PIDS in the News Archived (September 2015)

The thrust toward economic policy reform that followed the election to the presidency of Fidel Ramos produced laws and presidential directives that rationalized, through the removal of entry barriers, the transportation and communication sectors of the Philippine economy. Unfortunately, one segment of the transportation sector got left out of the reform process. That mistake was corrected by a signing ceremony in Malacanang several weeks ago.

On that occasion, President Aquino affixed his signature to the Cabotage Act of 2015 (Republic Act No. 10668). The signing marked the end of the odyssey of those, within and outside the government, who had long sought the overhaul of a shipping regulatory system that they considered out of date, discriminatory and, above all, economically unsound.

The changes that the Cabotage Act of 2015 has brought about consists of three parts, namely, the Act will (1) allow ships of foreign registry to call at Philippine ports, (2) allow ships of foreign registry to engage in coastwise shipping (cabotage in French), i.e., the carriage of goods from one Philippine port to another Philippine port, and (3) enable Philippine exporters and importers to load their shipments on ships of foreign registry.

The new law is a real game-changer. Prior to the Malacanang signing ceremony, foreign vessels were not allowed to engage in cabotage. The approval of the Cabotage Act of 2015 is no small victory, for the reservation of the right of cabotage to Philippine vessels was something that the domestic shipping industry jealously guarded and zealously defended. I have personal knowledge of this, from my days as a business columnist for a newspaper whose owner was also the owner of a shipping company. In one column I wrote about the economic unsoundness of the then-Cabotage Act. That column was not printed. I got the message, and I did not touch that subject again.

One does not need a degree from the London School of Economics, or any other school for that matter, to appreciate that the cost of shipping goods " whether by sea or land or air " impacts on the prices of goods and that high shipping costs, by pushing up product prices, are inflationary.

Just how inflationary high shipping costs are has been illustrated in an oft-quoted example provided by Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines, which has been one of the most fervent proponents of an overhauled cabotage law. The freight for shipping a 40-foot container from Manila to Cagayan de Oro is around a $1,680. On the other hand, if the shipment were transshipped from Hong Kong or Kaohsiung, the freight would be only around $1,144, or $1,044, respectively. The difference is a massive 43 percent.

PIDS (Philippine Institute of Development Studies), in a 2014 study, correctly singled out the absence of foreign competition as a principal cause for the high costs of shipping goods in and out of the Philippines and within the Philippines.

To economists, and to producers and distributors of goods, competition is everything. With the entry of foreign-flag vessels, the oligopolistic position of the domestic shipping companies has ended. The Cabotage Act of 2015 has come as an enormous gust of wind into the Philippine shipping industry. Things will never be the same again.

The coming into force of the Cabotage Act of 2015 is by no means the end of the story for this countrys maritime transportation system. There are other issues to be resolved. Of these, the state of Philippine ports is the most important and the most urgent. But a new ballgame has begun.//

Date: September 07, 2015
Source: Helenic Shipping News

The Philippines, one of the biggest rice buyers in the world, doesnt need quantitative restrictions (QR) set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to boost its rice sufficiency level.
In 2014, the WTO let the Philippines keep the QR on its rice imports.
Under WTO rules, the QR allows the Philippines to limit the volume of rice that may be imported into the country from overseas markets.
The QR, which was extended until 2017, is meant to lessen the pressure among local farmers to compete with subsidized, cheaper imported rice.
But Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Friday that the countrys move to a tariff regime from a highly restricted supply trade will provide a more transparent environment for Filipino farmers.
We can start with the tariff equivalent of the QR to 30 to 40 percent but commit to reduce that over time, Balisacan said.
The whole point is even at 30 percent tariff, thats a much better regime than a QR that makes the trade so unpredictable, he added.
He pointed out that the good thing about setting a tariff for this particular commodity is that it is more predictable and open.
Because of the strength of the QR, supply was not coming in Under the QR regime, the farmers could not import [easily]. They still have to get permission from their agency that implements the QR, Balisacan said.
That is very anti-poor, he added.
In its early policy note, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the research arm of National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), specified that the government should no longer seek an extension of special treatment.
Rather, the country should negotiate a tariff that offers equivalent protection to its producers as well as a schedule of reduction that would eventually improve rice affordability to consumers, the state-run agency pointed out.
Our scenario analysis suggests that the gains in terms of affordability to consumers, or losses in terms of reduced prices for producers, are relatively small for plausible adjustments of the tariff rate [e.g., a 15 percentage point reduction]. Hence, the best reason to tariff is improve governance and the investment climate for the rice supply chain, it added.
Balisacan agreed to this, adding that the country needs reforms in its investment policy, property rights, and new resources to improve productivity.//

Author: Madelaine B. Miraflor
Date: September 19, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines - Mindanao's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.4 percent in 2014, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) executive director and Undersecretary Janet Lopoz said Mindanao has been contributing and pulling up the national average in terms of economic development.
MinDA was formed in 2009 by Republic Act (RA) 9996 to oversee and coordinate all development efforts of Mindanao.
Past development gains in Mindanao were usually coming from the agriculture sector. In recent years, however, the services sector has matched the gains in agriculture. The services sector, together with the booming public works in Mindanao, is now considered a major economic driver.
Whats happening in Mindanao is a microcosm of what is happening in the entire country, Lopoz said.
Currently, six Mindanao provinces are in the top 10 of the 2015 Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index of the National Competitiveness Council.
Davao del Sur ranks first in the index, followed by Misamis Oriental (second), South Cotabato (fourth), Zamboanga del Sur (fifth), Agusan del Sur (seventh), and Camiguin (10th).
According to Lopoz, this reflects economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure growth in the region in recent years.
Local and international trade in Mindanao has also showed significant improvements. Products from the region have penetrated large markets aside from the usual export destinations, such as the United States and Japan. In fact, Mindanao is now exporting to countries in Africa and to Switzerland, Russia, South Korea, and Australia.
Mindanao is poised to be a major player in the world market, she said during the formal signing ceremonies of a partnership between MinDA and the PIDS.//

Date: September 16, 2015

The Philippines needs effective regulations to boost its competitiveness and seize the opportunities through the impending integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states, a policy paper issued by respected think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
An economic policy monitor titled Effective Regulations for Sustainable Growth from PIDS obtained by The Daily Tribune noted that regulatory burdens are one of the factors that continue to bring down the Philippines competitiveness and weaken the efforts toward greater inclusiveness.

They restrain competition, innovation and productivity, which can snowball into causing a drop in business confidence, neglect of general welfare, build-up of corruption, and, ultimately, loss of public faith in governance, it said.

The paper stressed that reducing regulatory burdens is important economically, socially and politically.

Moreover, improving regulatory quality and coherence is imperative for the country to take advantage of increased trade and investment under Asean integrations gains that the country needs to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, it added.
The PIDS discussed the significance of ensuring that the environment is equipped with the necessary infrastructure to encourage both investors and innovators.

Since long-term growth is a function of productivity, it is also imperative to sustain investments in infrastructure, connectivity and human capital, the paper added.//

Author: Ed Velasco
Date: September 15, 2015
Source: The Daily Tribune

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has underscored the need for the country to implement effective regulations to boost its competitiveness and seize the opportunities through the impending integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states.
An Economic Policy Monitor titled Effective Regulations for Sustainable Growth noted that regulatory burdens are one of the factors that continue to bring down the Philippines competitiveness and weaken the efforts toward greater inclusiveness.
They restrain competition, innovation, and productivity, which can snowball into causing a drop in business confidence, neglect of general welfare, build-up of corruption, and, ultimately, loss of public faith in governance, it said.
The paper stressed that reducing regulatory burdens is important economically, socially and politically.
Moreover, improving regulatory quality and coherence is imperative for the country to take advantage of increased trade and investment under ASEAN integration gains that the country needs to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, it added.
The PIDS discussed the significance of ensuring that the environment is equipped with the necessary infrastructure to encourage both investors and innovators.
Since long-term growth is a function of productivity, it is also imperative to sustain investments in infrastructure, connectivity, and human capital, the report added..//

Author: Edu Lopez
Date: September 15, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Sept. 15 (PIA) - - The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has encouraged government officials to exercise firm leadership and political will in reducing regulatory burdens and improve instead their regulatory management system.

Dr. Marife Ballesteros, PIDS senior research fellow, said based on their researches on regulation policies in the country particularly on business permits and licenses, some of the most frequent complaints of business permit applicants are long waiting time and difficulties in obtaining clearances, slow processing time due to manual procedures and too many requirements of national government agencies

The role, mandate, and stock of regulations of regulatory agencies should be reviewed to reduce regulatory burden. There should be an oversight committee to ensure a more intensive involvement of the private sector, civil society, academe, research institutions, and media in regulatory reform, Ballesteros said.

She lauded the practice of the city government here in streamlining their business permit and licensing processes.

Since the implementation of streamlined business registration, we have observed that investors including informal businesses were encouraged to register. They were also encouraged to generate more economic activities for the benefit of our local communities, said Roger Maddara, city licensing officer here.

