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

INFOGRAPHIC: WHERE DO MOST OFW REMITTANCES COME FROM?


JUNE  9 ----In 2014, OFWs around the world sent 6.2% more remittances back to the Philippines than in 2013, the Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has reported. Total remittances reached $26.92 billion (P1.20 trillion), as compared to $25.35 billion (P1.13 trillion) the year before. This is a record high, according to the central bank authorities. To break it down further, land-based workers remitted $18.7 billion (P834.96 billion), while seafarers remitted $5.6 billion (P250.04 billion). The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has said that 1.6 million Filipinos were deployed abroad in 2014, as job orders increased by 10.7% to 878,609. The BSP has said that around 43% of these job orders were for for service, production, professional, technical and related workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and Qatar. Overall, in 2014 the Philippines was third in the world at receiving remittances, behind India and China at first and second respectively, based on statistics from the World Bank. Remittances also contributed 8.5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year. READ, KNOW MORE...

ALSO: Devpt Bank of Singapore (DBS) trims Phl growth outlook


JUNE 14---File photo
DBS Bank has trimmed its forecast for Philippine economic growth this year following a slower-than-expected first quarter expansion. In its latest quarterly outlook for Asia, the Singapore-based bank said it now expects a six percent growth for the country, lower than its earlier estimate of 6.3 percent. However, DBS hiked its projection for the country’s gross domestic product growth next year to 6.2 percent from six percent due to the 2016 polls. “The Philippines remains one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Private consumption stays resilient. Investment growth is robust, offsetting the impact from slower export growth this year,” DBS said. “Fiscal spending is a negative risk to GDP growth, however, given the increasingly high public spending scrutiny ahead of next year’s elections, expect GDP growth at six percent and 6.2 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively,” the bank added. Philippine economic growth slowed to 5.2 percent in the first quarter but government officials stuck to their seven to eight percent expansion target for the year. DBS noted private consumption went up six percent in the first quarter, faster than the five-year average of 5.5 percent. READ MORE...


ALSO:
ORTHOPEDIC HOSPITAL SET FOR SHUTDOWN; Nation’s poorest cling to wretched deathbeds


JUNE 10 ---NOWHERE TO GO--A young patient with a metal-braced leg suspended on the posts of his bed at the Philippine Orthopedic Center in Quezon City. AFP PHOTO Paraplegic Venerando Acabal wriggles on a rust-eaten bed to soothe painful bed sores, in misery but also fearful that privatization plans for the country’s only bone hospital in Quezon City will rob him of his refuge. The state-run Philippine Orthopedic Center, a cramped and dizzying maze of rickety stretchers that spill out of humid wards into dingy hallways, has treated tens of thousands of patients for free since it opened in 1945. But it is slated to close after a private firm last year won a contract to replace it with an expanded new facility, part of a multi-billion-dollar privatization program by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration. “If they kick me out of here, I have no choice but to go home and die in my house,” said 55-year-old carpenter Acabal, who has been bedridden at the hospital since breaking his back in a construction site accident four years ago. Despite wretched appearances, the hospital is much-loved by the poor as they can turn up, have complicated operations and stay for years even if they do not have any money. Of the nearly 7,000 patients treated last year, only two percent paid their bills in full, according to hospital records, and the facility’s chief is worried the charity will be severely curbed under private management. “It’s difficult to reconcile profitability and service to the poor,” hospital director Jose Brittanio Pujalte said. “Our patients here are the poorest of the poor and they have nowhere else to go.”  READ MORE...

ALSO: Number of Pinoys buying cars online fast rising — Carmudi


JUNE 9 ---Carmudi, the world’s leading online car platform, recently revealed that more and more people are buying car and other vehicles online and the Philippines is the fastest to have a turnaround rate of 30 percent car buyers doing it online. Mexico, on the other hand, is considered the most tech-savvy with 90 percent of its population going online when looking for vehicles whether brand new or second hand. This is just some of the revelations made by Carmudi in its white paper listing. The listing contains some of the most significant facts about how citizens of different nations buy vehicles, Subir Lohani, the online car platform’s managing director for Philippines, told business reporters at a media forum recently.Lohani affirmed that Carmudi is not discouraged to do business in the Philippines despite the very slow connectivity due to the free Internet connection provided by one telco player.  “Our apps optimize speed (of connecting to their platform).That pushes the speed and overshadows the slow connectivity here,” Lohani told The Daily Tribune when asked if they are frustrated by the slow Internet connection, mostly in public places like airports, hotel lobbies, malls and even churches. Lohani said the rate of Filipinos who buy cars online is “remarkably high.” READ MORE...

