 2015, we believe that we have a potential to grow at a sustained 7%, she said.

But in order to do that, Ms. Navarro said the government should provide the appropriate launchpad by ensuring reliability of power supply and transport infrastructure, facilitating transfer of resources from the financial to the real sector, taking advantage of the oil price slump, and taking steps to narrow the savings-investments gap.

In the same forum, Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) President and Chief Executive Officer Hans B. Sicat said prospects also bode well for the private sector in general and the countrys capital markets. The next 24 months will be robust in terms of infrastructure build, consumer spending, in terms of continued activity and liquidity in the financial market and the exchange, Ms. Sicat said in his presentation. We are relatively bullish on whats gonna happen in the Philippines.

In 2015, the benchmark PSE index has closed at 27 all-time highs, so far, and breached the 8,000 level for the first time in its history. As of May 18, the main index was up 9.4% year-on-year.
Mr. Sicat likewise noted the PSEi is one of just two bourses in the world which grew consecutively for six years.

Most sectoral indices also have positive outlooks, Mr. Sicat said.

The financial sector, in particular, could benefit from the huge demand for funding and become more resilient through higher capitalization. Banks can likewise take advantage of the untapped market in the countryside and introduce new products and services.

The property sector, on the other hand, could continue benefiting from strong demand for residential and industrial space, low interest rates and expansion of projects outside Metro Manila.

The services sector stands to benefit from the continued growth of business process outsourcing, influx of tourists and the development in the countrys gaming industry.

Mining and oil, however, will likely stay at the sidelines, Mr. Sicat said, with extractive firms in limbo as they await a law that redefines the governments revenue-sharing with miners.

Risks to the bourses otherwise bright outlook, Mr. Sicat said, are cyber-security threats and the looming change in political leadership next year.

He also cited the bourses wish list for the government, particularly in improving coordination between incentives and taxation, consistency in tax policy and resolving regulatory bottlenecks.

In a related development, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) yesterday assured that public spending should improve this year compared to last years levels.

DBM said in a statement that budget reforms, inter-agency cooperation and Administrative Order no. 46 -- which last March 30 told all agencies under the Executive branch to implement measures to ensure the prompt execution of the National Government budget for... 2015 -- should drive spending to improve over last year, when lower-than-programmed state expenditures contributed to capping gross domestic product growth at 6.1% against a 6.5-7.5% official target.

New York-based think tank GlobalSource Partners said in a recent report that a lack of current data on public spending has cast a cloud of uncertainty on the governments ability to meet its spending target this year.

President [Benigno S.C.] Aquino IIIs order for more efficient spending was a direct result of last years spending shortfall, and not of slow spending in the first three months of 2015. The year 2014 was a most instructive one for us. We have since designed strategic fixes for the bureaucracys structural weaknesses, which were getting in the way of efficient spending, Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said in the statement.

He said later via text that the government will release its first-quarter fiscal performance report on May 25, adding that in terms of state spending, preliminary data shows an accelerating trend from January to March. //


Author: Mikhail Franz E. Flores
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: BusinessWorld

A group of college professors, school staff and their supporters who call themselves The Coalition for K to 12 Suspension called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd to suspend the K to 12 program.

They vowed to challenge it before the Supreme Court for failing to protect the labor rights of affected teachers. Under the enhanced basic education program of the Department of Education"called K to 12 or Kindergarten plus Grades 1-12"a student will be required to undergo kindergarten, six years of elementary, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school. The implementation of universal kindergarten began in school year 2011-2012, followed by a new curriculum for Grade 7 in school year 2012-2013.

School year 2016-2017 will mark the nationwide implementation of the Grade 11 curriculum, to be followed by the Grade 12 curriculum in school year 2017-2018. The Coalition for K to 12 Suspension filed in the Supreme Court on March 12 a petition seeking a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against the program, according to Rene Tadle, who is also a convenor of the Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities in the Philippines.

The group also held a mass action on May 9 to voice their opposition to the K to 12 curriculum. In a press briefing, Tadle said the K to 12 law failed to provide protection for the labor rights of the 56,771 teachers and 22,838 non-teaching personnel who stand to lose their jobs and their hard-won security of tenure as a result of the program.

Because of the additional two years of high school, very few incoming college freshmen are expected in 2016, the start of the transition period for the program, leaving college professors with little to do and opening up the possibility that colleges and universities would lay them off or reduce their teaching load. The loss of tenure also means the diminution of teachers benefits, which could lead to their underemployment and contractualization, Tadle said.

Even before 2016, teachers and non-teaching staff, together with their families and dependents, have been suffering from undue stress, anxiety and anguish, brought about by the specter of early separation, forced retirement, constructive dismissal, diminution of salaries and benefits, labor contractualization, and general threat to self-organization, Tadle said, reading from the coalition statement. But teachers cannot be laid off just like that. Indeed, no company is allowed to lay off employees in lieu of anticipatory loss as it would be in violation of Article 283 of the Labor Code.

Teachers who would be laid off because of the K- 12 implementation have a legitimate case or grievances. In a previous column I mentioned how some have no freshmen enrollees in school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018.

The decreased enrollment is expected to carry over in the next three years or until school year 2020-2021, Cocopea said. The Council of Teachers and Staff of Colleges and Universities said that based on their estimates, universities and colleges will lose 500,000 freshman college enrollees and more than 300,000 sophomore college enrollees once the implementation of the senior high school program starts in 2016. What happens if the Supreme Court finds favor with The Coalition for K to 12 Suspensions petition to stop the K-12 curriculum? As of now, it is already being implemented. Another important question is whether the government can find the P30 billion a year it needs to spend until 2020 to meet the public classroom and staffing needs for the K to 12 Program.

That is how much it needs according to a recent study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS). In a policy note, titled K to 12 reform: Implications of adding Grades 11 and 12 on the higher education sub-sector, PIDS senior research fellow Rosario G. Manasan said the government must add some 23,812 classrooms and 38,708 teachers for school year (SY) 2017 to 2018 period. The budgetary support needed for the SHS [senior high school]program is estimated to be equal to P27 billion in SY 2015-2016, P37 billion in SY 2016-2017, P28 billion in SY 2017-2018, and an average of P33 billion over the SY 2018 [to] 2020 period, Manasan said.

Obviously, K to 12 cant work without teachers to teach subjects or classrooms to hold classes in. There are so many kinks to the K to 12 curriculum that the government has to iron out and I hope President Aquino doesnt just kick the can to the next administration. //


Author: Ernesto Herrera
Date: May 17, 2015
Source: Negros Chronicles

MANILA, Philippines - Member economies of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) should institute programs to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) be resilient to natural disasters, state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
The Philippines, in particular, should develop a disaster response strategy that will cover local and business plans, especially when 98 percent of enterprises are SMEs, the PIDS added.
PIDS senior research fellow Marife Ballesteros said disasters can compromise capital, supply chains, product markets, and labor, and in turn, business continuity and recovery.
SMES are more vulnerable (than large enterprises) because they have limited coping mechanisms. SMEs usually have no or limited disaster insurance and limited access to credit, and most of them have no business continuity, emergency management, or disaster preparedness plans, she said in her presentation at the 2015 APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference titled Building Philippine MSMEs Resilience to Natural Disasters last week.
SMEs, considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region, comprise over 97 percent of businesses and provide more than half of the workers in the region.
However, the 21 APEC member-countries are prone to intense natural disasters, experiencing over 70 percent of global natural disasters.
Ballesteros suggested a cooperation scheme to strengthen supply chain resilience in the region.
SMEs should continue to build partnerships with other multinational organizations inside and outside of the APEC region, especially in the areas of information sharing and promotion of regional resiliency assessment programs, she said.
APEC member economies can also have dialogues, capacity-building activities, and cross collaboration in resource and technology sharing such as in hazard mapping and information technology infrastructure, the PIDS research fellow added.
In the Philippines, the government has a well-developed policy framework and action plans for disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM), centered on search, rescue, evacuation, and relief operations, but lacks support programs for SMEs during calamities.
Restoration of economic activities is handled only in the medium to long term as part of the rehabilitation efforts. There is also no strategic programs to operationalize action plans for SMEs and no small business development centers to address disruption and needs, Ballesteros said.