Maddara said the streamlining of the processes in securing licenses and permits generate more revenues and spur the creation of new businesses which lead to the creation of more employment opportunities and more social services and benefits for the citizenry.

Ballesteros, on the other hand, also informed the public that they are pushing for the implementation of Project Repeal, which seeks to eliminate laws that place a heavy regulator burden on companies and reduce the overall competitiveness of businesses in the country. (ALM/OTB/PIA-2 Cagayan)

Author: Oliver T. Baccay
Date: September 15, 2015
Source: PIA

The critical role of services trade in global value chains (GVCs) must be further explored as it can provide potential new sources of growth and jobs for the country and the entire APEC region.
This was stressed by National Economic and Development Authority(NEDA) Deputy Director-General Emmanuel Esguerra, head of the Philippine delegation to the 3rd APEC Senior Officials meeting during the joint meeting of the APEC group on services and market access group (GOS-MAG) in Cebu.
We would like to see greater participation of services in various GVCs that will increase productivity and add value to goods produced. In the process, these will create more jobs and make growth more inclusive, said Esguerra.
In a paper for the APEC 2015 research project, the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) explained that the value chain is the full range of activities that firms and workers perform to bring a product from its conception to end use and beyond as GVCs reflect the fact that activities that constitute a value chain have generally been carried out in inter-firm networks on a global scale.
GVCs now account for more than 50 percent of global trade. The significant role of GVCs in international services trade creates a sense of urgency to make the services sector more competitive. So its very important for us to do further analytical work in the area, said Esguerra, who is also the APEC GOS Convenor.
The joint GOS-MAG meeting showcased studies of how select APEC economies opened markets for services in specific sectors to benefit from participation in GVCs.
This initiative is definitely a progressive move towards creating a better understanding of how our economies can maximize GVC participation and how APEC can create the appropriate policy environment conducive to the growth of services value chains, said Esguerra.
He also noted the importance of developing innovative services within GVCs and prioritizing services in the development agenda, addressing services and investment restrictions and achieving balance in regulatory reform.
Last year, the 26th Ministerial Meeting in China adopted the APEC Strategic Blueprint for Promoting Global Value Chains Development and Cooperation as a mechanism to strengthen mutual economic cooperation within the global value chain network.
We hope to be able to hasten the process of developing innovative services within GVCs in line with the China blueprint. The Philippines can take advantage of the recent enactment of the landmark Competition Act to boost its services value chains and attain a more productive, innovative, and competitive services sector, Esguerra said.
The Competition Act is seen to attract investments and improve economic activity in the country by prohibiting the abuse of dominant position and leveling the playing field among businesses, he added.//

Author: Edu Lopez
Date: September 15, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

A MAJOR watershed in Mindanao is being eyed for the implementation of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), an incentive mechanism designed to strengthen management of natural resources and ecosystems that provide goods and services to the public and key industries.
The Libungan Watershed, a 52,820-hectare located in Cotabato province is being considered for PES to encourage the efficient and sustainable use of the resources that are being provided by the watershed and its surrounding areas.
A watershed is described as an area of land that contains common set of streams and rivers that drain into a single larger body of water. The Libungan Watershed is home to eco-tourism sites and two river irrigation systems (RIS) that provide water to 9,255 hectares of rice lands, a major crop that drive economic growth in the province.
The towns of Pigcawayan, Aleosan, Libungan, Midsayap, Alamada, Pikit and Banisilan, which have formed into an alliance of local government units called PALMA + PB will directly participate in the proposed PES and oversee the implementation of the mechanism.
"The idea of subjecting Libungan Watershed to PES has met a positive response from respondents," said Dr. Carmelita Martinez, PES consultant of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda).
During the recently concluded 1st Mindanao Policy Research Forum held at the Insular Waterfront Hotel here in this city, Dr. Martinez presented Developing PES Mechanism with River Basin Organization (RBOs) in Mindanao which highlighted the result of a pilot study on PES for the Libungan Watershed commissioned by Minda.
The forum was co-organized by Minda and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids).
Dr. Martinez said "the pilot study revealed that 92 percent of respondents are willing to pay for the protection of Libungan Watershed," while adding "those who cannot pay have expressed willingness to volunteer their time in any protection and conservation project."
In the implementation of PES, the farmers or landowners who have agreed to manage natural resources such as forests, watersheds, rivers, and streams are given incentive payments for rendering ecological services such as replanting of trees and ensuring the survival of the trees planted. Payments are made by the beneficiaries of the environmental services such water users, companies that benefit irrigation systems and industry stakeholders.
The PES mechanism is also seen to enhance the protection of biodiversity that provide environmental goods such as food, freshwater, fuel, fiber and other natural resources that are used as inputs to the production process that help move the economy.
"PES is a market-based mechanism that will employ practical approaches and is not a program designed to reduce poverty," said Martinez while explaining "that PES is an economic incentive to foster more efficient and sustainable use of ecosystem services provided by the natural environment."
She added that well-functioning ecosystems provide services that are crucial to human survival such as clean air, pest and disease control, carbon sequestration and storage, controlled greenhouse gases, productive soil, and power sources.//

Date: September 18, 2015
Source: SunStarDavao

As the Philippines prepares and transitions into a new administration during the second half of next year, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is proposing a budget of more than P7 billion in 2016 in order to maintain the countrys macroeconomic stability before and after the presidential election.
At the Senate hearing on NEDAs proposed 2016 budget on Monday, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said NEDA and its attached agencies will require a total budget of P7.06 billion for next year.
Moving into the next fiscal year, we expect to confront new challenges and we are thus preparing ourselves accordingly, Balisacan, who is also the Director-General of NEDA, said.
In an election period and transition into a new administration, we need to preserve and sustain the gains achieved so far by ensuring macroeconomic stability, enriching the reforms we have started, and sharpening strategies for inclusive growth as we begin to prepare the successor development plans and investment programs, he added.
The largest allocation from the proposed budget will go to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), a NEDA-attached agency that is primarily responsible for all national censuses, surveys and sectoral statistics, consolidation of selected administrative recording systems and compilation of national accounts.
For next year, PSA will get a total budget of P3.42 billion, which is lower than the P5.04-billion budget allotted for it this year.
Next to PSA is Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, which will receive a P2.13 billion budget, representing an increase of P2.034 billion from its P91.5 million budget for this year.
PPP Center coordinates and monitors all PPP-related programs and projects in the country.
Bulk of the increase is attributed to the P2-billion fund for the PDMF [Project Development and Monitoring Facility] which shall be used in providing funding to the increasing demand for technical assistance for development of PPP projects, Balisacan said.
Next attached agency to get the biggest portion of the budget is NEDAs research and technical arm, Secretariat.
The Secretariat conducts studies and develops policy measures and other recommendations on the various aspects of development planning and policy formulation, investment programming.
For next year, this NEDA attached agency will have a budget of P1.3 billion.
Meanwhile, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) will have a budget of P73.672 million, while Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) will have P22.609 million.
Tariff Commission, on the other hand, will get a portion of 61.688 million.
On average, there is 8.82-percent increase in the budget for the entire NEDA department.
Balisacan said that the agencys proposed budget will be anchored on different priorities or Major Final Outputs (MFO) such as socioeconomic and physical planning and policy services and technical support advisory services.
Under the one of the MFOs, NEDA wants to advocate the adoption of a long-term vision as basis for formulation of medium-term development plans and programs until 2040.
Please note that we are already more than half-way into the process of this visioning exercise, Balisacan said.
The agency is also eager to promote the National Physical Framework Plan (NPFP) as well as coordinate the preparation of post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation plans as may be necessary.
In another MFO, NEDA is also planning to conduct various studies that will provide timely economic reports and render policy advice to the President, the NEDA Board and its committees, and regional development committees on the impact of domestic and global developments.//

Date: September 21, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

First of three parts
Children carrying bowls jostle each other to get free porridge in Manilas depressed area of Baseco, in this October 2, 2010, file photo. After 15 years, the government still has not met its poverty-alleviation goals. AP/Pat Roque

The Philippines is embarking on another journey this month with its expected adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN). From the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Philippines will join other countries in setting more targets to improve the lives of their citizens.
The 17 SDGs will replace the MDGs, which were adopted in 2000. The SDGs represent not only the post-2015 agenda but also a new hope for the world. According to the UN, the goals represent 17 of humankinds hope for an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future.
Millennium goals
Fifteen years ago, the Philippines was one of 189 countries that adopted the eight MDGs. The MDGs aimed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower
women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and global partnership for development.
In the beginning, some critics believed the goals were very ambitious, and that these targets did not consider the circumstance of poor or less-developed countries, whose levels of development were significantly lower than high-income countries.
However, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow Celia M. Reyes said this was addressed by the kind of targets that were specified in the MDGs. Most targets did not recommend absolute numbers, rather, these targets focused on percentages.
Some might argue that the targets may be very hard to achieve for some of the countries but, I think, they tried to address that by
setting targets based on where you are, rather than setting absolute levels. [Thats why the targets aimed to] reduce by half so wherever you are, you still have to reduce by half. In fact, some might say that if youre already up there, almost 100 percent, its even more difficult to achieve the 100-percent target.
So I think the way that they constructed it somehow addressed that problem of different starting points for countries, Reyes explained.
Reyes said the MDGs represented a major shift in how countries viewed development. While some countries were focused on addressing poverty or reducing their indebtedness, Reyes said the MDGs provided a framework by which these development concerns can be viewed from a wider perspective.
The multidimensional approach to development presented by the MDGs helped countries give attention to other development concerns that may have been neglected through the years or may have been put aside because of globalization.
In the Millennium Declaration, which contained the MDGs, the 189 countries recognized that while globalization offered great opportunities it also caused uneven progress, particularly for developing countries.
Prior to the MDGs, the Philippines was among the countries that struggled significantly in terms of high poverty and hunger. In 1991 the base year used for setting the MDG targets, the countrys poverty incidence rate was at 34.4 percent, while the proportion of the population that were living below the countrys food threshold was at 17.6 percent.
The biggest contribution of the MDG is making politicians, the leaders, the general public aware of the importance of looking at these [development] areas, Reyes said.

