PIDS in the News Archived (March 2016)

On March 2 we attended a workshop on competition and competition reforms in key sectors of the Philippine economy. It was coorganized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Consumer Unity and Trust International, and Action for Economic Reforms under a project called CREW, or Competition Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare in Developing Countries, which seeks to promote healthy competition in various sectors of the economy.
Among the sectors considered was the banking industry. Our colleague, Dr. Alvin Ang, provided general observations on how competition exists in the industry. In general, he presented various measures of competition as applied to the financial industry. The results were inconclusive, as they seemed to be countering each other. Observable data show that competition among banks is not reflected in interest rates but in terms of services. It is important to note that banking is not similar to other products and services primarily because of the need to balance between national financial stability and efficiency of financial services.
In line with this, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), as the supervisor and regulator of the industry, aims to: 1) ensure that banks are solvent and stable, and are able to provide a fair return to their investors and 2) ensure the stability, solvency and safety of the whole financial system toward economic development.
Thus, financial stability and economic development (with the latter presumably happening via financial inclusion) are not meant to be conflicting goals. The World Bank Global Financial Development Report 2013 made a similar assertion: Competition in the banking sector promotes efficiency and financial inclusion, without necessarily undermining financial stability.
Moreover, external factors, such as the regional financial integration under Asean 2015, have compelled central banks in the region to work toward building a well-integrated and smooth-functioning regional financial system under a liberalized capital account regime and interlinked capital markets. This development implies that Philippine banks are being shaped up to compete in the Asean region, and such an intention is made evident by bank consolidation (i.e., merger and acquisition) statistics provided by the BSP showed.
Indeed, there is a need to consolidate the resources of domestic banks so that they will be able to hold their own against foreign banks, which have been allowed full entry by Republic Act 10641 (An Act Allowing the Full Entry of Foreign Banks in the Philippines). Ang notes that Philippine banks are among the smallest in Asean in terms of assets. In fact, the Development Bank of Singapore is bigger than the entire Philippine banking system in terms of assets, although only three foreign banks, namely, Maybank, Bangkok Bank and United Overseas Bank, are internationally active.
Within the country, there still are a number of local government units (LGUs) without banks. Out of 1,634 LGUs, 595, or 36 percent of the total, still do not have bank offices as of end-June 2015. In terms of the value of savings and time deposits, there is an observable large amount available in banks, but loans granted have largely been in the real estate and trading sectors (about 40 percent), while microenterprises/small and medium enterprises and agriculture only got 7.2 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. This reveals that there is still a lot of work to be done to be financially inclusive and, at the same time, to use savings for productive economic growth.
Finally, in terms of comparable measures of financial inclusion, the Philippines lags behind its Asean neighbors. Notably, for population aged 15 years and above, 13.49 percent of Filipinos borrow from private informal lenders, as compared to the 1.05 percent, 0.81 percent, 9.15 percent and 2.94 percent for Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, respectively.
As Ang points out, the financial system is highly liquid, but such liquidity is not necessarily being translated to loans that can grow the economy in a more broad-based manner. Also, working to make domestic banks bigger and stronger does not necessarily mean decreasing competition for the sake of financial soundness or stability. The World Bank notes that the state can actually shape bank competition through its actions as a regulator and an enabler of a market-friendly and information-rich environment. Recently, regulations have allowed banks to compete more in terms of service (as facilitated by technological advancements) rather than traditional sources of income (interest and fees).
Surely, banks are aware of these trends, and they know that they are free to act accordingly. Thus, working toward greater financial inclusion and providing more competitive rates should increasingly come from their own volition rather than from central bank mandate. We want strong banks that can channel and distribute economic growth. They need not be mutually exclusive outcomes.
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This article was written by Ser Percival K. Pea-Reyes, who teaches Economics of Money and Banking at the Department of Economics of the School of Social Sciences of Ateneo de Manila University. Comments are welcome at spena-reyes@ateneo.edu.

Author: Ser Percival K. Pea-Reyes
Date: March 04, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

The head of the newly formed Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said they hope to use existing research, commission new research, and undertake its own data analysis to help inform of its decisions.

In her keynote speech at the workshop on competition and competition reforms in key sectors in the Philippines on March 2, Commissioner Stella A. Quimbo said PCCs organizational structure will have an entire division dedicated to research, including data collection, banking, and analysis.

Evidence-based decision-making is perhaps the best way to ensure that regulators are, in the long run, effective. Effective regulation entails making sound and fair decisions, without a hint of bias or capture, Quimbo said.

We envision that our work will not be informed merely by mere anecdotes, just-so stories, or hearsay. We will rule based on indicators, measurement, corroborated facts, and unwavering adherence to justice, fairness, and rule of law.

PCC is a quasi-judicial body tasked to ensure an efficient market competition by providing a level playing field among businesses engaged in trade, industry, and all commercial economic activities; protect consumer welfare; and advance both domestic and international trade and economic development.

It is mandated to conduct inquiries, and investigate and penalize all forms of anticompetitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.

Quimbo said the commission will begin to review specific industries only after a systematic scoping study has been done. This scoping study shall be the basis for any reviews that the PCC may undertake in the future. It shall adopt a sound methodology for identifying industries for further review as well as look into sources of market power that can be traced to government policies and regulations that have the unintended consequence of promoting anticompetitive behavior.

Quimbo highlighted the contributions of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) to creating a favorable intellectual and political climate that is conducive to competition reform efforts through extensive stakeholder consultations and evidence-based research that the institute has continuously pursued.

The latest of these initiatives was the Competition Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare (CREW) project, a partnership of PIDS, the New Delhi-based Consumer Unity and Trust International, and Action for Economic Reforms. Started in 2013, the CREW project looks at assessing the benefits of competition reforms on consumers and producers in the rice and bus transport sectors.

She also cited earlier studies of PIDS on competition policy and reforms such as the 2008 paper of Trade ASec. Rafaelita Aldaba that surveys market structure and anticompetitive practices in various industries. Another study is by PIDS Senior Research Fellow Erlinda Medalla released in 2002, which, Quimbo said, continues to be relevant and from which the Commission should derive inspiration as it draws its strategic plan.

We hope that PIDS and other research institutions would continue generating high quality research that are either industry or sector specific or that would feed into the broader questions on how to craft a national competition policy, she added.

The passage of the Philippine Competition Act of 2015 is the latest milestone in the long history of competition reform in the country. This law prohibits and penalizes anticompetitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.

While it took too long for this law to come to life, arguably, now is actually a good time to seriously implement such a law. With high gross domestic product growth rates in recent years, one way to ensure inclusivity of economic growth is by promoting the efficiency of markets through competition, Quimbo said.

Quimbo said competition promotes further growth by promoting entrepreneurial spirit and encouraging private investment and innovations, and sufficiently low prices and high-quality goods for consumers.

The spirit behind the law is not a narrow concept like increasing consumer surplus or ensuring that profits are not abnormally huge, but rather the broad idea of sustained economic growth and development, through a vibrant business sector with a broader base of ownership, whose benefits are shared by all, through job creation and ensured access to basic commodities, she said.

PIDS President Gilberto Llanto, in his opening statement, also highlighted the importance of having robust competition laws and strong institution to enforce them in sustaining economic growth. He expressed hope that the results of the CREW project would be useful to policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders in tackling competition issues, not only in rice and bus sectors, but also in other sectors such as retail trade, air transport, and banking and finance.//

Author:
Date: March 06, 2016
Source: Baguio Midland Courier

ONE of the most cynical projections on how the Philippine economy will fare in 2016 was made by a Bank of the Philippines economist who predicted that the country would grow by 6.2 percent on the back of election spending, particularly in the first half of the year.
This view was echoed by the Department of Finance, analysts at Standard Chartered Bank, Sun Life of Canada Philippines and business leaders with the added calculation that election spending will add 1 percent to the countrys gross domestic product (GDP).
What is dumbfounding about this shared prediction by mainstream economists and business persons is that what to common sense passes as a cruel joke is being touted as a scientific and serious analyses that Filipinos should be proud of.
Euphemism
Election spending, of course, is merely a euphemism for massive vote-buying, the improper and unethical use of government resources for the campaigns of proadministration candidates, and the splurging by big business and other vested interests of corporate and personal funds by donating to all candidates with a chance of winning (never mind that they may be on opposite sides of the political fence).
It is also a euphemism for overspending by rich and propertied candidates and their supporters, funding the use of violence to increase the chances of winning, and many other counterproductive use (or misuse) of financial and other resources.
All these, obviously, serve only to undermine the integrity of the electoral process and make a mockery of democratic principles, issues the above observers dont seem to care about.
These types of election spending do not benefit the poor whose dismal and disempowered status is being used by traditional politicians and the ruling classes to advance the latters elite interests.
Major beneficiary
A major beneficiary would also be the giant media networks as they are swamped with orders for precious airtime by the candidates.
The inevitable outcome of this electoral circus, masquerading as a popular democratic exercise, is that the elected officials, once in power, will either try to recoup their election expenses by plundering the public treasury or meekly pander to the wishes and demands of their corporate and special-interest campaign donors for special privileges and appointments to critical public offices.
In the meantime, the candidates have ignored three important issues that have a direct bearing on the well-being of the majority of Filipinos.
Social inequality
The first of these is social inequality.
Within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the Philippines registered the highest inequality ratio as of 2011 based on the Gini coefficient index. An Asian Institute of Management finding on the Philippine social pyramid reveals that only 0.1 percent of Filipino families or 21,700 families constitutes the upper class with per capita incomes of more than P700,000 per year. The rest or 99.9 percent (18.7 million families) make up the middle and lower classes of society.
While the middle class comprises 25 percent of Filipino families (4.7 million), the lower class takes up the bulk, with 74.3 percent, or 14 million families.
The combined net worth of the 50 richest Filipinos was $74 billion in 2014, a staggering 26 percent (one-fourth) of the countrys gross domestic product. The wealth of only three families"Sy, Ayala and Aboitiz"has a combined market value equivalent to P1.5 trillion or about 12 percent of the Philippine economy.
The conglomerates owned by these three families are involved in banking, property development, retail business, telecommunications, utilities, power generation, infrastructure, electronics manufacturing, education, food, cement and shipbuilding.
Debt
The second issue neglected by candidates is the countrys debt situation. So-called experts have written off the debt issue as no longer important and critical as in the past. But the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) argues that the Philippine debt deserves closer scrutiny and critique and should be a major election issue.
FDC reports that the total national government debt as of December 2015 stood at P5.955 trillion ($126.289 billion) of which P3.884 trillion (65 percent) was domestic debt while P2.1 trillion (35 percent) was foreign obligations. While the balance of government debt now consists mainly of domestic debt, the Philippine debt problem is not over.
P58,608 per person
The debt service for 2015 was P775.826 billion or P2.126 billion per day and each Filipino was indebted to the tune of P58,608.
In addition, the public sector debt was P7.434 trillion or 58.80 percent of GDP. Public sector debt in 2014 was 13.17 percent higher than the 2010 figure, when Benigno Aquino III took over as President. The Aquino regime has actually become the biggest borrower among post-Edsa Presidents with total borrowings of P4.24 trillion from 2010 to 2014.
As reflected in the government budget, the issue of debt figures prominently. Outstanding debt of the national government under the Aquino administration has been growing at an average annual rate of 4.8 percent. As of end-December 2015, the national government debt had reached P5.955 trillion, 3.8 percent higher than the 2014 level.
Heaviest borrower
Mr. Aquino now has the dubious distinction of being the heaviest borrower among Philippine Presidents and will leave office with P6.4 trillion in debt, P4.16 trillion (65 percent) of which was borrowed during his term.
The governments dependence on new borrowings for the principal amortization of existing loans and to plug annual budget deficits is what drives up the debt stock. From 2011 to 2015, amortization ate up an average of 48.2 percent of the Aquino administrations yearly borrowings.
For 2015 alone, P414 billion or 58.2 percent of the P710.8 billion that the government planned to borrow would go to amortization. The remaining P296.8 billion would be used to finance the budget deficit.
Social Watch Philippines reports that of the P3-trillion government budget for 2015, as much as P812 billion or
13 percent went to debt repayments. Principal payments totaled P419.3 billion, while interest payments would be P392.8 billion.
The automatic appropriation provision for debt servicing in the national budget has been a major concern as the Philippines remains the only country in the world with such a rider in its government budget.
This provision was enacted through Presidential Decree No. 1177 issued by the dictator Ferdinand Marcos way back in 1977, when the country was still under martial law. Given the magnitude of the national debt and the problems that it brings to the economy and society, the FDC has repeatedly called for a comprehensive and external audit of Philippine debts to find out whether these have benefited the people. But more important is the immediate and unconditional repeal of the automatic debt appropriation law.
Tax injustice
The third important issue disregarded by the current crop of candidates is the absence of tax justice. While the poor are burdened with various indirect and direct forms of taxes, the rich and powerful are able to get away with creative means of tax evasions or huge deductions.
For the latter, this is particularly true of giant transnational corporations, local big businesses and super rich individuals.
The Philippine government is party to this scandalous and unjust situation by offering huge tax breaks to foreign and local corporations to the detriment of providing funds for public services and welfare.
Global campaign
In response to this tax injustice, social movements and civil society groups are demanding Tax Justice for Social Justice. This is the rallying cry issued by the World Social Forum (WSF) in 2013 and reiterated in the 2015 gathering in Tunisia. As early as 2002, a Universal Declaration on Tax Justice for Social Justice came out from the WSF in Porto Alegre.
There is also a parallel and related effort on the part of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, organized and driven by major regional networks in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe, to collaborate with civil society organizations in building global synergy in pushing for tax justice and equality.
In the Philippines, trillions of pesos is foregone by government which could have been utilized for social protection programs, like education, healthcare, public transportation, reducing social inequalities and financing sustainable development.
Tax breaks
Tax breaks enjoyed by corporations through tax holidays, reduced income tax rates and duty exemptions amount to 1.5 percent of GDP. In 2011 alone, this amounted to P144 billion. Uncollected tariffs from illicit inflows of capital and merchandise through misinvoicing of imported goods and outright smuggling reach about P400 billion each year.
The government also loses from foregone tariff revenues as a result of the many free trade agreements it signed with other countries. An example is the
P3 billion to P4 billion in estimated yearly losses from the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. The tax liabilities of 581 cases filed for tax evasion and smuggling were worth P95 billion while estimated tax revenues lost to cigarette smuggling alone was P40 billion.
Special zones
The phenomenal growth of special economic zones (SEZs) has resulted in huge revenue losses for the Philippine government due to income tax holidays, such as zero-percent duty on imports of equipment, and exemption from export taxes and freight charges and other fees. Corporations (both local and foreign) that locate in these SEZs pay only 5 percent of their gross income to the government.
In 2011, the government gave up P61 billion in foregone revenues from just 29 percent of reporting locator firms in SEZs. As of 2015, a total of 317 SEZs had been set up in the country from Luzon down to Mindanao. It is not surprising that, while foreign direct investments (FDIs) as a whole have been declining, FDIs in the SEZs have been growing.
Low-value added
Despite all these incentives, SEZs have been found to be deficient in spurring overall economic growth, provide only low-value added products, are concentrated in only two sectors (electronics and garments/textiles) and have costs that far outweigh their benefits.
Some SEZs have also become conduits for smuggling activities or are the favored projects of political kingpins. Their social costs along with environmental degradation have also been mounting, with human rights abuses taking place via the displacement of rural communities (including peasants and indigenous peoples) from their lands.
As early as 1990, Sixto Roxas Jr. pronounced the strategy of building industrial estates as harmful to the overall development of the Philippine economy because it was being planned and implemented at the expense of agricultural development.
Vulnerable
The Philippine economy, meanwhile, remains highly vulnerable to external factors. The peso is considered the most overvalued currency in Asia. Slower growth and slower remittances from overseas workers will be brought about by (1) an increase by the US Federal Reserve of interest rates, (2) Chinas economic slowdown, and (3) the slump in global oil prices.
In addition, the countrys major trade and investment partner, Japan, has slipped into recession anew after a fleeting recovery. With the oil slump and the decision by the regions top oil producers to freeze production, the 1.5 million overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East face the grim prospect of losing their jobs and having to come home to a fate of dire unemployment.
External events
The Philippines development strategy based on an outward-looking and external-trade dependent model hewing to a neoliberal paradigm is at the root of the countrys economic vulnerabilities.
Gilbert Llanto, head of the government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies had this to say about this strategy: As the Philippines integrates more with the global and regional economy, external events will have a bigger impact on domestic growth processes. Weak external demand will have a negative impact on the growth of trade and services.
Chinas slowing growth and recession in Japan do not bode well for the economy. Aseans major trading partners will also have negative spillover effects on Asean-member states like the Philippines. Because of this, there is a great risk that trade-led growth may not be a viable option for the Philippines in the immediate future.
(Eduardo Climaco Tadem is president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and professorial lecturer in Asian Studies, University of the Philippines Diliman. He has a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian Studies from the National University of Singapore. This article is a revised version of a presentation at the launch of the FDC Electoral Agenda on Electoral Insurgency for Justice, Human Rights and Freedom from Debt on Feb. 19 in Quezon City.)//

