PIDS in the News Archived (February 2016)

MANILA " Its supposed to be a fund that would help small farmers cope with the impacts of trade liberalization in agriculture but ended up in the pockets of big borrowers.
This is the reason why Anakpawis Rep. Fernando Hicap is opposing the extension of the Agricultural Competitive Enhancement Fund (Acef) until 2022. Acef should have expired in 2015 but a bill seeking to extend it is pending with the House Committee on Appropriations.
In February 2014, Hicap filed House Resolution No. 830 urging an inquiry into the status of Acef. Created by the Republic Act No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tarrification Act of 1996, Acef is a safety net for farmers and fishermen affected by the influx of imported agricultural products.
Fifteen years since the Acef was introduced to the public, however, Hicap said all they got were testimonies of corrupt practices.
Hicap said that out of 216 projects that acquired Acef loans amounting to more than P4.5 billion, 99 projects amounting to more than P2.5 billion were never paid.
Citing a study by Danilo Israel of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Anakpawis said that repayment rates from 2004 to 2009 range from seven percent to 38 percent.
The Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corp. (Quedancor), a government company that provides credit line to small farmers and fishermen, got the biggest Acef loan amounting to a P1 billion. The company has been dissolved without paying its loans.
A 2014 report by the Inquirer showed that lawmakers obtained loans from Acef, including Sen. Edgardo Angara and former Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra.
The same report revealed that other legislators who availed of Acef loans were Zamboanga del Sur Rep. Aurora Enerio Cerilles, P50.058 million for her familys rubber project in 2009; Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co, P15 million for a cold storage project in 2007; Inaki Larrazabal Jr., a member of a political clan in Ormoc City, P14.682 million for a poultry project in 2009; former Leganes, Iloilo, Mayor Adolfo Jaen, P12 million for a hog project in 2000; Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Mayor Sonia C. Pablo, P7.449 million for an ice plant in 2008; and Guiguinto, Bulacan, Mayor Isagani Pascual, P13.8 million for an abattoir in 2002.
Former Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen was also listed as among those who availed themselves of the Acef. Dilangalen, as chair of Moro Development Co. Inc., borrowed P14 million in 2009 for his sugar farm in Shariff Kabunsuan, Cotabato City.
There is enough basis to question how Acef was used but Congress is turning a blind eye Hicap said.

Author: Ronalyn V. Olea
Date: February 26, 2016
Source: Bulatlat.com

LEGISLATION creating a separate agency to undertake foreign trade agreements was approved by the Senate yesterday, sending that chambers version into bicameral session where it will be harmonized with the House version approved as early as 2014.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 2922, the proposed law creating a Philippine Trade Representative Office (PTRO), was passed on third and final reading on Monday, setting up sessions to reconcile the measure with House Bill No. 5076.

SB No. 2922 received all affirmative votes from the 16 lawmakers present during the days plenary session.

Under the measure, a PTRO will be created to conduct and handle all foreign trade policy formulation and negotiations -- a function already being performed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, and to some extent, by some government line agencies.

The measure is expected to improve foreign investment in the Philippines, which continues to lag its Asian neighbors.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, net foreign direct investment stood at $4.987 billion in the 10 months to October, which pales beside Singapores $48.648 billion, Indonesias $16.906 billion, Malaysias $7.817 billion and Thailands $6.311 billion, all achieved in first nine months.

During the legislative process, the DTIs Office of Policy Research said that the PTRO will only replicate the departments functions. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the National Economic Development Authority, on the other hand, took the position of strengthening DTIs authority in trade negotiations rather than creating a new agency.

The measure was supported by the government think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies, which recommended responsibility for a single agency to eliminate turf wars among the various government line agencies and accelerate the governments decision making on trade issues. --

Author: Alden M. Monzon
Date: February 01, 2016
Source: Business World

Ichiro Fujisaki, then Japanese Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs is photographed in February 2004 during a press briefing in Manila.
The Japanese officials visit launched trade talks between Manila and Tokyo in what would become the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). Japan ratified it in 2006 but the Philippines took longer owing to strong opposition from lobby groups.

In January 2014, the Philippines access to the Japanese market had a marked improvement after the agreements implementation, the state-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.

Although there is some natural leveling off in succeeding years, the average yearly trade volume and value from 2009 to 2012 are significantly higher than in the four years immediately before the [JPEPA], the PIDS said in a BusinessWorld report.//


Author:
Date: February 03, 2016
Source: Business World

TO achieve inclusive growth and enable farmers to compete in the global marketplace, Filipinos should elect a president who is pro-agriculture, according to economists from the Ateneo de Manila University.
At the sidelines of the Eagle Watch Briefing on Tuesday, Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development (ACERD) Director Leonardo A. Lanzona Jr. said no candidate for president has expressed that they are concerned about agriculture.
We certainly need somebody who is pro-agriculture. Actually, [Rodrigo] Duterte might be good [only] because he comes from Mindanao [but he and the other candidates] have not talked about agriculture, Lanzona said. Everybodys just talking about traffic.
Lanzona said a pro-agriculture president can look at the agriculture sector as a means to lift millions of people from poverty and as a means to improve competitiveness.
Eagle Watch Senior Fellow Alvin Ang said that while agriculture only accounts for 10 percent of the countrys GDP, its share in employment is 30 percent.
They said the slow growth of the farm sector in the past three decades has made it difficult for farmers to increase their incomes and get out of poverty.
Lanzona also said the countrys food manufacturing sector is dependent on agriculture and could have a significant impact on exports.
Citing data from McKinsey and Co., Ang said the Philippines has a competitive advantage in food, beverage and tobacco manufacturing, compared to its neighbors in Southeast Asia.
Actually, I would think that our biggest sector is really agriculture. Weve been talking about being competitive. You can never be competitive in the agricultural sector, theres no way you can be competitive if you look closely at what were doing, Lanzona said.
Lanzona added that a pro-agriculture president can also address problems in agrarian reform.
He said that, while the country has been able to distribute lands, farmers have encountered problems in terms of the lack of financing and machinery to maximize the land granted to them.
Instead of just distributing lands, Lanzona said the government can consider taxing landowners and provide subsidies to spur innovations in farming.
Certainly, we need to innovate not only technologically but also in terms of agriculture and I think that would be the key if you want to sustain our growth, you want to be competitive, Lanzona said.
Apart from agrarian reform, the next president can also focus on financing other crops aside from rice and corn"two of the countrys staple crops.
Lanzona said the country missed out on export opportunities in global and regional trade due to its focus on a few commodities.
He also agreed with former Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan who said earlier that the Aquino administrations focus on rice self-sufficiency was a mistake.
Balisacan said the governments self-sufficiency policy has been very costly and even contributed to the increase in poverty incidence in 2014.
I think one of the key mistakes in the current administration is the focus on rice sufficiency and it was really a bad decision. The thing is, rice can easily be bought outside of the country, Lanzona said. If you look at the Department of Agriculture, its just a rice and corn department.
Studies including those made by Philippine Institute for Development Studies Research Fellow Roehlano Briones said the governments resources were largely focused on rice, a water-loving crop.
Briones said the governments rice spending reached P37.44 billion in 2012, almost half of the governments total agriculture spending for that year.
Data showed the government spent a total of P62.64 billion for agriculture-related programs and projects.
This was significantly higher than the P14.38 billion spent in 2005.
Government spending for other crops, like corn, amounted to only P951 million in 2012; high value crops, P1.63 billion; coconut, P2.08 billion; livestock, P2.72 billion; and 3.308 billion for fisheries.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 02, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the Cordillera Administrative Region announced the approval of over P99 million of projects under the Bottom up Budgeting (BUB) program.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, at pids.gov.ph, BUB aims to ensure that funding requirements for the development needs of municipalities and cities are included in agency budget proposals.
Most of the projects were proposed in 2015 but approval of funding was only given by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) this year, according to DILG Regional Director John Castaneda.
Most of the projects proposed were on the provision of potable water system and the construction of evacuation facilities.
We hope the funds will be downloaded to the local government units by DBM before the election ban on appointment and contracts take effect on March 25 to May 8, 2016, Castaneda said.
Of the P99 million, P36.75 million was allotted for the province of Abra particularly for the provision of potable water supply in the towns of Dolores, Lagayan, Pennarubia and Tayum.
This includes the construction of a P3-million evacuation facility in Barangay Tuquib, Villaviciosa.
For Apayao, the DBM approved P9.37 million for the provision of potable water supply in the municipalities of Calanasan, Flora and Sta. Marcela.
P6.50 million was approved for the development of a potable water supply in the towns of La Trinidad and Sablan, Benguet.
In Ifugao, the DBM approved P23.30 million for the provision of potable water supply in Alfonso Lista, Banaue and Kiangan. The funding includes the construction of two evacuation facilities in Cababuyan South and North Cababuyan of Hingyon.
Kalinga will construct a P5-million evacuation facility in Liwan West with funding from the BUB through the DILG.
Mt. Province will receive P13.3 million for potable water system development in the municipalities of Bauko, Besao and Natonin. Another P5 million was allotted for the construction of an evacuation facility in the town of Sadanga.
In case the funds will not be downloaded before the election ban, Castaneda said, implementation of projects will have to wait until the new sets of officers take their oath of office.//

Author: Jessa Mardy Polonio
Date: February 02, 2016
Source: Sun Star Cebu

MANILA, Feb. 2 -- For the fourth consecutive year, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has been recognized as among the worlds top think tanks.

In the 2015 Global Go to Think Tank Report and Policy Advice of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, PIDS was included in the list of best think tanks in seven categories. More than 6,600 think tanks from 198 countries were assessed in this round.

PIDS remained the top social policy think tank in South East Asia and was ranked 37th among the top 100 in the world. Other think tanks from Southeast Asia that made it to this category (social policy) were Singapores Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (41st) and Institute for Policy Studies (53rd) and Malaysias Center for Public Policy Studies (66th).

In 2014, PIDS also ranked 37th among 50 nominated think tanks in this category.

PIDS maintained its rankings as among the top international development think tanks (70th out of 128) and among the top education policy think tanks (33rd out of 65).

Moreover, the Institute has been included in four new categories: best think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, best government-affiliated think tanks, and think tanks with the best external relations/public engagement program.

The East Asian Development Network (EADN) Secretariat, which PIDS has been running since 2010, also made it to the list of best think tank networks. The EADN is a network of institutes and centers in developing countries of East Asia. It sponsors research and capacity-building activities for early career researchers.

The Go to Think Tank Index is a comprehensive ranking of the world's top think tanks and has been described as the premier database and measure of world think tanks. It aims to increase the profile, performance, and impact of think tanks, and to create a transnational and interdisciplinary network of centers of public policy excellence.

A total of 4,677 journalists, policymakers, think tanks, and public and private donors from 143 countries participated in the 2015 ranking process.

Established in 1989, the TTCSP aims to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.

Think tanks are public-policy research analysis and engagement organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues, thereby enabling policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy.

PIDS is a state-funded think tank devoted to policy research. Its Board of Trustees is chaired by National Economic and Development Authority Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, with Mr. Romeo Bernardo, Dr. William Padolina, Atty. Raphael Lotilla, and Dr. Gilberto Llanto (PIDS president) as members.

Since its establishment in 1977, PIDS has been engaged in conducting long-term, evidence-based research that serves as inputs in crafting socioeconomic policies for the country. PIDS has completed close to 1,000 studies covering a wide range of issues that encompass macroeconomic, agricultural, trade and industrial policies, health economics, education, environment, natural resource management, urban development and social services, and governance.

In 2015, the Institute completed a number studies evaluating the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects to ascertain whether they are achieving their intended objectives and to ensure that government resources are being used wisely. Impact evaluation helps promote greater transparency and accountability in government. (PIDS)//

The full report may be accessed at http://repository.upenn.edu/think_tanks/10/.

