Phl to lag behind other ASEAN members in economic growth: OEDC report (philstar.com) | Updated March 26, 2013 - 11:00pm
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Despite its better than expected 6. 6 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year, the Philippines will lag behind other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the long-term if it does not adopt the needed improvements, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In its report entitled "Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013," the Paris-based OECD said that in many economic and development indicators, the Philippines can even be overtaken by newer and less developed neighbors if corrective measures are not implemented. The OEDC Development Center report showed that a Filipino worker accounted for $10,000 worth of products valued in 2009 prices. This is barely above Indonesia's level and below the ASEAN average, the OECD said. The Philippines, along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore, are the founding members of ASEAN. The newer members of the regional grouping, formed in 1967, are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, all of which signed up in the 1990s. Kensuke Tanaka, head of the Asia desk of the OECD think tank, said in a lecture delivered in Jakarta last week that among the five original founders, the Philippines ranked fourth in terms of labor productivity. According to Tanaka, poverty incidence in the Philippines was the highest among the five with almost a quarter of the population living below the poverty threshold. This was almost the same as that in Indonesia.
Philippine government officials have been candid in admitting that despite impressive economic growth, the problem of unemployment and poverty have persisted. A report issued by the Integration Monitoring Office of the ASEAN Secretariat also showed that the Philippines has the lowest GDP per capita among the six oldest ASEAN members, including Brunei. Each Filipino accounts for only $2,300 a year, which is less than a quarter of the world average of $10,000. The OECD has projected that in the next five years or until 2017, the Philippines' real GDP growth will be 5.5 percent yearly, which would be at par with the figure for the entire ASEAN. However, the four less developed members are expected to surpass this level with Vietnam growing by 5.6 percent; Myanmar, 6. 3 percent; Cambodia, 6.9 percent and Laos, 7.4 percent. Indonesia's growth will outperform its neighbors, with a 6.4 percent annual rate of expansion from 2013 to 2017. Malaysia and Thailand will see annual expansion of about 5.1 percent, and Singapore may grow 3.1 percent a year. Like the World Bank, the OECD called for a more inclusive growth in the Philippines and urged the government to focus on improving road and power infrastructure, provide access to quality education, and ensure jobs for all job seekers.
The OECD report, however, has a generally optimistic outlook for the region in the years ahead. It said that Southeast Asia's growth will remain resilient over the next five years as stronger investment and private consumption reduce dependence on exports for expansion. The OECD said that Europe's sovereign debt crisis and a slowdown in advanced economies have had a "limited" impact on Southeast Asian nations with most of the effect experienced through trade. Prospects for developing Asian nations contrast with the fiscal and demographic challenges faced by more advanced economies, as higher public spending and younger populations support domestic demand and lure investment even as global expansion weakens. "A combination of cyclical factors, government policies, and longer-term shifts in economic structure that have supported consumption growth over the past several years are likely to continue to underpin its growth over the medium term in Southeast Asia, China and India," the OECD said. The report said that governments in Southeast Asia have loosened fiscal policies to spur growth, citing increased infrastructure spending by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in their respective countries.
Phl import down 8 pct on year in Jan. (philstar.com) | Updated March 26, 2013 - 9:00pm
MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - Philippine import bill in January declined 8 percent on year to $4.72 billion on back of a sharp fall in the import of electronic products, the National Statistics Office reported today. This is the first time in the last five months that import growth contracted. Analysts said that this reflects the weakness in the country's electronics export sector. Electronic products, which include semiconductors, account for nearly a quarter of the total import bill and fell 14.4 percent to $1.15 billion. These imports were used by the local semiconductor and electronics industry - the Philippines biggest export sector. The NSO said the country's purchase of mineral fuels, chemicals and plastics likewise declined in January. Most of the country's imports were sourced from China, the US , Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Trade deficit in January narrowed to $714 million from $1.01 billion deficit in the same period last year.
Mindanao power woes resolved in 2015, but... By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The power crisis in Mindanao is expected to be significantly resolved beginning in 2015, but President Aquino reiterated yesterday that consumers should prepare to pay higher rates. He assured the people that the government is working on a mechanism that would help power distribution utilities buy diesel-fed electric generating plants as a stop-gap measure. Aquino told reporters that the Department of Energy presented plans to resolve the crisis by 2015, but this would entail higher power rates for consumers. He said the energy supply, including surplus power, would be sufficient for the needs of Mindanao residents. Diesel power plants were seen as the quickest remedy to the Mindanao power problem as these could be set up in six months to one year, the President said in an ambush interview during his inspection of a port, airport, and bus terminal yesterday in preparation for the Holy Week. “That one year includes four months of procurement by the government,” he said. “So we’re working on the mechanism to bring these distribution utilities to generators.”
He stressed that the government is working on an immediate, lawful solution and his administration did not want shortcuts by way of declaring a state of emergency.
“The state of emergency will only help in terms of expediting the procurement. Now, we don’t want to rush this too much that there might be shortcuts in the laws, then COA (Commission on Audit) will say these are all not allowed,” he said. He said they wanted to start everything right following rules, regulations and laws to make the solutions permanent. The government response is also intended to make sure that the upcoming elections will not be affected and all the voting precincts will have enough power to transmit all the election results, he said. It takes between three to four years to set up the power plants, he said, noting that the earliest target is about 300 megawatts from coal-fired power plants by 2015. Similar plants will also start going online after that until 2017, he explained. Also augmenting the insufficiency of power in Mindanao is the Iligan diesel power plant, which has been operating and returning to its rated capacity, he said. Asked how long Mindanao residents would wait before the remedial measure would take effect, the President said the public must understand that the current administration inherited a problem that would need long-term solutions. He said there was over reliance on hydroelectric power and many power plants in Mindanao have to be repaired to provide the usual energy supply. In Naga City last week, the President said putting up diesel-powered plants would need action from Congress through a joint resolution to authorize the government purchase. Congress may authorize, through a joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electrical Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) law, “upon the determination by the President of the Philippines of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity.” Lawmakers, however, are on a break for the campaign period. They will resume session on June 5 to 7 to wrap up work of the 15th Congress. The 16th Congress will convene on July 22. “So we’re working on the mechanism, fine-tuning it, so we can bring these generators to distribution utilities. So that, in turn, will give us enough to really ease to a large degree the energy shortage in Mindanao,” Aquino said. But the President said electricity rates would inevitably increase because hydropower would be blended with other sources like diesel. “The diesel entails expenses. So power rates in Mindanao will increase because the choice is: will the power rates increase or there will be no power at all? Most of those we talked to understood that rates must go up and they would accept that rather than nothing,” Aquino said.
‘Magna Carta for Poor is Mission Impossible’ By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - “Mission Impossible.” This was how President Aquino described the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor that he vetoed, as the government had no means to allocate around P3.3 trillion from the P2-trillion annual national budget to uplift the lives of the poor. In an interview yesterday when he visited ports, bus terminals and airports in anticipation of the Holy Week rush, the Chief Executive justified that he cannot give false hope to 95 million Filipinos, especially since the government is cash-strapped. “Let’s be merciful to government officials or employees who will be given this mission impossible and end up facing charges for failing to do the impossible. This is why I was forced to veto this law,” Aquino explained. The P3.3-trillion estimate that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad gave the President does not even include the 10 percent administrative fees that will be needed for processing. “The P3.3 trillion also has a 10 percent administrative fee – the people who will process their applications for housing, supervision on the construction of houses, those who will distribute the food, etcetera,” Aquino said. In all, it will be P3.3 trillion plus roughly about P300 billion “just to administer” the rights of the impoverished Filipinos, and in order for the program to be fully implemented. The other day, Aquino disclosed that the government has to spend around P600 billion for mass housing alone for the 26 percent of Filipinos who are living below the poverty line out of the 95 million total population.
This means the government has to provide roughly five million social housing units to the poor.
Aquino added that this excludes the right of the poor to stable food supply, employment, health services and quality education. Budget allocation is also a problem for funding agencies like the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), which under the proposed measure was supposed to give 55 percent of all its earnings from lottery operations. “PCSO objected to this provision. They countered that 55 percent of what they take in, they pay out as prizes. So how can they give 50 percent towards this fund?” Aquino asked. The same is true with the Department of Agrarian Reform, whose revenues are normally derived from sequestered properties but is also supposed to give out its proceeds for the poorest of the poor. As to the suggestion of Alagad party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta that specific provisions could have been vetoed but not the whole law, Aquino explained that such cases are only allowed if it is a revenue measure, an appropriation, or one that involves tariff. “Under the 1987 Constitution, which Congressman Marcoleta should have known, since he is now on his third term in Congress, bills that can only be vetoed by line item are those from appropriation, revenue or tariff bill,” Aquino pointed out. “But it doesn’t fall in any of the three so we cannot line item veto.”
Substitute bill Meanwhile, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday lawmakers would pursue in the 16th Congress the passage of a substitute bill for the Magna Carta of the Poor. “We’ll try to push for it in the first few months,” Belmonte said. Earlier, leaders of the House of Representatives said there was no time to pass a new version of the measure in the 15th Congress, which adjourns sine die on June. House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II said the President could include the substitute bill in the list of priority measures of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC). On one hand, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said yesterday Filipinos cannot expect any real anti-poverty measure under the Aquino administration after the President vetoed the Magna Carta for the Poor. “There can be no real pro-poor measure under the Aquino government,” Mariano said in a statement. “Aquino vetoed the Magna Carta of the Poor because he wants to focus the so-called anti-poverty fund to the administration’s flagship program, the conditional cash transfer scheme.” “These are inherent, constitutionally guaranteed rights of all people. It is the obligation of the state to ensure that all Filipinos enjoy these rights at all times,” the lawmaker added. He also said the Magna Carta “is in fact a cosmetic measure that justifies poverty” because “the measure conveniently sugarcoats the government’s inefficiency in providing a decent, quality life for the people.”
He pointed out that the measure only seeks to “protect the rights” of the poor and not to resolve and eradicate widespread poverty. Based on the poverty threshold set by the National Economic and Development Authority, about one in every four Filipinos or 25.1 percent is considered poor, he added.
Budget allocation Senators Serge Osmeña and Francis Escudero supported the President’s decision to veto the law, saying the government does not have enough budget for the measure. “It is a much bigger sin if we let our countrymen have high hopes on the measure, yet the government fails them,” Escudero said. Escudero also noted that under Presidential Decree 1177, the President has powers over the budget to decide which items to fund and the only items that are automatically appropriated are debt servicing and the Internal Revenue Allotment under the Local Government Code and the budget for constitutional commissions. Escudero also said there should be close coordination between the executive and the legislative branches of government in crafting relevant laws since about P500-billion worth of laws remain dormant due to lack of government funding. The solution to this perennial problem, he said, would be the earmarking of funds on laws coming out of the legislative mill. Osmeña, meanwhile, noted that there is an unwritten rule in Congress that lawmakers should not pass a spending bill without a certification of availability of funds from the Department of Budget and Management. “But Congress keeps at it. The favorite whipping boys are the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office,” Osmeña said. – With Christina Mendez
More funds to be poured into infrastructure next year By Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The Aquino administration is pouring more funds into infrastructure next year. Based on agency budget ceilings set by the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will have P189.3 billion for next year. That amount represents an increase of P33.8 billion over this year’s spending level of P155.5 billion. It would be the biggest increase for a state agency, bigger than the P22.6-billion adjustment the Department of Education (DepEd) will get. But education will continue to corner the largest share of the annual budget. The DepEd will have P255.2 billion for next year, while state colleges and universities would be allocated P31.9 billion. Another infrastructure agency, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), will get an additional P1.3 billion, from P34.2 billion this year to P35.5 billion next year. However, funds for airport projects are not all reflected in the DOTC budget as by law, most of these go to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
The P25-billion annual Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the official name of the congressional pork barrel, is another source of infrastructure funds. PDAF allots P200 million for each senator and P70 million for each member of the House of Representatives. The budget law requires each lawmaker to spend half of his or her allocation for “hard” projects like roads, bridges or school buildings. The other half is for “soft” projects like education or medical assistance. The Department of Finance (DOF) will receive the third largest increase, with its outlay going up by P16 billion, from P11.8 billion to P27.8 billion. The bulk of the DOF adjustment will go to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), whose funds will jump from P7.5 billion this year to P16.8 billion next year. The Bureau of Customs will likewise receive a hefty increase, from P2.2 billion this year to P8.9 billion in 2014. The two bureaus are expected to collect P2.025 trillion next year to support the projected P2.268-trillion 2014 national budget. This year’s revenue collection target is P1.746 trillion.