Meeting the MDGs
In order to meet the countrys international commitments, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the government launched various interventions to meet the goals.
These interventions included emergency employment programs during crises; relief assistance for individuals affected by natural and man-made calamities; and community-based employment programs.
The government also embarked on extending social pension for senior citizens; housing assistance for calamity victims; housing programs for informal settler families; and community-mortgage programs.
There were also specific projects launched, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program; Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services-National Community-Driven Development Program; Universal Health Care, or Kalusugan Pangkalahatan; and the K to 12 Program.
Based on the implementation of these projects, the Neda said the factors that helped make these interventions successful were putting in place multisectoral partnerships and cooperation between government line agencies.
The Neda said that while it was in charge of overall MDG monitoring, the National Anti-Poverty Commission was focused on poverty alleviation and the Department of Health was in charge of monitoring health concerns.
Similarly, the Department of Education was focused on primary and secondary education; the Department of the Interior and Local Government was focused on localizing MDGs. The Neda recognized that the participation in planning, resource mobilization and monitoring of various civil-society organizations also worked to the countrys advantage in terms of meeting the goals.
The Neda also said policy support for the MDGs, particularly through the Philippine Development Plan and Investment Plan, helped channel government financing and budgeting toward the MDGs.
These efforts yielded, however, mixed results. Based on the fifth MDG report of the Philippines, not all MDGs will be met by the country by the end of this year.
Data showed that the country still had a low probability of meeting the indicators on cohort survival for education; gender disparity, particularly on political participation and education; maternal mortality; access to reproductive health; and HIV/AIDS.
The report, which was done by the Neda, also stated that the country only has a medium probability of meeting the indicators on income poverty and nutrition, particularly in reducing the number of underweight children.
Data showed the country only has a high probability of meeting the indicators on food poverty; school participation; empowering women; infant and under-5 mortality; malaria morbidity; tuberculosis; and access to safe water.
Further, the Neda said progress has also been unequal between and among regions nationwide.
Balisacan said regions in Luzon tend to fare better than those in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The Neda chief said regions, such as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Bicol region, Regions 8 in Eastern Visayas, and 4B in Mimaropa, are lagging behind in many indicators and would need greater attention to catch up with other regions.
Balisacan said given the results of the countrys performance, one of the goals of halving poverty to 17.2 percent by the end of the year may also not be met.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the countrys full-year poverty-incidence rate per population has remained above 25 percent since 2006. In terms of magnitude or actual number, data showed an increasing trend to around 23.75 million poor Filipinos from only 22.64 million in 2006.
Balisacan already said the government can only reduce poverty incidence to around 20 percent to 23 percent by 2015. The Aquino administrations main target on poverty is to reduce incidence to around 18 percent by 2016.

To be continued

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: September 17, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, September 20 " Stronger cooperation and coordination among various regulatory bodies can be a great help in achieving competitiveness.

This was the consensus of local regulators, local government officials, and media who attended the press conference on the Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) in Cagayan De Oro City last September 9.

Speaking at the Talakayan sa PIA of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) region 10 in Cagayan de Oro City, Dr. Danilo Israel, senior fellow at state think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, emphasized the need for regulators to work together to address issues and promote ease of doing business. He also cited the need for a framework to review and study all these regulations so that flaws can be identified and proper solutions can be introduced.

The trend of the world right now is towards economic integration. As a member of the ASEAN Economic Community, we need to be competitive with other countries in order to attract more investments and generate more jobs for our people. However, we cannot be competitive with other countries if our regulations are complicated, Israel commented.

One of the important factors that government should look at is the ease of doing business. Cutting down the steps in applying for business permits, for example, will encourage more people, especially foreign investors, to engage in business.

Israel cited an upcoming project of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) called Project Repeal that aims to revoke laws and regulations that increase the cost of doing business and hinder competitiveness. At present, the NCC is gathering information on what laws and regulations to repeal and once these have been identified, the NCC will work with Congress in repealing such laws and regulations and establish a structure to oversee the process in 2016.

Meanwhile, Leonil Mistula of the City Treasurers Office in Cagayan De Oro, noted that the City Government has made a lot of progress in streamlining certain processes such as in the areas of processing of business licenses, issuance of community tax certificates, and payment of taxes.

According to Mistula, applying for new business permits in Cagayan De Oro only involves three steps: submission and assessment of documents, payment, and claiming of business permits. He emphasized that as long as an applicant has all the documents needed to apply for a business permit, issuance of business permit could be within the day of application. Renewal of business permits, on the other hand, can already be made through computer kiosks at the City Hall without the need for face-to-face interaction. Also, people may now apply for community tax certificates using their Android smart phones, then pay the corresponding fees through mobile money such as G-Cash. Mistula also noted that the City Hall has a very efficient queuing system, so people know which counter to go to transact business.

Through these improvements, we were able to eliminate fixers and made transactions faster and easier for people, Mistula said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nelson Manaloto, assistant regional director for Region 10 of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), said LTO has intensified its campaign against fixers through proper dissemination of information and investigation on the possible mediators.

Manaloto noted that applying for registration, for example, through fixers will only delay the process. He noted that LTO is an ISO-certified agency and it guarantees timely release of papers as long as all the required documents are submitted.

When asked about the proliferation of fly-by-night insurance companies and the different insurance rates among car insurance companies, Manaloto pointed out that the LTO does not regulate insurance companies since this is a function of the Insurance Commission. What LTO can do, he said, is to accredit insurance companies to make sure they are not fly-by-night companies.

There are high and low insurance rates. Its a free market where you can choose the insurance coverage you want, Manaloto stated.

Likewise, Manaloto assured that LTO is doing its best to resolve backlogs on the issuance of vehicle registration plates and drivers license cards. Printers and plastic cards are now available, problems should be fixed in the next few weeks once printers are delivered to LTO satellite offices throughout the region, he explained.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Department of Trade and Industrys (DTI) Regional Office in Northern Mindanao highlighted the need for stronger consumer culture. According to lawyer Fel Lester Brillantes, chief of Consumer Welfare Division of DTI Region X, the country has enough laws to protect consumer rights and welfare. The challenge, he pointed out, is the seeming inability of consumers to invoke his/her consumer right. In particular, he pointed out the confusion among consumers on which government agency to file their complaints to.

Since the DTI is not only the sole implementing agency of the Consumer Act, people get confused on where to file their complaints, Brillantes said. He cited the case of filing a complaint related to expired medicines with the DTI, when in fact this should have been filed with the Food and Drug Administration, which has jurisdiction over the sale of medical products. There is also confusion in filing complaints related to mobile phones. According to Brillantes, consumers should file complaints related to their handsets with the DTI while network-related complaints should be filed with the National Telecommunications Communications.

Brillantes also noted that the DTI is working with local government units and the Department of the Interior and Local Government in the implementation of the Business Permit and Licensing System (BPLS). BPLS refers to the procedures followed by cities and municipalities in processing business permits.

Based on the latest Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Misamis Oriental is the second most competitive province in the Philippines, with the municipality of Mambajao (Camiguin) as the most competitive municipality in the Philippines among the third- to sixth-class municipalities. For highly urbanized cities, Cagayan De Oro City ranked as the sixth most competitive in the country. The Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index is an annual ranking of Philippine cities and municipalities developed by the National Competitiveness Council through the Regional Competitiveness Committees.

The press conference in Cagayan de Oro City was held in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) in celebration of the 13th DPRM. Through these regional press conferences, PIDS hopes to further increase its reach at the local level and draw awareness in the provinces of the importance of policy research and this years DPRM theme, Tamang Regulasyon para sa Patuloy na Pag-ahon. (Gizelle Manuel/PIDS)

Date: September 20, 2015
Source: PIA

The 2016 budget is up by 8% to P7.06 billion, led by a P2 billion proposed funding for the Public-Private Partnership Center.

The 2016 proposed National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) budget aims to sustain the reforms momentum heading into the election year.
NEDA and its attached agencies identified outputs and activities that will entail a total budget of P7.06 billion ($151.8 million), up 8% from the last years budget of P6.5 billion ($139.8 million).