The PIDS fellow recommended the establishment of key transport hubs and strategic communication systems that take into consideration extreme weather events.
She also highlighted the need for pre-disaster agreements as disruption of public sector operations and services can occur during times of calamities.
This could be the formation of networks or partnerships between national and local, and public and private entities, and the adoption of flexible regulations on labor as well as laws on importation and exportation.
In addition, government must support the development of financial security instruments such as catastrophic insurance, micro insurance, or a business disaster fund, Ballesteros said.
She pointed out that there is insufficient recovery funds for farm-based and urban-based small industries and the absence of specific policies for workers protection in times of calamities.//




Author: Danessa O. Rivera
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines " The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has approved the requests of 313 private higher education institutions (HEIs) to increase their tuition and other school fees for school year 2015-2016.
The increase is at a nationwide average of P165.45 (6.48%) per unit, CHED said in a statement released early Tuesday, May 19.
For 2015, about 405 out of 1,683 private HEIs sent letters of intent to raise school fees, but CHED only approved 313 applications. This is higher than the 287 approved applications in 2014.
2015 2014
Average Peso equivalent
(per unit) Percentage of increase Average Peso equivalent
(per unit) Percentage of increase
TUITION P29.86 6.17% P35.66 8.13%
OTHER SCHOOL FEES P135.60 6.55% P141.55 7.97%
Majority or 283 HEIs will increase their tuition fees, while 212 will increase other school fees.
National Capital Region has the most number of schools (51) that will increase fees, followed by Calabarzon and Davao Region or Southern Mindanao (33 schools each), Central Visayas (32), and Central Luzon (31).

Average Peso Equivalent (per unit)
REGION TUITION FEES OTHER SCHOOL FEES
I P28.83 P465.53
II P15.67 No application
III P35.60 P556.13
IV-A P37.36 P501.67
IV-B P33.85 P26.81
V P37.33 No application
VI P36.14 P48.00
VII P53.15 No application
VIII Disapproved Disapproved
IX P15.62 P415.53
X P24.91 No application
XI P22.32 P33.90
XII P24.51 P24.50
CAR P29.23 P17.82
Caraga P50.83 P44.86
NCR P32.34 P34.79
TOTAL AVERAGE P29.86 P135.60
The Commission did not allow schools in Eastern Visayas to increase fees, as the region is still undergoing rehabilitation in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan).
CHED cited Memorandum Order 3, s. 2012 in approving the increase in the tuition and other school fees. The Commission took into consideration the following factors:
Regional inflation rate
Financial standing of the institution
Financial capacity of the general studentry
Impact of force majeure or calamities
Quality track record of the school
Mission and vision of the institution
"CHED ensures that HEIs meet the guidelines provided by law, especially the requirement of consultation, the allocation of tuition fees, and strict adherence with the processes that seek to make tuition and other school fee increases transparent, reasonable, and affordable," CHED said.
Since 2014, CHED has been developing with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) a framework that can help the commission decide on a reasonable annual tuition increase rate.
The Commission assured that for the incoming school year, it strictly applied an "education deflator" which measures the average cost of providing education services. (READ: #AyokoMagmahal: College students oppose tuition hike)
Financial assistance for students
Students in need of financial assistance can apply for CHED's Student Financial Assistance Programs, which has 123,882 slots for school year 2015-2016. The slots amount to more than P1.5 billion ($33.7 million)*.
More than 40,000 students under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) who are enrolled in select state universities and colleges will also be provided financial assistance under the Expanded Student Grants-in-Aid Program for Poverty Alleviation, which has a budget of P2.5 billion ($56.14 million).
CHED on Tuesday also called for the passage of the proposed Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Higher and Technical Education or UniFAST bill, which seeks to "harmonize, reform, strengthen, expand, rationalize, and re-focus" all ongoing student financial assistance programs of the government.
The bill has been approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives and on second reading at the Senate. " Rappler.com
*US$1 = P44.52


Author: Jee Y. Geronimo
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: Rappler.com

The Philippine economy will likely miss its growth target this year due to lower government revenues resulting from cheaper oil and the tax exemption given to workers, according to state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
The PIDS estimates that the economy will post a growth of 6.8 percent on the back of household and government consumption this year. However, this is below the governments target of 7 percent to 8 percent this year.
The GDP growth forecast is 6.8 percent, and the biggest drivers of growth will be private consumption and government consumption. The risks to the outlook are [the] decline in government revenue, PIDS Senior Fellow Adoracion Navarro said in a forum on Tuesday.
We expect a decline in revenues from oil importation, a decline in the Bureau of Customs revenues and also the general decline in BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue] revenues because of the tax exemption on de minimis benefits and productivity bonuses of workers, and the higher exemption tax ceiling on the 13th-month pay. This has serious implications on government spending for infrastructure and social services, she explained.
Navarro also said other risks include low export receipts due to the slowdown in the growth that will be posted by the countrys trading partners and the competitiveness and responsiveness of Asean economies in global value chains.
She added that the country has an overstretched infrastructure sector, which suffers from tight power supply, as well as port, airport and land-transportation congestion.
However, Navarro said the Philippine economy can still post a sustained growth of 7 percent beyond 2015. But, she said, the government must undertake various policy responses to turn this into reality.
In a statement, Regina Capital said the threat of a disruptive El Nio weather pattern could raise food costs later this year. Further, an expected rebound in oil prices may force the central bank to raise rates, already at 4 percent to contain inflation.
Regina Capital also said government spending could fall below budget anew if agencies continue to get tripped up in red tape, or lack of capabilities to execute projects. Last month the government said spending in 2014 was 13.3 percent short of its target because of understaffed agencies.
But with the presidential elections next year, the government is likely to keep its promise of ramping up government spending, according to Bill Diviney, an economist at Barclays, as infrastructure improvements and job creation are popular with voters.
After its policy meeting last week, the central bank also cited expectations of increased government spending as one of the reasons for holding interest rates steady. With port and road congestion clearing up in Manila from earlier this year, you do get the sense that the government is putting in the effort, Diviney said.
Navarro said other policy responses include ensuring the reliability of power supply and transportation infrastructure, as well as facilitating the transmission of resources from the financial to the real sector.
She added that both the private and public sectors must take advantage of the low oil-price regime. This can open doors for company expansion in the private sector and controversial moves, such as higher taxes, for the public sector.
The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) also earlier urged businesses to capitalize on the prevailing cheaper oil and expand their operations.
The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan urged the government to increase excise taxes, especially at this time when oil prices are very low.
Apart from these, Navarro said the government must also monitor regional and global developments, such as the foundation of new multilateral banks. She cited Chinas efforts in creating facilities, like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the so-called Silk Road, to finance development initiatives in the region.
In line with these developments in the region and globally, the Neda said the Philippines will lead the preparation of analytical framework papers on structural reform for inclusive growth and the role of structural reform on services to help shape discussions in the forthcoming Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting to be held in Cebu City in September.
Five themes were agreed upon by the Economic Committee. These are Structural Reform for Inclusive Growth; Structural Reform and Innovation; Structural Reform and Services; Tools for Structural Reform; and New Directions for Structural Reform in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).
The theme on inclusive growth is very much aligned with our national priority, as it is the countrys overarching goal based on the Updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. Services, on the other hand, is one of the countrys key initiatives as we advance the Apec Services Cooperation Framework during this hosting year, Neda Assistant Director General Rosemarie G. Edillon said.
Neda highlighted the need for governments and the private sector to do things differently to make growth inclusive as a way to escape the so-called middle-income trap.
The term is used to refer to a situation where an economy is no longer considered in the low-income category but is taking too long to graduate to high-income status.
The Philippines is joined by Peru and Japan in preparing the paper on Structural Reform for Inclusive Growth. The country is also getting help from Australia and Peru on the paper for the Structural Reform and Services.


Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

THE PHILIPPINE economy could grow at a faster pace this year but will still likely fall below the official target in the face of various risks, a state think tank said in a forum it conducted in Makati City yesterday.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) sees the local economy growing at 6.8% in 2015, faster than the 6.1% clip last year but below the states official target of 7-8%, PIDS Officer-in-Charge and Vice-President Adoracion M. Navarro said in her presentation during the think tanks The Philippine Business and Economic Outlook for 2015 and Beyond forum.

The biggest drivers are private consumption and government consumption.

Several risks, however, could weigh on the countrys growth prospects this year, Ms. Navarro said.

Revenues may decline this year as customs collections suffer from the slump in oil prices. Ms. Navarro also said the Bureau of Internal Revenues collections would take a hit from revenue losses from additional exemptions on de minimis benefits and the increase in the tax-exemption ceiling for bonuses. This has serious implications on government spending for infrastructure and social services, she said.

Monetary policy normalization among advanced economies may also trigger equity price shifts and capital outflows, Ms. Navarro said.

The Philippines, however, will likely withstand financial shocks as the economy has shown resilience from volatilities elsewhere.

At the same time, the economy, she said, also faces some downside risks from its overstretched infrastructure, as evidenced by tight power supply and congestions in Manilas ports.

Exports could likewise suffer this year as the countrys major trading partners experience a growth slowdown and as Southeast Asian neighbors boost their competitiveness and responsiveness to global value chains.

Weather-related risks like El Nio and storms could also hurt farm output, Ms. Navarro said.

Moving forward, Ms. Navarro said the Philippines has the potential to grow at a faster pace. Beyond 2015, we believe that we have a potential to grow at a sustained 7%, she said.

But in order to do that, Ms. Navarro said the government should provide the appropriate launchpad by ensuring reliability of power supply and transport infrastructure, facilitating transfer of resources from the financial to the real sector, taking advantage of the oil price slump, and taking steps to narrow the savings-investments gap.