Author:
Date: February 02, 2016
Source: PIA

Brookings Institution's High Quality Think Tank Brand Helped Secure Top Global Think Tank in Ranking
Philadelhpia, PA (PRWEB) January 29, 2016
The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania today released its 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, the most comprehensive ranking of the worlds top think tanks. Simultaneous launch events were held by 107 research organizations across 70 cities in 60 countries worldwide. The report will be translated into more than 20 languages. Last year the Go To Index was downloaded 175, 000 times.
As the premier database and measure of world think tanks, the Go To Index aims to increase the profile, performance and impact of think tanks, and to create a transnational and interdisciplinary network of centers of public policy excellence.
Flows of information for rich policy analysis and research today are often disparate and fractured, which leads to a vital need for resources that highlight the best policy research out there, said James McGann, PhD, director of the University of Pennsylvanias Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program. The independent Index is designed to help users of information and policy analysis identify the leading centers of excellence in public policy research around the world.
The launch of the 2015 Go To Index in Washington D.C. was hosted by the World Bank. A discussion was held on Why Think Tanks Matter: Helping Make People Centered Public Policy and Development a Priority. An afternoon session at the United Nation Headquarters in New York City focused on arms control, trade, development (SDGs) and the Environment (COP21.) The Index was also distributed through a network of global partners, giving institutions a chance to highlight the crucial role they play in building and maintaining civil society in their countries and regions.
The annual report, compiled with assistance from more than 4,700 peer institutions and experts from the print and electronic media, academia, public and private donor institutions, and governments from 143 countries. This peer and expert ranking process is designed to identify the top think tanks in every region of the world and in key policy areas such as economic policy, security policy and health policy:
1. Top Think Tanks in the World
2. Top Think Tanks by Region
3. Top Think Tanks by Area of Research
4. Top Think Tanks by Special Achievement
This years report also includes new Regional Studies categories as well as a Think Tank with the Best Practices (Policies and Procedures) to assure the Quality, Independence and Integrity of its Policy Research category. There is also a Think Tank Innovation feature; a detailed analysis of innovative practices that think tanks are undertaking to generate new frontiers in policy research and influence.
The Brookings Institution ranked first on the Global Think Tank list for the eighth consecutive year. Index reports since 2008 can be found online at http://gotothinktank.com/rankings. Below are highlights of the 2015 rankings:

Top Think Tanks Worldwide (U.S. and non-U.S.)
Brookings Institutions (United States)
Chatham House (United Kingdom)
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (United States)
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (United States)
Bruegel (Belgium)

Top Defense and National Security Think Tanks
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (United States
International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) (United Kingdom)
RAND Corporation (United States)
Brookings Institution (United States)
Chatham House (United Kingdom)

Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks
Chatham House (United Kingdom)
Brookings Institution (United States)
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (United States)
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) (United States)
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) (United States)
The following regional launch partners will be hosting events in close to 70 cities around the world:
List of Global Host and Partners for the 2015 Global Go to Launch and Why Think Tanks Matter Events:
1. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (Afghanistan)
2. Argentine Council for International Relations (Argentina)
3. Centro de Implementacin de Polticas Pblicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC) (Argentina)
4. Australian Institute of International Affairs (Australia)
5. Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Australia)
6. Institute for Economics and Peace (Australia)
7. Security and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University (Australia)
8. Centre for Economic and Social Development (Azerbaijan)
9. Bruegel (Belgium)
10. Fundao Getulio Vargas (Brazil)
11. Groupe de Recherche et d'Analyse Appliqus pour le Dveloppement (GRAAD-Burkina) (Burkina Faso)
12. The Fraser Institute (Canada)
13. Centro de Estudios Publicos (Chile)
14. Center for China and Globalization (China)
15. Charhar Institute (China)
16. Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University (China)
17. Penn Wharton China Center (PWCC) (China)
18. Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (China)
19. Centre d'Etudes et de Recherche sur les Analyses et politiques Economiques (CERAPE) (Congo)
20. EUROPEUM (Czech Republic)
21. Prague Security Studies Institute (Czech Republic)
22. Fundacin Global Democracia y Desarrollo " FUNGLODE (Dominican Republic)
23. Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (Egypt)
24. Regional Center for Strategic Studies (Egypt)
25. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Ethiopia)
26. Institute of International and Strategic Relations (France)
27. Ecologic Institute (Germany)
28. Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (Germany)
29. German Development Institute (Germany)
30. IASS Potsdam (Germany)
31. Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Germany)
32. Asociacin de Investigacin y Estudios Sociales (ASIES) (Guatemala)
33. Centro de Estudios Econmico-Sociales (CEES) (Guatemala)
34. Development Alternatives (India)
35. Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (India)
36. Integrated Research and Action for Development IRADe (India)
37. Observer Research Foundation (India)
38. Middle East Research Institute (Iraq)
39. Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) (Ireland)
40. Institute for National Security Studies (Israel)
41. Israel Democracy Institute (Israel)
42. Institute for International Political Studies (Italy)
43. Asian Development Bank Institute (Japan)
44. Japan Institute of International Affairs (Japan)
45. Center for Strategic Studies (Jordan)
46. African Economic Research Consortium (Kenya)
47. Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) (Kenya)
48. National Institute for Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan)
49. Latvian Institute of International Affairs (LIIA) (Latvia)
50. American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
51. Carnegie Middle East Center (Lebanon) (TBC)
52. Institute of Strategic and International Studies (Malaysia)
53. Ethos Public Policy Lab (Mexico)
54. Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI) (Mexico)
55. OCP Policy Center (Morocco)
56. Royal Institute for Strategic Studies (Morocco)
57. Development Research and Project Centre (Nigeria)
58. University of Ibadan Think Tank Forum (Nigeria)
59. Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (Norway)
60. Alternate Solutions Institute (Pakistan)
61. Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (Pakistan)
62. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (Pakistan)
63. Group for the Analysis of Development- GRADE (Peru)
64. Asian Development Bank (Philippines)
65. Asian Institute of Management Policy Center (Philippines)
66. Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Philippines)
67. Polish Institute of International Affairs (Poland)
68. Al Jazeera Center for Studies (Qatar)
69. Carnegie Moscow Center (Russia)
70. Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Senegal)
71. Asia Competitiveness Institute, Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy (Singapore)
72. Centre on Asia and Globalisation, Lee Kwan School of Public Policy (Singapore)
73. Institute of Policy Studies, Lee Kwan School of Public Policy (Singapore)
74. Institute of Water Policy Lee Kwan School of Public Policy (Singapore)
75. ACCORD (South Africa)
76. Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (Spain)
77. Fundacin Alternativas (Spain)
78. Timbro (Sweden)
79. Policy Research for Development (REPOA) (Tanzania)
80. Association for Liberal Thinking (Turkey)
81. Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (Turkey)
82. Center for Leadership, Suleyman Demirel University (Turkey)
83. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research (UAE)
84. Razumkov Centre (Ukraine)
85. Adam Smith Institute (UK)
86. European Council on Foreign Relations (UK)
87. Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo (Uruguay)
88. Asia Society Policy Institute (USA)
89. Brookings Institution (USA)
90. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs (USA)
91. Center for Strategic and International Studies (USA)
92. Chicago Council on Global Affairs (USA)
93. Fels Center of Government (USA)
94. Foreign Policy Research Institute (USA)
95. Hudson Institute (USA)
96. Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
97. Pacific Council on International Policy (USA)
98. Penn Global, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
99. Perry World House, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
100. Philadelphia Diplomatic Corps (USA)
101. Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy (USA)
102. Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania (USA)
103. United Nations (USA)
104. Wilson Center (USA)
105. World Bank (USA)
106. CEDICE Libertad (Venezuela)
107. African Capacity Building Foundation (Zimbabwe)
About Penns Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP)
The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the Lauder Institute (University of Pennsylvania) is designed to increase the profile, capacity, and performance of think tanks at the national, regional, and global levels, so they can better serve policymakers and the public. TTCSP conducts research on the relationship between think tanks, politics, and public policy, produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index, develops capacity-building resources and programs, supports a global network of close to 7,000 think tanks, and trains future think tank scholars and executives.
Often referred to as the think tanks think tank, TTCSP examines the evolving role and character of public policy research organizations. Over the last 20 years, the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program has laid the foundation for a global initiative that will help bridge the gap between knowledge and policy in critical policy areas such as international peace and security, globalization and governance, international economics, environment, information and society, poverty alleviation, and health. This international collaborative effort is designed to establish regional and international networks of policy institutes and communities that will improve policy making as well as strengthen democratic institutions and civil societies around the world.//

Author:
Date: February 02, 2016
Source: PRWeb

MANILA - Acting Socio-economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Emmanuel Esguerra on Monday said he will continue ongoing projects started by former NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan.
Esguerra replaced Balisacan, who resigned as NEDA chief and appointed by President Aquino to head the newly established Philippine Competition Commission.
"We will build on what the agency has accomplished under former Secretary Balisacan and continue the ongoing programs and projects for the remaining months of the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. We want a seamless transition towards the preparation of the successor development plan as the next administration settles in," said Esguerra.
"Expect the continuation of the thrusts that we have focused on in the last few years: human capital development and investment in infrastructure to ensure the inclusivity of development," he added.
Esguerra will also be the vice-chair of the NEDA Board, as well as the head of its several inter-agency committees.
He will chair the boards of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), Philippine Center for Economic Development (PCED), and the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute (PSRTI).
Esguerra served as the co-senior official of the Philippines to the APEC Senior Officials' Meeting in November last year, the Chair of the APEC Group on Services (GOS) and the APEC Policy Support Unit Board, and the Philippine acting minister during the Second APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting last September 2015.
Esguerra was appointed NEDA Deputy Director-General in July 2012 and became head of the National Development Office (NDO) for Policy and Planning.
He holds a PhD from the Ohio State University, and Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Economics from the University of the Philippines Diliman.//

Author:
Date: February 01, 2016
Source: ABS-CBNnews.com

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director General Emmanuel Esguerra has been named acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary, replacing Arsenio Balisacan who will be moving to the newly-established Philippine Competition Commission.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. on Monday said President Benigno Aquino 3rd had approved the appointment, with the former NEDA chiefs resignation having taken effect last January 31.
We will build on what the agency has accomplished under former Secretary Balisacan and continue the ongoing programs and projects for the remaining months of the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. We want a seamless transition towards the preparation of the successor development plan as the next administration settles in, Esguerra said in a statement issued by the NEDA.
Expect the continuation of the thrusts that we have focused on in the last few years: human capital development and investment in infrastructure to ensure the inclusivity of development, he added.
In his new capacity, Esguerra will also become the vice chairman of the NEDA Board as well as head of several interagency committees. Concurrently, he will chair the boards of the Philippine Statistics Authority, Public-Private Partnership Center, Philippine Institute of Development Studies, Philippine Center for Economic Development and the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute.
Esguerra served as co-senior official of the Philippines to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting last year, chairman of the APEC Group on Services (GOS) and the APEC Policy Support Unit Board, and the Philippine acting minister during the Second APEC Structural Reform Ministerial Meeting last September 2015.
The NEDA said that as GOS chairman, Esguerra championed the APEC Services Cooperation Framework, proposed by the Philippines and adopted during the Leaders Summit.
On secondment from the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman where he is an economics professor, Esguerra is also the countrys lead negotiator for services in the
Philippines-European Free Trade Association free trade agreement negotiations.
He was appointed NEDA deputy director-general in July 2012 and became head of the National Development Office for Policy and Planning.
Esguerra holds a PhD from the Ohio State University, and Masters and Bachelors degrees in Economics from UP Diliman.//

Author: Mayvelin U. Caraballo
Date: February 01, 2016
Source: Manila Times

The Cebu Provincial Board has approved a resolution requesting the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) to spearhead a program that will provide a long-term solution to the worsening effects of El Nio.
PB Member Thadeo Ouano, who authored the resolution, noted that the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has predicted that the El Nio phenomenon in the country will last until May this year.
The resolution states the need to address water shortage if the hot weather continues. It also calls for measures to mitigate the damage to agriculture as a result of the water shortage.
The resolution reminds the people that water treatment, recycling and conservation should be practiced daily.
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies said an average Filipino family consumes six liters of water per day for drinking and 12 liters for kitchen purposes.
The chamber has already initiated steps towards water conservation through information dissemination among its members.
The occurrence of El Nio since last year has compelled the Cebu Provincial government to conduct cloud seeding and build water reservoirs to counter its effects.
On Feb. 4, agriculturists from all over the province will meet to discuss and assess the effects of the said weather condition. //


Author: Gilbert P. Felongco
Date: February 01, 2016
Source: Gulf News.com

THE Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the Cordillera Administrative Region announced the approval of over P99 million of projects under the Bottom up Budgeting (BUB) program.
According to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, at pids.gov.ph, BUB aims to ensure that funding requirements for the development needs of municipalities and cities are included in agency budget proposals.
Most of the projects were proposed in 2015 but approval of funding was only given by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) this year, according to DILG Regional Director John Castaneda.
Most of the projects proposed were on the provision of potable water system and the construction of evacuation facilities.
We hope the funds will be downloaded to the local government units by DBM before the election ban on appointment and contracts take effect on March 25 to May 8, 2016, Castaneda said.
Of the P99 million, P36.75 million was allotted for the province of Abra particularly for the provision of potable water supply in the towns of Dolores, Lagayan, Pennarubia and Tayum.
This includes the construction of a P3-million evacuation facility in Barangay Tuquib, Villaviciosa.
For Apayao, the DBM approved P9.37 million for the provision of potable water supply in the municipalities of Calanasan, Flora and Sta. Marcela.
P6.50 million was approved for the development of a potable water supply in the towns of La Trinidad and Sablan, Benguet.
In Ifugao, the DBM approved P23.30 million for the provision of potable water supply in Alfonso Lista, Banaue and Kiangan. The funding includes the construction of two evacuation facilities in Cababuyan South and North Cababuyan of Hingyon.
Kalinga will construct a P5-million evacuation facility in Liwan West with funding from the BUB through the DILG.
Mt. Province will receive P13.3 million for potable water system development in the municipalities of Bauko, Besao and Natonin. Another P5 million was allotted for the construction of an evacuation facility in the town of Sadanga.
In case the funds will not be downloaded before the election ban, Castaneda said, implementation of projects will have to wait until the new sets of officers take their oath of office.