ALSO: No support for economic Cha-cha
[Palace, bishop against tinkering with Constitution ]


JUNE 11 ---CLASH WITH THE MASSES – A member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) anti-riot squad engages protesters in a tug-of-war over his shield at the gates of the House of Representatives in Quezon City where militant groups staged a rally, protesting the economic changes that are being mulled in the 1987 Constitution. (Mark Balmores)
The move of the House of Representatives to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution is not getting any support outside the halls of Congress. Yesterday, Malacañang said it won’t support the economic Charter change (Cha-cha) train in the House of Representatives, while a Catholic prelate stressed that a country that is rid of corruption attracts more foreign investors rather than a foreign investor-friendly Constitution. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda asserted that making the country an attractive investment destination could be implemented without tinkering with the 1987 Constitution. Improving the country’s competitiveness could actually be done through “executive fiat,” such as Executive Order 184 that eased some restrictions on foreign ownership of some businesses, Lacierda said. “Do we necessarily have to amend the Constitution? Some groups say, ‘yes we have to.’ But the belief of our President and we believe that we can do better the economy – I mean, make it more palatable to, for instance, foreign investment, is … making better the mechanisms within what we have right now and going through executive action,” Lacierda said in a Palace news conference. Lacierda said President Aquino recently issued EO 184 that provides the 10th regular Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) covering investments areas that are open to foreigners and reserved to Filipinos. Under the new list, foreigners can now invest in lending companies, financial companies, and investment houses as well as practice more professions in the country. “If you’re talking about opening up the economy, do we necessarily have to go down the track of amending the Constitution?… Can we do this by way of executive fiat? Yes, we have done that, by way of that executive order,” Lacierda said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Aquino gov’t fails to disclose P1.3 trillion in contingent liabilities 


JUNE 8 ---President Aquino The Commission on Audit (COA) has slammed the national government (NG) for alleged violations of constitutional provisions on transparency when it failed to disclose contingent liabilities reaching P1.3 trillion as of December 2013. The COA said Section 7, Article III, of the Constitution acknowledges citizens’ “right to the information on matters of public concern” while Section 28, Article II, mandates the state to “adopt and implement a policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”  The COA said the national government has not reported a number of contingent liabilities, including obligations the government has assumed for various build-operate-transfer or build-lease-transfer (BOT/BLT) projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. It has also not reported the pass-on liabilities from government-owned-or-controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs). COA pointed out that contingent liabilities are “possible obligations arising from past events and whose existence will be confirmed only by the occurrence or non-occurence of one or more uncertain future events not wholly within the control of the entity.”  COA said the national government’s guarantees on loans entered by GOCCs, state financial institutions, and the private sector have not been fully disclosed. READ MORE...

ALSO: Palace says unaware of govt’s P1.3-T concealed debts


JUNE 9 ---Palace spokesman Lacierda
Malacañang has expressed ignorance on the findings of the Commission on Audit (CoA) that the government “violated” two provisions in the Constitution for failing to reveal around P1.3-billion contingent liabilities, or potential state obligations, incurred by the state as of Dec 2013. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, at a Palace briefing, yesterday said he has not been informed on the matter, but stressed the Aquino administration will answer the transparency accusation once asked by the constitutional body. “I haven’t read the CoA report if there is (any). Are they referring to a specific agency? Let me just verify, but I wouldn’t have any information right now on the CoA report. Certainly, if we are asked we would be able to respond too,” he stressed. According to state auditors, the Aquino administration’s non-disclosure of said contingent liabilities is contrary to the transparency policy embodied in Section 7, Article III, of the Constitution which acknowledges citizens’ “right to the information on matters of public concern” and Section 28, Article II, which mandates the state to “adopt and implement a policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Drilon justifies gov’t underspending


JUNE 12 ---LIBERAL PARTY STALWART DRILON
Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday came to the defense of Malacañang over the issue of government’s underspending even as he dismay as it has caused an economic slowdown in the first quarter of the year.This early, Drilon could already anticipate the scenario where concerned Cabinet officials, especially those so-called economic managers, will be subjected to a tough grilling when they start deliberating on the budget.“Pagdating po ng mga pagdinig namin sa 2016 budget, yan po ay magiging issue, kung bakit nangyayari ang mga ganito,” he said in a radio interview. He, however, provided some possible reasons on the manner of public spending of the Aquino administration, saying that it could have only stemmed from the ruling made by the Supreme Court on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), declaring it unconstitutional and the Commission on Audit (CoA) now being more stringent in reviewing the disbursement of public funds.READ MORE...

ALSO: Abad does a Lazarus
[Abad’s “fiscal space” for new programs and projects comprises 20 percent of the proposed P3-trillion budget for FY 2016 and is more than double than the fiscal space of P287 billion this year.]


JUNE 12 ---The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has been busy lately crafting what appears to be a resurrection from the dead of the discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) wrapped in the vague labeling of “fiscal space.” Budget secretary and Liberal Party (LP) strategist Butch Abad said a new budgeting approach will free up P581 billion “for expanded and new programs and projects” by the 2016 election year. Abad said a two-tier budget approach has been adopted in line with Administrative Order (AO) 46 of Noynoy which sought to speed up the disbursement of government funds purportedly after the 5.2 percent disappointing growth in the first quarter. Abad is known, however, to rein in spending in preparation for an election year, which economists call underspending and which was massive enough to dislocate growth.Abad said that consultations the DBM held with various agencies showed almost half of last year’s spending deficit was due to capacity weaknesses within agencies and government owned and controlled corporations, which prevented them from fully utilizing their Notice of Cash Allocations. Specific issues cited include poorly prepared projects, difficulties in project implementation, and various problems in public procurement.
He said AO 46 required agencies to timely submit agencies’ annual procurement plans and reports on their compliance with Republic Act 9184 (The Government Procurement Reform Act) READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Where Do The Most OFW Remittances Come From? [Infographic]

MANILA, JUNE 15, 2015 (iMONEY.COM)  By imoney . 9 June 2015 . Infographic - In 2014, OFWs around the world sent 6.2% more remittances back to the Philippines than in 2013, the Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has reported.