In the same forum, Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) President and Chief Executive Officer Hans B. Sicat said prospects also bode well for the private sector in general and the countrys capital markets. The next 24 months will be robust in terms of infrastructure build, consumer spending, in terms of continued activity and liquidity in the financial market and the exchange, Ms. Sicat said in his presentation. We are relatively bullish on whats gonna happen in the Philippines.

In 2015, the benchmark PSE index has closed at 27 all-time highs, so far, and breached the 8,000 level for the first time in its history. As of May 18, the main index was up 9.4% year-on-year.

Mr. Sicat likewise noted the PSEi is one of just two bourses in the world which grew consecutively for six years.

Most sectoral indices also have positive outlooks, Mr. Sicat said.

The financial sector, in particular, could benefit from the huge demand for funding and become more resilient through higher capitalization. Banks can likewise take advantage of the untapped market in the countryside and introduce new products and services.

The property sector, on the other hand, could continue benefiting from strong demand for residential and industrial space, low interest rates and expansion of projects outside Metro Manila.

The services sector stands to benefit from the continued growth of business process outsourcing, influx of tourists and the development in the countrys gaming industry.

Mining and oil, however, will likely stay at the sidelines, Mr. Sicat said, with extractive firms in limbo as they await a law that redefines the governments revenue-sharing with miners.

Risks to the bourses otherwise bright outlook, Mr. Sicat said, are cyber-security threats and the looming change in political leadership next year.

He also cited the bourses wish list for the government, particularly in improving coordination between incentives and taxation, consistency in tax policy and resolving regulatory bottlenecks.

In a related development, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) yesterday assured that public spending should improve this year compared to last years levels.

DBM said in a statement that budget reforms, inter-agency cooperation and Administrative Order no. 46 -- which last March 30 told all agencies under the Executive branch to implement measures to ensure the prompt execution of the National Government budget for... 2015 -- should drive spending to improve over last year, when lower-than-programmed state expenditures contributed to capping gross domestic product growth at 6.1% against a 6.5-7.5% official target.

New York-based think tank GlobalSource Partners said in a recent report that a lack of current data on public spending has cast a cloud of uncertainty on the governments ability to meet its spending target this year.

President [Benigno S.C.] Aquino IIIs order for more efficient spending was a direct result of last years spending shortfall, and not of slow spending in the first three months of 2015. The year 2014 was a most instructive one for us. We have since designed strategic fixes for the bureaucracys structural weaknesses, which were getting in the way of efficient spending, Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said in the statement.

He said later via text that the government will release its first-quarter fiscal performance report on May 25, adding that in terms of state spending, preliminary data shows an accelerating trend from January to March. //


Author: Mikhail Franz E. Flores
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: BusinessWorld

Possible pathways toward the creation of a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region are being tackled as the 21-member APEC countries seek to integrate their economies.
Discussions of possible pathways to the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) were one of the highlights of the recently concluded APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 held in Boracay Island.
The FTAAP is at the top of the APEC agenda. In their 2010 declaration, APEC leaders announced that they have agreed to explore possible pathways to achieve the FTAAP.
To this end, they have instructed APEC to take concrete steps toward the realization of the FTAAP, which is a major instrument to further APECs Regional Economic Integration (REI) agenda.
The idea is that the FTAAP should be realized as a comprehensive free trade agreement that could be built through regional undertakings, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
To date, there are three proposed pathways to the FTAAP: the United States-led TPP, the ASEAN-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) process, and the Pacific Alliance.
Both TTP and RCEP could eventually converge into an FTAAP. But if no such convergence occurs, the FTAAP project would be incomplete, since the two major world economies, United States and China, would not be linked by any agreement. This was underscored by Camilo Perez-Restrepo and Adriana Roldan-Perez, assistant and associate professors, respectively, at the Asia-Pacific Studies Centre, Universidad EAFIT in Colombia.
The different pathways leading to the FTAAP are interdependent. According to Perez-Restrepo and Roldan-Perez, an ideal pathway would be one that provides improved market access for the manufacturing sector in the emerging economies while also offering substantial benefits for services, investments, and high-tech industries in the advanced economies.
The Pacific Alliance (PA) is a regional integration process that involves Colombia, and three APEC economies"Chile, Mexico, and Peru. PA has been attracting the attention of the international community. The group currently has 32 observer countries, eight of which are APEC members.
Perez-Restrepo and Roldan-Perez said that based on the provisions negotiated among the PA members on the areas of tariffs, trade facilitation, services and investment liberalization, and new issues such as intellectual property, environment, labor, and public procurement, the PA offers an intermediate level of integration. The PA is not as ambitious as the TPP and thus could be more interesting and lenient for APEC economies that are not ready or not willing to commit to TPPs high-level conditions. At the same time, the PA offers a deeper form of integration than the RCEP, they added.
Whatever pathway is chosen, researchers present during the conference were all in agreement that APECs role is to serve as incubator of innovative approaches to economic cooperation and as breeding ground and mechanism for communication, exchange of best practices, and capacity building.
In promoting and advancing regional economic integration, APEC seeks to create a community that is more economically integrated, where goods, services, and people move seamlessly across borders, and a dynamic business environment is further enabled. This is what APEC is hoping to achieve with the FTAAP.
The FTAAP has a big potential to boost economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Once in place, it could dwarf all other economic arrangements ever made given its size and scope. The 21 APEC member-economies control half of the world trade and account for 60 percent of the global economy. They are home to nearly 3 billion consumers in some of the worlds most vibrant economies.
The APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference was part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC 2015. It was organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network in collaboration with the Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Development Bank Institute. The annual conference provides academics and scholars from the different APEC study centers with a venue to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for research collaboration.
The outputs of the conference may serve as inputs to the different APEC working group discussions and may be integrated in the Leaders statement.//

Author: Bernie Magkilat
Date: May 18, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

MANILA -- Enhancing the capacity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to resist, absorb, and recover from the effects of natural disasters in a timely and efficient manner is key to achieving inclusive growth in the APEC region.

SMEs are considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region. Over 97 percent of businesses in APEC are SMEs, providing jobs to more than half of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, APEC member-countries are prone to intense natural disasters. APECs 21 member-economies, which account for 52 percent of the earths surface and 59 percent of the worlds population, experience over 70 percent of global natural disasters.

According to Marife Ballesteros, senior research fellow at state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), disasters can compromise capital, supply chains, product markets, and labor, and in turn, business continuity and recovery.

In her presentation at the 2015 APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference titled Building Philippine MSMEs Resilience to Natural Disasters, Ballesteros noted that SMES are more vulnerable (than large enterprises) because they have limited coping mechanisms. SMEs usually have no or limited disaster insurance and limited access to credit, and most of them have no business continuity, emergency management, or disaster preparedness plans.

Ballesteros cited the case of the Philippines, where approximately 98 percent of all enterprises are micro to small. She noted that the country has a well-developed policy framework and action plans for DRRM. However, this disaster response strategy has not been effectively translated into local and business plans.


The DRRM plans of the Philippine government are operationalized primarily for search, rescue, evacuation, and relief operations. Restoration of economic activities is handled only in the medium to long term as part of the rehabilitation efforts. There is also no strategic programs to operationalize action plans for SMEs and no small business development centers to address disruption and needs, she explained.

In addition, she pointed out the insufficient recovery funds for farm-based and urban-based small industries such as the availability of loan and grant for these businesses.

Another issue highlighted by Ballesteros is the absence of specific policies for workers protection in times of calamities. She emphasized the importance of the people side of business during disaster. Resilient supply chain begins with resilient citizens and employees and it is a concern of both business and government, she stated.

She cited the business continuity plan of Albay Province as a model for implementing DRRM for SMEs. Albay's model covers both households and local businesses. It encourages local businesses to develop contingency plans based on vulnerability and hazard maps as well as land use zoning. This kind of local initiatives should be scaled up and replicated in other localities.

At the national level, Ballesteros recommended the establishment of key transport hubs and strategic communication systems that take into consideration extreme weather events.

She also highlighted the need for predisaster agreements as disruption of public sector operations and services can occur during times of calamities. One of these is the creation of networks or partnerships between national and local, and public and private entities, and the adoption of flexible regulations on labor as well as laws on importation and exportation.

In addition, government must support the development of financial security instruments such as catastrophic insurance, micro insurance, or a business disaster fund. She also suggested the integration of DRRM in the Magna Carta for SMEs and BMBEs as well as in the MSME Development Plan.

In the APEC region, Ballesteros called for cooperation to strengthen supply chain resilience. She proposed that SMEs should continue to build partnerships with other multinational organizations inside and outside of the APEC region, especially in the areas of information sharing and promotion of regional resiliency assessment programs. APEC member-economies can also have dialogues, capacity-building activities, and cross collaboration in resource and technology sharing such as in hazard mapping and information technology infrastructure.

The APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 was held on May 12-13 in Boracay, Aklan Province, as part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC 2015. It was organized by PIDS and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network in collaboration with the Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Development Bank Institute. The annual conference provides academics and scholars from the different APEC study centers with a venue to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for research collaboration. The output of the conference discussions may serve as inputs to the different APEC working group discussions and may be integrated in the Leaders statement.(PIDS)//

Author:
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: PIA

CEBU, May 18 (PIA) -- Discussions of possible pathways to the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) were one of the highlights of the recently concluded APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 held on May 12-13 in Boracay Island.

In promoting and advancing regional economic integration, APEC seeks to create a community that is more economically integrated, where goods, services, and people move seamlessly across borders and enable a dynamic business environment.

The FTAAP has a big potential to boost economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Once in place, it could dwarf all other economic arrangements ever made given its size and scope.

The 21 APEC member-economies control half of the world trade and account for 60 percent of the global economy. They are home to nearly 3 billion consumers in some of the worlds most vibrant economies.

The FTAAP is at the top of the APEC agenda. In their 2010 declaration, APEC Leaders announced that they have agreed to explore possible pathways to achieve the FTAAP.

To this end, they have instructed APEC to take concrete steps toward the realization of the FTAAP, which is a major instrument to further APECs Regional Economic Integration (REI) agenda.

The idea is that the FTAAP should be realized as a comprehensive free trade agreement that could be built through regional undertakings, such as ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

To date, there are three proposed pathways to the FTAAP: the United States-led TPP, the ASEAN-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) process, and the Pacific Alliance.

The assistant and associate professors from Asia-Pacific Studies Centre, Universidad EAFIT in Colombia, Camilo Perez-Restrepo and Adriana Roldan-Perez respectively underscored that both TTP and RCEP could eventually converge into an FTAAP.

If no such convergence occurs, the FTAAP project would be incomplete since the two major world economies, United States and China, would not be linked by any agreement, the professors noted.

The different pathways leading to the FTAAP are interdependent. According to Perez-Restrepo and Roldan-Perez, an ideal pathway would be one that provides improved market access for the manufacturing sector in the emerging economies while also offering substantial benefits for services, investments, and high-tech industries in the advanced economies.

The Pacific Alliance (PA) is a regional integration process that involves Colombia, and three APEC economies"Chile, Mexico, and Peru.

This alliance has been attracting the attention of the international community. The group currently has 32 observer countries, eight of which are APEC members.

Perez-Restrepo and Roldan-Perez said that based on the provisions negotiated among the PA members on the areas of tariffs, trade facilitation, services and investment liberalization, and new issues such as intellectual property, environment, labor, and public procurement, the PA offers an intermediate level of integration.

The PA is not as ambitious as the TPP and thus could be more interesting and lenient for APEC economies that are not ready or not willing to commit to TPPs high-level conditions. At the same time, the PA offers a deeper form of integration than the RCEP, the professors added.

Whatever pathway is chosen, researchers present during the conference were all in agreement that APECs role is to serve as incubator of innovative approaches to economic cooperation and as breeding ground and mechanism for communication, exchange of best practices, and capacity building.

The APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference was part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC 2015.

It was organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network in collaboration with the Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Development Bank Institute.

The annual conference provides academics and scholars from the different APEC study centers with a venue to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for research collaboration.

The outputs of the conference may serve as inputs to the different APEC working group discussions and may be integrated in the Leaders statement. (mbcn/PIA7/with reports from Misha Borbon/PIDS//

Author:
Date: May 18, 2015
Source: PIA

MANILA -- Enhancing the capacity of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to resist, absorb, and recover from the effects of natural disasters in a timely and efficient manner is key to achieving inclusive growth in the APEC region.

SMEs are considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region. Over 97 percent of businesses in APEC are SMEs, providing jobs to more than half of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, APEC member-countries are prone to intense natural disasters. APECs 21 member-economies, which account for 52 percent of the earths surface and 59 percent of the worlds population, experience over 70 percent of global natural disasters.

According to Marife Ballesteros, senior research fellow at state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), disasters can compromise capital, supply chains, product markets, and labor, and in turn, business continuity and recovery.

In her presentation at the 2015 APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference titled Building Philippine MSMEs Resilience to Natural Disasters, Ballesteros noted that SMES are more vulnerable (than large enterprises) because they have limited coping mechanisms. SMEs usually have no or limited disaster insurance and limited access to credit, and most of them have no business continuity, emergency management, or disaster preparedness plans.

Ballesteros cited the case of the Philippines, where approximately 98 percent of all enterprises are micro to small. She noted that the country has a well-developed policy framework and action plans for DRRM. However, this disaster response strategy has not been effectively translated into local and business plans.


The DRRM plans of the Philippine government are operationalized primarily for search, rescue, evacuation, and relief operations. Restoration of economic activities is handled only in the medium to long term as part of the rehabilitation efforts. There is also no strategic programs to operationalize action plans for SMEs and no small business development centers to address disruption and needs, she explained.

In addition, she pointed out the insufficient recovery funds for farm-based and urban-based small industries such as the availability of loan and grant for these businesses.

Another issue highlighted by Ballesteros is the absence of specific policies for workers protection in times of calamities. She emphasized the importance of the people side of business during disaster. Resilient supply chain begins with resilient citizens and employees and it is a concern of both business and government, she stated.

She cited the business continuity plan of Albay Province as a model for implementing DRRM for SMEs. Albay's model covers both households and local businesses. It encourages local businesses to develop contingency plans based on vulnerability and hazard maps as well as land use zoning. This kind of local initiatives should be scaled up and replicated in other localities.

At the national level, Ballesteros recommended the establishment of key transport hubs and strategic communication systems that take into consideration extreme weather events.

She also highlighted the need for predisaster agreements as disruption of public sector operations and services can occur during times of calamities. One of these is the creation of networks or partnerships between national and local, and public and private entities, and the adoption of flexible regulations on labor as well as laws on importation and exportation.

In addition, government must support the development of financial security instruments such as catastrophic insurance, micro insurance, or a business disaster fund. She also suggested the integration of DRRM in the Magna Carta for SMEs and BMBEs as well as in the MSME Development Plan.

In the APEC region, Ballesteros called for cooperation to strengthen supply chain resilience. She proposed that SMEs should continue to build partnerships with other multinational organizations inside and outside of the APEC region, especially in the areas of information sharing and promotion of regional resiliency assessment programs. APEC member-economies can also have dialogues, capacity-building activities, and cross collaboration in resource and technology sharing such as in hazard mapping and information technology infrastructure.

The APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 was held on May 12-13 in Boracay, Aklan Province, as part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC 2015. It was organized by PIDS and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network in collaboration with the Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Development Bank Institute. The annual conference provides academics and scholars from the different APEC study centers with a venue to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for research collaboration. The output of the conference discussions may serve as inputs to the different APEC working group discussions and may be integrated in the Leaders statement.(PIDS)//

Author:
Date: May 19, 2015
Source: PIA

Protecting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from disasters is key to achieve inclusive growth for member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a senior research fellow at state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.

"SMES are more vulnerable (than large enterprises) because they have limited coping mechanisms" said Marife Ballesteros during her presentation at the APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 held on May 12-13 in Boracay, Aklan Province.

"SMEs usually have no or limited disaster insurance and limited access to credit, and most of them have no business continuity, emergency management, or disaster preparedness plans," Ballesteros added.

SMEs are considered engines of growth and employment in the APEC region, the researcher noted in a statement released on Monday. Over 97 percent of businesses in APEC are SMEs, which provides jobs to more than half of the workers in the region.

APECs 21 member-economies account for 52 percent of the earth's surface and 59 percent of the world's population, but the region experience over 70 percent of global natural disasters that can compromise capital, supply chains, product markets, and labor; and in turn, business continuity and recovery.

To enhance the capacity of SMEs to resist, absorb, and recover from the effects of natural disasters in a timely and efficient manner, Ballesteros is pushing for cooperation to strengthen supply chain resilience in the APEC region.

She cited the business continuity plan of Albay province as a model for implementing disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) for SMEs.

"The case of the provincial government of Albay best exemplifies innovative fund use and apt local governance," she said in her presentation.

One of the province's best practices is passing Special Proclamation Resolution 2007-04. It stipulates that all businesses established in the province be consistent with climate change adaptation.

The local government unit of Albay encouraged local businesses to develop contingency and continuity plans based on vulnerability and hazard maps as well as land zoning.

No operational plans

Ballesteros also gave an assessment of the DRRM of the Philippines where approximately 98 percent of all enterprises are micro to small.

She noted that the country has a well-developed policy framework and action plans for DRRM. But the strategy has not been effectively translated into local and business plans.

"The DRRM plans of the Philippine government are operationalized primarily for search, rescue, evacuation, and relief operations. Restoration of economic activities is handled only in the medium- to long-term as part of the rehabilitation efforts. There are also no strategic programs to operationalize action plans for SMEs and no small business development centers to address disruption and needs," she explained.

She pointed out the country has insufficient recovery funds as well as available loans and grants for farm-based and urban-based small industries.