In an election period and transition into a new administration, we need to preserve and sustain the gains achieved so far by ensuring macroeconomic stability, enriching the reforms we have started, and sharpening strategies for inclusive growth as we begin to prepare the successor development plans and investment programs, NEDA said in its presentation.

NEDA priorities for 2016 include:

Advocating the adoption of a long-term vision as basis for formulation of medium-term development plans and programs until 2040. NEDA noted it is already halfway through creating the overall vision
Advocating the National Physical and Framework Plan for 2016-2030
Finalizing the Regional Spatial Development Framework as inputs to the preparation of successor Regional development Plans
Coordinating the formulation of the successor Public Investment Programs and Regional Development Investment Programs, as well as the the 3-year Rolling Infrastructure Program
Shepherding through the inclusion of projects for approval by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC), which is headed by the Secretary of Finance
Conducting impact assessment studies crucial for sharpening the choice of policies and programs in relation to desired outcomes
Conducting Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E) studies on key government expenditures, especially those involving large investment with intended social benefits
Conducting M and E of post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation measures as may be necessary
Developing, operating, maintaining an information system for lessons learned in project implementation to feed into the planning and evaluation of proposed projects, especially those that entail large investment

The budget is broken down as follows:

Philippine Institute for development Studies (PIDS): P73.672 million ($1.585 million), up by 0.67%
Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA): P22.609 million ($486,492), up by 18.18%
Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA): P3.416 billion ($73.49 million), down by 32.19%
NEDA Secretariat, including central and regional offices: P1.333 billion ($28.69 million), up by 13.37%
Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute (PSRTI): P22.147 million ($476.551), down by 23.18%
Public-Private Partnership Center (PPP Center): P2.126 billion ($45.73 million), up by 2,222.4%
Tariff Commission: P 61.688 million ($1.327 million), up by 8.53%

NEDA is composed of the NEDA Board and the NEDA Secretariat.

The NEDA Board is the highest policy-making and coordinating body of the Executive Branch. It is headed by the country's President and composed of different Cabinet secretaries. The Board formulates socioeconomic policies and approves public investment programs and Official Development Assistance (ODA) from foreign governments and development agencies.

The NEDA Secretariat serves as its research and technical arm. It conducts studies and develops policy measures and other recommendations on the various aspects of development planning and policy formulation, investment programming.

Most of NEDA's units registered increase in their budgets from the previous years, except for the PSA and PSRTI.

Highest increase

The increases in NEDA's budget was led by the public-private partnership center or PPP Center whose budget year has shot up by 2,222.4% and P 2.034 billion ($43.78 million) from its 2015 funding of P91.54 million ($1.97 million).

NEDA said the bulk of the increase is attributed to the P2-billion ($43.03 million) budget for the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF). It aims to fund the increased push for PPP projects, as the government aims to rollout as many possible before the Aquino administration steps down. (READ: How public-private partnerships work in infra projects)

PDMF is a revolving fund that is used to help agencies design PPP projects and can also be used to employ transaction advisers that are a key to designing PPPs.

It was funded by the Philippine and Australian governments, under the capacity-building technical assistance project from the Asian Development Bank and the Canadian government.


NEDA also shared to the Senate its key achievements from last year.

These include launching the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAP) to ensure that poverty reduction programs are focused, well-targeted, and coordinated.

NEDA also led the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) structural reform agenda through the recently concluded APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting in Cebu. (READ: APEC Minsiters unveil new plan for sustainable, inclusive growth)

Twelve projects were also approved by the ICC and were confirmed by the NEDA Board. It also facilitated 6 high- level bilateral consultations.

The development agency also implemented the Strategic Performance Management System.//

Author: Chris Schnabel
Date: September 21, 2015

MANILA, Philippines - The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is seeking a budget of P7.054 billion next year or 8.82 percent higher than the present budget of P6.4 billion.
Its line agency, the Public Private Partnership Center (PPPC) is seeking an over two thousand percent increase from its present budget of P91.5 million to a proposed P2.1 billion next year.
In contrast, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will receive 32.19 percent lower budget, or from a little over P5 billion in 2015 to P3.4 billion next year.
At the Senate budget hearing yesterday, Economic Planning Secretary and NEDA director general Arsenio M. Balisacan said the bulk of the increase in the PPPC 2016 budget is due to the P2-billion fund for the Project Development and Monitoring Facility (PDMF) to provide funding to the increasing demand for technical assistance for development of PPP projects.
The proposed budget for MOOE is P2.056 billion, or 4,943.04 percent higher than this years approved budget of P40.767 million.
The increase in MOOE is attributed to the following: a) augmentation of PDMF revolving fund; b) provision of whole year requirement for operating lease of office building; and c) provision for foreign travel for road shows and promotion of PPP program and projects, Balisacan said.
The reverse is true for the PSA 2016 budget, which dropped 32.19 percent.
The reason was the reduced budget of the Census of Population, bulk of which was released in 2015. Only the requirements for manual and machine processing, development of specifications and dissemination were provided in 2016.
Other NEDA line agency proposed 2016 budget are: the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), P73.67 million; the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), P22.6 million; the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute (PSRTI), P22.147 million; the Tariff Commission, P61.68 million.
Meanwhile, Balisacan outlined the achievements NEDA and its agencies recorded, including:
714 of 727 or 98.21 percent of requested policy recommendations on socioeconomic and development matters were prepared or reviewed and submitted within the prescribed timeframe;
29 economic reports were prepared;
100 percent of meeting documents were released during the prescribed timeframe;
15 annual investment programs were prepared/updated;
100 percent of 23 appraised projects were presented and approved by the Joint ICC-TB and ICC-CC;
Feasibility studies for seven projects were financed under the F/S Fund amounting to P258 million;
An overseas development agency (ODA) portfolio review report was prepared and submitted;
2015 regional development reports were endorsed by the NEDA Secretariat.
The PPPC report shows that 14 projects were screened or reviewed. Three PPP projects were approved by the NEDA Board and rolled out, and seven projects were approved for PDMF support.//

Author: Ted P. Torres
Date: September 22, 2015
Source: Philippine Star

ILOILO CITY, Sept. 19 (PIA6) -- The month of September of every year is declared as Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) per Malacaang Proclamation No. 247 dated September 2, 2002.
The declaration aims to promote and draw nationwide awareness on the importance of policy research in the formulation of national development plans, programs, and policies.
The theme of this years 13th DPRM is Effective Regulations for Sustainable Growth or Tamang Regulasyon para sa Patuloy na Pag-ahon. The theme was chosen to highlight regulatory issues particularly the need to build strong regulatory management system backed by research evidence and systematic assessment of proposed policies and regulations before they are implemented.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) which is the lead agency for the celebration of the DPRM was created on September 26, 1977 and was established to respond to the critical and growing need for research for planning and policy formulation.
It was envisioned to help government planners and policy-makers in the executive and legislative branches of government with its primary clientele consisting of the network of agencies which make up the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The month-long celebration of the DPRM hopes to influence policymakers to take action in adopting explicit standards for regulatory quality that ensures the integrity and quality of regulations.
In Western Visayas region, NEDA, Region VI celebrates this month-long activity, with the conduct of the Regional Research Utilization Forum on September 15 and the Value-Chain Analysis Workshop on September 16, both at the NEDA Regional Development Council (RDC) Conference Hall here. (NEDA/PIA6).//

Date: September 19, 2015
Source: PIA

THE recent extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice was disadvantageous to poor Filipinos, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
In a briefing on Friday, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, one of the countrys top agriculture economists, told reporters the QR keeps rice prices high.
Although the QR affords some protection for our farmers, the cost, the overall cost on the economy has been so high, especially among the poor because that has led to a double-digit inflation for rice when overall inflation was only 2 percent to 5 percent. So it was very antipoor, Balisacan said.
Balisacan added that this is one of the reasons there is a need to move for the tarrification of the QR. He said imposing a tariff of 30 percent to 40 percent would be enough to protect farmers from imported rice that would come into the country.
However, removing the QR on rice will necessitate the repeal or amendment of Republic Act 8178, or An Act Replacing Quantitative Import Restrictions on Agricultural Products, Except Rice, with Tariffs, Creating the Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, and for Other Purposes.
In addition, Balisacan said the government must also implement agriculture reforms such as increases in irrigation investment and rural infrastructure, among others.
We can start with the tariff equivalent of the QR to 30 percent to 40 percent but commit to reduce that over time, Balisacan said. The whole point is even at [a] 30 percent tariff, thats a much better regime than a QR.
A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said that if the QR were removed, rice prices will go down to around P19.8 per kilogram from P33.08 per kilo.
Under a free trade scenario, the PIDS study stated, total rice imports could have reached 4.2 million tons. This will bring down retail prices to P19.8 per kilo and wholesale prices to P17.66 per kilo.
This would result in a consumer surplus of P178.07 billion. However, this would cause a P33.99-billion worth reduction in producer surplus and a P5.63-billion reduction in importers revenue. This means the net gain under this scenario would be P138.46 billion, on top of the baseline which is P442.49 billion.
Obviously, with repeal or relaxation of these restrictions, producer surplus must fall, to the detriment of farmers, the PIDS study stated. One way to ease the burden of adjustment is to apply a moderate level of tariff, thereby striking a compromise between the benefits to consumers and the losses to producers.
When the Philippines acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, the country agreed to convert QRs into equivalent tariffs (tariffication). However the Philippines obtained a Special Treatment for rice up to 2005, allowing it to maintain its rice QR. To make up for the special treatment, the country conceded to a minimum market access, ranging from 30,000 tons in 1995 up to 224,000 tons in 2004.
Upon expiration of the special treatment in 2005, the authors said the country negotiated and obtained an extension of up to 2012. Last year the national government convinced the WTO to grant its appeal to extend the QR to 2017.//

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

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan, Sept. 15 (PIA) - - The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) will again lead the nation this September in celebrating the Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) with lined up activities to include series of fora, press conferences, policy dialogue, among others.