Author: Eduardo Climaco Tadem
Date: March 06, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The country will need to open up the telecommunications industry to foreign players if it wants faster and cheaper Internet, according to state-run think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In a policy note, the PIDS said the country also needed a dedicated agency, or a Department of Information and Communications Technology, that would focus on developing and implementing a national broadband plan.
Clearly, the Philippines needed a national broadband to increase Internet speed and lower the service costs. Increasing foreign equity in telecommunications, which is currently set at 40 percent under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, is another channel for attracting capital and expertise into this industry, read PIDS policy note titled Making digital dividends inclusive published last month. The note was penned by Jose Ramon G. Albert, Beverly T. Lumbera and Ramonette B. Serafica.
The PIDS pointed out the price of information and communications technology (ICT) in the Philippines was the highest in the region yet Internet speed was not worth its cost.
Citing a 2015 report of the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU), PIDS said the price of fixed broadband services in the Philippines in 2013 was $51.59 a month, the third most expensive in the region after Thailand and Brunei.
The costs of various mobile broadband services in the country were also among the most expensive in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). The price of postpaid, computer-based mobile broadband at $51.38 a month, for example, was the highest in the region, ITU data showed.
As for Internet speed, PIDS cited a separate report from cloud data network Akamai Technologies covering the third quarter of last year that showed the Philippines ranking 108th globally in terms of average connection speed.
In the Asia-Pacific, only Indias average speed of 2.5 megabits per second (Mbps) was exceeded by the Philippines 2.8 Mbps. Korea had the fastest average Internet connection speed at 20.5 Mbps.
PIDS partly blamed the slow Internet connection in the country to gaps and weaknesses in existing ICT policies.
Accountability should play a major role in the effective regulation of ICT. To protect consumers, the government should implement regulatory policies, assess the performance of telcos based on the standards they set, and provide penalties to hold them accountable for violation of laws and regulations, PIDS said.
While two agencies currently handle administrative complaints against telcos"the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)"PIDS said the current penalties for violations are very low, discouraging compliance.
The Public Telecommunications Policy Act of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 7925) does not have penal provisions. Thus, the NTC only used penalties from an 80-year-old law, the Public Services Act of 1936 (Commonwealth Act 146), which set fines at not more than P200 per day until the violation was corrected, it noted.
Besides imposing quality standards and improving accountability among telco and Internet service providers, PIDS said the government should also find other ways to improve ICT in the country, such as regulating the interconnectivity of networks, building better ICT infrastructures, and expanding ICT services to include other sectors for development.//

Author: Ben O. de Vera
Date: March 04, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The newly created Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is using data analysis as a part of its decision-making process.
The commission intends to use existing research, task new research, and do its own data analysis in making informed decisions, Commissioner Stella Quimbo said in a statement.
The PCC will have a division dedicated to research, data collection, and analysis. It will also be responsible for maintaining a data bank, she said.
We envision that our work will not be informed merely by mere anecdotes, just-so stories, or hearsay. We will rule based on indicators, measurement, corroborated facts, and unwavering adherence to justice, fairness, and rule of law, Quimbo emphasized.
The PCC is a quasi-judicial body tasked to ensure a level-playing field for efficient market competition between and among businesses and all commercial economic activities, Part of its mandate is to protect the welfare of consumers and advance both domestic and international trade and economic development.
As such it may conduct inquiries as well as investigate and penalize all forms of anticompetitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anticompetitive mergers and acquisitions.
Quimbo said the PCC will start a review of specific industries after a systematic study, which will form the basis for any reviews in the future.
A sound methodology will be adopted to identify industries that will be reviewed, and search for sources of market empowerment traceable to government policies and regulations that have the unintended consequence of promoting anticompetitive behavior.
Quimbo cited the efforts of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) to create a favorable intellectual and political climate through evidence-based research that is conducive to competition.
We hope that PIDS and other research institutions would continue generating high-quality research that are either industry or sector specific or that would feed into the broader questions on how to craft a national competition policy, she said.
The formulation of the Philippine Competition Act of 2015 or Republic Act 10667 is timely, Quimbo noted, as it focuses on prohibiting and penalizing anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.
While it took too long for this law to come to life, arguably, now is actually a good time to seriously implement such a law. With high gross domestic product growth rates in recent years, one way to ensure inclusivity of economic growth is by promoting the efficiency of markets through competition, the commissioner said.
The law spurs further growth by promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, encouraging private investment and innovations, and sufficiently low prices and high-quality goods for the benefit of consumers.
The spirit behind the law is not a narrow concept like increasing consumer surplus or ensuring that profits are not abnormally huge, but rather the broad idea of sustained economic growth and development through a vibrant business sector with a broader base of ownership, whose benefits are shared by all through job creation and ensured access to basic commodities, Quimbo said.
PIDS President Gilberto Llanto noted the importance of having competition laws and strong institutional enforcers to help sustain economic growth.
For her part, Trade Assistant Secretary Rafaelita Aldaba said the PCC would help boost competition and rev up the manufacturing industry.
There is a great need to address competition issues in the services industry where a lot of market barriers still stand, she said.
Liberalization is one of the necessary ingredients to enhance competition. And now that we have a Competition Commission, we can work together in pursuing necessary reforms needed for the country to participate in free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, she added.//

Author: Kristyn Nika M. Lazo
Date: March 04, 2016
Source: Manila Times

Improper documentation and other unforseen problems caused the Department of Educations (DepEd) school feeding program to miss its targets, according to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS).
Based on the results of the impact evaluation study done by PIDS consultants Ana Maria L. Tabunda and Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, as well as PIDS Senior Research Fellow Jose Ramon G. Albert, the program fell short of its nutrition goals.
The researchers said only 62 percent of the School-Based Feeding program (SBFP) for school year (SY) 2013 and 2014 severely wasted (SW) children attained normal status at the end of the feeding program, as against the target of 70 percent.
The results of the study indicate, however, that various factors beyond the control of program implementers, specifically characteristics and practices of beneficiary families or parents/guardians and the children themselves (age and severity of wasting at start of feeding program, in particular), affect the nutrition outcome. Problems in program implementation constitute only one component, the researchers added.
The researchers also said the nutritional gains of the program were not sustained in the case of many of the SW beneficiaries 12 months or more after the feeding program.
This means that to be effective, the program must continue feeding SW beneficiaries beyond the 100- to 120-day feeding cycle.
This will entail the conduct of the feeding program, alongside the government interventions that are no longer under the purview of the DepEd.
Given that the administration component of the budget has been increased, we also recommend an increase in the food budget allocation and suggest that inflation-adjusted increases be considered as warranted, the researchers said.
The researchers also urged the DepEd to review its basis for its 70-percent nutrition target. This is crucial since the DepEd has decided to increase this to 80 percent in the SY 2015 and 2016.
Meanwhile, the researchers said improper documentation of activities, such as prefeeding measurement, postfeeding measurement, nutrition status measurement, birth dates, ages, and weight and height measurements, hounded the program.
These, the researchers said, made it difficult to evaluate the status of beneficiary and non-beneficiary pupils.
To address this, the study team recommended that all schools be provided with weighing and height-measurement scales, as well as other equipment to help create accurate nutrition- status reports.
All schools need to be provided with these equipment, since non-beneficiary schools also need to submit accurate nutrition status reports, which serve as the basis for determining which schools will be implementing the feeding program, the researchers said.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: March 03, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines " Think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) is urging government leaders to focus on medium and long-term plans for the economy to survive global uncertainties.
In a statement, Global economic expert Dr. Dan Steinbock said while emerging countries in Asia were not as deeply affected by the 2008 global financial crisis and the Philippines economy has grown consistently, the country is still not immune to global economic shocks.
The Philippines remains behind on policies and programs that are necessary to take advantage of its strengths and opportunities. There is no better time to capitalize than when the Philippine economic growth is comparatively good, Steinbock said.
Steinbock said the country has to address its shortcomings in infrastructure development and miniscule investments in research and development. The country, he said, should also open up to more foreign direct investments.
Emerging economies are now driving the world economy and it would be a shame if the Philippines does not act to get what it deserves, Steinbock said.
PIDS said leaders must have a comprehensive consideration of not only the economic growth but also the economic adversities affecting advanced and emerging economies.
The think tanks noted that the negative effect of falling prices on Gulf economies impact the inflow of remittances from Filipino workers in this region.
A decline in the economic health of the Gulf certainly affects Filipino laborers, he said.
Other external factors such as the economic slowdown in China and Japan "both of which are major sources of capital goods and are export destinations of Philippine agriculture and manufactured products"should motivate the country to achieve and maintain inclusive and sustainable growth, Steinbock added.
The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace of 6.3 percent in the last quarter of 2015, resulting to a full year growth rate of 5.8 percent.
This, however, fell short of the governments target of seven to eight percent.
Former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) director general Arsenio Balisacan, nevertheless, said the last quarter growth rate was an affirmation that the economy is traversing the higher growth path, building on the efforts of the public and private sectors.//

Author: Czeriza Valencia
Date: March 03, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

Sa likod ng kaunlaran sa ekonomiya, naiiwan pa rin ang mga mamamayan sa kahirapan

MAHIHIRAP, NAIIWAN PA RIN SA KAUNLARAN. Ito ang lumabas sa pagsusuri ng mga mananaliksik na sina Dr. Jose Ramon Gatmaitan Albert ng Philippine Institute for Development Studies sa isang pagpupulong kanina. Kailangang magkaroon ng mekanismo upang higit na maging aktibo ang mga na sa middle class na magkalakal at makasama sa pagunlad ng Ekonomiya. (Melo M. Acuna)
SAMANTALANG ibinabalita ng pamahalaan ang kaunlarang natatamo sa Ekonomiya sa mga nakalipas na taon, hindi pa rin nagtatagumpay ang bansang mabawasan ang kahirapan at madagdagan ang makikinabang sa progreso.
Ito ang buod ng pagsusuri nina Dr. Jose Ramon G. Albert at Martin Joseph M. Raymundo na mga mananaliksik ng Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Ibinahagi ni Dr. Albert ang kanilang natuklasan sa isang pagpupulong sa kanilang tanggapang dinaluhan ng mga mamamahayag.
Sinuri ng mga may akda ang mga nakikita sa macroeconomic statistics at sa progresong natamo ng pamahalaan sa ayon sa Philippine Development Plan at kung matutugunan ang layunin ng Millennium Development Goals.
Nabatid sa pagsusuring kailangang matugunan ang kakulangan ng tinaguriang political inclusion tulad na rin ng impluwensiya ng political dynasties o pagsasaling-lahi ng mga politiko sa kanilang posisyon sa pamahalaan at sa lipunan.
Kailangan ding magkaroon ng tamang pagkakakilala sa middle class.
Ipinaliwanag ni Dr. Albert na hindi na kinikilala ang Pilipinas bilang "sick man of Asia" sapagkat patuloy na umunlad ang ekonomiya sa mga nakalipas na taon. Nakasalalay ang pag-unlad ng ekonomiya sa consumption at tumataas o nadaragdagang investments at hindi na umaasa lamang sa exports 'di tulad ng ilang mga bansang umaasa sa mga produktong ipinagbibili sa bansa.
Bagaman, ani Dr. Albert, mabuti na ring pag-aralan ang nagaganap sa Tsina sapagkat sa laki ng ekonomiya ng Tsina tiyak na makaapekto ito sa mga kalapit bansa.
Hindi kailanman naging "agriculture economy" ang Pilipinas sapagkat ito'y palaging "service-driven economy" mula pa noong panahon ng Mexican galleons. Unti-unti umanong nawawala ang impluwensya ng sektor ng pagsasaka sa ekonomiya ng Pilipinas.
Ang problema ay sa sektor ng agrikultura matatagpuan ang pinakamahihirap sa mga pook sa labas ng Metro Manila.
Ang nakalulungkot ay wala pang maliwanag na pahayag ang mga kandidato sa panguluhan kung ano ang kanilang gagawin sa sektor ng agrikultura liban sa mga "motherhood statements."
Kung middle class ang pag-uusapan, pinakamarami ang nasa Metro Manila, CALABARZON at Central Luzon.//