Ballesteros highlighted the absence of specific policies for workers' protection in times of calamities. She said it is important not to neglect employees during a disaster.

"Resilient supply chain begins with resilient citizens and employees and it is a concern of both business and government," she said.//

Author: Trisha Macas
Date: May 18, 2015
Source: GMA News

The lack of credit facilities and safety nets make small and medium enterprises (SMEs) vulnerable to disasters, according to state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

PIDS senior research fellow Marife Ballesteros said in a presentation at the recent 2015 Apec Study Centers Consortium Conference that disasters can compromise capital, supply chains, product markets and labor, as well as business continuity and recovery.
SMES are more vulnerable [than large enterprises] because they have limited coping mechanisms. SMEs usually have no or limited disaster insurance and limited access to credit, and most of them have no business continuity, emergency management, or disaster-preparedness plans, Ballesteros said.
Ballesteros pointed out the insufficient recovery funds for farm-based and urban-based small industries, such as the availability of loan and grant for these businesses.

Another issue highlighted by Ballesteros is the absence of specific policies for workers protection in times of calamities. She emphasized the importance of the people side of business during disaster.
Resilient supply chain begins with resilient citizens and employees and it is a concern of both business and the government, she stated.

Ballesteros cited the case of the Philippines, where approximately 98 percent of all enterprises are micro to small.

She noted that the country has a well-developed policy framework and action plans for disaster-risk reduction and management (DRRM). However, this disaster-response strategy has not been effectively translated into local and business plans.

To address these problems, Ballestros recommended the establishment of key transport hubs and strategic communication systems that take into consideration extreme weather events. She also highlighted the need for predisaster agreements as disruption of public sector operations and services can occur during times of calamities.

One of these is the creation of networks or partnerships between national and local, and public and private entities, and the adoption of flexible regulations on labor, as well as laws on importation and exportation.

In addition, the government must support the development of financial security instruments such as catastrophic insurance, micro insurance, or a business-disaster fund.

She also suggested the integration of DRRM in the Magna Carta for SMEs and Barangay Micro Business Enterprises, as well as in the MSME Development Plan.

SMEs should continue to build partnerships with other multinational organizations inside and outside of the Apec region, especially in the areas of information sharing and promotion of regional resiliency-assessment programs, Ballesteros said.

Apec member-economies can also have dialogues, capacity-building activities, and cross collaboration in resource and technology sharing, such as in hazard mapping and information-technology infrastructure, she added.
Over 97 percent of businesses in Apec are SMEs, providing jobs to more than half of the workers in the Asia-Pacific region. However, Apec member-countries are prone to intense natural disasters.

Apecs 21 member-economies, which account for 52 percent of the earths surface and 59 percent of the worlds population, experience over 70 percent of global natural disasters.

The Apec Study Centers Consortium Conference 2015 was held on May 12 and 13 in Boracay, Aklan Province, as part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting and Related Meetings of Apec 2015.//


Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: May 18, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

Under no other administration than President Benigno Aquino IIIs have foreign business chambers exercised so much influence in determining the economic development priorities that the government must pursue during its term and beyond.
In fact, the P-Noy government proudly acknowledges that its six-year Philippine Development Plan is essentially derived from an advocacy paper, titled Arangkada Philippines, prepared by the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines. (JFC members are the American, Australian-New Zealand, Canadian, European, Japanese, and Korean chambers plus the Philippine Association of Multinational Companies Regional Headquarters, Inc.)
The advocacy papers ambitious targets: generate $75 billion in new foreign investments, 10 million jobs, and over P1 trillion in government revenue within a decade. To achieve these targets, the JFC wants the government to focus on rapidly developing what it touts as the seven big-winner sectors, namely: agribusiness, business processing offices, creative industries, infrastructure (airports, roads, railways, seaports, telecommunications, power and water), manufacturing and logistics, mining, and tourism (medical, travel, retirement).
With just 13 months remaining for the Aquino presidency, a lot of problems beset its development plan. Meantime, the JFC and its leading members (American and European) are pressing Congress to pass several economic bills " some creating new laws, others amending or repealing existing ones " that would principally benefit foreign investors.
Addressing an Arangkada Philippines forum in January 2012, President Aquino unabashedly acknowledged that he had adopted the JFC recommendations even before he won the presidential race in May 2010. Truth is, he pointed out, the seven big-winner sectors were part of my platform during the2010 election campaign, deeming them as the primary areas of growth that represented the global competitive advantage of the Philippines.
P-Noy said in 2012 that the particular focus for his administration was on the BPOs, tourism, infrastructure, and agriculture because they tend(ed) to promote inclusive growth.
Opinion ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
How has his administration performed on these sectors since then? It may be conceded that the BPOs and tourism have done relatively well, for instance, in generating employment and foreign exchange revenues. But its a different case for agriculture and infrastructure.
Agricultures budgetary allocation was increased by 51.3 percent to P53.3 billion in 2012. P-Noy optimistically projected that rice self-sufficiency by 2013 remain(ed) a plausible goal " as opposed to the impossible dream it was just a couple of years ago.
Yet, after more than three years of generous funding rice self-sufficiency appears to have slipped back to being an impossible dream.
In February the Philippines imported 500,000 metric tons of rice via government-to-government deals with Thailand and Vietnam, besides 163,000 MT allowed under the World Trade Organization minimum access volume program. More importation by the National Food Authority is reportedly being considered to meet the mandated stocks during the lean months starting in June.
The dismal performance of the agricultural sector has worsened the distress of the two million poor farming families and 30 percent of the labor force who depend on it. In 2014 agriculture contributed a measly 0.2 percent of the 6.1 percent GDP growth rate " whereas in 2010 it accounted for 12 percent of GDP (per a study by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, which backstops the National Economic and Development Authority).
Aggravating such poor showing, the Commission on Audit reported in April that the Department of Agriculture, up till 2013, had wasted P14 billion of regular fund allocations and those from the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) and DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program).
In similar deep trouble is infrastructure, particularly transportation in the National Capital Region (insufficient capacity for the passenger volumes, and decrepit conditions of the MRT, the LRT, and the Philippine National Railways), with many inadequacies too in airports, seaports and other facilities in the other regions.
The 2013-2016 Comprehensive and Integrated Infrastructure Program -- which lists 3,077 priority projects requiring P6.58-trillion investments to be undertaken under Public-Private Partnership mode " took more than three years to be crafted. The program covers P3 trillion for transport-system projects; P1.37 trillion for social infrastructure (health, education, housing and services); P1 trillion for water resources; P847 billion for energy resources; and P89 billion for information and communication technology.
Thus far only 9 infrastructure contracts, costing P133.4 billion, have been awarded and signed. Most, if not all, of them are unlikely to be completed before the end of P-Noys term in July 2016.
On the JFCs economic-legislation drive, the House of Representatives has passed on second reading three of its recommendations: 1) amending the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act; 2) amending the cabotage law (liberalizing the entry of foreign ships into Philippine ports); and 3) this week, the Philippine Fair Competition Act, which aims to reduce, if not fully eradicate, unfair competition, monopolies and cartels. (The Senate has already passed its version of this bill on third/final reading.)
The JFC has also been pressing Congress to pass new laws to rationalize/liberalize fiscal incentives for investors and to lower income and corporate taxes. The House targets to pass these by December.
Besides these, the American chamber wants Congress to amend/liberalize the Foreign Investment Act, Retail Trade Act, Government Procurement Act, Public Service Act and to repeal RA 3018 (which bans foreign participation in the rice and corn trade).
But the most controversial legislation being pushed both by the JFC and nine Philippine business groups is Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 1, which if approved will have long-term economic, political and social implications for us Filipinos. Sponsored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Sen. Ralph Recto, RBH1 seeks to amend/nullify the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution that limit (to 40 percent) or totally bar foreign ownership or exploitation of land and natural resources, ownership of public utilities, media, and advertising industries.