Dr. Marife Ballesteros, PIDS senior research fellow, said the month-long event, with the theme "Tamang Regulasyon para sa Patuloy na Pag-ahon (Effective regulations for Sustainable Growth), aims to promote and draw public awareness on the importance of policy research in nation-building.

She said the celebration calls for improving regulatory quality in the country to ensure that our policies and laws are facilitating competition, innovation, productivity, and growth.

There are regulations in the electricity, transport, and water sectors that are not responsive to both economic and social objectives and business regulations that are detrimental to the investment climate, Ballesteros, in a press conference held at the Philippine Information Agency here, said.

She explained that these issues stem from poor regulatory vetting processes that neglect the importance of research evidence and systematic assessment of proposed policies and regulations before they are implemented.

Through the DPRM, Ballesteros said they hope to influence policymakers to take action in building a formal regulatory management system that adopts explicit standards for regulatory quality and ensures the integrity and quality of new regulations through the use of regulatory impact analysis, systematic public consultation procedures, and effective regulatory coordination among concerned agencies.

She added that it is essential to review and reform existing regulations and to establish a coherent and quality regulatory management system. (ALM/PIA-2/with reports from PIDS)//

Author: Angely L. Mercado
Date: September 17, 2015
Source: PIA

The National Economic and Development Authority said Friday quantitative restrictions on rice imports should end to lower the price of the commodity.
Economic Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said in a forum the extended quantitative restriction on rice should end by 2017 and that transition to tariffication should start by then.
The World Trade Organization Committee on Trade in Goods recently approved the petition of the Philippines for protective measures to keep the high duties on imported rice under the minimum access volume at 40 percent and the higher MAV will at 50 percent.
We have until 2017 to continue that regime and by the end of it, we are expected to be tarrified. What it means [is] our rice market will become more predictable and transparent, hence we should take advantage of that to prepare that sector, Balisacan said.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies defines tariffication as the conversion of all tariff and non-tariff barriers into custom duties. //

Author: Gabrielle H. Binaday,
Date: September 18, 2015
Source: Manila Standard Today

Poor targeting and other implementation problems could lead to leakages in the governments Community Mortgage Program (CMP), according to a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In a study titled An Assessment of the Community Mortgage Programs of the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC), authors, led by PIDS research fellow Marife Ballesteros, said reforming the CMP is necessary to improve the program.
The potential leakage from the above CMP processes requires SHFC to be proactive in targeting communities and households, and to implement a subsidy mechanism that will protect the poor and near-poor from being dislodged from the program, the authors stated.
The CMP, the authors explained, is a financing scheme that enables organized residents of slums to borrow for land purchase and housing development.
The authors said the CMP, as a program, allows nonresidents of communities it serves to avail themselves of the loans.
Under the CMP, for on-site projects, around 15 percent of community association (CA) members can be nonresidents of the community.
For off-site projects, the CMP allows that 70 percent of CA members can be composed of households that lived elsewhere.
Since the decision to include/exclude households is made primarily by CA officers, there is a high probability of inclusion of households, specifically in off-site projects that are not the target beneficiaries of CMP, the study stated.
The study added that the SHFC also gives CAs the responsibility to substitute beneficiaries based on nonpayment of amortizations.
The PIDS researchers said that, while substitution helps prevent foreclosure through litigation process, it may cause poor households, who need the CMP, to be booted out of the program.
The poor may actually be the ones defaulting in payments and getting substituted in the program. Moreover, substitution requires the new member to update the loan and pay the arrearages; it is unlikely that poor household can provide these funds, the authors said.
Further, the PIDS study said the prohibitive cost of land in urban areas has increased and is now higher than the maximum loanable amount per household.
This now requires borrowers to extend equity from their own pockets just to purchase the property. The study warned that poor households may not be able to raise the required equity.
There are also problems with loan repayments, since only about 25 percent of the member-beneficiary accounts are current.
The study added that over 50 percent of the aging individual accounts are past due and the rest, or remaining 25 percent, are either under litigation, remedial action or restructured.
Considering that CMP is the main loan product of the SHFC and that the agencys operations are sustained primarily by interest income from loans, the sustainability of the program is at risk, the study stated.
The CMP was created to address the pervasiveness of slum dwelling in the Philippines. Based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the government estimated that the number of informal-settler families in the country grew 7.2 percent annually between 1991 and 2012.
The growth rate was highest in the National Capital Region, or Metro Manila, Zamboanga Peninsula, Calabarzon and Central Visayas, which are also the highly urbanized areas or regions exhibiting fast pace of urbanization.
The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) exhibited growth of 40 percent annually in the same period. While the proportion of informal-settler families in the CAR represents only 0.1 percent of the total, this growth is alarming, the study noted.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: September 17, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

BASED on the performance of the countrys agriculture sector in recent years, it appears that the Philippines remains unable to find a way to increase farm output amid the onslaught of extreme weather events. Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan, for one, said natural disasters made it challenging for the Aquino administration to achieve its production targets for the agriculture and fisheries sector.