Author: Jessa Mardy Polonio
Date: February 02, 2016
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Gauging the efficacy of enrollment in PhilHealths Employed Program will help policymakers in the health sector determine a more effective approach in achieving the goal of universal coverage.
Last year, PhilHealth officials iterated their commitment to achieving universal coverage by 2016.
President Benigno Aquino III signed an amendment of the National Health Insurance Act highlighting the responsibility of the national government to cover the health insurance premiums of Filipinos in the informal sector.
However, full coverage in the formal sector also needs due attention and improvement. Thirty percent of PhilHealths members come from the formal economy where enrollment is mandatory.
But based on a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), full coverage is yet to be achieved.
The private sector coverage is at 95 percent, while the government employed sector sits at 75 percent. Denise Valerie Silfverberg, author of the study, argues that examining the level of PhilHealth coverage and enrollment in the formal sector will help policymakers bridge that gap.
Silfverberg surmised that the gap in coverage can be explained by looking at how some agencies comply with labor policy. For example, the low coverage rates may be attributed to the significant number of contractual employees in government who do not enjoy the benefits of being enrolled in PhilHealth.
The perpetuation of contractual employees " something the private sector is just as guilty " allows firms and agencies to stall enrollment of employees into the PhilHealth Employed Program and withhold appropriate benefits.
But companies deliberately shortchanging employees are not just the only flaws. Variations of enrollment rate can also be produced by characteristics that set the private and government sector apart, and other factors like establishment size and area.
For the private sector, sectoral employment, nature of employment, union coverage, union-employees ration, and number of employees all influence variations of coverage rate. But in the provinces, it is the size of the firm that matters.
More employees hired by medium-sized establishments lead to a higher likelihood for the province to have lower coverage, Silfverberg pointed out, On the contrary, the greater the number of employees in large-sized enterprises, the more likely it is for the province to have higher coverage levels.
Silfverberg concluded that before the country can work toward full coverage, policymakers must find a way to address the problems that impede effective implementation of the national health insurance program. Enrollment should be more targeted, depending on the sectors where undercoverage occurs the most.
Monitoring by PhilHealth should also be strengthened. Medium-sized establishments, surmised by Silfverberg, are more likely to short change employees when it comes to health insurance enrollment if they are not closely monitored.
Employers have to be held accountable to follow the labor code provision on employee regularization. The rules are often undermined by resorting to a six-month cycle to prevent employees from being regularized, and to refrain from giving them their due benefits.
Employers " both public and private " should enroll their employees into the program, whether they are regular or casual. Compliance at the local government level should be also closely monitored. After all, it would be harder to close the gap if government units themselves do not implement the health insurance program in their own offices.//

Author:
Date: February 14, 2016
Source:

The Philippines is still seriously interested to become part of the worlds most ambitious trade agreement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.
After the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, reiterated that the Philippines stands to gain from becoming a member of the trade pact.
Purisima, meanwhile, congratulated the 12-member nations of the TPP.
TPP membership bodes well for economic performance at home as well, Purisima said. An April 2014 Philippine Institute of Development Studies paper projected that the value of Philippine exports will rise if it participates in the TPP.
According to the study, the increase in exports ranges from 0.44 percent to be realized from year two to 11 of joining.
I remain strongly in favor of Philippine membership to the TPP, Purisima said.
The TPP has the potential to be one of the most reliable drivers of growth when the global environment turns sluggish. The potential to join the trade grouping is a golden opportunity we must work hard not to pass up, he added.
The TPP, which is currently being initiated by 12 countries, aims to establish a free trade bloc which would represent more than half of global output and over 40 percent of world trade.
The trade pact, which was sealed this week, will remove trade barriers as well as set standards for intellectual property, labor rights and environmental protection.
However, the Philippines is not among the 12 TPP nations, but Manila has already expressed keen interest in joining the trade agreement.
But the Philippines membership is being pushed back because of trade barriers in the country, including its Foreign Investment Negative List and restrictions for foreign retail investors.
In 2014, Manila signalled that it may gain a favorable position in its bid to becoming part of the TPP given recent moves by the government to further liberalize the local economy.
There were also proposals in Congress that aim to amend some economic provisions of the Constitution like the Foreign Investment Negative List. In 2014, the Philippines also liberalized its banking sector ahead of the ASEAN integration.
Aside from the United States, other member-countries of the TPP are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.//

Author: Cesar Purisima
Date: February 06, 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin

The Finance Department said Thursday the Philippines should still join the Trans-Pacific Partnership to further increase opportunities in foreign markets.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement released late Thursday afternoon he remains strongly in favor of Philippines membership to the TPP.
The Washinton-based agreement, one of the worlds biggest trade deals, was signed by 12-member countries in Auckland, New Zealand Thursday.
The Department of Finance reiterates our strong position that the Philippines stands to gain from becoming a member of the trade pact, and that Aseans admission into the TPP as a region will be a boon to TPP countries, Purisima said.
He said intra-Asean trade expanded 18 percent percent from 2012 to 2014 following vibrant demand and demographics.
Asean features diverse countries forming a constellation of supply chains with complementary goods, with the potential to ultimately transform trade from intermediate goods to final consumption goods, Purisima said.
He cited a study by the state-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies showing that value of exports could increase if the country joined the TPP.
TPP membership bodes well for economic performance at home as well. An April 2014 Philippine Institute of Development Studies paper projected that the value of Philippine exports will rise if it participates in the TPP. According to the study, the increase in exports ranges from 0.44 percent to be realized from year 2 to 11 of joining, Purisima said.
The stringent law on foreign ownership remains one of the main challenges faced by the Philippines in joining the TPP.
Presently, the Philippines can enjoy a window of opportunity to observe an incubating period as implementation sets in. It is useful to be vigilantly critical as the dust settles around the current members of the pact, in order to better prepare ourselves for entry in the hopefully near future, Purisima said.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has the potential to be one of the most reliable drivers of growth when the global environment turns sluggish. The potential to join the trade grouping is a golden opportunity we must work hard not to pass up, he added.
The 12-member countries of the TPP are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam.
It took over five years before the 12 countries which account for 40 percent of the world economy agreed to sign the agreement Thursday.//


Author: Gabrielle H. Binaday
Date: February 05, 2016
Source: Manila Standard Today

MANILA, Philippines " For the fourth consecutive year, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has been recognized among the worlds best think tanks.
In the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Report and Policy Advice of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, PIDS was included in the list of best think tanks in seven categories.
More than 6,846 think tanks from 198 countries were assessed.
PIDS remained the top social policy think tank in Southeast Asia and was ranked 37th among the top 100 in the world. In 2014, PIDS also ranked 37th among 50 nominated think tanks in this category.
Other think tanks from Southeast Asia that made it to this category (social policy) were Singapore`s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (41st) and Institute for Policy Studies (53rd) and Malaysia`s Center for Public Policy Studies (66th).
PIDS, an agency of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), also maintained its ranking as among the top international development think tanks (70th out of 128) and among the top education policy think tanks (33rd out of 65).
Moreover, the Institute has been included in four new categories: best think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, best government-affiliated think tanks, and think tanks with the best external relations/public engagement program.
The East Asian Development Network (EADN) Secretariat, which PIDS has been running since 2010, also made it to the list of best think tank networks. The EADN is a network of institutes and centers in developing countries of East Asia. It sponsors research and capacity-building activities for early career researchers.
In 2015, the PIDS completed a number of studies evaluating the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects to ascertain whether they are achieving their intended objectives and to ensure that government resources are being used wisely. Impact evaluation helps promote greater transparency and accountability in government.
Incidentally, the World Banks Development Research Group got the top spot among the worlds government-affiliated think tanks, followed by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI).
The ADBI ranked the 29th best think tank in the world, 20th best non-US think tank, sixth best international development think tank, 6th best think tank network, and 16th best managed think tank.//


Author: Ted P. Torres
Date: February 05, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

The Philippines stands to benefit if it joins the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a Cabinet official said following the formal signing of a trade deal by 12 member-nations.
I remain strongly in favor of Philippine membership to the TPP, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said in a statement.
The TPP deal was signed in Auckland last Thursday by the United States, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
The Philippines had initially held off from seeking membership, noting stringent non-trade requirements, but has since expressed interest in finally seeking membership.
Purisima noted that an April 2014 Philippine Institute of Development Studies paper noted the value of Philippine exports would rise if the country joined the TPP.
He also cited a 2012 Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics study that projected the Philippines as becoming the fourth largest beneficiary in terms of economic growth"an estimated $22.1 billion gain in 2025 "under a TPP16 scenario.
This is a future that I very much look forward to, Purisima said.
Presently, the Philippines can enjoy a window of opportunity to observe an incubating period as implementation sets in. It is useful to be vigilantly critical as the dust settles around the current members of the pact, in order to better prepare ourselves for entry in the hopefully near future, he said.
The Finance secretary said the TPP had the potential to be a reliable driver of growth when the global environment turned sluggish.
The potential to join the trade grouping is a golden opportunity we must work hard not to pass up, he said.
Inclusion of the entire Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)"of which the Philippines is a member and already represented in the TPP by Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei"will be a boon to the larger grouping, Purisima added.
Buoyed by vibrant demand and demographics, intra-ASEAN trade grew by 17.93 percent in just two years from 2012 to 2014, he noted.
Asean has built-in links with TPP member nations"a good foundation I am optimistic can further be expanded with TPP membership, Purisima said, citing for example that the
region ranked fifth in total trade with the US.
Aseans strength cannot be underestimated, he claimed, saying that in 2013"for the first time ever"FDI into Aseans top five economies was greater than into China.
Taken as a region, the 10-member Asean ranks fourth in world trade, he added.
Thus, I believe admission of Asean as an entire region into the TPP will come out as a net benefit not only for us, but for those who are already members of TPP, Purisima said.//

Author: Mayvelin U. Caraballo
Date: February 05, 2016
Source: Manila Times

MANILA -- For the fourth consecutive year, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has been recognized as among the worlds top think tanks.

In the 2015 Global Go to Think Tank Report and Policy Advice of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, PIDS was included in the list of best think tanks in seven categories. More than 6,600 think tanks from 198 countries were assessed in this round.

PIDS remained the top social policy think tank in South East Asia and was ranked 37th among the top 100 in the world. Other think tanks from Southeast Asia that made it to this category (social policy) were Singapores Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (41st) and Institute for Policy Studies (53rd) and Malaysias Center for Public Policy Studies (66th).

In 2014, PIDS also ranked 37th among 50 nominated think tanks in this category.

PIDS maintained its rankings as among the top international development think tanks (70th out of 128) and among the top education policy think tanks (33rd out of 65).

Moreover, the Institute has been included in four new categories: best think tanks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, best government-affiliated think tanks, and think tanks with the best external relations/public engagement program.

The East Asian Development Network (EADN) Secretariat, which PIDS has been running since 2010, also made it to the list of best think tank networks. The EADN is a network of institutes and centers in developing countries of East Asia. It sponsors research and capacity-building activities for early career researchers.

The Go to Think Tank Index is a comprehensive ranking of the world's top think tanks and has been described as the premier database and measure of world think tanks. It aims to increase the profile, performance, and impact of think tanks, and to create a transnational and interdisciplinary network of centers of public policy excellence.

A total of 4,677 journalists, policymakers, think tanks, and public and private donors from 143 countries participated in the 2015 ranking process.

Established in 1989, the TTCSP aims to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.

Think tanks are public-policy research analysis and engagement organizations that generate policy-oriented research, analysis, and advice on domestic and international issues, thereby enabling policymakers and the public to make informed decisions about public policy.

PIDS is a state-funded think tank devoted to policy research. Its Board of Trustees is chaired by National Economic and Development Authority Director-General and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, with Mr. Romeo Bernardo, Dr. William Padolina, Atty. Raphael Lotilla, and Dr. Gilberto Llanto (PIDS president) as members.

Since its establishment in 1977, PIDS has been engaged in conducting long-term, evidence-based research that serves as inputs in crafting socioeconomic policies for the country. PIDS has completed close to 1,000 studies covering a wide range of issues that encompass macroeconomic, agricultural, trade and industrial policies, health economics, education, environment, natural resource management, urban development and social services, and governance.

In 2015, the Institute completed a number studies evaluating the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects to ascertain whether they are achieving their intended objectives and to ensure that government resources are being used wisely. Impact evaluation helps promote greater transparency and accountability in government. (PIDS)

Author:
Date: February 09, 2016
Source: Pinoy News

LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 9 (PIA) -- Improving the enrollment rate for the individually paying program (IPP) of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is an important component of the governments goal of achieving universal health care for the country, stressed on a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
The country aims to attain universal health care by 2016 when some 100 million Filipinos shall have been enrolled with PhilHealth.
According to PIDS in an email to the PIA Bicol Regional News Desk, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in achieving this goal is the low coverage rate in PhilHealths IPP, the voluntary component of the countrys social health insurance.
PIDS noted that those enrolled in the IPP scheme are individuals who opt to pay for their own membership. They generally include the self-employed, self-earning, and those in occupations without a formal employer-employee relationship.
According to the study by state think tank, the informal sector represents around 43"50 percent of the total labor force. Thus, having a 56-58 percent coverage rate for IPP at the national level at present indicates that over 40 percent of the population who do not qualify as dependents and are not employed in the formal sector have no health insurance coverage.
The study also noted that given the voluntary nature of the IPP, it has become an important point of focus for the expansion of the social health insurance in achieving universal coverage. The IPP contrasts with PhilHealths employed program where health insurance coverage for employees is mandatory.
Thus, for better and more efficient targeting of the sectors of the population that are otherwise difficult to capture, PIDS researcher and author of the study, Denise Valerie Silfverberg, looked into the determinants of enrollment into the IPP.
According to Silfverberg, the availability of health-care resources appears to be an important consideration in terms of the level of IPP coverage, particularly in provinces. Bed-population and health professional-population ratios come out significantly positive. This result is an indication of the importance of having the resources at reasonable proximity, she noted.
Silfverberg further explained that in order for individuals to take the decision to enroll into health insurance scheme, they must first see its value. Thus, availability and accessibility of health-care services, she said, is a crucial determinant in the decision to avail or not to avail of health insurance.
For certain provinces that are more geographically constrained, government providers can address this problem through the provision of mobile clinics or the augmentation of district hospitals especially in geographically isolated areas. Both can be done through public-private partnership, the author recommended.
The PIDS study also observed that the greater the number of private hospitals, the more likely it is for the province to have higher coverage rates. This indicates that the existence of private hospitals seemingly encourages individuals to enroll into the health insurance scheme, presumably with the notion that if care is sought, they can avail of private medical services with the use of PhilHealth.
This recommendation is not to undermine government health services providers. By supporting the health insurance system, and in effect promoting enrollment, the consumers are able to decide which services to avail of. This fosters market competition that could encourage unsustainable public health services providers to innovate in order to compete with the rest of the market, Silfverberg maintained.
The study also concluded that income levels do not appear to be a factor in determining the level of insurance coverage of a province. This is demonstrated by two results"the magnitude and significance of the average household income of the nonpoor population and the real income per capita of the province.
Since income does not appear to be a barrier in obtaining health insurance for the nonpoor segment of the population, it denotes that something else is. Silfverberg noted there is an impression that if the coverage offered by health insurance will not account for the majority of their health expenditures, the individual will see no need to avail of health insurance. She recommended that a study should be conducted on out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures incurred by outpatient services. If high OOPs are established, this would be a basis, she explained, for expanding the current outpatient benefit package of PhilHealth to include those who are part of the voluntary program as well.
Lastly, it was observed that the size of certain sectors has a significant effect on the IPP coverage levels of a province. Thus, PhilHealth should target certain employment sectors such as the agricultural sector and those employed in manual labor where workers are more likely to have lower coverage rates. According to the PIDS study, identifying sectors that employ individuals who are less likely to avail of health insurance will allow for a targeted approach to achieving universal coverage.
The study also recommended the creation of programs similar to the Kalusugang Sigurado at Abot-Kaya sa PhilHealth Insurance, which partners with local nongovernment organizations and rural banks, as a way to expand into certain employment sectors that tend to have low coverage levels. (MAL/PIDS/PIA5)

Author:
Date: February 09, 2016
Source: PIA

To help more young Filipinos obtain a college degree, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) should improve student loans, according to a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a PIDS discussion paper, former National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Director General Dante B. Canlas said many Filipinos fail to enroll in college because of financial constraints.