Author: Ocampo, Satur C.
Date: May 16, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

The Department of Trade and Industry is mandated to help industry, while the Department of Agriculture is supposed to help agriculture. However, because of the critical link between industry and agriculture to achieve economic development, the DTI should also help farmers and fisherfolk by closely interacting with them and the DA.
The table highlights our three sectors contribution to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014.
Agriculture growth is significantly below that of industry and services. What is not obvious is that agriculture components form a large part of industry.
Manufacturing, which is the largest part of industry, contributes 22 percent of GDP. Of the manufacturing subsectors, food manufacturers constitute the largest at 36 percent. This is followed by communication (17 percent), chemical and chemical products (11 percent), and furniture and fixtures (6 percent). The rest of the manufacturing subsectors are 2 percent or below.
Road maps
Asean integration starts very soon in December. We need a complete economic road map to address this integration, which is an opportunity but also a danger.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the government think tank attached to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), has received from DTI 26 industry subsector road maps. The DA has not yet submitted a road map for the agriculture subsector.
Since food manufacturers is the largest manufacturing subsector, it is imperative that the DTI knows whatever agriculture road maps there are. How can you plan the food industry when you dont know the plan for its agriculture inputs? The PIDS must take the initiative and address this yawning gap.
In addition to road maps, there is the critical area of poor implementation. With former Trade Secretary Jose Concepcion and DTI Director Renato Navarrete, I helped introduced the ISO management system into the Philippines. The immediate objective was to enable our businessmen to export their products with ISO 9001 certification. This certification was the assurance to the world market that the firm producing the exports followed a globally accepted management system that would ensure proper implementation and quality products. But the intention was not to stop with the exporters. We advocated this for all public and private institutions.
Today, several institutions such as universities, hospitals, and government agencies have adopted this system. The DTI was the first in government to do this. With Asean integration looming before us, DTI should advocate that its partner, the DA, likewise undertake ISO accreditation. Farmers and fisherfolk complain about poor implementation, probably because there is no effective management system to improve this. Most DA bureaus and operating units still do not have ISO 9000.
Shipping lines
Last April 30, the DTI helped the Alyansa Agrikultura and other business organizations with certain shipping lines. Though many of the shipping lines behave responsibly, some are levying unjustified charges that contribute to unnecessary costs and harm our global competitiveness. These unscrupulous lines were not called to task for profiteering. This is defined in our law as charging a price for a product grossly in excess of its intrinsic worth.
One such charge that may have been appropriate before, but not anymore, is the Port Congestion Surcharge (PCS). But even when there was no more port congestion, many shipping lines continued to charge this. The Alyansa called on DTI to exercise the exemplary leadership they showed in using moral ascendancy when consumer product prices would become excessively high.
At last Fridays press conference, DTI announced that the 11 major shipping lines carrying 75 percent of all cargoes had lifted the PCS. The DTI should call the attention of the remaining erring shipping lines so that this does not continue. There remain other charges believed to be unreasonable, such as the new Emergency Cost Recovery Surcharge (ECRS) and even a Cleaning Charge (CC) when these are not justified.
The DTI also issued this statement: The DTI-Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) will look into the components of the shipping charges and utilize the public-private partnership model.
DTIs action on ensuring reasonable shipping charges will help all sectors, but especially farmers and fisherfolk who are at most risk from global competitiveness during the coming Asean economic integration.
Instances like these are within the mandate of DTI, and not DA. However, they affect the welfare of the farmers and the fisherfolk significantly. To achieve inclusive growth, DTI must look for more ways like this to help our disadvantaged farmers and fisherfolk.//


Author: Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: May 14, 2015
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a crucial role in ending poverty and income inequality in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) region.

Dr. Bokhwan Yu, deputy dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), said SMEs can pave the way for poverty reduction by providing much-needed employment opportunities for the poor.

One solution to solve poverty and achieve inclusiveness is through the development of SMEs, which have the potential to provide jobs to people. However, SMEs must be able to participate in the global value chain to benefit more from greater integration, Yu said.

Yu added that over 5 million people are still living the below poverty line in Asia alone, with income inequalities also rising in recent years.

He said supporting SMEs is just one possible solution to arrest the situation. Yu said this is where the importance of not only cooperation but also research for development comes in.

The 2015 Apec Study Centers Consortium (ASCC) Conference, Yu said, provides an opportunity for researchers in the region to share knowledge and find solution to make growth more inclusive.

Achieving inclusive growth in the region is hampered by various issues and there is no single solution to solve all these problems, Yu said.

Deputy Director General Rolando G. Tungpalan of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said research for development must continue and thus receive support from governments, private sector, academe and civil society.

In the case of the Philippines, Tungpalan said the Philippine Apec Study Center Network (PASCN) has provided policy recommendations that aided policymakers in formulating national plans and strategies.

The PASCN, which is being led by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), have produced a number of scholarly publications containing research studies on competition policy, coalition building and Apec, Chinas economic growth and the Asean, education and globalization, sustainable tourism, and the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, among other topics.

Without a doubt, the Apec Education Leaders Initiative launched in 1993 and the motivation behind the establishment of the Apec study centers in the different Apec member-economies have lived on. The study centers are steadily gaining ground and will continue to do so with the support of the Apec Secretariat, Tungpalan said.

The ASCC Conference provides an opportunity for academics and scholars to discuss and exchange ideas on the Apec themes and to identify areas for regional collaboration among the Apec study centers.

Outcomes of the conference may serve as inputs to the different Apec working group discussions and may be integrated in the Apec Leaders statement. There are over 50 study centers in 20 of the 21 Apec member-economies.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: May 13, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

BORACAY ISLAND, May 13 --Research plays a crucial role in raising awareness and facilitating discussions of important Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)-related issues and processes to help support the vision and goals of APEC.

In his keynote address at the opening of the 2015 APEC Study Centers Consortium (ASCC) Conference in Boracay Island on May 12, Deputy Director-General Rolando G. Tungpalan of the National Economic and Development Authority noted that the APEC study centers have been instrumental in fostering regional cooperation among tertiary and research institutes in the APEC region through the promotion of increased academic collaboration on key regional economic challenges.

According to Tungapalan, the analytical work that the APEC study centers put in will be valuable in sharpening policymakers tools for addressing cross-cutting issues especially on services, trade and investments, supply chain connectivity, and enhancing regional economic integration through the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. He added that through careful analysis of these issues, APEC will have a better chance at putting ideas and plans into action, and will be able to craft more effective solutions and anticipate problems before they occur.

In the case of the Philippines, Tungpalan cited the numerous studies conducted by the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN) that have provided policy recommendations that aided policymakers in formulating national plans and strategies.

The PASCN, which is being led by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), have produced a number of scholarly publications containing research studies on competition policy, coalition building and APEC, Chinas economic growth and the ASEAN, education and globalization, sustainable tourism, and the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, among other topics. In 2014, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs also commissioned the PASCN through the PIDS to undertake the Research Project APEC 2015 that sought to provide the analytical framework for the substantive priorities and initiatives that the Philippines will advance as the APEC host economy this year.

Without a doubt, the APEC Education Leaders Initiative launched in 1993 and the motivation behind the establishment of the APEC study centers in the different APEC member-economies has lived on. The study centers are steadily gaining ground and will continue to do so with the support of the APEC Secretariat, Tungpalan emphasized.

He likewise emphasized the critical importance of advancing the APEC agenda at the local level. Mainstreaming the agenda not just in national development plans but also in local development plans is necessary, and this can be achieved through continuous education, information dissemination, and advocacy. He challenged the academic and scholars comprising the APEC study centers to serve as envoys on APEC-related matters.

Your direct interaction with your students, fellow educators and researchers, and program implementers and decision makers in your localities make you excellent go-betweens between APEC and the local communities, Tungpalan noted.

Meanwhile, Fernando Aldaba, Dean of the School of Sciences of the Ateneo De Manila University, highlighted the growing importance of regional cooperation through APEC.


In his opening statement, Aldaba noted that despite the moderate economic growth experienced by most countries, the world is still confronted with the twin problems of poverty and inequality, and recently, disasters and catastrophes caused by climate change.

Aldaba added that the inputs and discussions on the APEC subthemes are critical ingredients in the formulation of truly inclusive and sustainable economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

APEC Secretariat Executive Director Alan Bollard, represented by Dr. Akmad Bayhaqi, said the 2015 priorities of APEC reflects the strong emphasis it gives to development issues within the framework of regional economic integration. He added that the global economic outlook for this year shows ample opportunities. However, the International Labour Organization noted that global unemployment increased by 5 million in 2013 and is reaching 200 million because of uneven economic recovery and modest growth.

Dr. Bokhwan Yu, Deputy Dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), emphasized that for growth to be truly inclusive in the APEC region, governments, together with the private sector, academe, and civil society, should work together.

Achieving inclusive growth in the region is hampered by various issues and there is no single solution to solve all these problems, Yu stated.

The ASCC Conference, he said, provides an opportunity for researchers in the region to share knowledge and find solution to make growth more inclusive.

According to Yu, there are more than 5 million people who are still living below poverty in Asia alone, with income inequalities also rising in recent years.

One solution to solve poverty and achieve inclusiveness is through the development of SMEs, which have the potential to provide jobs to people. However, SMEs must be able to participate in the global value chain to benefit more from greater integration, Yu explained.

The ASCC Conference provides an opportunity for academics and scholars to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for regional collaboration among the APEC study centers. Outcomes of the conference may serve as inputs to the different APEC working group discussions and may be integrated in the APEC Leaders statement. There are over 50 study centers in 20 of the 21 APEC member-economies.//

Conference details and updates may be accessed from ascc2015.org, pids.gov.ph, @PIDS_PH, and https://www.facebook.com/PIDS.PH. (PIDS)

Author:
Date: May 13, 2015
Source: Select Article Source

Enhancing the ability of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of trade opportunities and be able to participate in the regional and global markets is one of the highlights of this years conference of the APEC Study Centers Consortium (ASCC).