Total remittances reached $26.92 billion (P1.20 trillion), as compared to $25.35 billion (P1.13 trillion) the year before. This is a record high, according to the central bank authorities.

To break it down further, land-based workers remitted $18.7 billion (P834.96 billion), while seafarers remitted $5.6 billion (P250.04 billion).

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration has said that 1.6 million Filipinos were deployed abroad in 2014, as job orders increased by 10.7% to 878,609.

The BSP has said that around 43% of these job orders were for for service, production, professional, technical and related workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and Qatar.

Overall, in 2014 the Philippines was third in the world at receiving remittances, behind India and China at first and second respectively, based on statistics from the World Bank. Remittances also contributed 8.5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year.

READ MORE...
To find out where OFW remittances to the Philippines come from, and the top 20 remitting countries to the Philippines, check out our infographic below.





The-Top-Remitting-Countries-To-The-Philippines-In-2014

While 2014 was a banner year for remittances, in the first two months of 2015, remittances were up by just 2.4%, one of the weakest growth rates for remittances in years.

This could be due to the lower oil income and scaling down of projects in the Middle East, where a significant amount of OFWs are based. Continued economic weakness in other countries, especially the developed ones, may also slow down the rate of remittances back to the Philippines.

“The government should realize that it cannot forever depend on OFW remittances to fuel or sustain consumption-induced economic growth,” says a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.


PHILSTAR

DBS trims Phl growth outlook By Kathleen A. Martin (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 14, 2015 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


File photo

MANILA, Philippines - DBS Bank has trimmed its forecast for Philippine economic growth this year following a slower-than-expected first quarter expansion.

In its latest quarterly outlook for Asia, the Singapore-based bank said it now expects a six percent growth for the country, lower than its earlier estimate of 6.3 percent.

However, DBS hiked its projection for the country’s gross domestic product growth next year to 6.2 percent from six percent due to the 2016 polls.

“The Philippines remains one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Private consumption stays resilient. Investment growth is robust, offsetting the impact from slower export growth this year,” DBS said.

“Fiscal spending is a negative risk to GDP growth, however, given the increasingly high public spending scrutiny ahead of next year’s elections, expect GDP growth at six percent and 6.2 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively,” the bank added.

Philippine economic growth slowed to 5.2 percent in the first quarter but government officials stuck to their seven to eight percent expansion target for the year.

DBS noted private consumption went up six percent in the first quarter, faster than the five-year average of 5.5 percent.

READ MORE...
This should continue increasing this year given manageable inflation, a resilient peso and sustained strong inflows of remittances, the bank said.

At the same time, the bank said “strong investment growth reinforces the consumption.”

DBS noted investment growth stood at 10 percent in the first three months of the year and this could have been higher “if not for the marked fall in construction and de-stocking activities.”

Merchandise imports have moderated in end-March, while exports remained flat. DBS said outbound shipments should normalize this year, but slower than its robust growth in the past three years.

“Nonetheless, we continue to see encouraging signs in the manufacturing sector... The revitalization of the manufacturing sector has been one of the key positives for the Philippines in the past couple of years,” DBS said.

“Sustained strength in this sector will help take some border off from services and construction,” the bank added.

The overall GDP growth this year would highly depend on public spending, DBS stressed, as this dragged down first quarter economic expansion.

The bank also pointed out delays in the progress of the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program, which could easily lift growth if actual construction of the various projects start as planned.

“Several of the main projects due to be awarded this year have been pushed back to [second half of 2015], which means that actual impact on the economy may only be seen in early-2016, at the earliest,” DBS said.


MANILA TIMES

ORTHOPEDIC HOSPITAL SET FOR SHUTDOWN; Nation’s poorest cling to wretched deathbeds June 10, 2015 10:17 pm


NOWHERE TO GO--A young patient with a metal-braced leg suspended on the posts of his bed at the Philippine Orthopedic Center in Quezon City. AFP PHOTO

Paraplegic Venerando Acabal wriggles on a rust-eaten bed to soothe painful bed sores, in misery but also fearful that privatization plans for the country’s only bone hospital in Quezon City will rob him of his refuge.

The state-run Philippine Orthopedic Center, a cramped and dizzying maze of rickety stretchers that spill out of humid wards into dingy hallways, has treated tens of thousands of patients for free since it opened in 1945.

But it is slated to close after a private firm last year won a contract to replace it with an expanded new facility, part of a multi-billion-dollar privatization program by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s administration.