Author: Melo M. Acuna
Date: March 03, 2016
Source: CRI Online

THE National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) plans to construct a new building worth P2.5 billion within or less than four years.
Neda Assistant Director General Ruben S. Reinoso told the BusinessMirror the agency officials will soon have a preliminary meeting with its consultants for a design-and-build concept for a new building.
Reinoso said its existing 40-year-old building in Ortigas Center, Pasig City, may be torn down and replaced with a new energy-efficient edifice.
We will have a consultation meeting with them [consultants], a preliminary consultation meeting. We will find out their opinion on the terms of reference if its sufficient or insufficient and will not interest them; whether it will be practical and attainable, Reinoso said.
The Neda official said the location of the building is also one of the things they will discuss with the consultants in the preliminary meeting. However, he said, one of the options is the parking-lot area in the Nedas Ortigas Center office.
The discussion will also include the best use for the existing Neda building, or whether it would be more practical to tear it down, considering that it has been the Nedas home for most of its existence, Reinoso explained.
As of press time, he said what is definite is that the new building will not only house the Nedas national offices but also that of its attached agencies, which are currently renting office spaces in Quezon City.
These attached agencies are the Tariff Commission, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center.
The consultants will advise us what would be the most expeditious time to complete it, especially under a design-and-build contract, where there is an incentive for the private sector to finish it, otherwise the government will not pay them, Reinoso said.
[A design-and-build arrangement also has a] single point of responsibility, removing any finger-pointing where a contractor can say the design was wrong and the designer can say the contractor made a mistake. This is a value-for-money arrangement for the Neda, he added.
Reinoso said the plan to construct a new building for the Neda was first proposed in the mid-1990s, just before the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
He said the initial proposal was to construct a new building under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) scheme, where private-sector firms that are willing to construct the Neda building can submit a proposal, including how it intends to recover its cost.
At that time, Reinoso said, the Ortigas Center was already attracting a lot of businesses because of its central location. Even as far back as the mid-1990s, traffic going to and from Makati City presented a problem for businesses and employees, as well
as government.
However, when the crisis hit, getting a developer to agree to the BOT arrangement became impossible, since the commercial part of the construction would not be able to attract enough locators for the developer to recover its investment.
Since the government is in a very good fiscal position, instead of maintaining an old building, which, at a certain point in time, you will have to rehabilitate because the structure will be compromised, your maintenance cost will be too high. At a certain point in time, you will also have to condemn the building, so why not accelerate the condemnation and whatever money that will be spent for maintenance, you can save. Its really for the long term, Reinoso said.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: March 14, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines - When darkness falls in Taytay, Palawan, the world of the offshore community in the village of Beton turns pitch-black. The island is home to an estimated 300 families who rely on kingki, a Visayan term for kerosene-powered lamps, to light up their houses.
Romela Dominguez, a mother of four, said that in order for them to afford half a gallon of kerosene for their kingki lamps, her husband has to save P150 a month.
However, she and her husband Joys, a full-time fisherman, both realize that kerosene-powered lamps pose a danger to the family.
The lamps are expensive and dangerous. It frightens me that our house might burn down if someone from our family accidentally topples the lamp, she explained.
Her firstborn, Kyla, shared that while doing her homework under the light of kingki lamps makes it hard for her to study comfortably, she cant complain as its all they have.
Around the world, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity. In the Philippines, about 16 million of the population are without electricity. This is according to government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Lack of access to electricity is a greater issue in rural areas than in urban areas and improving the electrification ratio remains a challenge for the country.
Last year, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) initiated a crowdfunding project dubbed as the Gift of Light project to provide solar-powered lights in Palawan. WWF-Philippines used the proceeds from its 2015 Earth Hour campaign to fund the deployment of portable solar lamps to the island community of Beton.
Solar lamps rely on the power of the sun, eliminating the need to buy fuel. Were teaching communities to veer away from fossil fuels, the burning of which contributes to climate change, said Climate Change Unit and Earth Hour Philippines head Angela Consuelo Ibay.
WWF-Philippines distributed the solar-powered lamps to the families in Beton, Palawan in August 2015. The Dominguez family was one of their recipients.
What we do is we charge the lamp in the morning and make use of it at night. Its easier and cheaper for us. We can now allot money for our other necessities. I hope other areas that do not have access to electricity will also have solar-powered lamps, Romela shared.
Since then, Kyla has not had to study by kerosene light, which brings her closer to her dream.
I thank WWF-Philippines and everyone who made the project possible. I hope to finish my studies soon so I can pass the hope of light to others through teaching, the sixth grader said.
The Gift of Light is one of the community projects that WWF-Philippines initiated in line with their yearly Earth Hour campaign. Last 2014, the group provided hundreds of fiberglass boats to fishing communities that were affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
On March 19, the Philippines will once again join the 10th Earth Hour program at the Quezon City Memorial Circle from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., including a one-hour lights-off ceremony from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Earth Hour is an annual global event where people switch-off their lights for 60 minutes to show support for climate change action. The movement started from a small switch-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has now become the worlds largest open-sourced environmental campaign, drawing supporters from over 172 countries.
The Philippines has been joining Earth Hour since 2008 and has topped participation records for five years, earning the title Earth Hour Hero Country.//

Author: Mary Pauline Del Rosario
Date: March 07, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

Introduction
The potential of evidence-based research in improving the quality of life in the Philippines expands when linked to effective policymaking. Rooted on the idea that policies determine the state of a country, research then plays a critical role as the compass that steers nation-building initiatives on the right path. As the interest in policy-oriented research continuously grows, the need to disseminate research and increase its accessibility comes next in the agenda. This is the mandate of the Socioeconomic Research Portal for the Philippines (SERP-P)"a knowledge networking initiative of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies(PIDS).
In 2000, the SERP-P was established to become a leading electronic repository of policy research in the country. What started as a partnership among 19 institutions developed into a network of 53 member-institutions"comprised of government agencies, academic and research institutions, and local and international development organisations. At present, the SERP-P is home to more than 5,500 materials contributed by almost 3,000 authors. At the core of the SERP-P lies its objective to make these materials and researches, which are required for the formulation of local and national development plans and policies, accessible to everyone.
To advance its cause, the SERP-P joined the Global Open Knowledge Hub (GOKH) " an initiative of theInstitute of Development Studies (IDS) " in 2014. The GOKH project aims to put forward the open knowledge agenda and increase the accessibility and availability of research information. Through the OKhub " the online platform of the GOKH project " materials on the SERP-P reached Northern America, Eastern Africa, Northern Europe, and other parts of the globe. The wide range of materials already available on the OKhub, meanwhile, gives an international perspective to Filipino researchers who conduct local research. The SERP-P Network has also benefitted as the partners learn more about open knowledge. Undeniably, the byproduct of this collaboration (i.e., SERP-P and GOKH) has not only carried a common goal to promote open access among the SERP-P Network but has also reinforced the role of evidence-based research in crafting effective policies and regulations.
This story of change builds on the experience of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA)[1] where policy-oriented research and the open access agenda, through the SERP-P and GOKH, meet to serve a common purpose.


SERP-P meeting with MinDA partners to discuss GOKH open access initiative, and other
SERP-P website developments.

Shifting to a new Mindanao
Recent development initiatives in Mindanao[2] demonstrate the potentials of linking research and policies together through open knowledge networking. As a member of the SERP-P Network, MinDA[3] not only has pushed forward relevant initiatives gathered from research materials on the SERP-P and OKhub but has also localised national-level studies and assessments to better fit in their context.
For instance, because of the partnership between the SERP-P and MinDA, a memorandum of agreement was signed between PIDS and MinDA to conduct an inaugural policy forum, which centered on advancing Mindanao towards sustainable economic development and balanced ecosystems. This forum brought together more than 100 participants from the government, academe, business, and civil society sectors to underscore the potentials of policy research in pursuing development goals in Mindanao. The comments and ideas solicited from the policy forum were monumental in the follow-up activities held with some ecosystems stakeholders in the region. The forum was also significant in deepening the embedded cultural ties within the tourism sector, and was influential in changing the mindset of some academic institutions and local government units in terms of green and gold tourism and payment for ecosystem services. PIDS and MinDA plan to hold this policy forum annually.
By using the open knowledge framework of the GOKH project, MinDA staff and partners, particularly state universities and colleges in the region, have had a better understanding of the open access initiative. A number of Mindanawon[4] researchers, who used to keep their research for their universitys consumption, have now considered publishing their works with minimal restrictions. These universities have also included digitizing publications in their action plans. Currently, the SERP-P team at PIDS is also providing assistance to MinDA in creating their own portal called the Mindanao Knowledge Center (MKC). The GOKH project, meanwhile, provides necessary inputs and materials in advancing the open knowledge agenda among the MKC Network.
In terms of information usage, there were instances when MinDA used materials downloaded from the SERP-P website to review and assess research gaps in Mindanao.[5] As an example, a review of the SERP-P database showed a huge gap in terms of research on the infrastructure support and efficiency of the rice sector in Mindanao that led local researchers to conduct their own study, employing the methodologies they explored from the related studies found on the SERP-P website. The result of this particular study was later presented in various fora, where different line agencies, academic institutions, and irrigators and peoples organisations validated initial results. Some local chief executives, who are at the forefront of development in the towns and cities of Mindanao, also participated in the study. As a result, various efforts " including implementation of farm-to-market roads, pavement of national roads, and rehabilitation of irrigation systems"were undertaken.
More importantly, evidenced-based research provides an objective evaluation and assessment of existing and proposed laws"whether or not these laws provide the needed change or intervention. The SERP-P has a long list of assessment and impact evaluation studies that the MinDA staff used in crafting their own regulations. SERP-P materials, along with the resources from the OKhub, have thus become one of the major sources of discussions in meetings within and outside MinDA.
Through the studies that have been done, MinDA is able to strategically employ what works and eliminate what does not, particularly in assessing their place in the Southeast Asian regional integration, in analysing the brain-drain situation in higher education institutions, and in understanding the social aspect of the conditional cash transfer program of the government. For instance, PIDS studies that tackle the Cabotage Law provided Mindanawons a clear picture of its effect on the shipping industry in the region. Both the public and private sectors welcomed this initiative, as this national policy becomes favorable to Mindanao in general.


The Tinuy-an Falls " a multi-tiered waterfall in Bislig, Surigao del Sur in the southern i
sland of Mindanao (Philippines).

Prospects
The rise of open access in recent years has made the link between research and policy clearer and tighter. Because of GOKHs commitment to promote open knowledge advocacies and the SERP-Ps support to knowledge networking, the understanding and acceptance of open access mechanisms, which seemed beyond reach at the beginning, have started to form a solid foundation in the way MinDA and its partners see research networking.
Lastly, making Mindanao-related materials accessible through the SERP-P and OKhub helps change the general perception that Mindanao is a war-torn region. MinDA believes that if they continue to do local research, important issues will not only be raised to the national level but can also be the spark plug to alter the course of Mindanao and become a major contributor to the national economy. Likewise, with the help of a broader set of research resources on the OKhub, it is an opportune time for MinDA to conduct researches that directly impact the lives of the Mindanawons.
Footnotes:
[1] MinDA is the lead agency in coordinating and integrating development efforts in Mindanao. It has been a member of the SERP-P Network since 2012.
[2] Mindanao is the second largest and the southernmost major island in the Philippines.
[3] The MinDA staff interviewed for this story are Ms. Sheila Almasa, Mr. Marlo Sullano, and Ms. Missiles Somoza. They are technical staff, development management officer, and information system researcher, respectively, at MinDA.
[4] Mindanawon refers to the citizens and inhabitants of Mindanao.
[5] Based on the SERP-P Case Studies of Contributions to Users by Jennifer P.T. Liguton and Katherine Mitzi Co.
[Photographs taken by Mark Vincent Aranas during his visit in Surigao del Sur (Mindanao).]


Author: Mark Vincent Aranas
Date: March 08, 2016
Source: Open Knowledge Hub

There should be accomplished agriculture roadmaps before July 1, the first day of the next Presidents term. This is because he or she should hit the ground running, instead of spending precious time trying to find out what to do in agriculture.
The Free Dictionary defines roadmap as a plan or guide for future actions. The website www.ppm.roadmap.com provides a broader perspective: See the big picture, or how the team can get to Friday. A roadmap gives you that flexibility and the details. Of course, effective agriculture roadmaps should go beyond these general definitions.
Roadmap requirements
First, it should not just be a survey of a sectors stakeholder views. Instead, it should follow a comprehensive outline that includes well-researched components such as the sectors current situation, its comparative advantages and disadvantages, its positioning in the global trade regime, and its opportunities and challenges (such as smuggling), and the recommended short and long term policies, plans and programs.
The outline for the Department of Trade and Industrys (DTI) roadmap was first done when I was trade undersecretary in 1987. Board of Investments (BOI)-registered investments rose from P3 billion to more than P400 billion in four years. Unfortunately, the attempted coup d etats put a break to this upward trend. In 2011, as a private sector contributor encouraged by industry Ieaders, I worked with a small group including Jose Sereno, formerly connected to the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), and Mia Faustman, formerly connected to Sycip, Gorres and Velayo (SGV) on an improved roadmap outline.
We submitted this to Mckenzie Consulting firm officials for their inputs. We later forwarded the outline to the BOI management, which further enhanced it. This subsequently served as the guiding template for the 29 DTI industry sub-sector roadmaps submitted to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), an attached agency of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda).
The 2015 Global Road to Think Tank Report at the University of Pennsylvania named PIDS, now under Guilbert Llanto, as among the worlds top think tanks. It was the top social policy think tank in Southeast Asia, and ranked 37th among the 6,600 think tanks from 198 countries in the world.
It was, therefore, with great expectations that agriculture stakeholders were waiting for the Department of Agriculture to submit its roadmaps to PIDS. PIDS could then strengthen these roadmaps and integrate the DA and DTI submissions to provide a united roadmap for our needed agro-industrial development. To date, the DTI has submitted 29 roadmaps, while the DA has not provided even one. This should change in the next few months.
It is argued that agriculture contributes only 10 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But with food processing and ancillary services, this increases to 40 percent. It should also be noted that the biggest sector in manufacturing is the food industry, which derives its inputs from agriculture. Agriculture is therefore key to our development, and is an absolute necessity for inclusive growth because of the current 40 percent rural poverty.
Roadmap objections
At a DA meeting on March 4, the executive director of a private agriculture association said that focusing on agriculture roadmaps toward the end of this term would not be a useful exercise. He added three objections. First, different government agencies are doing the same roadmaps without talking to each other. Second, the government-created roadmaps were often not made with enough private sector involvement and, therefore, lacked their acceptance and commitment. Third, events move too fast for any roadmap to be useful.
The way the DTI roadmaps were formulated makes invalid these three objections. First, there is only one roadmap for each sector. All the different agencies that may be doing roadmaps submit the relevant components to a designated BOI director, who coordinates all the government submissions.
Second, a private sector champion and his or her team take primary responsibility for formulating and submitting the roadmap. They are backed up by a private-public sector team for each sector. The private sector champion and the BOI director then take the lead in helping implement the roadmap.
Third, consistent with the early definition given that roadmaps provide flexibility, the roadmap becomes a living document with timely changes to ensure that it remains relevant and useful.
There are three and a half months left before the new president takes over. While the politicians are busy campaigning, the bureaucracy must use this time and work harder than ever to finalize the submissions and integration of the agriculture and industry roadmaps.
This game-changing work has never been done, and will be a valuable legacy for the next government and the nation as a whole.//
The author is chair of Agriwatch, former secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, and former undersecretary for agriculture, trade and industry. For inquiries, e-mail agriwatch_phil@yahoo.com or telefax 8522112.