Following the DOF in terms of budgetary increase is the Department of Social Welfare and Development, which administers the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program. Its budget will go up from P56.3 billion this year to P66.9 billion in 2014. The department has more than P44 billion this year for cash dole-outs.
EDITORIAL - Human development indicators (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
It’s hard to make a significant dent in human development in this country in less than three years, but solid achievements are expected at the end of six years. Despite some gains in this area since 2010, the administration of daang matuwid still faces tough challenges. The latest Human Development Report ranks the Philippines 114th out of 186 countries. An indicator of slow progress in the Philippines is that the country was ranked below all but Indonesia among the five founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The 2013 report, prepared by the United Nations Development Program and released earlier this month, observed that when countries with similar starting points take different development paths, the outcome is affected by “national forces, policies, institutions, social context and idiosyncratic shocks.” In fact the Philippines did not have a similar starting point with other ASEAN members, but started out at the top when the regional bloc was founded in 1967 by the country together with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. In the 2013 Human Development Index or HDI, however, Singapore ranked 18th, at par with Austria; Malaysia placed 64th alongside Libya and Serbia; and Thailand was at 103rd. Only Indonesia was behind the Philippines, though not too far at 121st. Oil-rich Brunei, which joined ASEAN in 1984, placed 30th. Vietnam, which joined in 1995, is also closing in on the Philippines at 127th. The HDI is based on factors that include per capita income, public health indicators, life expectancy, gender inequality and public spending on education. The report noted that in 2011-2012, approximately 18.4 percent of Filipinos lived on less than $1.25 a day, with 5.7 percent of the population living in severe impoverishment and 9.1 percent vulnerable to poverty. In the coming years, the UNDP sees human development gains in the Asia-Pacific being led by China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Aquino administration has three more years to make the Philippines part of that promising group.
Gov’t aims to make Phl a major hub in SE Asia By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima reiterated the Aquino administration’s goal to turn the Philippines into a major hub in Southeast Asia. During Standard Chartered’s 2013 Singapore Forum, Purisima highlighted the Philippines’ commitment to integrate with Asean members and enhance its business environment to become a major hub in the region. “We in the Philippines look forward to Asean Integration in 2015. Our hope is that the Philippines will be the Northern and Pacific Gateway to Asean. The Aquino Administration is committed to ensuring that we continue to invest in infrastructure, our people, and address the constraints to growth to ensure that our people are ready to take full advantage and be part of an integrated Asean,” Purisima said. The Southeast Asian region, with a population of over 600 million people, is seen to become a major economic growth force in Asia when the planned regional common market of Asean countries is established by 2015. This will significantly reduce the cost of production for the businesses and economic growth of membercountries. “The ASEAN demographic places the region in a very strong position for growth. It is important that ASEAN integrates because our collective strengths are more formidable than our individual competencies,” Purisima said.
The region, comprising the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar, collectively makes up the world’s third largest population behind only China and India. Its population is also one of the youngest in the world, with an average age of 27, which Purisima said puts the region at an advantage versus the rest of the world. Purisima likewise underscored the importance of Asean’s initiatives in connectivity, “we have to be connected with each other, not just through infrastructure, but also connectivity through common standards for trade and investments.”
Business confidence drops slightly in Q1 By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Consumers turned less upbeat this quarter after damage by typhoon late last year weighed against the outlook for income and economic performance, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported yesterday. The confidence index slightly declined to negative 11.2 percent in the first quarter from negative 10.4 percent in the previous three months, results of the latest Consumer Expectations Survey showed. The index measures the difference between positive and negative responses. A negative result reflected pessimists continued to outnumber optimists. “The confidence index this quarter was weighed down by the damage caused by typhoon Pablo in Mindanao. Because of this, the confidence was negatively affected,” said Rosabel Guerrero, director of the BSP’s department of economic statistics. The survey was conducted from Jan. 21 to Feb. 1 among 5,670 households. Response rate was 96.9 percent.
Guerrero said outlook for family income and economic conditions declined outside the National Capital Region (NCR) due to damaged crops. The index dipped to negative 12.8 percent from negative 11.5 percent quarteron-quarter.
However, on the third indicator of financial situation, Guerrero noted that respondents continued to have a favorable view on the back of lower household expenses, more savings and less debt payments. More members having jobs also contributed to the improvement in financial situation outlook, she added. The outlook in the provinces was a reverse of those in the NCR where the index posted its highest level since the survey began. The gauge shot up to negative 1.6 percent from negative10.2 percent driven mainly by family income. “The gauge used to measure family income hit the positive level for the first time,” Guerrero said. A positive result showed optimists outnumber pessimists. While the index fell for the current quarter, the outlook for the next quarter and in the next 12 months improved. Data showed the index increased to 7.8 percent from 6.3 percent next quarter. Over the next year, the gauge improved to 18.5 percent from 16.8 percent. “Expectations of additional family income, increasing employment opportunities and briskier business fueled the strong consumer sentiment for the next quarter,” the survey said. “For the year ahead, consumers were more optimistic as they expected continuing improvement in business conditions, a stronger labor market, and higher investments that could generate more employment and business opportunities,” it added.
PEZA lists Alliance Select GenSan facility By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
Â MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) has registered the tuna cannery and salmon processing areas of listed food company Alliance Select Foods International. Inc. (ASFI) as an agroindustrial zone. In a disclosure to the local bourse yesterday, Alliance Select said that a registration agreement was signed yesterday between PEZA director general Lilia Delima and Alliance MHI Properties Inc. (AMHI) director Efren Madlangsakay for the etsablishment of AMHIâ€™s two parcels of land with a total area of 82,016 square meters as the Foodport Processing Zone (FPZ). FPZ is located in Barangay Tambler, General Santos City. Alliance Select has a 40-percent stake in AMHI. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/27/924322/peza-lists-alliance-select-gensan-facility
Phl gets P23.63-B ODA loan from Japan By Ted P. Torres (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
Â MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines has received P23.63-billion loan from the Japanese government as official development assistance (ODA) loan. The loan will support the efforts of the Philippine government in achieving inclusive growth, as embodied in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2011-2016, for the improvement of traffic and transportation network. The loan is broken down into P23.183-billion loan for two projects and P446 million in the form of two grants. The loans were allocated for improvements in Light Rail Transit (LRT) Lines 1 and 2 and the construction of the Bohol International Airport. Known as the Capacity Enhancement of Mass Transit Systems in Metro Manila Project, the improvements to the mass transit system will get P18.557 billion. It will be used to acquire new coaches, improvement of current facilities related to LRT-1 south extension and extension of LRT-2, and thereby contributing to the mitigation for road congestion in Metro Manila, air pollution and climate change.
The New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project gets the other portion of the loan amounting to P4.626 billion. The project will put up a new international airport in Panglao Island, replacing the Tagbilaran airport. The airport will improve convenience and safety in air transportation thus contributing to sustainable development in the area. Meanwhile, the first grant worth P383 million will find its way to the Mini-Hydro power Development Project in the province of Ifugao. The grant will be used to construct a 810-kilowatt (kw) mini-hydropower plant in Ifugao. The project will help to promote usage of domestic resources of renewable energy, to sustain rice terrace conservation and carbon dioxide reduction. The Mini-Hydro Power Development Project in the province of Isabela, meanwhile, will result in a 45-kw micro-hydropower plant using the existing irrigation system in Isabela. It received the balance of P63 million from the grant. It is also expected to promote usage of domestic resources of renewable energy, to contribute to energy diversity and to CO2 reduction. The grant aid projects are in line with financial assistance aiming to accelerate developing countries measures against climate change. “Japan will cooperate with the Philippines in the issue of climate change for pursuing a fair and effective international framework with the participation of all major emitters,” the Japanese government said in a statement.
Growth will remain solid this year – Tetangco By Prinz P. Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Economic growth will remain solid this year led by an “encouraging” first quarter performance that is expected to show domestic demand as well as external trade contributing to economic expansion, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco said. “The macro financial numbers (last year) provide us some momentum. Nothing in the first quarter gives us reason to take pause,” Tetangco said. “Instead, the outlook continues to be encouraging,” Tetangco told Filipino-Chinese businessmen in a speech last Friday. Copies of the speech were sent to reporters yesterday. Sustained consumer demand bolstered by remittances will keep the Philippines afloat, but at the same time, a “more pronounced” trade sector will be a factor for this year’s economic momentum. Econoic growth hit 6.6 percent last year, surpassing the government’s five to six-percent target, and becoming Asia’s second strongest expansion for 2012. A higher six- to seven-percent goal was set for 2013. There are enough reasons to be optimistic about this year, Tetangco said, noting that the “sustained and broadbased” growth last year was supported by “broadening” growth drivers. For one, there are the remittances from over 10 million Filipinos abroad, which are expected to continue flowing to the economy and providing resources to meet our external obligations. The country’s balance of payments (BOP) is “seen to remain in surplus” after recording an excess of $9.236 billion last year. As of February, the BOP registered a surplus of $1.083 billion. The BSP expects the BOP hitting $3 billion this year. On the other hand, overseas remittances, which posted a record of $21 billion last year, will be a “steadying factor” to boost our gross international reserves (GIR). Reserves are forecast to hit $86 billion this year. Exports are likewise expected to recover despite a 2.7-percent contraction in January. “We anticipate a more pronounced contribution from the external trade sector,” he added. Risks, however, remain, he stressed, and that the economy’s “resilience” will be tested by “continuing volatilities” abroad, particularly emanating from weak US and Europe economies. Tetangco said the central bank has remained watchful of capital inflows from these economies on fears they may create imbalances. On a positive note however, the peso will remain “well supported” by these flows. The central bank reiterated it could keep interest rates low for as long as the slow inflation permits. Consumer prices rose 3.2 percent as of February, well-within the official three- to five-percent target for the year. “Financial stability means that we will continue to set monetary policy with an inflation anchor that is consistent with the needs of the broader macroeconomy,” Tetangco said. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/27/924332/growth‐will‐remain‐solid‐year‐tetangco
SMC, Tan tie up for Cebu airport bid By Lawrence Agcaoili (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines - Diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is expanding its partnership with tycoon Lucio Tan to pursue a joint venture for the P17.5-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport project. SMC corporate information officer Ferdinand Constantino informed the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) that the company is set to form a consortium with the Lucio Tan Group of Companies to bid for the project that is part of the Aquino administration’s public private partnership (PPP) program. “The company and the group of Mr. Lucio Tan are forming a consortium with the intention of participating and jointly submitting a competitive bid for the Mactan-Cebu international airport expansion project under the PPP program of the government,” Constantino said. In April last year, SMC bought into national flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) after Trustmark Holdings of the Tan Group entered into investment agreements with a unit of SMC wholly-owned subsidiary San Miguel Equity Investments Inc. (SMEII) for the acquisition of a 49-percent interest in PAL Holdings. SMC infused $500 million to buy into PAL and affiliate budget carrier Air Philippines Corp. (AirPhil) through its 49percent interest in publicly held PAL’s parent firm PAL Holdings Inc. The investment was made through SMEII. Under the agreement, Trustmark and Zuma Holdings and Management Corp. – the holding companies of PAL and AirPhil – would issue new shares to SMEII. Earlier, SMC and PAL president and chief operating officer Ramon S. Ang said it was putting on hold its planned $6billion international airport that would serve as an alternative to the congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) due to unclear policy from the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). The DOTC has set April 5 as the deadline for the submission of prequalification documents for the Mactan-Cebu international airport project. The tandem of SMC and the Tan Group would compete head on with the joint venture of infrastructure conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and JG Summit Holdings Inc. of taipan John L. Gokongwei Jr. that controls budget airline Cebu Air Inc. (Cebu Pacific) as well as publicly-listed Megawide Construction Corp. and infrastructure giant GMR Infrastructure Ltd. of India. Aside from SMC and Tan’s MacroAsia Corp., other companies that have expressed interest in the project include Lopez-owned First Philippine Holdings Corp. (FPHC), Premier Airport Group care of retail magnate Henry Sy’s SM Investments Corp., Aboitiz Land, Inc., Filinvest Development Corp. of taipan Andrew Gotianun, and Prime Power Holdings Corp. Aside from those that bought invitation documents, several companies including Seoul-based Samsung C&T Corp., Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), auditing firm SG&V Co., Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Singapore) Pte Ltd, Changi Airports International, and French-owned Aeroport de Lyon have inquired about the project. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/27/924337/smc‐tan‐tie‐cebu‐airport‐bid
DA eyes 5 agro-ind’l coconut estates By Czeriza Valencia (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 27, 2013 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - The government is laying the groundwork for the establishment this year of five agroindustrial estates focusing on the production of high value products from coconut and processing of coconut commodities. Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the industrial estates should ideally be located near coconut plantations cultivated by small farmers. Each estate should have a capacity to process 5,000 nuts per day and should have cold storage facilities. The output of the estates would be allocated both for domestic consumption and export. Alcala said discussions are being conducted between the DA and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to position the industrial estates as economic zones. “These estates may also be offered under the PPP (Public-Private Partnership),” he said, noting that the department is already preparing a proposal for the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). The DA hopes to have file a proposal for the NEDA within the semester.
