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UN downgrades PHL growth forecast

in World News

THE United Nations (UN) downgraded its growth estimates for the Philippines this year, according to the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2020.

In the report, the UN projected the country’s 2020 GDP growth will reach 6.2 percent, 0.2 percentage points lower than the 6.4 percent it forecast in 2019. For 2021, the UN projects the country’s GDP to reach 6.3 percent.

The UN also said its partial estimates of the country’s 2019 full-year GDP is 5.9 percent, about 0.6 percentage points lower than the 6.5 percent estimate it made in 2019. Official 2019 GDP data will be released on Thursday, January 23.

“In the Philippines, GDP growth decelerated slightly in 2019 as budget delays contributed to a significant slowdown in public investment,” the report stated.

“As spending on infrastructure projects picks up, growth is expected to rebound from 5.9 percent in 2019 to 6.2 percent in 2020,” it added.

The

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/un-downgrades-phl-growth-forecast/

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60 Tagaytay outfits reopen despite Taal

in World News

The eruption of Taal Volcano on January 12 brought ashes to fall on roofs and created tremors destroying roads and truncated trees like the scene in this photo of an area in Barangay Dapayan, Lemery, Batangas. A member of a rescue team in orange shirt checks to see if people are still staying in houses.

DEFYING warnings of an imminent explosive eruption by Taal Volcano, 16 tourism establishments in Tagaytay City reopened over the weekend, many of them restaurants.

A list provided by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to the BusinessMirror showed the reopened establishments as of January 18 were: Malaco Bed and Breakfast, Magallanes Square Hotel, Tagaytay Haven Mendez, Fernwood Gardens, Bikyeong Restaurant, Bulalo Point, Papa Dom’s, Max’s Restaurant, Eway’s Grill, Jose at Sky Ranch, Taaleña Restaurant, Dakasi, Pamana Restaurant, Kuya J Restaurant, Green ATS Bulaluhan and Entrada. Other establishments also reopened,

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/60-tagaytay-outfits-reopen-despite-taal/

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Trump invites Duterte

in World News

Is the third time the charm for United States President Donald Trump who again invited President Duterte to visit America?

On Sunday, Malacañang said Washington sent a letter to Duterte on January 9, reiterating its invitation for him to attend the scheduled meeting of Trump with other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on March 14 in Las Vegas.

“The invitation was first conveyed during the Asean-US meeting at the Asean Summit and related summits in Bangkok last November,” Malacañang said in a statement.

“The invitation of the US came despite a recent US legislation banning entry of all Philippine officials supposedly behind the arrest and continued detention of Sen. Leila de Lima,” it added.

Presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said Duterte has yet to issue a statement if he will accept or decline the offer as of Sunday afternoon.

Duterte also has a long-standing invitation from

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/trump-invites-duterte/

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PSA told: Explain termination of online contract

in World News

LAWMAKERS on Sunday directed the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to explain its abrupt termination of PSAHelpline.

House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said he would call a congressional inquiry should National Statistician and PSA Head Dr. Dennis Mapa fail to explain why the operations of PSAHelpline were stopped.

The PSA terminated PSAHelpline last January 4, prompting the online service portal to stop accepting applications for various documents such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, death certificate and certificate of no marriage record (Cenomar). This prompted complaints from applicants because of the increasing volume of requests and leaving PSASerbilis as the lone online provider.

PSAHelpline and PSA Serbilis coexisted for 10 years as the two online service providers since the defunct National Statistics Office (NSO).

“I think that is not right. They are depriving ordinary citizens of good basic service from the national government. This is contrary to pronouncements of President Duterte that

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/psa-told-explain-termination-of-online-contract/

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‘No illegal arrest’ of water firm execs, Palace claims

in World News

MALACAÑANG on Sunday gave assurances there will be no illegal arrest for owners of Maynilad Water Services Inc. and Manila Water Co. even after President Duterte threatened to detain them indefinitely.

Duterte issued the warning on Friday, saying he will resort to detention in case the owners will “force his hand” by blocking the government from implementing its new service contracts with them by questioning the legality of the documents before the courts.

He said he will retaliate by having the owners detained indefinitely, the same way former President Ferdinand Marcos did against those who opposed him while martial law was still in effect.

In a radio interview on Sunday, Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, however, said the authorities will only arrest the owners of the two water concessionaires with the necessary court order.

“The assumption is there should be a warrant of arrest [before the owners are detained],” Panelo said.

Duterte

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/no-illegal-arrest-of-water-firm-execs-palace-claims/

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Senators tackle transport code to legitimize motorcycle taxis

in World News

THE Senate Committee on Public Services summoned stakeholders to a hearing on January 20 to tackle regulations covering motorcycle taxis proliferating Metro Manila’s traffic-choked major thoroughfares.

Sen. Grace L. Poe, panel chairman, confirmed over the weekend among those invited to testify before the committee apart from transport officials are motorcycle taxi operators, as well as leaders of commuter groups and motorcycle suppliers as the panel lined up public hearings on at least four bills proposing regulation of motorcycle taxis to ensure “safe and alternative public utility vehicle.”

In a statement over the weekend, the senator said in English and Filipino “we have only one goal, and that is to provide our compatriots an alternative transportation scheme that is comfortable and safe.”

Poe said resource persons have already confirmed their presence attendance at the Senate hearing. These resource persons include Transportation Assistant Secretaries Mark Steven C. Pastor and Alberto H. Suansing,

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/senators-tackle-transport-code-to-legitimize-motorcycle-taxis/

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Comelec expects 4.3M new ‘excited’ voters to register

in World News

OVER 4 million new voters are expected by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to participate with the resumption of voter registration for the 2022 national and local polls on Monday.

“Voter registration will resume January 20, and will run until September 30 [next year],” Comelec spokesman James B. Jimenez said in a news conference last Friday. “We expect some 4.3 million to get registered.”

This is more than double than their 2 million new registrants for the rescheduled 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election, which will now also be held on 2022.

“Whenever it is a presidential elections, people are more excited to participate,” Jimenez said. He didn’t offer a scientific explanation for the data estimates.

Jimenez said the longer registration period will give more time for more people to become registered voters.

With the resumption of the voter registration, Comelec will, once again, process applications for registration, transfer of registration records, change/correction

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/comelec-expects-4-3m-new-excited-voters-to-register/

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Troops kill 5 during search for suspected kidnap victims

in World News

FIVE armed men, one of them a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed on Saturday by security forces searching for five Indonesians who were snatched in Sabah by members of the Mindanao-based terrorist group, and were believed to have been transported to Sulu.

A soldier was also wounded in the two separate encounters in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, according to the commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command Lt. Gen. Cirilito E. Sobejana. He explained the encounter ensued as soldiers scoured the two provinces in search of the Indonesians abducted by suspected members of the ASG in Tambisan, Lahad Datu, Sabah, last Thursday.

Sobejana said the Indonesians were among the original eight victims snatched by armed men from a Malaysian fishing vessel in Lahad Datu. The suspects were said to have used a twin-engine speedboat. They immediately released three of the victims who later

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/troops-kill-5-during-search-for-suspected-kidnap-victims/

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‘Expand emergency employment aid for Taal victims’

in World News

Residents from various barangays in Talisay and Tanuan in Batangas affected by Taal Volcano’s activity have sought refuge at the National Shrine of Saint Padre Pio in Barangay Sto. Tomas, Batangas.

A labor group called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to expand its emergency employment program so it can cover more displaced locals in areas devastated by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

As of January 18, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 70,413 people are now staying in 300 evacuation centers around Taal Volcano following its eruption.

Federation of Free Workers (FFW) President Sonny Matula noted that only a small portion of the said workers will be covered by the DOLE’s initial intervention for the victims of the eruption.

DOLE earlier said it will employ 6,000 of the eruption-affected people through its 2019 Government Internship

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/expand-emergency-employment-aid-for-taal-victims/

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Our ‘Bayanihan’ spirit

in World News

Over the years we have become accustomed to seeing relief goods given in times of calamity plastered with stickers announcing which national or local politician was so generous. Perhaps, that is just a part of our human nature.

Some 2,000 years ago, the author of the biblical Book of Matthew wrote recounting the Sermon on the Mount: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others.”

Ordinary people do the same thing as the politicians. However, there is a line—although sometimes confusing—between a person saying “Get off your comfortable chair and do something to help” and “Look at how generous I

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/our-bayanihan-spirit/

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Humans are like trees

in World News

Taal Volcano erupted. People have been evacuated. Families have been displaced. Farms and fish pens have been damaged. Animals have been left behind. As of today, there are trees and plants still covered with ashes.

My farm in the southern part of Silang, Cavite, which is about 13 kilometers away from the crater of Taal, was not spared. More than 800 calamansi, avocado, pine, papaya, narra, coconut trees were badly hit just like the rest of my neighbors. Before the eruption, the happy colors of yellow, red, green and white surround the entire community. After all, this part of Silang is famous for decorative trees and ornamental plants used by landscaping architects and gardening enthusiasts. After the eruption, scenes in this gloomy area depict some kind of apocalypse or Armageddon. As it stands now, my farm can serve as a backdrop in any ghostly or ghastly battle scene, just

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/humans-are-like-trees/

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Volunteers against traffic

in World News

One noble Filipino characteristic that sprouted out of the eruption of Taal Volcano was the spirit of volunteerism. Almost immediately, calls for donations and participation in various on-site missions were posted on Facebook. Whether donors belonged to local government units, or nongovernment organizations, families, alumni groups, neighborhood associations—so many people were chipping in. Even donations from fellow Filipinos stationed at the Kalayaan Islands found their way to the affected areas. It is indeed true that the best of us comes out in times of tragedy. And we have a meaningful Tagalog word for it, bayanihanbayani and bayan. We instantly go beyond ourselves whenever there is a call to help the bayan or the community.

Imagine if we can nurture and extract that kind of spirit to address one common tragedy we face every day, and that is traffic. We can pull in that attitude of anger, helplessness and despair

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/volunteers-against-traffic/

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Women empowerment

in World News

Women, Business and the Law 2020 Report (the “Report”)is the sixth in a series of studies conducted by the staff of the World Bank. The Report’s indicators are constructed based on feedback from 2,000 respondents with expertise in family, labor and criminal law, including lawyers, judges, academics, and members of civil society organizations working on gender issues.

It analyzes laws and regulations affecting women’s economic opportunity in 190 countries, the Philippines included. The Report (with data as recent as September 1, 2019), assessed the economies with eight indicators that describe women’s interactions with the law as they begin, progress through and end their careers. The indicators were chosen based on statistically significant associations with outcomes related to women’s empowerment, including women’s labor force participation rates. The Report (in Table 1.1), lists down the following indicators:

Table 1.1 What does the women, business and the law index measure?

• Mobility

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/women-empowerment/

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How to send help

in World News

I would like to reserve this space today for some public service related to the disaster in Taal. Some of the positive outcomes of this recent calamity are the spirit of cooperation, resilience and bayanihan that our fellow Filipinos have shown in the face of adversity.

Since the event happened on January 12, there have been various efforts geared toward extending assistance to victims of the eruption. From extending donations and services to mounting events and fund-raising efforts to collect donations, the collective action has been overwhelming.

In fact, it has been so overwhelming that it has become disorganized, or unsystematic. Individuals and small groups are mobilizing help alongside big organizations and relief agencies. Even individuals are making personal efforts to
contribute and help—proof that one really does not need to work with a big organization or to raise plenty of money to extend help. This is all good, of

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/how-to-send-help/

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New corporate taxation, incentives scheme pivotal to PHL economy’s growth–Salceda

in World News

THE chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means said the passage of the Corporate Income Tax and Incentives Rationalization Act (Citira) before March 2020 is important for the “Road to A” strategy of the Duterte administration to succeed.

In his 2020 report on the “Road to A-level credit rating,” Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said Congress should pass Citira by March 2020 to realize its benefits to the economy.

