PIDS in the News Archived (October 2016)

with their disaster equipment and facilities to prepare for and respond better to calamities.
Edilberto Paradela, DOST 7 director, said they have observed few fatalities during calamities in areas where officials and the people are prepared.
Paradela said municipal and city risk reduction officers can study the governments data on rainfalls.
There is a six-year period data of rainfalls from 2010 to 2016 that they can use for research in disaster preparedness, he said.
Paradela also said the LGUs can do disaster mapping, which includes identifying flood-prone areas.
DOST, though, has already turned over to the municipalities and cities a hazard mapping study conducted by the University of San Carlos.
If disaster officers, mayors and even residents can make use of this hazard map, Paradela said they can come up with a customized response to disasters in their respective areas.
Paradela also said that LGUs can do resource mapping.
It seeks to have a policy or new research activity toward renewable energy, available water resources, and coastal and forest management.
Speaking during the Kapihan sa PIA (Philippine Information Agency) last Wednesday, Paradela also disclosed that they have established water level sensors in major basins in critical and strategic areas in Cebu.
If we have more funds or with the support of LGUs, we can buy additional equipment for flood prone areas, he said.
The DOST is observing the Development Research Planning Month.
Meanwhile, Department of Social Welfare and Development Planning Officer Anthony Arsenal said their agency is pushing for the social protection concept of disaster response.
The concept addresses all types of risks such as individual life-cycle risk, economic risk, natural and environmental risks, he added.



For their part, Dr. Eugenia Mercedes Canal of the Department of Health 7 said they coordinate with the Office of Civil Defense for disaster risk reduction.
During disasters, point-persons in different LGUs report to DOH 7 the diseases affecting their localities.
Dr. Marife Ballesteros of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies also highlighted the importance of disaster response in the financial and business sectors.
This is the reason the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas is now included in the disaster preparedness team, considering that the economy is also affected during calamities.
If you have a strong economy like Japan (which is always hit by earthquakes and tsunamis), then you will have the resources to address risks, she said.//

Author: Elias O. Baquero
Date: October 07, 2016
Source: Sun Star Cebu

Policymakers should push for an integrated approach to urban environment resilience.

Dr. Marife Ballesteros, acting vice president of state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), in her presentation at the Second Annual Public Policy Conference on Risks, Shocks, Building Resilience, recently said a clear understanding of the nature of resilience must first be addressed before policy recommendations can be made.

Risks are complex, but so is resilience, said Ballesteros.


In order to target urban resilience specifically, studies should focus on the metropolitan areas, such as Manila, where urban environment problems are most glaring, she added.

A panelist also raised the need for an integration of disciplines, where social sciences must be combined with the natural sciences to maximize their strengths in crafting policy solutions.

We are so trained as specialists, economists, political scientists, physicists, but the reality is that the problems we are facing are all interconnected, said Dr. Emma Porio, sociology professor from the Ateneo de Manila University who discussed risk and resilience in Metro Manila during the session.

In a sense, when you think of urban resilience in the city, you have to think of the city as a system, she added.

Porio explained policymakers should look at the interaction of the geophysical, political, economic and social aspects so as to understand vulnerability and the potentials of building resilience in Metro Manila.

Gilberto Llanto, PIDS president, earlier urged policy makers to look beyond natural hazards and acknowledge that the sources of risks are many and that those risks are interconnected.

Porio also challenged the current manner of looking at the socioecological and political development in governance in understanding urban environment.

Floods do not recognize political boundaries, but we always make planning and data analysis according to political administrative boundaries, she said.

Ballesteros noted that the Philippines still has a lot to do in terms of building resilience.

There is a significant policy gap in terms of structures, laws, and mindsets, Ballesteros said.

A review of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 is
not adequate, Ballesteros said.

Porio added that the present governance system only reacts to the current needs of this generation.

It does not think whether your grandchildren will have resources in the future, she said.

In terms of climate adaptation, Porio said the government should come up with convergent and integrative ways of addressing the issue. Right now, what we have is a fragmented system of governance at different levels, she added.

Porio explained that our policymakers continue to put ourselves in an increasingly risky situation because of their decisions.

Manila is considered the most exposed city to natural disasters in the world, according to the 2016 Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index from the United Kingdom-based risk analyst, Verisk Maplecroft.//

Author:
Date: October 06, 2016
Source: Malaya

THE Philippines is planning to impose a tariff of as much as 50 percent on rice imports by next year, when Manila is expected to scrap the quantitative restriction (QR) on the staple.
An official of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) told the BusinessMirror that the agency would recommend to the President a tariff ranging from 40 percent to 50 percent once the country converts the rice-import quota into tariffs.
However, experts said the Philippines could shoot for a higher tariff rate if it could justify the need to do so.
In the case of South Korea, it was able to impose a tariff rate of more than 500 percent on imported rice, using a formula approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Philippines imports more than 1 million metric tons (MMT) of rice annually to plug the shortfall in its production and beef up the National Food Authoritys (NFA) buffer stock. In recent years, the government has taken charge of rice importation, as Manila has existing rice-supply deals with the governments of Thailand and Vietnam.
Currently, the government allows rice imports within the minimum access of volume (MAV) of 805,200 metric tons (MT) to enter the country at a lower tariff of 35 percent. Imports in excess of the MAV are slapped a higher tariff of 50 percent.
The extension given to the Philippines on the use of the QR is set to expire in 2017, unless Manila bids for another reprieve and is granted by the WTO.
Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) Senior Research Fellow Roehlano Briones said the recommendation of the Neda is a good starting point.
Based on his own computation, Briones said the tariff on rice could be set at 35 percent, consistent with the Asean Free-Trade Agreement. He said this made more sense, given that most of the countrys rice imports come from Asean.
There is no point in setting a higher tariff when 95 percent of your rice imports come from the region, Briones said in a phone interview.
In his study in 2015, Briones said the removal of the QR and the imposition of a 35-percent tariff rate can generate as much as P28 billion in revenues for the government annually. This, he said, can more than cover the proposed compensatory payment for farmers.
These projected revenues are also significantly higher than the tariff revenues estimated to reach P13 billion to 14 billion if Manila would continue to implement the QR.
Winners and losers
SETTING a tariff rate on rice imports is part of the road map crafted by the Neda, which will also be presented to the Presidents economic team this month. The road map first identified the provinces that will be affected by the removal of the rice-import cap. These provinces were identified based on yield and cost of production.
The Neda said the government is prepared to extend safety nets to ensure the affected farmers will be able to shift to other crops.
In terms of yield, the Neda classified the provinces according to their potential production, which should be at 10 MT per hectare. Currently, the average yield is at 4 MT per hectare.
The provinces that made the cut included Nueva Ecija, Davao del Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pampanga, Kalinga, Bataan, La Union and Biliran. Yield in these provinces range from 4.5 MT to 5.5 MT per hectare.
To be able to determine the provinces that will survive a post-QR regime, the Neda said the government would have to set a tariff rate of as low as 35 percent. This will result in a retail price of P24.10 per kilogram of milled rice.
The provinces that had among the highest production costs were La Union, at P21.67 per kilo, and Ilocos at P20.31 per kilo.
The provinces that had the lowest production cost are Pampanga, at P15.51 per kilo; Biliran, P15.76 per kilo; Nueva Ecija, P16.51 per kilo; and Bataan, P16.92 per kilo.
The Neda said it did not yet factor in transport and logistics cost in its computation.
The proceeds from the tariffication of the QR will be used to finance safety nets needed by farmers, such as to provide for mechanization needs and the provision of hybrid and/or certified seeds.
Currently, the Neda is crafting a bill that would amend Republic Act (RA) 8178, which allowed the Philippines to impose the QR on rice"a nontariff barrier.
The agency has also recommended to the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council to certify as urgent the amendment of RA 8178.//

Author: Cai Ordinario
Date: October 04, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

If Agriculture Secretary Manny Piol wins his fight against poverty, his legacy will be preserved for posterity. But if he fails because he emphasizes visible, unsustainable gains for short-term results instead of deep agriculture structural reforms, he may join the ranks of quickly forgotten politicians who have accomplished little for posterity.
In the book Feeding Millions: The Duterte Food Security Blueprint, it was reported that Piol showed an impressive track record as a governor in fighting poverty: For nine years, he advocated a market-oriented and jobs-generating governance which pulled out North Cotabato with a poverty incidence of 52 percent, reducing it to only 29 percent when his term ended in 2007.
Piol is now in a position to reduce our entire countrys rural poverty rate of 40 percent. This is disturbingly worse than our Asean neighbors: Vietnam (19 percent), Indonesia and Thailand (14 percent), and Malaysia (2 percent).
First 100 days
In the first 100 days, Piol has made commendable moves. He has spent more than two-thirds of his time traveling to different provinces to learn the problems of small farmers and fisherfolk. He documents these daily in his Facebook account (Emmanuel Piol) and makes a weekly accounting on the DZRH program Biyaheng Bukid at 6 a.m. every Saturday.
Here are three of Piols noteworthy achievements:
" He has taken the time to find out the real problems of the farmers so he can give the solutions they actually need. This is the opposite of centralized government decisions, which give farmers programs not relevant to their real needs.
-He addresses the critical problem of accessible credit. Today, only 2 percent of all loans in the banking sector go to agriculture. Piol recently launched Punla, a loan program which grants uncollateralized loans to deserving farmers at 6 percent interest. He has provided the proper training for responsible lending. It is hoped that this programs elements are replicated in larger loan programs by other institutions.
" He takes decisive action when he sees problems. Examples are replacing corrupt people immediately as was demonstrated in one of his provincial sorties; initiating a procedure for farmers to access long-idle farm equipment by eliminating the required down payment which farmers cannot afford, and providing boats for selected fisherfolk who need them for livelihood and survival.