“If they kick me out of here, I have no choice but to go home and die in my house,” said 55-year-old carpenter Acabal, who has been bedridden at the hospital since breaking his back in a construction site accident four years ago.

Despite wretched appearances, the hospital is much-loved by the poor as they can turn up, have complicated operations and stay for years even if they do not have any money.

Of the nearly 7,000 patients treated last year, only two percent paid their bills in full, according to hospital records, and the facility’s chief is worried the charity will be severely curbed under private management.

“It’s difficult to reconcile profitability and service to the poor,” hospital director Jose Brittanio Pujalte said.

“Our patients here are the poorest of the poor and they have nowhere else to go.”

Profits versus poor

READ MORE....
The private operator, Megawide-World Citi, has a contract to run the hospital for 25 years from mid-2016 before having to hand it back to the government.

It did not return requests from Agence France-Presse seeking comment about how it would balance its need to make a return on its investment with the needs of the poor.

When asked about the issue, the head of the Private-Public Partnership Center, Cosette Canilao, said the new operators were contractually obliged to only charge full rates to 10 percent of patients.

She, however, could not provide details on whether the remaining 90 percent would still be required to make some payments.

Canilao emphasized that privatization was necessary to help upgrade the Philippines’ woefully underfunded healthcare system.

“There is an urgent need for us to improve the health services for the public and one way of doing that is to take private partners,” she said.

The Philippines spends half the global average on health as a percentage of gross domestic product, according to the World Health Organization.

The country’s largest mental institution and a major hospital that serves provinces regularly hit by typhoons are also set to be privatized.

Miserable refuge

The hospital is undeniably in need of extra funds.

Acabal, the carpenter, shares a squalid ward with no air-conditioning with seven other men, all bare-chested to ease the discomfort from the summer heat.

“I’m in pain all day from bed sores on my back. I go to sleep, wake up, and that wall is all I see,” he said, gasping for air, and with a faint whistle from an exposed breathing tube protruding from his throat.

A far corner of the hallway has been transformed into a ward with rusty stretchers. On an adjacent ward, a boy with a metal brace on his leg wails in pain.

A bunch of rosaries and dried flower garlands hang from a life-sized statue of Jesus Christ, which serves as a prayer sanctuary.

Relatives watch over their loved ones, sprawled on the grimy concrete floor half-covered with chipped vinyl tiles. Some spend the night on cardboard laid out on the pavement outside the hospital building.

At the emergency room entrance, there is a chaotic but steady stream of patients arriving in wheelchairs and ambulances.

Still, 40-year-old former security guard Randy Gonzaga, who is paralyzed from the waist down due to a tumor on his spine, does not want to be anywhere else.

The father of five-year-old twin girls survived Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in his home province of Leyte in 2013 but discovered he had a tumor on his spine that same year.

Gonzaga is selling purses made by his wife from his hospital bed to raise 60,000 pesos for a titanium implant that is required before surgery to remove the tumor.

The hospital cannot afford the implant but it can provide the surgery, which could cost up to P200,000, for free.

“I hope to have my tumor removed before the new owners come in. Otherwise, I have nowhere else to go,” he said.


TRIBUNE

Number of Pinoys buying cars online fast rising — Carmudi Written by Ed Velasco Tuesday, 09 June 2015 00:00

Carmudi, the world’s leading online car platform, recently revealed that more and more people are buying car and other vehicles online and the Philippines is the fastest to have a turnaround rate of 30 percent car buyers doing it online.

Mexico, on the other hand, is considered the most tech-savvy with 90 percent of its population going online when looking for vehicles whether brand new or second hand.

This is just some of the revelations made by Carmudi in its white paper listing.

The listing contains some of the most significant facts about how citizens of different nations buy vehicles, Subir Lohani, the online car platform’s managing director for Philippines, told business reporters at a media forum recently.

Lohani affirmed that Carmudi is not discouraged to do business in the Philippines despite the very slow connectivity due to the free Internet connection provided by one telco player.

“Our apps optimize speed (of connecting to their platform).

That pushes the speed and overshadows the slow connectivity here,” Lohani told The Daily Tribune when asked if they are frustrated by the slow Internet connection, mostly in public places like airports, hotel lobbies, malls and even churches.

Lohani said the rate of Filipinos who buy cars online is “remarkably high.”

READ MORE...
“Before, car platform is virtually unknown in this country. Now it’s fast climbing,” he said.

According to the white paper listing, 65 percent of global consumers plan to buy a new or used car in the next two years.

Three territories — Latin America, Middle East and Africa — will have the strongest auto demand at 75 percent of their population.

The white paper listing also revealed that most Asians prefer brand new cars than used ones with 65 percent saying they will buy new car in the next two years or less.

Only seven percent of Asians plan to buy used cars in the next two years.

Lohani said the white paper listing only suggests that vehicle industry is really booming in Asia, particularly in the Philippines.

Carmudi is just on its second year of business operations in the country.

“Our report provides a detailed look into the global state of automotive sales and how car purchasing behaviors have changed due to the drastic increase on Internet and mobile penetration, rising GDP and the emergence of a middle class,” the report said.


