BUSINESS HEADLINES THIS PAST WEEK...
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

WB: PH MAY STILL GROW 6.5% THIS YEAR, BUT IF ONLY BUDGET, YOLANDA PLAN FULLY APPLIED


THE World Bank still sees the Philippine economy expanding by 6.5 percent this year but only if the government fully executes its budget for the year and implements the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) master plan. In its East Asia and Pacific Update, the Washington-based lender said Philippine economic growth can rebound to 6.5 percent in 2015 from the actual expansion of 6.1 percent last year. In January, the World Bank cut its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines to 6.5 percent from its earlier estimate of 6.7 percent in October last year. The latest WB projection, however, falls below the 7 percent to 8 percent target of the government for the year, but is somewhat within range of the 6.7 percent growth projection of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 6.4 percent estimate of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). READ MORE...

ALSO: WB cites enactment of Freedom of Information among needed RP reforms


The World Bank (WB) has identified the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill among the key reforms needed from the Aquino administration to fulfill its claimed goal of eradicating poverty and to make economic growth inclusive.
In its East-Asia Pacific Economic Update released yesterday the WB said an FoI law is among the measures needed “to improve the transparency and accountability of government spending and to strengthen tax administration.
The FoI bill had languished in Congress during the term of President Aquino despite his campaign promise to give priority to the transparency measure which would require government institutions to reveal information vested with public interest. The WB report slashed projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 6.5 percent this year and next and will further slow down to 6.3 percent in 2017. The full-year growth projection of World Bank for the country this year was cut by 0.2 percentage points from the 6.7-percent GDP growth forecasted in its October 2014 East Asia and Pacific Economic Update. READ MORE...


ALSO: P-Noy rings in optimism at PSE


President Aquino leads the bell ringing at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Makati yesterday. He was joined by (from left) GSIS president and GM Roberto Vergara, SEC head Teresita Herbosa, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, PSE chairman Jose Pardo and BDO Unibank chief Teresita Sy-Coson. Inset shows Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala with SMC president Ramon Ang during the ceremony. STAR/Willy Perez 
- President Aquino expressed optimism yesterday that the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index would sustain its winning streak and reach the 9,000 to 10,000 levels before he steps down from office next year. In a speech during the bell ringing ceremony at the PSE in Makati City, Aquino said he would like to leave office celebrating achievements on the economic front. “In almost five years, we have seen the PSE index go from record high to record high, I’m told: 119 in total, with the index breaching the 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 levels. The most recent all-time high was recorded just last Friday, when the index closed at 8,127.48 points, or more than double the index’s value the first time we were here together,” he added. Joining the President in the bell ringing ceremony were PSE chairman Jose Pardo, PSE president and chief executive officer Hans Sicat, PSE director Eusebio Tanco, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and officials of listed companies. “I am certain that no one can dispute the good news that is the doubling of the PSE index, which stands as a sound reminder of the optimism that continues to surround the Philippines,” he said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Millions of overseas domestic workers denied basic labor rights


By Happy Hour Boy P, Manila Standard Biz Columnist --
No matter how this administration tries to spin it, there’s no denying that the country’s economic growth is driven by the precious dollar remittances sent in by the millions of overseas Filipino workers deployed all over the world. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show that OFW remittances increased 5.8 percent to $24.3 billion in 2014 from $22.96 billion in 2014. A lot of the dollars come from such countries as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Yet who knows what kind of sacrifices or abuses many of our OFWs, especially those employed as domestic workers, endure for those dollars? According to the International Labor Organization, majority of the 53 million people employed as domestic workers are women, and they are increasingly becoming an economic force as they account for nearly 4 percent of all wage employment. However, 47 million or about 90 percent of these domestic workers are denied basic labor rights as those employed in other sectors. For one, they are paid below minimum wage rates as their salaries may vary depending on the generosity or stinginess of the employer. According to the ILO, majority of domestic workers in Asia and the Middle East do not get the minimum wage prescribed by law. Of the 53 million domestic workers, more than half or 30 million work beyond the normal working hours and do not have days off or holidays, with 40 percent of the female domestics not entitled to maternity leaves or benefits. REAS MORE...