Six priorities
On Oct. 1, the five-coalition Agri-Fisheries Alliance (AFA) met to discuss the first 100 days of agriculture governance. Not much action has been seen on the six agriculture priority areas identified by AFA. These areas were agreed upon by then presidential candidate Duterte on April 16, and committed to by Piol on May 24. This is understandable because the first 100 days have been focused on understanding the problems of agriculture. However, the six strategic areas must now be addressed decisively in the next 100 days because time is of the essence.
First, the DA bureaucracy should be re-engineered to facilitate the completion of an agriculture sector roadmap with public-private sector implementation teams using globally-recognized management systems (e.g. ISO 9000). The DTI has submitted 32 industry roadmaps to the Philippine Institute of Development Studies, while the DA has not submitted any.
Second, stakeholder participation must be harnessed following the AFMA law by utilizing the regional, provincial, and municipal public-private Agriculture Fisheries Council (AFCs). They should be given the necessary budget information so the private sector can recommend and monitor the effective use of the P88-billion DA budget. Since this has not been done, a significant part of the DA budget has been wasted through ineffectiveness and corruption.
Third, the agriculture extension that has been sorely missing because the 17,000 extension workers were removed from the DA and devolved to the LGUs must be strictly guided by the DA. The MOA on July 6 between the DA and LGU made this happen but it has not been accomplished.
Fourth, credit and improved crop insurance must be restructured so that wider coverage and guarantee systems will make these more accessible to small farmers and fisherfolk.
Fifth, our international agriculture trade should have a level playing field through subsidies matching those of our neighboring countries. DA must also actively address the smuggling rate that has increased from 6 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2014. Fighting agriculture smuggling is not just the work of BOC, but also a responsibility of DA.
Sixth, critical reform areas should also be addressed. Examples are providing adequate support services for agrarian reform beneficiaries; making accessible the coconut levy fund to coconut farmers after their long 45-year wait; providing necessary mechanisms for food self-sufficiency and fisherfolk welfare; and working on a water master plan.
In his first 100 days, Piol has done the necessary work of understanding our agriculture situation and has acted swiftly on specific problems. But for posterity, Piol must now act to address the said six priority areas.
(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)


Author: Ernesto M. Ordoez
Date: October 06, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Economists had mixed views on the economic policies unveiled thus far during the new administrations first 100 days, including the centerpiece 10-point socioeconomic agenda, coupled with concerns on how the President conducts himself as the countrys chief executive.
For Gilberto M. Llanto, president of state-run think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies, based on the various economic policy statements and their continuing focus on reforms, such as the DOFs tax reform proposal, the outlook looks quite positive.
So far, the economy is benefiting from solid fundamentals, while the new governments policy agenda to bolster infrastructure spending, advance tax reform, reduce red tape and focus on more inclusive and sustainable growth are positive, said Kevin Sanker, Asia-Pacific associate economist at Washington-based Institute of International Finance.

Anti drug campaign jitters
However, there has been investor nervousness related to President Dutertes anti-drug campaign, resort to emergency powers and geo-political pronouncements, as they could become a distraction for the administration going forward. Given global uncertainties and rising competition, it is important that the Duterte administration focuses on implementing its economic program, which would help address investor concerns and boost sentiment, Sanker said.
For IHS Market Asia-Pacific chief economist Rajiw Biswas, a key question for investors is whether the Duterte administration is pursuing economic policies that will maintain such strong growth momentum over the medium term outlook.
Biswas noted that boosting infrastructure spending was essential for improving industrial competitiveness, as the Philippines has underspent on infrastructure for decades, while other Asean countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand have developed high quality infrastructure.
However, despite the economic reforms being planned by President Dutertes economic ministers, the Philippines has become a focus for global media in relation to death squads and major shifts in foreign policy, which could make foreign investors nervous. While a crackdown on crime is very important to improve the law and order situation, foreign investors are concerned about the lack of judicial process and risks to the democratic system. The Philippines is competing against other Southeast Asian nations that are perceived as more politically stable, such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Therefore, the continuously shifting foreign policies of the Duterte administration may eventually deter foreign investors, who seek a more stable, predictable investment environment when deciding on which country to locate their next large factory or office in East Asia, according to Biswas.



Economist Euben Paracuelles of Japanese financial giant Nomura has this to say: The question to ask is whether a sustained pickup in political risk premium could ultimately outweigh the growth prospects. If the economy continues to generate jobs, I think Dutertes popularity will remain high. And as far as FDIs are concerned, I believe if he maintains the reforms of the previous government and build more infrastructure, I think that should still be supportive of more inflows. Nonetheless, we have to remain cognizant that there are risks around this, particularly if in the next few months we see more of these controversial comments and more importantly, if there are signs of a letup in the implementation of reforms, including the tax reforms which we are keenly watching next.

No reason for complacency
For Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) president Calixto Chikiamco, the countrys strong economic growth is seen sustained on the back of solid fundamentals, but there should be no reason for complacency.
There are a lot of good things that the administration has done in the first hundred days, but in my view, the economy is not moving toward inclusive growth, Chikiamco said.
For IBON Foundation executive director Jose Enrique A. Africa, the economic policy direction of the Duterte administration has nothing new to offer.
The economic teams proposals are largely consistent with the previous administrations, so could potentially deliver the same kind of exclusionary growth. The proposed ramped-up infrastructure spending in particular is a direct stimulus aside from possibly spurring greater economic activity. But this is at best a short-term boost because the economic team does not have a coherent plan for strengthening domestic demand for the long term, Africa said.
The 10-point economic agenda should have given central focus to developing Filipino industry, meaning Filipino firms producing Filipino goods using local agricultural, fisheries and mineral. This is the key to ensuring that jobs and incomes are created at home rather than abroad. Exporting our raw materials and chronically importing the goods we consume support jobs abroad rather than in the national economy, Africa added.
Also, agricultural development should have been focused on land reform and farm support to increase rural incomes, expand the domestic market, and create a surplus for reinvestment in national industry as a genuinely equitable distribution of land and rural assets is the necessary starting point of rural development, Africa said.

No plan to ensure inclusiveness
The economic team also does not have a coherent plan for hard-wiring inclusiveness into the national economy and ensuring that the majority benefits. Growth built on inequitable asset ownership, such as land, and inequitable access to capital and financing will always be exclusionary. Growth that inequitably distributes gains from growth because of low wages and benefits on top of contractualization and job security will also always be exclusionary, according to Africa.
A pro-people economic strategy does not have to be disruptive. On the contrary, a clear and coherent declaration that the Duterte administration upholds national industrialization, agrarian reform and rural development, and independent foreign economic policy can go far in setting stable parameters for Philippine economic progress. However, the biggest threat to growth, exclusionary as it is, are the steadily mounting political attacks on the Duterte administration. The countrys economic fundamentals are weak"agriculture is backward, industry is narrow and shallow, poverty is widespread and inequity is structural, according to Africa.//

Author: Ben O. de Vera
Date: October 10, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Oct. 6 - Policymakers should push for an integrated approach to urban environment resilience. This is how Dr. Marife Ballesteros, acting vice president of state think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS), summarized the discussion on urban environment resilience last September 22.
When we look at resilience, we should not merely be concerned with the sectoral aspects but with the integrated policy approach, she explained.
The said discussion was part of the Second Annual Public Policy Conference on Risks, Shocks, Building Resilience, which is the highlight of the celebration of the 14th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM). Resilience in agriculture, health, and macroeconomy was also covered during the one-day event.
The DPRM is celebrated across the country every September in view of Malacaang Proclamation No. 247 issued in 2002.
It promotes public awareness and appreciation of the importance of policy research in the formulation of public policies, programs, and projects.
This year's celebration focused on the importance of building the country's resilience, aptly captured in the event slogan, "Angkop na Kahandaan: Matatag na Ekonomiya at Lipunan".
Most glaring problems in the Metro Ballesteros said that a clear understanding of the nature of resilience must first be addressed before policy recommendations can be made.
Risks are complex, but so is resilience, explained Ballesteros, who served as the moderator for the session on building urban environment resilience.
In order to target urban resilience specifically, studies should focus on the metropolitan areas, such as Manila, where urban environment problems are most glaring, she added.
A panelist also raised the need for an integration of disciplines, where social sciences must be combined with the natural sciences to maximize their strengths in crafting policy solutions.
We are so trained as specialists, economists, political scientists, physicists, but the reality is that the problems we are facing are all interconnected, said Dr. Emma Porio, sociology professor from the Ateneo de Manila University who discussed risk and resilience in Metro Manila during the session.
In a sense, when you think of urban resilience in the city, you have to think of the city as a system, she added.
She explained policymakers should look at the interaction of the geophysical, political, economic, and social aspects so as to understand vulnerability and the potentials of building resilience in Metro Manila.
PIDS President Gilberto Llanto earlier urged the policy makers to look beyond natural hazards and acknowledge that the sources of risks are many and that those risks are interconnected.
Porio also challenged the current manner of looking at the socioecological and political development in governance in understanding urban environment.
Floods do not recognize political boundaries, but we always make planning and data analysis according to political administrative boundaries, she explained.
Significant policy gap Apparently, the Philippines still has a lot to do in terms of building resilience. There is a significant policy gap in terms of structures, laws, and mindsets, Ballesteros said.
The session called for the review of Republic Act 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which Ballesteros considered not adequate.
Porio added that the present governance system only reacts to the current needs of this generation.
It does not think whether your grandchildren will have resources in the future, she explained. In terms of climate adaptation, Porio said the government should come up with convergent and integrative ways of addressing the issue.
Right now, what we have is a fragmented system of governance at different levels, she added. Porio explained that our policymakers continue to put ourselves in an increasingly risky situation because of their decisions.
Manila is considered the most exposed city to natural disasters in the world, according to the 2016 Natural Hazards Vulnerability Index from the United Kingdom-based risk analyst, Verisk Maplecroft. (PIDS)


Author:
Date: October 06, 2016
Source: PIA

THE road to perdition is paved with good intentions, as the saying goes, and could be applied to the bottom-up budgeting (BuB) tack of the government of former President Benigno S. Aquino III.
According to Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, the BuB program is not anymore necessary since the budget for local government units (LGUs) are already being provided through the internal-revenue allotment (IRA). Diokno said the LGUs should work around the IRA for its projects instead of being given more funds.
Developed jointly by the Human Development and Poverty Reduction (HDPR) and the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption (GGAC) Cabinet clusters, the BuB was first introduced in the Joint Memorandum Circular 1 on March 8, 2012, according to a World Bank document.

The BuB tack aimed to take into account inputs from government units from local government units (LGUs), barangays, municipalities and civil-society organization (CSO) when crafting the oveall budget for the fiscal year.
According to Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, the BuB program is not anymore necessary since the budget for LGUs are already being provided through the internal-revenue allotment (IRA). Diokno said the LGUs should work around the IRA for its projects instead of being given more funds.
In recent reports, Diokno stated that the 2017 national government budget, proposed by the current administration, will not include an allocation for BuB projects explaining that the funds, instead, could be spent for more effective projects. He further pointed out that the BuB program was only used as a political tool by the previous administration.

Allocations
IN the proposed 2017 national government budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to Congress, allocations to Local Government Units (ALGUs) totaled P554.9 billion, which covers the budget for IRA and special shares of LGUs to national taxes.


Former Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad stated in previous reports that, under the 2017 perceived national budget targeted by the Aquino administration, the Department of Budget and Management set aside 42 percent of the P35-billion government funds for BuB projects over the P24.7 billion designated for this year.
This year the ALGUs reached P485.82 billion, lower than that of the proposed budget for next year.
The LGU budget gained an increase of 14.2 percent over the 2016 level, mainly due to the 81.5-percent increase of the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF), which covers financial assistance to LGUs and municipalities, among others.
Based on DBM data, the 2016 budget of P3 trillion gave a share of P18.4 billion to fund the LGSF, this was noted to be the sectors biggest allocation to date.
According to Local Budget Circular 107 issued by the DBM in August last year, a budget of P2.83 billion was allotted for BuB projects to be implemented by the LGUs from the total earmarked funds for LGSF amounting to P3.13 billion.
Under the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for 2012, the LGSF was only given a budget of P200 million.
PIDS
IN a paper titled Assessment of the Bottom-up Budgeting Process for FY 2015, Rosario G. Manasan of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) explained that the BuB program is valued by LGU officials. This was so because of the additional funds it provides to the municipalities and cities for projects to further help the livelihood of the people.
As such, the BuB creates fiscal space on the part of the LGU allowing it to finance and implement more projects than can be accommodated from its own resources, Manasan said. But beyond, and perhaps, more important, the BuB process increases participation in local governance.
Aside from the increase in funds to further develop projects at the grassroots level, the BuB program was also deemed to be successful in soliciting active participation from local government officials. It was also explained that a number of CSOs were already involved in local planning through its membership in Local Development Councils (LDCs).
However, CSOs are usually outnumbered in the LDC because they only account for 25 percent of the LDC and their role in the LDC is limited to approving, and, in many cases, rubber stamping the LGUs Comprehensive Development Plan and the Annual Investment Program that have been prepared oftentimes by LGU officials with little involvement from CSOs, the study said.
While the study of the conduct of BuB in 12 municipalities is focused more on the participatory aspect of the process, it was noted to also assess how well the BUB has contributed to the achievement of its poverty reduction and alleviation objective.
Status
ACCORDING to data from the BuB web site openbub.gov.ph and from previous reports, projects under the BuB program that have been completed from the year 2013 to 2015 totaled 16,576.
This was noted to be only 27.77 percent from the total number of BuB projects planned under the Aquino administration, which reached a total of 59,684 for three years, with funding reaching as much as P60 billion.
For the year 2015 1,730 projects were completed under the BuB program, 9,455 projects in 2014 and 5,391 in 2013. For the three-year period, the amount spent by the Philippine government for the completed BuB projects totaled P15.5 billion.
While 7,928 out of the total planned BuB projects over the three-year period were noted to be abandoned by the government. This was noted to be a 13-percent drop in the total BuB projects, and had cost the government P8.5 billion.
From the dropped 7,928 BuB projects, 289 projects were abandoned in 2015; 4,321 in 2014; and 3,318 projects were dropped for 2013. The reason for the dropped BuB projects was noted to be either because it was canceled, unfunded or replaced; nonfeasibility of the proposed project was a major factor of the abandoned projects.
Meanwhile, according to a statement from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) web site in April this year, from 2013 to 2015 a total of P51.70 billion has been provided by the national government to LGUs for the implementation of a total of 41,156 funded projects.
Takes time
DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Austere A. Panadero said the BuB as a reform program has its own birth pains since its conceptualization in 2011 and early stages in 2013 and 2014.
Understandably and consequently, the completion rate takes time in improving through the years, as projects differ in nature ranging from infrastructure to livelihood, Panadero added.
He cited that 8,385 BuB projects are still ongoing, 11,473 are on the pipeline and 4,722 have been proposed. The completion rate is 40 percent and the delivery rate is 61 percent.
The national government agencies [NGAs] had the sole discretion in identifying what kind of projects are needed on the ground, Panadero said. With BuB, NGAs are now attuned with LGUs.
He further pointed out that BuB projects for this year are covered in the 2016 GAA, with a P24.7-billion budget set aside to fund 14,324 projects. Allocated budget for BuB programs started with P8.9 billion in 2013.
Under the DILG, the department managed projects in line with improving potable-water supply, local access roads, and disaster-risk reduction management-related projects, such as evacuation centers, flood controls, equipment and rescue vehicles.
As of March 2016, the DILG completed 2,030 projects when the program started in 2013. This was noted to amount to a total of P9.201 billion.
In 2015 308 BuB projects were completed and 648 projects were noted to be ongoing with bulk of the projects still in the pipeline. A total of 749 projects were on procurement, 497 with approved initial documents and 261 under preparation of initial documents. The DILG downloaded P5.659 billion funds to LGUs for the implementation of potable-water projects and infrastructure-related projects.
Slow pace
THE PIDS study cited that sub-projects under the BuB program for the year 2013 developed at a slow pace. Only one approved BuB subproject in the 12 study sites had been completed, which was in March 2014.
The implementation of BuB subprojects for FY 2013 is also found to have been hampered by the poor national government agency feedback at various stages of the process, the Pids study said. At the same time, poor coordination in project implementation between the NGAs and LGUs, on the one hand, and CSOs, on the other, has not only hampered the effective implementation of the subprojects but has also inhibited rather the facilitated NGA-LGU-CSO engagement.
The study further recommended that, in order to achieve a harmonious BuB process, the government must encourage LGUs to conduct CSO mapping. This was noted to help properly identify accredited and nonaccredited CSOs within an LGU.
This is in line with the promotion of federation of CSOs belonging to the same basic sector, meaning to minimize the number of member-CSOs within an LGU to manageable levels, according to the Pids study.
Steps also include the encouragement of CSO leaders to consult with members of their organization and, at the same time, enhancing the capacity of CSOs to improve the quality of their participation in the BuB process.
The PIDS study further indicated that increased investment in social preparation by the government will help improve the quality of grassroots participation in the BuB process. Clarifying roles of the appointed local facilitator from the DILG and distinguishing the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC)-affiliated BuB focal person was also seen to improve the BuB program implementation.
Decentralization
FOR European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) Vice President Henry J. Schumacher, the BuB program should be retained and not scrapped altogether. This is especially true if the Duterte administration is veering toward a government that is regionalized, he said.
The Duterte administration wants decentralization and regionalization. Given that vision, bottom-up budgeting makes sense, Schumacher told the BusinessMirror through electronic mail. Maybe thats the aim for the 2018 budget.
In earlier talks, it was pointed out that President Duterte is planning to shift the countrys form of government to a federal one, since he wants to bring growth and development to every part of the country and not just the metropolis.
The planned decentralization of power in the countrys government will need constitutional revisions, since the 1987 Philippine Constitution dictates that the Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Revision of the Constitution could either be conducted through a constitutional convention, Constitutional assembly, or through a peoples initiative, with the result being called a Charter change.
Article II Section 1: The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them, the Constitution read.
Schumacher added that the ECCP has always been in favor of the BuB program since it stimulates participation in the grassroots level.
Abads view
FORMER Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad stated in previous reports that, under the 2017 perceived national budget targeted by the Aquino administration, the DBM set aside 42 percent of the P35-billion government funds for BuB projects over the P24.7 billion designated for this year.
The increased allocation stemmed from the DBMs push to expand BuB projects to cover barangays, which is at an estimated 12,000, that will receive BuB funds in 2017. From the P35-billion BuB project budget set by the DBM under Abad, P19.7 billion was programmed to go to beneficiary-municipalities that have complied with good governance standards.
According to earlier reports, the Aquino administration implemented the use of the BuB program under its term, in a bid to strengthen its commitment to create a national budget that is transparent, accountable and responsive to the needs of the Filipino people.
The implementation of BuB was meant to scale up the involvement and responsibility of LGUs in antipoverty and basic public-projects programs in their respective localities.
Stages
THE BuB projects under the DILG and other agencies are identified by representatives of LGUs and CSOs at the Local Poverty Reduction Action Team (LPRAT) level. These projects are then submitted to the Regional Poverty Reduction Action Team and then to the National Poverty Reduction Action Team. The list of projects is then endorsed to the DBM for inclusion in the National Expenditure Plan.
Approved BuB projects are then included in the GAA. Concerned LGUs have to prepare initial documents, including feasibility studies, program of works (POWs) and cost estimates. Once submitted, a memorandum of agreement between the DILG and the LGU has to be signed prior to the release of funds. The said stage was noted to take at least one to three months to complete.
Its procurement process takes an average of two to three months. While the actual project implementation for water projects takes 18 months to complete for each project. For infrastructure projects, it takes six months to two years to be completed.
Panadero said the DILG houses the BuB Project Management Offic, which is responsible for the overall coordination of the BuB program with the guidance of the BuB Executive Committee. He explained that 14 other government agencies distribute funds to the LGUs, with the said agencies reporting their project status to the Open BuB Portal, and the department consolidates the overall BuB status. All BuB participating agencies should be bounded by GAA and exercise due diligence in the implementation.

Author: Rea Cu
Date: October 05, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

Manila should negotiate with Seoul to postpone the implementation of stringent standards on fruit imports for at least a year to ensure that Philippine banana growers and exporters would not incur huge losses.
The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) warned that Seouls implementation of a stringent maximum residue limit (MRL) on fruit imports next year could cause exporters to lose a lions share of the South Korean banana market.
Once the zero MRL is implemented on January 1, 2017, there are no ifs and buts about it. Thats why its important for the government to understand the urgency of the matter, PBGEA President Alexander N. Valoria told the BusinessMirror.
Valoria said the government should initiate a bilateral talk with Seoul to retain the status quo on MRL standards until 2018. This, he said, will allow the Philippine banana industry to prepare for full compliance with the new measures.
The government should reach out to South Korea, because they will not talk to the private sector, he said.
MRL is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue to be legally permitted in food commodities and animal feeds, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The MRL standards are guided by the Codex alimentarius, or more commonly known as the food code, which details specific limits for every chemical compounds found in pesticides known and used in the global market.
The food code, which is reviewed annually to adapt according to market need, is a global standards set and assessed by the FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure food safety.
In April 2013 South Koreas Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) announced that it would adopt a positive list system (PLS) on MRLs, and would do away with the traditional food code.
The transition from Codex to PLS would mean that South Korea will only keep its own MRL standards, while any chemical ingredient that is not registered and recognized by the MFDS would automatically be assigned an MRL of 0.01 parts per million (ppm).
This means that any produce that has a pesticide residue exceeding 0.01 ppm will not be allowed to enter the Korean market.
The small growers are at risk as they dont have the flexibility to shift to other chemicals to undertake the alternative operations to mitigate the results of not using a particular chemical in operations, Valoria said.
The MFDS said at least 39 out of the 44 MRLs for recognized chemicals used in bananas would be converted into the 0.01-ppm MRL regime.
However, exporters could apply for the establishment of new MRLs or a change of MRL for particular chemical compounds found in pesticides used in their respective agriculture sectors,
according to MFDS.
For toxicity-data testing, Seoul charges a fee of 30 million KRW (equivalent to P1.31 million) for the establishment of MRL, while an exemption or change of MRL would cost 10 million KRW (P436,000).
As for residual-data testing of chemical compounds, the South Korean government charges 5 million KRW (P218,000). MFDS would release the new and specific MRL results for chemical compounds applied for change or exemption of MRL after 210 days.
MFDS said it would take at least a year for the establishment of an MRL for unrecognized chemicals.
Valoria said companies have already submitted a number of chemicals for testing. MFDS, he added, has already assigned MRLs for these chemicals.
However, he said there are more chemicals that are awaiting the approval of the MFDS, including a crucial chemical compound called Chlorpyrifos, which fights and controls scale insect infestation in bananas.
There are several chemicals awaiting decision, but in our mind as far as the banana industry is
concerned, Chlorpyrifos is the single most important remaining one, Valoria said.
The Korea-MFDS advised us that they will still render a decision on that [Chylorpyrifos] some time later in 2017, he added.
Currently, Seouls MRL for Chlorpyrifos is at 2.0 ppm, which is based on the Codex, according to MFDS data. Chlorpyrifos is included in the number of chemical compounds that would be assigned an MRL of 0.01 ppm starting next year.
For Roehlano M. Briones, senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, Manila could file a case against Seoul before the World Trade Organization (WTO) if bilateral talks between the two countries break down.
We have to figure out why they changed their minds about the MRL measures. Because if they dont have any technical finding supporting the change or any scientific basis then we file a complaint, Briones told
the BusinessMirror.
He noted that the as a body, the WTO does not usually react on trade issues unless theres a blatant violation of agreements or a member-country files a complaint.
The Philippines accounts for more than 90 percent of bananas being imported by South Korea annually. Philippine exporters shipped a total of 212,083 metric tons (MT) of bananas to South Korea valued at $80.99 million in 2015, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
PSA data also showed that South Korea accounted for 12.31 percent of total Philippine banana exports last year.//

Author: Jasper Y. Arcalas
Date: October 04, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

MANILA, Philippines - The Community Mortgage Program (CMP), a government financing scheme that enables organized informal settler families to purchase land, is no longer meeting the needs of its target beneficiaries mainly because of the high equity requirements for acquisition, the Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) said in a new policy note.
As such, the state-run policy research institute recommends implementing an income-based subsidy scheme to prevent further exclusion of the poor.
The CMP extends loans to poor informal settlers who have no access to housing loans from private banks. Established in 1988, it is administered by the Social Housing Finance Corp. (SHFC). It enables the beneficiaries to secure tenure on the land they currently occupy or wish to occupy.
The program has a total loan fund of P12.78 billion for its regular programs and an additional P20 billion for its high-density housing program.
To enjoy the benefits of the program, informal settler families (ISFs) must belong to community associations (CA).
The program provides housing loans payable on a fixed interest rate of six percent annually for 25 years. This interest rate is not risk-based and remains constant for the 25-year tenure of the loan.
Business ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
CAs with good payment performance can apply for additional loans for site development and home improvement.
Based on its assessment of the program, PIDS said the equity requirement discourages target beneficiaries from participating in the program.
The maximum loan amount for land acquisition is P100,000 per household, the maximum monthly payment for which is P685.30 based on the fixed amortization period and interest rate. The loan amount ceiling, however, is no longer sufficient to cover the rising costs of land in Metro Manila where the bulk of informal settlers are located. Because of this, CAs are forced to raise the equity for the portion not covered by the loan or give up their land rights.
The paper noted that out of the total projects in NCR to date, only about 14 percent of CAs did not pay equity, probably because the selling prices were equivalent to or less than the approved loan amounts. On the other hand, the remaining 86 percent had to pay equity ranging from P1 to more than P100,000.
Equity requirements tend to push the poor or those with volatile income away from the program. More often, the poor households exclude themselves from communities that access CMP loans because they are unable to raise the equity. Eventually, these households may give up their land rights to the debtors, said PIDS.
The study also noted SHFC is not proactive in targeting specific communities or households for inclusion in the program. leading to misallocation of resources and inclusion of communities that are not among the target beneficiaries of the program.
The communities are the one approaching landowners and selecting mobilizers, which can be the LGus or non-government organizations to initiate the loan application process, said PIDS. The SHFC rarely interacts with ISF communities. Should these be any interaction, it is limited to the background investigation on CAs with loan applications.


Author: Czeriza Valencia
Date: October 01, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, will begin hearing proposals to extend the validity of Philippine passports from five years to 10 years on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Senators Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara and Minority Floor Leader Ralph Recto had filed several measures in response to President Rodrigo Duterte's bid to amend a 20-year-old law extending the validity of Philippine passports to 10 years. Republic Act No. 8239, otherwise known as the Philippine Passport Act of 1996, was enacted pursuant to the people's constitutional right to travel. The validity of a regular Philippine passport is five years.

"This amendment is a measure that will enable us to comply with President Duterte's directive to avoid long queues for government services," Villar said in filing Senate Bill No. (SBN) 324.

"Increasing the passports' validity will, in effect, lessen the frequency and volume of applications for renewal and will contribute in reducing, if not eliminating, the long queues at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) offices," she added.

Villar's measure also authorizes the DFA to decrease the period of validity of a passport whenever national economic interest or political stability of the country warrants it.

Gordon's bill, SBN 109, maintains the validity of the passports of minors or those below 18 years old to five years due to changes in their physical appearance which he said shall be reflected in the identification page of their passports.

Angara's proposal, SBN 943, meanwhile, provides special procedures to facilitate the passport applications of illiterate, physically disabled, and senior citizens. It also seeks to amend the provision on the Passport Revolving Fund to allow it to be utilized by the DFA for the improvement of its passport issuance and other services.

For her part, Legarda's measure seeks to address the demand for the issuance of tamper-proof passports.

"A passport is an official document issued for travel to foreign countries. It is a document of identity and nationality, which gives the holder the right to be protected and assisted by the diplomatic and consular offices of the Republic of the Philippines abroad. The passport must be treated with highest importance and regard," Legarda said.

Recto's measure, SBN 795, meanwhile, seeks to minimize the burden for new passport applicants, particularly the Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFWs) who need to secure a passport for employment.

The committee will also discuss a proposal from Sen. Grace Poe (Senate Resolution 142) to conduct an inquiry on the alleged delay of passport processing.

Expected guests to attend the hearing include Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, together with Undersecretary Ariel Abadilla, Assistant Secretary Frank Cminafranca, and Assistant Secretary Grace Princesa; Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Immigration lawyer Victor Siriban, Social Welfare and Development Undersecretary Vilma Cabrera, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, lawyer Lourdines Dela Cruz of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Director Robert Larga of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Director Gilberto Llanto of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Susan Ople of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, Ma. Louisa Gomez and Rodel Alzona of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), Lawrence Castilo of Migrante International, Dominic Tajon of the APO Production Unit, and Rhoda Caliwara of the Philippine Association of Legitimate Service Contractors (PALSCON). (Yvonne A. Almiraez)//

Author: Jasper Y. Arcalas
Date: October 03, 2016
Source: Senate Press Releases

The role of global value chains (GVCs) as channels for the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was emphasized at a policy forum hosted recently by the World Bank (WB)-Philippine Office and state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Three quarters of world trade is in intermediate goods and services, said Olivier Cattaneo, WB senior economist. Its much harder (for MSMEs) to export directly than indirectly.
For the Philippines, GVC participation presents an opportunity for leaders to improve the quality of jobs in the country and for MSMEs to access international markets.
Its not only about entering GVCs but also about upgrading once youre in GVCs, said Cattaneo. To explain this point, he enumerated the vertical transfer from lead firms to MSMEs of the following benefits: skills and management capacities, technology upgrades and innovations, access to finance, access to global markets and increased connectivity, and an overall improved business environment.
Compared to its peers in the region, Catteneo said the Philippines could do better. In the past years, the pattern has seen a decline in Philippine exporters using foreign input, and an increase in Philippine input in other countries exports. This means the Philippines has become less integrated in the global value chains, moving further away from the end consumer, and, thus, away from control of the market.

Noticeably, another character of Philippine GVC participation, according to Cattaneo, is less GVC integration in electronics, but more in services.
Ramonette Serafica, PIDS senior fellow, said there has been an increase of services intensification in various industries across the country, whether they are already service chains or manufacturing chains.

Most of the Philippine MSMEs are concentrated in three industries"retail and wholesale, accommodation, and foods services and manufacturing.
In each of these industries, there are also subvalue chains occurring, Serafica said, adding that , although not explicitly identified, they also need broadband services, financial services, and other services to implement the various activities along the value chain.//

Author:
Date: October 12, 2016
Source: Malaya

A lower-middle-income country, the Philippines has a food deficit that is exacerbated by the combined effects of man-made and natural disasters that include earthquakes, typhoons and armed conflict.
As one of the worlds most disaster-prone countries, it ranks third out of 171 countries on the 2015 World Risk Index and fourth out of 188 countries on the 2016 Global Climate Risk Index.
The Mindanao region has suffered from over four decades of armed conflict, resulting in internal displacements and overall deterioration of living standards. The people of the Central Mindanao region are the countrys poorest.
The World Food Programme (WFP) works closely with the Government of the Philippines, other United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and communities to support poor and vulnerable people in the Philippines, particularly those affected by the conflict in the Mindanao region.
WFP focuses on increasing long-term food and nutrition security while assisting people and communities to build resilience to be better prepared for the consequences of disasters.
What are the current issues in the Philippines?
Armed conflict: Armed conflict in the Mindanao region between the Philippine Government and the separatist groups known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) continued for more than 40 years before a 2010 peace deal. The long-running violence has harmed living standards and contributed to the countrys high rates of poverty. Between 2000 and 2010, over 40 percent of families were displaced at least once because of the conflict.
Natural disasters: A study in 2012 by Danilo Israel and Roehlano Briones for the Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies (PIDS) entitled Impacts of Natural Disasters on Agriculture, Food Security, and Natural Resources and Environment in the Philippines analyzed the impacts of typhoons, floods and droughts on these areas using available secondary data.
In general, the study found that: a) typhoons, floods and droughts have an insignificant impact on overall agricultural production at the national level -- yet typhoons have a significant negative 35 impact on paddy rice production at the provincial level; b) typhoons, as exemplified by Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009, have a significant negative impact on the food security of the households in the affected areas; c) households have varying consumption and nonconsumption strategies to cope with the impacts of typhoons; and d) the different impacts of typhoons, floods and droughts on the natural resources and environment have not been quantitatively assessed in detail, but available evidence suggests that these are also substantial.

Poverty: Although national levels of poverty have been decreasing since 2006, decades of armed conflict have left the Mindanao region with some of the countrys poorest people. This is seen in significantly lower rates of primary-school completion and stunted growth (caused by chronic malnutrition) among children under five years old in this region, compared with the rest of the Philippines.
According to the 2015 Global Hunger Index, the food and nutrition situation in the Philippines is rated as serious - despite steady improvements since the 1990s, positioning the country at 53 out of 104 countries. Prevalence of undernutrition remains an issue of public concern.
What is the World Food Programme doing in the Philippines?
Although WFPs work in the Philippines dates from1968, WFP re-established its presence in 2006 at the request of the Government to support the ongoing peace process in the Mindanao region.
Rebuilding lives: WFP helps communities affected by conflict and natural disasters to rebuild their lives by encouraging self-sufficiency through food and cash assistance programmes. People are given food or cash and vouchers in exchange for their participation in asset-creation activities and vocational skills training aimed at strengthening their livelihoods and building resilience to shocks.
School meals and nutritional support: WFP provides school-age children in conflict-affected areas of Central Mindanao with hot, nutritious meals, giving them one-third of their daily micronutrient needs. Every school year, over 65,000 children in Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, and Lanao del Sur are supported with school meals. Teachers and parents prepare the meals that let children concentrate on their studies rather than their stomachs.
Preparing for disasters and emergency response: WFP works with the Government and other organizations to help the Philippines strengthen its resilience to natural disasters and climate change. WFPs work helps vulnerable and disaster-prone communities prepare for and respond to shocks through local community projects, innovative scientific technology, and capacity enhancement of logistics and supply chain management through the establishment of disaster response centers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.To support its nutrition intervention in the Philippines, WFP has pioneered innovations to improve childrens health, such as a special micronutrient powder for children aged 6 months to 23 months. WFP also developed a locally-produced fortified food for children aged 6 month to 36 months, in partnership with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
Preparing for disasters and emergency response: WFP works with the Government and other organizations to help the Philippines strengthen its resilience to natural disasters and climate change. WFPs work helps vulnerable and disaster-prone communities prepare for and respond to shocks through local community projects, innovative scientific technology, and capacity enhancement of logistics and supply chain management through the establishment of disaster response centers in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
As one of the leading humanitarian actors worldwide, WFP stands ready to help the Philippine Government respond to emergencies such as earthquakes, typhoons and volcanic eruptions. WFP provides support such as rice and high-energy biscuits to affected people to help them begin recovery. WFP also provides logistics and telecommunications support to the humanitarian community during emergencies. (end)

Author: Anthony Chase Lim
Date: October 16, 2016
Source: Malaya

The Department of Finance (DOF) has thrown its support to plans of imposing a tariff on rice imports, saying this was more beneficial to the rice sector readying to become an open market.
At the Senate agriculture and food committee hearing on Monday, state-run think tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies (Pids) urged a shift from the current quantitative restriction (QR) regime, which puts a quota on imports.
Pids research fellow Lovely Ann C. Tolin recommended slapping a 35-percent tariff on imported rice after the QR lapses in July next year.
Tolin also urged providing a funding support for farmers, which could be sourced from the tariff collection.
The tariff system and funding support can be authorized by suitable amendment to the Agricultural Tariffication Act with the proviso that the executive can specify implementation details, Tolin said, referring to Republic Act No. 8178.
Finance Undersecretary Gil S. Beltran said the agency supports removing import restrictions on rice and transferring rice importations to the private sector.
Curbing corruption
We believe that this will lessen opportunities for corruption and also incentivize greater investment in the rice sector. The uncertainty over the timing and levels of imports on domestic sales by the [National Food Authority] has resulted in underinvestment in milling, drying and storage, Beltran said.
Also, the uncertainty of business terms within the private sector has also diminished the investment incentives in rice markets. These deficiencies cannot be eradicated by simply removing quota management processes. They must be addressed through tariffication, Beltran added.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piol, however, was seeking a grace period of two more years starting now before the QR on rice is removed to allow farmers to adjust to an expected influx of imports under an open market setup.
The National Economic and Development Authority earlier disclosed the decision of a majority of economic managers to remove the Philippines quota on rice importation, as the government moves to lower the price of the said Filipino staple food.
In 2014, the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowed the Philippines to extend its QR on rice until June 30, 2017 in a bid to buy more time for local farmers to prepare for free trade.
Meager supply
Since the government imposes a quota on rice imports, domestic prices are vulnerable to shocks resulting from meager supply.
The QR system puts the burden of rice supply and demand on the government, whereas market forces are limited by the quota system.
Pundits say importation should be done by the private sector in order to allow market forces to determine prices.
The extended QR slaps a 35-percent duty on imported rice under a minimum access volume (MAV) of 805,200 metric tons. Importation outside of the MAV limit are levied a higher tariff of 50 percent.
The Philippines most favored nation rate"the additional tariff imposed when imported outside of Asean"on the commodity remains at about 40 percent.
The WTO first allowed the Philippines to impose a 10-year quota system for rice importation in 1995. The QR was then extended in 2004 and then lapsed in 2012. It was renewed anew in 2014.//

Author: Ben O. de Vera
Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

FILIPINO rice farmers will be equally protected and may even gain competitive advantage if the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice is no longer extended beyond 2017, an official of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said on Monday.
Contrary to earlier notions that the Philippine rice industry will bear the brunt of global competition without the rice importation cap, a NEDA official said that prices of locally grown rice will actually be lower compared to the landed cost of imported rice if QRs are removed.
At 35 percent tariff, local farmers would have price advantage as compared to the landed cost (of imported rice) of about P4 per kilo and above, said Mercedita Sombilla, director of NEDAs Agriculture Natural Resources and Environment office.
Sombilla told reporters on the sidelines of a Senate hearing on the World Trade Organizations QR on rice that at 35 percent tariff, which is based on the current duty that the country is implementing under the Asean Free Trade Agreement, about 35 of the countrys rice producing provinces will be able to compete directly with their Vietnamese and Thai counterparts.
She added that even without tariff, about 13 rice-producing provinces would remain competitive " with a price advantage of P0.10 to as high as P3 per kilo.
These figures are computed using existing data from the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Statistics Authority. So, I dont believe [the pronouncements]that a lot of farmers will move out of rice production [if we remove the QR], Sombilla said.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) earlier said cheaper rice would directly compete and flood the local market as long as it is subject to the 35 percent tariff.
Cheap imported rice will likely be sold in the Philippines, lowering the prices of local milled rice and palay. This, in turn, will force farmers to look for ways to reduce their cost of production to retain profit, the grains research agency said.
If the QR were removed today and only 35 percent tariff remained as trade protection, local farmers will not be able to compete, it added.
Sombilla, however, said that the 35 percent tariff remained a rough estimate, saying that the governments economic cluster will have to further study the impact of the Asean-level duty once they undergo the actual process of tariffication.
Tariffication is an effort to convert all existing agricultural non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) into bound tariffs and to reduce these tariffs over time.


We still have to look into it. But my stand is that at 35 percent, we are already competitive. What more if it is higher than that? Farmers will even have more protection, she added.
Lovely Ann Tolin of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) echoed Sombillas sentiments, saying Manila should start undergoing the tariffication process, as prescribed by the the WTO rules, should it decide to repeal the QR extension.
First, we have to determine the equivalent tariff rate that we have to apply. In Annex 5 of the WTO agreement on Agriculture, there is actually a formula based on the comparison of domestic and international price from 1996-1998, Tolin said.
Since majority of rice imports are coming from Vietnam and Thailand, Tolin said that they have rounded up the supposed applied duty to about 35 percent to reflect the Philippines commitment to the Asean agreement.
Should we repeal [QR on rice}, there is a projected decrease in palay output of about 2.3 million [metric]tons, there will also be a decrease in farm gate prices of around P4 per kilo, and (the projected decrease) in commercial [rice]is around P6 to P7 per kilogram or an average of P37 per kilo in retail, she said.
Given our computation, our projected increase in imports will be 2 million [metric]tons of rice, she added.
Manila imports about 1.8 million MT of rice annually to augment the shortfall in rice production.
In a cross-country study conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA), PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute in 2013 that assessed the cost of producing palay among six countries"the Philippines, China, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Vietnam"it was found that Vietnam was in a much better position to export rice with 44 million metric tons (MT) of paddy for a population of 91.7 million, compared to 18.4 million MT of rice for 98.4 million people in the Philippines.
At present, rice is the only commodity in the Philippines that enjoys special treatment in the WTO, which excluded the same from the agriculture liberalization.
Unlike other agricultural product, rice was not tariffied. Instead, rice farmers were protected through the imposition of a QR, which allows only limited volume of the grains to enter the country.
At present, Manila limits to 805,000 MT the amount of rice allowed to enter the country through the so-called minimum access volume (MAV).
MAV refers to the minimum volume of farm produce allowed to enter into the Philippines at reduced tariffs, while shipments outside MAV pay higher rates and would need approval by the National Food Authority.//

Author: James Konstantin Galvez
Date: October 18, 2016
Source: Manila Times

Tension between Manila and Beijing was heating up due to the South China Sea dispute. But with the entry of the new administration, the two countries relations are apparently turning for the better, with the Philippiness agriculture secretary now seeing the improving economic ties between the Philippines and China as a major catalyst for agriculture growth.
Backed by President Dutertes wishes to improve ties with China, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Pinol seeks a bigger share in the Chinese market for local farm produce.

Since assuming office, Mr. Duterte has been vocal about being more open to China than other allied nations, stressing that he could shrug off economic ties with the United States and just prioritize trade relations with China.
On the other hand, the countrys agriculture secretary has been keen on opening more markets for Philippine agricultural products to as near as South Korea and as far as the Russian Federation and Argentina. And Piol thinks its time to develop a wider market in China.


As data shows, China is one of the countrys top market for agriculture-based and related exports. China accounted for 8.7 percent of the countrys total agricultural exports for the past six years. From 2010 to 2016, the Philippines exported a total volume of 5.375 million metric tons (MMT) valued at $2.97 billion.
On a year-on-year basis, how-ever, agriculture exports to China plunged 36.93 percent in 2015, the highest and only decline in exports receipts since 2010. Does it have to do with the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute? Economist Roehlano Briones of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies said it doesnt.
We have to remember that Chinas economic growth has slowed down during that time. Its really about their economic slowdown and nothing to do with the arbitration, Briones said. In 2015 the Philippines filed an arbitration case against China before the United Nations over the disputed territories in the WPS.

The Philippiness agriculture-based exports to China in 2015 reached 679,319 MT amounting to $460 million. Before 2015, agricultural exports to China continued posting growth during the six-year time frame. Export receipts to China peaked in 2014 in the past six years, when the Philippines exported a whopping 1.442 MMT at valued to $729 million.
To date, the Philippiness agricultural exports to China seemed to be slowly recovering, reaching $222.953 million for the first half of 2016, nearly half the total exports to the Chinese market last year.

For the past years, vegetables and fruits topped the agricultural exports to China. In 2015 shipments of vegetables and fruits to China accounted for 85 percent of the Chinas total agricultural imports from the Philippines. Vegetables and fruits export receipts amounted to $267 million.

The top agricultural export to China was banana, reaching $157.499 million in 2015. China accounts for 24 percent of the total Philippine banana exports annually.

The Philippines also exports the following commodity groups to China: fish and fish preparations; animal and vegetable oils and fats; cereals and cereals preparations; crude rubber, sugar, tobacco and live animals, among others.

Local experts note that if Mr. Duterte is keen on strengthening economic ties with China, he should pursue a bilateral trade agreement with Beijing, as his mere warm remarks toward the Chinese will not directly result in better numbers.

As it is, we have a generally good economic relationship with China, except for a few trade disputes here and there. But I dont believe theres a bleeding from political relationship to economic ties, or vice versa, Briones said.

Briones noted that a warming of economic ties between the Philippines and China could only happen if Mr. Duterte, during his slated state visit in China later this month, opens bilateral trade talks with his counterpart Xi Jinping.

Nonetheless, Briones said the Philippines should continue capitalizing on the favorable importation measures by China on agricultural goods.

We must be more competitive. We must sell them better bananas and other products. We must bank on the fact China is less stringent in terms of importation measures than Japan and Korea, he said.

For Pablito M. Villegas, president and CEO of Meganomics Specialists Inc., an agricultural think tank, if
the Philippines wants a bigger grab of the Chinese market, then it should secure a steady flow of supply to meet the consistent and even growing demand from China. Villegas suggests that the Philippines consider developing the agriculture sector and improving the value chain through an agro-industrial processing-based approach.



In an agro-industrial processing-based approach, the country is clustered according to production areas and strategic points, such as airports and ports. More so, in such approach, raw produce is geared toward a specific processed product, making it more competitive compared to just being a fresh produce, Villegas said.

We really have to change our strategy. Big companies must be encouraged to go to agribusiness. Its not anymore about having fresh produce, it should be agro-based industrial approach to develop our agriculture, said Villegas, who served as a senior agricultural economist for the Food and Agricultural Organization.

We just have to identify our comparative advantages. For example, where can we grow this crop near a port so that we can ship it right after harvest? he added.
During the annual China-Asean Expo in Nanning, China, the Philippines pitched to Chinese investors and busi-nessmen investment proposals to the countrys agriculture sector, particularly in the rural areas, such as the development of projects geared toward agribusiness and agritourism.
In turn, Chinese businessmen also expressed their interest in investing in the Philippines, especially if relations between Manila and Beijing will improve under the Duterte administration.
Recently, Agriculture Undersecretary for Administration and Finance Bernadette Romulo-Puyat proposes the renewal of the five-year development plan to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua during a courtesy meeting late last month.
The undersecretary said continuing the five-year development plan would greatly strengthen ties with China, particularly in agriculture. Exploring another five-year development with China may be an option to save the ailing agriculture sector of the Philippines.
In end-August 2011 then-Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III and then-Chinese President Hu Jintao inked the Philippines-China Five-Year Development Program for Trade and Economic Cooperation, a comprehensive blueprint where the two countries would exert trade efforts in identified sectors for mutual development.
The five-year development program focused on various sectors, including agriculture and fishery, mining, energy and forestry. The five-year plan was expected to generate at least $60 billion in revenues.
The Philippiness new government also plans to court Chinese investment to fund an ambitious infrastructure program, the latest sign of warming ties between the two nations that have been at loggerheads over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The last administration hardly spoke to them, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in an interview in the World Banks headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Now we are going to talk to them.
Its time for us to lower the tensions, he said. You know the Chinese, they dont like to lose face. Just as long as they dont lose face, its OK to continue arguing with them.
Since sweeping to victory in May elections, Philippine President Duterte has raised eyebrows with repeated attacks on traditional ally, the United States, and by calling for greater cooperation with China. Southeast Asian nations had, in the past, pushed for a united front against China, which prefers that disputes be settled through one-on-one talks.
In July an international tribunal ruled that Chinas claims were unlawful in a case brought by the Philippines"a decision Beijing refused to recognize.


Chinese power
China has been expanding its regional clout through investing in infrastructure projects and plans to revive an ancient trading route stretching from Asia to Europe dubbed One Belt, One Road.
We would like to direct them toward the infrastructure program that we are embarking upon, and you know we welcome them, Dominguez said. Hes eyeing investment from the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the government will submit to the Philippine Senate its application to join the bank over coming days.
Thats going to be a big source of funding for infrastructure spending.
On the wider economy, the finance official played down investor concerns. The peso is trading near a seven-year low, while stocks had the biggest outflow in a year in September, prompted in part by President Dutertes expletive-laden outbursts.
Among targets, President Barack Obama, who Mr. Duterte warned you can go to hell and that he may eventually break up with America. He has also told off both the European Union and the United Nations for their criticisms of his violent antidrug campaign thats left more than 3,000 people dead.
Dominguez has said economic policies have been clear and consistent. S and P Global Ratings in September warned of rising uncertainties surrounding the stability, predictability and accountability under the new government.
GDP increased 7 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, data in August showed, close on the heels of Indias 7.1-percent growth. The $292-billion economy is forecast to expand 6.4 percent this year, the quickest pace in Southeast Asia, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
In the same interview, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. also hosed down any concerns and said he sees little need to change monetary policy in the near term.
As Mr. Duterte is expected to be accompanied by a business delegation in his state visit to China from October 19 to 21, would the Philippine agriculture sector hear some good news afterward?//

Author: Jasper Y. Arcalas
Date: October 13, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

PASIG CITY, Oct. 12 -- The role of global value chains (GVCs) as channels for the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was emphasized at a policy forum hosted recently by the World Bank (WB)-Philippine Office and state think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).
Three quarters of world trade is in intermediate goods and services, explained WB Senior Economist Olivier Cattaneo. Its much harder [for MSMEs] to export directly than indirectly.
For the Philippines, GVC participation presents an opportunity for leaders to improve the quality of jobs in the country and for MSMEs to access international markets.
Its not only about entering GVCs but also about upgrading once youre in GVCs, said Cattaneo. To explain this point, he enumerated the vertical transfer from lead firms to MSMEs of the following benefits: skills and management capacities, technology upgrades and innovations, access to finance, access to global markets and increased connectivity, and an overall improved business environment.
Compared to its peers in the region, Catteneo concluded that the Philippines could do better. In the past years, the pattern has seen a decline in Philippine exporters using foreign input, and an increase in Philippine input in other countries exports. This means the Philippines has become less integrated in the global value chains, moving further away from the end consumer, and, thus, away from control of the market.
Noticeably, another character of Philippine GVC participation, according to Cattaneo, is less GVC integration in electronics, but more in services.
This is no coincidence. PIDS Senior Fellow Ramonette Serafica noted that there has been an increase of services intensification in various industries across the country, whether they are already service chains or manufacturing chains. Most of the Philippine MSMEs are concentrated in three industries"retail and wholesale, accommodation, and foods services and manufacturing.
In each of these industries, there are also subvalue chains occurring, Serafica pointed out, Although not explicitly identified, they also need broadband services, financial services, and other services to implement the various activities along the value chain.
Goods manufacturing involves services like product development, manufacturing, distribution, sales, and after-sale services. The most popular service outsourced and acquired by MSMEs is finance and accounting.
Services make up [on average] a quarter of the value added in value chains, said Serafica, underlining the role and the integrated value of services sector.

Even the gamut of business upgrading, whether it is in product development or process improvement, requires services such as research and development, marketing, logistics, and internet broadband services, among others.
Increased GVC participation may increase MSMEs exposure to global economic risks. However, this downside comes hand-in-hand with the promise of increasing MSME capacity to grow, innovate, improve their performance, and access resources that can help develop their resilience to economic and other shocks. (PIDS)

Author:
Date: October 12, 2016
Source: PIA

MECO Chairman of the Board, Angelito Banayo, told the Philippines News Agency (PNA) during the 105th National Day Reception of Taiwan at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila that both MECO and TECO are sponsoring studies that will be done by the University of the Philippines, Philippine Institute for Development Studies, and another university in Taiwan.
What we are doing right now, together with Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, we are sponsoring for studies that will lead to trade agreement. We aim to know in what industries the Philippines and Taiwan will complement, Banayo said.
Lin is Taiwans representative to Manila.
Banayo noted that there is a huge prospect for the economic relation between the Philippines and Taiwan.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is pushing for its New Southbound Policy which targets more investments and enhanced economic ties with 18 countries, including the Philippines and other ASEAN member countries, South Asian countries, Australia, and New Zealand.
And we are the first and nearest neighbor, the MECO chair said.
What were working on right now is to make the Philippines as Taiwans gateway to ASEAN, he added.
In the same event, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Manila and Taipei will be holding a joint committee meeting within the year to discuss further expansion of trade and investments between the two countries.
Latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that bilateral trade between the Philippines and Taiwan from January to August this year amounted to USD4.74 billion.
Philippine exports to Taiwan over the period were valued at USD1.28 billion while imports from Taiwan reached USD3.45 billion.
I am sure now is the best timing to nourish our friendship and further strengthen our robust relationship. With the backing of President Tsais New Southbound Policy, I am optimistic that our substantive bilateral relations will grow from strength to strength in the years to come, Lin said.//