MANILA BULLETIN

No support for economic Cha-cha by Leslie Ann G. Aquino and Genalyn D. Kabiling June 11, 2015


CLASH WITH THE MASSES – A member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) anti-riot squad engages protesters in a tug-of-war over his shield at the gates of the House of Representatives in Quezon City where militant groups staged a rally, protesting the economic changes that are being mulled in the 1987 Constitution. (Mark Balmores)

The move of the House of Representatives to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution is not getting any support outside the halls of Congress.

Yesterday, Malacañang said it won’t support the economic Charter change (Cha-cha) train in the House of Representatives, while a Catholic prelate stressed that a country that is rid of corruption attracts more foreign investors rather than a foreign investor-friendly Constitution.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda asserted that making the country an attractive investment destination could be implemented without tinkering with the 1987 Constitution.

Improving the country’s competitiveness could actually be done through “executive fiat,” such as Executive Order 184 that eased some restrictions on foreign ownership of some businesses, Lacierda said.

“Do we necessarily have to amend the Constitution? Some groups say, ‘yes we have to.’ But the belief of our President and we believe that we can do better the economy – I mean, make it more palatable to, for instance, foreign investment, is … making better the mechanisms within what we have right now and going through executive action,” Lacierda said in a Palace news conference.

Lacierda said President Aquino recently issued EO 184 that provides the 10th regular Foreign Investment Negative List (FINL) covering investments areas that are open to foreigners and reserved to Filipinos.

Under the new list, foreigners can now invest in lending companies, financial companies, and investment houses as well as practice more professions in the country.

“If you’re talking about opening up the economy, do we necessarily have to go down the track of amending the Constitution?… Can we do this by way of executive fiat? Yes, we have done that, by way of that executive order,” Lacierda said.

READ MORE...
The House of Representatives recently approved a resolution seeking to amend the Constitution’s provisions on foreign ownership of land and businesses on second reading.

The resolution is up for third and final reading but the Makabayan bloc has vowed to block the effort of opening up the economy to foreigners.

Despite the congressmen’s move to attract foreign investors, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo stressed that corruption is the reason foreigners are afraid to invest in the country.

“Let us not anymore tinker with that (Constitution). That is not what we need to attract foreign investments. What we need to do is fix our economic climate… by getting rid of corruption because that’s what drives away foreigners,” he said in an interview.

NO TRUST IN CONGRESS

Pabillo also does not trust the lawmakers when it comes to changing the Constitution citing their track record.

“We know the track record of Congress, they do not really represent the people,” he said.

“They are only after their own interest that’s why they are blocking agrarian reform to protect their own interests,” added Pabillo.

The prelate also cited the failure of lawmakers to pass the Freedom of Information Bill as well as the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill as another example.

“This only shows that they are only after their own interests and not of the country. How can we trust them with something like this (changing the Constitution)?” Pabillo said.

Earlier, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines asked Congress to hold off passing the proposed measure to amend the Constitution until it can be studied more closely.

The statement titled “Let us be circumspect” was issued Monday as the proposed measure gains ground in Congress, in the belief that it is the key to reviving foreign investment flow into the country.

STUDENTS AGAINST CHA-CHA

Adding their voices to the opposition against amending the Constitution are members of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) and other militant groups who barricaded yesterday the Lower House in a resilient bid to prevent the passage of Resolution of Both Houses 1 (RBH1), which tries to scrap constitutional provisions limiting foreign control of Philippine land, natural resources, and even the media.

“We will not let this pass! Cha-cha needs to be stopped at all costs,” LFS national spokesperson Charisse Bañez said.

“There will be no benefit for the Filipino people under this proposed amendment. As a matter of fact, it will only worsen poverty and hunger in the country,” she added.

Bañez noted the removal of restrictions to foreign ownership of key industries as proposed by the purported economic Cha-cha sponsored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte will complete the foreign political and economic control of the country.

Citing the studies of the independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, Bañez said even if the annual foreign direct investment inflows increased 15 times from 1981 to 2013, the Filipino people are still poor.

Bañez added that previous administrations have always been giving privileges and incentives to multinational and transnational companies since 1980s but the unemployment rate has risen in absolute terms, meaning the touted job-generation impact of foreign investments is a mirage.

“History has proved that foreign investors never came here to develop the Philippine economy; instead, they have been earning unlimited profits and have been curbing the laws of the land to their advantage,” said Bañez.

“Increase in foreign ownership and investments, through Cha-cha, will only be used to depreciate wages, to take away lands, to displace urban poor communities, and to increase the cost of social services,” she said.

NO TO TERM EXTENSION

Meantime, President Aquino also remains opposed to any move to amend the Constitution to lift the term limit for the country’s president, Lacierda said.

Lacierda made the remarks after Vice President Jejomar C. Binay reportedly amendments to term limits of elected officials.

Binay supposedly proposed a four-term limit for the president with an option for re-election for another four years in office.