It is seen that the income gap between college and high-school graduates has been widening as a result largely of increasing labor-market demand for skills, Canlas said.

Investment in college education is, thus, a worthy undertaking. But since households finance college education out of their own pockets, in the absence of credit markets for higher education, only the ones with initial wealth endowments can afford college education, he added.

Canlas said student loans can encourage students to be more diligent in their studies and conscious about looking for quality jobs that will enable them to repay their loans.

The former Neda chief said the CHED must lead the legislation of a national loan program for student.

He said a grant mechanism for state universities and colleges (SUCs) must be built into the program.

Canlas said if SUCs are able to institute loan programs with minimal loan defaults, these SUCs must be rewarded with more grants.

However, if some SUCs incur large loan defaults, the eligibility of the SUCs for the loan program will be withdrawn or suspended.

Further, Canlas said the national government can make student loans admissible as tax credit in terms of paying income taxes.

The government has a warranted role to play amid absent markets for college-education loans. Some needs are not met, with foregone human welfare, Canlas said.

Apart from loans, Canlas said the CHED can also help determine the budget allocations for SUCs per region and set content standards in core courses and subjects.

He added that the CHED can also devise standardized tests for determining compliance with content standards of both public and private higher-education institutions (HEIs).

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Canlas said Filipinos with college degrees earn better than those who only finished their secondary or primary education.

PSA data showed, Canlas said, that in food manufacturing, the monthly wage of food technologists is about twice that of unskilled workers.

Canlas added that in wholesale and retail trade, the wage ratio for professionals to unskilled workers is more than twice.

In computer programming, he added, the wage ratio for electronics engineers to unskilled is about four to seven times.

In several occupation groups, the wage of the top group is at least twice that of the unskilled workers wage, Canlas said.

Too early to protest tuition hike

In a related development, CHED Chairman Patricia B. Licuanan, in response to premature protests staged by students regarding the rising costs of higher education in the country, clarified in a statement that it is too early in the year to be able to determine the number of HEIs that will increase tuition and/or other school fees.

According to Licuanan, HEIs have until end of February to comply with the consultation process as stipulated in the CHEDs guidelines governing tuition and other school fees.

The HEIs are given until April 1 to submit duly notarized documentary requirements to their CHED regional office should they decide to increase fees.

Only then can realistic numbers be determined, Licuanan said.

Licuanan also assured that the CHED will carefully assess the proposed increases, ensuring that colleges and universities will comply with the guidelines before enforcing higher tuition fees.

The CHED will ensure that HEIs meet the guidelines provided by law and adhere strictly to requirements that seek to make tuition increases transparent, reasonable and affordable, she stressed.

Earlier, the Kabataan Party-list and the National Union of Students of the Philippines claimed about 400 colleges and universities are planning to increase tuition for the academic year 2016-2017.

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 09, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

The stench of manure, mud-filled paddies and back-breaking work are what most children of Filipino farmers, like Richard Visto, associate with farming.

Visto worked on their farm in Catanduanes province at an early age. For years, he and his parents tilled the land that will never belong to them. Their life revolved around the changing seasons and the storms that threatened to wipe out their crops.

Farming was the be all and end all of their existence. While it sustained Visto and his family, it never gave them a decent life. And Visto knew he could never live like his parents forever.

Visto was fortunate enough to obtain a scholarship and he used his education as his ticket out of farming. He left Catanduanes and found work in Manila. But, conditions were not ideal, forcing him to find greener pastures abroad.

Visto is one of 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who sought a better life in a foreign land. He currently works as a welder for an oil and gas refinery and petrochemical firm in the deserts of Saudi Arabia.

This June I will mark my third year in Saudi Arabia. My earnings are not enough that is why I decided to go abroad, Visto told the BusinessMirror in an e-mail.

Working abroad and earning dollars would allow him to save a little. Despite this, Visto said he is no longer keen on going back to farming should he decide to come home for good.

We now live in a modern era. If you go back to farming, you will be left behind, Visto said.

Children of Filipino farmers could not be faulted for their apparent aversion to farming. For one, data obtained from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the average real daily wage of farmworkers was pegged at only P122.01, or $2.77, in 2011.

Male farmworkers earn higher at P123.57, or $2.81 per day, while women earned an average of P115.54, or $2.63 a day. The daily pay of farmworkers in the Philippines is even lower than some of the favorite drinks of Filipinos sold in coffee shops.

This is why farmers continue to be regarded as among the poorest of Filipinos. The nationwide average poverty-incidence rate among farmers was pegged at 38.3 percent in 2012, higher than the 25.2-percent national average.

Among the regions, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao registered the highest poverty-incidence rate among farmers at 58 percent. In Catanduanes poverty incidence among farmers was at 33.8 percent in 2012. This was higher than the 29.1 percent recorded in 2009.

These figures could be baffling to casual observers as the Philippines remains a predominantly agricultural country. While agricultures share in the countrys GDP has dwindled to just 10 percent in recent years, it still accounts for 30 percent of the labor force.



Government neglect

Economists said the governments neglect of agriculture is the major culprit behind the difficulties currently confronting farmers. They said millions of farmers remain mired in poverty due to the governments underinvestment in agriculture.

Also, economists said the governments wrong priorities made it more difficult for farmers to become competitive. For one, Philippine Institute for Development Studies research fellow Roehlano Briones said the national government has focused too much of its resources on planting rice, the countrys staple.

Many blame this on the national governments initiative of attaining rice self-sufficiency. In 2007 former National Economic and Development Authority National Planning and Policy Staff Director Dennis Arroyo said encouraging farmers to just plant rice is tantamount to trapping farmers in poverty.

Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan, one of the countrys foremost rural economists, said the Aquino administration erred when it prioritized rice production.

Our self-sufficiency paradigm might have to be revisited. In some cases, it has been very costly, said Balisacan, a former Economic Planning secretary.

As we have seen in some cases, it has been very costly. For example, in the case of rice in 2013-2014, when domestic prices shot up as global prices were declining, our poverty incidence rose rather than declined, even as the economy grew faster, he added.

The governments underinvestment in agriculture has also uncompetitive practices in the sector to flourish. In a 2011 study, Harvests and Hardships: Analyzing Overseas Migration and Philippine Rural Development, middlemen were found to have earned more than farmers.

The study, authored by Ma. Cristina Carmina Gregorio and Jeremaiah Opiniano, said middlemen can earn anywhere from 66 percent to as much as 267 percent of farm-gate prices, depending on the commodity.

Ateneo de Manila University Eagle Watch senior fellow Alvin Ang attributed this to the problems with the structure of markets in provinces and municipalities.

More often than not, [the problem] really is the market structure in rural areas, where it is heavily dominated by middlemen. Only a few farmers can really earn [from their produce], Ang said.

Due to the unattractiveness of agriculture as a possible investment destination, Ang said children of farmers who work abroad do not reinvest in the sector. More often than not, OFWs go into selling fast-moving goods and services such as consumer goods and construction materials.



Lack of safety nets

The farmers lack of education and their inability to access social services have also made it difficult for their children to appreciate farming. Visto said the possibility of not having savings or a nest egg after years of tilling the land was also a major factor behind his decision to go abroad.

While farmers can become members of the Social Security System (SSS), SSS Vice President for Public Affairs Marissu G. Bugante said many of them fail to pay their contributions. As of December 2015, Bugante said 525,058 farmers are listed as either self-employed or employed members of the SSS. However, only 90,261 farmers are currently paying their contributions.

She said the invariable income of farmers, which are almost always dependent on good weather, makes it difficult for them to pay their contributions regularly. Compounding the problem, Bugante said, is the farmers inability to inform SSS and keep track of their contributions.

Bugante said this is unfortunate as the SSS can provide loans to farmers to help them buy inputs and assist them with their medical needs.

To address the needs of farmers, Bugante said the SSS has introduced various programs, including the AlkanSSSya program, where the SSS partners with various associations to collect daily, instead of monthly, SSS contributions from members.

She added that the AlkanSSSya program can be tapped by farmers associations to enable farmers to submit contributions and have access to SSS benefits. Bugante said the SSS has also has partnerships with local government units and the Department of Agriculture for the partial or full subsidy of farmers contributions.

We are still studying ways on how we can best provide protection to the farmers, she added.

Despite these efforts, Visto said he would rather work abroad where every dollar earned is equivalent to around P47. He has four children who are all in primary school, so going home in the near future is still out of the question.

One thing is certain though, Visto is never going back to farming.

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 08, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

A study released by the state-owned think tank the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) urged the inclusion of the Complete Treatment Pack (Compack) Program in local government plans.
In a policy note, titled Assessment of the Compack Program, PIDS consultant Dennis B. Batangan said that, while the program have had positive effects, problems hounded its implementation.
The Compack Program was an expanded version of the P100 Treatment Pack Program of the Department of Health (DOH). It was pilot-tested in Mindoro Oriental and other provinces.
Ensure the integration of the Compack Program with local government unit [LGU] development plans. Include definite provisions on the prioritization of beneficiaries, specifically Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps] beneficiaries, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. [PhilHealth] members and non-PhilHealth members, Batangan said.
Include civil-society and private-sector representatives in the conduct of national and local Compack Program implementation reviews, he added.
Batangan said the DOH should also continue to address the unstable and incorrect supply of medicines, as well as delays in the dissemination of program updates.
He added that integrating the Compack with other DOH programs, such as the Doctors to the Barrios Program and Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN Heals).
[The DOH must also] integrate the recording and reporting of the Compack Program into the PhilHealth e-pharmacy module and Shared Health Record of the Philippine Health Information Exchange, he said.
During implementation, Batangan said there were inconsistencies in applying the Compack Program guidelines, especially with respect to PhilHealth benefit packages.
The Compack medicines were provided for free to Conditional- Cash Transfer beneficiaries who are also enrolled in PhilHealth and the patients at the rural health unit who may or may not be covered by PhilHealth.
The medicines made available through the Compack, he said, were also subjected to numerous clarifications by LGUs.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 09, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Gauging the efficacy of enrollment in PhilHealths Employed Program will help policymakers in the health sector determine a more effective approach in achieving the goal of universal coverage.
Last year, PhilHealth officials iterated their commitment to achieving universal coverage by 2016.
President Benigno Aquino III signed an amendment of the National Health Insurance Act highlighting the responsibility of the national government to cover the health insurance premiums of Filipinos in the informal sector.
However, full coverage in the formal sector also needs due attention and improvement. Thirty percent of PhilHealths members come from the formal economy where enrollment is mandatory.
But based on a study by state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), full coverage is yet to be achieved.
The private sector coverage is at 95 percent, while the government employed sector sits at 75 percent. Denise Valerie Silfverberg, author of the study, argues that examining the level of PhilHealth coverage and enrollment in the formal sector will help policymakers bridge that gap.
Silfverberg surmised that the gap in coverage can be explained by looking at how some agencies comply with labor policy. For example, the low coverage rates may be attributed to the significant number of contractual employees in government who do not enjoy the benefits of being enrolled in PhilHealth.
The perpetuation of contractual employees " something the private sector is just as guilty " allows firms and agencies to stall enrollment of employees into the PhilHealth Employed Program and withhold appropriate benefits.
But companies deliberately shortchanging employees are not just the only flaws. Variations of enrollment rate can also be produced by characteristics that set the private and government sector apart, and other factors like establishment size and area.
For the private sector, sectoral employment, nature of employment, union coverage, union-employees ration, and number of employees all influence variations of coverage rate. But in the provinces, it is the size of the firm that matters.
More employees hired by medium-sized establishments lead to a higher likelihood for the province to have lower coverage, Silfverberg pointed out, On the contrary, the greater the number of employees in large-sized enterprises, the more likely it is for the province to have higher coverage levels.
Silfverberg concluded that before the country can work toward full coverage, policymakers must find a way to address the problems that impede effective implementation of the national health insurance program. Enrollment should be more targeted, depending on the sectors where undercoverage occurs the most.
Monitoring by PhilHealth should also be strengthened. Medium-sized establishments, surmised by Silfverberg, are more likely to short change employees when it comes to health insurance enrollment if they are not closely monitored.
Employers have to be held accountable to follow the labor code provision on employee regularization. The rules are often undermined by resorting to a six-month cycle to prevent employees from being regularized, and to refrain from giving them their due benefits.
Employers " both public and private " should enroll their employees into the program, whether they are regular or casual. Compliance at the local government level should be also closely monitored. After all, it would be harder to close the gap if government units themselves do not implement the health insurance program in their own offices.//