“There were already two groups of (foreign) investors who approached me,” Alcala said, adding, “this is the kind of economic activity that is needed in the countryside. From these activities, many related industries will rise.” Aside from the five industrial estates eyed for this year, the DA is also preparing larger export-oriented agro-industrial estates with a minimum area of 150 hectares in a major coconut producing region. One large estate in three major islands in the country is envisioned to be established within the short term. The creation of coconut industrial estates would provide for the value-adding of coconut commodities. Most of the country’s coconut commodity exports continue to be used as raw materials for industrial and domestic products. Philippine coconut exports include copra, coconut oil, copra meal, desiccated coconut, coco shell charcoal, activated carbon, and coco chemicals. The creation of the industrial estates would be pursued as part of the Coconut Industry Development Roadmap. Coconut commodities exports in 2012 rose year-on-year in terms of volume but fell year-on-year in terms of value because of weakened international prices, according to data from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). Total export volume from January to December 2012 rose 1.49 percent to 1.53 million metric tons (MT) in 2012 from 1.51 million MT in the same period in 2011.
Export value for the period, on the other hand, fell 21.57 percent to $1.54 billion in 2012 from $1.96 billion in the same period in 2011. The volume of coconut oil shipments, which traditionally accounts for the majority of coconut product exports, rose 3.7 percent to 851, 913.18 MT in 2012 from 821.445.37 MT in 2011. The value of coconut oil shipments for 2012, however, fell sharply 30. 25 percent to $982.32 million from $1.41 billion in 2011. The average world market price of coconut oil in 2012 fell b32.75 percent to $1, 153.08 per MT from $1, 714.54 per MT in 2011. The lower prices in the international market was attributed to lower demand for most vegetable oils in the greater part of the year. The world market price of coconut oil reached a low of $781 per MT. Demand was low because of the weak economic activity in prime markets such as the United States, Netherlands and Germany. Demand picked up four to five months before yearend when prices were already low. Coconut oil price, however, is now slowly rising. It is currently at $800 per MT. http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/03/27/924334/da‐eyes‐5‐agro‐indl‐coconut‐estates
Clark expansion project approved Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 20:07 Written by Jun Vallecera / Reporter
THE government on Tuesday finally flashed the green light for Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) to push ahead with its P1-billion expansion and development program, which is seen to more than double its capacity to over 2 million passengers a year. This was learned from CIAC President and Chief Executive Officer Victor Jose Luciano, who said the Department of Transportation and Communications has given management the go signal for the passenger terminal expansion project to start rolling. “Phase Two of the passenger-terminal expansion project is to begin next month,” according to Luciano. State-owned Land Bank of the Philippines will provide the financing necessary to carry out the CIAC project, he added. The financing plan has also been elevated for approval by the Monetary Board, the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) whose mandate includes ensuring that the borrowing activities of both public and private entities are in keeping with the broader debt-management goals of the country as a whole. The Monetary Board review ensures that none of the borrowings, regardless of origin, bunch up or cluster around particular dates when they mature; such bunching tends to squeeze liquidity and make life for both borrower and lender more difficult than necessary. The BSP also encourages greater lending activities among banks to help the economy deploy all that liquidity pouring in from overseas and prevent its misuse in the property sector, for example, where such funds could very well create a price bubble. Developing the facilities at Clark would help decongest passenger traffic at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), whose outdated facilities also need urgent upgrades. At present, the CIAC is host to 99 international and 45 domestic flights daily on facilities that particular carriers have asked the government for immediate upgrades to prevent them from incurring unnecessary and costly delays.
CIAC authorities have reported a 54-percent increase in passenger traffic during a six-month period last year, with more such increases anticipated yet again this year. Air-traffic executives have said the CIAC and Naia were best developed together to attract more visitors the Philippines has lost to its neighbors in the region simply on the basis of a lack of infrastructures like a world-class international airport. Plans bared earlier by transport authorities required expenses totaling P360 million just to build the support facilities at the CIAC. This project is separate from another P12-billion expansion program to build a new terminal for budget air carriers seen able to serve the requirements of up to 12 million visitors a year. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/11256‐clark‐expansion‐project‐approved
The Mind Museum champions sustainable architecture Category: Properties Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 17:41
LOCATED in the premier district of Bonifacio Global City, The Mind Museum is admired for its futuristic design and grand façade. It’s not only a venue for learning but also an example of an ecologically responsible building. The country’s first world-class science museum, in fact, is now Leed Gold certified by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Leed (Leadership in Environment and Energy Design) is an internationally recognized building certification program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The museum’s proponent, Bonifacio Art Foundation Inc. (Bafi), sought the help of renowned architecture firm Lor Calma & Partners led by Ed Calma, seasoned engineers and Leed consultants to make The Mind Museum more responsible in using resources and preserving the environment. The architectural design showed the initial framework that defined the commitment of The Mind Museum to sustainability. Leed certification of the museum was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the museum and the broader community. These features include the following:
The Mind Museum is water and energy efficient. It uses collected rainwater and condensate water for its maintenance and toilet flushing. This saves more than 70 percent of potable water use for sewage conveyance.
The Mind Museum saves 22-percent more energy than an Ashrae (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers)-compliant building. This savings is largely due to its efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and cooling) system. The museum’s ventilation is connected to a dedicated outdoor air system to supply fresh air in the facility. A variable air volume mechanism also regulates the air flow from diffusers per area to maintain 24°C inside the building. The museum’s offices have built-in, solar-assisted air conditioners. Solar panels are also used to help light a good portion of the museum. The Mind Museum’s lighting system is 95-percent LED, the most cost-efficient and environment-friendly lighting available today. LED has a longer operational life and requires a lot less energy to operate compared to fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. Outside, a botanical garden that grows non-invasive plant species helps maintain ecological balance and improves water absorption on the ground. This in turn helps prevent flooding. Products with high recycled content were used in major materials, like steel and other metal requirements. Supplies for landscaping were sourced locally, thereby supporting the use of regional resources and reducing the environmental impacts brought by transportation and shipping. The museum used paints and adhesives that have low VOC (volatile organic compounds) to improve indoor air quality and reduce potential health and environmental hazards. Recycling is also a huge factor in maintaining a “green” building. The museum has a materials recovery facility where wastes are segregated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, which are recycled by accredited waste haulers. Primary causes of heat island effect (HIE) are offset by conscientious site selection for The Mind Museum. To avoid direct sunlight, it uses the shadow of adjacent buildings and relies on the structural design, like the curved down roofs and slanted walls. A portion of the museum’s roof is also covered by vegetation for added insulation against heat. The majority of the site’s pavement is covered with highly reflective materials to diminish HIE within the museum and nearby areas. Other sustainable features of The Mind Museum cited by USGBC are its accessibility to basic services and to facilities for alternative transportation, which helps reduce pollution and impacts from automobile use; and the use of HVAC system with no chlorofluorocarbon-based refrigerants. In an official statement, Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of the US Green Building Council, said: “The green building movement offers an unprecedented opportunity to respond to the most important challenges of our time, including global climate change, dependence on non-sustainable and expensive sources of energy and threats to human health. The work of innovative building projects such as The Mind Museum is a fundamental driving force in the green building movement.” Reflecting the principles of sustainable architecture, the building where science comes alive, The Mind Museum is truly a science exhibit in itself—certainly worthy of the Leed Gold certificate. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/features/properties/11205‐the‐mind‐museum‐champions‐sustainable‐architecture
BSP sees accelerating eco growth Category: Top News Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 20:15 Written by Miguel R. Camus / Reporter THE Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expects economic growth to accelerate this year, bolstered by added contributions from the external-trade sector, Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr. said. In a speech during a business forum on Friday but distributed to reporters on Tuesday, Tetangco noted that the BSP was further encoauraged by early indicators in the first three months of the year. “Nothing in the first quarter gives us reason to take pause. Instead, the outlook continues to be encouraging,” Tetangco said in his speech during the 29th Biennial Convention of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. “Given available data, we expect growth to further accelerate but this time aside from the growth drivers in 2012, we anticipate a more pronounce4d contribution from the external-trade sector,” the BSP governor added. The Philippine economy expanded by 6.6 percent last year and the government is forecasting 2013 growth to end at between 6 percent and 7 percent. Economic expansion is being supported by the record-low interest-rate environment amid management inflation, Tetangco said. “Indeed, we expect this scenario of high growth-low inflation to be sustained going forward,” said Tetangco, who noted earlier that inflation through this year and 2014 is expected to stay at the lower bound of the 3-percent to 5percent forecast range. He likewise cited the strength of the banking sector ahead of the implementation of the Basel 3 capital framework next year and the country’s “robust” external position. The country’s gross international reserves as of February stood at $83.8 billion and the BSP sees the full-year figure closing at $86 billion. “Whether we look at the overall BOP [balance of payments] position or its sub components, we see positive balances. Remittances from [overseas Filipinos] continue to bolster domestic liquidity while [business process outsourcing] estimated receipts continue to be a positive factor,” Tetangco said. The BOP is also seen to remain in surplus, which in turn will support an even higher level of international reserves. At end 2013, the GIR is projected to reach $86 billion. Financial buffers like the GIR will help the country weather external negative effects. Tetangco cited potential delays to the resolution of fiscal issues and continued volatility coming from capital inflows into the country. Tetangco likewise called on the Filipino-Chinese Chambers to help sustain the country’s growth momentum. He cited areas like the government public private participation, wider investments in exports, a stronger industrial base, and investments in education such as scholarships in Chinese-Filipino schools. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐news/11258‐bsp‐sees‐accelerating‐eco‐growth
BIR’s tax drive Category: Opinion Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 19:15 Written by Lito U. Gagni / Market Files
AFTER the recent scolding by President Aquino of the members of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII), the umbrella organization of Filipino businessmen with Chinese lineage, and the subsequent promise from a top official of the federation that the members would toe the line, the revenue body is expected to raise its tax collections by a huge sum. In what could be seen as an “amnesty period” Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares has given a sort of breather for the members of the FFCCCII whom the President gently reminded of their tax duties in a recent talk with them. The BIR chief is apparently relying on what could be seen as an analytics of data stored in the computer at the revenue agency. This analytics is what the IBM has been offering as a new business model for the next business process-outsourcing, a sort of analysis of mined data that could be expanded to include even the predicting of the onset of the rainy season so it would not affect school activities. Apparently, the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) chief whose sleuthing, we understand, goes even to the stories and columns in the papers, already has incriminating bits of evidence regarding the tax-evading ways of FFCCCII members. In fact, the analytics reveal even the comparative data on the tax payments of businessmen in certain industries. This is why the tax being asked of professionals is about P200,000 a year, which could immediately raise the tax collections. What the BIR is doing is to mine the data from third-party companies like San Miguel Corp. to see the taxes withheld at source and with this as basis, pore over the tax documents submitted for the analytics. The President has apparently scored a bull’s-eye. In his talk to the FFCCCII members, he lamented that whereas there was an unprecedented 6.5-percent economic growth, the tax payments did not reflect it. Thus, the President said: “I wonder what happened to the others,” referring to the data where of 105 member-firms, only 54 filed tax returns. To make matters worse, 38 firms and organizations actually filed returns with zero-tax due. That means that only 16 of the 207—or only around 8 percent—of the member-organizations paid taxes. “The 6.6 [percent economic] growth rate did not seem to affect your members,” the President said. The social media are also helping in the increase in taxes. There is now a campaign of sorts in cyberspace about errant taxpayers. One such company that the BIR is said to be investigating is a manufacturer of a brand of whitening soap, which has underdeclared its sales by a sizable sum, almost a billion pesos that has already raised the sleuthing