Author: Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: March 10, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

TO increase the use of generic medicines among Filipinos, state-owned think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) urged the use of mystery shoppers and word-of-mouth marketing.
These were part of the recommendations in the Policy Note, titled How effective has the Generics Act been?, authored by PIDS consultants and researchers led by John Q. Wong of the Ateneo de Manila University.
Universal access to health, as stated under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, also includes access to affordable medicines and vaccines.
The study results show higher compliance with the Generics Act among physicians than among drugstores and consumers, the authors said.
Identifying drugstores and consumers as primary target groups in need of behavioral change allows for greater efficiency and effectiveness in the use of limited government resources for promotional campaigns, they added.
Based on the study, the use"and even awareness of generic medicines in the country"was still low despite the passage of Republic Act 6675, also known as the Generics Act of 1988, and campaigns done by the Department of Health.
The authors surveyed 1,1572 respondents and only 7.2 percent knew the correct definition of generic drugs.
Around 71 percent were partially knowledgeable or able to mention that either generic drugs were of the same quality as that of branded drugs or generic drugs were cheaper than branded drugs.
The results also showed that 21.52 percent were not knowledgeable at all, and gave incorrect definitions of generic drugs.
The authors also said that across six geographic zones, respondents who correctly identified three or four generic drugs were in the National Capital Region, while the lowest was in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
A relevant strategy would be to tap generic believers to encourage others. The study showed that the odds of purchasing generic alternatives among individuals who are influenced by friends and relatives in their medical decisions are higher compared to those who are not influenced, the authors said.
The mystery shopper approach will make the distributors aware that there is always someone monitoring their compliance, they added.
In 2011 a study released by PIDS showed that making medicines more affordable to the poor and underserved remains a challenge in the country.
The study, titled A Profile of the Philippine Pharmaceutical Sector, authored by PIDS research fellows led by Celia M. Reyes, a senior research fellow at the institute, showed that demand for medicines in the country will post an annual increase of 17 percent.
By 2015, the paper estimated that total demand for medicines will reach P222 billion. The majority of this demand is expected to be met through out-of-pocket expenses, rather than government funding or subsidies.
Drugs and medicines account for 46 percent of the total medical out-of-pocket expenses of Philippine households. For poorer people, this percentage goes up to 55 percent. Making essential drugs and medicines more affordable, especially to the poor and underserved, is one of the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], the PIDS said.
Based on the calculations made by PIDS, the demand for medicines will continue to increase to P222.04 billion by 2015, from around P111.15 billion in 2011. More than 50 percent of this will be accounted for by private expenses.
The paper estimated that this year, out-of-pocket expenses for medicines will reach P109.38 billion, while government-funded medical expenses will reach only P1.77 billion.
By 2015, with a steady population growth of 2.04 percent every year, out-of-pocket expenditures for medicines will reach P219.94 billion, while government expenditures will reach only P2.1 billion.
It can be noted that, while there is no aggregate data for national spending for drugs and medicines, the Pids said the data came from local government units.//

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

THE PHILIPPINE Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) has outlined competition issues and possible impacts of corresponding reforms in the countrys rice and bus transport sectors.
In a workshop held on March 2, the state think tank presented studies from the Competition Reforms in Key markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare (CREW) project conducted in partnership with Consumer Unity and Trust Society International (CUTS) and Action for Economic Reforms.

The CREW project adopted the so-called Framework for Competition Reform methodology to initially examine competition issues and the impact of possible reforms in the rice and bus transport sectors, according to a statement the PIDS issued on Wednesday.

In the rice sector, the PIDS looked into the major reforms introduced by the government in view of its commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to abolish quantitative restrictions on rice importation.

The Agriculture Agreement among WTO members has sought to scrap import quotas and other non-tariff restrictions for agricultural products and required countries to impose ordinary customs duties only.

The Philippines, however, received special treatment for its rice sector until 2017. The government currently charges a 35% tariff on rice imported within a set quota and 50% on excess volumes.

PIDS Senior Research Fellow and CREW Project Director Roehlano M. Briones said lifting the quantitative restriction on rice importation would result in the steep decline in domestic prices.

The inevitable transition to a more open rice trade regime should be accompanied by safety nets for smallholders suffering from intensified competition from imports, Mr. Briones was quoted in the statement.

We have evaluated a compensatory transfer scheme combined with a 35% tariff equivalent as a possible support scheme once special treatment is removed, he added.

In the bus transport sector, meanwhile, PIDS weighed options for consolidating bus operations to decongest the Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, Metro Manilas main thoroughfare more commonly known as EDSA.

PIDS Consultant Hope Gerochi included as options the lumping of bus operators into a consortium, which would have to bid for a specific route, and converting the buses into bus rapid transit systems.

The framework used in the studies can be applied in assessing market competition in other sectors, specially now that the Philippine Competition Act has come into force, PIDS President Gilberto M. Llanto said.

The antitrust law ultimately aims to benefit consumers with more choices and lower prices by facilitating market competition, PIDS noted.

The CREW project aims to close the gap between knowing the competition law and implementing the same by providing policy makers and practitioners an evidence-based methodology to understand the impact and value of reforms, CUTS International Senior Research Associate Neha Tomar was quoted in the statement.

Assessments of the state of competition in other industries -- airline, banking and finance, and retail trade -- were also presented during the workshop.

Maria Cherry Lyn S. Salazar-Rodolfo, president of private think tank REID Foundation, Inc., cited the liberalization of air service agreements, the passage of Pocket Open Skies and the ratification of the ASEAN Open Skies.

Ms. Salazar-Rodolfo said although the Philippines has yet to reach the same level of growth as Indonesia in terms of passenger carrying capacity of airlines, growth has been positive since 2009.

Ms. Salazar-Rodolfo also enumerated market definition issues, drip pricing, impacts of code share arrangements, mergers and alliances, lack of access to essential inputs such as slots and check-in counters and weak consumer and users group.

These are issues that we believe we have to contend with and try to address because they are limiting the positive impact that the air transport can make, Ms. Salazar-Rodolfo noted.

Alvin P. Ang, economics professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, discussed the banking sectors shortcomings in balancing efficiency, financial stability and access of firms and households to financial services, according to PIDS.

The banking sector faces a lot of competition problems like having high barriers to entry and exit. Lowering these barriers would generally lead to greater product differentiation, lower costs of financial intermediation, more access to financial services, and enhancing stability, Mr. Ang was quoted in the statement.

The professor noted how private banks are disproportionately outranking the market share of thrift and rural banks, with the countrys five biggest lenders accounting for 54% of the sectors total assets.

Mr. Ang said reforms aimed at liberalizing the financial markets would prepare Philippine banks to participate and compete with peers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Philippine banks are among the smallest in the ASEAN in terms of assets. The Development Bank of Singapore, for example, is bigger than the entire Philippine banking system, Mr. Ang said.

Roberto E. de Vera, economics professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific, presented the competition concerns of the retail trade sector. These included the need to develop and empower small and medium enterprises for a more inclusive market and more vibrant competition, according to PIDS. --


Author: Keith Richard D. Mariano
Date: March 10, 2016
Source: Business World

I am often tempted to give up on our current generation of Filipino adults, as far as changing our country is concerned, and look to our children to do it. As a people, we simply have too many deeply ingrained bad habits that seem impossible to change within this generation"and I wont even start listing some of those here, lest I never get to the main point of this column. We certainly should focus a great deal of effort and energy on the successor generation, our children and youth, who will run the country in the not-too-distant future.
The countrys salvation from the hope of the fatherland, as Jose Rizal once described them, would not come automatically. It is up to us adults to enable our successors to bring forth that hope. But this is where we have a major problem. Past and current trends lead us to an alarming prospect: We may be throwing that hope away given how we are failing to take care of our successor generation.
It should give us great worry, never mind embarrassment, that we were one of only few countries that failed to attain the Millennium Development Goals when the year of reckoning came last year. The MDGs comprised eight goals to be achieved by 2015, pledged to by world leaders back in 2000 in the historic UN Millennium Summit. These were eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, eliminating gender disparities in education, reducing mortality rate of children under 5 years old, reducing maternal mortality, reversing the spread of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development. The goals translated into 18 measurable targets that countries, including the Philippines, consciously integrated into their national development plans and poverty reduction strategies. All goals bear on the welfare of our children and youth.
A study done several years ago by a team I led from Brain Trust Inc. for Unicef (United Nations Childrens Fund) drew up a Provincial MDG Report Card for the Philippines, and came up with a startling observation: We were not even tracking our MDG performance regularly and systematically, and whatever data we did have indicated that we were getting worse, not better, on certain key MDG targets.
The most disturbing observations from our report card concerned nutrition and school enrollment, both of which showed worsening trends. The patchy data on the proportion of underweight children showed it to have increased through the turn of the millennium. Remarkably, even the progressive province of Bulacan showed rising incidence of child malnutrition. The apparent explanation was the rapid influx of migrants into the province, lured by its bustling economy and improving social services, apart from its having been a favored relocation site for resettled squatters from the metropolis. Even as the province made strides to improve its social services, these were outstripped by rapidly rising demand due to such in-migration. The price of success, it seems, is even heavier challenges.
This is worrisome because studies have long established a clear link between child malnutrition and inferior school performance and intellectual ability among young children. Worse, the problem is occurring right at the most critical years of the childrens intellectual development. Unless we act decisively, we risk throwing away an entire generation of Filipinos to intellectual mediocrity, if not inferiority, by sheer failure to feed them adequately. And with that goes our hope in the successor generation.
The other disturbing trend in the report card was falling net enrollment ratios in most provinces. This has since turned around, thanks in large measure to our conditional cash transfer program known as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, which impelled our poor families to keep their children in school. On gender parity, our problem is actually the reverse of that elsewhere: Girls outnumber boys in our schools by a ratio of as much as 1.6 to 1 in some provinces. But having large numbers of Filipino boys out of school is just as alarming as having too many girls deprived of schooling in South Asia and Africa.
The Department of Education has tried to address the malnutrition problem among public school children, albeit at a much limited scale, since at least 1997, when it launched the Food for Education program"a breakfast feeding program to address short-term hunger among public school children. It has since evolved into the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP), begun in 2010, that provides free lunch for 120 days to severely wasted grade-school pupils (i.e., those whose weight-to-height ratio falls far below the average). This school year, it targets to feed 532,752 pupils identified as severely wasted nationwide, and about half of the 1.3 million pupils identified as wasted.
A recent impact evaluation by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies showed that while the SBFP has been helpful, less than two-thirds of the beneficiaries achieve normal nutrition status at the end of the program. Furthermore, the nutritional gains are not sustained for many beneficiaries 12 months or more after the feeding program. Theres a clear need to do much more, and the onus should not fall on the government alone. The program can benefit from much stronger involvement of private business, parents and communities, in an effort that amounts to a tangible investment in our very future as a nation.
Clearly, here is one case where free lunches can truly go a long way.//
* * *
cielito.habito@gmail.com

Author: Cielito F. Habito
Date: March 10, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines - State-run Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) is urging the government to impose a 35 percent tariff on rice imports after the expiration of the special treatment tax for the staple in 2017 along with a direct cash transfer program for farmers to promote competition while protecting the welfare of local producers.
Roehlano Briones, a senior research fellow at PIDS, said the expiration of the quantitative restriction (QR) imposed on rice imports in July 2017 would intensify competition among rice importers and foreign suppliers, resulting to lower prices but would threaten the income of local producers.
As such, the government should consider implementing a 35 percent tariff on rice imports alongside a compensatory transfer scheme for farmers over and above the existing production support provided by pertinent government agencies to enable them to transition to a more open trade environment.
Briones noted the proposal would involve significant resources as the government already has a large budget for domestic subsidies under its Food Staple Sufficiency Program but would directly address the problems faced by farmers once the protection renegotiated by the government comes to an end next year.
The 35 percent tariff rate, he noted, is already sufficient to promote competition as this is already consistent with the duty on rice imports under the ASEAN free trade regime.
The idea is, if the tariffs are not so high then there could be increased competition in from foreign suppliers of rice, which is alarming for our farmers because this would lead to lower farmgate prices. As such we have to come up with a safety net for farmersThis would entail significant resources but is financially feasible. We also have to make sure that this is time bound, just enough to enable the farmers to make the transition to alternative crops, he said.
The government, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), provides production support in the form of irrigation investments as well as subsidies for farm machinery, and farm inputs. Through the National Food Authority (NFA), the state procures unmilled rice from farmers at a support price.
Briones said the government should continue to continue providing these traditional support programs as these have significant medium term and long term impact but direct payments to farmers would have immediate impact as it would provide an immediate safety net for local producers.
Briones proposed compensatory transfer scheme for rice farmers under a post-QR regime is a decoupled payment scheme, or lump-sum cash transfers the value of which is not tied to prevailing rice prices as is the case for traditional support price and deficiency payments applied when farmgate prices and market prices fall.
The economist is proposing that decoupled compensatory cash transfers be made to rice farmers listed under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA) twice a year (dry cropping season and wet cropping season) for a span of a single administration.
Briones is proposing that farm areas eligible for assistance be capped at two hectares per farmer. During the dry season, only farmers in irrigated areas are eligible to receive payments.
Using a so-called Total Welfare Impact Stimulator (TWIST), Briones said the government can afford to carry out compensatory transfers to rice farmers of as much as P19,000 per year at stable world market prices and P17,000 per year at 20 percent increase in world market prices.
Briones said even at this amount for four million hectares of total harvest area nationwide, tariff revenues should still exceed transfer payments.
He said the remaining proceeds from tariff revenues can be used to support other productivity-enhancing programs of the government.
After two years of negotiation, the World Trade Organization (WTO) general Council approved in July 2014 the Philippines bid for the continued imposition of high tariff on imported rice at a limited volume until June 2017. The extension of the QR entails increasing the volume of rice that can enter the country at a reduced, albeit still high tariff.//

Author: Czeriza Valencia
Date: March 07, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

Cash dole-outs under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) should be indexed to inflation if the government wants the program to make a significant dent on poverty reduction.
This was according to Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow of state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids). Albert said the purchasing power of the allocations under the 4Ps have already been eroded through inflation.
The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), or 4Ps, is widely regarded as a social-protection mechanism that can help developing countries meet its commitments under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 1 of eradicating poverty by 2030.
The government gives P300 per child, but this was the computation back in 2008. [The question is,] is P300 the same today as eight years ago? Albert asked.
While the government did increase the allocation to include children in high school, Albert said the amount of P500 has not been increased since the change was implemented a couple of years ago.
However, Albert said expanding the CCT Program requires more government resources. This includes any possible increase in the allocation to beneficiaries.
Nonetheless, Albert said the benefits outweigh the costs in the case of the CCTs. This is because its impact, particularly in increasing the enrollment rate of out-of-school youth, has been significant.
Since the programs inception in 2008, the number of beneficiaries increased to 4.4 million as of end-2015, from 340,000"making it the fourth-largest CCT after those rolled out in India, Brazil and Mexico. The program has expanded rapidly and has evolved over time based on lessons and experience.
Examples of evidence-based program adjustments include increasing the grant for older children and expanding the eligibility cut-off, from 14 years old to 18, to raise the rates of high-school graduation of children from poor families.
The CCT Program provides grants to poor families, if they send their children to school, visit health centers and attend family-development sessions.
Albert added that indexing the CCTs to inflation is just one of the means of addressing income inequality in the Philippines.
He said addressing the needs of the countrys middle class, or those with annual per-capita incomes in 2012 ranging from about P64,317 to P787,572, would also help narrow gaps in incomes. The middle class in the Philippines comprises some 42.19 million households.
While poverty reduction should be the main focus of development policy, there is a growing need for policy attention to boost the participation of the middle class in growth and development, according to a study conducted by Albert and Pids research specialist Raymond E. Gaspar and research analyst Martin Joseph M. Raymundo.
The authors said those earning between P7,890 and P15,780 per month belong to the low-income class, while those earning P15,780 to P31,560 a month comprise the lower middle-income class.
There are about 7.1 million households that are considered low income, while 5.8 million are in the lower middle-income category.
The middle-income class earns between P31,560 to P78,900 per month, while those in the upper-middle income earns anywhere from P78,900 to P118,350 per month.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: March 07, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

The government needs to adjust the cash payout for household beneficiaries under its conditional cash transfer program because of inflation, said Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

Albert, former secretary general of the now defunct National Statistical Coordination Board, said the cash grants under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) accounted for 23 percent of the household income of pilot beneficiaries in 2006.