Author:
Date: February 14, 2016
Source: Manila Bulletin

US financial group J.P. Morgan said the Philippine economy will remain strong, despite the outcome of the presidential election in May.
In our view, we do not see the presidential election as a game-changing event to the economy or equity market, J.P. Morgan said in its Asia Pacific Equity Research over the weekend.
We think post-election policy changes are remote given that economic planning is institutionalized, particularly fiscal reforms that were put in place over the last two administrations, it said.
The US bank said there could be risks on policy execution depending on who won the election. It said Vice President Jejomar Binays strength would be his long experience in government and his track record as a pragmatic government executive. Binays government-style of emphasis on the lower socio-economic echelon might also help improve inclusive growth, it said.
However, the perceived lack of good governance and the extent of the corruption charges are reasons why Binay does not appear to be popular with the middle class and educated voters, it said.
J.P. Morgan said presidential candidate Rodrigo Dutertes biggest weakness was his lack of political machinery to wage a nationwide campaign, while Senator Grace Poes disqualification cases sapped her popularity.
The bottom line for this election, in our opinion, is for the electoral process to be completed in a peaceful and credible manner, J.P. Morgan said.
The continuation of policy reforms after the Aquino administration is one of the hottest issues usually tackled in different economic fora in the country.
Some sectors have expressed concern on whether the next administration could sustain the reforms instituted over the past several years.
Government think-tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies said earlier that slower global growth and the next administrations uncertain commitment on policy reforms and good governance could pose major risks to the Philippine economy this year.
PIDS president Gilbert Llanto said in a report the issue of succession after the May presidential election had provoked several questions, such as if the next leader would be as committed to policy reform and improved governance.//
Llanto said the challenge to the electorate was to select a leader who would not flinch at the sight of difficult reforms. On the contrary, he said, they should have the courage to make bold policy decisions and inspire the government machinery to implement them.
The economy grew 5.8 percent in 2015, slower than the governments target of 7 percent to 8 percent for the year and 6.1-percent growth in 2014.
This year, the government also expects the economy to grow between 7 percent and 8 percent.//

Author: Julito G. Rada
Date: February 14, 2016
Source: Manila Standard Today

In a couple of months, tens of thousands of college graduates will, once more, join the workforce. The unemployment rate in the Philippines is projected to be 6.2 percent by the end of this quarter. From 1994 to 2015 the average unemployment rate has been 8.78 percent, way higher than our neighbors in the Asia Pacific region. In Malaysia, the average unemployment rate is 3.4 percent; in Thailand, 2.3 percent; in Singapore, 3.4 percent; in Vietnam, 5.6 percent, China, 3.9 percent; and Taiwan, 4.3 percent. Only Indonesia has an unemployment rate close to ours, that is, 8.9 percent.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies said that in the Philippines, unemployment is a time bomb. Between 2005 and 2030, the labor force will increase from 32 million to about 52 million.

Yet it is befuddling why, in some sectors, there are many available jobs, but few qualify to fill up the vacancies. In the food sector, for instance, there is a dearth of workers with skills in cooking, food preservation, etc. Generally, companies have difficulty searching for accountants, bookkeepers, competent drivers, among others. In the medical sector while there is a glut of nurses, there has been a shortage of CT scan operators, cardio technicians, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, etc.

Studies reveal that 22 percent of the unemployed have attended college while 19 percent have graduated from college. What does this indicate? That there is a serious disconnect between what schools teach and the demand of the jobs market. Students are not acquiring the skills they need to fill up available jobs when they graduate. Schools still offer, and students still enroll in, traditional courses without so much as examining the demand of industries.

The quality of graduates has also steadily declined such that professions requiring qualifying examinations such as medicine, accountancy, library science, and others suffer high failing rates. In nursing, for example, the passing rate in 1998 was 55.8 percent. In 2006, it went down to 45 percent and in 2010, it was a low of 39 percent. Thus, those who desperately need jobs but do not qualify in their desired professions settle for work as domestic helpers or nannies and blue-collar workers, either here or abroad. Still, there is a greater number of the unemployed who are unable to take on available jobs because they are not connected with what they learned.

However, more than the disconnect between education and the need of industries, the real cause of massive unemployment in the Philippines can be blamed on government. It has failed to create the needed climate to attract investors and, on its own, to create jobs. Our 29-year-old Constitution had long needed revisions to make the country more competitive amidst globalization yet, President Benigno S. Aquino III has consistently refused to allow any change to it, ignoring calls to lift its too restrictive provisions. If the President did not want to touch his mothers Constitution, the very least he could have done in his term was to create as many jobs as possible to reduce the growing unemployment. The construction of infrastructure like the north rail train system, a mass public transport system, an improved MRT, more irrigation systems, and more farm to market roads, among a host of others, would have spurred opportunities to make a living. At the same time, it would have created jobs in the process.

The great American President who won a record four presidential elections, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, led the United States during a time of worldwide depression and total war. In his first 100 days in office, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented major legislations and issued numerous executive orders that instituted the New Deal. This involved a variety of programs designed to produce government jobs for the unemployed. The federal government played a big role in the US economy, allowing its people to survive the great depression and rise to make a great nation.

Then again, not only President Aquino should take the heat. We are where we are for the collective failure of our leaders to focus on real progress more than their political and self-seeking goals. We can continue asking ourselves every election period, will we produce this time a leader who will aim to attain even half as much as what President Roosevelt had done to the American economy? If you ask the former Chief Justice, Reynato S. Puno, he will tell you that elections will change nothing unless we change our political structure to one of federal-parliamentary.//

Email:ritalindaj@gmail.com

Author: Rita Linda V. Jimeno
Date: February 15, 2016
Source: The Standard

LEGISLATION creating a separate agency to undertake foreign trade agreements was approved by the Senate yesterday, sending that chambers version into bicameral session where it will be harmonized with the House version approved as early as 2014.

Senate Bill (SB) No. 2922, the proposed law creating a Philippine Trade Representative Office (PTRO), was passed on third and final reading on Monday, setting up sessions to reconcile the measure with House Bill No. 5076.

SB No. 2922 received all affirmative votes from the 16 lawmakers present during the days plenary session.

Under the measure, a PTRO will be created to conduct and handle all foreign trade policy formulation and negotiations -- a function already being performed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, and to some extent, by some government line agencies.

The measure is expected to improve foreign investment in the Philippines, which continues to lag its Asian neighbors.

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, net foreign direct investment stood at $4.987 billion in the 10 months to October, which pales beside Singapores $48.648 billion, Indonesias $16.906 billion, Malaysias $7.817 billion and Thailands $6.311 billion, all achieved in first nine months.

During the legislative process, the DTIs Office of Policy Research said that the PTRO will only replicate the departments functions. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the National Economic Development Authority, on the other hand, took the position of strengthening DTIs authority in trade negotiations rather than creating a new agency.

The measure was supported by the government think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies, which recommended responsibility for a single agency to eliminate turf wars among the various government line agencies and accelerate the governments decision making on trade issues. --

Author: Alden M. Monzon
Date: February 01, 2016
Source: BusinessWorld

After successfully holding its first lecture series last November, the Senate will conduct its second lecture series tomorrow (Feb. 16) entitled the "Comparative Assessment of Proposals to Amend Personal Income Tax Law" at the Senator Laurel and Pecson Room, Senate building in Pasay City.
Senate Economic Planning Office Director General Ronald Golding said the holding of the series of forums dubbed the "Centennial Lecture Series" is part of the Senate's activities for the year-long centennial celebration from October 2015 to October 2016.
Golding said Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, would open the forum with a message at 9:30 a.m. and Dr. Rosario Manasan, senior researcher of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), would present her papers on the Comparative Assessment of Proposals to Amend Personal Income Tax Law at 9:40 a.m.
Manasan's presentation will be followed by discussions from Dir. Elsa Agustin of the Department of Finance's Fiscal Policy and Rena Manuel, former president of the Planning Office and Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP). Senate Secretary Oscar Yabes will give his closing remarks at the end of the lecture.
The Senate is celebrating its centennial year from October 2015 to October 2016 under Proclamation No. 1091 signed last August 7, 2015 by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
The proclamation calls on all national government offices, government-owned or controlled corporations (GOCCs), and local government units (LGUs), to support and extend "assistance and cooperation to the Senate in the observance of its Centennial year."
"The lecture series is part of our activities for the centennial celebration. We held a forum on the Assessment of Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) process for Fiscal Year 2015 last Nov. 5. We plan to hold four more lectures or forums until October this year, the culmination of our centennial anniversary," Golding said.
He said the lectures aim to provide legislators, their staff and the public, a deeper understanding of the pending measures in Congress.
For instance, Golding said, the adjustment of income tax system is a subject of pending bills filed by Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto (Senate Bill 716), Sen. Bam Aquino (Senate Bill 1942, Angara (Senate Bill (2149), Representative Miro Quimbo (House Bill 4829) and Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate (House Bill 5401).
"Bills on the adjustment of the income tax system have been in the legislative mill for many years now. The current bills that were filed on the subject were not approved in the present Congress. Most likely they will be in the agenda of the 17th Congress," he said.
A November 2015 PIDS study showed that the Philippines has one of the highest personal income tax rates among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
Golding said they will write a report of the lectures and disseminate them to the Senators' offices as well as other Senate offices.//

Author:
Date: February 15, 2016
Source: Senate Press Releases

The next administration would have to amend the current personal income-tax (PIT) scheme, as it is unfair to workers who are not high earners but are taxed heavily, according to experts from the government and the private sector.
In the Senate Centennial Lecture Series on Tuesday, experts from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), Department of Finance (DOF) and the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (Tmap) all agreed that the countrys tax system needs to change.
Specifically, the countrys Pit has not been updated since 1997. This has resulted in what is called bracket creep, where low-income taxpayers hurt more than their high-income counterparts.
Actually, theres no debate as far as the DOF is concerned. We believe that the personal income-tax structure needs changes. Our position is that we must be fiscally responsible and we must also have compensatory measures, said DOF Fiscal Policy and Planning Office Director Elsa Agustin.
Bracket creep, Pids Senior Research Fellow Rosario G. Manasan said, has occurred because of the non-indexation to inflation of Pit brackets.
This means that the coverage of each tax bracket does not take into consideration the current value of the peso.
Manasan said this presents a problem because the current value of the Philippine peso, using the 2014 Consumer Price Index (CPI), is already less than half of its value in 1998.
This means that an annual income of P210,000 a year in 2014 is only equivalent to P105,000 in 1998. Adjusting this to reflect purchasing power in 1998, Manasan said taxpayers earning P210,000 should only pay P15,500, or 14.8 percent, instead of P40,000, or 19 percent.
Because of bracket creep, individual income taxpayers have to pay at least twice as much taxes in 2014 even if their purchasing power has not changed, Manasan said in a presentation.
Bracket creep is regressive"taxpayers in lower-income-tax brackets hurt more than their better-off counterparts, she added.
Former TMAP President Rina Manuel said whoever wins in the May presidential elections must implement changes to the Pit.
This is what TMAP aimed to address in their proposed tax reform. The TMAP proposal includes a lump sum exemption of P300,000 for all taxpayers, regardless of income, gender and marital status.
A 10-percent tax on income in excess of P300,000 but not more than P500,000 will be imposed. This will gradually increase to as much as 30 percent of the excess of P2.5 million.
We need to reform our personal-income-tax law to achieve the objectives of fairness, simplicity, broad bases and low-tax rates in doing so, we will be able to encourage greater compliance among individual tax players and consequently improve tax collection for the government, Manuel said.
Manasan, however said, indexing tax brackets to inflation is not the only reform needed by the Pit. As early as now, she said presidential aspirants must find ways to make Pit more equitable.
She said comprehensive reform in the tax system does not only mean changing tax rates and indexing income brackets to inflation but also improving tax administration as well.
According to the senior research fellow of the Pids, this will be crucial not only in terms of collecting tax from individual taxpayers but from companies as well.
It would be good for taxpayers to know where candidates stand in terms of fiscal policy and other policy issues, Manasan said.
There are currently six proposals to amend the income tax scheme from both houses of Congress as well as the private sector through the TMAP.
These include Senate Bills 716 by Senator Ralph G. Recto; 1942 by Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV; and 2149 by Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara.
While Manasan admitted that the government would lose revenues, she said there are compensatory measures that can be undertaken to make up for these losses.
She recommended increasing the value-added tax (VAT) by 1-percentage point for every P25-billion of revenue loss incurred by the government from cutting income taxes.
Manasan said augmenting government revenues is necessary because of the financing requirements needed to improve infrastructure and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Since VAT is a consumption tax, she said it could also cover non-wage income earners such as those classified as self-employed who earn from the practice of a profession.
Manasan estimated that the effective PIT rates on wage earners was significantly higher at 5.3 percent compared to the effective PIT rates on self-employed and professionals at 1.5 percent using 2014 data.
Her data showed that the effective tax rate of the self-employed and professionals have been consistent at 1.5 percent since 2012 whereas the effective tax rate for wage earners has been increasing to 4.9 percent in 2012, 5 percent in 2013, and 5.3 percent in 2014 from 4.7 percent in 2011.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 15, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