analytics of Henares’s audit team. Somehow, the BIR is said to be giving a sort of amnesty also to the erring company, said to have a silky touch in the sale of its products. Based on reports circulating in the social media, the company has under-declared the sales of its whitening soap to avoid paying the correct taxes. The sales figures being reported in the social media and the supposed sales are poles apart. Financial statements from 2007 to 2011 only showed that the company’s net sales amounted to over P2 billion but, in fact, the company allegedly generated actual net sales amounting to over P4 billion. With this huge discrepancy, the social media are even reporting that the underpayment ranges from a low of P350 million to a high of P700 million, including penalties. It is said that this errant taxpayer is now being allowed to correct its deficiency in tax payments or else the BIR auditors would swoop down on it and file cases regarding the underpayments that were unearthed in the analytics. Henares has issued a warning that the BIR would move after the so-called amnesty period where the businessmen who did not pay the taxes due them are being given up to April 15, the deadline for tax filing, to correct their tax returns. The revenue chief also said that businessmen who underdeclared their tax liabilities in previous years must rush to file amended tax declarations before they are found out by the BIR examiners. Reports quoted Henares as having said that while the BIR was not yet investigating the liabilities of the FFCCCII members for the “the past years,” they must now amend their tax declarations and “go back to previous years to correct” their returns. These errant taxpayers would be taking a big risk if they didn’t do so, she said, because if the BIR beats them to it, “it would be the point of no return.” “Unahan na lang tayo niyan,” she said. I think that is fair warning enough.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/11247‐bir‐s‐tax‐drive
Incentives program as tool for job creation Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 25 March 2013 19:52 Written by Manny B. Villar / Entrepreneur
THE third approach to improving employment is using our investments incentives programs not only to attract capital but also to create jobs. Republic Act (RA) 7916, “The Special Economic Zone Act of 1995,” as amended by RA 8748, created the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), begins with a declaration of policy, as follows: (a) “The State recognizes the indispensible role of the private sector, encourages private enterprise and provides incentives to needed investments.” (b) “The State shall promote the preferential use of Filipino labor, domestic materials and locally produced goods and adopt measures that help make them competitive.” The Board of Investments (BOI), which like the Peza is also under the Department of Trade and Industry, has for its mandate under the Omnibus Investments Code the promotion of investments to contribute not only to economic growth but also to jobs creation in the country. Both agencies offer various incentives to foreign and domestic investors to encourage them to put up factories and establish their businesses in the Philippines. Based on the policies and mandates behind the investments incentives programs of the BOI and Peza, job creation should receive high priority by the two agencies when they invite or persuade investors to do business in the Philippines. In order to compete with other countries that are also trying to attract investments, the BOI and Peza offers incentives, primarily income-tax holidays, as follows: BOI-registered projects that are classified as pioneer can avail themselves of income-tax holidays for six years, while non-pioneer projects enjoy the incentive for four years. Expansion projects are given three-year tax holidays, and projects registered with Peza as export-manufacturing enterprises are granted 100-percent exemption from corporate income tax for four years (non-pioneer) and six years (pioneer).
Upon expiry of the income-tax holiday, the registered enterprises qualify for 5-percent special tax on gross income and exemption from all national and local taxes. In addition, these enterprises can avail themselves of tax- and dutyfree importation of raw materials, capital equipment, machineries and spare parts. Every year, the BOI prepares a list of preferred activities called Investment Priorities Plan (IPP) in which investments are encouraged in exchange for incentives. The IPP for 2013 covers 13 investments areas, namely, shipbuilding; energy; infrastructure and public-private partnership projects; agriculture, agribusiness and fishery; creative industries and knowledge-based services; mass housing; iron and steel; research and development; green projects; motorvehicle manufacturing; strategic projects; hospital and medical services; and disaster-prevention, -mitigation and recovery projects. The IPP also provides incentives to export activities, as well as growth sectors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Projects that are not on the IPP list may also avail themselves of incentives, if at least 50 percent of production is for export, in the case of 60-percent Filipino-owned enterprises or 70-percent owned, if foreign ownership exceeds 40 percent. Based on the project list, priority is given to projects in areas that the government wants to develop, such as agriculture and infrastructure, or in activities that generate foreign exchange (export-oriented industries). I know these projects also create employment opportunities for our people, but I think it’s time we also give primary consideration to the number of jobs that would be created from projects being considered for incentives. Our economy’s ascent to the high-growth level in 2012 also highlighted the need to make growth inclusive by increasing employment because the 6.6-percent increase in gross domestic product did not result in a corresponding increase in employment. Creating more jobs is the key to spreading the benefits of development down to the lowerincome Filipino households. We forego revenues whenever we grant tax exemptions. Would it not be better if the foregone revenues were replaced by jobs for our people? I believe that with the three approaches I discussed in the past three weeks, we can make a significant improvement in our employment situation.
For comments/feedback e-mail to: email@example.com. Readers may view previous columns at www.senatormannyvillar. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/11178‐incentives‐program‐as‐tool‐for‐job‐creation
From farm to plate Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 25 March 2013 19:50 Written by Ernesto Hilario / About Town
THE bad news is that hunger incidence in the Philippines worsened last year, if we’re to go by a report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In its 2012 Global Hunger Index survey—which took into account the proportion of undernourished people in the population and available data on underweight children and child mortality—the Philippines slipped four places to 31st in terms of hunger incidence, with a score of 12.2. The country ranked 27th in 2011, with a score of 11.5. However, the IFPRI said hunger incidence in the Philippines has seen a gradual decline in the last two decades: from a score of 19.9 in 1990 to 17.6 in 1996 and 14.2 in 2000. This report has been validated by the results of a Social Weather Stations survey in the third quarter of 2012 that showed 21 percent or an estimated 4.3 million households experienced having nothing to eat in the last three months, up from 18.4 percent in May. This was due to an 18percent increase in moderate hunger—defined as experiencing having nothing to eat only once or a few times. SWS said that the overall hunger rose the sharpest in Metro Manila, by 10 points to 26 percent or an estimated 738,000 families. These surveys underscore two things: one, that food production is woefully inadequate; and two, that poor people and low-income families simply cannot afford to buy adequate and nutritious food. The solution is two-pronged: to increase agricultural production and improve the legal framework for ensuring availability, accessibility and safety of food. Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile wants to do both. House Bill 4626, which he authored seeks to accelerate agricultural development and secure food for all based on a national food-requirement plan anchored on a food-requirement assessment in all the regions. The bill also wants to draw up an agricultural infrastructure-support map to determine the various programs that every province can undertake in pursuit of agricultural-development goals. Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry are tasked to identify the food requirements of Filipinos and pinpoint the regions that should produce specific types of food to enhance their competitiveness based on their resources. The DA should also have infrastructure and marketing support per province. The bill is anchored on the concept of food sovereignty, which the lawmaker defines as “the right of peoples, communities and countries to define their own agricultural, fishing, food, labor and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.” Food sovereignty would mean that there should be “murang pagkain, maraming pagkain [affordable food, abundant food], that has become Enrile’s battle cry in his bid for higher public office. What he wants, therefore, is that no Filipino should go hungry in his own country, and that food prices should be within the reach of everyone.”
His advocacy of food sovereignty proceeds from his view that the government does not prioritize agriculture: “I want to remove politics from agricultural development in every province. We should give every province, regardless of the votes they can deliver to national leaders, the opportunity to attain genuine agricultural development,” he says. Beyond pursuing a sound and rational plan to assure food security, the lawmaker is committed to other issues and concerns. He is a co-author of House Bill 6144, which seeks to institute policies governing the householdemployment industry, and establish a standard of protection and promote the welfare of household help and their families. The Magna Carta of Household Helpers or Batas Kasambahay was recently signed into law by President Aquino. House Bill 4835, on the other hand, seeks to prohibit manipulation of prices of commodities, price discrimination among customers and unfair trade practices. This is an effort to protect consumer welfare amid periodic oil price increases and the consequent rise in the prices of other basic commodities. That Enrile would be taking a pro-consumer stand alongside advocacy of food security and food sovereignty is not surprising. After all, he put his Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, worth more than P650 million from 1998 to 2011 to good use by building the kind of infrastructure that his constituents in Cagayan actually needed: farm-to-market roads, irrigation and dredging systems, water impounding projects, and rehabilitation of roads and drainage.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/11176‐from‐farm‐to‐plate
Resource wealth as education boon Category: Opinion Published on Monday, 25 March 2013 19:49 Written by Sen. Edgardo Angara
THE unfortunate demise of UP Manila student Kristel Tejada looms large in our minds, especially parents’, as enrollment for another school year approaches. There is no bigger wake-up call for us to urgently re-evaluate public investment in education and find ways to augment it. I have proposed the creation of a legacy fund for education derived mainly from revenues generated by the government from the exploitation and development of the country’s natural resources. Almost immediately, the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea), the largest umbrella organization of private schools across the country, unanimously endorsed this proposal and vowed to champion this all the way. Participants in a forum organized by the Philippine Business for Education, which I recently attended, similarly welcomed this idea. Incidentally, I just learned that even the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) recommends that resource wealth be used to solve the resource curse in education. In its Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2012, Unesco says that 17 countries could use natural-resource revenues to send 86 percent of out-of-school children and 42 percent of out-of-school adolescents back to school. It is estimated that these countries can gain $5 billion in total extra funding for education a year from natural-resource revenue. Though the Philippines was not included in this list—as these countries were qualified based on their capacity to derive at least a quarter of government revenue or exports from natural resources—it can still apply to us because of our enormous natural-gas and mineral reservoir. Unesco reports that, on average, mineral-rich countries retain about 20 percent of revenues. Oil-rich countries keep as much as 75 percent of oil exports as government revenues. Many of these resource-rich low- and middle-income countries located in the Middle East and Africa are falling behind in their development targets, especially those related to education. In our case, government royalties from the Malampaya natural-gas project has averaged $1 billion a year, which translates to half-a-trillion pesos generated over the past 11 years. With 13 more years left of the Malampaya project, it will further yield P580 billion in revenue for the government. Such revenue goes directly to the Malampaya fund managed by the Department of Finance used for energy-development projects or other purposes approved by the President.