“Citira is so pivotal that achieving A-level credit rating by 2022 becomes unlikely without its immediate passage,” Salceda said.

The lawmaker said that with Citira, economic growth, measured as gross domestic product (GDP), could reach 6.8 percent to 7.0 percent, with the boost provided by the influx of deferred investments alone.

“The central reform in this strategy is Citira, an unprecedented public investment in the private sector whose value, considering safe rates of return, could be as high as P1.25 trillion over the next 10 years, whose effect on the GDP could be as high as 1.01 percent above the baseline, and could create as much as 1.5 million jobs over the same period,” he added.

While increasing public investment in the broad private sector, Salceda avers that Citira would also reduce tax expenditures that are not productive, especially tax discounts that were supposed to incentivize pro-economy behavior among investors, but have not been performance-based, time-bound, targeted, or transparent.

In this sense, Citira aligns with the two-pronged strategy for achieving A-level rating: good fiscal management and growth acceleration, he said.

The Philippine’s current rating is BBB+, given by Standard & Poor’s in 2019, and a notch away from the A-level. The A-level means that the borrower has a strong capacity to meet its financial commitments.

Salceda said a credit rating upgrade to A-levels is not just a measure of investor confidence in the Philippines.

“In immediate terms, higher investment grade means that the Philippine government can borrow to finance its programs for the poor at much more favorable rates,” he explained.

Liberalization measures

BESIDES Citira, Salceda said the lower chamber is also pushing for amendments to the Public Services Act (PSA), Retail Trade Liberalization Act (RTLA) and the Foreign Investments Act (FIA) to ease constraints to economic growth. The lawmaker said these liberalization measures should be passed before Duterte’s 2020 State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Salceda explained that the passage of key reforms, primarily Citira and the liberalization bills, would help the country achieve a 38.0-percent debt-to-GDP ratio by end of 2020, 36.8 percent by 2021 and 35.3 percent by the year 2022, surpassing the 35.4-percent target of the government by 0.1 percent.

“Our debt-to-GDP targets were based on the assumption that Congress would expedite the passage of reforms critical to the success of our Road to A strategy,” he said. “The immediate passage of a fiscally sustainable, economically impactful Citira, above all, reforms, is now the mother lode of our catch-up strategy. Because economic growth takes time to respond to stimulus, we must pass Citira before March; otherwise we risk limiting our growth for full-year 2020.”

According to Salceda, all the liberalization bills (PSA, RTLA and FIA) are now also in advanced stage in the House. The FIA, to note, was passed in September last year.

“For the reforms to take effect on the economy, the House must finish deliberating on the other two bills by March, and the Senate must pass these bills before the President’s Sona for 2020,” he said. “Otherwise, we postpone their economic benefits to 2021, compromising, yet again, our efforts to reach our debt-to-GDP targets.”

Supporting acts

SALCEDA added the government will also expedite its “Build, Build, Build” (BBB) infrastructure program to ensure that infrastructure’s spillover effects on investment and consumption are realized on time.

According to the lawmaker, the completion of this year’s spending for BBB can yield another 0.3-percent to 0.5-percent GDP growth above baseline.

“The infrastructure agencies must complete its backlog of projects. The House has already contributed its share of policy reform to expedite Build, Build, Build, by passing the Real Property Valuation and Assessment Reform Act, which will help ease right-of-way acquisition and also boost local government funds for education. We hope the Senate could finish its version of the bill before the 2020 Sona. [RPVARA], on its own, and without its spillover effects, can yield almost an additional 0.1-percent GDP growth,” he added.

He added that the complete funding of the universal health care and universal access to higher-quality education to keep Filipino labor productivity high is also one of important components to the Road to A strategy.

“Also, keep food items cheap with reforms in agriculture and trade, to ensure that wage price pressures are limited and that Philippine wage prices are regionally competitive,” he added.

Salceda said the government must also adopt a “good steward” approach to spending: for every new spending introduced, find corresponding means to fund the proposal.

Read More: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/01/20/new-corporate-taxation-incentives-scheme-pivotal-to-phl-economys-growth-salceda/

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