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the output of the farm sector from 2011 to 2014 failed to hit the governments original target of increasing output by 3 percent to 5 percent under its economic blueprint, dubbed as the Philippine Development Plan (PDP). Among all economic sectors, the agriculture and fisheries sector could be considered a laggard.
In 2011 farm-sector output managed to grow by only 2.34 percent. While major crops, such as rice, recorded hikes in output, the PSA noted that coconut, coffee, mango, camote and cabbage production declined.
Trees in most coconut-producing provinces were still affected by the long dry spell brought by El Nio in 2010. Frequent rains also adversely affected coffee production, the PSA report read.
The PSA said frequent rains caused by typhoons and La Nia also made it difficult for producers of garlic, cabbage and mango to grow their crops. Rough seas and strong winds, the PSA said, also made it difficult for commercial fishermen to venture out to sea. This caused the output of the fisheries subsector to go down by 4.07 percent in 2011.
The farm sector fared a little better in 2012, as it grew by 2.92 percent on the back of a 4-percent increase in crop production. The PSA report indicated that the absence of major weather disturbances helped farmers prop up output that year.
However, frequent rains in some part of the countries made it difficult for growers of mangoes and vegetables to plant their crops. The output of mango, peanuts, abaca, onion and calamansi suffered in 2012 due to frequent rainfall.
Because of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan), agriculture growth slowed in 2013, according to PSA data. Farm-sector output grew by only 1.15 percent that year.
PSA data showed that the production of major cash crops, such as corn, sugarcane, coconut, banana, abaca and pineapple, declined in 2013. The coconut sector suffered the brunt of Yolanda, as the deadliest storm to make landfall that year wreaked havoc on coconut-growing areas in the Visayas.
The lingering effects of Yolanda made it difficult for the local farm sector to expand output in 2014. PSA data showed that last year, the output of the agriculture sector rose by only 1.83 percent.
Production of coconut continued its downtrend with a 3.95-percent reduction [in 2014]. Coconut farms in Eastern Visayas and Western Visayas were still reeling from the ill effects of Yolanda last year, the PSA report read.
In the Bicol region coconut farms were severely damaged by Typhoon Glenda [international code name Rammasun] in the third quarter of the year. In addition, fewer nuts were developed in Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte due to extreme heat during the crops fruit development, it added.
Changing weather patterns also affected the fisheries subsector last year. Its output contracted by 0.15 percent due to lower milkfish, tilapia, tiger prawn, roundscad and seaweed production.
The PSA said milkfish production declined, as Samar operators lacked capital and fishponds overflowed due to typhoons. Production of tilapia was also lower last year as Typhoon Glenda damaged fish pens and cages in Calabarzon, prompting some operators to stop operations last year. The increase in water temperature, as well as the monsoon rains in some areas, caused the production of tiger prawns and roundscad to decline.
The El Nio threatens to again make it difficult for the farm sector to grow beyond 2 percent this year. The latest data from the PSA showed that the agriculture sectors output managed to grow by only 0.73 percent in the second quarter of 2015.
Government priorities
Figures from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed that it received a total of P339 billion from 2011 to 2015"the highest budget it has been allocated in a span of five years. Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the amount corresponds to the combined budget of the department during the time of former Presidents Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
For 2015, the DA was allocated a budget of P89.2 billion, 11.4 percent higher than what it obtained last year. The amount was the biggest obtained by the DA so far.
Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo R. Serrano said the Aquino administration should be given credit for giving the sector a considerable budget for five consecutive years. Serrano said this practically allowed the DA to fully implement its programs aimed at increasing the output of the agriculture and fisheries sector.
Dr. Roehlano Briones, senior fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), noted that government spending for agriculture heavily favored the rice sector. From 2006 to 2009 Briones said the Philippines spent P6.7 billion a year for its rice policies.
This amount increased three-fold to P20.17 billion a year from 2010 to 2012, following the Aquino administrations rollout of its Food Staple Sufficiency Program (FSSP). Of the DAs annual budget in those years, about a third went to the rice sector.
Briones said the cost took into account the price difference between locally grown and imported rice. In 2012 he noted that the average price of local rice was about 50 percent more expensive than Vietnamese rice. The National Food Authoritys practice of buying high from local farmers and selling it low to consumers also propped up the cost incurred by the government.
Government spending for the rice sector included allocations for the rehabilitation and construction of new irrigation facilities. This year alone, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) has been given an allocation of P27 billion to fund all its projects.
Despite the billions of pesos poured into its irrigation program, the NIA said some 2.4 million hectares of farm lands continue to rely on rain for irrigation. The agency said this figure represents 43 percent of total arable lands in the country.
Dr. Rolando Dy, executive director of the University of Asia and the Pacifics Center for Food and Agribusiness, said the inability of the government to diversify agriculture production contributed to its failure to hit its growth targets for the sector.
We [did] not invest in crops with better returns. [The government] should have focused on other crops such as coconut, cacao, coffee, seaweeds and rubber. Dapat sana balanced ang agriculture natin, Dy said.
Aurora Regalado, convenor of non-governmental organization Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), said the government failed in meeting its production targets because its interventions have been remiss in some aspects. Regalado cited in particular the failure of these interventions to improve farmers income and livelihood.
We have proven from our experience following the rice crisis in 2008 that production will increase once the farmers saw this as a viable endeavor for higher income, Regalado said.
She said that the increase in palay support price from P11 to P17 per kilo was one of the major interventions that allowed rice farmers to earn, adding that some economists opposed to stronger government intervention warned this will drive the prices of rice in the market and will not be politically acceptable.
This apprehension, however, did not come to pass. R1 also noted that despite the advocacy of some economic experts to increase rice imports to bring down prices, the purchase of imported rice did not result in lower prices for consumers.
Apart from these interventions, Regalado said the government must train farmers in using the appropriate technology to withstand climate hazards, such as typhoons, floods, drought and pests. She said the government must also expand its crop insurance and credit support to help farmers increase their incomes.
Climate-proofing agriculture
It was only in January 2013 when the DA mainstreamed climate change in its programs, plans and budget. This was contained in a memorandum signed by Alcala.
The memorandum created the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA), as the main component of the DAs resilient agriculture, including the approval of seven System-Wide Programs to mainstream climate change. It also created the DA Systems-Wide Climate Change Office under the Office of the Undersecretary for Policy and Planning, to serve as the oversight body for AMIA.
Alcala said the relatively late mainstreaming of the climate resiliency in the agricultural sector is understandable, considering that a more precise mapping of the entire agricultural outlay became possible only after Nationwide
Operational Assessment of Hazards of the Department of Science and Technology released its first three-dimensional maps. The maps detailed flood-prone areas and major river systems and watersheds in the country.
Under climate resiliency, the DAs insurance program, particularly premium subsidy, covered the 1 million marginal farmers and fishermen listed in the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture. The registration was also concluded last year. The coverage includes palay, corn, high-value crops, livestock, noncrop insurance and fisheries.
Agriculture and rural poor
Balisacan said growing agriculture production by 3 percent to 4 percent in the medium term would have boosted efforts of the government to significantly cut the number of poor Filipinos in rural areas. He said this would increase the incomes of millions of Filipinos working in the sector. Collectively, workers in the farm sector account for one-third of the countrys labor force.
If agriculture can grow at 3 [percent] to 4 percent, this is about the average for the world, we should be able to substantially reduce poverty. As youve seen earlier, our growth in the agricultural sector was only 1.7 percent yearly for the last five years. Thats too low, he said.
Data from the PSA showed that fishermen, farmers and children consistently posted the highest poverty incidence among the nine basic sectors in the Philippines in 2012 at 39.2 percent, 38.3 percent and 35.2 percent, respectively.
Also, five of the nine basic sectors, consisting of fishermen, farmers, children, self-employed, unpaid family workers and women, have higher poverty incidence than the general population estimated at 25.2 percent in 2012.
PSA data showed that the average age of Filipino farmers is 57 years. Their annual income, according to official data, is pegged at only P23,000, which is lower than the average monthly salary of an office manager working in Makati City.//

Author: Alladin S. Diega and Mary Grace Padin
Date: September 23, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

The Philippines must establish a formal regulatory management system (RMS) that will reduce regulatory burden on firms and citizens and improve regulatory quality, according to a report of a think tank shared to various organizations.
Gilberto Llanto, president and head economist of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, noted that the government has to exercise firm leadership and political will in lowering regulatory burden.

It can start by issuing an executive order announcing RIA (Regulatory Impact Analysis) as a whole-of-government policy, and not for sector regulators alone, the official said in a formal report emailed to The Daily Tribune.

Llanto pushed for the creation of an institution such as the contemplated Office of Regulatory Practice that will oversee the conduct of RIA in national government regulatory agencies.

He said among the challenges to the creation of a formal RMS in the country is the lack of strong central oversight body or institutional mechanism that systematically coordinates and reviews efforts on new regulations or amendments to existing regulations contemplated by different regulators.

Regulatory agencies should build capacity in undertaking RIA and formulating regulatory impact statements. The role, mandate, and stock of regulations of regulatory agencies should be reviewed to reduce regulatory burden, he said.

To this end, Llanto said government oversight agencies such as the National Economic and Development Authority should ensure a more intensive involvement of the private sector, civil society, academe, research institutions and media in regulatory reform. Ed Velasco

There are four elements of RMS: regulatory quality tools, regulatory processes, regulatory institutions and regulatory policies.
Philippine regulatory framework includes market-friendly regulations, rules, laws, administrative and executive orders that try to provide the policy and regulatory environment as well as incentives for increased private participation in the marketplace.//

Author: Ed Velasco
Date: September 23, 2015
Source: The Daily Tribune

REDUCING the cost of food is one of the key measures that will allow the Philippines to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, the primary target under Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This is because the poorest Filipinos are very sensitive to food prices, University of the Philippines School of Statistics Dean Dennis Mapa said in a forum on Wednesday.
Mapa said this can be explained by the difference in the inflation felt by all households and the inflation experienced by the bottom-30 percent, or the poorest Filipinos.
Price increases affect the poor households the most. Dr. [Cielito]Habito mentioned that inflation rate has been low now; thats good news. But, actually, if you really want to look at the welfare of the poor, you have to look at the other inflation rate, Mapa added.
The other inflation rate that Mapa referred to is the Consumer Price Index for Bottom 30% Income Households released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) every quarter.
In the first six months, Mapa said, inflation experienced by the poor averaged around 2.5 percent to 2.6 percent. The PSA data showed that it was at 3.1 percent in the first quarter and 2.1 percent in the second quarter.
The inflation experienced by all households, the PSA data showed, only averaged 2 percent in the first six months of the year.
Inflation felt by the poorest is usually higher compared to all households. In 2008, at the height of the rice-price crisis, inflation experienced by the poorest was at 19.3 percent, almost double that of all households. Mapa explained that the weight of food in the basket of goods used for the computation of the inflation experienced by the poorest 30 percent is 70 percent, as against 39 percent for all the households. So the poor households are very sensitive to this movement in the price of goods, in particular rice, because the weight of the rice in the food basket is 23 percent, almost one-fourth, compare this with 9 percent in all households, Mapa explained. To reduce food prices, particularly rice costs, Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) Senior Research fellow Roehlano Briones urged the country to remove the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice.
When the QR is removed, Briones said the country can replace this with a tariff of 35 percent, consistent with the Asean Free Trade Area agreement on the Common Effective Preferential Tariff.
Briones also said when this happens, the government must also restructure the National Food Authority (NFA) into a food-security agency that monitors the countrys food stocks. He said the task of regulator must be removed from the NFA. A PIDS study, with Briones as the lead author, stated that if the QR is removed, rice prices would decline to around P19.8 per kilogram from P33.08/kg.
Under a free-trade scenario, total rice imports could have reached 4.2 million tons.
This will bring down retail prices to P19.8 per kilo and wholesale prices to P17.66 per kilo.
Although the QR affords some protection for our farmers, the cost, the overall cost on the economy has been so high, especially among the poor because that has led to a double-digit inflation for rice, when overall inflation was only 2 percent to 5 percent. So it was very antipoor, Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan earlier said.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: September 23, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