A study released by the state-owned think tank the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) urged the inclusion of the Complete Treatment Pack (Compack) Program in local government plans.
In a policy note, titled Assessment of the Compack Program, PIDS consultant Dennis B. Batangan said that, while the program have had positive effects, problems hounded its implementation.
The Compack Program was an expanded version of the P100 Treatment Pack Program of the Department of Health (DOH). It was pilot-tested in Mindoro Oriental and other provinces.
Ensure the integration of the Compack Program with local government unit [LGU] development plans. Include definite provisions on the prioritization of beneficiaries, specifically Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps] beneficiaries, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. [PhilHealth] members and non-PhilHealth members, Batangan said.
Include civil-society and private-sector representatives in the conduct of national and local Compack Program implementation reviews, he added.
Batangan said the DOH should also continue to address the unstable and incorrect supply of medicines, as well as delays in the dissemination of program updates.
He added that integrating the Compack with other DOH programs, such as the Doctors to the Barrios Program and Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service (RN Heals).
[The DOH must also] integrate the recording and reporting of the Compack Program into the PhilHealth e-pharmacy module and Shared Health Record of the Philippine Health Information Exchange, he said.
During implementation, Batangan said there were inconsistencies in applying the Compack Program guidelines, especially with respect to PhilHealth benefit packages.
The Compack medicines were provided for free to Conditional- Cash Transfer beneficiaries who are also enrolled in PhilHealth and the patients at the rural health unit who may or may not be covered by PhilHealth.
The medicines made available through the Compack, he said, were also subjected to numerous clarifications by LGUs.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 16, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines " Survey ratings of national candidates are staple fare most especially during the election season.
Campaign strategies are built around survey results while image makers work on their candidates based on information derived from these surveys.
The horse race is fueled by poll results as voters indicate early preferences for candidates running for election. (READ: Should we trust surveys and opinion polls?)
In all these, statisticians and pollsters alike use terms whose meanings and nuances may be lost on ordinary folks like us. Beyond who's leading and trailing, here are common terms you're likely to encounter when reading about political survey results.
What's the difference between percentage and percentage points?
Percentage and percentage point are two terms that are commonly misused, especially in data stories.
The difference, however, is very simple. Simply put, a percentage point is used to measure the difference between two percentages, say, 24% and 20%.
For example, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) national survey showed presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte with a preference rating of 24%. This means that Duterte's rating increased 4 percentage points from January's 20%.
What's a margin of error? How is it determined and interpreted?
A margin of error indicates the "maximum expected difference" between the true population paramater and the estimates from the sample size.
It's usually determined by the sample size " the subset or portion of a population that was surveyed or asked to reply to poll questions.
The margin of error can be obtained using a formula. First, get the square root of the survey sample size. Second, divide 1 by that square root. And third, multiply the product by 100 to get the percentage.
For example, the latest Pulse Asia nationwide survey on presidential candidates had a sample size of 1,800. The square root of 1,800 is 42.4. If you divide 1 by 42.4, you get .02 multiplied by 100 to get 2%.
The margin of error is indirectly proportional to the sample size. As the sample size increases, the margin of error decreases.
In survey results, the margin of error is the percentage with the plus and minus sign or . To apply or interpret a margin of error of 2%, you need to add and subtract two percentage points from the survey rating.
For example, if 50% of sampled Filipino voters are in favor of Juan Dela Cruz, it is certain that 48% (50% minus 2%) up to 52% (50% plus 2%) of the population will vote for Dela Cruz, factoring in the computed margin of error.
What does confidence level mean?
A survey's confidence level simply shows how sure you are about results reflecting the true percentage of the population being found within the margin of error (also called the confidence interval).
Pollsters usually set the confidence level at between 90% to 99%. Applied to Dela Cruz's 50% rating, a 95% confidence level with a 2% margin of error simply means you are 95% sure that 48% to 52% of the entire population prefer Dela Cruz.
How does sample size affect the outcome of a survey?
Dr Jose Ramon Albert, professional statistician and senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, explained that the sample size affects the sample error or the fluctuations in estimates.
The bigger the sample, the higher chances the rating or estimate is precise.
Increasing the sample size, however has its costs, Albert said. "It increases non-sampling errors as it is more challenging to have operations where you have to count everyone," he explained.
Non-sampling errors refer to instances that may cause biases in survey results such as non-inclusion of a certain group, untruthful answers, and a low response rate.
What's a statistical tie? Why is it important?
A statistical tie occurs when ratings of two candidates fall within the margin of error " even if their ratings are different.
An example of a statistical tie is evident in the September 2-5, 2015 SWS polls. The 3-point margin of error in the survey puts Grace Poe's 26% within the range of 23% to 29%, Jejomar Binay's 24% from 21% to 27%, and Mar Roxas' 20% from 17% to 23%.
According to Albert, without factoring in the margin of error, a report that does not point out a statistical tie could be inaccurate.
What's the difference between plurality and majority?
A majority is more than half the total number. A plurality refers to the biggest number but is still not more than half of the total.
If applied to elections, if Dela Cruz gets 78 out of the 100 registered votes, he wins by a majority. If he gets only 40 votes, while Juan Tamad and Jose Bautista get 28 and 32 votes, respectively, Dela Cruz wins by a mere plurality.
Interpretation and importance of surveys
Several national candidates often dismiss survey results, stating that the real survey is the May 9 elections. Meanwhile, sentiments of Filipinos online are usually against these surveys. (READ: Survey ratings for sale? Senatorial bets receives offer)
On the contrary, however, aspirants " at least their parties " also conduct internal surveys to gauge voters preference. (READ: Of internal surveys and 2016 candidacies)
Amid doubts on surveys, Albert believes that reputable outfits' processes can be trusted although they may differ from each other.
"Reputable poll outfits such as SWS and Pulse Asia have similar but not exactly the same methodologies," he said. "They use random samples but their methods for selecting may not be fully similar and both have a professional set of staff."
The estimates, however, should not be dismissed. Although volatile and voters' preferences may change, Albert said that these usually "stabilize until about two weeks before the elections when people's preferences crystallize."
He cited the 2010 elections when Roxas committed "a big mistake of not seeing what the surveys where showing."
"Binay was starting to inch up on his lead," Albert said. "And by the time he realized Binay was close, it was too late to make interventions."
Candidates, he said, should be "wise enough not to dismiss surveys".
"(Survey results) provide a snapshot of how people think at a particular moment in time," Albert explained. "If they want to win, they better understand surveys and what these surveys mean."//

Author: Jodesz Gavilan
Date: February 18, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

CEBU barangays were urged to take part in the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by supporting the small businesses in their areas.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) vice president for business development and management services division Melanie Ng urged officials from 80 barangays in Cebu City encourage businesses to become part of the ASEAN supply chain.
We encourage businesses in the barangay to become suppliers or producers in the supply chain, Ng said during the CCCI-led Asean 101: The Barangay as Enabler of Economic Development forum held at the Golden Prince Hotel in Cebu City yesterday.
We can no longer underestimate the importance of our MSMEs in the ASEAN integration, said National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) 7 Officer-in-Charge Dionisio Ledres, Jr., a speaker in yesterdays forum.
Ledres asked barangay officials to provide a business-friendly climate to MSMEs by simplifying regulations and processes.
Help them out, Ledres told barangay officials.
For Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) chair Philip Zafra, CCCIs reaching out to the barangays helps them assist their constituents.
Zafra said each barangay in Cebu City is alloted P6 to P10 million each year for development, which is mainly poured into infrastructure projects.
Zafra said better infrastructure, like paved roads in mountain barangays, has helped develop trade and commerce in far-flung areas within Cebu City.
The ABC chair also clarified that barangay clearances do not take too much time, as opposed to a local businessmans experience, unless the nature of business is in extensive developments like housing and manufacturing. In this case, Zafra said the barangay would requires businesses to comply with certain requirements like water-catchment facilities for housing projects.
The challenge of our MSMEs in the barangay are financing and quality, Ng said. She said CCCI can help alongside government agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for barangay-level businesses improve product quality.
Ng, quoting study on local service delivery by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the United Nations Childrens Fund (Unicef), said that most barangays are missing the development authority to practice fiscal governance and good financial management, and that many barangays are not efficiently and effectively spending their limited funds for programs, activities, and projects with high economic development impact.
You can create an environment conducive to business development and can promote a vibrant economic tempo so that your constituents will be inspired to participate actively. You should not rely on IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) and instead become financially independent, Ng told barangay officials.//

Author: Jeandie O. Galolo
Date: February 23, 2016
Source: Freeman

Five multisector agriculture coalitions on Thursday cited what they considered were missing elements in the action plans for agriculture presented by the five presidential contenders in the recently concluded 10-part Inquirer series, Election 2016: Agenda of the Next President.
The agriculture initiatives involving poverty, economy and jobs, and food security mentioned by the five presidential candidates in the Inquirer series are needed and appreciated.
Examples are: Build climate-resilient agricultural communities (from Jejomar Binay); Build infrastructure to facilitate transport of produce to markets (from Rodrigo Duterte); Ensure crop quantity and quality (from Grace Poe); Provide more opportunities for farmers to pull themselves out of poverty (from Mar Roxas); and Emphasize effective use of land and other resources (from Miriam Defensor-Santiago).
The five coalitions, however, identified six priority issues that the five candidates should address in a strategic manner.
First is strengthening the bureaucracy of the Department of Agriculture (DA). The DA should help orchestrate where the country is going and institute an effective management system to facilitate the achievement of this direction.
Though the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has submitted 29 subsector road maps to the government think tank, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, the DA has not submitted even one.
Implementation is also a critical issue. Though the DTI bureaucracy requires each unit to have a globally accepted management system such as ISO 9000, the DA is sorely lacking in this regard. Thus, implementation significantly suffers.
Agri councils
The second priority issue is stakeholder participation. The legally mandated Agricultural and Fishery Councils (AFCs) at the national, regional and provincial levels have the highest representation from the private sector. However, the DA representatives serve at low levels.
Consequently, important decisions and actions cannot be made in a timely manner. Furthermore, the DA-funded projects are not systematically made known to the AFCs, especially at the local level.
This does not make possible budget monitoring of the private sector. The result is much budget misuse and even corruption.
The third is agriculture extension. The 17,000 agriculture extension workers from the DA have been devolved to the local government units. Unfortunately, the large majority are not effectively supervised.
The result is poor technology transfer and low productivity. Though research is also an important issue, the use of this research through effective extension is even more important.
Credit, insurance
The fourth is credit and insurance. Unfortunately, access to credit and adequate insurance are not provided to our agricultural producers.
For example, the Land Bank of the Philippines 2014 Annual Report states that only 9 percent of its P386-billion loanable fund went to its mandated sector of small farmers and fisherfolk.
Can Land Bank learn from agricultural banks in our neighboring countries to provide much more credit to this neglected sector? This is especially important for our rural women, who have proven to deliver a very high return on investment.
Last year, state-run Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. shelled out a pitiful P1.1 billion to small farmers. Given todays climate change, shouldnt this crop insurance be dramatically increased?
Global positioning
The fifth is our agriculture global positioning. We are not on a level playing field with our foreign competitors. They are getting significantly more subsidies than we are.
This is unfair and dangerous in the free trade regime. What subsidies and technical support can the government give to farmers and fisherfolk?
Also in the international trade area, import underreporting (an indicator of smuggling) has increased from 6 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2014.
Can creative measures such as a Cabinet-level public-private sector oversight group be established to curb our rampant agriculture smuggling?
It has worked successfully in the past, impressively decreasing our smuggling rate by one-fourth from 8 percent in 2004 to 6 percent in 2005.
The sixth priority issue is structural agriculture reform. This should be in areas such as effective agrarian reform with the required support services so that the farmer will be better off; a fisherfolk settlement program with the appropriate structure that has been legislated, but hardly implemented; food self-sufficiency, with the necessary competitive-enhancing measures, especially with the rice tariffs decreasing to dangerously low levels; and utilization of the coconut levy funds and assets so that they will actually benefit the coconut farmers, instead of being diverted or carelessly privatized to benefit other parties.
5 coalitions
These six priority issues were chosen by consensus from five sets of recommendations, one from each coalition. These coalitions, representing different major agriculture groups, united for the first time to address our deteriorating agricultural situation.
Alyansa Agrikultura, representing farmers and fisherfolk, has 42 federations and organizations covering all major agricultural sectors.
Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc., representing agribusiness, includes value-chain champions from 32 agriculture commodity groups.
Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines, representing academe and science, has professors and scientists from universities and research institutes throughout the Philippines.
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan, representing rural women, has empowerment chapters in 42 provinces.
Agriculture Fisheries 2025, representing different agriculture stakeholder leaders, was formed at a 2011 two-day conference led by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, and the then Senate and House agriculture committee chairs, Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Rep. Mark Mendoza.
Sad state of agri
The five coalitions noted that from 2011 to 2015, the DA budget increased from P30 billion to P89 billion. However, the average agriculture growth rate was 1.5 percent, well below the 4-percent government target rate. On the other hand, the DTI, with a budget less than 10 percent of DAs, grew by 6.4 percent.
Agriculture was clearly left behind, with the resulting noninclusive growth.
There are 12 million people employed in the agriculture sector. With their linkages (agri-food manufacturing and ancillary services), they contribute about 40 percent of our gross domestic product.
Yet these 12 million people belong to the countrys poorest. Given an average landholding of 1.5 hectares, a one-crop rice farmer gets P33,000 per year while a coconut farmer gets P30,000 per year. This is even less than a third of the P105,000 poverty threshold for a family of five.
In a 2014 study of rural poverty, the Philippines had the highest poverty level of 40 percent. This is significantly more than the poverty levels of Thailand at 31 percent (2013), Indonesia at 30 percent (2014) and Vietnam at 17 percent (2013).
The five coalitions welcome the general directions outlined in the action plans of the five presidential contenders, but the candidates should also include the six strategic initiatives identified in the six priority areas.
This is the only way we can reverse our downward agricultural trend and achieve true inclusive growth.//
(Editors note: The author is currently chair of Alyansa Agrikultura, a former secretary for Presidential Committee on Flagship Programs and Projects, and former undersecretary of agriculture and of trade and industry.)