Author:
Date: October 11, 2016
Source: Philippine News Agency

Yesterday, because of my executive background in People and Organization Management and Development, I eagerly attended the forum sponsored by Foundation for Economic Freedom about the impact of Ending Endo to our economic growth.
Understandably, most participants comprise of business people, expats, representatives from the academe, NGOs and foreign embassies. I was hoping to bump into leaders of trade union but I found none, or maybe I was not aware that someone is in attendance.
According to the organizer, this is the first of many memorial lectures to come, in honor of two of their influential co-founders" Cayetano Paderanga Jr. and Francisco M. Varela.
The lecture was given by Vicente C. Paqueo, Ph.D, a visiting research fellow at the Philippine Institute of Development Studies. He is being considered as one who is adept in this field.
Other experts were also invited to give their reaction. These are
1. Gerardo P. Sicat, Ph.D- Professor Emeritus of Economics at University of the Philippines School of
Economics (UPSE), and the 1st NEDA Director General.
2. Emmanuel F. Esguerra, Ph.D- Professor of Economics at UPSE, and acting Socia-Economic Planning
Secretary General of NEDA from Feb. 1 " June 30, 2016.
3. Ma. Nieves R. Confessor- Core faculty member of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and
former Secretary of DOLE.
4. Atty. Raul Angeles- Executive Director of the Board of Investments (BOI) of the Dept. of Trade and
Industry (DTI).
5. Alex V. Avila- Assistant Secretary, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)
Before I echo what was discussed, below is a copy of the presentation for your reference:
For purposes of this discussion, ending endo refers to the populist policy being advocated by the progressive group, and seemingly being pursued by PDU30 administration.
TECs or Temporary Employment Contracts refers to all non regular employment, both the legit practices, and the 555, w/c many believed as an unacceptable and exploitative practice of some business organizations.
According to the presenter, Europe went thru the same process. They started with a restrictive policy for TECs, similar to what PH have, and this led to Eurosclerosis or jobless economic growth. Europe reformed and became receptive to TECs. This led to the rise of temporary workers" from 6% in 1983 to nearly 15% in 2007. This also brought down the unemployment rate in Europe.
The presenter further believed that if the populist policy of ending endo will be pursued, without qualifying the value adding benefit of TEC, it can lead to :


1. Decline in employment rate
2. Increase in unemployment rate
3. Reduced transition rate from temporary to permanent employment
4. Less opportunities for the disadvantaged/vulnerable workers to become permanent employee
A policy of highly restrictive employment protection leads to higher unemployment rate.
The economic value of TEC, according to the European experience are the following:
1. Employers will be empowered to
o adjust labor use to changing demands, like peak and lean seasons (retail) and project based business
activities (construction)
o to reallocate employees from low productivity sector during low demand to other sectors w/ higher
productivity.
o to screen unwanted employees bec. recruiters were inefficient in
' validating what was claimed in the application form and CVs
' reducing mismatch
2. TEC is a stepping stone of employees with poor credentials to take their time to learn, and eventually
becomes a regular employee.
3. It minimizes the lock-in effect.
The Philippine Experience on Temporary Employment Contracts (TECs)
According to the presenter, the great majority (based on their survey) of endo workers are satisfied with their current job (please refer to table 6 or slides 21-22). Respondents were happy because they received the prescribed minimum wages, social insurance and other benefits.
Data also point to an increase in permanent employment. Roughly 40-45% of temporary workers transitioned to permanent employment from 2003-2010 (please refer to slide 24).
Why Some Employers Resort to Endo Practices?
Endo or 555 has become a tool for employers to escape the cost and other difficulties associated with regularizing employees. The benefits of practicing endo far outweighs the benefits of maintaining regular employees.
How Will Govt End Endo?
The initial plan announced by DOLE are as follows:
1. Limited to the practice of 555
2. 50% reduction for 2016
3. 100% by 2017
4. No plans for new legislation, but will influence all employers to comply with the present regulations.
5. The labor code will be reviewed
On my next post, I will be sharing the reactions of the invited panelists. Afterwards, Ill write my own reflection at ASKSonnie.Info Blog.
For the meantime, do you agree with the result of the study of Drs. Paqueo and Orbeta?//

Author:
Date: October 21, 2016
Source: Federation of Economic Freedom

Removal of endo, or contractualization, is not as simple as proponents want it to be. It has major implications on the employment situation and, hence, on poverty.

Some workers who are normally working under the current labor contractual arrangements could end up on a path toward poverty.

Beyond labor policies. Balancing against such undesirable outcomes requires government action on the policy front.

Let me just mention three such essential policy counter-measures: (1) cheaper food available to workers, especially rice; (2) more private investments at home, including foreign direct investments; (3) acceleration of infrastructure investments.

To achieve (1), we have to revamp NFA policies concerning the import and sale of rice in the domestic economy. We have to rely on ASEAN as our food security basket while attempting to improve domestic agriculture.

To get to (2), we need to revamp BOI policies on incentives on investments and amend the constitutional provision to remove the restrictions on FDIs. (These have taken us decades to discuss without much progress!)

Of course, (3), to accelerate infrastructure investments is the current marching order of government today. Constructing infrastructure projects will take focus, time, and more time, while under implementation. While construction jobs will help multiply employment, the final impact on making the economy more internally efficient is not instant.

Deeper analysis of endo. I am glad to report that an important study on contractualization [Does ending endo contribute to inclusive economic growth?] has been undertaken at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. Authored by Drs. Vicente Paqueo and Aniceto Orbeta, the topic is analyzed from several angles.

(Both writers are recognized scholars who have devoted pragmatic research on human resources issues. Paqueo, in particular was formerly my colleague at the UP School of Economics, spent his more mature years as a development economist at the World Bank from where he has retired. Orbeta has been with the PIDS throughout his career.)

The Paqueo-Orbeta paper on contractualization has three major objectives: (1) to explain the role that temporary employment contracts and job outsourcing " variants of what we know as contractualization " play in enabling the proper functioning of labor markets; to discuss the anti-contractualization advocacy in the country in the context of unintended consequences, which lead not to inclusive growth but toward more unemployment; and (3) to explain why contractualization has become widely used contractual arrangement in practice.

Space limitation prevents me from undertaking an extensive commentary. However, I pick a few points to add further understanding to the problem of contractualization.

Contractualization in Europe: escape from rigid labor markets. I would be suspicious in citing studies in labor markets of highly developed countries and compare them with the Philippines.

However, the labor surplus in the Philippines and the phenomenon of high unemployment and underemployment can be likened partly to the problems of labor in Europe, where relative economic stagnation and high unemployment had persisted over decades.

In Europe, labor market rigidities and highly generous labor laws have created high unemployment rates and economic stagnation. Citing a study of R. Faccini [Reassessing labor market reforms, Economic Journal (2014)], Paqueo and Orbeta point out that labor policies that allowed temporary employment contracts and labor outsourcing helped to produce an increase in employment.

Without reforms in labor contracting, the economic stagnation and the high unemployment rates would have been far worse.

Are laborers in contractualized arrangements unhappy? Paqueo-Orbeta cite a study undertaken in the Institute of Labor Studies [I. C. Villena, Examining 5-5-5 Arrangement in Contractualization, Monograph series 2014-07] concerning a survey of Endo workers, contractors and principals in four regions, the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Northern Mindanao and Davao.

The survey revealed that most workers are satisfied with their jobs (90 percent); their social security, Pag-Ibig and Philhealth benefits are included and 93 percent receive the minimum wage, their holiday premiums, and their 13th month pay (pro-rated?). They scored less in terms of benefits enjoyed by regular workers enjoy.

It may be that the idea of gross injustice about endo is not fully shared by many workers. The fact that they have jobs would be sufficiently satisfying even though there is no job security.

Temporary jobs as a transition to regular work. Contractualization has been a useful path toward the regularization of employment. Based on information gathered from the Philippine labor force survey, Paqueo-Orbeta find that half of all temporary workers experiencing endo takes between four to eight quarters (or one year to two years) to find regular employment.

This is not a high figure given the length of time it takes to transition toward a regular job. But if endo is abolished, will it take an even longer time before frustration sets in and destroys the hope for the job seeker?

I read this information a reason not to discard elements of endo, even if the government were to seek ways to tighten labor regulations surrounding endo. There is danger that should endo be ended, the number of unemployables will find themselves mired in poverty.

Incidentally, those who suffer this fate are mostly the less skilled and less educated. Workers with higher educational attainment have a faster route toward more steady, regular jobs.

Exclusivistic, not inclusive, policies of labor insiders. The main proponents of ending contractualization are leaders of organized labor. They are employment insiders, those who have jobs.

In addition, they seek to raise the minimum wage by P125 per day across the board. This and the abolition of endo are likely to cause more unemployment.

In a labor surplus economy like what we have, such demands reflect mainly a demand by insiders to improve their welfare even if it means that outsiders, or those seeking jobs, will further be excluded from jobs.

The openly unemployed who comprise seven percent of the labor force and a great segment of the underemployed (representing 25 percent of the labor force) are the ultimate outsiders. These are Filipinos who suffer the ultimate consequences of poverty and low level lifetime incomes.

Organized labor needs to come around from this exclusivistic posturing and seek job promotion and support the government in opening the economy, increasing investments, including foreign investments, and in loosening part of the labor laws so that employment and the well-being of all can be achieved.

Tags: Contractualization, employment and unemployment, labor market policies.//

My email is: gpsicat@gmail.com. Visit this site for more information, feedback and commentary: http://econ.upd.edu.ph/gpsicat/

Author: Gerardo Sicat
Date: October 19, 2016
Source: Philippine Star

although much can still be done for the education sector, a study released by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) said.
The policy note " What do statistics say about basic education in the Philippines " cited particularly the provision of ample resources to Department of Education (DepEd) and the continued support for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT).
Investments made by the Aquino government to the education sector, coupled with the implementation of universal kindergarten and the CCT programs, have improved school participation. Furthermore, there is evidence that a greater number of children are now staying in school, the report said.

However, despite these gains, there is still much to be done, it added.
The study said based on statistical data, some children are still being left behind in being provided opportunities to attain their rights to basic education. The fact that half of out-of-school children (OOSC) are from poor families suggests that the problem is still largely economic, the policy note said.

It will require continued support for the CCT, which can also improve disparities in education opportunity between boys and girls, and between children from urban and rural areas, it added.
The study said while the past government has extended support to children of secondary school age to complete schooling through the CCT, it is important to reexamine the provision of a uniform cash grant of P500, as opportunity costs for schooling are different for secondary school-aged boys and girls, and between children from rural and urban areas.
The fact that one in every three primary schoolage OOSC was not attending school due to illness in 2014 is also a cause for concern, the report stated.
Government has traditionally used school feeding programs to improve nutritional status of children. However, these programs do not reach those who are not in school, it added.
The report noted as of 2014, one in every 10 five-year-old children needs to be put in school.

Campaigns for bringing these children into kindergarten should be continued and further intensified by DepEd, through the help of various stakeholders. Local government units have a strong role to play in locating OOSC and working on having them go to school, the policy note said.


Once these children are part of the school system or have returned (in the case of dropouts), the bigger challenge is how to make them stay. That half of secondary-aged male OOSC lack interest in schooling compared to a third among female counterparts suggests gender issues, it added.
The paper said information and communications technology (ICT) can be used as a mechanism to stir and sustain interest in schooling.
Teachers, however, need to have ICT skills and competencies to help students discover the fun in learning, it said.
The report said while there has been suspicion that this lack of interest of children is largely a lack of interest of the parents to send their children to school, an evidence-based research actually suggests otherwise.

The Philippine Country Study on Out-of-School Children revealed that parents undervaluing education is more of an exception. It appears they prefer having their children finish at least second year high school when they expect returns on investments. The decision to pull children out of school is typically still an economic issue, it said.
The report further said theDepEd should take into account factors that determine potentially varying learning styles, such as gender and context.
Currently, there are no specific instructional assistance provided to teachers to promote boys achievements. Outcome measures suggest not only a male disadvantage, but an increase in the gender disparities in favor of girls as students grow older. DepEd should institute affirmative action, such as hiring more male teachers, it said.
At present, the study said roughly nine in every 10 public school teachers are female.
While there are existing scholarship programs for high school students interested in entering the teaching profession provided by the Commission on Higher Education, these programs have not been used to encourage more male teachers to enter public schools, as in the case of Australia, the paper said.

These affirmative action policy interventions can be done for a limited period, say five years, subject to reexamination, it added.
Also, the report said while DepEd has had the Alternative Learning Systems and alternative delivery modes to help children who may find it challenging to get into formal schooling, the quality of learning in these methods will need to be extensively monitored.//

Author: Angela Celis
Date: October 24, 2016
Source: Malaya

Officials from the governments of the Philippines and Taiwan are set to meet this week for a Joint Economic Co-operation (JEC) meeting, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on Monday.
On the sidelines of the launching of e-Presyo of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Lopez said Manila and Taipei will be holding the JEC meeting on Thursday and Friday to further strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries.
He added that any cooperation between the Philippines and Taiwan is heading toward the direction of having free-trade agreement (FTA) in the future.
In a previous interview with Manila Economic and Cultural Office (Meco) Chairman Angelito Banayo, he said Meco and the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (Teco) are launching studies leading to possible FTA between Manila and Taipei.
The studies are sponsored by Meco and Teco and will be done by the University of the Philippines, Philippine Institute for Development Studies and another university in Taiwan.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that two-way trade between the two countries reached $4.74 billion from January to August period.
Exports to Taiwan in the same period were valued at $1.28 billion, while imports from the Asian neighbor amounted to $3.45 billion.
Both the Philippines and Taiwan, which had their new administrations only May this year, are pursuing economic initiatives aimed at boosting relations with Asian neighbors.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is pushing for its New Southbound Policy, targeting for enhanced economic ties with 18 countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand.
President Duterte also targets for stronger relations with Asian countries.

Meanwhile, prior to the JEC meeting in Taiwan, Lopez will be joining President Duterte in his three-day state visit to Japan starting Tuesday.//

Author:
Date: October 24, 2016
Source: Business Mirror

In just about eight months, the Philippines may no longer limit the volume of rice imports with the expiration of the quantitative restrictions (QR) on the staple grain"a temporary, protectionist mechanism used in the World Trade Organization.

Considering that rice is a socially sensitive commodity, the Philippines sought"and was able to get it through lengthy negotiations"to extend the QR twice. The last extension was secured in 2015, which moved forward the expiration to June 30, 2017 (it was supposed to expire in 2012). The time gap means the extension process took at least three years.

Agriculture officials under the previous administration never sought to open talks for yet another QR extension, partly because it would become the problem of the next administration (their horizon was apparently limited to June 30, 2016).

Another likely reason was that, in the tail end of Aquinos term, economists favoring freer trade (and less government intervention) gained the upper hand in steering the countrys rice policy. Before that, the populist policy of pushing for rice self-sufficiency (RSS) while limiting imports prevailed in the Cabinet.

Alas, the promise of independence in rice production and supply by the end of 2013 was not realized, no thanks to destructive typhoons (a given in this neck of the woods).
With change supposedly having come, along with the countrys new management, the situation appears to be more of the same, however.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, himself a former boss of the National Food Authority and harbinger of change from RSS to greater importation under P-Noy, asked the present Cabinet to state a coherent policy on rice.

The thing is, the economist-vs populists tiff remain raging in Malacaang. For now, the pro-free trade camp seem to be keeping the higher ground. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piol, who pushes for RSS, seems to be resigned in defeat and accepting of confusion.
Piol is pushing for yet another extension of the QR by at least two years. How that may happen within the bounds of WTO rules is a mystery, although trade experts at the DA maintain there are many ways to hack it.
Asked when Malacaang would ever be united on a rice policy, Piol told reporters that such a time would never come.
You cant have a unified policy in the Cabinet, Piol said. Basta ako nasabi ko ang posisyon ko. (I have stated my position).

Meanwhile, home-grown rice continue to be uncompetitive, with the cost of production close to twice that in neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

With free trade, the market expects an influx of cheaper, imported rice. State think-tank Philippine Institute of Development Studies calls for the institution of safety nets and support for local farmers. So far, what the National Economic and Development Authority mentions is a CCT-type (conditional cash transfer) program for rice growers.
For groups like the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, the problem remains smuggling, QR or no QR. "

Author: Ronnel W. Domingo
Date: October 19, 2016
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The income distribution among families in the Philippines improved in 2015 versus the comparable period in 2012, although data showed that income inequality still varies across the regions.
According to the results from the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES), the Gini coefficient, which is a measure of income inequality within a population, was estimated at 0.4439 for 2015.
This figure is slightly lower than the 2012 ratio of 0.4605, which may indicate some improvement in the income distribution among families, the Philippine Statistics Authority said.
A Gini coefficient ranges from zero to one, with zero indicating perfect income inequality among families, while a value of one indicates absolute income inequality.
Jose Ramon Albert, senior research fellow at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, said historically, the Philippines has had high income inequality which has been a barrier to poverty reduction.
Growth tends to be largely felt by the rich, more than the poor. So clearly, the conditional cash transfer and other poverty programs has finally gained traction to reduce poverty and income inequality, Albert said.
In all developing countries, inequality may be understated as the very wealthy may not be captured in the surveys. However, even if there is consistent bias in the measurement, when the levels are going down, that is a good thing. Even if there maybe concerns that inequality (is) being understated, when trends go down, that is good news, he added.
Cid Terosa, University of Asia and the Pacific economist, likewise said there is significant improvement in income distribution.
For income distribution to improve further, the poorer income classes need to sustain improvements in their market income, Terosa said.
This can be achieved through sustained economic growth and income redistribution policies, he added.
According to the FIES data, the income inequality was higher in five regions compared to the average Gini coefficient across the country.
These are regions IV-B - MIMAROPA (0.4568), VII - Central Visayas (0.4647), VIII - Eastern Visayas (0.4649), X - Northern Mindanao (0.4636) and XII - SOCCSKSARGEN (0.4626).
The lowest income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, is in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), at 0.2801. For the National Capital Region(NCR), it is also lower than the country average, at 0.3909.
The ARMM has the lowest inequality because almost everyone there is poor. Income differences among those in ARMM arent wide, Terosa said.
In Metro Manila, as is expected, you have extremes, so inequality is higher, Albert, for his part, said.
The FIES data also showed that the average annual family income of Filipino families was P267,000, while the average annual family expenditure was P215,000. Thus, Filipino families have savings of P52,000 a year, on average.
The survey grouped and ranked families into per capita income deciles, with the richest decile representing families belonging to the highest 10 percent in terms of per capita income, while the poorest decile represents families in the lowest 10 percent.
The data showed that the average annual family income of the richest decile was about nine times that of the poorest decile.
Specifically, the richest decile had an average family income of P786,000 in 2015, while they spent P534,000 on average, with savings of P252,000.
In comparison, the poorest decile had an annual average income of P86,000 per family. The average annual family expenditure was P89,000, indicating that the poorest family, on average, was unable to save, and even had a shortfall of P3,000.
Among regions, families in the NCR had the highest average annual family income at P425,000 in 2015, while expenditures amounted to P349,000, equivalent to average annual savings of P76,000.
On the other hand, the lowest family income, on average, was in ARMM, at P139,000. Average annual expenditures amounted to P111,000, resulting to savings of P28,000 per year.
Rosemarie Edillon, National Economic and Development Authority deputy director general, said the government is not targeting any specific figure for the Gini coefficient.
We are actually not targeting the Gini, but we would rather see a much faster reduction in poverty in the regions that have lagged behind, Edillon said.
There is a lot more work ahead, particularly in reducing inequality across regions and sectors. We need to pay greater attention to the lagging regions particularly in Mindanao, as well as to the agriculture sector where many of the poor are found, she added.
Albert likewise agreed that much still needs to be done to bring down inequality and poverty.
The Sustainable Development Goals which we signed up to has a goal of zero poverty by 2030, Albert said.
There are no specific targets on inequality other than to bring it down, he added.//


Author: Angela Celis
Date: October 31, 2016
Source: Malaya

MANILA, Oct. 27 - Creating value for workers will be the focus of this years national Productivity Conference on Wednesday, 27 October, at Hotel Jen in Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City.

"We look forward to the 2016 National Productivity Conference for it will offer us the opportunity to engage micro, small, and medium enterprises--the backbone of the Philippine economy--on the important issue of productivity and competitiveness, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said yesterday.

"The conference is our contribution to the celebration of October as the National Quality and Productivity Month," he added.

This is the fourth National Productivity Conference since it was first held six years ago.

The National Wages and Productivity Commission, which is organizing and hosting the event, said it has chosen the theme, Productivity@Work: Creating Value For Workers, as fitting to the thrust of the DOLE of mainstreaming productivity and quality mindset in workplaces.

The conference will focus on how productivity and quality mindset is mainstreamed and made to work in the value chain of top enterprises in the manufacturing industry, enabling smaller companies in the chain to meet the exacting standards of their principal to compete in both domestic and international markets, said Bello.

NWPC Acting Executive Director Patricia Hornilla said the NWPC expects over 250 Convention delegates and participants representing the public and private sector organizations, as well as champions and advocates in the productivity movement. (DOLE)

Main activity at the Convention will be a research forum where experts and resource speakers from the Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies (PIDS), Unilever, and Integrated Micro-Electronics present studies and researches on the importance of mainstreaming quality mindset to achieve productivity in workplaces. (DOLE)

Author:
Date: October 27, 2016
Source: PIA