However, Albert said it has already dropped to 16 percent in 2009, and seven percent as of 2013.

The amounts have been unchanged since program inception. Their value has eroded due to inflation, and their value needs re-examination, Albert said in a seminar last week.

The 4Ps, administered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), provides financial support to the poorest households for health and educational concerns.

Under the program, the families can qualify for a maximum monthly support of P1,400; P500 per month will be allocated for meeting health conditions, while P300 per child per month will be allocated for educational conditions. A maximum of three children per family can avail of the cash transfer.

The families availing of the program must meet a number of conditions to receive the cash transfers. Pregnant women must receive pre-natal and post-natal care, and parents must attend Family Development Sessions.

Children under five years old must also receive regular preventive health checkups and vaccinations, while children in elementary school must receive deworming treatment at least twice a year.

Children must be enrolled in school and have an attendance rate of at least 85 percent.

Is P300 the same today as eight years ago? To some extent, they increased the amount for high school kids to P500. But the government has to study that because the amount means differently if youre in Metro Manila or youre in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), Albert said.

He addedthe cash grants help the household beneficiariesbut are no longer enough.

Cash grants have the aggregate effect of keeping poverty from worsening, he said.

Albert noted despite a population growth of 1.9 percent for the past two decades, the official estimate of the magnitude of extremely poor households has remained steady at around 1.6 million households from 1991 to 2012.

The income of beneficiaries has increased so that they have moved closer to the poverty line, he said.

According to the DSWDs accomplishment data, the expansion of the 4Ps, which was meant to cover more families and link 4Ps to other social protection programs such as health and scholarships, has led to the coverage of 4.48 million households in 2014.

This is more than four times the one million households covered in 2010.//

Author: Angela Celis
Date: March 07, 2016
Source: Malaya

Proposals to amend the personal income-tax schedule appear to be well-justified. However, these proposals should include measures that will allow government to recover the revenue loss from lower income taxes.
Dr. Rosario Manasan, senior research fellow of state think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), said at a Senate-sponsored seminar, the government should look for new revenue measures to compensate for the projected revenue loss that will arise as a result of the implementation of any of the various proposals to restructure the personal income tax.
Currently, there are several income-tax reform proposals pending in both houses of Congress. All of them, according to Manasan, have the same objective of addressing the phenomenon of bracket creep, which results from non-indexation to inflation of personal income-tax brackets. Simply put, bracket creep occurs when employees income increases over time as a result of inflation. This pushes them to pay higher taxes, but their purchasing power
remains the same. The Philippines has not adjusted its personal income-tax system since 1998.
Manasan also noted the proposals all attempt to reduce the countrys high personal income-tax rate relative to its neighbors in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). In particular, the Philippiness top marginal personal income-tax rate of 32 percent is higher than the Asean member-states save for Thailand and Vietnam.
The proposals to amend the personal income-tax law assessed in the PIDS study were Sen. Ralph G. Rectos Senate Bill (SB) 716, Sen. Bam Aquinos SB 1942, Sen. Sonny Angaras SB 2149, Rep. Miro Quimbos of the Second District of Marikina Cityn House Bill (HB) 4829, and Party-list Reps. Neri Colmenaress and Carlos Zarates of Bayan Muna HB 5401. Similar proposals have been raised by the private sector, most notably the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP).
According to Manasan, Rectos SB 716 and Quimbos HB 4829 will reform the personal income-tax system by adjusting the tax brackets, according to changes in consumer-price index between 1998 and 2015. Meanwhile, Aquinos SB 1942 will exempt incomes below P60,000 and raise the top-bracket income threshold to P12 million. Angaras SB 2149 will affect changes in tax rates in phases over a span of three years, reducing the bottom marginal tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and the top marginal tax rate from 32 percent to 25 percent. Under this proposal, all incomes below P20,000 will also be exempted from taxation.
Colmenares and Zarates HB 5401 exempts income below P396,000 and raises the top threshold to P2 million.//


Author:
Date: March 16, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Think tank PIDS urges govt: Find other sources of revenue
Proposals to reform the countrys personal income tax structure pending in Congress must include revenue recovery measures for the government to offset the losses expected from reduced income taxes, a state think tank recommended in a study.
The study authored by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) senior research fellow Rosario Manasan said the government should look for new revenue measures to compensate for the projected loss that would arise as a result of the implementation of any of the various proposals to restructure the personal income tax.
Reform bills seek personal tax cut
Currently, there are several income tax reform proposals pending in both houses of Congress. Among those are Senator Ralph Rectos Senate Bill (SB) 716, Senator Benigno Aquino 4ths Senate Bill 1942, Senator Juan Edgardo Angaras Senate Bill 2149, Rep. Romero Quimbos House Bill (HB) 4829, and Rep. Neri Colmenares and Rep. Carlos Zarates House Bill 5401.
Similar proposals have been raised by the private sector, most notably the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP), the study noted.
All of them, according to Manasan, have the same objective of addressing the phenomenon of bracket creep, which simply put, occurs when employees income increases over time as a result of inflation.
This pushes them to pay higher taxes, but their purchasing power remains the same. The Philippines has not adjusted its personal income tax system since 1998, she said.
The PIDS senior fellow also noted that the proposals all attempt to reduce the countrys high personal income tax rate relative to its neighbors in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean).
In particular, the Philippines top marginal personal income tax rate of 32 percent is higher than that of all the Asean member-states, with the exception of Thailand and Vietnam.
According to Manasan, Rectos SB 716 and Quimbos HB 4829 will reform the personal income tax system by adjusting the tax brackets according to changes in the consumer price index between 1998 and 2015.
Meanwhile, Aquinos SB 1942 will exempt incomes below P60,000 and raise the top bracket income threshold to P12 million.
Angaras SB 2149 will affect changes in tax rates in phases over a span of three years, reducing the bottom marginal tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and the top marginal tax rate from 32 percent to 25 percent.
Under this proposal, all incomes below P20,000 will also be exempted from taxation, she said.
Colmenares and Zarates HB 5401 exempts income below P396,000 and raises the top threshold to P2 million.
Manasan noted that all of the proposals to amend the personal income tax schedule are clearly progressive given that the associated effective tax rates computed for various taxable income levels rises as the corresponding taxable income increases.
However, she pointed out that some proposals are less progressive, particularly Angaras SB 2149 and Quimbos HB 4829.
Manasans analysis showed that the tax liability in Angaras bill actually increases for those in the lower bracket during the first two years of its implementation, while Quimbos bill increases tax for non-wage taxpayers below the P500,000 mark.
As for losses in government revenue, the costliest bills are Quimbos HB 5892 and Colmenares and Zarates HB 5401, which is estimated at P130 billion and P232 billion, respectively, she explained.
In contrast, Rectos SB 216 will result in a revenue loss of around P52 billion for the government while Angaras SB 2149 will cost the government P10 billion in the first year and P61 billion in lost revenues for the third and final year, she added.
Recommendations
The PIDS fiscal expert noted that whichever proposal passes into legislation, government revenue will suffer.
With this, one way for government to recover the revenue loss is to increase the value-added tax (VAT) rate.
For instance, Manasan pointed out that a one-percentage point increase in the VAT rate is enough to recover about P26.25 billion in revenue.
However, she noted that raising the VAT rate would nullify the increased purchasing power resulting from the modification in the personal income tax rate schedule, especially among the poorer segment of the population.
Increasing the VAT will only recover revenue loss to a certain point, assuming that the increase in disposable income is fully spent. Moreover, the poorest will remain the hardest hit if the price of goods increases proportional to the VAT, she underscored.
Another option, she cited, is to levy an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which, based on the computation of the Department of Finance, would give government an additional P30 billion yearly.
Alternatively, government can apply an additional variable excise tax rate on petroleum products or increase the road users tax and motor vehicle user charge.
Manasan also pointed out the latter two measures would have a positive impact on the environment through reduced pollution and congestion.//

Author: Mayvelin U. Caraballo
Date: March 16, 2016
Source: Manila Times

PROPOSALS to adjust the personal income tax regime appear well justified but necessitate new tax measures to offset losses to the treasury, according to a discussion paper from the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
In her preliminary study Comparative Assessment of Proposals to Amend the Personal Income Tax Law released this month, PIDS Senior Research Fellow Rosario G. Manasan evaluated five different tax reform measures proposed during the 16th Congress and the proposal of the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP).

Ms. Manasan said the proposal -- Senate Bill (SB) No. 716, SB 1942, SB 2149, House Bill (HB) 4829, HB 5401 and the TMAP version -- tackle the need for eliminating the bracket creep and easing the tax burden of Filipinos relative to their peers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Senator Ralph G. Rectos SB 716 and Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Romero Federico S. Quimbos HB 4829 seek to adjust the tax brackets based on changes in the consumer price index between 1998 and 2015 without changing the current basic rate structure.

Meanwhile, Senators Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV (SB 1942) and Juan Edgardo M. Angara (SB 2149), Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Neri J. Colmenares and Carlos Isagani T. Zarate (HB 5401) along with TMAP proposed to adjust current rates by setting thresholds for taxable income and amending the top marginal rate.

The government last reformed the countrys income tax regime in 1997. Accordingly, individuals whose incomes have since risen along with inflation pay higher taxes simply because their taxable income entered the next income bracket.

Also, current tax rates are among the highest in the ASEAN region. At 32%, the highest personal income tax rate in the Philippines is second only to the 35% imposed in Thailand and Vietnam, according to the discussion paper.

In terms of progressivity, the proposals were assessed positively although SB 2149 and HB 4829 turned out less progressive than the current rate structure, Ms. Manasan said.

The study showed that tax liability under Mr. Angaras proposal actually increases for individuals in the lower bracket during the first two years of implementation, while Mr. Quimbos bill increases tax for non-wage taxpayers earning less than P500,000.

As for losses in government revenue, the costliest bills are Quimbos HB 5892 and Colmenares and Zarates HB 5401, which is estimated at P130 billion and P232 billion, respectively, PIDS quoted Ms. Manasan in a statement e-mailed yesterday.

In contrast, Rectos SB 216 will result in a revenue loss of around P52 billion for the government while Angaras SB 2149 will cost the government P10 billion in the first year and P61 billion in lost revenues for the third and final year, she added.

The study conducted for state think tank PIDS highlighted the need for the government to offset lost revenue arising from adjustments to the current income tax regime.

The government has the option to increase the value-added tax (VAT) rate, Ms. Manasan said, noting that adjusting the current 12% by 1 percentage point would allow for the recovery of around P26.25 billion of lost revenues.

But raising the VAT rate could negate the increased purchasing power resulting from the modification of the personal income tax rate schedule, especially among the poorer segment of the population.

Increasing the VAT will only recover revenue loss to a certain point, assuming that the increase in disposable income is fully spent. Moreover, the poorest will remain the hardest hit if the price of goods increases proportional to the VAT, Ms. Manasan said.

In this light, the PIDS research fellow presented another option: levy an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which could generate an additional P30 billion for the government annually, based on the Finance departments estimate.

Alternatively, the government can apply an additional variable excise tax rate on petroleum products or increase the road users tax and motor vehicle user charge. Aside from augmenting state funds, both measures will have a positive impact on the environment through reduced pollution and congestion, Ms. Manasan noted.

Meanwhile, former TMAP President Rina Manuel noted during a seminar sponsored by the Philippine Senate the estimated billions in losses will be a real price to pay, according to the PIDS statement.

Apart from putting compensatory measures in place, Ms. Manuel said sustaining the governments revenue stream also depends on improving its collection system and establishing a specialized tax payer program for the self-employed and professionals.

With about two months left before the national elections, Ms. Manasan said: I think our candidates should make a stand on this issue so that voters know what they are voting for.//

Author: Keith Richard D. Mariano,
Date: March 16, 2016
Source: Business World

Proposals to lower income tax are justified, according to the Philippine Institute for Development Studies , but they should include measures to offset the loss the government will incur from lower taxes.

Rosario Manasan, PIDS senior research fellow, said the income tax reform proposals pending in both houses of Congress have the same objective of addressing bracket creep, which results from non-indexation to inflation of personal income tax brackets.

PIDS said bracket creep occurs when employees income increases over time as a result of inflation. This pushes them to pay higher taxes, but their purchasing power remains the same.

The Philippines has not adjusted its personal income tax system since 1998.

Manasan also noted that the proposals all attempt to reduce the countrys high personal income tax rate relative to its neighbors in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In particular, the Philippines top marginal personal income tax rate of 32 percent is higher than that of all the ASEAN member-states with the exception of Thailand and Vietnam.

The proposals to amend the personal income tax law assessed in the PIDS study were Senator Rectos Senate Bill 716, Senator Aquinos Senate Bill 1942, Senator Angaras Senate Bill 2149, Rep. Quimbos House Bill 4829, and Rep. Colmenares and Rep. Zarates House Bill 5401.

Similar proposals have been raised by the private sector, most notably the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP).

According to Manasan, Rectos SB 716 and Quimbos HB 4829 will reform the personal income tax system by adjusting the tax brackets according to changes in consumer price index between 1998 and 2015.
Meanwhile, Aquinos SB 1942 will exempt incomes below P60,000 and raise the top bracket income threshold to P12 million.

Angaras SB 2149 will affect changes in tax rates in phases over a span of three years, reducing the bottom marginal tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and the top marginal tax rate from 32 percent to 25 percent. Under this proposal, all incomes below P20,000 will also be exempted from taxation.

Colmenares and Zarates HB 5401 exempts income below P396,000 and raises the top threshold to P2 million.

Manasan noted that all of the proposals to amend the personal income tax schedule are clearly progressive given that the associated effective tax rates computed for various taxable income levels rises as the corresponding taxable income increases.

However, she pointed out that some proposals are less progressive, particularly Angaras SB 2149 and Quimbos HB 4829.

Manasans analysis shows that the tax liability in Angaras bill actually increases for those in the lower bracket during the first two years of its implementation while Quimbos bill increases tax for nonwage taxpayers below the P500,000 mark.

As for losses in government revenue, the costliest bills are Quimbos HB 5892 and Colmenares and Zarates HB 5401, which is estimated at P130 billion and P232 billion, respectively, Manasan said.

In contrast, Rectos SB 216 will result in a revenue loss of around P52 billion for the government while Angaras SB 2149 will cost the government P10 billion in the first year and P61 billion in lost revenues for the third and final year, she added.

Manasan said that whichever proposal passes into legislation, government revenue will suffer.

One way for government to recover the revenue loss, she said, is to increase the value-added tax (VAT) rate.

For instance, Manasan pointed out that a one-percentage point increase in the VAT rate is enough to recover approximately P26.25 billion loss in revenue from other taxes such as the personal income tax.

However, she noted that raising the VAT rate would nullify the increased purchasing power resulting from the modification in the personal income tax rate schedule, especially among the poorer segment of the population.

Increasing the VAT will only recover revenue loss to a certain point, assuming that the increase in disposable income is fully spent. Moreover, the poorest will remain the hardest hit if the price of goods increases proportional to the VAT, Manasan said.

Another option, she said, is to levy an excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which based on the computation of the Department of Finance, will give government an additional P30 billion yearly.

Alternatively, government can apply an additional variable excise tax rate on petroleum products or increase the road users tax and motor vehicle user charge.