I am very honored to be here today at the PowerTrends Business Forum and I salute Leverage International and Puno and Puno for this laudable venture.
I was among the co-authors of the Renewable Energy Law in 2008. Our laws are hailed as among the best in the world, but without strict and effective implementation they are of very little use. At the time, people considered that renewable energy sources like wind and solar would only become a small share of the energy mix. Since then, we have seen installations increase, with hundreds of megawatts of solar and wind in excess of even the Department of Energy's targets back then. But we are still far away from tapping and maximizing RE's potential.
Why do places with no renewable energy resources have more RE than us? Germany is known as the solar capital of the world, but only receives half the sunlight of the Philippines. In Europe, they are scaling down on coal, while the Philippines has approved 21 new Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) for coal.
The problem is that people say RE is expensive and coal is cheap.
First, this does not take into account the true cost of coal. Coal increases the risk of climate change and threatens our natural resources. As an environmentalist, I previously often encountered people skeptical of climate change. But recent events like Typhoons Yolanda, Ondoy, Pablo have confirmed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) findings that climate change is unequivocally caused by humans, and disproportionately affects vulnerable nations like the Philippines.
Second, there are parts in this country where RE is indeed cheaper than coal. In rural, "off-grid" areas, electricity must be sourced from expensive diesel fuel. Instead of subsidizing diesel like we are in remote islands, we should abandon all these gensets and turn to solar, hydro or wind power. Meanwhile, for installing solar panels on homes that experience the highest electricity rates, Net Metering is not yet viable because it costs P20,000 and several months just for Meralco to let you sell them back power at P5 per kWh while you buy it back from them at P12 per kWh. We should streamline these processes to facilitate, and not obstruct, RE adoption.
Third, the government must do more to support RE. When people say RE is expensive, it's in large part because it takes so many permits and many years to develop a project in the Philippines. Many of these are unnecessary, and sometimes are subject to discretion and abuse of public officials. If we cut this red tape at the local and national level, it will decrease the cost and risks of development, it will allow more local and foreign companies to compete, and reduce costs for all consumers.
Meanwhile, many other facets of the RE Law go unimplemented.
After 7 years of the laws passing, and many years of the rules being drafted, we still have not implemented the Renewable Portfolio Standards and the Renewable Energy Market, which would mandate a certain portion of the country's energy supply to come from RE sources.
And to bring down the cost of power in general, we should subject all power contracts to the Competitive Selection Process, for which I laud former Secretary Jericho Petilla for issuing in his final DOE circular. Instead of allowing Distribution Utilities to sign contracts with their Power Generating subsidiaries at disadvantageous rates to the consumer, if we subject all this to competitive bidding, we will find the overall costs of power in this country to go down.
We are a country rich in renewable energy, the amount of sun and wind is more than enough to power our entire country many times over, and we must take greater steps to harness these abundant natural resources to ensure a sustainable future.
A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) reports that one out of five people or 130 million in ASEAN lack access to electricity. The same study said that 16 million Filipinos still have no access to electricity.
This is a market that can very well benefit from renewable energy development in the region.
There are two compelling reasons for accelerating the development and utilization of renewable energy in the country - energy self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability. Renewable energy is recognized as a long-term solution to the global effort to avert climate change. It could help mitigate the environmental impacts of our expanding energy use.
We must go for clean energy now and veer away from fossil fuels, especially coal.
Key findings of the 5th IPCC 2012 Special Report on Extreme Events revealed that climate change is "unequivocal" and that there is 95 percent likelihood that human activity is the cause of global warming.[1]
Human activity released 545 gigatons of carbon dioxide--the main greenhouse gas from 1750 to 2011. It is projected that if 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide is emitted, which at current rates will likely occur between 2040 and 2050, there is a one-in-three possibility that the 2 degrees Celsius limit above the pre-industrial level will be exceeded.
Of the carbon dioxide emitted, 2/3 was due to the burning of fossil fuels with 1/3 caused by deforestation and land-use change. In the last decade however, 90 percent of rise in carbon dioxide levels was due to burning of fossil fuels.
Climate change is no longer a scientific issue. It has become the greatest humanitarian challenge of our time as it threatens our basic human rights--food, health, potable water, decent shelter, and even life itself.
The stronger and more frequent extreme weather events we are experiencing now are among the impacts of climate change.
The Philippines, a minor emitter of greenhouse gas, is unfortunately among the nations most vulnerable to climate change.
The energy sector should be at the forefront of climate change mitigation through the promotion of clean energy. Moreover, we must ensure the resilience of energy-related infrastructure. Electricity is very important in the aftermath of disasters. Measures for improved management and development of our energy generation, transmission and distribution linkages must be put in place.
Our goal should not only be to address energy poverty but more importantly, to ensure resilience and sustainability. We need to provide energy that will serve our needs today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is our inter-generational responsibility.
This very week, leaders and representatives of different nations converge in New York at the United Nations headquarters to adopt the new post-2015 development agenda.
The global goals for sustainable development or the SDGs include affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, responsible consumption and production, and climate action, among others.
In December in Paris, we need to adopt an ambitious and legally-binding agreement to mitigate climate change, primarily through deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
The energy sector has a crucial role to play here. My challenge to all of you today, both government and the private sector, is to put climate action and the sustainable development goals at the core of your mission and at the heart of your respective organizations' programs and development agenda.
This convention is indeed an opportunity to involve ourselves in the continued sharing of information and experiences that facilitate the development of our respective capacities and potentials. Towards this end, we can show solidarity, share scientific knowledge, and work within the framework of mutually beneficial partnerships.
Together, let us tread the path that will lead our nation towards a brighter, livable, resilient and sustainable future.
Thank you.

Author: Sen. Loren Legarda
Date: September 23, 2015
Source: Senate Press Releases

Tuwid na Daan has indeed brought valuable benefits to our nation as a whole. But for farmers and fisherfolk, this is not enough. President Aquino has himself called for inclusive growth. Consider the table below:

From the first year of the Aquino administration to the first semester of 2015, the GDP has ranged from 3.7 percent to 7.2 percent. However, the agriculture, fishery and forestry growth ranged from only 0.3 percent to 2.7 percent. The average 5.8 percent growth for the nation is 3.5 times the 1.7 percent growth for the agriculture sector, where many of the poor are located.
Tuwid na Daan must be supplemented with increased competence and transparency for farmers and fisherfolk if we are to attain inclusive growth.
We must credit Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala for having done much to address the Tuwid part of Tuwid na Daan. Surely, corruption still exists, but at a much lower level than those during the previous administration.
But for agriculture, the Daan part should also be addressed. This is what 200 stakeholders asked for through strategic and well researched commodity road maps.
In the Agriculture Fisheries 2025 (AF2025) Conference in February 2011, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a think tank connected to the National Economic Development Authority, received 23 road maps from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), but not one from the DA.
It is especially dangerous to have no agriculture road maps at this time because of the Asean integration that starts in just three months. Before this administration ends, the DA should mobilize the agriculture stakeholders to finally formulate and implement these much-needed road maps.
A Tuwid na Daan should be supplemented with programs that will be implemented effectively. Many DA programs are praiseworthy. But it is poor implementation that makes many of them fail.
The DA personnel are highly qualified. But management systems are needed to utilize and synergize the good work that the DA can work toward a clear vision and strategic objectives.
The situation of the DA is not so different from the Philippine exporters dilemma when they had trouble selling their goods abroad. Thus, they had to get ISO 9000 so that foreign buyers would choose them over other national exporters who had this certification.
Unlike foreign importers, farmers and fisherfolk do not have the option to choose a department which will give them their needed support services. But just as importers required quality, so do agriculture stakeholders. While most DTI bureaus have ISO 9000, very few DA bureaus have such a system. It is noteworthy that in the first semester of this year, the DTI annual budget of P4 billion has resulted in a 5.8-percent industry growth rate, while the DA budget of P88 billion has resulted in only 0.3 percent growth.
Private sector participation
This component is emphasized by PNoys statement Ikaw ang boss ko. The task of governance is too important to be left to the government alone. In both the creation of road maps and its effective implementation through management systems, the private sector must be involved.
In the law creating the PCAF, it was explicitly stated that farmers and fisherfolk should also help formulate and monitor DA budget use. During my five-day journey of looking at budget use in a region with a 10-person government-private sector team that crossed four provinces, I found that the DA budget was effectively used when the farmers and fisherfolk participated in budget formulation and implementation.
The Aquino governments innovation in Bottoms-Up Budgeting (BUB) is an outstanding improvement. This is because the intended beneficiaries themselves helped formulate and implement the budget to suit their actual needs, instead of needs identified by some ill-informed or even unscrupulous government officials.
We documented projects that were located in the properties of LGU officials, even finding out that alleged fund disbursements were fictitious. Much of this could have been prevented if the DA projects were systematically made known to the PCAF local private sector members.
A DA order should mandate that private sector PCAF members should be informed of all DA funded projects. DA officials who do not comply with this should be suspended or terminated. The lack of budget transparency to the private sector beneficiaries is a major reason why the large DA budget has not produced the expected agriculture growth.
Before this administration ends, farmers and fisherfolk must see a significant improvement to the inadequate Tuwid na Daan they now experience. They deserve agriculture road maps, management systems and private sector participation and transparency. Without these elements, the Tuwid na Daan will not be enough to yield inclusive growth.
The author is chair of Agriwatch, former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former Undersecretary for Agriculture, Trade and Industry. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail or telefax (02) 852-2112.