National resources have either been exploited for the exclusive benefit of a country’s elite or to finance civil wars and conflict as in Liberia and Sierra Leone’s blood diamonds. Governments must now rechannel these revenues toward long term, more equitable investments that would create wealth for everyone. Education is definitely one such investment. As a matter of fact, there is no better way to invest such enormous government revenue than in funding quality and accessible education for all. Education is the bedrock of all our development goals—poverty and hunger eradication, preventive health care, gender equality, disease prevention and environmental sustainability—not to mention our economic targets. Think of these: just one extra year of schooling increases a person’s earnings by up to 10 percent, and each additional year of schooling raises average annual gross domestic product growth by 0.37 percent. A legacy fund for education will also be a great complement to the government’s flagship Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Programs like this based on the conditional cash-transfer model are designed as bridge measures only that ought to be partnered with long-term investments and structural reforms. We should not only aim for increasing access to education today, but more important, guaranteeing that access in the future. We will only do that if we have a legacy fund to ensure that the education sector—from primary to tertiary to technical-vocational—would be well provided for in perpetuity. That is the most durable and enduring means of securing the future of our children. But whether a government extracts resources directly through a state-owned institution, in partnership with a private firm, or by granting concessions, it must strive for a fair deal and avoid opaque arrangements. Transparency is essential in protecting the government’s interest and ensuring that revenues generated are actually plowed back to social services. Political will is key in overcoming the chronic myopia that has plagued education planning in this country for so long.
Web site: www.edangara.com. E-mail: email@example.com http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/opinion/11174‐resource‐wealth‐as‐education‐boon
2,623 farmers receive land in Caraga Category: Regions Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:18 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga
A TOTAL of 2,623 farmer-beneficiaries in the Caraga region were recently awarded lands under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPer). In a statement, Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes said the farmers were among those who got a piece of land from a total of 3,790 hectares of agricultural land covered by CARPer. In the province of Butuan alone, the Department of Agrarian Reform distributed 3,260 hectares of land to a total of 2,263 farmer-beneficiaries. The covered landholdings were from the municipalities of Butuan, Buenavista, Jabonga, Kitcharao, Las Nieves, Tubay, Nasipit, Carmen, RT Romualdez, Magallanes and Cabadbaran. The DAR chief said the farmer-beneficiaries would also receive various support services to boost their income. Edwin Espinosa, a farmer-beneficiary from Caraga, was grateful for finally getting the land promised to them by the DAR through CARPer. “With the DAR on our side, I am certain that our newly acquired land will give us a better life,” he said. The DAR also turned over P6 million worth of farm equipment to 1,046 farmer-beneficiaries in Butuan City. The farm equipment includes one combined harvester, two jeep-mounted threshers, four cultivator power tillers, five threshers and eight hand tractors. De los Reyes said the farm equipment is implemented under the department’s Agrarian Reform Community Connectivity and Economic Support Services (Arcess) program. “Part of the Arcess program is to provide you [the farmers] with farm implements or common service facilities to help improve your incomes. I hope that this equipment will also serve as a tool to unify your organization in taking care of these machines,” de los Reyes said. Earlier, de los Reyes also distributed 530 hectares of lands to 360 farmer-beneficiaries in the province of Dinagat Island. The awarded lands are in the municipalities of Dinagat, San Juan, Cagdianao and Basilisa. Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Jamil Amatonding Jr. said this is the first time a DAR secretary has set foot on the province. He said the presence of the DAR chief in the province was a morale booster among farmers. Jonathan L. Mayuga http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/news/regions/11222‐2‐623‐farmers‐receive‐land‐in‐caraga
Thai food firm investing $120M for expansion projects in PHL Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:49 Written by Max V. De Leon / Reporter THAILAND’S Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) Public Co. Ltd. has allocated $120 million for the expansion of its agribusiness operations in the Philippines over the next three years. Kasem Manoi, finance officer of Charoen’s Philippine unit, said the fresh investment will go to its livestock and aquaculture projects focusing on shrimp and fish. “We are investing this money to expand our livestock and aquaculture business in the next three years. The company views the Philippines as an important growth area for CPF’s business interests,” he said in a statement. The company will boost its shrimp hatchery and fish culture operations in the country. Additional investments, Manoi said, will also go to the company’s livestock and poultry business in Pampanga province, including broiler, layer and swine. CPF operates agro-industrial businesses, including animal farming and manufacturing of food products. CPF Philippines Corp. was established in 2007, with shrimp hatchery as its initial business. It now has two core business lines: livestock business, which comprises broiler, layer and swine; and aquaculture business, mainly focusing on shrimp and fish. The products in these two business lines can be classified into three main categories: animal feed, meat (including live animal), and cooked meat and ready-to-eat food products. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/11234‐thai‐food‐firm‐investing‐120m‐for‐expansion‐ projects‐in‐phl
DA bans poultry products from Italy, the Netherlands Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:48 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning / Correspondent THE Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday banned the importation of poultry products from Italy and the Netherlands after they experienced an outbreak of the low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). In separate memoranda, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala ordered a freeze on imports of domestic and wild birds, poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs and semen from the Romagna region in Italy and Gelderland province in the Netherlands. He said the ban is necessary to protect the Philippines’s poultry population and eliminate threats to human health. According to a report of the Office International des Epizooties, an outbreak of LPAI serotype H5 and H7 was discovered in a small rural poultry farm in Medena village in Romagna. Meanwhile, an outbreak of LPAI serotype H7N7 was detected by Dutch animal-health authorities at a laying henholding yard in Gerderland’s Lochem town. In line with the ban, Alcala ordered the immediate suspension of the processing and evaluation of the application and issuance of veterinary quarantine clearance on the importation of poultry products from Italy and Germany. He also ordered the DA’s veterinary quarantine officers and inspectors in all major ports to halt and confiscate all shipments of poultry products—with the exception of heat-treated items—from the two countries. Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease affecting several species of food-producing birds (chickens, turkeys, quails, guinea fowl, etc.), as well as domesticated and wild birds. In its notifiable form, the disease can be divided into high pathogenecity and low pathogenecity. The highly pathogenic avian influenza virus spreads rapidly, may cause victims to fall seriously ill and result in high mortality rates (up to 100 percent within 48 hours). In contrast, the low pathogenic bird-flu virus can only cause mild diseases that may go undetected among some species of birds since they do not exhibit symptoms. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/11233‐da‐bans‐poultry‐products‐from‐italy‐the‐ netherlands
Policy on rice self-sufficiency stays, says agri secretary Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:47 Written by Marvyn N. Benaning AGRICULTURE Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said rice self-sufficiency is a non-negotiable issue, despite two Filipino economists pleading the Aquino administration to dump it. Alcala told the BusinessMirror on Monday that he was amused by those who want the self-sufficiency policy scrapped, referring to Lourdes Adriano, an economist at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and economist Roehlano Briones, who wrote in the journal of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies that the policy is too expensive to be maintained. He said the position of the two economists would have little support from China, which maintains a subsidy of P21 per kilo of palay (unhusked rice) for its farmers; Thailand, which has a $900 annual subsidy for rice farmers; or Vietnam, which spends $800 annually on rice farmers. “Ang hirap sa mga kritiko ay hindi naman nila naiintindihan ang kalagayan ng mga magsasaka at hindi nila alam ang nangyayari sa mga taniman. Noong una, duda sila sa rice-sufficiency plan natin at [sabi nila] hindi raw mangyayari ito. Ngayong maaabot na natin ito, sinasabi naman nilang sobrang mahal ang gastos at pilit pa rin nilang pigilin ito,” Alcala said. The agriculture chief admitted that while the government may be inclined to provide subsidies to farmers, budgetary constraints do not provide much leeway. In Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra maintains a policy of purchasing all the rice produced by farmers, while Vietnam guarantees a 20-percent return in the investment of each farmer. According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, the Philippines provides a subsidy of only P400 per farmer yearly, in contrast to the $40 subsidy extended by the United States to its farmers nine years ago. “Actually, rice self-sufficient na tayo sa araw na ito. Idagdag pa natin dito na ang National Food Authority [NFA] mismo ay lumalampas na sa palay [unhusked rice]-procurement target—mga 130 porsyento—kaya malaki ang posibilidad na sapat na ang stocks kapag dumating ang lean months.” Marvyn N. Benaning http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/11232‐policy‐on‐rice‐self‐sufficiency‐stays‐says‐agri‐ secretary
Coco coir players await EO on devt council Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:46 Written by Jennifer A. Ng / Reporter COCO coir players are waiting for Malacañang’s approval of an executive order (EO) creating the Philippine Coco Coir Industry Development Council (PCCIDC), which will focus on the development of the coco coir industry. Ariel F. Aguirre, president of the Philippine Coco Coir Exporters Association Inc., said a technical working group (TWG) has finalized the EO and submitted it to President Aquino. The EO aims to promote and foster the development of the coco coir industry and direct the domestic utilization of the government’s organic-agriculture, horticulture and soil erosion-control projects, among others. “We expect that this historic and important EO will be signed by the President soon, and consequently [give] attention [to] and ensure [a] consolidated and sustained effort for the coco coir industry,” Aguirre said. According to him, if the EO is approved, it will pave the way for the creation of a big domestic market for coco coir products, especially coco nets to be used by the Department of Public Works and Highways for slope protection and erosion control for its road-construction projects, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the rehabilitation of mining sites. “We are hopeful that this EO will finally unlock the huge economic potential of the coco fiber and coco peat subsectors, [bring] unprecedented growth and help alleviate poverty in the countryside,” Aguirre said. The TWG is composed of the representatives of the agency task force, including the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines, and led by Trade Undersecretary Merly M. Cruz. For almost two years, the group has been meeting monthly to formulate and draft a comprehensive development plan for the coco coir industry. The Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Coconut Authority recently held the Second National Coco Coir Summit in Lucena City, Quezon province, which gathered industry stakeholders and key players to assess their performance status, update on the results of government interventions, share best practices for replication and resolve their concerns. http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri‐commodities/11231‐coco‐coir‐players‐await‐eo‐on‐devt‐council