According to Manasan, both measures will have a positive impact on the environment through reduced pollution and congestion.//

Author: Angela Celis
Date: March 17, 2016
Source: Malaya

MANILA, Philippines " As the presidential election nears, candidates should make a firm stance on the prevailing income tax reform issue, state-run think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said in a report.
PIDS senior research fellow Rosario Manasan said existing proposals to reform the personal income tax schedule appear to be well-justified. Nonetheless, other sources of government revenue should be identified to recover losses from lower income taxes.
Our candidates should make a stand on this issue so that voters know what they are voting for, Manasan said.
There are several income tax reform bills pending in Congress which, Manasan noted, all attempt to address bracket creep which occurs when incomes increase over time as a result of inflation. This forces employees to pay higher income taxes but their purchasing power remains the same.
The pending bills all attempt to reduce the countrys high personal income tax relative to the prevailing rate in Southeast Asia. The Philippines top marginal income tax rate of 32 percent is higher than the prevailing rates in ASEAN with the exception of Thailand and Vietnam.
Manasan said tax reform should be a top priority for the next administration as it is already overdue.
The Philippines has not adjusted its personal income tax schedule since 1998.
PIDS assessed the proposed income tax amendments of Senator Ralph Rectos Senate Bill 716, Senator Bam Aquinos Senate Bill 1942, and Senator Juan Edgardo Angaras Senate Bill 2149.
Also assessed were House Bill 4829 by Representative Miro Quimbo, and House Bill 5401 by Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate.
Similar proposals have also been put forward by the private sector, among these the Tax Management Association of the Philippines (TMAP).
Recto and Quimbos bills would reform the income tax system by adjusting the tax brackets based on changes in the consumer price index between the years 1998 to 2015.
Aquinos bill, meanwhile, would exempt workers earning below P60,000 annually from paying income tax and raise the top bracket income threshold to P12 million.
Angaras income tax reform bill would introduce changes in tax rate in a span of three years. It would reduce the bottom marginal tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent and the top marginal tax rate from 32 percent to 25 percent.
Colmenares and Zarates bill exempts from taxation annual incomes below P396,000 and raises the top threshold to P2 million.
In terms of revenue losses to government, Manasan said the costliest proposals are those of Quimbos and the bill co-authored by Colmenares and Zarate with foregone revenues estimated at P230 billion and P232 billion per year respectively.
Rectos bill would lead to revenue loss of P52 billion per year while Angaras bill would cost the government P10 billion in the first year and P61 billion in the third year.
Whichever proposal passes into legislation, government revenue will suffer, said Manasan.//

Author: Czeriza Valencia
Date: March 17, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

State-run think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is urging presidential candidates to consider comprehensive tax reform so that taxes slapped on incomes could be reduced while increasing those on consumption.
As the presidential election looms, tax reform has increasingly become a critical election issue. Tax reform is overdue and experts opine that a comprehensive tax reform should be a top priority for the presidential candidates, PIDS said in a statement yesterday.
I think our candidates should make a stand on this issue so that voters know what they are voting for, senior research fellow Rosario G. Manasan was quoted by PIDS as saying at a recent forum.
Manasan told the forum that the government should look for new revenue measures to compensate for the projected revenue loss that will arise as a result of the implementation of any of the various proposals to restructure the personal income tax.
In the PIDS discussion paper titled Comparative Assessment of Various Proposals to Amend the Personal Income Tax published last year, Manasan said proposals to cut income taxes or index rates appear to be well-justified from the perspective of the need to eliminate the bracket creep and ease the tax burden on Filipino personal income taxpayers relative to their Asean neighbors.
The personal as well as corporate tax rates in the country are among the highest in the region.
President Aquino, however, had shot down proposals to cut income tax rates, warning of a shortfall in government funds.
For Manasan, among the feasible sources of new tax revenues to compensate for lower income taxes included raising the value-added tax (VAT) rate, which currently stands at 12 percent.
She cited that a one-percentage point increase in the VAT rate is enough to recover approximately P26.25-billion loss in revenue from other taxes such as the personal income tax.
But Manasan cautioned that a higher VAT rate would nullify the increased purchasing power resulting from the modification in the personal income tax rate schedule, especially among the poorer segment of the population.
Increasing the VAT will only recover revenue loss to a certain point, assuming that the increase in disposable income is fully spent. Moreover, the poorest will remain the hardest hit if the price of goods increases proportional to the VAT, she pointed out.//


Author: Ben O. de Vera
Date: March 17, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

FORMER senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will push for up to P250-billion in personal income tax cuts to give greater buying power to middle class families and put more money in the pockets of low-income households for their consumption spending.
The bigger the tax cut, the better. We are looking at lowering the highest personal income tax rate from 32 percent to between 20 to 25 percent, which are the prevailing highest rates in Singapore and Malaysia, Zubiri said.
He played down a Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) report which said that proposals to slash personal income tax rates would mean billions of pesos in forgone revenue that government may have to counteract with potential additional levies elsewhere.
The PIDS study is a one-dimensional view. Once we give the P250 billion to families for them to spend on their own " whether they decide to simply buy more groceries or procure new durable goods " a large portion of the money will be recaptured by government, since all purchases are slapped a 12 percent sales tax, Zubiri said.
He said the extra P250 billion at the disposal of Filipino families every year would boost consumption spending, spur a large new demand for all sorts of goods and services, and drive all industries to increase output and hire more workers.
As a result, the total amount of taxable assets and business income everywhere will also grow rapidly, thus allowing government to recover any lost revenue, plus more, Zubiri said.
There are at least four bills seeking to reduce personal income taxes now pending in Congress. Depending on the proposal, the PIDS estimates that government would be sacrificing anywhere from P52 billion to P232 billion in annual tax revenue.
Zubiri said the tax cut is the best way to quickly energize the economy and create gainful employment for jobless Filipinos -- estimated at 9.1 million by a recent Social Weather Stations Inc. (SWS) survey.
Without question, the positive impact of the tax concession on the economy will be immediate, massive and widespread, he said.
Though running for the Senate as an independent, Zubiri is an adopted guest candidate on the senatorial tickets of three presidential aspirants -- Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
The latest SWS and Pulse Asia Research Inc. pre-election surveys of voter senatorial preferences rank Zubiri as the sixth most-favored candidate.
We cannot rely on increased government spending alone to immediately build up the economy, simply because is it usually takes years for public programs to be performed. So it also takes a very long time for the benefits to trickle out to the rest of the economy, Zubiri said.
Increased government spending also tends to be highly concentrated on infrastructure and pay upgrades for civil servants, according to the former senator.
We should keep less tax money in state coffers, and simply put more cash at the disposal of Filipino households, which tend to be more productive spenders than government agencies, he said.
Analysts have blamed sluggish government spending for dragging down economy growth and jobs creation.
The Philippine economy grew 5.8 percent in 2015 -- the slowest pace in four years " and short of governments target of seven to eight percent. (PR)//

Author:
Date: March 19, 2016
Source: Sun Star Pampanga

MANILA, Philippines -- Bottom Up Budgeting has been the buzzword of the campaign of administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II and his running mate, Leni Robredo.
So enamored is Roxas, a former Interior secretary, with the BUB concept that he has upped the ante, promising to expand it into BUB Pa More with P1 billion set aside from the national budget -- or roughly P1,000 for each of the 100 million Filipinos -- for services and facilities in cities, towns, and down to the barangay should he become the next president.
But to the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the presidential bet of the United Nationalist Alliance, BUB is nothing but legalized vote-buying or, as his spokesman Mon Ilagan spells it out, Bribe Ur Barangay or Buy Ur Barangay.
It is worth noting, of course, that Binay himself has been bombarded with a barrage of corruption allegations.
But Leonor Birones, lead convenor of budget watchdog Social Watch Philippines and a former National Treasurer, shares the same observation, noting that BUB funds are (a) direct remittance from the national government.
Thus, if this (BUB) happens during an election year, you cannot say that these are pure and virgin funds coming from national government to the local government.
Briones, who teaches at the University of the Philippines, said the BUBs objective could even exacerbate national control over local government during elections instead of loosening it up towards decentralization.
If Roxas wins, will the P100 billion allocation for BUB Pa More be feasible? With funds pouring in, can local governments and civil society groups handle the programs implementation?
Will it have the promised impact on communities in terms of services and facilities form the government? How can it be insulated from politics? And does BUB promote decentralization or tighten fiscal centralization?
The BUB process
As an alternative to traditional top-down budgeting, the Aquino administration introduced the BUB in 2012 in time for the preparation of the 2013 National Expenditure Program.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad called it a mechanism for transparency and participation as it allows people to directly participate in planning, budgeting and monitoring implementation.
The process gives civil society organizations equal footing with local government units identifying and planning projects needed by communities.
The National Anti Poverty Commission was tapped to put in place an empowerment program for CSOs and enable them to engage with LGUs.
The process calls for municipal local government units to prepare a Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan and, based on a menu, identify the most urgent anti-poverty priority projects to be funded by the national government.
The Department of Interior and Local Government was made the lead agency for the program, since it is in charge of local government units, with other national government agencies tapped to implement the identified projects.
Increasing allocation
The BUB is essentially an additional source of funds for LGUs, which are given P700 times the number of residents, tallied using the small poverty area estimates based on the Family Income and Expenditure Survey and Census data.
Thus, towns and cities with more poor residents receive larger BUB allocations.
However, the grant may not be less than P15 million nor more than P50 million per LGU. The BUB also requires LGUs to provide a cash counterpart.
For 2013, the government identified 609 poor municipalities to be covered by the program, which was allotted a budget of P13 billion. There were 10,600 projects implemented in that year.
For 2014, as the number of covered municipalities increased to 1,233 towns and cities, the budget allocation doubled to P26.2 billion for 23,846 projects.
For 2015, the BUB budget was P21 billion covering 14,638 projects in all towns and cities across the country.
For 2016, 14,325 local poverty reduction projects have been allocated P24.7 billion.
Abad said BUB will be expanded in 2017 to cover all 42,036 barangay nationwide.
BUB Pa More
Here is how Roxas pitches the BUB.
Ang bilang ng Pilipino ngayon, 100 million na tao. Nakita ko, pinag-aralan ko, kinalkula ko, hinanap ko ang pera sa budget, at nakita ko na, nasagot ko na itong lahat (There are now 100 million Filipinos. I saw and studied it, calculating and looking for money in the budget, and I have found the answer to it all.). One hundred million people times P1,000 is P100 billion. 'Yang halagang 'yan, kukunin natin sabudget 'yang P100 billion na 'yan, at ipapamahagi natin 'yan sa BUB process sa lahat ng bayan sa ating bansa (That amount, the P100 billion, will be taken from the budget and we will distribute that through the BUB process to all municipalities in the country), he said.
Roxas new formula not only increases the grant per resident from P700 to P1,000, but makes the program available to all, not just the poorest.
NAPC lead convenor Joel Rocamora says it can even be expanded further. Mar is saying P100 billion. But if you ask Butch (Abad), he said government can fund BUB even up to P200 billion.
What the Aquino administration really wants is to push as much power, activity and money down to the grassroots, and the BUB is a tool for doing that, Rocamore said.
Before the BUB, he said, people had no say about what projects were brought to their communities. Now, its the people who choose which projects will benefit them. We are empowering the local government by virtue of giving them the money over which they can decide how to use that money, he said.
Its not just money of national government going down to the local government units; its really the local government units gaining greater control over the money of national government agencies, Rocamora stressed.
Decentralization or centralization?
However, Briones noted conflicting policies between the BUB and the Aquino administrations other cornerstone anti-poverty program, the Conditional Cash Transfer.
One major concept, which is clearly enshrined in the Local Government Code and in the Constitution is that local governments have to be decentralized and fiscally autonomous, she said. Now you have this policy of BUB, where the national government directly gives the municipalities funds. While we intone fiscal autonomy, what we are really doing it fiscal centralization.
She noted that in the US and Canada, which also give grants to their poor, this is done through a calibrated mechanism.
For example, she said, Canada gives grants to indigenous peoples so they can catch up, but will not give grants to Montreal and other large cities.
What is disturbing is that BUB is now for everybody when it's supposed to be for the poor municipalities, she said.
This means that one, there is a lack of trust for the local government system, which is supposed to raise its own money; and secondly, if this happens during election time, then you are really tightening control over local governments because you make promises to them about certain funds and projects, she explained.
Even in the United Nations, Briones said there is growing concern about the condition of the Three Ds in every nation -- Democracy, Decentralization, Development.
The Philippines, she observed, is still a long way from achieving decentralization.
We have it by law, but by fiscal decisions, what we have is fiscal centralization because money is controlled by the national government, she said.
For instance, of the P3-trillion budget for 2016, what local government units will receive directly is only P428.6 billion or around 14 percent, with other funds needing to be negotiated with the Department of Budget and Management and the president.
You cannot be having decentralization and fiscal centralization at the same time. And if you are having fiscal centralization, you cannot be having democracy. And if you don't have democracy, then you can't have development, Briones said.
BUB = Roxas?
While the BUB is being touted as an anti-poverty program, Briones said it cannot be denied that it was put in place in anticipation of this years elections. When the BUB budget doubled from 2013 to 2014, it was placed directly under the DILG, then headed by Roxas.
You have somebody who is DILG secretary and at the same time, presidential aspirant. How can you separate that? she said. Who will say that BUB is not Mars and who will not say that Mar is a presidential candidate?
The administration may say Roxas was implementing the BUB as DILG secretary and that the funds used were legitimate because they were in the budget.
But Briones said this was what the International Monetary Fund, in a paper, found problematic.
The IMF findings is that all these budgets are legitimate because they are covered by law, but it doesnt deny the fact that it is political because you have the DILG secretary, who himself is the president of the Liberal Party, she said.
Rocamora said the BUBs impact on the administration candidates was never a consideration during the programs inception. Policies and programs evolve, they are developed, but their impact to elections was not among the considerations, he said.
He also said that the realization of a decentralized government was the ultimate goal, but that this could only be attained with small steps like the BUB.
The other thing that critics dont understand is a lot of the money (allocated for BUB) is really the money of national government agencies, he said. So, its not just money of national government going down to the local government units, its really the local governments gaining greater control of the money of national government agencies, and madugong laban ito kasi sanay iyong mga ahensya na nagsasabi kung ano ang gagawin (it is a bloody fight because these agencies are used to saying what needs to be done). Now that is taken out of their hands, Rocamora said.
Status of projects
In the fishing village of Sta. Clara in Batangas City, about a dozen new motorized banca were lined along the shore.
Reynaldo Bartolome pointed to one of the boats, which he said he received from the BUB project.
We attended several meetings and we told the mayor that we need banca. Now, we have them, he said.
Bartolome said the boats are not only used for fishing but for patrolling the seas against unauthorized fishing.
At least 1,590 local government units have participated in the BUB program since 2013. There were a total of 42,221 BuB projects reported in the Open BUB Portal. Of this number, 13,712 projects have been completed as of December 1, 2015 (exclusive of dropped projects that were replaced, split or merged).
For this year, 14,325 local poverty reduction projects have been allocated P24.7 billion. This is an increase from P8 billion in 2013 for projects identified in 595 cities and municipalities, according to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
The BUB has been recognized as one of five Best Practices in Fiscal Transparency from around the world during the Open Government Partnership summit in Mexico City last November. In their declaration, GIFT noted that in 2015, 1,514 cities and municipalities (92 percent of all in the country) had joined the program and it has so much demand it would be difficult for future governments to discontinue.
The Philippines was also granted the Gold Open Government Award for BUB in the inaugural OGP Awards at the United Nations Head Quarters in New York City in September 2014.
Challenges
Rocamora acknowledged that challenged remain in implementing the BUB.
If we talk about the details, there are two steps forward and one step backward. But by and large, simply by being able to push that amount of money to municipal governments is already a measure of success, he said.
Marie Labajo, one of the NAPCs undersecretaries, noted the struggle between CSOs and LGUs in determining the projects. Theres resistance because BUB mended the imbalance of power, now the power of decision-making is shared by the people, she said.
With equal representation and equal voice in determining the projects in the Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan, she said CSOs and LGUs are forced to talk and agree.
Labajo and Perigine Cayadong, chief of NAPCs monitoring division, also echoed the CSOs criticisms of the menu from which to draw proposed projects.
When we started, all proposed projects should be based on a menu. But after the pilot run, the people complained. They said they might need something not in the menu, Labajo said.
Briones said the menu of projects does not meet all the needs of communities, with some projects irrelevant to certain municipalities.
She cited a village in Negros Oriental which received livelihood projects under the BUB.
Its a hilly village abundant with green grass and where every house has a cow. But then, they were given pigs, she said. Maski magbasa ka sa childrens books, ang mga namamasyal sa hills ay cows and sheep, hindi naman pigs (Even in childrens books, cows and sheep roam the hills, not pigs).
The menu of programs under BUB is very limiting. It does not allow stakeholders to innovate and create new programs that would meet the needs of communities, she added.
Cayadong said flexibility was introduced in 2014, allowing 20 percent of the total projects to come from outside the menu. The menu is evolving. The government is also seeing the communities unmet needs, she explained.
For example, common public toilets figured in the top three needs of many municipalities and were eventually added in the menu.
BUB in study
The Philippine Institute for Development Studies studied the conduct of the BUB in 12 municipalities of Agusan de Norte, Camarines Sur, Negros Occidental and Quezon. Among its findings -- implementation of projects was generally slow, with only one of the approved BUB projects for 2013 in the 12 study sites completed as of March 2014.
The implementation of BUB sub-projects for 2013 is also found to have been hampered by the poor national government agency feedback at various stages of the BUB process, it said.
Civil society organizations also said they were given only a small role in project implementation and monitoring.
PIDS recommended a mapping of CSOs to allow as many groups to get involved in the program. There is also need to enhance the capacity of civil society groups to improve the quality of their participation in the BUB process.
Rocamora said civil society groups should also be capacitated so they can decipher the voluminous financial documents and reports related to the implementation of projects.
The BUB, he said, is a work in progress, a good project whose potential remains largely untapped. //