Slated for May 12-13, the ASCC Conference serves as an avenue for researchers and scholars to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for regional collaboration among APEC Study Centers. The conference is organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN) in cooperation with the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI). It is part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC which will be held in Boracay, Aklan.

SMEs account for more than 97 percent of all enterprises in the APEC region and employ more than half of the workforce in the region. However, the sectors share of gross domestic product ranges from only 20 percent to 50 percent in most APEC economies. SMEs contribute only 35 percent or less of the direct exports. Enhancing the management capabilities of SMEs, strengthening their access to financing, and creating an environment that allow easy access to overseas markets will result in increased exports and more jobs from SMEs.

One of the papers to be presented at the ASCC conference, authored by ADBI Dean Naoyuki Yoshino, looks at ways to improve SMEs access to financing. SMEs face difficulty in borrowing money from banks because of the absence of credit rating data. Yoshino suggests that an efficient credit rating scheme that rates SMEs based on their financial health will reduce banks aversion to SMEs and encourage them to lend money to small businesses.

Meanwhile, a paper by Eunsook Seo of Sangmyung University, Korea, looks at how financial cooperation through the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN+3 can expand SMEs access to finance in the region. However, Seo cautions that a more open financial market could worsen problems of information asymmetries, with agency cost likely to be magnified on an international scale due to national disparities in terms of firms' credit worthiness and credit rating system, among other things. To overcome these issues, Seo recommends looking at the European Unions experience in crafting policies for financing SMEs.

PIDS Senior Research Fellow Marife Ballesteros will discuss how to better prepare SMEs for natural disasters through business continuity planning. Ballesteros paper underscores that micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are highly vulnerable, and have weak adaptability and limited access to a broader set of coping strategies. Thus, it recommends that disaster risk reduction and management be embedded into the business sector. It also examines the role of APEC in promoting MSMEs resilience.

The paper of ADMU Economics Professor Alvin Ang completes the lineup of presentations on SMEs. Ang highlights the advantages of having a local economic development and competitiveness indicators system for SME locators. According to Ang, establishing a competitiveness index ranking for cities and municipalities provides a critical decision information on locating a business and, at the same time, addresses the issues of productivity, efficiency, facilities, and interconnectivity.//


Author:
Date: May 09, 2015
Source: Select Article Source

MANILA " At least four research papers tackling small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be presented during the 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Boracay Island Aklan from May 12 to 13.
Presenters in this years APEC Study Centers Consortium (ASCC) conference are Naoyuki Yoshino of Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI), Eunsook Seo of Sangmyung University in Korea, Marife Ballesteros of Philippine Institute for Development Studies and Alvin Ang of Ateneo de Manila University.
Yoshino, dean of ADBI, will talk about enhancing access to finance for SMEs.
An efficient credit rating scheme monitoring the financial health of SMEs improves the chances of small businesses to get a loan, said Yoshino.
Seo will tackle SMEs access to finance through the help of the ASEAN Economic Community (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and the ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and Korea-Secretariat).
The two-day APEC conference will also highlight the importance of carrying out a business continuity plan during natural disasters.
Ballesteros paper encourages the business sector to invest in disaster risk and resilience to strengthen its capacity to reduce the impacts of future calamities.
Establishing a competitiveness index ranking for cities and municipalities provides critical decision information on locating a business and, at the same time, addresses the issues of productivity, efficiency, facilities, and interconnectivity, said Ang.
Other presenters to tackle human capital development and sustainability planning are Gilberto Llanto of PIDS, Fernando Aldaba of Ateneo School of Social Sciences, Bokhawan Yu of ADBI and Alan Bollard of APEC Secretariat.
The ASCC conference is part of the APEC Second Senior Officials Meeting and Related Meetings./PN//


Author: Prince Golez
Date: May 09, 2015
Source: Pinoy News

MANILA, Philippines - This years Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Study Centers Consortium (ASCC) will center on the need to enhance small and medium enterprises (SMEs) so they may participate in trade opportunities in the regional and global markets.

The conference is set on May 12 and 13 in Boracay, Aklan.

One of the papers to be presented at the ASCC, authored by Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) dean Naoyuki Yoshino, would look at ways to improve SMEs access to financing.

Yoshino suggested an efficient credit rating scheme, which would grade SMEs based on their financial health, to reduce banks aversion to SMEs and encourage them to lend money to small businesses.

Meanwhile, a paper by Eunsook Seo of Sangmyung University in South Korea will discuss how financial cooperation through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community and the ASEAN+3 could expand SMEsaccess to finance in the region.

Seo warned that a more open financial market could worsen problems of information asymmetries, with agency costs likely to be magnified due to national disparities in terms of firms credit worthiness and credit rating system, among other things.

To address such issues, Seo recommended reviewing the European Unions experiences in crafting policies for financing SMEs.

Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow Marife Ballesteros will talk about preparing SMEs for natural disasters through business continuity planning.

Ballesteros paper recommends that disaster risk reduction and management be embedded into the business sector, as micro, small and medium enterprises are highly vulnerable and have weak adaptability and limited access to a broader set of coping strategies in times of disaster.

The study of Ateneo de Manila University Economics professor Alvin Ang completes the lineup of presentations on SMEs.

According to Ang, establishing a local economic development and competitiveness indicators system for SMEs, such as a competitiveness index ranking for cities and municipalities, would provide critical decision information on locating a business and at the same time address the issues of productivity, efficiency, facilities and interconnectivity.

While SMEs account for more than 97 percent of all enterprises in the Asia-Pacific region and employ more than half of the workforce in the region, the sector contributes only 20 to 50 percent to the gross domestic product in most APEC economies.
The ASCC is part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC and serves as an avenue for researchers and scholars to discuss and exchange ideas on APEC themes and to identify areas for regional collaboration among APEC Study Centers.
The conference was organized by the PIDS and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN), in cooperation with the ADMU and the ADBI.//


Author:
Date: May 08, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

Business people are frowning in exasperation over the arbitrary and whimsical decisions of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. First it slashed the proposed rate adjustments of its two private concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad in violation of the 1997 concession agreement, prompting the two to file separate arbitration cases before the International Chamber of Commerces International Court of Arbitration in Singapore. And now that the ICC has come out with a decision approving the proposed rate adjustment of Maynilad, MWSS decides its okay to ignore the ICC ruling for Maynilad and instead apply the decision handed down for the separate case filed by Manila Water.
What? Run that by us again? To explain"ICC ruled in favor of Maynilads rate adjustment last December (but MWSS withheld implementation saying it is waiting for the ruling on Manila Waters separate case.) Last April 21, the ICC handed out a decision favoring MWSS over Manila Water in the latters rate adjustment case. Two separate cases with two separate decisions. Which should tell us that the ICC ruled based on the individual merits of the respective cases.
However, MWSS thinks it can flout the ICC decision by immediately and fully implementing the ruling handed down for Manila Water, but on the other hand chooses to disregard ruling on Maynilad, proceeding to slash down the approved rate adjustment for the latter. So now the regulator finds itself in more legal mess with Maynilad filing a second arbitration case before the ICC, seeking compensation amounting to P3.44 billion in losses plus another P208 million more for every month since Dec. 28, the date when the ICC Appeals panel handed down the ruling favoring the water concessionaire.
Our stoolies tell us Maynilad has strong support from the business community on this second arbitration case protesting MWSS whimsical actions, saying the delayed and selective enforcement of the ICC ruling case is the latest evidence of the governments penchant for changing business rules at random that have for long unsettled foreign and local investors.
Moreover, the surprise move by MWSS to get the Supreme Court involved by seeking the latters interpretation of the separate ICC rulings on the Maynilad and Manila Water cases will lead to the kind of judicial encroachment or intervention similarly frowned upon by the business community, our stoolie further noted.
In the first place, arbitration proceedings are meant precisely for warring parties to settle their disputes outside the courts. So why bring the SC into the picture?
There is no reward for MWSS stance, which is an all-downside proposition, with the whole country paying the price. When government officials seek new foreign investments, they will have to explain why a valid contract and a final and binding arbitral award were not respected by a government agency, Maynilad chief finance officer Randolph Estrellado said, adding that respect for the law and contracts should be observed.
All of these sort of make businessmen think that the selective and whimsical decisions of MWSS and its officials depend on whether these people are having a bad hair day or woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Of course, the populist posturing can also be a ploy to deflect attention from graft accusations, with the Office of the Ombudsman recommending the filing of graft charges against a former executive.
While no one readily welcomes any rate increase in most any thing, the glaring truth is that the increase will go towards enhancement of services and more importantly, to reach areas that are not currently being served. Ordinary consumers actually stand to be the biggest losers with the refusal of MWSS to heed the ICC decision because the continuing losses will undermine long-term plans to expand services"precisely since Maynilad spends P10 billion every year on capital expenditures for service enhancement, our stoolie pointed out.
This capriciousness and arbitrary tendencies will negatively impact poor and low-income consumers in areas that are not yet served by the concessionaire and therefore are forced to buy water for suppliers that charge them almost an arm and a leg. As mentioned in a study conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, consumers who used to buy water from kariton water peddlers had to pay as much as 13 times more for their water requirements before being serviced by the concessionaires.
Considering this (typical) wishy-washy arbitrary tendency of the government agencies like the MWSS, can anybody blame people like PCCI Securities Brokers Corp. research head James Lago for saying, Its not fun to do business in the Philippines?
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Author: Boy P.,
Date: May 07, 2015
Source: Manila Standard Today


MANILA, May 7 -- Researchers from across the Asia-Pacific region will share their analyses and insights on Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) issues at the 2015 APEC Study Centers Consortium Conference on 12-13 May in Boracay Island, Philippines.