Author: by Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: September 30, 2015
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

CONGRESS must immediately enact a measure that would allow poor students to avail themselves of loans so they could study in college, a former socioeconomic planning secretary said last week.
Dante Canlas, former National Economic and development Authority director general, said this should be financed by taxes, similar to the sin tax that funds health programs.
We know that higher education is internally financed by households. There are no markets for education loans so even if you pass University of the Philippines or another institution of higher learning, you cannot finance your education. Thats just too bad, Canlas said in his presentation at the inaugural policy forum of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
So, access to college is based on the ability to pay, not on the ability to learn. So what happens is that society loses bright young talents who will be foregoing higher education, he said.
Canlas said having a student-loan program will help promote distributive justice in higher education and build a stock of highly educated workers for the country.
Currently, the Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST Act) authored by Sen. Sonny Angara has been approved on third and final reading at the Senate.
UniFAST aims to expand the countrys government-funded scholarship program.
It covers student loans, subsidized tuition, and outright free tuition for poor but deserving students.
Neda Director General Arsenio M. Balisacan said investing in education is one way by which the country can achieve inclusive growth.
He said that inequality in the country is still high with its gini coefficient"a measure of inequality"still high at 0.45 to 0.46. A gini coefficient of one represents perfect inequality, while zero represents equality.
Balisacan said investing in human capital can help promote inclusive growth. He said this is one way that poor Filipinos participate in and benefit from the countrys economic success. He said programs that invest in human capital include the expanded Conditional Cash-Transfer (CCT) Program which has grown in budget by more than 500 percent since 2010 and now covers more than 4 million beneficiary households from only 630,000 in 2009.
The CCT, Balisacan said, is already one of the largest in the world and has demonstrated early gains in improving outcomes for poor children, particularly in increasing enrollment and attendance in school.
We must continuously identify and implement educational reforms, enhance work-force competencies, align education and training programs to respond to industry requirements, provide training programs to upgrade skills that can reduce job-worker mismatches, and further equalize opportunities, Balisacan said.
The PIDS annual conference aims to bring together key experts in the fields of economics, political science, public administration, and sociology to flag to policymakers critical issues that must be addressed in the immediate term.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: September 28, 2015
Source: Business Mirror

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has stressed the need to focus on investments in physical infrastructure and human capital development to sustain inclusive economic growth.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told a public policy forum of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) on Monday that persistent infrastructure bottlenecks, particularly the delays in the completion of infrastructure and reconstruction projects as well as logistical bottlenecks, especially transport, threaten to hamper the pace of economic activity.
Congestion in our roads, ports, airports, and seaports cost us billions of pesos per day and global rankings indicate that the quality of our infrastructure continues to lag behind our ASEAN counterparts, said Balisacan.
He also pointed out the need for long-term solutions to the infrastructure gap remains critical and more compelling.
While public infrastructure spending as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP) has been increasing in recent years, we also need to strengthen private sector participation in infrastructure development to keep up with rising demands in our fast-growing economy, said Balisacan.
He noted that human capital development is another crucial component of inclusive growth that would set up the most enabling instrument to lift people from poverty through better education and health care services.
The inability of the poor to benefit from growth can be traced to our underinvestment in human capital in the past. But in recent years, wider fiscal space accompanied by budget reforms, provided government with flexibility to increase human capital investments, particularly in education, health services, and social protection programs.
Balisacan said that major development programs have already taken flight to address critical issues of human capital formation in the country, especially among the poor.
The countrys expanded Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program called 4Ps"which has grown in budget by more than 500% since 2010 and now covers more than 4 million beneficiary households from only 630,000 in 2009.
The 4Ps is already one of the largest in the world and has demonstrated early gains in improving outcomes for poor children, particularly in increasing enrolment and attendance in school. This initiative not only aims to combat intergenerational poverty but also targets to develop our human resources by widening access to basic education up to high school, said Balisacan.
The recently-instituted K to 12 basic education program has also jump-started comprehensive reforms in the education sector in the hope of improving the competitiveness and capabilities of our future workforce and abating the skills mismatch in the labor market.
Balisacan said human capital formation will only lead to inclusivity growth if the poor can benefit from the recent economic growth in the form of having suitable and stable employment once they enter the work force.//
We must continuously identify and implement educational reforms, enhance workforce competencies, align education and training programs to respond to industry requirements, provide training programs to upgrade skills that can reduce job-worker mismatches, and further equalize opportunities.
Balisacan added that investments in technological innovation and research will prove to be crucial as these can be used as inputs into tangible and actionable policies for the countrys development.//

Author: Edu Lopez
Date: September 25, 2015
Source: Manila Bulletin

THE PHILIPPINES has bucked the trend of slowing vehicle sales in Southeast Asia, remaining one of the fastest growing automotive markets in the region as of August this year.
Data from the Asean Automotive Federation showed that the Philippines posted a 20-percent growth in motor vehicle sales to 179,215 units in the first eight months of the year, making it the third fastest growing market next to Vietnam, which posted a 62.5-percent growth in sales, and Singapore, 59 percent.
The biggest decline in motor vehicle sales, meanwhile, was seen in Indonesia with a 19-percent drop in sales to 671,641 units, followed by Brunei (17 percent); Thailand (15 percent); and Malaysia (2.3 percent), AAF data showed.
Cumulatively, the seven member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations registered a 7.7-percent decline in sales to 1.96 million units from January to August this year, from the 2.1 million units a year ago.
In terms of motor vehicle production, the Philippines continued to trail its peers, as it produced only 63,511 units as of end-August this year.
This paled in comparison to Thailand, which produced the most motor vehicles for the same period at 1.26 million units, followed by Indonesia, which produced 740,385 units; Malaysia, with 417,654; and Vietnam, with 107,686 units.
The governments new industrial policy for the local automotive manufacturing sector, however, is expected to significantly boost local vehicle production in two years.
This may, in turn, enable the country to resume export operations, according to state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
A discussion paper titled Industrial Policies and Implementation: Philippine Automotive Manufacturing as a Lens cited the estimates of the Philippine Automotive Competitiveness Council Inc. (PACCI), which said the local sector had the potential to make 273,000 units by 2017 (of which 225,000 will be for domestic market and 48,000 for exports market) and 506,000 units by 2022 (of which 350,000 for domestic and 156,000 for exports market).//

Author: Amy R. Remo
Date: September 28, 2015
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

WITH the hope of increasing investments in the country, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) will be meeting with several executives of US-based firms in New York over the weekend.
Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan recently told reporters that his meeting with the business community will be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly this weekend.
I will be helping the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] secretary in selling the country [and] I think they [US businessmen] are very much interested in talking with policy-makers, Balisacan said.
Balisacan also said that he will be meeting the leaders of these US firms and discuss the countrys manufacturing industry, infrastructure and overall business environment, which could guide them in investing in the country.
These efforts would augur well with the Industry Roadmap crafted by the DTI and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Phase one of the road map, which will be implemented between 2014 and 2017, aims for a globally competitive industries in automotive, aerospace parts electronics, garments, food, resource-based industries, chemicals, furniture, tool and die, and shipbuilding.
Phase two of the road map, to be undertaken in 2018 until 2021, aims to drive the local manufacturing industry to produce high-tech transport equipment, chemicals and electrical machinery.
It is also envisioned that during this time, the government will create manufacturing hubs in regional and global production networks for auto, electronics, machinery, garments and food industries.
The last and third phase of the road map, between 2022 and 2025, aims to promote high value-added activities through upstream industries, such as chemicals, iron and steel, as well as med-tech basic and fabricated metal sectors.
Structural change through [the] revival of manufacturing is essential for job creation, poverty reduction and sustained development, Trade Assistant Secretary Rafaelita M. Aldaba said in a recent presentation.
The country has not been doing well in terms of both foreign and local investments in the first semester of 2015.
The data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that approved investment pledges of Filipino and foreign nationals contracted 48.9 percent in the January-to-June period.
The countrys total approved investments reached P186.44 billion in the January-to-June period in 2015, from P365.16 billion in the same period in 2014.
The countrys primary investment promotion agencies, the Board of Investments (BOI) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority both suffered lower investment pledges in the first six months of the year.
Investments approved by the BOI, which accounted for 49.4 percent of the total, or 92.02 billion. It posted a decline of 38.4 percent from P149.45 billion in 2014.
Those approved by PEZA, which accounted for 42.3 percent or P78.88 billion in the first semester of 2015. It posted a decline of 26.3 percent from P106.98 billion in the same period of 2014.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: September 26, 2015
Source: Business Mirror