Author: Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
Date: March 19, 2016
Source: Interksyon TV5

WITH the April 15 deadline for filing income tax returns coming after Holy Week, we hear suggestions for (1) presidential candidates to disclose income taxes paid and (2) the lowering of highest personal income tax rate from 32 percent to 20-25 percent.

Income taxes will account for some 60 percent of the P2.026-trillion collection that the Bureau of Internal Revenue targets this year. Other revenue sources: value-added tax (P405.11 billion), excise tax (P170.72 billion), percentage tax (P82.9 billion), and other taxes (P123.54 billion). Taxes will cover about 83 percent of the current P3-trillion national budget.

Reader Federico Infante Lojo of Lipa City suggests that all presidential candidates be pressured to disclose the personal income tax they had paid in the past 10 years. It is a reasonable proposal.

He said that in the case of Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares, who leads in the surveys despite questions about her citizenship and residency, voters should know the income taxes she had paid the BIR compared to her payments to the US Internal Revenue Service.

Former Sen. Migz Zubiri, meanwhile, said he would push for up to P250-billion in personal income tax cuts to boost the buying power of the middle class and put more money in the pockets of low-income households for their consumption spending.

He said he was looking at lowering the highest personal income tax rate from 32 percent to between 20 to 25 percent, which are the prevailing highest rates in Singapore and Malaysia.

There was a similar proposal in the Congress last year, but President Noynoy Aquino shot it down, saying that would result in at least P30-billion yearly reduction in revenues.

A Philippine Institute for Development Studies report also said that with the big amount of forgone revenue " estimated at P52-P232 billion -- the government may have to resort to additional levies in other areas.

The PIDS study is a one-dimensional view, Zubiri said. Once we give the P250 billion to families to spend on their own " whether they decide to simply buy more groceries or procure new durable goods " a large portion of the money will be recaptured by government, since all purchases are slapped a 12-percent sales tax. * * *

Author: Federico D. Pascual Jr.
Date: March 20, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

CABANATUAN CITY, March 29 (PIA) -- State think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) will hold this Wednesday, March 30, a Forum on the Assessment of the Irrigation and Postharvest Facilities at Central Luzon State University (CLSU).

One of the papers to be presented is an evaluation of irrigation facilities conducted by a multidisciplinary team of PIDS consultants.

Arlene Inocencio, former PIDS research fellow and currently professor at the De la Salle University-Manila, will present the findings and recommendations of her team related to the technical/physical and institutional aspects of irrigation management and development for national and communal irrigation systems, PIDS President Gilberto Llanto said in a statement.

The irrigation sector in the country has long been facing issues of underdevelopment, mismanagement, and environmental degradation. Despite receiving a third of the total budget for agriculture, the sector has fallen short in delivering what is expected from it, Llanto added.

The PIDS study, which evaluated 66 communal irrigation systems and 22 national irrigation systems in 16 provinces in Luzon, offers an inclusive approach to tackle the complex issues that hound the irrigation sector.

Specifically, the paper proposes a systematic approach to water allocation and distribution, an integrated development plan, and a review of existing policies and regulations that possibly hamper the growth of the irrigation sector.

Meanwhile, the second presentation shall focus on the findings relative to the assessment of the governments programs to address the problem of postharvest losses incurred in the various stages of food supply chain such as on-farm postharvest activities, processing, logistics, marketing, and trading.

The PIDS paper by Nerlita Manalili, Kevin Yaptenco, and Alessandro Manilay, assessed the effectiveness of the rice processing centers and food terminals in the provinces of Pangasinan, Davao del Sur, Bohol, and Iloilo.

The study notes that overall, the postharvest facilities in these provinces have positive impact in addressing postharvest losses and improving the marketing system for rice and high-value crops. For example, the authors computed the total gain in farmers income due to higher buying prices at around Php13.9 million. Without these facilities, the authors contended that farmers could easily lose some Php 286.96 million, Llanto furthered.

This policy research forum is part of PIDS program to disseminate findings from studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects.

Spearheaded by the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Budget and Management, these impact evaluation (IE) studies were conducted to promote greater transparency and accountability in government.

Through these IE studies, policymakers and program implementers will have concrete basis in determining whether a particular program is achieving its intended outcomes or whether it needs to be fine-tuned or discontinued, Llanto ended. (CLJD/CCN-PIA 3)//


Author:
Date: March 29, 2016
Source: PIA

The growth of the countrys agriculture sector was slower than that of other countries in the region, partly because the country failed to put in place the necessary reforms and measures that can bring about an agricultural transformation.
Roehlano Briones, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said in a forum Tuesday that the countrys agriculture growth averaged only 2 percent from 1981 to 2014, short of the average of 3 percent across developing Asia.
The Philippines also lagged in terms of agricultural exports and growth in yield of major crops in the region.
According to Briones, developing the countrys agriculture sector will thus require a crucial transition from mere farming to agribusiness, a structural transformation that will call for increased diversification in farm outputs as well as sound government interventions.
In doing so, the government will also be able to achieve a rural transformation which, Briones said, can be attained by upgrading and restructuring the supply chain to gain competitive advantage in high-value agro-industrial products.
Among the binding constraints to a full agricultural transition were identified by Briones as the lack of access to new technologies, quality inputs, financing, and well developed logistics, transport, and marketing services.
Briones also cited as challenges the lack of investments in research and development; rural infrastructure backlog; weak regulatory and certification system; and defective property rights regime.
To address these constraints, Briones cited the need to, over the short term, develop a participatory competitiveness working group for agro-industry on a sector-specific basis and at a local level and ensure that the different agribusiness roadmaps will include detailed analysis and prioritization of constraints by importance or urgency.
Under the medium term agenda to transform the agricultural sector, the government must set up economic zones and industrial centers for agribusiness; provide tax incentives, subsidies, and flexible price stabilization schemes for stakeholders; and increase investments in research and development, extension systems, irrigation facilities, regulatory systems and transport infrastructure, among others.
Over the long-term, there is a need to set up an efficient land administration system; incorporate agribusiness in industrial incentives and zoning scheme; create a regulatory system facilitating business registration and licensing, standards and enforcement, contract compliance; and enact a competition policy prohibiting anti-competitive practices in agribusiness.//


Author: Amy Remo
Date: March 30, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

State think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (Pids), in partnership with the Central Luzon State University (CLSU), will conduct a forum on the assessment of the irrigation and postharvest facilities on March 30 on the CLSU campus in Muoz, Nueva Ecija.
One of the papers to be presented is an evaluation of irrigation facilities conducted by a multidisciplinary team of Pids consultants. Arlene Inocencio, former Pids research fellow and currently professor at the De La Salle University Manila, will present the findings and recommendations of her team related to the technical/physical and institutional aspects of irrigation management and development for national and communal irrigation systems.
The irrigation sector in the country has long been facing issues of underdevelopment, mismanagement and environmental degradation. Despite receiving a third of the total budget for agriculture, the sector has fallen short in delivering what is expected from it.
The PIDS study, which evaluated 66 communal irrigation systems and 22 national irrigation systems in 16 provinces in Luzon, offers an inclusive approach to tackle the complex issues that hound the irrigation sector.
Specifically, the paper proposes a systematic approach to water allocation and distribution, an integrated development plan, and a review of existing policies and regulations that possibly hamper the growth of the irrigation sector.
For the second presentation, findings on the assessment of the governments programs to address the problem of postharvest losses incurred in the various stages of food-supply chain, such as on-farm postharvest activities, processing, logistics, marketing and trading, will be presented.
The Pids paper by Nerlita Manalili, Kevin Yaptenco and Alessandro Manilay assessed the effectiveness of the rice-processing centers and food terminals in the provinces of Pangasinan, Davao del Sur, Bohol and Iloilo.
The Pids study notes that overall, the postharvest facilities in these provinces have positive impact in addressing postharvest losses and improving the marketing system for rice and high-value crops. For example, the authors computed the total gain in farmers income due to higher buying prices at around P13.9 million. Without these facilities, the authors said, farmers could easily lose some P286.96 million.
This policy research forum is part of the Pidss program to disseminate findings from studies conducted to evaluate the effectiveness and impacts of key government programs and projects. Spearheaded by the National Economic and Development Authority and the Department of Budget and Management, these impact evaluation (IE) studies were conducted to promote greater transparency and accountability in government.
Through these IE studies, the Pids said policy-makers and program implementers will have concrete basis in determining whether a particular program is achieving its intended outcomes or whether it needs to be fine-tuned or discontinued.
According to Pids President Gilberto Llanto, CLSU"as one of the countrys premier academic and research institutions for agriculture"is the best partner in conducting a forum to disseminate the results of these studies to stakeholders in Central Luzon, where most of the countrys rice supply is produced.



Author:
Date: March 29, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

the most important Philippine sector from the 1970s onwards, the Trade department said, as it highlighted the need to transform the agricultural sector from traditional farming into a globally competitive agribusiness.

Together with the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), the department has listed a number of constraints -- ranging from poor regulatory services to insufficient investment -- that have hampered agriculture.

I believe that that is what we are doing now -- we have identified the gaps in our industrial policies and have set out and implemented many of the necessary reform measures, Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal, Jr. said yesterday in a conference that updated industry participants on the departments Comprehensive National Industrial Strategy (CNIS).

CNIS is the Department of Trade and Industrys (DTI) action plan that links the manufacturing sector with the agricultural and services sectors. It involves a number initiatives, including human resources development, innovation, research and development, and streamlining and automation of government procedures and regulations.

In the process, forward and backward linkages will be strengthened, supply chain gaps will be addressed and the industries participation in the global and regional value chains will be deepened, Mr. Cristobal said.

Roehlano M. Briones, PIDS senior research fellow, identified a list of constraints such as supply chain and coordination issues that leave small farmers at a great disadvantage.

Small farmers lack of access to technologies, technical knowledge, quality inputs, financing, he said, adding that this has made them unable to supply the requirements of processors of farm products.

He said, for instance, that highly perishable products such as fruits and vegetables were not given the required well developed logistics, transport and marketing services.

Some industries whose established coordination bodies became inactive, he said, citing as example the Philippine Seaweed Industry Council.

Mr. Briones also said that research and development in agriculture had been insufficient and fell below what he said was the rule-of-thumb of 1% of the sectors gross value added. This has never happened, he said.

He also pointed to the meager allocation to major commodities and high-value products, including the absence of a rubber research institute, which was in contrast to Malaysias strategy, allowing the countrys regional neighbor to go far ahead and lead in rubber products.

He also said the country has poor quality of regulatory services. For the rubber industry, for instance, the lack of standards on rubber grades broke the link from rubber growers to local manufacturers.

Another example are cacao processors who lack the funds to invest in the needed machinery, technology and certification process, he said.

Development of the rural economy is a key factor for achieving inclusive growth, Mr. Briones said. Agricultural development in the Philippine context involves transition from farming to agribusiness.

He said rural transformation could be attained only through upgrading and restructuring of supply chains to gain competitive advantage in high-value agro-industrial products.

Reforms will require multi-stakeholder consultation through the operationalization of agribusiness road maps, he said.//


Author: Victor V. Saulon
Date: March 29, 2016
Source: Business World

Globally, the winds of change are blowing and there are signs that transitioning to renewable energy is underway. The next president must chart a low-carbon future.

Four out of 5 presidential candidates have vowed to pursue the development of renewable energy (RE) in the Philippines.
Except for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who slammed the anti-coal position of UN and developed countries as hypocritical, the other candidates " Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, former local and interior government secretary Manuel Mar Roxas II and Vice President Jejomar Binay all said they will see to it that the promise of RE as a major source of energy will be fulfilled under their leadership.
This is commendable especially as the Philippines has led the call for ambitious steps to reduce greenhouse gases in the 2015 UN climate change talks. It has identified energy as one of the sectors from where the country will slash its carbon footprint to meet its 70 percent emission reduction goal by 2030 relative to business-as-usual levels.