Author: Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: February 19, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

In a couple of months, tens of thousands of college graduates will, once more, join the workforce. The unemployment rate in the Philippines is projected to be 6.2 percent by the end of this quarter. From 1994 to 2015 the average unemployment rate has been 8.78 percent, way higher than our neighbors in the Asia Pacific region. In Malaysia, the average unemployment rate is 3.4 percent; in Thailand, 2.3 percent; in Singapore, 3.4 percent; in Vietnam, 5.6 percent, China, 3.9 percent; and Taiwan, 4.3 percent. Only Indonesia has an unemployment rate close to ours, that is, 8.9 percent.

The Philippine Institute for Development Studies said that in the Philippines, unemployment is a time bomb. Between 2005 and 2030, the labor force will increase from 32 million to about 52 million.

Yet it is befuddling why, in some sectors, there are many available jobs, but few qualify to fill up the vacancies. In the food sector, for instance, there is a dearth of workers with skills in cooking, food preservation, etc. Generally, companies have difficulty searching for accountants, bookkeepers, competent drivers, among others. In the medical sector while there is a glut of nurses, there has been a shortage of CT scan operators, cardio technicians, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, etc.

Studies reveal that 22 percent of the unemployed have attended college while 19 percent have graduated from college. What does this indicate? That there is a serious disconnect between what schools teach and the demand of the jobs market. Students are not acquiring the skills they need to fill up available jobs when they graduate. Schools still offer, and students still enroll in, traditional courses without so much as examining the demand of industries.

The quality of graduates has also steadily declined such that professions requiring qualifying examinations such as medicine, accountancy, library science, and others suffer high failing rates. In nursing, for example, the passing rate in 1998 was 55.8 percent. In 2006, it went down to 45 percent and in 2010, it was a low of 39 percent. Thus, those who desperately need jobs but do not qualify in their desired professions settle for work as domestic helpers or nannies and blue-collar workers, either here or abroad. Still, there is a greater number of the unemployed who are unable to take on available jobs because they are not connected with what they learned.

However, more than the disconnect between education and the need of industries, the real cause of massive unemployment in the Philippines can be blamed on government. It has failed to create the needed climate to attract investors and, on its own, to create jobs. Our 29-year-old Constitution had long needed revisions to make the country more competitive amidst globalization yet, President Benigno S. Aquino III has consistently refused to allow any change to it, ignoring calls to lift its too restrictive provisions. If the President did not want to touch his mothers Constitution, the very least he could have done in his term was to create as many jobs as possible to reduce the growing unemployment. The construction of infrastructure like the north rail train system, a mass public transport system, an improved MRT, more irrigation systems, and more farm to market roads, among a host of others, would have spurred opportunities to make a living. At the same time, it would have created jobs in the process.

The great American President who won a record four presidential elections, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, led the United States during a time of worldwide depression and total war. In his first 100 days in office, Roosevelt spearheaded unprecedented major legislations and issued numerous executive orders that instituted the New Deal. This involved a variety of programs designed to produce government jobs for the unemployed. The federal government played a big role in the US economy, allowing its people to survive the great depression and rise to make a great nation.

Then again, not only President Aquino should take the heat. We are where we are for the collective failure of our leaders to focus on real progress more than their political and self-seeking goals. We can continue asking ourselves every election period, will we produce this time a leader who will aim to attain even half as much as what President Roosevelt had done to the American economy? If you ask the former Chief Justice, Reynato S. Puno, he will tell you that elections will change nothing unless we change our political structure to one of federal-parliamentary.//

Email:ritalindaj@gmail.com

Author: Rita Linda V. Jimeno
Date: February 22, 2016
Source: The Standard

The Philippines faces an economic and social crisis as a result of developments in the global economic scene. This will be precipitated by 1) Chinas economic decline, 2) continuing economic troubles in Europe, the United States, and the newly emerging economies, 3) Japans recession, and 4) the decline in global oil prices.
Chinas problems stem from overcapacity and overproduction. A property bubble has burst, leaving roads leading to nowhere and ghost cities in its wake. A credit-driven atmosphere has prevailed as available new credit ballooned "exceeding by one-and-half times the size of the whole US commercial banking sector. With bank deposits pegged at zero interest returns and property investments no longer viable, excess capital fled to an overvalued stock market. Oversubscription led to the Shanghai composite index plunging 43 percent in a two-month period in late 2015. In early January 2016, it collapsed twice within a space of two weeks"followed by a run on its currency. The renminbis fall prompted the Peoples Bank of China to shell out $108 billion of foreign exchange reserves to stem the decline. A continued weakening of Chinas currency could cause massive capital flight from the countrys economy.
Chinas prominent role in the global economy"17 percent of world GDP but one-third of global growth in the past 10 years" caused global markets to tumble as well. About $3.2 trillion were wiped off the value of global stocks. The World Bank calculates that each 1 percent decline in Chinas growth will cut growth rates in other Asian economies by 0.8 percent. Financial speculator George Soros warned that the slowdown in China meant that the global economy was back once again to the crisis of 2008. Citigroup says there is a 65-percent chance that China will lead the global economy into recession in 2016.
Elsewhere, the global capitalist system is showing signs of serious disorder. Russia, Brazil and South Africa are in deep recession, and the Eurozone grew by a miserable 1.6 percent in 2015. Debt problems in 2015 appear unprecedented. In the United States, federal debt is 74 percent of GDP; in China, it is estimated to be more than 240 percent, and in Japan, it hit 246 percent.
In the United States, industrial production declined by 1.8 percent year on year in December 2015, estimated real GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2015 slowed to 0.7 percent, and the stock market wiped $1.4 trillion from the value of the top 500 firms in the first 10 trading days of January. The growing strength of the US dollar also adds to the fears of a 2016 recession.
In November 2015, the Japanese economy entered its fourth recession in five years with the economy shrinking by 0.8 percent in July-September 2015 on top of the 0.7 percent contraction in April-June 2015. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instituted monetary and fiscal stimulus programs to motivate investors, but Abenomics is faltering.
The Philippines is highly dependent on economic relations with Japan and China. In 2014 Japan was its top trading partner, with 15 percent of its total trade, and China was its second largest trading partner, with 14.3 percent of its total trade.
Philippine exports to China in December 2015 hit $746.82 million, up year on year by 79 percent. With that, China emerged as the third-biggest export market for Philippine-made goods next to Japan. Goods imported by the Philippines from China reached $671.12 million in November, up year on year by 14.6 percent. China remains the Philippines biggest source of imports during the month. Japan continues to be the Philippines top bilateral donor, and China extended $1.27 billion in official development assistance funds to the Philippines from 2002 to 2010.
The oil industry is in its deepest downturn since the 1990s. In the third week of January, oil prices fell to a 12-year low of $27.10 per barrel. Oil earnings are down for companies; two-thirds of rigs have been decommissioned; investments in exploration and production have been sharply cut; an estimated 250,000 workers have lost their jobs; and manufacture of drilling and production equipment has fallen sharply.
On the supply side, the main cause is overproduction, especially with the recent lifting of Western sanctions on Iran. On the demand side, the price fall can be traced to weak demand by the suffering economies of Europe and developing countries.
The major losers are the oil-producing countries, especially less developed ones like Venezuela, Nigeria, Ecuador and Brazil. Traditional oil giants like Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies will see their oil revenues fall by $300 billion in 2016. Major oil companies have cut payrolls, others have slashed dividends, and 40 companies in North America have declared bankruptcy. The US shale oil industry, which had contributed to the overproduction due to new finds, is groaning from an accumulated $200 billion in debts.
For the Philippines, the severe constriction of its exports will be inevitable. In fact, this has actually already begun. For 2015, the National Economic and Development Authority reported a lackluster export growth of 5.5 percent, compared to 11.3 percent in 2014. Gilbert Llanto, head of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, believes that trade-led growth may not be a viable option for the Philippines in the immediate future. Lastly, the oil price fall could see 1.5 million Filipino workers in the Middle East losing their jobs and returning home with no work awaiting them.
Is the Philippines ready for an impending global economic downturn?//
Eduardo C. Tadem is president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and professorial lecturer in Asian studies, University of the Philippines Diliman. He holds a PhD in Southeast Asian studies from the National University of Singapore.

Author: Eduardo C. Tadem
Date: February 24, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

CEBU, Philippines - Barangay officials are urged to help strengthen the growth of small enterprises which are deemed enablers of economic development.
Melanie Ng, vice president for business development of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that entrepreneurship is an essential part of the local community's ability to succeed in an ever changing and increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Citing a recent study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and the United Nations Children's Fund, Ng said that most barangays are missing the development opportunity to practice fiscal governance and good financial management.
"They (PIDS AND UNICEF) said that many barangays are not efficiently and effectively spending their limited funds for programs, activities and projects with high economic development impact," Ng told officials from 80 barangays in Cebu City in a forum yesterday entitled "ASEAN 101: The Barangay as Enabler of Economic Development."
In an interview at the forum, Philip Zafra, president of the Association of Barangay Captains, said that each barangay in Cebu City is given a range of P6-10 million budget from the city government mainly for infrastructure development which, he added, would help increase economic activity.
Ng urged barangay officials to be enablers of economic development by promoting business activities in their respective communities.
"The concept to transform your role from a traditional service provider to an innovator by steering your local economy as entrepreneur is aimed at meeting the needs of your growing constituents," the CCCI official said.
"You can create an environment conducive to business development and can promote a vibrant economic tempo so that your constituents will be inspired to participate actively," Ng added.
Ng pointed out that barangays should not rely heavily on the internal revenue allotment (IRA) and instead become financially independent.
"It is undoubtedly important to tap the undiscovered wealth in your communities in your communities, not only in terms of human capital and assets but more importantly our social and community pride and natural resources," the official said.//

Author: Carlo S. Lorenciana
Date: February 24, 2016
Source: Freeman

The Aquino administration has failed miserably in its efforts to boost the agriculture sector, registering one of the lowest average farm growths in almost three decades.
At the Tapatan sa Aristocrat forum on Monday, former Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in the five-and-a-half years of the Aquino administration, the farm sector only posted a growth of 1.6 percent.
We grew more than 6 percent in terms of GDP, the whole country; but the growth of agriculture has been very pathetic. Last year the growth was only 0.11 percent, and to look at the last five-and-a-half years, it has only grown an average of 1.6 percent; so this is clearly a very dismal performance of this administration in terms of agriculture, Dar said.
Dar added that in the post-Ferdinand E. Marcos period, agriculture growth averaged 2.7 percent, significantly higher than the recent performance of the sector.
He said agriculture growth averaged 1.8 percent under former President Corazon C. Aquino; 0.8 percent under then-President Fidel V. Ramos; 6.5 percent under former President Joseph E. Estrada; and 2.8 percent under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The former agriculture secretary said every administration must aim to grow agriculture by an average of 4 percent to increase the farm sectors contribution to GDP.
Dar added that the sector used to account for around 20 percent of GDP. However, in recent years, its contribution has declined to around 10 percent of GDP.
Nonetheless, Dar said if the sectors value addition to industry through food manufacturing is given a boost, this would increase the sectors contribution by 15 percent to 20 percent.
With this, the total contribution of agriculture to the economy could be around 25 percent to 30 percent of GDP. Apart from growth, the farm sector accounts for about a third of the countrys poor. Dar said around 40 percent of farmers are poor.
So clearly, he added, that focusing on the farm sector can help the next administration make economic growth more inclusive.
Agriculture is really such a big sector not to be given priority by the government, Dar said.
Apart from boosting the farm sector and lifting millions of farmers from poverty, the next administration must also address inequalities in the tax system.
Punongbayan and Araullo President and CEO Ma. Victoria Espao said the next administrations economic agenda must include a comprehensive tax reform.
Espao said lowering income tax is not enough to make the tax system fair for all Filipinos. There should be reforms made on the tax rate, tax brackets and even exemptions to make the tax system more equitable.
The proposal that we hear is we should lower the tax of employees. Normally, people would think if you have so many public services to finance, where will the government get the funding? And thats why theres a lot of opposition from the government whenever that proposal is raised. So we would always say we need a comprehensive tax reform, Espao said. In a recent Senate Centennial Lecture Series on Tuesday, experts from the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), Department of Finance and the Tax Management Association of the Philippines agree that the countrys tax system needs to be changed.
The countrys personal income tax (Pit), specifically, has not been updated since the 1997. This has resulted in what is called bracket creep, where low-income taxpayers hurt more than their high-income counterparts. Bracket creep, PIDS senior research fellow Rosario G. Manasan explained, has occurred because of the nonindexation to inflation of Pit brackets.
This means that the coverage of each tax bracket does not take into consideration the current value of the peso. Manasan said this presents a problem because the current value of the Philippine peso, using the 2014 Consumer Price Index, is already less than half of its value in 1998.
This means that an annual income of P210,000 a year in 2014 is only equivalent to P105,000 in 1998.
With this, taxpayers earning P210,000 should only be paying P15,500 worth of tax, or 14.8 percent, instead of P40,000, or 19 percent.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 29, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

A COALITION of five groups advocating the advancement of the agriculture sector called for a presidential debate that will give the candidates more time to speak, hopefully, about their platform for the rural folk.