ALSO Convergence & Influence: 8 things the media revolution taught us


"Confluence" is this year's theme of the MSAP Media Congress. It stands for "convergence" and "influence." 
In Nic Gabunada's opening remarks in the biennial Confluence Media Congress 2015, he underscored the need to embrace the media revolution by creating significant shift to cater to consumers' changing wants and needs for technology. The two-day event by the Media Specialists Association of the Philippines (MSAP), encourages practitioners to reimagine, rethink and reshape the future of media by understanding "confluence," or by capturing the convergence and influence of media touch points. The Philippine media industry now advances through the use of data and technology. Unlike before, enticing the consumers is not as simple as posting ads on newspapers. One now has to consider embracing platforms across various digital devices. READ MORE...

ALSO: Simplify tax payment’ - Angara


Sen. Sonny Angara  Angara urges BIR; sees improved collection as a result
Prompted by a World Bank-PwC report that the Philippines lags even behind Cambodia and Myanmar in the ease of paying taxes, Sen. Sonny Angara urged the government to act quickly to simplify the tax payment system in the country for greater compliance and improved collection. Angara, who is the Senate chairman of the ways and means committee, reiterated his point by citing the WB-PwC report titled “Paying Taxes 2015,” which shows that although the Philippines ranks above the Asia-Pacific average of 229 hours in tax compliance, with a system that takes a comparative 193 hours for Filipino taxpayers to comply, the country remains far behind Cambodia’s 173 hours and Myanmar 155 hours. According to the report, Filipinos also need to make 36 payments to fully comply, compared with 32 payments in Vietnam, 31 in Myanmar, 27 in Brunei, 22 in Thailand, 13 in Malaysia, and five in Singapore. “While we laud the efforts of the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) to make taxation more transparent and efficient by implementing the electronic filing and payment system, it seems that many still find the new system more cumbersome and costly with the extra steps they have to take to file and pay their annual income tax. Add to that the glitches on the BIR website and the unfamiliarity of some BIR officials who are expected to assist the confused taxpayers,” Angara said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Huge crop losses, mass lay-off due to El Niño


At least 630 rice farmers have incurred huge crop losses while 60 banana plantation workers were laid off in M’lang, North Cotabato as the El Niño dry spell continues to cut a wide swath across the country. Damage to corn stands at P2.9 million with small banana farms reporting the same loss. Rubber tree farmers also suffered P1.3 million in damages. Barangay captain Joelito Tayco of Katipunan, M’lang, said “around 60 farm workers were already laid off from work this week.” In barangay New Antique, farmer Nelson Luciano said: “I can usually harvest from my two hectares around 200 bags of palay. Now I only harvested 130.”  “I was struck by the number of farms and families already suffering due to the dry spell. Harvests have been reduced or lost, and families are going hungry, reinforcing the urgent need to shift our country’s agriculture system to a more climate-resilient model,” said Greenpeace Food and Agriculture campaigner Wilhelmina Pelegrina. Pelegrina warned the situation will deteriorate if help from the Department of Agriculture (DA) is not extended, saying calamity has befallen what used to be a very productive town. “Farmers need our help right now and support from the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) is crucial. We need to equip them with timely weather information so they can plan to adjust their farming systems and to adopt ecological farming technologies that work with diversity. Diversified cropping will provide them better protection against future crop losses and help them avoid hunger,” she added. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

PH may still grow 6.5% this year, but if only if Budget, Yolanda plan implemented – WB

MANILA, APRIL 20, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) April 13, 2015 10:31 pm by MAYVELIN U. CARABALLO REPORTER - THE World Bank still sees the Philippine economy expanding by 6.5 percent this year but only if the government fully executes its budget for the year and implements the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) master plan.

In its East Asia and Pacific Update, the Washington-based lender said Philippine economic growth can rebound to 6.5 percent in 2015 from the actual expansion of 6.1 percent last year.

In January, the World Bank cut its 2015 growth forecast for the Philippines to 6.5 percent from its earlier estimate of 6.7 percent in October last year.

The latest WB projection, however, falls below the 7 percent to 8 percent target of the government for the year, but is somewhat within range of the 6.7 percent growth projection of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 6.4 percent estimate of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

READ MORE...
The IMF has said growth this year will come from lower commodity prices, strong private construction and export growth, but it also urged the government to improve spending, particularly on infrastructure and human capital.

Manila-based ADB said buoyant private consumption, a solid outlook for investment and exports, and a recovery in government expenditure will boost economic expansion in 2015.

Forecasts from global investment banks Barclays of the UK, DBS of Singapore and Standard Chartered Bank agree that lower oil prices, infrastructure development, government spending, and increased manufacturing output will drive growth past the 6 percent level in 2015.