“We don’t share the opinion of Vice President Binay, especially (because) the President firmly believes on a single term. Because the logic in a single-term presidency is that the President can focus on all that needs to be done within the six-year term,” Lacierda said.

“His responsibility after six years is to ensure that good governance prevails during the six years, so that the people will want to see an extension of those six years by way of his successor,” he added.

Lacierda said the President has made significant accomplishments in his “daang matuwid” program under his six-year mandate.

“He doesn’t have to wait for another four years to make good on his promises on the first four years. That’s why the President said, ‘we’re going to accomplish much in these six years,’ and he has done so and I think everybody will concede that the President has done so much,” he said.

Lacierda acknowledged that much more needs to be done but this will be carried out by Aquino’s successor next year. He noted that the President has preferred someone who will continue his administration reform programs.

President Aquino plans to announce his preferred successor after his State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) in July. Aquino’s six-year mandate ends on June 30, 2016.

Meanwhile, at least six in 10 Filipinos are unaware of the latest move for to change the Charter.

The nationwide Ibon Foundation survey conducted last May 13-23 among 1,496 respondents found that 61.6 percent were not familiar with the resolution of both Houses seeking to change key economic provisions in the Charter.

At least 37.9 percent said they were aware of the proposal. (With reports from Chito A. Chavez and Ellalyn B. de Vera)


MANILA BULLETIN

Aquino gov’t fails to disclose P1.3 trillion in contingent liabilities by Ben Rosario June 8, 2015


President Aquino

The Commission on Audit (COA) has slammed the national government (NG) for alleged violations of constitutional provisions on transparency when it failed to disclose contingent liabilities reaching P1.3 trillion as of December 2013.

The COA said Section 7, Article III, of the Constitution acknowledges citizens’ “right to the information on matters of public concern” while Section 28, Article II, mandates the state to “adopt and implement a policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

The COA said the national government has not reported a number of contingent liabilities, including obligations the government has assumed for various build-operate-transfer or build-lease-transfer (BOT/BLT) projects under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

It has also not reported the pass-on liabilities from government-owned-or-controlled corporations (GOCCs) and government financial institutions (GFIs).

COA pointed out that contingent liabilities are “possible obligations arising from past events and whose existence will be confirmed only by the occurrence or non-occurence of one or more uncertain future events not wholly within the control of the entity.”

COA said the national government’s guarantees on loans entered by GOCCs, state financial institutions, and the private sector have not been fully disclosed.

READ MORE...
Citing the constitutional provisions on the right to information, the state audit agency emphasized that full public disclosures of all transactions involving public interest is critical.

“The constitutional provisions seek to promote transparency in all government transactions which could raise issues of public concerns,” COA said.

In the recently released 2013 annual audit report for the Bureau of Treasury, the COA said a total of P1,030,485,094,220.42 in contingent liabilities by the government was not disclosed, as follows:

$20.728 million (P920.284 billion) from BOT/PPP projects.

P32,3479,670,542.81 in outstanding guarantees issued by the Republic of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

P77,851,015,797.61 in foreign borrowings of the private, courtesy of the Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) and the Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines (Tidcorp). 

The COA lamented that the government only declared P470.81 billion as contingent liabilities, consisting of P466.87 billion as “NG direct guarantee on GOCC loans” and P3.94 billion as “GFI guarantee assumed by NG.

These are the figures in the Debt Analysis and Monitoring Division (DMAD) of the Bureau of Treasury as of Dec. 31, 2013.

The COA chided government for failing to reveal larger exposures in its report.

“This is contrary to the transparency policy embodied in Section 7, Article III, and Section 28, Article II, of the Constitution,” the COA said.

“We noted that (the figures) did not include BOT/BLT projects and lack complete information as to the total number/amount of projects. According to the chief, DMAD, the reason for non-inclusion was that they are not aware of the right person or agency compiling all the BOT/BLT projects and no data were provided by the DOF (Department of Finance) as well,” the COA said.

Auditors, however, pointed out that the explanation was inadequate since the Bureau of Treasury did not even submit such a request with the DOF to obtain the data.

Among the major BOT/BLT projects listed by the COA with the biggest project costs were:

38 power projects (27 completed and 11 ongoing) by the National Power Corporation and Philippine National Oil Corporation-Energy Development Corporation, totaling $8.701 billion;

10 transport/road projects totaling $3.503 billion, including MRT Line 7 ($1.235B), Daang Hari-SLEX Link ($43.5M), and the Tarlac-La Union Toll Expressway Project ($35M);

Five water supply projects by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the Bohol Provincial Government, the National Irrigation Administration, the Clark Development Corp., and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, with a combined value of $7.839 billion;

Seven information technology (IT) projects with a total cost of $1.577 billion, including database infrastructure and automation of the National Statistics Office, the Land Registration Authority, and the Bureau of Immigration ($1.5 billion); the database infrastructure of the Land Transportation Office ($75 million); and various IT projects by the local governments of Pampanga, Malabon City, and Koronadal City ($1.92 million).

Nine property development projects by the LGUs of Bocaue, Cagayan de Oro City, Quezon City, Mandaluyong City, the Philippine National Railways, the National Housing Authority, and the Department of Tourism ($449.86 million); and the Talisay City Hall building project ($4 million).

The COA particularly raised concerns on the practice of the HGC and Tidcorp of extending “unlimited guarantees” on loans by the private sector.

Only last April 10, the Office of the Ombudsman filed graft charges before the Sandiganbayan against former Tidcorp Executive Vice President Rolando Alonzo and account officer Teresita Co for approving an anomalous loan guarantee facility worth P4.23 billion to bulk grain trader World Granary Inc (WGI) in December, 2003.

The COA said it was informed by the Bureau of Treasury that the bureau does not monitor loans drawn by the private sector.

“Due to the said deficiencies, the total NG exposure or the extent of the NG risk which needs monitoring is not known. Government guarantees in new/incoming BOT projects are extended without having determined how much is NG’s existing exposure and how much new projects are to be added to the said risks,” COA warned.

COA enjoined the Bureau of Treasury to comply with the “transparency provisions” in Article 7 of the Constitution.

It was directed to disclose information on the nature of contingent liabilities, estimate of its financial effect, and the general nature of the contingencies in Notes to the Financial Statements.


TRIBUNE

Palace says unaware of Noy govt’s P1.3-T concealed debts
Written by Joshua L. Labonera Tuesday, 09 June 2015 00:00


Palace spokesman Lacierda

Malacañang has expressed ignorance on the findings of the Commission on Audit (CoA) that the government “violated” two provisions in the Constitution for failing to reveal around P1.3-billion contingent liabilities, or potential state obligations, incurred by the state as of December 2013.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, at a Palace briefing, yesterday said he has not been informed on the matter, but stressed the Aquino administration will answer the transparency accusation once asked by the constitutional body.

“I haven’t read the CoA report if there is (any). Are they referring to a specific agency? Let me just verify, but I wouldn’t have any information right now on the CoA report. Certainly, if we are asked we would be able to respond too,” he stressed.

According to state auditors, the Aquino administration’s non-disclosure of said contingent liabilities is contrary to the transparency policy embodied in Section 7, Article III, of the Constitution which acknowledges citizens’ “right to the information on matters of public concern” and Section 28, Article II, which mandates the state to “adopt and implement a policy of full disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.”

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Contingent liabilities, on this case, are a matter of public interest as it has risen from state guaranties on commercial loans and subsidies to government institutions or projects.

A total P1,030,485,094,220.42 contingent liabilities has been noted by the CoA in its 2013 annual audit report broken down as coming from build-operate-transfer (BOT)/Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects estimated at $20.728 million or P920.284 billion; ---outstanding guarantees issued by RoP (Republic of the Philippines) and DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) totaling P32.3 billion; ---and foreign borrowings of the private sector amounting to P77.8 billion courtesy of Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC) and the Trade and Investment Development Corporation of the Philippines (Tidcorp).

Apparently, based on the findings of state auditors the government declared P470.81 billion only as its contingent liabilities consisting of P466.87 billion under “national government (NG) direct guarantee on GOCC loans” and P3.94 billion under “GFI guarantee assumed by central government.

This was based on figures from the Debt Analysis and Monitoring Division (DMAD) of the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) as of Dec. 31, 2013.

According to CoA, the figures did not include BOT/BLT projects and lacks complete information as to the total number or amount of projects and the chief of DMAD said the reason for non-inclusion was that they are not aware of the right person or agency compiling all the BOT/BLT projects and no data were provided by the DoF (Department of Finance) as well.

Among the BOT/build-lease-transfer (BLT) projects in question, according to CoA, includes 38 power projects, 10 transport and road projects, five water supply projects, seven information technology projects and nine property development projects; all under the supervision of concerned government agencies.

But the explanation was deemed inaccurate by auditors since the BTr did not even submit such a request with the DoF to obtain the data.


TRIBUNE

Drilon justifies gov’t underspending Written by Angie M. Rosales
Friday, 12 June 2015 00:00


LP LEADER DRILON

Senate President Franklin Drilon yesterday came to the defense of Malacañang over the issue of government’s underspending even as he dismay as it has caused an economic slowdown in the first quarter of the year.

This early, Drilon could already anticipate the scenario where concerned Cabinet officials, especially those so-called economic managers, will be subjected to a tough grilling when they start deliberating on the budget.

“Pagdating po ng mga pagdinig namin sa 2016 budget, yan po ay magiging issue, kung bakit nangyayari ang mga ganito,” he said in a radio interview.

He, however, provided some possible reasons on the manner of public spending of the Aquino administration, saying that it could have only stemmed from the ruling made by the Supreme Court on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), declaring it unconstitutional and the Commission on Audit (CoA) now being more stringent in reviewing the disbursement of public funds.

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“Siguro ay nag-iingat lang ang ating mga kasamahan sa gobyerno at ayaw masangkot at dalhin sa Ombudsman. Konting mali, at andun na sa Ombudsman. Kaya yung mga kawani sa pamahalaan, nag-iingat din, ngunit hindi iyan excuse para magkaroon ng underspending,” he said.