Fishermen outraged by proposed ‘galunggong’ ban in Palawan Category: Agri-Commodities Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 18:45 Written by Jonathan L. Mayuga LEADERS of a militant fishermen’s group on Tuesday expressed outrage over the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) plan to ban round-scad, or galunggong, fishing in Palawan province. According to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) National Chairman Fernando Hicap and Vice Chairman Salvador France, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala should seriously consider the potentially adverse impact of the ban on small-scale fishermen. Pedro Gonzalez, Pamalakaya chairman for the Southern Tagalog region, said tens of thousands of these fishermen, including those working in fishing vessels, would be affected by the ban. All three called on Alcala and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis G. Perez to scrap the plan, describing it as “ill-advised.” “It will not only deprive millions of Filipinos of their staple fish, it would also lead to [the] wholesale economic sabotage of thousands of small fishermen and fishworkers’ livelihood,” they said. Their statements came a day after the DA and the BFAR disclosed plans to study the imposition of a closed season on fishing for pelagic round scad in waters surrounding Palawan, considered the fish’s main breeding ground. According to agriculture and fisheries officials, the ban would allow galunggong to breed in those waters, where about 75 percent to 85 percent of the fish supplied to Metro Manila comes from. Pamalakaya, however, emphasized that catching galunggong is the main activity of fishermen in Palawan. According to Hicap, fishermen can catch as much as 20 kilos of round scad per fishing trip using simple and sustainable fishing gear. The bounty, he said, is enjoyed by communities that are able to buy the fish for as low as P40 per kilo in Puerto Princesa City, the provincial capital. Galunggong costs P100 per kilo in Metro Manila. “Imagine the huge displacement [the proposed ban] would bring to the fishermen and ordinary folks of Palawan and Region 4-A [Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon provinces, or Calabarzon],” France said. Alcala has said the closed season on catching round scad would help expand current stocks and reduce imports in the long run. He added that if the ban is imposed, it will cover the fish-rich Malampaya Sound and some municipalities in Palawan, including Quezon town. Perez said the ban is similar to the one on sardine fishing that the DA and the BFAR imposed on waters off the Zamboanga peninsula. He added that this ban resulted in commercial fisheries catching 228,303 metric tons (MT) of sardines in the first quarter of 2013, a 5-percent increase from the 217,431 MT caught in the same period the year before. Jonathan L. Mayuga http://businessmirror.com.ph/index.php/business/agri-commodities/11230-fishermen-outraged-by-proposed-galunggongban-in-palawan
Aquino: Higher Mindanao power rates inevitable By TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:00 am | Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Already grappling with “rotating” brownouts every day, millions of Mindanao residents will eventually have to pay more for their electricity consumption, President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday. The President said the government might tap diesel-powered generating plants to boost the power supply in the region to address the power deficiency between now and 2015. Mr. Aquino, however, conceded that the mix of hydro and diesel would inevitably increase power rates. “The power rates will go up in Mindanao because the choice is a higher power rate or no power. And many of those we’ve spoken to understood the necessity for higher rates, and they’re amenable to this, instead of no power at all,” he told reporters at a Pasay City bus terminal on Tuesday. In the face of the rotating brownouts in Mindanao, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla presented a plan to Malacañang that entails procuring “modular” diesel-powered plants as a “stop-gap measure” until 2015 when the coal-fired plants kick in, the President said. “These diesel power plants are seen as the quickest—they can be set up in as early as six months and the maximum is one year,” Mr. Aquino said. The idea, he said, was for the government to help the distribution utilities purchase the generating sets. “By 2015, we expect the problem to largely go away—by that time, we’ll have good surplus. That’s the time the power plants go online,” he said. “About 300 megawatts of coal-fired power plants will come online by 2015, and there will be more after that up to 2017.” Mr. Aquino ruled out anew resorting to emergency powers to address the outages. For about a month now, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Iligan City, among others, have been experiencing two rounds of brownouts daily, with each round lasting two to six hours. The Misamis Occidental 2 Electric Cooperative Inc. said the outages were caused by power supply deficiencies from the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric plants operated by the National Power Corp. (Napocor). Officials, however, said the long brownouts in Mindanao were an offshoot of Napocor’s action to conserve power for the midterm elections. At present, Mindanao has a power shortfall of 294 megawatts. The demand is at 1,157 MW while the actual supply is only 863 MW. Officials and industry players have blamed the power outages on the lack of power infrastructure in the region. The President, however, assured Mindanao of an adequate supply during the May 13 elections. “There is an assurance that the elections will not be affected. There will be power for all of the precincts so they can transmit the results of the elections,” he said.
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Consumer sentiment improves, BSP survey shows By Michelle V. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
8:59 pm | Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
Consumer sentiment for the first quarter improved year-on-year, although it stayed in the negative territory, as an encouraging outlook on the Philippine economy made Filipino households feel better about their income situations. Results of the latest Consumer Expectation Survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed that consumer confidence index (CCI) for the first quarter of the year stood at –11.2 percent, better than the -14.7 percent for the first quarter of last year. The latest index, however, marked a deterioration from the -10.4 percent for the fourth quarter of 2012. According to the BSP, the latest CCI is the third highest since the survey was first conducted in 2007. The highest was the -8.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010 and the second highest was -10.4 percent for the fourth quarter of 2012. CCI is the difference between the percentage of respondents who said they are optimistic about the economy and their income situations and those who said the opposite. The survey, conducted nationwide by the BSP from Jan. 21 to Feb. 1, covered 5,670 households. The response rate was 96.9 percent. More than half, or 50.1 percent, of the respondents, were from the low-income group, or those households earning less than P10,000 a month. Rosabel Guerrero, director of the economic statistics department of the BSP, said the better index for the first quarter was anchored on assumptions that the Philippine economy could sustain the positive momentum built in 2012. Last year, the Philippine economy grew by 6.6 percent, beating the government’s target of 5 to 6 percent to become one of the fastest-growing markets worldwide. Guerrero said the positive performance of the economy could have boosted employment and increased household incomes. “The relatively steady sentiment was driven mainly by the fact that there are more jobs available, investment inflow are increasing, prices of goods are stable and salaries are increasing,” she said yesterday in a press briefing. However, Guerrero said the positive factors that boosted sentiment were offset by the dampening effects of bad weather in December that dragged incomes. “Consumer confidence was weighed down by the damage caused by Typhoon Pablo to infrastructure, agriculture, and private property in Mindanao,” Guerrero said. Meantime, results of the survey also showed that Filipino households generally expected their economic conditions to further improve in the coming quarter and the year ahead. The “next-quarter” CCI stood at +7.8 percent while the “next-year” CCI hit +18.5 percent. http://business.inquirer.net/114303/consumer‐sentiment‐improves‐bsp‐survey‐shows
PH stocks rise for 4th straight day in Holy Week bargain-hunt By Doris Dumlao Philippine Daily Inquirer 9:51 pm | Tuesday, March 26th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—Local stocks gained ground for the fourth straight session on Tuesday, on the back of Holy Week bargain-hunting alongside some quarter-end window-dressing. Defying mostly lackluster regional markets, the main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index rallied by 67.53 points or 1.02 percent to close at 6,665.12. All counters were up but the biggest gainers were the holding firm and services counters, which both rose by 1.4 percent. Total value turnover for the day amounted to P9 billion. There were 88 advancers that outnumbered 59 decliners while 48 stocks were unchanged. The day’s biggest index gainer was Alliance Global Inc. (+3.43 percent), which obtained consent from bondholders to revise the covenant governing a $500-million bond issue. AGI was also the most actively traded stock for the day, followed by PLDT (+1.92 percent), which benefited from the issuance of a revised Securities and Exchange Commission draft on foreign ownership that makes its recent capital restructuring compliant with the 60-40 percent ownership rule favoring local investors. Investors also snapped up shares of Manila Water Corp., Metro Pacific Investments, JG Summit, Robinsons Land, Jollibee, Universal Robina, SM and DMCI. Other non-index stocks that gained in heavy trade were Boulevard Holdings (+4.58 percent) and LT Group (+1.91 percent). LTG is expected to announce a follow-on equity offering of as much as $800 million after Easter. http://business.inquirer.net/114317/ph‐stocks‐rise‐for‐4th‐straight‐day‐in‐holy‐week‐bargain‐hunt
GDP to rise on strong remittances By Julito G. Rada | Posted on Mar. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 168 views Remittances from Filipinos working abroad will continue to support economic growth this year, Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said. “Remittances from our OFs [overseas Filipinos] will continue to be a steadying factor,” Tetangco Jr. said during the 29th biennial convention of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Manila. Remittances, which exceeded $21 billion in 2012, jumped 8 percent in January, faster than the 5-percent growth target of the government. “The BoP [balance of payments] is also seen to remain in surplus, which in turn will support an even higher level of international reserves. At end-2013, the GIR is projected to reach $86 billion,” Tetangco said. Tetangco said a robust external position completed the country’s economic strength. The country posted a balance of payments surplus of $9.3 billion in 2012 and $10.2 billion in 2011. BoP refers to a record of all foreign transactions. “Whether we look at the overall BoP position or its subcomponents, we see positive balances. Remittances from OFs continue to bolster domestic liquidity while BPO [business process outsourcing] estimated receipts continue to be a positive factor,” he said. The foreign exchange reserves hit an all-time high of $84 billion in 2012, enough to cover a year of import requirements. They were also up by about 12 percent from $75.30 billion in 2011. Tetangco said to sustain the country’s economic growth, different sectors, including Filipino-Chinese businessmen, should participate in the government’s undertakings, especially in public-private partnership projects. “Given the relatively wide scope of industry sectors that the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry members belong to, the FFCCCII could encourage more of its members to engage with the government in pursuing vital infrastructure projects for the country,” Tetangco said. He said enhanced infrastructure would boost the country’s business climate, which in turn would help generate more jobs. He said more jobs meant improved spending capacity for more Filipinos, which in turn would lead to higher consumption.
He also urged the businessmen to increase their investments in the country’s export sector to strengthen the country’s external position. “There have been concerns that the Philippines maybe over-reliant on remittances from overseas Filipinos in terms of financing its foreign exchange needs. One of the strategies that is needed for this country to promote a sustainable external position is through increasing investments in the export sector and enhancing competitiveness as well as innovativeness in this sector,” Tetangco said. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/27/gdp‐to‐rise‐on‐strong‐remittances/
COA chief tapped for UN task By Merck Maguddayao | Posted on Mar. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 608 views The Commission on Audit was appointed as external auditor of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization for another six-year term during the 148th session of the FAO Finance Committee in Rome last March 19. It was selected over other shortlisted candidates, Germany and United Kingdom. This is COA’s second term as FAO External Auditor, serving its first term from 2008 to 2012. “Our triumph in the Food and Agricultural Organization bid is recognition of our distinct expertise in the field of international audit,” said COA chairman Gracia Tan. This is the Commission’s third international recognition under the leadership of Tan. In May 2011, it was elected as External Auditor of the World Health Organization during its 64th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland and in March 2012, it was elected to a three-year term in the governing board of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions during its 12th Assembly in Jaipur. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/27/coa‐chief‐tapped‐for‐un‐task/
Anti-poor state university policy under fire By Maricel Cruz | Posted on Mar. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 137 views Two lawmakers on Tuesday urged the officials of the University of the Philippines to scrap the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program implemented since 1989. Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan and Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño joined calls for the revocation of the “no late payment” policy on tuition. The policy was suspended by UP Manila Chancellor Manuel Agulto days following the suicide of UP Manila Behavioral Science student Kristel Tejada who was forced to file a Leave of Absence because she couldn’t pay tuition. “It is anti-poor as it effectively denies cash-strapped yet deserving students of their right to education,” said Ilagan, of the House committee on women. She said STFAP has led to government’s abandonment of education as top priority. STFAP provides a method for determining how much tuition and fees UP students must pay based on their family’s financial capability. Casiño supported demands of students for a tuition rollback and corresponding increase in government subsidies not only in UP but in all state universities and colleges. An independent senatorial bet, he said that making the rich pay more to subsidize poor students was not sustainable to attain universal education. http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/27/anti‐poor‐state‐university‐policy‐under‐fire/
Holy Week reminder By Manila Standard Today | Posted on Mar. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 54 views
This stained-glass window at the San Sebastian Church in Quiapo, Manila, shows the Passion of the Christ. Sonny Espiritu http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/27/holy‐week‐reminder/
Aquino takes potshot at critic over bill veto By Joyce Pangco Panares | Posted on Mar. 27, 2013 at 12:01am | 682 views
President Benigno Aquino III on Tuesday took a potshot at Alagad partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta for claiming he could have done a line veto instead of rejecting outright the proposed Magna Carta for the Poor. Marcoleta, a third-term lawmaker and one of the main proponents of the bill, should have known that a line veto could only be exercised for appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, Mr. Aquino said. “According to our Constitution, which Congressman Marcoleta should have known since he is a third-termer, only appropriation measures, revenue measures and tariff measures can be line vetoed,” Mr. Aquino said. “The Magna Carta for the Poor doesn’t fall in any of the three, so we cannot line item veto.” The President on Monday vetoed the Magna Carta for the Poor, saying the measure’s provisions “cannot be met by the government.” “The corrective action for this is to direct our Cabinet social cluster to draw up a substitute measure that we will give to the next Congress and, hopefully, that they will act upon with haste,” Mr. Aquino said. One example that Mr. Aquino cited was the provision on socialized housing for the poor, which under the proposed measure would cost roughly P2.32 trillion. However, only P600 billion out of this year’s budget has been allocated for socialized housing. The President said he also did not agree with the proposal that the National Housing Authority could be sued if it failed to provide socialized housing units. “If we sign this into law, and I know the government cannot deliver, then I just made false promises to my bosses just to make me look good,” Mr. Aquino said.
The proposed measure would have institutionalized the government’s antipoverty programs, including its conditional cash transfer or dole to the poor. The social welfare department also would have expanded the subsidy program with the issuance of food certificates to enable the poor to obtain food from stores duly accredited by the Department of Trade and Industry. Government implementing agencies also would have been allowed to accredit development partners such as non-government organizations, people’s organizations and private corporations which will be authorized to accept donations, aid or grants in cash or in kind from duly accredited sources. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Tuesday said the House will not override President Benigno Aquino III’s veto on the Magna Carta for the Poor and will opt to re-file it so the lawmakers could settle the President’s objections to the bill. Belmonte said the Magna Carta bill would go back to scratch and go through the same process of being re-filed in the 16th Congress in July. But the Speaker, who is running unopposed under the ruling Liberal Party and was confident of getting reelected as Speaker, vowed to speed up the passage of the bill. “We will re-file the bill and fast track taking account of the President’s objections,” Belmonte told the Manila Standard. But the President’s critics on Tuesday accused him of being anti-poor. “I believe a President who comes from an elite landed family will be unable to see the merits of a pro-poor legislation,” Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said. Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said President Aquino’s veto of the Magna of the Poor measure was expected. “There can be no real pro-poor measure under the Aquino government,” Mariano said. “Aquino vetoed the Magna Carta of the Poor because he wants to focus the socalled anti-poverty fund to the administration’s flagship program, the Conditional Cash Transfer scheme,” he said. With Christine F. Herrera http://manilastandardtoday.com/2013/03/27/aquino‐takes‐potshot‐at‐critic‐over‐bill‐veto/
GIR projected to reach $86 billion this year Published on 26 March 2013 Hits: 134 Written by RAADEE S. SAUSA The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) projected the country’s gross international reserves (GIR) to reach $86 billion this year from $84 billion in 2012. “At end-2013, the GIR is projected to reach $86 billion, the BOP [balance of payments] is also seen to remain in surplus, which in turn will support an even higher level of international reserves,” BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said. He added that, “given available data, we expect growth to further accelerate but this time besides the growth drivers in 2012, we anticipate a more pronounced contribution from the external trade sector.” The GIR as of February this year was recorded at $83.8 billion, lower by $1.5 billion compared to the end-January 2013 level of $85.3 billion. Meanwhile, Tetangco also noted that, “With the continued resilience demonstrated in recent years, some are even beginning to consider the Philippines as an emerging tiger economy in Asia. A decisive transformation from being once tagged as ‘The sick man in Asia.’” The complimentary reviews are reflected in the upward revisions made by multilateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank as well as the Asian Development Bank on the Philippines’ gross domestic product growth forecasts for 2013. However, Tetangco said that, “while we expect the Philippine economy to continue to show resilience, there are risks that we are currently monitoring and these are: intensification of the euro-area debt crisis, the problem in Cyprus crops up; any further delay in the resolution of fiscal issues in the US; and the continued surge in capital flows to the EMEs [emerging market economies], including the Philippines, resulting from the continued low interest rates and weak economic prospects in Europe and the US.” http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/business/top‐business‐news/44315‐gir‐projected‐to‐reach‐86‐ billion‐this‐year
P2-B OWWA reintegration program gives hope to overseas workers Published on 25 March 2013 Hits: 1,158 Written by Johanna Sampan Reporter
OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon explains her agency’s reintegration program for Overseas Filipino Workers. Opposite Dimzon is Dante Francis “Klink” Ang 2nd, President and CEO of The Manila Times. PHOTO BY RENE H. DILAN
Filipinos working abroad or those who have left their foreign employment and returned home for good can start their own business with the help of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon on Monday urged returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to start their own business by availing themselves of the agency’s reintegration fund program. She said OWWA has P1.4 billion to lend, at low interest, to OFWs who need not worry about collaterals in order to enjoy the financial assistance. In an exclusive roundtable discussion with The Manila Times, Dimzon said that P2 billion was allotted for the reintegration fund which was launched in June 2011. The agency set aside P1 billion for the project, while the LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines each put up P500 million. She said that the welfare office wants Filipino workers to stay in the country and open a business of their own. Under the program, each active or inactive OFW can borrow money from the government agency to be used as a capital for business. The loan is payable in 7 years. To date, only P600 million had been disbursed for 552 OFWs and their dependents. “Ang ating mga kababayan puede na silang humiram ng capital o pandagdag ng capital para sa mga negosyo nila from P300,000 to P2 million. This program is non-collateralized and 7.5 percent per annum ang interest at payable in 7 years,” Dimzon explained.
The OWWA chief said that President Benigno Aquino 3rd gave marching orders that returning OFWs should have access to a credit program. “Sabi ni President Aquino we need to make it accessible, make it flexible. Kailangan ang mga tao na gustong mag negosyo, huwag pahirapan para mas ma-engganyo,” the OWWA chief explained. Dimzon said that those who want to apply for a loan would need to submit a business proposal that is feasible and sustainable. “We have to make sure that their [OFWs’] plan is feasible. May guidance talaga from OWWA, we do check the feasibility and sustainability of the business and we screen the proposals,” she said. Dimzon explained that OWWA has monitoring teams composed of productivity specialists who examine and screen the business proposals of the loan applicants. After the business is launched, these productivity specialists also regularly inspect the establishment to keep OWWA updated. The OWWA chief revealed that those who have available of the loan program have established various business undertakings such as trading of agricultural products, spa and wellness establishments, T-shirt printing, duck raising, piggery and fishery all of which generated 2,193 jobs. Dimzon reiterated that aside from the agency’s task to promote the welfare of the OFWs and their families, it is also their objective to encourage Filipinos not to leave the country by providing them the opportunity to have a regular income by starting their own business. “We would want to see that someday Filipinos would consider overseas employment as a choice and not a need anymore,” Dimzon said. http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/news/headlines‐mt/44295‐p2‐b‐owwa‐reintegration‐program‐gives‐hope‐ to‐overseas‐workers
Posted on March 26, 2013 10:20:08 PM
EO creating coco coir industry council to be signed soon AN EXECUTIVE order (EO) creating the Philippine Coco Coir Industry Development Council is nearing completion and is ready to be transmitted to the Palace for approval, the Trade department said in a statement. “We expect that this historic and important EO will be signed by the President soon and consequently prioritize attention and ensure consolidated and sustained effort for the coco coir industry,” said Ariel F. Aguirre, president of the Philippine Coco Coir Exporters Association, Inc. “We are hopeful that this EO will finally unlock the huge economic potential of the coco fiber and coco peat sub-sectors bringing about the unprecedented growth and helping alleviate poverty in the countryside,” he added. The EO intends to promote and foster the development of the industry by directing domestic utilization in organic agriculture and soil erosion projects and export promotion. Coco coir is the natural fiber extracted from coconuts normally used in floor mats, brushes, fishing nets and rope. The EO was drafted by a technical working group composed of the Trade, Agriculture, Science and Public Works departments, the Philippine Coconut Authority and the Fiber Industry Development Authority. It also includes representatives of the Development Bank of the Philippines and Land Bank of the Philippines. -Emilia Narni J. David
Posted on March 26, 2013 10:08:56 PM
FAO retains services of audit body THE COMMISSION on Audit (CoA) has been reappointed external auditor of a United Nations body, besting two European counterparts. “Our triumph in the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) bid is a recognition of our distinct expertise in the field of international audit,” CoA Chairperson Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan said in a statement yesterday. The CoA has been chosen over German and British groups during the 148th session of the FAO finance committee last March 19. The commission was chosen “based on proposal, including experience, audit approach, strategy and costs,” CoA media director Robert M. Baldago told BusinessWorld. The CoA will serve for another six years after initial term ends by yearend. It has been tasked to exchange information on audit observations and methods with other members of the UN panel of external auditors, also comprised of auditing bodies from other countries such as India, Canada, France and China. In March last year, the CoA was elected as a member of the governing board of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions for a three-year term. In 2011, the agency was elected external auditor of the World Health Organization, to serve until 2015. -MJOC
Posted on March 26, 2013 10:09:26 PM
CoA bars monetary claims of firms CLAIMS OF private companies in transactions with the government have been disallowed by the Commission on Audit (CoA) for lack of merit, according to separate decisions. Chief state auditors in a decision promulgated Jan. 30, dismissed the 25.78-million claim of A Taste of Italy Enterprises for the supply of trash bin units at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2. The bins, whose side slots were leased by the company for advertising, were instead stored as a precautionary measure after the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. In a letter dated August 2001, the firm has asked the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), the airport operator, to return or purchase the bins, which the CoA presumed were not leased as planned. Following an advice of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel in 2009, MIAA agreed to pay for the use of the bins, but questioned the amount of rent. The CoA, however, ruled that the trash bins should be returned without cost on the government, saying there was no “undue enrichment” from the keeping of the bins. The commission further noted that there was no agreement that MIAA will pay for using the trash bins if the advertising venture failed. Instead, the CoA stated that the MIAA officers who failed to respond to the company’s request to have the bins returned “should be the ones to be pursued for damages and not the institution.” Meanwhile, state auditors denied the payment claims of Quezon City-based publishers Fabi’s Enterprises and R. Obed’s Enterprises for the delivery of instructional materials and text books to the Department of Education’s (DepEd)-Western Visayas Regional Office. The CoA noted the absence of records at the regional office that would show unpaid transactions, amid claims that the materials worth 26.34 million have been turned over in 1997. It further noted that the purchase order presented by the firms, allegedly signed by a former DepEd regional director, were dated in 1999, two years after the purported delivery. -- MJOC
BAP assures banks’ readiness for Lent Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00
Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Lorenzo Villanueva Tan assured the readiness of the entire universal and commercial banks (UKB) sector for the holiday, particularly the automated teller machines (ATMs) of the banks. “Yes all banks prepare for long holidays like Holy Week. ATMs are still serviced by individual banks,” Tan told The Daily Tribune. A four no-work day will start tomorrow, March 28, until Sunday, March 31, in observance of the Lent on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Black Saturday. Last week, it was the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that assured ATMs of banks will be ready for the holiday. The BSP assured the public that ATMs will have enough cash to allay fears of those who will be on vacation either in provinces, resorts or abroad they will run short of cash. However, Tan said the availability of cash and online services of bank depend on banks themselves and cannot be assured by BAP. There are 22 members of BAP that Tan assured of readiness for the Holy Week. “Cash and online availability varies from bank-to-bank,” Tan, president and chief executive officer of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC), said. Many depositors complain that not only few but many banks’ ATMs are unable to dispense cash during holidays. The most common signage seen at terminals during holidays is either “offline” or “under maintenance.” These two common signages are seen on terminals of small UKBs, especially those that have few branches, particularly in the provinces. Banks that seldom encounter such problems are those in top ranking in assets, such as BdO, Metrobank, BPI and LandBank.