Government spending “For 2015, 6.5 percent growth is not out of reach if the government fully executes the 2015 budget and the recently approved Typhoon Yolanda master plan,” the World Bank said.

The lender was referring to the P2.606 trillion national budget for 2015 and the P167.9 billion rehabilitation program for Yolanda-affected communities.

“Moreover, strong remittances, falling oil prices, and upbeat consumer and business sentiments indicate stronger growth in 2015,” it added.

The World Bank also forecasts economic growth staying at 6.5 percent next year supported by election-related spending.

“Historically, first-half domestic demand growth is around 2.4 percentage points higher in an election year compared to a non-election year,” it explained.

The lender said economic growth has become more inclusive in recent years as it is translating into stronger job creation and likely faster poverty reduction.

“Efforts at reconciling different household surveys suggest that poverty likely decreased strongly between 2012 and 2013, after a decrease of only 0.8 percentage points between 2009 and 2012 to 15.4 percent,” it said.

Poverty to decline The World Bank pointed out that the 2013 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey of the government suggests that the real income of the bottom 20 percent grew much faster than the rest of the population, through substantial growth of domestic cash transfers to this quintile—confirming that the government’s conditional cash transfer (CCT) program is well targeted and reaching the poor.

The lender said poverty in the country is projected to decrease from 15.4 in 2012 to 10.9 percent in 2017 if the government maintains job creation, economic growth, and its current poverty alleviation efforts.

It also noted that lower food inflation will also help in pulling down poverty levels.

“The Philippines needs to accelerate reforms that can translate higher growth into even more inclusive growth—the type that creates more and better jobs—and improve the impact of social sector spending,” it said.

In this regard, the World Bank said eradicating poverty and boosting shared prosperity will require implementing an already well-known policy agenda of structural reforms.

These key reform areas include increasing investments in infrastructure, health, and education; enhancing competition to level the playing field; simplifying regulations to promote job creation, especially by micro and small enterprises; and protecting property rights to encourage more investments.

“In the near-term, attention is needed in raising revenues equitably and efficiently to finance the much needed investment in physical and human capital,” it said.

The lender also pointed out the importance of expanding the scope and ensuring the impact of the universal health coverage and conditional cash transfer programs.

Over the medium to long-term, higher investments in infrastructure, health, and education are key to achieving inclusive growth, it said.


TRIBUNE

WB cites enactment of FoI among needed RP reforms Written by Tribune Wires Tuesday, 14 April 2015 00:00

The World Bank (WB) has identified the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FoI) bill among the key reforms needed from the Aquino administration to fulfill its claimed goal of eradicating poverty and to make economic growth inclusive.

In its East-Asia Pacific Economic Update released yesterday the WB said an FoI law is among the measures needed “to improve the transparency and accountability of government spending and to strengthen tax administration.

The FoI bill had languished in Congress during the term of President Aquino despite his campaign promise to give priority to the transparency measure which would require government institutions to reveal information vested with public interest.

The WB report slashed projected gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 6.5 percent this year and next and will further slow down to 6.3 percent in 2017. The full-year growth projection of World Bank for the country this year was cut by 0.2 percentage points from the 6.7-percent GDP growth forecasted in its October 2014 East Asia and Pacific Economic Update.

READ MORE...
Other reforms the WB cited are the institutionalization of “open data,” which means making government data publicly available in user-friendly forms, and enhancing budget reporting to allow the public and the government itself to track spending.

The WB report noted that eradicating poverty and boosting shared prosperity requires implementing an already well-known policy agenda of structural reforms which are increasing investments in infrastructure, health, and education; enhancing competition to level the playing field; simplifying regulations to promote job creation, especially by micro and small enterprises; and protecting property rights to encourage more investments.

“In the near-term, attention is needed in raising revenues equitably and efficiently to finance the much needed investment in physical and human capital,” it added.

It added attention was also needed in expanding the scope and ensuring the impact of the universal health coverage and conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs.

“The Philippines needs to accelerate reforms that can translate higher growth into even more inclusive growth—the type that creates more and better jobs—and improve the impact of social sector spending,” it added.

World Bank lead economist Rogier van den Brink said for every one percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the portion of the population in poverty or those who are living at or less than $1.25 a day should decreases by 0.9 percent.

He added that poverty reduction will be easily attainable for the Philippines if the country can continue to grow its economy by 6.0 percent to 6.5 percent annually.

“If you continue to grow at 6.5 percent and this pattern continues, you will be able to easily eradicate poverty in a generation. Remember, a 6.0-percent growth a year will double per capita income in a decade and it will rise five times in 20 years,” van den Brink said.

The WB report said a 6.5 percent growth for the economy this year is not out of reach if the government fully executes the 2015 budget and the recently approved Typhoon Yolanda master plan.

“Moreover, strong remittances, falling oil prices, and upbeat consumer and business sentiments indicate stronger growth in 2015,” it added.

For 2016, growth will be supported by election-related spending, it added. “Historically first half domestic demand growth is around 2.4 percentage points higher in an election year compared to a non-election year,” the report said.

“Risks to near-term growth include delays in planned execution of the budget, delays in investment (in particular those under private-public partnership projects), and a tepid global economy,” it said.

World Bank data showed that the Philippines’ poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines was at 25.2 percent in 2012.

Singapore-based World Bank East Asia and Pacific Region chief economist Sudhir Shetty mentioned that the lack of infrastructure and sluggish capital spending of the government, among others, have limited the growth potential of the Philippines.

Hence, the World Bank urged the Philippine government to continue and hasten its investments in infrastructure, health, education, and social protection to further achieve inclusive growth.

Despite cutting its forecast, the World Bank noted that the Philippines’ GDP growth this year remains bullish compared to other developing ASEAN neighbors such as Vietnam with GDP growth forecast of 6.0 percent; Indonesia at 5.2 percent; Malaysia at 4.7 percent; and Thailand at 3.5 percent.

For the whole East Asia and Pacific region, GDP growth is expected to be stable at six percent from 2015 to 2017 while developing East Asia and Pacific countries’ growth is seen to grow at 6.7 percent in 2015 and 2016 and at 6.6 percent in 2017.

“East Asia Pacific has thrived despite an unsteady global recovery from the financial crisis, but many risks remain for the region, both in the short and long run,” said Shetty.

The East Asia and Pacific Economic Update is World Bank’s comprehensive review of the region’s economies is published twice yearly.

“China’s growth is expected to moderate to around seven per cent in the next two years compared with 7.4 per cent in 2014,” according to the report.

“Growth in the rest of developing East Asia is expected to rise by half a percentage point, to 5.1 per cent this year, largely driven by domestic demand — thanks to upbeat consumer sentiment and falling oil prices — in the large South-East Asian economies,” it said.

Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank East Asia and Pacific regional vice president, said despite slightly slower growth in East Asia, the region will still account for one-third of global growth, twice the combined contribution of all other developing regions.

He said low global oil prices will benefit most developing countries in East Asia, especially Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and the Pacific island countries.

“But the region’s net fuel exporters, including Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, will see slower growth and lower government revenues,” he said.


PHILSTAR

P-Noy rings in optimism at PSE By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 15, 2015 - 12:00am


President Aquino leads the bell ringing at the Philippine Stock Exchange in Makati yesterday. He was joined by (from left) GSIS president and GM Roberto Vergara, SEC head Teresita Herbosa, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, PSE chairman Jose Pardo and BDO Unibank chief Teresita Sy-Coson. Inset shows Ayala Corp. chairman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala with SMC president Ramon Ang during the ceremony. STAR/Willy Perez

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino expressed optimism yesterday that the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) index would sustain its winning streak and reach the 9,000 to 10,000 levels before he steps down from office next year.

In a speech during the bell ringing ceremony at the PSE in Makati City, Aquino said he would like to leave office celebrating achievements on the economic front.

“In almost five years, we have seen the PSE index go from record high to record high, I’m told: 119 in total, with the index breaching the 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 and 8,000 levels. The most recent all-time high was recorded just last Friday, when the index closed at 8,127.48 points, or more than double the index’s value the first time we were here together,” he added.

Joining the President in the bell ringing ceremony were PSE chairman Jose Pardo, PSE president and chief executive officer Hans Sicat, PSE director Eusebio Tanco, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and officials of listed companies.

“I am certain that no one can dispute the good news that is the doubling of the PSE index, which stands as a sound reminder of the optimism that continues to surround the Philippines,” he said.

READ MORE...
Aquino said he was informed that trading activity increased by 40 percent year on year, from P457.08 billion in the first quarter of 2014, to P641.59 billion in the same period of 2015. Within that same period, net foreign buying also grew by 182 percent, from P17.33 billion in the first quarter of 2014, to P48.87 billion in the first quarter of 2015, he noted.

The President said he has been bullish on the country long before it regained prominence in the global economy because he had trust in the Filipino people, whom he referred to as the country’s greatest resource.

“This is why government has made critical investments in health care, social services and education: we want to empower our citizenry to become greater participants in growing the economy,” he said.

“Might I remind you today that the kind of success, the kind of governance we are experiencing can be a perpetual reality, and that our people will make that happen. I sincerely believe that next year, Filipinos will choose wisely, and will choose someone who will likewise tread the straight path. Like any other sector, you have a significant role to play. As we celebrate this historic achievement, I invite you to join us in engaging all sectors towards continuing this momentum – not only the momentum of our stock market, but also, and more importantly, of our entire country,” the President said.


MANILA STANDARD

Millions of domestics denied basic labor rights By Boy P. | Apr. 14, 2015 at 11:10pm


By Happy Hour Boy P Manila Standard Biz Columnist

No matter how this administration tries to spin it, there’s no denying that the country’s economic growth is driven by the precious dollar remittances sent in by the millions of overseas Filipino workers deployed all over the world. Data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show that OFW remittances increased 5.8 percent to $24.3 billion in 2014 from $22.96 billion in 2014. A lot of the dollars come from such countries as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Yet who knows what kind of sacrifices or abuses many of our OFWs, especially those employed as domestic workers, endure for those dollars? According to the International Labor Organization, majority of the 53 million people employed as domestic workers are women, and they are increasingly becoming an economic force as they account for nearly 4 percent of all wage employment.

However, 47 million or about 90 percent of these domestic workers are denied basic labor rights as those employed in other sectors. For one, they are paid below minimum wage rates as their salaries may vary depending on the generosity or stinginess of the employer. According to the ILO, majority of domestic workers in Asia and the Middle East do not get the minimum wage prescribed by law.

Of the 53 million domestic workers, more than half or 30 million work beyond the normal working hours and do not have days off or holidays, with 40 percent of the female domestics not entitled to maternity leaves or benefits.

READ MORE...
Just recently, the United Kingdom passed the Modern Slavery bill to combat modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Estimates by the Human Slavery Index place the number of workers living under slave-like conditions at 36 million. Critics of the UK government allege that the introduction of the so-called “tied visas” for foreign domestic workers has encouraged abusive labor practices known as “kafala” from employers mostly coming from the Middle East. Under the tied visa system, employees lose their right to legally remain in the United Kingdom if they change employers. This has affected construction workers and domestic workers, many of them from the Philippines and Indonesia who are subjected to slave-like conditions —long hours of work, very little pay, and under risk of sexual abuse.

Interviews conducted by researchers from the University College of London recounted the experience of two Filipino domestics who said they thought their conditions would be better when their Middle Eastern employers transferred to London. No such luck, because the tied visa program gave the employers the license to abuse the workers who would be declared as illegals if they leave their employers. Aside from low pay and long hours, the domestics reported going hungry and being physically and sexually abused.

The UK government has resisted moves to change the law saying it would become a magnet to domestic workers wanting to immigrate to the United Kingdom, but critics say the domestics have no choice because they are brought to the UK by their employers.

According to an article by Guardian.com, human rights advocates all over the word have documented accounts of domestic workers being beaten, forced to work 22 hours a day, not given food and worse, not paid for their work.

“When domestic workers are so systematically denied the basic labor rights afforded to other workers, employers cannot be held accountable for the mistreatment of those working in their households. Workers themselves also have no way of protecting themselves from exploitation.

“When national laws ignore the rights of millions of employed people, the message that these are not ‘real’ workers filters down, adding to the vulnerability and abuse experienced by domestic workers. Unless this changes, there is no way truly to hold those responsible to account,” the article concluded.

MVP donates P20 million to PLM

At the 47th commencement exercises of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Philippine Long Distance Telephone boss Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) made a personal donation of P20 million to the university run by the city government of Manila. Pangilinan, who was conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities, told the graduates there is no magic formula or secret recipe to success. All it takes is hard work, honesty and fairness.

“There is no magic. No mystery. No secret recipe. Success springs from values as basic and old- fashioned as being honest and truthful. Working hard, playing fair, setting goals, and having the discipline and determination to pursue them,” he said.

We’re sure Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada was happy to note that in one part of his speech, MVP acknowledged that like the mayor, Manila and San Juan played an important part in the life of MVP. “I was born at the Fabella Memorial Hospital in Oroquieta. My father then was a messenger at the Philippine National Bank in Escolta,” disclosing that they lived with his grandparents in Sampaloc, and that the “mall” then was the central market located at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and Fugoso Streets.

“Our pastime then was to watch movies at the Central Theater… and of course, our favorite was Mayor Erap in the movies Kandilang Bakal, Lo Waist Gang and Cuatro Cantos,” he said in the vernacular.


PHILSTAR

ALSO CONVERGENCE & INFLUENCE: 8 things the media revolution taught us By Alixandra Caole Vila (philstar.com) | Updated April 16, 2015 - 7:32am


"Confluence" is this year's theme of the MSAP Media Congress. It stands for "convergence" and "influence."

MANILA, Philippines - In Nic Gabunada's opening remarks in the biennial Confluence Media Congress 2015, he underscored the need to embrace the media revolution by creating significant shift to cater to consumers' changing wants and needs for technology.

The two-day event by the Media Specialists Association of the Philippines (MSAP), encourages practitioners to reimagine, rethink and reshape the future of media by understanding "confluence," or by capturing the convergence and influence of media touch points.

The Philippine media industry now advances through the use of data and technology. Unlike before, enticing the consumers is not as simple as posting ads on newspapers. One now has to consider embracing platforms across various digital devices.

READ MORE...
Here are some ideas the media revolution has taught us and ushered in, as mentioned by the speakers in the Confluence conference.

Social media is key in tourism promotion.

Every Filipino is familiar with the Philippine tourism campaign. "It's more fun in the Philippines," the brainchild of of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. Jimenez said social media is key to the success of the campaign.

“It's more fun in the Philippines started with three versions only, but now it already has more than 178,000 versions, counting so far only those that we have seen," he said.

Because finding a place to visit and booking hotel reservations are just a single click away, domestic travelers in the country have rapidly increased. Jimenez said the number of domestic travelers has gone from 28 million from the past years to 52 million today.

The public is an effective source of the message.

The advent of technology has made it possible for the public to unleash creativity and realize ideas in various digital platforms. Social media accounts, in particular, let people create content that can spread like wildfire. After all, FOBO or "fear of being offline" is a growing trend in mobile, said Facebook Southeast Asia managing director Myung-Jo Choi.

The public decides which of the topics they want to talk about and they also decide when they want to stop talking about it. It is in this time that the public has been more powerful than ever.

The role of brands is to start something that the public will respond to.

Since the public gets to decide how the information dissemination will carry through, brands must get the public to agree on a topic or idea to make dissemination successful. The role of the media is to stimulate the public. Creating an idea without the acceptance of the public, regardless of how significant and promising the idea is, will not work out.'

Traditional news networks like CNN, for example, had to evolve from the role it has been known for. "CNN is no longer a television company. We are everywhere," anchor Kristie Lu Stout said. Multi-platform presence and approach enable media firms reach more people, making content more influential and more quickly disseminated.

Modern advertising is all about a strategic, creative and engaging content.

Paolo Mercado, senior vice president for communications and marketing services at Nestle Philippines, said “hyper competition” exists when companies fight over the same share of the market and for consumers’ share of mind.

In order to stand out, strategy needs to be solid, while content must be meaningful, lasting and valuable to its market. A brand campaign needs to be a brand experience. Do not just listen to what the people say; understand and engage them, he advised.

Media APAC commercial director Lee Risk shared a rather surprising data on magazine consumption. "Print and magazines have a very highly engaged audience," he said. While the medium does not enable feedback the way digital does, consumers spend more time with ads on print. "Ads are seen as new sources of information,"Risk said.

Information is not enough. You have to connect to the public and rise from the clutter.

Of the voluminous information the public is getting, one has to create content that will make the public engage with the brand. "People don't care about ads; they care more about the content, amazing content," Mercado said.

To be able to catch consumers’ attention, one has to understand their needs and stand out above the rest. Make them want to view your content before getting out of bed, on their way to work, while their eating their lunch and before going to sleep. People want stories that would touch their hearts and that they can relate to. Give them stories and earn their loyalty.

Chot Reyes, former coach for national team Gilas and now TV5 Sports Digital Head, said they adopted a new strategy for the broadcast of PBA games. The network brought the games, usually aired during, to laptops and mobile phones through live streaming. "Prime time of people is now commute time," Reyes said.

Merging of commerce and content will be at the forefront.

According to Mercado, back in 1980s, China only has one television channel, and to this date, they already have 2,000 channels, excluding those that they see on the Internet, and this is because they embraced the media revolution. They have seen the link between commerce and content. An example is their Mobile Online TV, their own version of Netflix. The only difference is that, they can view all the movies or series they want to view for free. Eighty percent of what can be viewed on Mobile Online TV is licensed, including US shows which can be aired simultaneously as its US airing.

Chinese brands, moreover, make purchasing convenient by letting them shop through websites and by delivering their orders straight to their doorstep. This includes baby formula and any other goods. Brands in the Asian powerhouse have also embraced the fact that people today do not have much time to dwell on burdening tasks, such as going to the grocery store.

Innovate or die.

ABS-CBN Corp. chairman Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III could not emphasize on the value of innovation and innovation in technology more. Although innovation requires a significant amount of time and money, companies should not ignore its need. "It is only by doing things differently can we serve our evolving community," he said.

Building a good relationship with the public is important.

"Brands that form good relationships with consumers deliver success," said Pauline Gatera-Fermin, president of Acumen Strategic Consulting. Besides investing money to innovate, investing in consumer understanding is relevant. Know your most loyal consumers and pamper them. Make them feel special because losing loyalty is a big stressor.

Starcom Mediavest regional director Joanna Vonfelkerzam, meanwhile, advised brands, "Have empathy! Don't call them consumers!" She also said that companies should also learn to move away from thinking about demographic to thinking about individuals.

It was something Coca-Cola Philippines marketing director Jasmin Vinculado also believes. "Big data is the new normal, but small moments matter," she said, referring to consumers' stories as part of the experience of the mega success of the Share A Coke campaign. - with Camille Diola


MANILA TIMES

Simplify tax payment’ April 17, 2015 10:38 pm by Voltaire Palaña Reporter Sen. Sonny Angara


Sen. Sonny Angara

Angara urges BIR; sees improved collection as a result Prompted by a World Bank-PwC report that the Philippines lags even behind Cambodia and Myanmar in the ease of paying taxes, Sen. Sonny Angara urged the government to act quickly to simplify the tax payment system in the country for greater compliance and improved collection.

Angara, who is the Senate chairman of the ways and means committee, reiterated his point by citing the WB-PwC report titled “Paying Taxes 2015,” which shows that although the Philippines ranks above the Asia-Pacific average of 229 hours in tax compliance, with a system that takes a comparative 193 hours for Filipino taxpayers to comply, the country remains far behind Cambodia’s 173 hours and Myanmar 155 hours.

According to the report, Filipinos also need to make 36 payments to fully comply, compared with 32 payments in Vietnam, 31 in Myanmar, 27 in Brunei, 22 in Thailand, 13 in Malaysia, and five in Singapore.

“While we laud the efforts of the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) to make taxation more transparent and efficient by implementing the electronic filing and payment system, it seems that many still find the new system more cumbersome and costly with the extra steps they have to take to file and pay their annual income tax. Add to that the glitches on the BIR website and the unfamiliarity of some BIR officials who are expected to assist the confused taxpayers,” Angara said.

“A simplified system, coupled with an updated and lowered tax rates would definitely increase compliance, widen the tax base and raise revenue collection. We must continue to push for these tax reforms to balance the needs of both the government and the citizens,” he added.

Having filed a bill that seeks to lower income tax rates, Angara has long been pushing for the simplification of the process of tax filing and payment by minimizing the steps, requirements, forms and fees imposed by the BIR.

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Under the Anti-Red Tape Law, all government agencies are required to undertake ‘time and motion studies of transactions’ to reduce the processing time and bureaucratic red tape.

The lawmaker said he had requested the BIR for its time and motion studies to see how it plans to simplify and shorten the process.

“We have a one-size-fits-all type of tax system. Business tycoons who own multi-billion corporations have the same requirements as sari-sari store owners and sidewalk vendors who may not be computer literate. This should not be the case. Ang mga Pilipino naman ay handa at gustong sumunod sa batas at magbayad ng buwis pero pinapahirapan pa sila ng mahabang proseso at kumplikadong sistema, [The Filipinos, in fairness, are ready to comply with the law and pay their tax but are being made to go through a tedious and difficult process and a complicated system],” Angara said.

He urged the BIR to fix and upgrade its e-filing system to ensure its feasibility and make the already burdensome task of paying taxes easier and more convenient, especially for small entrepreneurs.

“It has been a problem of the government,” he said, referring to low revenue collections. “Tax collection has been wanting over the decades. What do we attribute this to? Some say it’s because of inefficient administration.”


MANILA BULLETIN

Huge crop losses, mass lay-off due to El Niño by Chito A. Chavez April 18, 2015 Share0 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share0

At least 630 rice farmers have incurred huge crop losses while 60 banana plantation workers were laid off in M’lang, North Cotabato as the El Niño dry spell continues to cut a wide swath across the country.

Damage to corn stands at P2.9 million with small banana farms reporting the same loss. Rubber tree farmers also suffered P1.3 million in damages.

Barangay captain Joelito Tayco of Katipunan, M’lang, said “around 60 farm workers were already laid off from work this week.” In barangay New Antique, farmer Nelson Luciano said: “I can usually harvest from my two hectares around 200 bags of palay. Now I only harvested 130.”

“I was struck by the number of farms and families already suffering due to the dry spell. Harvests have been reduced or lost, and families are going hungry, reinforcing the urgent need to shift our country’s agriculture system to a more climate-resilient model,” said Greenpeace Food and Agriculture campaigner Wilhelmina Pelegrina.

Pelegrina warned the situation will deteriorate if help from the Department of Agriculture (DA) is not extended, saying calamity has befallen what used to be a very productive town.

“Farmers need our help right now and support from the government and non-government organizations (NGOs) is crucial. We need to equip them with timely weather information so they can plan to adjust their farming systems and to adopt ecological farming technologies that work with diversity. Diversified cropping will provide them better protection against future crop losses and help them avoid hunger,” she added.

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Rice fields in several parts of Mindanao have been abandoned with the grains that failed to develop now rotting.

“The last time we checked with the officials of M’lang, they have yet to define the details of their response plan while waiting for the release of their calamity fund in the next few days. While we agree with the thinking to provide food aid, seeds and organic fertilizers, we strongly urge the Philippine government to step in and set mechanisms for a more climate-resilient ecological farming system,” Pelegrina said.

While many areas have resorted to organic farming and ecological agricultural practices, these efforts are still small scale in character.

Greenpeace also asked both the national and local governments and other agencies to work together in setting up early warning systems that farmers can manage since they are the ones directly affected by typhoons, dry spells, El Niño and other extreme weather impacts of climate change.

Greenpeace is already working with partners in deploying a mobile phone text messaging service to farmers. “This early information system should be coupled with programs on how farmers could plant diverse crops, raise farm animals, and develop livelihood strategies to provide them with some degree of food and livelihood security,” Pelegrina said.

Dry spell hits 30 provinces Effects of El Niño to last till middle of 2015 by Ellalyn De Vera April 17, 2015

At least 30 provinces are now experiencing the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon which will be experienced until the middle of the year, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) acting Administrator Dr. Vicente Malano said yesterday.

State weather forecaster said the El Niño phenomenon may even strengthen toward the end of the year.

The provinces currently experiencing the dry spell are:

1. Abra

2. Benguet

3. Ifugao

4. Kalinga

5. Apayao

6. Ilocos Norte

7. Ilocos Sur

8. La Union

9. Batanes

10. Pampanga

11. Tarlac

12. Zambales

13. Palawan

14. Negros Occidental

15. Negros Oriental

16. Bohol

17. Zamboanga del Norte

18. Zamboanga del Sur

19. Zamboanga Sibugay

20. Camiguin

21. Lanao del Norte

22. Misamis Occidental

23. Misamis Oriental

24. South Cotabato

25. Sarangani

26. Agusan del Norte

27. Surigao del Norte

28. Basilan

29. Lanao del Sur

30. Sulu.

PAGASA defined a dry spell as three consecutive months of below normal (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions.

Since the weak El Niño set in last March, which is manifested by warmer than average sea surface temperature in the tropical Pacific Ocean, it has significantly affected the rainfall pattern in most parts of the country.

This month, PAGASA sees near to above normal rainfall conditions over the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including the provinces of Catanduanes, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, and Sarangani.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country will likely receive way below to below normal rainfall in April.

Based on the monthly weather outlook of the PAGASA, slightly warmer than average air temperatures are likely to be felt in most parts of the country except for slightly cooler than average air temperatures over the mountainous areas of Luzon and Mindanao.

Predicted ranges of temperature will be as follows: 21°C to 39°C over the lowlands of Luzon, 15°C to 26°C in the mountainous areas of Luzon, 23°C to 33°C for Visayas, 23°C to 39°C in the lowlands of Mindanao and 18°C to 31°C in the mountainous areas of Mindanao.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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