“Yung CoA, has become very strict. Tama rin iyan, na ito’y pera ng taungbayan at talagang strikto ang CoA. Kahapon, kaka-confirm lang namin kay CoA Chair Miguel Aguinaldo at inaasahan natin na babantayan niya ng husto ang kaban ng bayan.

“Pero sa kabilang dako, dapat naman ang ating mga kawani ng pamahalaan, nag-iingat din. So siguro dapat po magkaroon ng balance. We should comply with all CoA rules, but at the same time spend the appropriate budgets,” he pointed out.

It’s unfortunate that despite the availability of funds and authorization from Congress, the allocation made in the national budget for the various departments have not been fully exhausted, he said.

“Bente porsyento ng ating ekonomiya ay nanggagaling sa pag-gastos ng gobyerno. Kaya po kung kulang ang kakayahan ng mga departamentong gastusin ang mga nakalaan sa kanila ay talagang hindi natin mame-meet yung target natin sa expansion of the national economy.

“Yung GDP (Gross Domestic Product) natin, yung target po ay hindi natin naabot, dahilan sa underspending ika nga ng mga ahensiya. Ang nakikita ko lang talaga na ginagamit ang allocation nila ay ang DPWH sa pamamagitan ni Secreatry (Rogelio) Singson. Yan po, ang burukrasiya sa DPWH has been able to spend the allocated funds to them,” he said.


TRIBUNE EDITORIAL

Abad does a Lazarus Written by Tribune Editorial Friday, 12 June 2015 00:00

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has been busy lately crafting what appears to be a resurrection from the dead of the discredited Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) wrapped in the vague labeling of “fiscal space.”

Budget secretary and Liberal Party (LP) strategist Butch Abad said a new budgeting approach will free up P581 billion “for expanded and new programs and projects” by the 2016 election year.

Abad said a two-tier budget approach has been adopted in line with Administrative Order (AO) 46 of Noynoy which sought to speed up the disbursement of government funds purportedly after the 5.2 percent disappointing growth in the first quarter.

Abad is known, however, to rein in spending in preparation for an election year, which economists call underspending and which was massive enough to dislocate growth.

Abad said that consultations the DBM held with various agencies showed almost half of last year’s spending deficit was due to capacity weaknesses within agencies and government owned and controlled corporations, which prevented them from fully utilizing their Notice of Cash Allocations.

Specific issues cited include poorly prepared projects, difficulties in project implementation, and various problems in public procurement.

He said AO 46 required agencies to timely submit agencies’ annual procurement plans and reports on their compliance with Republic Act 9184 (The Government Procurement Reform Act).

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The order also directs agencies to assign full-time support staff to their bids and awards committee secretariats, with larger departments directed to increase their number of BACs.

“Last year’s spending deficit helped us to correctly identify the issues that agencies had with implementing projects and conducting procurement procedures. As we refine agency spending processes and enhance their operational capacity, we can definitely look forward to faster and more efficient disbursements in 2015,” Abad said.

The DBM reported that disbursements of P1.981 trillion in 2014 were short of the programmed amount of P2.284 trillion for the year.


December 2014 PHOTO of DBM Secretary Butch Abad: The phrase “being done in ‘good faith’ cannot cut it here. The PDAF scam or Pork Barrel scam is worth over P10 billion, but is dwarfed by the DAP amount of P144 billion. You see, with the amount of money we are entrusting to them, you would think they would go by the rules. FROM THE 'DAANG MATUWID' BLOG.

The deficit was influenced by a number of factors, including the P43.1 billion saved due to prudent expenditure management by the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Treasury, along with the Supreme Court’s decision on the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the DAP.

Abad attributed the slowdown in economic expansion to what he claims are reforms instituted in the budget process.

The reforms were meant to offer the administration of Noynoy which is priming up for the 2010 polls “fiscal space” which is a circumlocution of discretionary funds.

Abad explained that under the approach, government departments prioritize which of their programs they can concentrate on “to accommodate more productive expenditures,” which was among the means employed earlier to create the DAP.

The DAP supposedly created funds to stimulate the economy which were raised from budget allocations from idle projects to speed up public spending.

Abad’s “fiscal space” for new programs and projects comprises 20 percent of the proposed P3-trillion budget for FY 2016 and is more than double than the fiscal space of P287 billion this year.

Related to this is the Palace order to fast-track procurement procedures through AO 46 to “support swifter government disbursement and more efficient public spending,” according to Abad.

Created under the order, however, is another layer in government red tape called procurement support units whose sole task, it appears, is look at the back of the bids and awards committees of different government agencies.

The auction bodies were also centralized in each agency which will work with Abad’s procurement support units.

Key to the monitoring of project and program implementation under AO 46 is the designation of a full-time officer — with a rank not lower than an undersecretary— with the responsibility of ensuring the execution and delivery of services, output and outcomes as per the program of implementation who “will be working closely with DBM on the quarterly monitoring and evaluation of the project implementation.”

It certainly smells a lot like another LP fund raising operations by reviving the DAP through another name.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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