The conference is part of the Second Senior Officials Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings of APEC and organized by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the Philippine APEC Study Center Network (PASCN), in partnership with the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).

The PASCN, which is being led by PIDS, is one of the 20 APEC Study Centers (ASCs) in APEC member-economies. ASCs undertake research, disseminate information, and facilitate discussions on APEC-related issues to support the attainment of APEC's vision and goals. The PASCN was established in 1996 through an administrative order as the Philippines' response to the APEC Leaders Education Initiative, which aims to develop regional cooperation in higher education and research. It is composed of the Asian Institute of Management, Ateneo De Manila University, Central Luzon State University, De La Salle University, Mindanao State University, Silliman University, University of Asia and the Pacific, University of San Carlos, University of the Philippines, Xavier University, Department of Foreign Affairs-Foreign Service Institute, and PIDS.

The annual ASCC Conference provides academics and scholars a venue to discuss and exchange ideas on the APEC themes and to identify areas for regional collaboration among the ASCs. The output of these discussions may serve as inputs to the different APEC working group discussions and may be integrated in the Leader's statements.

Discussions at this years ASCC Conference will zero in on the APEC 2015 theme of Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World, specifically on the four APEC 2015 priorities: enhancing the regional economic integration agenda; investing in human capital development; fostering SMEs participation in the regional and global economy; and building sustainable and resilient communities.

Discussions on how to enhance regional economic integration in the APEC region through the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), address issues pertaining to services, trade, and investment patterns, and improve supply chain connectivity are among the highlights of the conference.

The conference program also includes paper presentations on how to enhance participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the regional and global economy. For example, a researcher from the ADBI will discuss the internationalization of SMEs while another scholar from Korea will present ways on how financial cooperation can help SMEs' financing in Asia. A PIDS researcher, meanwhile, will discuss how micro, small, and medium enterprises can better prepare for natural disasters through business continuity planning.

Also included in the agenda are discussions on human capital development, and building sustainable and resilient communities in the region.
PIDS President Gilberto Llanto, Ateneo School of Social Sciences Dean Fernando Aldaba, ADBI Deputy Dean Bokhwan Yu and APEC Secretariat Executive Director Alan Bollard will speak at the opening ceremonies. More than 100 participants are expected to attend the two-day conference.

APEC is a 21-member association of economies from the Asia-Pacific region working together to advance regional economic integration and prosperity. Attending the ASCC Conference will be representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Peoples Republic of China, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States of America, and Viet Nam.

For more information about the ASCC Conference, visit www.ascc2015.org.(PIDS)//


Author:
Date: May 07, 2015
Source: PIA

QUEZON CITY, May 7 -- The Department of Agriculture has intensified its interventions to mitigate the effects of the El Nio phenomenon in the country, basing on the assessment of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and field monitoring reports from the DA regional offices.

PAGASA has reported that 23 provinces are now affected by drought and 31 provinces by dry spell.

Drought occurs when there is a three consecutive months of above 60-percent reduction of average rainfall. On the other hand, dry spell happens when average rainfall decrease by 21 to 60 percent, also for three consecutive months.

The DA, in partnership with other government agencies, its regional offices and local government units, has continued to intensify 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, DA 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 makes irrigation more efficient.

For rainfed agricultural lands, 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, DA has likewise distributed drought-resistant palay seeds, and assisted farmers in the adjustment of their cropping season. For corn, DA has already issued notices to release corn seeds from the buffer stocking program of Agri-Pinoy Corn Program.

To effectively manage "drought" pests, 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, DA has requested the support of RCPC Trichogramma Laboratory to augment the need of Trichogramma for the control of stem borer in the infested areas. Trichogramma is a parasitic species of wasp that kills eggs of stem borer.

DA has also conducted pre-cloud seeding operations, and field personnel of the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management are now validating extent of damage in affected areas as basis for cloud-seeding operations and installation of shallow tube wells.

DA Secretary Proceso Alcala has appealed to local government units and farmer organizations to continuously coordinate with local agriculture offices and employ mitigation measures prescribed by DA as well as other agencies.

This is a tremendous natural event that we are dealing with, hence we need an equally massive force of collaborative stakeholders for our mitigation efforts to succeed, Alcala said.

The following provinces are affected by drought, according to PAGASA: Abra, Agusan del Norte, Apayao, Basilan, Benguet, Bohol, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, La Union, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Misamis Occidental, Mountain Province, Pampanga, Saranggani, South Cotabato, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay.

Dry spell, on the other hand, is experienced by the provinces of Agusan del sur, Albay, Bataan, Batanes, Batangas, Biliran, Bukidnon, Cavite, Cebu, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Lanao del Sur, Leyte, Masbate, Misamis Oriental, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Samar, Siquijor, Sorsogon, Southern Leyte, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Tarlac. ( DA-AFID)//


Author:
Date: May 07, 2015
Source: PIA

BUTUAN CITY, May 6 (PIA) - Forecast from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) showed that the Philippines is currently experiencing the effects of a weak El Nio. PAGASA released El Nio Advisory No. 2 last April 7, 2015 stating that the weak El Nio will likely continue until mid-2015 with the chances of strengthening toward the end of the year.

Based from the hourly monitoring of the Taguibo River, the accumulated rain have not increased the water yield of the river. It has been observed that the stream has decreased within a month despite of incidences of rain.

On April 29, 2015, the water yield of the Taguibo River was measured using a stream flow meter. It was measured just downstream of Bobon Creek and within the project site of the Butuan Bulk Water Supply Project. The amount of water flowing through the Taguibo River measures an average of 2,100 cubic meter an hour which is about 175 percent of BCWDs requirement of 1,200 cubic meters.

Despite the 75 percent excess of water source against the requirement, the extraction rate could not reach the 1,200 cubic meters per hour requirement due to lower river depth. The average total production extracted from the Taguibo River is only 704 cubic meters per hour which is about only 59 percent of the requirement of BCWD with only a maximum production recorded of 886 cubic meters per hour and lowest production of 472 cubic meters per hour on that date.

If the weak El Nio will extend until the end of this year, then there is a high possibility that the water yield of Taguibo River will continue to lower down until such time that it will be lower than the 59 percent of the required 1,200 cubic meters per hour.

As part of the Butuan City Water Districts (BCWD) commitment in providing quality service to its concessionaires, the BCWD has been doubling its efforts in monitoring its water sources and preparing for any possible effects that may impede in the operation of the BCWD.

BCWD relies mostly in the Taguibo River as the major source of its water supply. As such, BCWD is now preparing for any possible effect of the weak El Nio in its water supply. Among the preparations include (1) the implementation of street-by-street leak detection and repair program, (2) campaign to report any illegal water connection, (3) conditioning of the five pumping stations which are the back-up sources of BCWD, (4) guarantee that the six reservoirs are sufficiently re-charged, (5) operation of the booster pump at Km. 6 Libertad to cater to high elevated areas such as Bancasi, Pinamanculan and Dumalagan, and (6) worst case scenario is the implementation of distribution management through valving and tanker rationing.

Several activities are also in line to be able to inform the public on the possible effect of El Nio to the water supply of Butuan City Water District. BCWD is urging its concessionaires to conserve water. According to a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) entitled Determination of Basic Household Requirements, an average Filipino family uses six liters per capita per day for drinking and 12 liters for cooking and the kitchen. Majority of the water use in every Filipino household is for personal hygiene which is at 68 liters per capita per day and 74 liters for sanitation services. The basic household activities which consume the bulk of the water use of a Filipino family can be lessened through water conservation.

BCWD compels its concessionaires to reduce, reuse and recycle. This will greatly help minimize the average water consumption of every concessionaire.

BCWD is reminding its concessionaires that the office is only responsible for maintaining the water line from the mainline to their water meter, the concessionaires are responsible for the repairs to any part of the water system from the meter toward their homes. If they find leaks in the mainline of BCWD, they are urged to report it immediately to the office of BCWD. And if there are leaks in their homes, they need to have it repaired.

For more water conservation tips to mitigate the effect of El Nino, concessionaires can visit BCWD website at www.bcwd.gov.ph. They can also get water conservation tips leaflet at the BCWD Collection Lobby. (Ramil Barquin, Sr., Public Relations Officer, BCWD/PIA-Caraga)//


Author:
Date: May 06, 2015
Source: PIA