The contenders, however, missed a major chance to explain how they intend to make RE work in the second presidential debate held on March 20.
If the next president will get serious in building an energy regime anchored on RE, they must tackle the following:
1. Make RE attractive to the public so that even if it initially makes them pay additional costs, they will support it and see its benefits in the long run
The Philippines has two main policies for buoying RE: the feed-in-tariff (FIT) and the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Both will put a dent on the pockets of consumers.
The FIT is levied against those who pay for electricity and is extended to those who invest in RE to help the latter recover from high upfront development costs. The RPS, on the other hand, requires producers to source portion of their energy from RE. Once implemented, former National Renewable Energy Board chairman Pete H. Maniego Jr said that this would create an extra financial obligation to consumers.
The Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order in October 2014 approving the addition of 4 centavos per kilowatt hour (P0.0406/kWh) to electricity bills as part of the FIT allowance (FIT ALL). Lawyer Remigio Michael Ancheta has questioned this before the Supreme Court, saying that the ERC has allowed the National Transmission Corporation to charge the additional P0.04 even if the RE plants are not yet operational.
What has to be clarified, however, as explained by Ben Kritz in the Manila Times, is that the tariff will be reduced from 0.5 percent (for wind, biomass and run-of-river hydropower projects) to as much as 6 percent (for solar power) after the FIT has been implemented for 1-2 years.
GIZ, a German organization working on sustainable development, also came up with a report in 2013 which provided scenarios pegging FIT from P0.05/kWh to P0.09/kWh (for solar), showing that for 300 kWh of RE, consumers only have to pay 15-19 centavos monthly.
The report, Renewable Energy in the Philippines: Costly or Competitive? Facts and explanations on the price of renewable energies for electricity production also highlighted why paying more for RE is ultimately worth it: it has lower external costs, meaning its negative effects on the environment are comparably lesser to those generated by fossil fuels such as coal.
2. Review the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA)
EPIRA was passed in 2001 as a response to the power crisis that plagued the Philippines in the 1990s. The law led to the privatization of bulk of state-owned power generation and transmission assets.
Since power generation was driven by the private sector, the primary choice has been coal, as it is the least cost, fastest and biggest supply choice so far, as stated by Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada. Environmental groups such as The Philippine Climate for Justice Movement and Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment said this bolstered the increase in coal-fired power plants, with over 50 now in the pipeline.
This has sparked calls for EPIRA to be revisited to give the government the power to step in and develop its own generation plants, essentially preventing the cheapest option for the market to be the dominant energy source.
3. Curb addiction to coal
The country remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels, with coal and oil comprising nearly half of its energy mix. Global think-tank and consultancy firm IHS estimates that coal will take up about 56 percent of the Philippines power mix by 2020.
The more than 50 coal-fired power plants expected to be operational pose a major challenge to the countrys commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030.
The next administration must solve the conundrum of honoring its pledge and ensuring that the new coal plants will not undercut efforts to fulfill its commitment.
4. Solve the Mindanao power problem through RE
An estimated 16 million Filipinos have no stable and sustained access to energy " a reality that Mindanao residents confront nearly every day, especially during the dry season. Rotating brownouts last 2-3 hours on average, affecting productivity and the competitiveness of small businesses.
A Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) paper, written in 2012 by senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro, traced the roots of the Mindanao power problem to the regions dependence on hydropower, which generates 51 percent of Mindanaos energy needs. This makes the regions power system highly vulnerable during periods of drought.
It is important to note that half of the countrys 10 poorest provinces are in Mindanao. Among the factors that threaten the regions potential to leapfrog into development is deficiency in reliable power supply. The next president must thus establish immediate and long-term solutions to address present and future generation capacity shortfalls.
Can RE bridge the gap, or will the country resort to building more coal plants like the one that recently opened in Davao?
The next president must prioritize energy security in Mindanao, ideally through renewable sources. If left unaddressed, the crisis will continue dimming the competitiveness of the region over the long term.
5. Help investors make the shift
Investors need capital. In India, 30 banks and financial institutions have committed to set aside $57 billion for financing RE projects by 2021-2022. Here in the Philippines, some banks have allotted loans for RE development, such as the Bank of the Philippine Islands which has put P11 billion in a loan portfolio for energy efficiency and RE projects.
More banks must provide this financial boost to RE companies and the next president can inject vital confidence by ensuring that the government has steady policy schemes and support for RE development.
Globally, the winds of change are blowing and there are signs that transitioning to RE is underway. Last week, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) issued a report saying that RE investments hit a record high in 2015. This March, Scotland just shut down its latest coal plant. Bhutan announced it has achieved not just carbon neutrality, but also carbon negativity.
Creating the right investment climate and incentives for RE, plus having a firm grasp on the need to shift to renewables are key elements that would help the Philippines next leader chart a low-carbon future for Filipinos. " Rappler.com
Purple Romero is one of 3 Climate Tracker fellows from the Asia and Middle East reporting about the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDCs.
Sophia Dedace is taking up a masters degree in public management at the Ateneo School of Government and was a former communicator for a global environmental conservation organization.


Author: Purple S. Romero and Sophia M. Dedace
Date: March 29, 2016
Source: Rappler.com

A report published by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) is advising policymakers to institute a well-designed national education loan program for higher education.

The PIDS policy note, titled Promoting inclusive growth through higher education, said that tuition is likely to increase from inflation and from the drive for quality improvements in all aspects of college education.

The report, authored by PIDS consultant Dante Canlas, said in this environment, student loans and other forms of financial aid are critically important.

The paper said because households finance college education out of their own pockets, only those who can afford could send their children to college, in the absence of credit facilities for higher education.

There are no credit markets that families with insufficient funds can turn to in order to finance college education for their children. A family must first accumulate funds to be able to finance college education, the policy note said.

Entering college, therefore, depends on the ability to pay and not on the ability to learn, a situation that needs to be corrected to make growth that is driven by higher education inclusive, it added.

The report said if public policy can adequately address the phenomenon of missing financial markets for college education, there is an increased likelihood of achieving inclusive growth from investing in higher education.

Amid missing markets for college education loans, the government can fill the gap. A loan program is advisable as the graduate can capture the returns from his or her investments through enhanced lifetime earnings, the policy note said.

It also improves allocation of resources. If the household is paying for the investment, the student may be more studious in school as loan repayment starts after getting the degree and a job is found, it added.

The report said it becomes important for the graduate with a loan to look for a quality job, one that yields earnings sufficient to support his or her living standards and pay for the student loan.

University administrators can help reduce the size of a student loan for tuition by tapping resources from other financing entities, such as the national government, local government units, private foundations, and alumni imbued with philanthropy, the paper said.

It added that work-study programs on campus should be instituted to supplement student loans. Also, student councils and organizations can be authorized to run some businesses on campus as part of work-study programs.

The national government can also institute a fiscal policy regime whereby the interest paid on student loans is admissible as a tax credit or a deductible expense in paying personal income taxes, the report stated.

The government can also put up scholarship programs for college-eligible but financially needy students. Work-study programs in the university can definitely help in this regard, it added.

The PIDS report said one major task of the national government is to design a student loan program that minimizes loan defaults. This entails instituting caps on what the student can borrow per year for tuition support, and requiring parents to be co-makers.

Options for loan repayment must be incorporated in the design, it said, while taking into consideration the individuals ability to pay over his or her life cycle.

A national loan program will need to be legislated with the Commission on Higher Education taking the lead in drafting the bill, the report said.

Author: Angela Celis
Date: March 29, 2016
Source: Malaya

The state-run Philippine Institute for Development Studies said Monday the government should further invest in human capital, especially in higher education, to achieve the inclusive economic growth.
In a policy note Promoting inclusive growth through higher education by Dante Canlas, PIDS said investing in higher education contributes to growth and urged the government to implement several policy changes to build a critical mass of scientific and technical manpower.
The policy note said the rate of returns for high school and college graduates had a wide gap.
Studies on rate of return to college education support the view that the investment is remunerative, and that individuals can capture the benefits from such investment.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that electronics and communication engineers had a monthly wage rate of P55,264, significantly higher than the P8,085 salary of unskilled workers.
PIDS said the demand for educated and skilled workers had been increasing and had widened the wage gap between the skilled and the unskilled.
From a policy standpoint, this suggests that investments in higher education and skills training may help decrease the growing income inequality amid a rapid economic growth, the policy note said.
It is thus important for public policy to ensure that access to higher education and skills training required by these new jobs is expanded and equalized. Otherwise, income inequality gets perpetuated as the economy continues to grow, it added.
PIDS said while the households mainly financed the tertiary education, the government could intervene through the Commission on Higher Education to set up programs that would financially aid the college education expenses.
It said CHED could set up loan program for college education, where the graduate could capture the returns from his or her investments through enhanced lifetime earnings.
PIDS says a student may be more studious in school and will have a drive to find a quality job with better yield to pay up for the loan and support the life he wanted.
The national government can also institute a fiscal policy regime in which the interest paid on student loans is admissible as a tax credit or a deductible expense in paying personal income taxes.
One major task of the national government is to design a student loan program that minimizes loan defaults. This entails instituting caps on what the student can borrow per year for tuition support, and requiring parents to be co-makers, PIDS said.
Options for loan repayment must be incorporated in the design while taking into consideration the ability to pay of the individual over his or her life cycle, PIDS added.
The policy note said a national loan program must be legislated with the CHED taking the lead in drafting the bill. A matching grant mechanism must be built into the design whereby regional [state universities and colleges], for instance, that are able to institute a loan program with minimal loan defaults can be rewarded with additional grants.
PIDS also urged CHED to start a one-stop shop, in partnership with other implementing agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology, to ease the transition from college to the workplace.

Author: Gabrielle H. Binaday
Date: March 28, 2016
Source: The Standard

Government think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said the key source of uncertainty on whether the country can sustain high growth is the change in leadership in May.

Saying that the 2010 election was a turning point, PIDS feels the coming elections would be another turning point that could either stall or sustain growth momentum.

The paper said policy flip-flops had hounded past administrations and discouraged investments.

Money politics and voter immaturity may unfortunately reverse the recent reforms, the PIDS report said.

The report backtracked saying nonetheless, the Philippine electorate should not be underestimated. After all, they were responsible for electing this outgoing batch of leaders.

The study said growth for 2016 is expected to remain in the 6 percent to 6.5 percent range, lower than the governments target for the full-year of 6.8 percent to 7.8 percent.

According to PIDS Development Research News " The Philippine economy in 2015 and prospects for 2016 " authored by senior research fellow Roehlano Briones, global risks notwithstanding, the outlook for 2016 is a moderate improvement over the 2015 outcomes.

Last year, the economy grew by 5.8 percent.

In the short term, the most obvious source of risk are the global economic conditions, which include the growth slowdown in the region (particularly in China, followed by Japan), the moderation of monetary policy in the US, and the continuing fall in commodity prices (especially oil), the report stated.

However, the Philippines has weathered such headwinds before by adhering to sound domestic fundamentals. In the short term, there is no reason to expect sudden departures from the current trends, it added.

The publication said the countrys inflation is projected to hover at under 5 percent and unemployment at about 6 percent for 2016.


Author: Angela Celis
Date: March 28, 2016
Source: Malaya

Outside of beauty contests and boxing, there are few lists where the Philippines takes top place. Thus, it is a source of particular pride for me to banner in this column that the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) was recognized once again as the top social policy think tank in Asia and among the top 50 in this field globally. This high recognition was given by the University of Pennsylvanias Think Tank and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP).
Commenting on this recognition, PIDS President Dr. Gilbert Llanto observed: Despite having only a handful of researchers compared to other better endowed research institutes in the region and in the Philippines, PIDS has consistently made significant contributions and influence on Philippine development policy through its active and close collaboration with government agencies, academic and research institutions, and international organizations.

Its current board includes Planning Secretary Emmanuel Esguerra as ex-officio Chair (succeeding now Competition Council Chairman Dr. Arsenio Balisacan), Dr. William Padolina, Atty. Rafael Perpetuo Lotilla, UP President Alfredo Pascual (incoming Trustee), and Dr. Llanto, who succeeded Dr. Josef Yap. PIDS was first recognized by TTCSP under Dr. Yaps watch.

I congratulate President Llanto, his predecessors, and the PIDS Trustees, Fellows and staff over four decades of its distinguished life. Its establishment trace back to the vision of Dr. Gerardo Sicat, then Planning Secretary, who saw the need for a think tank to help government planners and policy makers in the executive and legislative branches of government address broad issues of development. While it is a state-funded think tank, PIDS fathers imbued it with some independence by giving it a corporate structure and some measure of fiscal autonomy. Moreover, under its charter, its Trustees are not appointed by the Philippine President but are self-electing with staggered terms.

PIDS Fellows are known experts in their fields, and include not just economists in different areas of specialization, but also sociologists, public health specialists, demographers, statisticians, lawyers, etc. who individually and collectively contribute to its rich body of independent evidence-based research, as well as respond to the need for quick policy briefs of officials.

In recent times, PIDS Fellows have appeared, and made their mark in various Senate and Congressional Committees that deliberated on the following: cabotage law, competition policy, taxation of incomes, sin taxes, CCT, SUCs and scholarships, budget planning, customs and tariff modernization, a bill now awaiting the Presidents signature.

It has a rich trove of literature, 1000 completed studies, on these and other areas built over the years, straddling a wide field -- macroeconomics, public finance, trade and industrial policies, health economics, foreign direct investment, housing finance, urban development, governance, agrarian reform, food security/rice policy, just rattling off items I have in the past researched on. (You can find more about PIDS and its research library in www.pids.gov.ph)

Under Dr. Llantos watch, it has done several impact evaluation studies on 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 used wisely. It has likewise trained a large number of bureaucrats on the art and science of impact evaluation.

In the coming years, Gilbert is focusing on doing studies on easing the regulatory burden in various sectors. PIDS researchers are also looking at the supply chain of tuna, a major export industry, and other sectors in manufacturing to follow. In transport, they will be examining the regulatory burden in the land transport sector. This years annual public policy conference will focus on the need to build resilient systems -- economic resilience for example in the face of interconnected global risks and external shocks.

As I finish my two terms as a PIDS Trustee with pride and gratitude, I recall what James McGann said about think tanks. Think tanks seek to bridge the gap between knowledge and power. The role of think tanks is to link the two roles, that of policy maker and academic, by conducting in depth analysis of certain issues and presenting the research in easy-to-read condensed form for policy makers to absorb.

Globally recognized PIDS has achieved this and through its active live public policy engagements in conferences, Congress, media, even more.

Romeo L. Bernardo was Finance Undersecretary during the Cory Aquino and Ramos administrations and board director of Institute for Development and Econometric Analysis, Inc. (IDEA)

romeo.lopez.bernardo@gmail.com



Author: Romeo Bernardo
Date: March 27, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

THE Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) continues to advise its consumers to conserve water as the dry spell, which has been affecting the Visayas, is expected to last until the second quarter of this year.
According to a Philippine Institute for Development Studies data, an average Filipino family uses two liters per capita per day for drinking and four liters for cooking and the kitchen and five liters for laundry.
The bulk of water use in the household is for personal hygiene at 23 liters per capita per day and 20 for sanitation services.
These are two areas where water conservation, reusing and recycling should be done.
MCWD advised its consumers to regularly check faucets, toilets and pipes for leaks and have these repaired immediately, or report this to the water district.
Here are some tips that the consumers can do to help conserve water:
Limit showers to 3 minutes. A four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water,
Using a basin, gather the water used in showering. Use it for cleaning or for flushing,
When washing dishes, do not leave the water running for rinsing. Use a basin. Reuse the water for flushing,
When shaving or brushing your teeth, do not leave the water running. Use a container or glass,
When doing laundry, recycle the used water for cleaning the house, car or garage or for flushing the toilet,
Do not thaw frozen meat in water, take it out from the freezer hours before cooking,
Use brooms not water hoses to clean the garage or porch,
Always be ready to store rainwater for watering the plants on rainless days or for cleaning the house, car or garage, and
Water plants early in the morning or late in the afternoon to maximize the use of water.//

Author:
Date: March 27, 2016
Source: Sun Star Cebu