BSP mum on new taxes on banks Written by Ed Velasco Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00
Weeks after the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) declined to comment if it is ready to charge additional taxes to banks as it is an undertaxed entity according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is now the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) that doesn’t want to comment on the issue. Reached for comment, deputy governor for supervision and examination sector Nestor Espenilla is cold on the issue as he said it should be the banks that should be asked, not any other entity like the BSP or BIR. “I have not followed the issue on taxation and I don’t want to comment on that. Better to ask banks on their views,” Espenilla told The Daily Tribune. A text inquiry was sent to new Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) president Lorenzo Tan but he declined to respond. Many governments in Europe are now contemplating to adhere to the advice of IMF managing director Christine Lagarde to impose additional taxes on banks on beliefs that many banks all over the globe are not effective partners in nations’ growth. The two additional taxes on banks were first conceptualized by ousted managing director Dominique Strauss Khan in 2009 but was put on the back burner for almost four years until about a month ago when Lagarde said she is open to such proposal. Called financial stability contribution and financial activities tax, the two taxes can generate at least 70 billion pounds in Britain for the first two years of implementation, according to an IMF study. The issue whether to tax banks in Britain is a crucial factor in the next election in Britain. Incumbent Prime Minister David Cameron, leader of Conservative Party, is against the proposal saying it would be too much for banks to shoulder additional expenses. However, his would-be opponent, Ed Miliband, is open to the idea, saying many banks are “scrooge.” Miliband, leader of the Labor Party, said such proposal is much needed to be imposed to give Britain additional income. Many pundits in Britain labeled the taxation on banks as the battle of schools since Cameron came from Oxford University, a known conservative institution, while his opponent is from the London School of Economics, a supporter of liberal ideas. Other heads of government in Europe open to the idea of putting more taxes on banks include Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Here at home, a known tax expert, Renato Diaz, said although there is a gray area in the IMF proposal, it is worth studying for if indeed there is a need to legislate additional taxes for banks. “If we are taxing expressways, which directly affects the poor, why not give more taxes on sectors that are earning much?” Diaz, one of the authors of landmark comprehensive tax reform program, said. http://tribune.net.ph/business/item/12216‐bsp‐mum‐on‐new‐taxes‐on‐banks
Noynoy leads inspection of North Harbor, NAIA, bus terminals Written by Paul Atienza Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00
In a bid to show concerns for the riding public, President Aquino yesterday led the inspection of the North Harbor in Manila, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminals 3 and 4, and the terminal of Victory Liner in Pasay City, but neglected to inspect the much needed cheaper train system, the Philippine National Railways (PNR). Aquino the whole morning yesterday rounded up the sea, air and land terminals, except the terminal of the PNR. Aquino found nothing unusual at both NAIA Terminals 4 and 3. “I saw very minor issues, mostly aesthetics of the airport. It is, after all, a 12-year-old facility,” Aquino said. In Port Area, Aquino said much is needed to be done on aspects of emergency procedures. “In Port Area, much is needed to bring up to the attention of both the Coast Guard commandant and the secretary of Transportation and Communications to enhance emergency procedures for passengers on ships,” Aquino said. Aquino went through the passengers lounge, ticketing office and up to the vessel seeing the passengers bound for Cebu. Aquino took notice of the emergency instructions which are written in English language that he said should be translated into a local dialect. “I told them to simplify the emergency instructions. In the event that there’s an emergency and people are controlling their fear and their panic cannot be on logical thinking. These are being taken care of now by both Marina and by the Coast Guard,” Aquino said. Aquino was escorted by Transportation and Communications Secretary Emilio Abaya, Coast Guard Commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Francis Tolentino. Abaya did not include in the itinerary the inspection of the public terminals which would be expected to be fully loaded by passengers in time for the Lenten season. Only the PNR terminal that was left behind and never seen by the President. Five months ago, the government had indefinitely suspended the operations of the PNR’s Bicol Express service until its safety can be ensured after one of its trains was derailed in Quezon province over the weekend, injuring nine passengers. Abaya said in October 2012 a month-long repair of the railway and to lift the derailed train would be the job of PNR technicians. The accident, which damaged four of the train’s cars, occurred at Camda Village in Sariaya town, a day
after tropical storm “Ofel” caused heavy rains in some parts of Luzon. At the time of the incident, Camda Village was flooded. A Tribune source said a certain Boy Acuzar, a brother-in-law of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, and owner of New San Jose Builders, is the maintenance contractor of the PNR. Acuzar is an architect, the source said.
Solon slams DBM for boasting budget for SUCs increased Written by Charlie V. Manalo Wednesday, 27 March 2013 00:00
Makabayan senatorial candidate Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño yesterday criticized the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for boasting that state universities and colleges (SUCs) received a substantial increase in their 2013 budget. “Government spending on SUCs had declined in the last decade,” Casiño said, citing data from the Congressional Planning and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) that SUC share of GDP declined from 0.41 percent for 81 SUCs in 1991 to a measly 0.29 percentin 2013 for 110 SUCs. “SUCs got P37.1 billion for 2013 but the amount requested by the SUCs was P54 billion. The 110 SUCs were only given 68 percent of that. Is that something to boast of? In addition to that, the relatively substantial increase in the SUC budget for 2013 still cannot compensate for the years of under spending we have done,” Casiño said. “In fact, baka nga bumaba pa ang SUC budget for next year because, according to DBM’s budget memorandum released last month, P31.9 billion lang ang budget ceiling for SUCs compared to P32.8 billion approved for this year.” Of the P37.1 billion approved, only P32.7 billion would be accessible to the SUCs since the remaining P5 billion is for Retirement and Life Insurance Premiums and Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund, both of which are allocated separately. The three-term congressman also reiterated the fact that of the P37.1 billion, “at least P27 billion will go to employees’ salaries and benefits alone. This leaves around P6 billion only for operations and a mere P3 billion as capital outlay for new facilities and equipment.” “This is ridiculously small considering it will be divided among 110 schools servicing more than two million students,” Casiño said. During the budget deliberations last year, Casiño lobbied to reinstate the P54 billion budget requested by SUCs. “I think the logic is very simple. If UP and other SUCs have enough funds to support poor but deserving students, why do they have to resort to tuition increases and policies that make public education inaccessible?” Casiño said. He added that SUCs should simply be affordable to the people. “Bakit kailangan pa natin pahirapan ang mga estudyante na mag-apply sa loans o scholarship kung pwede naman natin silang suportahan? The truth is, the government is steering away from funding social services,” he said. The solon added government is forcing public institutions to generate their own income or pass the
burden to the private sector, both of which result in the shifting of priorities from public service to profit. “Government should give what the public needs, not what it thinks is an adequate or token increase para lang masabi na nagtaas naman sila ng budget. In the end, investment naman ito ng ating bansa,” the solon said.
CoA is FAO external auditor again Published : Wednesday, March 27, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 18 Written by : Joel dela Torre THE Philippines Commission on Audit (CoA) was appointed anew as External Auditor of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “beating” the likes of Germany and the United Kingdom during the 148th session of (FAO) Finance Committee held in Rome , Italy recently. This is the second time that CoA-Philippines will serve as FAO External Auditor. It was first elected last June 2007 with a four-year term from 2008. Its term was extended for the period 2012-2103 during the 141st session of the FAO Council. The 148th session was held last March 19, 2013. “Our triumph in the Food and Agricultural Organization bid is a recognition of our distinct expertise in the field of international audit,” said CoA Chairperson Ma. Gracia M. Pulido Tan. This achievement, she added, is shared by all people in the Commission as she thanked all her colleagues in CoA and all those who have extended their unwavering support to the campaign. To date, this is the Commissions third international recognition under the leadership of Chairperson Tan. In May 2011, it was elected as External Auditor of the World Health Organization during its 64th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. This was followed in March 2012 with its election to a three-year term in the governing board of the Asian Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) during its 12th Assembly in Jaipur , India . Accompanying Chairperson Tan during her oral presentation for the FAO bid were International Audit and Relations Office (IARO) Director Lito Q. Martin, Office of the Chairperson Director Ma. Milagros A. Lapus, Philippine Embassy Minister Grace Cruz-Fabella and Agriculture Attaché Lupino Lazaro, Jr. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/national/47454‐coa‐is‐fao‐external‐auditor‐again
DBM hits doomsday SUCs budget forecast Published : Wednesday, March 27, 2013 00:00 Article Views : 33 Written by : Efren Montano BUDGET and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad yesterday slammed the so-called doomsday budget forecast for State Universities and Colleges (SUCs). Abad disputed claims that SUCs will have their budgets slashed in 2014, adding that indicative budget ceilings for the next fiscal year are merely tentative and subject to further discussion with concerned departments and agencies. “These pronouncements on the 2014 budget for SUCs are premature, not to mention misleading to the public. The indicative budget ceilings are by no means final and inflexible. Instead, they serve only as guideposts for departments in the formulation of their budgets, and may even be subject to increases, depending on an agency’s requirements,” Abad said. He further noted that while the 2013 budget ceiling for SUCs was set at P30.2 billion, the approved budget for the country’s tertiary education institutions eventually amounted to P34.9 billion. “Indicative budget ceilings only reflect a department’s budgetary requirements for its current operations and ongoing programs, assuming that they will continue next year without the need for more funding support. The budget ceiling may also be lower than the final approved budget, since we haven’t yet accounted for an agency’s proposed programs and projects for the following year. “Additionally, the budget ceiling considers the fact that some programs and projects will be finished this year, and will no longer require funding in 2014. Again, these—among many other points—need to be discussed further between DBM and the SUCs, so we can arrive at a proposed budget that efficiently addresses their needs and allows them to serve their students better,” Abad said. The Budget chief also urged the public to contact DBM for clarifications on the budget preparation process, especially in light of recent controversies surrounding SUCs. “We in DBM maintain full transparency, accountability, and openness in the public expenditure process. We’ve made it much easier for the ordinary Filipino to engage us in dialogue, and we invite the public to contact us if anything is unclear about the budget preparation process. At the same time, we encourage all Filipinos to join us in the responsible interpretation of budget figures to avert inaccuracies and misinformation,” Abad said. http://www.journal.com.ph/index.php/news/top‐stories/47442‐dbm‐hits‐doomsday‐sucs‐budget‐forecast