The coalition is led by Alyansa Agrikultura and includes the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (Pcafi), Coalition for Agriculture Modernization in the Philippines (Camp), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) and Agriculture Fisheries 2025 (AF2025).

Pcafi represents agribusiness operators, including 32 organizations along the agricultural commodities value chain. Camp represents the academe and is composed of professors and scientists from universities and research institutes.

PKKK has chapters spread across 42 provinces while AF2025 is described as representing different agriculture stakeholders.

Emil Q. Javier, Camp spokesperson and a former president of the University of the Philippines, said in a briefing that the debate held in Cagayan de Oro City was a big disappointment.

We waited for them to discuss their plans to uplift our agriculture sector, but what we heard were lofty words bereft of meaning, Javier said. But what can you expect to say in just 30 seconds?

AF2025 spokesperson Roberto Amores agreed, saying that aside from having more time to talk, future debates should have agriculture as a topic for discussion.

We want to hear about their programs for agriculture which, having been expressed, will be part of their commitments if elected, Amores said.

Coalition convenor Ernesto M. Ordoez agreed, saying that farmers need more than just a few seconds of sound bites.

The five groups submitted their proposed priority initiatives for the sector, including making the Department of Agriculture an effective bureaucracy.

They said that, like the Department of Trade and Industry, the DA should submit to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies a road map for the agriculture subsectors.

The DA should also require its units to achieve a globally accepted management system such as ISO 9000, they added.
Second, the coalition said the DA should form agriculture and fisheries councils that would ensure the participation of stakeholders, especially in monitoring how the department spends its budget.

Third, the five groups said the DA should provide support to some 17,000 agriculture extension workers who were working within local government units.

Fourth, they demanded greater funding that would provide farmers and fishers better access to credit and insurance.

Fifth, provider farmers and fishers subsidies and technical support in order to make Philippine agriculture globally competitive.

Sixth, the coalition wants the new President to ensure that farmers and fishers actually benefit from initiatives such as agrarian reform, fisher resettlement program, competitiveness-enhancing measures for food self-sufficiency, and the fund and assets from the coconut levy.//

Author: Ronnel W. Domingo
Date: February 27, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

We toil today to provide a brighter future for our children. But that future can be bleak, dark and dirty if we go business as usual, if we continue to burn fossil fuels, if we continue to believe that coal is cheap, if we continue to rely on oil to fuel our needs.
The late Nelson Mandela once said, "Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation."[1]
Yes, we can be that generation. We can do so much to change the way we fuel our development so that we leave a greater future for our planet, for our children.
Is it not ironic that 16 million Filipinos[2] continue to live in the dark due to lack of access to electricity when we have more than 200,000 megawatts of untapped renewable energy capacity? This is thirteen times more than our current installed capacity.
Before I proceed to discuss renewable energy development in the Philippines, allow me first to correct the long-held belief that "coal is cheap".
Coal is definitely not cheap. Coal affects our health, kills biodiversity and the environment, affects our waters, pollutes the air we breathe and increases the risk of climate change. If we input all of these in the cost of coal, we can no longer say that coal is cheap.
As a developing nation, the Philippines needs more energy, but it cannot be "we need power at all costs and we will develop at all costs."
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 as of 2015.
The sustainable development-energy nexus requires an urgent examination of how we can tap on the power of innovation and new technologies to provide for the energy we need in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
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 (DOE) targets back then. But we are still far away from tapping and maximizing RE's potential.
What is the potential of renewable energy for the Philippines?
The major forms of RE being utilized in the country today are geothermal, hydro, biomass, solar and wind. Ocean energy is also currently being developed, although not yet in use.
The DOE's estimates on the country's untapped renewable energy resources are as follows[3]:
5.1 kilowatt-hour per square meter per day for solar
13,097 megawatts for hydropower
2,600 megawatts for geothermal
70,000 megawatts for wind
170,000 megawatts for ocean
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.
The National Renewable Energy Program has set out aggressive targets on renewable energy development from 2011-2030, aiming to increase RE capacity to 15,304 megawatts by the year 2030.
We have the legal framework that provides the necessary policy mechanisms such as the Feed-in Tariff, Net Metering, Renewable Portfolio Standards, Green Energy Option, Renewable Energy Market, and other fiscal incentives such as income tax holiday.
There have been challenges, however, in our efforts to fast-track the development of our renewable energy resources more aggressively. Impacts on electricity pricing have been a major consideration among our regulators, particularly as we already have one of the highest electricity rates in the world.
But we take note of the DOE's efforts on streamlining the Renewable Energy application process of service contracts. The agency has fast tracked the approval of pending service contracts by cutting the application process from two (2) years to forty-five (45) days.[4] Though there had been a significant increase on renewable energy installations, RE only accounts for more than a third of the country's total energy demand, thus, still not reaching its maximum potential. [5]
There are two compelling reasons for accelerating the development and utilization of renewable energy in the country - energy self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability.
Growth is difficult to imagine without energy; and energy that does not take into consideration the needs of future generations can only destroy and not build. Development, progress, and quality of life cannot be the exclusive domain of a few.
Inclusive growth begins with making basic services available to all. Fostering the participation of micro, small, and medium enterprises in the regional and global markets, much less in the domestic supply chain, will not happen unless energy access is guaranteed to everyone.
With the onset of technological innovations in energy, achieving universal access to clean energy technologies is within reach. As I have mentioned earlier, estimates indicate that we have more than 200,000 megawatts of untapped renewable energy capacity. Failure to develop these capacities would be unforgivable.
The government needs to focus on promoting the growth of the low-carbon economy as a means to create jobs and curb carbon emissions.
Other countries are already gaining jobs and riches from renewables. In Europe, 650,000 jobs have been created in the renewable energy sector. The US employs 75,000 citizens in the wind industry and more than 100,000 in the solar industry.[6]
It has been found that renewables, as opposed to fossil fuel industries such as coal, often produce higher-value, better paying, cleaner, healthier jobs.[7] With hundreds of thousands of untapped renewable energy resources and the legal framework to develop RE in the Philippines, renewable energy is sure to create thousands of good jobs for Filipinos.
Moreover, 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. But at the same time, the energy sector must be climate-proof. This is crucial for the Philippines, which is among the top five countries most vulnerable to climate impacts and natural hazards.
The energy infrastructure system receives the brunt of disaster impacts. This results in disruptions in businesses and in the delivery of services.
Interconnecting systems is considered as one of the most critical features of the energy sector. Natural hazards put the highly interdependent energy system at risk. Disturbances in the energy system, in turn, upset economic activities and cause distress to other critical infrastructure sectors, like transportation, water supply and communications.
We need to give focus on risks, as understanding our vulnerabilities supports decision-making in the context of climate change.
The approach we must advance is the incorporation of information parameters and benchmarking in carrying out vulnerability assessments and emergency response planning. Our aim is to identify major energy networks that may be compromised by natural hazards.
I have authored two laws, the Climate Change Act of 2009 and the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which mainstream disaster risk reduction management and climate change adaptation in the development processes in policy formulation, socio-economic development planning, budgeting and governance in critical areas, including the energy sector[8].
Our experiences with Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, whose intensity is unmatched in recent history, give us crucial lessons. The total damage to the electricity sector then was estimated at US$ 155 million[9]. The distribution utilities were the hardest hit, which accounted for 76 percent of the total damage to the energy sector, causing disruptions in electricity supply to residential consumers and public buildings[10].
This underscores the importance of building adaptability in the energy sector. Climate proofing the energy infrastructure has clearly become a necessity. The government must work with the private sector to develop clean and energy-efficient, climate-friendly technologies.
Last year, the Philippines committed to achieve the goals under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the country's Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions.
The energy sector has a crucial role to play in achieving these goals. 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 forum 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.
_______________________
[1] Nelson Mandela's speech before the Trafalgar Square Crowd, February 3, 2005, calling attention to 2005 as a great opportunity for change.
[2] Philippine Institute for Development Studies, 2013
[3] Department of Energy http://www.doe.gov.ph/renewable-energy-res
[4] https://www.doe.gov.ph/doe_files/pdf/Issuances/DO/DO2013-10-0018.pdf
[5] 2014 Fuel Input and Power Generation (Input vs Output) - DOE Budget Briefer
[6] Green is Gold: How Renewable Energy can save us money and generate jobs, Greenpeace, 2014
[7] Ibid.
[8] www.ndrrmc.gov.ph
[9] Reconstruction Assistance on Yolanda, www.neda.gov.ph
[10] Id.

Author: Senator Loren Legarda
Date: February 26, 2016
Source: Senate Press Releases

THE Philippines, its terri-torial dispute with Beijing notwithstanding, should continue to pursue greater economic cooperation with China to help shield the $285-billion economy from global uncertainties.
In a recent Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) forum, Difference Group founder and CEO Dan Steinbock said Chinese capital can do a lot to help rebalance growth in the Philippines.
If you look at the risks, [these include the] China slowdown or deceleration, as we call it; growth deceleration; and Fed [Federal Reserve] policies are the biggest uncertainties. But the Philippines will [experience] more difficulty [from] the Fed policies than China, Steinbock said.
I think there should be more cooperation with China, more economic cooperation. I think its possible. One reason for it is the outflow of Chinese capital, he added.
Steinbock said some countries, like Vietnam"which also has territorial disputes with China"are able to
explore greater economic cooperation with Beijing.
This, Steinbock said, shows that it is possible for Manila to forge the same kind of partnership with
Beijing, given that China is one of the Philippiness major trade partners.
In 2015 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that China was the countrys top import source and third top export market. Total imports from China amounted to $10.83 billion, while total exports reached $6.39 billion in 2015. In terms of approved foreign investments by investment promotion agencies, however, Chinese investments declined by 87 percent to $1.46 billion in 2015, from $11.48 billion in 2014.
Vietnam and other countries have had territorial friction with China and were able to separate negotiations on the economic policies and the territorial issues, Steinbock said. Chinese capital is a very important trend and I think that this is underestimated in the Philippines, he added.
He noted that the forging of economic cooperation between China and Indonesia holds a lot of promise for both countries.
Steinbock said these partnerships complements Chinas One Belt, One Road (Obor) initiative. Ultimately, the Obor, he said, can also be good for the region, including the Philippines.
The Obor seeks to revive the Silk Road that connected trade between Asia and Europe. The Obor starts in Xian, China, and ends in Fuzhou, China. It passes through Istanbul, Turkey; Moscow, Russia; Venice, Italy; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Obor is financed by the China-led $40-billion Silk Road Infrastructure Fund, as well as funding from the newly created regional development bank, Asian Infra Investment Bank.
Last year government underspending in the first half of the year, weak export earnings and lackluster performance of the agriculture sector dampened the GDP growth of the Philippines. The economy merely grew by 5.8 percent, the slowest since 2011 when the economy only expanded by 3.7 percent.
Services was the main driver of the economy at 6.7-percent growth, from 5.9 percent the previous year. Industry and Agriculture posted growth rates of 6 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
While GDP growth reached 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, the rate was not enough for the government to meet its revised 6-percent to 7-percent target for the year.
Fourth quarter GDP was driven by the Services sector, which accelerated to 7.4 percent from 5.6
percent, while Industry decelerated to 6.8 percent from 9.1 percent.
Meanwhile, Agriculture contracted by 0.3 percent compared to the 4.2-percent growth rate posted in the previous year.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: February 26, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

It was in his first State of the Nation Address in July 2010 where President Aquino put emphasis on the countrys need to adopt a clear-cut competition policy: It is the governments duty to ensure that the market is fair for all. No monopolies, no cartels that kill competition. We need an antitrust law that will give life to these principles.
In July 2015, the President signed into law Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act. As the law mandates, a new office, the Philippine Competition Commission, has been created with Arsenio M. Balisacan as chair.

Balisacan has been the socioeconomic planning secretary and National Economic and Development Authority director general since May 2012. He was the first chair of the Philippine Statistics Authority Board and the Public-Private Partnership Center Board. He was also the chair of the board of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Philippine Center for Economic Development, and the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute. Prior to his appointment to Neda, Balisacan served as dean of and professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics, and as undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Apart from his proven integrity, Balisacans economics background will go a long way in helping frame the enforcement of the newly approved Philippine Competition Law. The position is certainly challenging as it entails probing cartel behavior and instituting economic measures to regulate the behavior and the conduct of businesses.

The new commission will also benefit from the appointment of lawyer Johannes Bernabe as one of its commissioners. Prior to the enactment of RA 10667, he actively participated in the related congressional hearings and various fora (organized by civil society organizations).

RA 10667 is designed to prevent or control trusts such as monopolies, with the view of promoting business and market competition, which is seen to be more favorable for consumers as producers are not able to control the prices of goods and services.

The competition policy has five goals: (a) promote economic efficiency, (b) correct market failures, (c) promote competitiveness in both foreign and domestic markets, (d) achieve higher economic growth and (e) enhance consumer welfare.//

"ANTONIO SALVADOR, board of trustee, Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (Ideals), ideals05@yahoo.com

Author:
Date: February 26, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer