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

AUTOMATED TICKETING AT LRT LINES DELAYED


MAY 25 ---AF
Payments Inc. yesterday said the rollout of new Automated Fare Collection System at the three rail systems -- Light Rail Transit Line 1&2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 -- will be delayed by a month pending completion of ongoing testing at all stations.
Based on the original schedule the transition to new ticketing system starts at LRT2 this month, then MRT3 by June and LRT1 by July. Peter Maher, chief executive officer of AF Payments Inc., said the use of the new fare collection system at the LRT 2 line will be pushed back to June as end-to-end testing remains in progress at all stations. Maher said the three rail system will have shifted to new payment system by September this year. The ongoing testing is aimed at further strengthening the operational readiness of the new system, a contactless smart card technology that will upgrade and integrate the ticketing infrastructure of the country’s major railways. The new ticketing system allows passenger to used a single card called “beep card” in riding the country’s three major rail systems . Its contactless “Tap and Go” card can be purchased for only P20 and can be loaded/reloaded with a minimum of P11 up to P10,000 . The card has four years warranty. However, passengers will no longer have a free ride on the remaining balance unlike in the current stored value card. AF Payment Inc. is a consortium composed of Ayala Corp and First Pacific Group which holds the 10-years concession for the project.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Economy expands by 5.2% in Q1, falls below target; Figure lowest in three years  - PHL stats


MAY 28 ---Skyline of Makati City showing skyscrapers rising from its central business district. Jun Acculador/CC BY-ND 
— The Philippine economy grew by 5.2 percent for the first quarter of this year, the Philippine Statistics Authority said on Thursday. The expansion slowed down from 6.6-percent rate in the last quarter of 2014. The government is targeting a 7 to 8-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2015, higher than the 6.5 to 7.5-percent target set for 2014 The first quarter figure was primarily driven by the services sector which accelerated by 5.6 percent as transport, storage and communication, real estate, trade, manufacturing and other services all saw positive growth. The industry sector expanded by 5.5 percent, slightly lower compared to the the 5.4-percent growth in the first quarter of 2014. READ MORE...

ALSO: PHL March imports shrink by 6.8% on lower prices of oil and raw materials


MAY 26 ---Merchandise imports contracted by 6.8 percent in March, largely on lower payments for mineral fuels, lubricants and raw materials, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Tuesday. Import payments fell to $5.1 billion in March from $5.5 billion a year earlier, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority. NEDA took note the decline came on the heels of 10.2-percent rebound in February and a 10.8-percent annual growth in March 2014. "Most trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia, except for Vietnam, posted a decline in merchandise imports in March 2015. The reduced value of imports, primarily from PR China, South Korea and Singapore, contributed to a drag on imports during the period," NEDA said. Import shipments of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials registered a steep decline , the PSA noted. READ MORE...

ALSO: Business groups to Aquino: Enact critical reforms before stepping down


MAY 26--- The PBG-JFC urged Aquino to immediately fill in the vacancies in the Civil Service Commission, Department of Energy, and the Philippine National Police "with qualified, credible and experienced public servants."
 The Philippine Business Groups and Joint Foreign Chambers (PBG-JFC) is urging President Benigno Aquino III to enact critical policy reforms as he enters his final year in office. In a letter to Aquino dated May 15, the PBG-JFC praised Aquino for the social, political, and economic reforms of his administration since 2010 that improved the country's competitiveness, attractiveness to investment and overall international image. "The PBG-JFC believes, however, that with 12 months to go before the national elections, critical remaining reforms should be enacted and implemented at the soonest time as we work toward our shared goal of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction, and global competitiveness," the PBG-JFC said. The PBG-JFC is a coalition composed of 18 local and foreign business groups. READ MORE...

ALSO APEC's EPIC FAIL: PHILIPPINE UNDERDEVELOPMENT


MAY 26 ---Sonny Africa --Executive Director of IBON Foundation --NCR - National Capital Region, PhilippinesNonprofit Organization Management --Current IBON Foundation --Education The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) FROM LinkedIn The organization is unabashed in pushing for neoliberal policies, which have been the biggest reason for the exclusion and worsening of conditions for so many in the Philippines, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world in the last decades IBON Features—The "FuntaSea" theme of the show for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior officials held last weekend and its venue, at Boracay's premier resort Shangri-La Boracay, were inadvertently appropriate. They reflected what the Philippine government's hosting this year of APEC appears to be grounded on: a certain amount of fantasy and exclusion. World-famous Boracay was the venue for the most recent of the series of APEC meetings to be held in the Philippines this year which will culminate in the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November. READ MORE...

ALSO: ATTAINING ‘FIRST WORLD’ STATUS FOR PH IMPOSSIBLE UNDER NEOLIBERAL POLICIES


MAY 27 ---The average income of a poor Filipino family is only Php16,841 pesos or $374.156 dollars per year.2014 REPORT President Aquino said that the country could one day attain "First world" status if his administration's policies would be consistently pursued. But if "First world" pertains to "wealthy and developed", the country is not even on the track of development precisely because of the neoliberal policies that his administration continues to implement, research group IBON said. The President made the statement during the Department of Education's Oplan Balik Eskwela 2015 and Brigada Eskwela at Marikina Elementary School. Pres. Aquino also spoke of his administration's poverty alleviation and social services programs, and cited supposed achievements in the last five years, including a decline in unemployment and hunger incidence. IBON said that the policies Pres. Aquino was referring to are about opening Philippine economic sectors and resources up for big local and foreign business opportunities. This is not the path pursued by now-industrial countries which are considered as “First World”. READ MORE...

ALSO: Top finance officials debate what's needed for global growth By David Mchugh (Associated Press) | Updated May 29, 2015 - 1:05am


MAY 29 ---The G7 Finance Ministers meeting is being held in Dresden. AP Photo/Jens Meyer
DRESDEN, Germany — Top finance officials from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are debating ways to broaden and strengthen economic recoveries that aren't as robust as everyone would like. Finance ministers and central banks traded ideas on growth-boosting reforms and discussed financial markets and monetary policy. Officials said the discussions in Dresden, Germany, were marked by concern over growth that is uneven and below long-term averages. Both the U.S. and Europe are growing. But unemployment remains high in the 19-country eurozone, and stock and bond markets have been volatile, although they remain at high levels. Officials including Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and host Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble discussed the recent sharp rise in yields on bonds. Officials said the general sense was the recent market ups and downs were due to the fact that bond yields had fallen to extreme low levels — below zero in some cases. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Automated ticketing delayed


AF Payments Inc. yesterday said the rollout of new Automated Fare Collection System at the three rail systems -- Light Rail Transit Line 1&2 and Metro Rail Transit 3 -- will be delayed by a month pending completion of ongoing testing at all stations.

MANILA, MAY 25, 2015 (MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS) May 26, 2015 - Based on the original schedule the transition to new ticketing system starts at LRT2 this month, then MRT3 by June and LRT1 by July.

Peter Maher, chief executive officer of AF Payments Inc., said the use of the new fare collection system at the LRT 2 line will be pushed back to June as end-to-end testing remains in progress at all stations.

Maher said the three rail system will have shifted to new payment system by September this year.

The ongoing testing is aimed at further strengthening the operational readiness of the new system, a contactless smart card technology that will upgrade and integrate the ticketing infrastructure of the country’s major railways.

The new ticketing system allows passenger to used a single card called “beep card” in riding the country’s three major rail systems . Its contactless “Tap and Go” card can be purchased for only P20 and can be loaded/reloaded with a minimum of P11 up to P10,000 . The card has four years warranty.

However, passengers will no longer have a free ride on the remaining balance unlike in the current stored value card.

AF Payment Inc. is a consortium composed of Ayala Corp and First Pacific Group which holds the 10-years concession for the project.


PHILSTAR

Economy expands by 5.2% in Q1, falls below target; Figure lowest in three years  (philstar.com) | Updated May 28, 2015 - 10:01am


Skyline of Makati City showing skyscrapers rising from its central business district. Jun Acculador/CC BY-ND

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 2) — The Philippine economy grew by 5.2 percent for the first quarter of this year, the Philippine Statistics Authority said on Thursday.

The expansion slowed down from 6.6-percent rate in the last quarter of 2014.

The government is targeting a 7 to 8-percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2015, higher than the 6.5 to 7.5-percent target set for 2014

The first quarter figure was primarily driven by the services sector which accelerated by 5.6 percent as transport, storage and communication, real estate, trade, manufacturing and other services all saw positive growth.

The industry sector expanded by 5.5 percent, slightly lower compared to the the 5.4-percent growth in the first quarter of 2014.

READ MORE...
The agriculture sector, meanwhile, posted 1.6-percent progress, leaping from the 0.6-percent rate in the same period last year.

Increased consumer spending, reinforced by fixed capital also contributed to the period's growth.

The gross national income, meanwhile, grew by 4.7 percent, but still lower than the 6.6 percent of the same period last year.

Per capita growth similarly slowed down to 3.4 percent from 3.8 percent in Q1 last year.

The Philippines remains the top performer in the ASEAN bloc, but the latest figure is the lowest quarterly growth posted in the last three years.

The second quarter of 2013 remains the highest in a three-month period at 7.9 percent since 2012.


GMA NEWS ONLINE

PHL March imports shrink by 6.8% on lower prices of oil and raw materials May 26, 2015 12:12pm

Merchandise imports contracted by 6.8 percent in March, largely on lower payments for mineral fuels, lubricants and raw materials, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Tuesday.

Import payments fell to $5.1 billion in March from $5.5 billion a year earlier, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

NEDA took note the decline came on the heels of 10.2-percent rebound in February and a 10.8-percent annual growth in March 2014.

"Most trade-oriented economies in East and Southeast Asia, except for Vietnam, posted a decline in merchandise imports in March 2015. The reduced value of imports, primarily from PR China, South Korea and Singapore, contributed to a drag on imports during the period," NEDA said.

Import shipments of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials registered a steep decline , the PSA noted.

READ MORE...
Lower crude oil prices and lower demand for non-oil mineral products reduced the value of imported mineral fuels and lubricants by 47.3 percent to $681.3 million from $1.3 billion on-year.

Trade surplus

Cumulative imports for the first three months of 2015 amounted to $15.682 billion, a 4.1 percent decrease compared with $16.348 billion in the same period last year.

The balance of trade in goods last March posted a surplus of $264.11 million compared to a $217.27 million deficit a year earlier, PSA data showed.

“The low oil-price condition remains favorable to the current balance of trade, particularly for trade-in-goods of the country as global oil prices continue to hover way below $100 per barrel at $51.6 for the first quarter of 2015,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

“The low price of oil prompted an increase in the overall volume of imported crude by 47.8 percent. It is expected that the increase in energy demand during the summer season will further drive imports of petroleum products,” he added.

Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General, noted the low price of imported oil bodes well for the industrial sector, particularly manufacturing and utilities given these sub-sectors' high reliance on oil-based inputs.

Payments for raw materials and intermediate goods declined by 1.1 percent to $2.09 billion from $2.11 billion. This was reflected in the strong decline in imports of semi-processed raw materials (-6.2 percent).

Capital goods

“The drop in the imports value for semi-processed raw materials can be attributed to decreasing prices of raw materials, a trend which has been occurring for five consecutive months since November 2014,” the Cabinet official said.

The value of imported capital goods increased by 16.6 percent while that of consumer goods increased by 2.8 percent. The increases partly mitigated the drop in imports.

“The growth in the imports of major commodities, particularly capital goods and consumer durables, shows that the confidence in the economy continues to be strong and bodes well for growth this year and next," Balisacan said.

He attributed the strong growth in capital goods imports in the last two months to brisk business activity.

“The net positive consumer sentiment based on the latest round of consumer expectations survey is expected to continue to drive consumption goods imports in the second quarter,” Balisacan said.

“Also, as the government continues to monitor areas affected by the intense heat due to El Niño, careful planning and timely importation of food products particularly rice is critical to ensure stability of food prices especially in anticipation of an extended dry season,” he added. – VS, GMA News


PHILSTAR

Business groups to Aquino: Enact critical reforms before stepping down By Louis Bacani (philstar.com) | Updated May 26, 2015 - 6:49pm


The PBG-JFC urged Aquino to immediately fill in the vacancies in the Civil Service Commission, Department of Energy, and the Philippine National Police "with qualified, credible and experienced public servants."

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Business Groups and Joint Foreign Chambers (PBG-JFC) is urging President Benigno Aquino III to enact critical policy reforms as he enters his final year in office.

In a letter to Aquino dated May 15, the PBG-JFC praised Aquino for the social, political, and economic reforms of his administration since 2010 that improved the country's competitiveness, attractiveness to investment and overall international image.

"The PBG-JFC believes, however, that with 12 months to go before the national elections, critical remaining reforms should be enacted and implemented at the soonest time as we work toward our shared goal of inclusive growth through job generation, poverty reduction, and global competitiveness," the PBG-JFC said.

The PBG-JFC is a coalition composed of 18 local and foreign business groups.

READ MORE...
The group listed down several points that require executive action including those that involve institutionalizing integrity and good governance, accelerating infrastructure development, ensuring massive job generation and facilitating trade and boosting competitiveness.

The PBG-JFC urged Aquino to immediately fill in the vacancies in the Civil Service Commission, Department of Energy, and the Philippine National Police "with qualified, credible and experienced public servants."

The group also recommended the formation of a public-private energy council composed of credible electricity experts, a National Privacy Commission and trading centers that would serve farmers and fisherfolk.

The coalition also wants the government to decrease the number of steps required in establishing a business to the minimum and to reduce the list of industries where foreign participation is limited.

The PBG-JFC also called for more intensified efforts to implement with no delay critical infrastructure projects that will reduce ground transportation, airport and seaport congestion.

The group also urged the Aquino administration to speed up the Maguindanao massacre trial and the plunder cases against the three senators accused in the pork barrel scam.

To complement the recommended executive initiatives, the group asked Aquino to certify as urgent several pending legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, Resolution of Both Houses No. 1, the PPP Act, amendments to the Right-of-Way Act, the Fair Competition Act, the Act creating a Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, and the bill on comprehensive reform to the tax system.

"The PBG-JFC holds that the Philippines possesses immense untapped potential that will be unleashed with the proper environment and policies in place. It is our common position that the enactment and implementation of the above measures will accelerate the country toward the progressive nation we all aspire to become," the coalition said.

3 COMMENTS ON THIS REPORT


News Releases

IBON Features / May 2015

COMMENTARY By Sonny Africa

APEC's EPIC FAIL: PHILIPPINE UNDERDEVELOPMENT


Sonny Africa --Executive Director of IBON Foundation --NCR - National Capital Region, PhilippinesNonprofit Organization Management --Current IBON Foundation --Education The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) FROM LinkedIn

The organization is unabashed in pushing for neoliberal policies, which have been the biggest reason for the exclusion and worsening of conditions for so many in the Philippines, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world in the last decades

IBON Features—The "FuntaSea" theme of the show for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) senior officials held last weekend and its venue, at Boracay's premier resort Shangri-La Boracay, were inadvertently appropriate.

They reflected what the Philippine government's hosting this year of APEC appears to be grounded on: a certain amount of fantasy and exclusion.

World-famous Boracay was the venue for the most recent of the series of APEC meetings to be held in the Philippines this year which will culminate in the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November.

READ MORE...
The Summit meeting of APEC's heads of state will be the Aquino administration's last big international event before the May 2016 elections.

Pushing globalization

Year-round meetings are the lifeblood of APEC and important venues to push its aging and discredited agenda of 1990s globalization. These are well-attended by leaders, officials and other bureaucrats of APEC's 21 member countries.

Just concluded on the most exclusive resorts on the famed island of Boracay were the 10-day 2nd APEC Senior Official Meeting (or SOM2, after the first one wrapped up in Clark and Subic in February) and the 2-day APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) meeting. Some 1,500 delegates reportedly attended.

The theme of the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015 of "Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World" is a fantasy in coming from an organization that is unabashed in its push for neoliberal free market policies of globalization.

More than anything else – even more than corruption – these policies have been the biggest reason for the exclusion and worsening of conditions for so many in the Philippines, Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world in the last decades.

Founded in post-Cold War 1989, APEC has always been about pushing the globalization agenda so beneficial for the advanced capitalist economies, their biggest transnational corporations (TNCs), and their junior corporate partners in the Third World.

In 1994 its member states committed to "complete the achievement of our goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific no later than the year 2020" with the industrialized economies achieving this "no later than 2010" and the so-called developing economies "no later than 2020”.

The 21 members constitute a large part of global economy at some 40% of the world population, around 50% of international trade, and up to 60% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Much of these are accounted for by its three biggest economic powers: United States (US), Japan and China.

There was a relative slowdown in APEC activity after the emergence of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its agreements in the mid-1990s, upon the Asian crisis of 1997, and especially with the US distracted by its dot-com bubble and crash in 2000, as well as its "war on terror" after 2001.

There has been renewed activity in APEC since the late 2000s though with the US giving greater attention to it in line with its pivot-cum-rebalance to Asia versus a rising China.

Positive-sounding economic analysis and mechanical use of textbook neoclassical economics is complemented with a heavy dose of GDP, foreign investment and export figures to make the whole pro-globalization package seem scientific and grounded in reality.

Asia is reportedly becoming the world's economic center of gravity with a dynamism unleashed by the removal of trade and investment barriers since the 1980s.

This has supposedly resulted in development although the numbers for these, curiously, are not as forthcoming.

The Philippines in particular is portrayed as the poster child of this globalization-driven era of development, prosperity and progress.

The Aquino administration is happy to promote this fantasy with relatively rapid GDP growth being its most consistent propaganda peg to claim political legitimacy amid all the controversies surrounding it. It is also quite willing to spend for the illusion.

The government will spend Php4.6 billion on its hosting of APEC this year which is almost as much as the entire Php4.8 billion international commitments fund budget last year (the budget item that APEC is charged to).

This does not even include other budgets for improving airports, roads and tourism sites in and around APEC venues.

Boracay outcomes

What have the recent beach-setting meetings been about? APEC is not a negotiating platform that takes up and reaches binding agreements.

Yet, it still has a significant influence in pushing economic policy changes. It provides not just the high-level political venues such as its leaders' meetings but also has numerous, frequent and sustained technical meetings year-round.

These have apparently gone far in facilitating and even pushing binding agreements in more formal negotiating venues such as the WTO, as its Director-General Roberto Azevêdo affirmed when he was in Boracay last week.

So it is meaningful, albeit predictable, that the trade ministers at Boracay this weekend reaffirmed their "commitment to promote trade and investment liberalization [and] building an open economy in the Asia Pacific region".

They also declared "the centrality and primacy of the multilateral trading system under the auspices of the WTO" and their support for concluding the WTO's Doha round of negotiations.

There were also additional steps towards eventually creating the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), specifically the groundwork in terms of the studies for this to be completed by 2016.

After some three decades already of globalization policies meant to deal with chronic crisis, there is by now much less to expect in terms of drastic changes to trade and investment policies. Liberalization has already advanced greatly and much of the trade- and investment-related work now is in its details.

The just concluded APEC meetings tackled opening up trade specifically in environmental goods and services.

But it also took up such other matters as more aggressively bringing in micro, small and medium enterprises into big TNC-dominated global processes, rules of origin requirements, trade facilitation, global supply chains, connectivity, using information and communication technologies, developing a labour force attuned to TNC needs, regulatory coherence, and many others.

This is not to say that the new mega-deals on the horizon like the FTAAP and, looming larger, the China-centered Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the US-centered Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are not going to introduce anything drastic.

On the contrary, the TPP for instance is unprecedented in its breadth and intrusiveness in national economies beyond the accustomed trade and investment liberalization free trade deals so far. Among others it meddles in government enterprises and seeks to give foreign corporations rights that override the breadth of government regulatory powers.

This is aside from the strident defense of monopolies on technology and so-called intellectual property.

Philippine underdevelopment

Is APEC's unrepentant and unrelenting advocacy of globalization justified? We can just take the case of the Philippines as an example. The country has been liberalizing recklessly since the 1980s and is the worst off for it.

The average most-favored nation (MFN) applied overall tariff today of a little over 6% is less than one-fourth of the rates of over 25% at the end of the 1980s. It is also lower than tariffs in neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia and even lower than in economic powers South Korea and China.

Foreign investors are allowed from 60 up to 100% ownership in all but a handful of sectors.

There are restrictions in telecommunications, power, transport, agriculture, and mass media. But even if countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and China did not also have similar controls, the need for these restrictions for national development would still be there.

But what has globalization wrought in the country? Growth has certainly picked up from an annual average of 2% in the 1980s, to 2.8% in the 1990s, to 4.6% in the 2000s, to 6.3% in the period 2010-2014.

The current 5-year average places the 2010s on track to being the second fastest decade of economic growth after the 7.1% clip in the 1950s.

Foreign investment has also increased. The annual average stock of US$2.3 billion in the 1980s (around 6.2% of GDP) increased fourteen-fold to US$32.5 billion in 2013 (12% of GDP).

Yet the country's production has dropped precipitously since the start of the 1980s. The country's production sectors are composed of agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and mining and quarrying.

These collectively accounted for around 60% of GDP in the pre-globalization decades 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. However their share in the economy started falling from 1980 upon World Bank structural adjustment programs and more and more trade and investment liberalization.

The share of these production sectors fell to 57% in the 1980s, 52% in the 1990s, and 48% in the 2000s.

Rebasing of national income accounts reduced this even more to 42% in the 2000s and to 39% in the period 2010-2014.

The Philippines is now a service and trading economy more than a producing economy.

This is not to say that we have "leapfrogged" to a first world economic structure, as was argued by pro-globalization economists before, but rather that our third world backwardness has only intensified upon globalization.

This collapsed production is the reason why joblessness and poverty remain so stubbornly high.

Employment generation was much more rapid in the pre-globalization era even increasing from an annual average of 2.7% growth in employment in the 1960s to 4.1% in the 1970s.

This trend markedly reversed upon the globalization that APEC is still pushing so vigorously – slowing down to 2.8% in the 1980s, 2.4% in the 1990s and 2000s, and then to just 2.3% in the acclaimed rapid growth period 2010-2014.

This poor performance in the last five years places the 2010s on track to being the worst decade of employment generation in the country's history.

Jobless growth is not just under the current Aquino administration but is a long-term structural problem.

The collapse of domestic production explains the poor job generation, which explains the record unemployment and exodus of overseas Filipino workers, and also explains the unremitting poverty.

That all this is happening amid fantastic leaps in wealth of a few families and in profits of a few big domestic firms and foreign TNCs only underscores the structural exclusionary and inequitable nature of Philippine growth under globalization. IBON Features

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

Visit www.ibon.org | Follow IBON on Twitter | Follow IBON on Facebook

Posted by: ibon foundation <media@ibon.org


IBON FOUNDATION RESEARCH

MEDIA RELEASE / 27 May 2015
IBON Foundation ∙ 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City Philippines 1103 ∙ Phone: (632) 927-6986/927-7060 to 61 ∙ Fax: 929-2496 ∙ media@ibon.org  ∙ http://www.ibon.org 

ATTAINING ‘FIRST WORLD’ STATUS FOR PH IMPOSSIBLE UNDER NEOLIBERAL POLICIES


The average income of a poor Filipino family is only Php16,841 pesos or $374.156 dollars per year.2014 REPORT

President Aquino said that the country could one day attain "First world" status if his administration's policies would be consistently pursued.

But if "First world" pertains to "wealthy and developed", the country is not even on the track of development precisely because of the neoliberal policies that his administration continues to implement, research group IBON said.

The President made the statement during the Department of Education's Oplan Balik Eskwela 2015 and Brigada Eskwela at Marikina Elementary School.

Pres. Aquino also spoke of his administration's poverty alleviation and social services programs, and cited supposed achievements in the last five years, including a decline in unemployment and hunger incidence.

IBON said that the policies Pres. Aquino was referring to are about opening Philippine economic sectors and resources up for big local and foreign business opportunities.

This is not the path pursued by now-industrial countries which are considered as “First World”.

READ MORE...
For many decades, countries like the United States, the European Union and Japan, for instance, protected, nurtured and strengthened their local industries alongside maintaining foreign participation restriction in key sectors and imposing trade tariffs before opening up their economies, if at all.

In fact, these industrial countries are still protecting key sectors of their economy, while persuading other countries to further open up their economies through neoliberal policies.

The country however has been relentlessly relaxing restrictions in the economy towards greater globalization, especially in the last two decades.

The net result is that foreign investors have been able to make their profits without any real contribution to domestic social and economic development.

Yet the Aquino administration is even aiming to open up the economy even more under the most liberal terms possible. This will not result in the so-called ‘First World’ status but will only mean an aggravation of the dismal trends of the last decades.

As it is, Philippine poverty persists on unchanged levels: about 65 million Filipinos live on Php125 or even less per day.

Access to social services is becoming all the more threatened with heightening privatization: more than 1,200 elementary and high schools were allowed to hike their tuition fees, while health care has increasingly become inaccessible especially for the poor majority.

Government also continues citing decreased unemployment as an achievement, even as 90% of jobs created in 2014 were only part-time and therefore insecure, low-paying and often without the benefits accorded to regular employees.

Moreover, the last decade or so has seen historic numbers of unemployed and record high sustained unemployment rates.

IBON said that if government is aspiring for real development, it clearly needs to rethink its current policies and pursue an economic program that will harness the human and natural resources of the country to fulfil its development needs. (end)

IBON Foundation, Inc. is an independent development institution established in 1978 that provides research, education, publications, information work and advocacy support on socioeconomic issues.

Visit www.ibon.org  | Follow IBON on Twitter | Follow IBON on Facebook


PHILSTAR

Top finance officials debate what's needed for global growth By David Mchugh (Associated Press) | Updated May 29, 2015 - 1:05am


The G7 Finance Ministers meeting is being held in Dresden. AP Photo/Jens Meyer

DRESDEN, Germany — Top finance officials from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are debating ways to broaden and strengthen economic recoveries that aren't as robust as everyone would like.

Finance ministers and central banks traded ideas on growth-boosting reforms and discussed financial markets and monetary policy.

Officials said the discussions in Dresden, Germany, were marked by concern over growth that is uneven and below long-term averages.

Both the U.S. and Europe are growing. But unemployment remains high in the 19-country eurozone, and stock and bond markets have been volatile, although they remain at high levels.

Officials including Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, and host Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble discussed the recent sharp rise in yields on bonds. Officials said the general sense was the recent market ups and downs were due to the fact that bond yields had fallen to extreme low levels — below zero in some cases.

READ MORE...
Greece's effort to win more loan aid and avoid default on its debts has cast a shadow over the meeting, although it's not on the official agenda. Greece isn't a G-7 member, but three of its creditor countries — Germany, France, and Italy — are.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has pressed countries in good financial shape such as host Germany to do more to boost growth and investment. The stance has not found much resonance in Germany, which argues it must avoid adding new debt and has balanced its budget.

The meeting is a discussion forum that sets up final positions to be taken at a summit of presidents and prime ministers July 7-8 outside Munich.

The G-7 countries are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the U.S.

The group, which traces its roots to a six-country meeting in France in 1975, is an informal forum among leading economies for discussions of economic and foreign policy issues. Germany has the rotating presidency for this year's meeting.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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